Reviews For BATMAN #24, SUPERMAN/ WONDER WOMAN #1 & SMALLVILLE #18
I'm back this week with reviews for three great reads. Snyder gives us a real whopper of a Batman issue, DC's Power Couple makes a stunning debut, and Hades descends on Smallville. Read on to see what I thought of each.
BATMAN #24 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo; Backup by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Rafael Albuquerque
This issue has a high page count no doubt due to the fact that they probably had to combine two issues because Villains Month interrupted the arc and they had to keep things on time for the big November crossover. This miniature graphic novel is not only Snyder and Capullo's best issue of Batman to date, but an instant classic. When we look back at Zero Year as a whole in the future, this will be the chapter that carved its place in Bat history. Snyder and Capullo pay homage to Year One, The Killing Joke, Detective Comics #27 (1939), and even Batman: The Animated Series. But that doesn't stop them from creating several iconic images of their own. Wait until you see the controlled blackout and "This is ___ country." As much as you or I love a dark Batman comic, there's no denying how much FCO Plasencia's colors make those panels pop.
As for the meat of the story, we get more insight into how The Red Hood gang works and a little more of the history of Gotham. If you're a reader that ate up tales like Gates of Gotham or Court of Owls, you will likely enjoy those little tidbits. We are also treated to exchanges of dialogue between Bruce and Alfred that are pure gold. Another strong suit of this chapter is how Bruce can be as inspirational out of the cowl as he is in it. Other highlights include The Joker's origin, which you can probably figure out how it goes down, and the debut of Batman's Zero Year costume. I absolutely love it and may prefer it to the one he wears in the present.
The backup flows well with the rest of the issue; it's a direct continuation of the main story and not something separate. It may not even be proper to call it a backup because you just turn the page and there's a change of artist. It's mostly within the cave, so Albuquerque's darker looking art doesn't conflict with the rest of the book. Without spoiling too much, The Riddler makes an appearance to set up next month's big Zero Year crossover.
With yet another definitive tale on his hands, Scott Snyder has undoubtedly cemented his position among writers like Jeph Loeb, Paul Dini, and Grant Morrison as writers of the past two decades that have contributed to The Dark Knight's legacy like many aspire to, but few can. Score: 9.5/10.
SUPERMAN/ WONDER WOMAN #1 by Charles Soule and Tony Daniel
Many readers seemed to have been concerned about this title by thinking that it would be too heavy on the romance and pander to the Twilight crowd. I admit that the romance between the title characters is the backbone of this book and it is female friendly, but it's got a lot of action and is one that the guys can enjoy just as much. It's really not much different than what we would see in a movie or TV show. Soule really knows how to write for both of these characters. The heart to heart talks still have that first date vibe and, like Johns, Soule shows us why pairing these two romantically is a no brainer. You also don't have to worry if you're behind on Superman or Wonder Woman solo titles. I think the ongoing that you probably want to familiarize yourself with going in is Justice League. It also wouldn't hurt to read the Villains Month one-shots for Zod and Doomsday (hint, hint).
A few months ago, Tony Daniel told me on Facebook that this series would feature his best artwork to date. I don't mean to sound biased because he's probably my favorite artist in the industry right now, but it may very well be. Although, I admit that I am partial to his three issue run on Action Comics earlier this year. (And how about that gatefold cover?!)
Get in on the ground floor with this one because I say this unflinchingly: this is the most impressive debut of any Superman title in The New 52. Score: 9/10.
SMALLVILLE SEASON 11 #18 by Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez
This title is a great juxtaposition to what's going on in The New 52. If you want to see Clark and Diana work well as strictly friends and colleagues, then this is your book. (Yes, I'm fully aware of what book I reviewed above this one.) The mystical war that has been building in the preceding two issues finally erupts here with the arrival of Hades. Clark is really the only Smallville mainstay with considerable "screen time" here because characters like Felix Faust and Bones are really at the forefront of this chapter. Also, am I the only one who hears the singer from Ghost as the voice of Bones? It fits more when you read for him in Batwoman, but it carried over here for me.
Miller does the usually impeccable job of carrying over the characters that he wrote for on the small screen. Though I must say, Jimenez's art compounded with the fantastical action and Clark and Diana team up made it feel more like an episode of Justice League than one of Smallville for me. That is in no way a criticism of the creative team. This is also the issue in which we finally see Diana don her Amazonian armor. I'm excited to see how this arc wraps up in a month's time. Score: 8/10.
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