COMICS: Quick Reviews For Select Week 1 Villains Month Titles
DC has given fans a lot to spend money on this month, so I've provided short reviews of titles I've purchased in one spot to help CBM readers. Click for my takes on Forever Evil, Joker, Darkseid, Bizarro, and Relic. Some spoilers within...
FOREVER EVIL #1 by Geoff Johns and David Finch
The first thing to know about this book is that it does not pick up immediately after Trinity War. There's an undefined time jump and the Crime Syndicate has taken over the planet with the Justice Leagues presumed dead. We'll no doubt get what happened in the interim explained in a future issue, but it does give the series a nice sense of mystery. It's also a good touch because it makes Forever Evil stand more on its own and not feel like a direct continuation of Justice League #23. Lex Luthor is the main protagonist of the book and is written very well. This issue sets up the dichotomy of villains like the Crime Syndicate (who are evil for evil's sake) against those like Luthor (folks who commit heinous acts, yet think they're doing the right thing) and will no doubt lead to a battle with Luthor creating his own makeshift League to combat the Syndicate. This would be, of course, before the heroes make their inevitable and triumphant return.
Johns does the usual good job of writing for many characters. Everyone gets their spots here and I'm glad he found a way to make members of the Crime Syndicate sound like more than evil counterparts of the JL. I am, however, glad that his dialogue for the Scarerow was at minimum because I didn't care for how he wrote for him in Justice League of America. Since coming over to DC, Finch has been drawing darker looking books and this is no exception. It obviously works well, given the fact that this is obviously about villains and the world gets blacked out. Oh yeah, something happens to Dick Grayson. Considering this comes to us from the guy that gave us Infinite Crisis, Blackest Night, and Flashpoint, I am really looking forward to future installments. Score: 8.5/10
BATMAN #23.1: JOKER by Andy Kubert and Andy Clarke
What do I say about a one-shot that we all had high hopes for? Well, it's very much what the kids would call "meh." We get flashbacks to the Joker's traumatic childhood, which is very "Mommy Dearest" or "Sybil" and let's just stop it right there. While fleshing out Joker's backstory isn't necessarily a bad thing, traumatic childhood origin stories have happened all too frequently in recent memory (thank you, Greg Hurwitz). The Joker is up to his usual death and destruction routine here, but I just didn't like his "fathering" of Jackanapes. I certainly see why Kubert did it, but I like many people feel that it just feels so strange for Joker to care about anyone or anything but himself.
Now let's address Kubert as a writer here. He does show promise as a storyteller, but putting him on such a high profile book may not have been such a great idea for his writing debut. I know that he's an A+ artist, but he needs time to grow as a writer and this wasn't the right place to showcase him. His Joker isn't bad, but he didn't really find the proper voice for the character, which I pretty much already touched on. I was very much looking forward to his upcoming Damian: Son of Batman mini-series, which he is writing and drawing, but I just don't know how well this bodes for it. On the plus side, Andy Clarke's art feels very reminiscent of Bolland in The Killing Joke, so it feels highly appropriate. Score: 6/10.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #23.1: DARKSEID by Greg Pak and Paulo Siqueira
This was one of my most anticipated books for Villains Month and it really did deliver. Pak has written a very good primer for the character. The first portion of the book details Darkseid's origin and the creation of The Fourth World in The New 52. While the explaining of The Fourth World is a bit too streamlined here, I realize Pak had only so much space to work with. Siqueira's art is very easy on the eyes and showcases this tale of a god killer on a grandiose scale. The latter half of the book details the deadly cat and mouse game between Darkseid the father and Trickster the daughter that I won't spoil.
Although the book says Justice League on the cover, this is really a must read for those currently following Batman/ Superman. A lot of seeds planted in the first Justice League arc, Earth 2, and Vibe are also paid off here. In fact, the very last page tells you to read upcoming issues of Batman/ Superman and Earth 2 to find out what's next for Darkseid. Consider me there, especially since Tom Taylor is taking over Earth 2. You may not agree with me, but I've found Earth 2 to be very unenjoyable thus far. This book may be one of the most important reads of Villains Month when it comes to the DCU as a whole. Score: 8/10.
SUPERMAN #23.1: BIZARRO by Sholly Fisch and Jeff Johnson
Okay, I'm going to start this with a bit of a spoiler by saying that this is not the Bizarro you will see in Forever Evil or the DCU going forward. This is more so Lex Luthor's quest to create a Superman that is obedient to him and is every bit as much of a Luthor story as it is a Bizarro one. The scenes of what Luthor imagines his own Superman to be are pretty hilarious. His Machiavellian nature really rears its head here and makes for a good tale.
This book is a bit of a quick read, but is most definitely a Sholly Fisch story. You may know Fisch best from The All-New Batman: The Brave and the Bold. This book really has all the whimsy of an all ages title, albeit a sinister kind of whimsy. I'm not really a fan of Johnson's art here, but it does seem to complement Fisch's style well. This doesn't seem to tie in to any particular Superman title per se, other than serving as a decent side story to Forever Evil. Score: 8/10.
GREEN LANTERN #23.1: RELIC by Rob Venditti and Rags Morales
This has to be the best book I purchased this week. The first thing that you will notice is that it is told entirely in one panel per page format like Superman #75. That's where the similarities end, so don't get the impression that this is all action because Venditti fit A LOT of story into this little book. This masterfully written tale does not contradict or retcon anything Johns has already established, but adds a significant chapter to the Green Lantern mythos. I can't stress how important it is for Green Lantern fans to pick up this title. Relic's origin is told here and you will find out why he really thinks he's doing the right thing. Imagine if you gave Ra's al Ghul the power to work on a cosmic scale and you have a pretty decent parallel of what's going on here.
This hasn't been advertised as a prelude to Lights Out, but it most certainly is. For those that haven't heard, Lights Out is a game changing crossover in the GL books in October that will conclude in Green Lantern Annual #2. This book can also be read as a standalone story for someone that wants to read a good science fiction comic, but will leave you wanting more. It's also worth mentioning that this may feature Rags Morales' most beautiful artwork to date. Score: 9.5/10.
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