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178

God of Comics – Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 27, 2017

Batman / Elmer Fudd Special #1 (DC Comics)

The insanity continues as Elmer Fudd declares Bat season and heads into Gotham to hunt the Bat… and Bruce Wayne.

DC has done a pretty great job with their comic heroes-Looney Toons crossovers: all of them have featured a story based in the comics-world followed by another that’s more in tune with the old cartoons. In our opinion, the best of them so far has been Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian, though that takes away from none of the others and it would be worth your time to track down the whole set. One-shots though these may be, the comic-side of these things fits in pretty well with actual continuity and adds depth to the characters involved, while the cartoony side of the issues have been just plain fun.

Here, writer Tom King turns Elmer Fudd into someone to be feared – one of the top assassins in the world, an unstoppable force that has more in common with the Saint of Killers than the character we’re familiar with. He carries the ridiculous accent but uses it like menace as we get a Sin City-style intro and narration, him tracking down a low-rent assassin who murdered Elmer’s wife and claims Bruce Wayne ordered the hit.

Artist Byron Vaughns illustrates a Gotham that dripped out of a Bosch painting, a monstrous place of cracks and shadows where light is an unwelcome memory. He draws inspiration from the classic Looney Tunes for his character designs, twisting the familiar just enough that you’ll recognize familiar faces through the gloom.

The combination is a heady mix of dread and the absurd, of things that should not be working working anyway through sheer force of will and the combined talent of two artists that know the edges of their craft. This will be the best of these crossovers, the one you’re going to want to read the most.

Be like Elmer and hunt this down. Welcome to Bat season.

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300

God of Comics: Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 19, 2017

Martian Manhunter / Marvin the Martian Special #1 (DC Comics)

Alright, two quick things to begin the week.

The first? We were sort of swamping our feed and page with comics every Wednesday. Our reasons for this were honest: Wednesday is when new comics hit the stands and we wanted to share some stuff that we thought was cool, but it’s overwhelming the way we were doing it. We’re gonna spread the love throughout the week. Make this a little more palatable.

And two: DC Comics is doing a crossover with some of their biggest characters and the classic Looney Toons this month. There’s gonna be a host of these things and their chalk-full of comic madness, the sort of thing that Marvel missed the boat on with their whole chaos thing a few years back. They missed the boat: Nazi Steve Rogers could have done a whole thing with Donald Duck.

So, good on DC for seeing this opportunity and nabbing it. Even better on DC Comics for making the most of the chance by putting some damn fine writers and artists on the project – the likes of Steve Orlando and Frank J. Barbiere and Jim Fanning on writing, John Loter and Jerome K. Moore on art. All of them are excellent and so is this comic.

It’s a tale told in two parts, one in DC style and one like a classic cartoon.

The DC-style story is comic tragedy, the sort of tale that easily fits into continuity without any issues. J’onn, the Martian Manhunter, becomes aware of an extra-dimensional telepathic message being sent to Martians, and he builds a gate to answer it. He’s met by the last Martian of a different dimension – Marvin – and the two greet one another as friends with sympathy and respect.

J’onn is then horrified to learn that Marvin is there to murder every last human.

Marvin tells of how the humans of his home dimension ruined everything, giving into greed and destroying their own ecology and one another, and when the Martians tried to help them they did the same to the Martians until only Marvin was left. J’onn tries to tell him his humans aren’t like that but Marvin isn’t taking any chances, and every effort J’onn makes to stop the destruction Marvin causes is met with hostility by the humans he’s trying to protect.

It’s great and poignant and ends with J’onn sending Marvin home and trying to make peace with the humans he’s just saved and starts both humanity and J’onn down a path of greater understanding.

The Looney Toons story focuses on Marvin trying to destroy Earth because it obscures his view of Venus only to run into the Martian Manhunter. Here, Marvin is driven to madness by the lack of power he has when compared to J’onn, who is another Martian. It’s all kinds of great.

It’s two high-quality comics for the price of one, and as of this publication (2017-06-19), it’s on shelves. Get into your comic shop and grab it, because this sort of comic magic is a rarity and you’re going to want to read it for yourself.

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144

God of Comics – Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #22

God Of Comics, Reviews

June 13, 2017

Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps #22 (DC Comics)

The Green Lanterns always kinda mystified me.

Sure, yes, the Lanterns themselves are wicked cool, and I’m showing my age by using phrases like ‘wicked cool.’ Essentially, they’re a galactic defense force that have weaponized imagination through willpower. That’s awesome. They dip in a chromatic spectrum and use the color green to create whatever they want through willpower alone – they can fly, understand languages, know laws, and communicate with one another from galaxies distant. There’s a whole corp of them out there, an organization with its own laws and culture, and a single Lantern is given a swath of the galaxy to protect.

It harkens back to the old idea of ‘one riot, one ranger,’ an old saying out of Texas that applied to the idea that a single man could maintain order over large swaths of people all by himself. Like Texas itself, however, there is a dark corrupt underbelly to the Green Lanterns.

The corruption starts with the people that empowered the corps in the first place. Guardians, they’re called, but they’re pretty much responsible for every cosmic thing that goes wrong in the DCU and are, collectively, a bunch of jerks. Case in point: they decided they didn’t like the color yellow and so trapped the emotion yellow corresponds with in the battery they made that lets them weaponize green. This resulted in the Green Lanterns being weak against the color yellow and pissed the hell out of the intelligent being they imprisoned and spun propaganda about for eons.

So, yeah, the Lanterns were all kinds of powerful unless you came at them with, say, a yellow butter knife, and then they were helpless before you. Weird.

One of the most powerful and recognized Lanterns, an alien named Sinestro, had it in for his human peer, Hal Jordan. The two of them fought and it’s some of the best writing you’ll find in comic – classic Green Lantern comics featuring Sinestro are some of the best you’ll find. Sinestro went off the beaten path, though, and found himself at odds with the Green Lanterns. In response, he founded the Sinestro Corps, who use fear to weaponize imagination through the color yellow.

Initially, there was war between the two Lantern Corps, but these days they’re trying to work together. The problem is human Lantern Hal Jordan is not exactly the best representative of our species (still better than Guy), and his flaws are… well, they’re many.

The Green Lantern comics are ones I check in with from time to time because they are either passable or great, and my most recent check in revealed one very important thing: they are being written by Robert Venditti, the same demigod that wrote X-O Manowar. Those of you that don’t know about X-O Manowar need to change that, and those of you lucky enough to already be reading this run of comic are envied because I’m now playing catch up.

Sarko’s parentage, though? Well done, Venditti. I missed your clever way with the pen.

V. Ken Marion, Dexter Vines, and Dinei Ribeiro have the task of bringing this comic to life, translating the mania of weaponized imagination into something the rest of us can understand, and their combined efforts are a joy to behold. This comic is awesome, and you should read it.

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305

Wonder Woman Critical Analysis Part 2 of 2

Culture, film, Opinion, Reviews

June 12, 2017

So… Wonder Woman. It came out. It hit theaters. People discovered it was there and went to see it and it’s going to dominate the month of June and there’s little chance of anything toppling it.

And with good reason. It’s awesome stuff – easily the strongest of the DC movies, as good or better than most of what Marvel has on tap. Better than any of the Hulk movies, for example. Better than the second Avengers movie. Definitely better than anything Fox or Sony has put out using Marvel’s properties.

But why? Why is it working so well?

The reason is subtlety in both what happens in the movie and around it, and in an understanding of what the character is about and her evolution. We are told and shown a creation epic that is sort of at odds with what we know about the Greek Pantheon (spoiler: all of them are dicks except Hades, who is just really good at his job) in that they created humans (no), were happy about it (definitely not happy so much as amused), and were all eventually killed by Ares (what? No. Kratos did that).

But, whatever. We’re playing with building on a mythology and they can do whatever they want provided it’s internally consistent with itself – and it is. According to the movie, the Amazons are created by the gods to shepherd men away from being terrible people.

They’re thinkers and philosophers who get good at fighting because they have to go into where the fighting is worst and calm things down so that everyone can talk, and they fight like it: the Amazons are graceful and do impossible things in order to stop the fighting quickly, but they’re also cut off from the rest of the world. They have an academic understanding of war and of men and have drawn their own conclusions on both for thousands of years without seeing the reality of either.

When war comes to their island because Diana exposed her godhood they show that the techniques they’ve developed are good but also flawed; they adapt quickly and win the day, but they are horrified by the loss of Robin Wright – and who wouldn’t be? She’s Princess Buttercup and the President of the United States and a General. She’s awesome. None are more devastated by her death than Diana – she’s never dealt with loss or violence before and she knows Ares is responsible because, unlike the other Amazons, she’s never met a human before and she’s made some pretty naive decisions about both humanity and war.

See, Child Diana is excited by the possibility of war, like some children are. She wants to be a warrior and she wants to fight and she wants to save the world from Ares: there is a singular bad person that she can punch and if she wins then humanity will be saved. Good and simple, clean and easy.

Diana imagines herself to be the champion of humanity but she’s never seen violence and that shows in her eagerness in learning how to fight and even to get to the fight – remember, she thinks if she beats Ares that the fighting ends. We can juxtapose this with her world-weariness in modern times, in the bookends to this film and to Gal Gadot’s performance in Batman v Superman. There’s a clear line of growth through the movies that retroactively makes Batman v Superman better (but still not good). She gets a sword and a shield and everything.

The thing is, the villain of the film isn’t the Germans or even Ares but war itself. There were no good people in World War 1 and the movie goes out of its way to show the serious flaws of both sides, and even of Diana’s belief structure. The sword is a lie and is dismissed out of hand by Ares when we meet him, laughed off and melted as if it never was. The power to defeating war comes not from violence but from understanding, from talking, from within – it comes from a divinity that may or may not exist but one we all believe in, that place where angel meets ape.

It doesn’t stop there, though: the western powers are not shown to be any better than the Germans they’re fighting. Both sides use gas (there’s a reason that the Germans are wearing masks), both sides target civilians and dismiss those casualties, both are just as bad as the other. The leadership on both sides are also trying to negotiate peace but are meeting resistance by the war-obsessed members of their own people and peers, making this a four-way conflict between the people fighting and themselves, the ones who are fighting and ones who want peace.

We see how war and society has broken people – a sniper who can’t fire a gun, an actor who couldn’t get work before the war because of his skin color, a man who left his home because his home was destroyed. Those are people who were harmed by the so-called good guys and are still part of those good guys, losers who are also lost but are still struggling to find a way to help.

On the bad side we have a man so obsessed with winning that he’ll kill his own men out of hand, a broken woman who understands the science of death but has forgotten the humanity that was scoured from her, and a god who encourages the worst parts of humanity but doesn’t actually make anyone do anything. The evil is us and our need for control and dominance, the toxic aspects of our culture that is so set on competition and zero-sum games, and that’s a harder story to tell than a giant beam in the sky that makes clouds look weird and does… something.

I’m looking at you, pretty much every other movie that has superheroes in it.

Diana calls all of them out on all of their shit: she storms into an all-male war room and demands attention because she’s knowledgeable about war and has actionable intelligence and she has no time for the seedy posturing bullshit of that era. The fact that she’s dismissed out of hand for reasons of gender mystifies her, and the chicanery needed to get her to the front lines makes her just as angry as not being allowed to go in the first place. She despises the men who are willing to let others die for no reason other than to assuage their own egos. She blames a man for being Ares, not understanding that he is only a man and needing to learn otherwise. No one is honest and that dishonesty is infuriating and damages everyone and she will force the truth from us all if that’s what it takes to make us our best selves.

Wonder Woman calling that room of men out on their shit is just as important as stepping into No Man’s Land. It’s a thing I think 51% of the audience understands implicitly, but something that the other 49% might need attention drawn to. So, here it is guys: attention on a thing you might have missed.

But let’s go back to something that’s sticking in a lot of craws: comic Wonder Woman fought in World War II, not World War I – so why the change? The answer is complex: the Nazis were dyed-in-the-wool evil in a way that people seem to have forgotten. The Holocaust wasn’t evil because Nazis did it – Nazis were evil because they did the Holocaust. Despite what Marvel comics might want you to believe there’s no gray area: the systematic destruction of an entire group of people is evil and needs to be fought sat every turn. The idea of genocide and virtue of extreme selfishness doesn’t get a seat at the table and doesn’t get listened to, it gets punched in the face and sent running.

The point of this movie is that war itself is wrong, yes, but by making this story about the first World War we know the second follows, and we know that happens without Ares and despite Wonder Woman.

World War II is therefore not the fault of some external thing; it is the fault of humanity, itself, and the responsibility for the Holocaust lies at the feet of all humanity.

And so does World War I. Ares was right and telling the truth – he made things worse, certainly, but he only played on the ambitions and selfishness of his victims, allowing them their ability to kill as they saw fit. He’s an afterthought and his death doesn’t end the war so much as allow Diana to see the depth of her true enemy.

That’s why this movie is great. That’s why it’s going to speak to 51% of the audience specifically and everyone in general, why the character of Wonder Woman earns her spot as one of DC Comics’ holy trinity alongside Batman and Superman. This is how and why a DC Comics movie is going to rule over the month of June, and if this is a sign of things to come from Geoff Johns taking the helm, well, we have much more hope for everything to come.

Now, here’s the thing: I’m a male presenting asexual agender person, so there’s definitely going to be things I missed and I’m eager to learn and listen. So… what’d I miss?

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301

Wonder Woman Critical Analysis Part 1 of 2

Culture, film, Opinion, Reviews

June 9, 2017

 

So… Wonder Woman happened. The first movie of the Geoff Johns era of DC filmmaking and you can tell, but let’s back up a bit because nothing happens in a vacuum and we need to talk about where this film came from.

A little more than a decade ago, Time Warner approached DC Comics and said they wanted to do a new superhero movie. I like to imagine – and this is important guys, this is my imagination and probably has nothing to do with reality, so do not sue us because this is a fictitious retelling – that the conversation went like this:

Cool, guys,” DC Comics said, then sane and not yet driven bad by nineties nostalgia. “Who do you have in mind?”

Green Lantern,” Time Warner grinned.

Cool, cool,” DC Comics said, excited by the possibilities. “Storied character, a lot of lore to draw on… are you thinking classic Hal Jordan, new Kyle Rayner, or drawing from our award-winning animated series and doing Jon Stewart? Do you have a leading man in mind?”

Jack Black.”

This is a real thing. A real thing that really almost happened, except DC Comics said…

No.”

Excuse me?” said Time Warner.

No.”

C’mon, Big Fat Guy with a power ring,” Time Warner said, wiping the cocaine from their upper lip. “It’s comedy gold.”

An argument ensued. Hair was pulled and punch was thrown and at the end, clothes were straightened and everyone tried to have a little bit of dignity. Time Warner was convinced that their camp-fest comedy would make a lot of money, but DC Comics wouldn’t sign over the character.

You don’t understand how to make movies,” Time Warner argued. “You make comics, and who reads those anymore?”

Fuck you,” DC Comics replied. “Bet you we can make a superhero movie better than anything you’ve ever seen.”

Really? You think so?” Time Warner asked, an evil glint in their eye. “Fine. Here’s forty million dollars. I know, that’s like your annual budget, but you make your little shit show and when that fails you’re going to sign the contract and we’re going to make our Green Lantern movie, okay?”

DC Comics agreed to terms.

The movie they made was a little thing called Batman Begins and it won awards and made all the money. It launched a trilogy and is generally considered the best superhero movie made up to that point (Christian Bale’s bat-voice aside) because it was a good movie that just happened to have a superhero in it.

Marvel learned all the right lessons from this, and a few years later we got Iron Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Time Warner learned all the wrong lessons from this success and decided that what people wanted was grim and gritty, and by this point management at DC Comics was riding high on the nineties and decided to launch the nu52, so there was no dissenting voice.

The first result of this was Man of Steel, which was okay. This was followed with Batman v Superman, which was not, and Suicide Squad, which was a very stupid movie, and both of those lost a lot of money. All of them had series flaws, and their inability to succeed on a Marvel-like level woke Time Warner from their cocaine-stupor, fearing a lack of cocaine in their immediate future.

Meanwhile, on the comics end of things, DC Comics managed to lose forty percent of their readership over five years of the nu52, and only started gaining it back because of titles like Harley Quinn, Gotham Academy, and a revamped Batgirl. All of those comics had an underlying theme of hope that had been missing from DC Comics as a whole for the entirety of the nu52, and DC Comics officially relaunched with Rebirth and has been pretty great ever since.

A big part of that is a man named Geoff Johns, who is basically the biggest fan of DC Comics and its characters to ever live. The man is also an acclaimed comic book writer, so Time Warner took note and said “You! You seem to know what you’re doing! Make our movies good so we can compete with Marvel (and get more cocaine)!”

Geoff came on board to handle the movies a couple months before Suicide Squad launched, so the first movie he’s had any real input on is this one: Wonder Woman. And this is where things get interesting.

Warner Brothers wanted this movie to fail.

They did little in the way of advertising for it, nothing along the lines of Man of Steel or Batman v Superman or even Suicide Squad. I know many people that were dying to see this movie that had no idea when it was coming out, or if it was out, and even the person I went to see the movie with had no idea it was out before I suggested it.

Really?” she said. “Wonder Woman is out?”

Yep,” said me. “Wanna go see it?”

Hell fuck yes.”

She didn’t really say that. It’s profanity being used to underline a point.

Wonder Woman is a female led action movie being directed by a woman, and the first woman they hired to direct it walked because of studio interference – a thing that also happened with Ben Affleck and Batman and has happened with a number of other DC Movie projects prior to Geoff coming on board. This movie is Geoff’s proof of concept, one that says that, yes, women read comics, women like superheroes, and women can tell good stories and be part of good stories and isn’t this goddamn great?

And it is.

Without studio advice and/or interference, with Geoff hiring someone to tell the story and trusting her to get it right, we ended up with the best of the DC Comics movies and one of the best superhero movies, but there’s some subtlety here that I’m thinking 49% of moviegoers might be missing, so let’s talk about that in part two.

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424

God of Comics – Wonder Woman Annual #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 30, 2017

Wonder Woman Annual #1 (DC Comics)

You wanna know what’s weird? The reason the Wonder Woman movie is going to succeed.

In the gestation of DC’s cinematic universe, this is the one movie the studio didn’t care about. Yes, they poured a bunch of money into it, but that was based around (a) we need to beat Marvel at something and they don’t have a female-lead movie yet, and (b) someone decided that Wonder Woman was going to be a big deal and so we should probably do a movie, guys.

We know this because people have been pitching Wonder Woman movies for years without success, and even a series a few years back that the studio got heavily invested in before canceling – and with good reason; you can watch the pilot on YouTube and it’s awful, pretty much missing the point of the character entirely. The studio is convinced that Wonder Woman is not going to succeed and so they did not care.

And this freed the people involved to create something amazing: a good movie where the enemy isn’t a supervillain, not really, but the stupidity of war and the patriarchy as a whole. Wonder Woman has always been a character tied to equality, feminism, social justice, and philosophy and has two core principles that define her character: truth and compassion.

Her primary weapon is a lasso that makes people tell the truth. Steve Trevor, at his best, is a counter-intelligence agent fight against the propaganda of both sides of the war machine. She’s a goddess whose introduction to men is one of violence and who has learned all her life that men are violent, but she nurses the first man she meets to help. She makes the world around her better by being a past of it.

It bothers me when people associate Wonder Woman with a sword, or miss the point of the Amazons – violence is a ritualized sport for them, and they’re better at it than anyone because it’s physical philosophy, a means of exploring the old healthy mind in a healthy body tenant of the ancient Greeks.

The result of the studio not caring is a film that is bright, colorful, and impactful. Where Superman moves as something beyond the world, Wonder Woman is very much a part of it – she moves with grace and hits like a truck, her presence feeling like a natural example of divinity rather than the alien power with which Superman moves. She’s brilliant, thoughtful, curious, and has no time for the hypocrisy or lies of, well, anyone.

Wonder Woman is not only the best of the DC movies, but one of the best movies that have superheroes in them.

Greg Rucka understands all of this and brings it to life in his comics. He’s got Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott handling art with that same sense of brightness and fluidity and it makes these comics hypnotizing, a rallying cry for a better world in one that sometimes forgets that it can be.

Their counterpoint to BvS in this comic is Wonder Woman meeting Batman and Superman for the first time, and watching as the three of them evolve as friends and colleagues. It’s good times. And this? This is how you capitalize on an excellent movie with an excellent comic.

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423

God of Comics: Wild Storm #4

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 16, 2017

Wild Storm #4 (DC Comics)

Wild Storm? Again? Really?

There’s other comics I cold mention, surely. Marvel’s got some interesting titles I’d love to discuss, but they’re in the process of killing them off while putting actual Nazis in charge, both in their comics and in their offices while blaming their fans for the flagging sales when it’s actually a problem of their own making, so I’m not going to talk about them. Seems fair: if they’re going to push a philosophy that encourages people to kill me, I’m going to do my level best to do the same to them.

Kids, the Holocaust wasn’t bad because Nazis did it. Nazis are bad because they did the Holocaust.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of other good comics being published right now: the four I’ve already talked about today, sure, and a host of others. Valiant, Boom, Dark Horse, Action Lab, Image, Dynamite, and others are all pushing some truly epic comics right now and mingling them with more down to earth ideas, peddling hope and stories of interest.

DC Comics has very much gotten on that bandwagon and is doing their best to make up for lost (nu52) time with Rebirth, and this comic spills out of that drive. Merging the characters from the DC Universe with those from Wild Storm doesn’t work, because the heroes from the DCU would, be definition, stop the Wildstorm problems from existing before they happened (see Grant Morrison’s JLA/WildCATs crossover to see exactly how that would have played out).

Thing is, the Wildstorm characters and stories are still good ones, even if they don’t fit in the proper DCU. DC Comics is combating this by setting a retelling of the Wild Storm in its own universe, a twenty-four issue series penned and plotted by Warren Ellis.

Ellis is pretty much the best person for this job, a talented writer who sifts through complex and layered mythologies the way that most people breathe air. He gets to pick and choose the best parts of Wildstorm and rework them into a modern setting, building up the conspiracies and aliens and other assorted madnesses of that world and reframe them, building them into a tale that grabs, haunts, and traps the reader while offering new takes on familiar characters.

It’s awesome.

We’re four issues in and Miles Craven is just setting up International Operations in his image, hunting down the Engineer as she seeks help from Halo Enterprises. This has resulted in a wild covert action team being spotted by Miles, a small team of killers led by Cole Cash – Grifter. Stormwatch is watching, Grifter is running, and Miles is trying to get a handle on everything before the storm gets too wild to control.

Jon-Davis Hunt excels at bringing small details to a world that needs them, and Ellis is doing that thing where he reminds the rest of us that he is probably the best at writing whatever genre of comics catches his interest (see also: Nextwave, Transmetropolitan, Injection, Supreme: Blue Rose).

Do yourself the favor: hunt this comic down and devour it. You will like it.

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487

God of Comics: Injustice 2 #1 (DC Comics)

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 2, 2017

Speaking of video games with epic stories…

The previous Injustice game featured a world where Superman went insane after the Joker killed Lois Lane. Clark ripped out the Joker’s heart and then decided to go after all the villains, causing a massive amount of infighting and shuffling of alliances and some of the best comics DC published during the nu52 era. Some of the character development – especially with Black Canary and Harley Quinn – is stuff so good that it should be carried over into Rebirth.

It took a lot of cues from the game but ended differently than the game: with one of the most gut-wrenching sacrifices you’re likely to read in a DC Comic, and then veered towards another ending where things lined up with the video game because a sequel was coming out.

The sequel is here.

I pre-ordered this game months ago. I love fighting games.

The new story focuses on new threats and concepts in the world of the old one. Batman eventually took Superman down and was busy trying to rebuild the world. He’s got a good thing going when Supergirl shows up – but she doesn’t know who to trust, whose side to be on, or anything that’s gone on. She knows that Clark is her cousin, though, and so she’s going to side with him… at least for a bit.

Meanwhile, there’s some serious bad juju going down. Darkseid is out there. Brainiac, too. Scarecrow looks properly terrifying. And Bruce…? Well, Clark’s old regime destroyed a lot of good people, so he doesn’t have a lot of allies left to call upon. The game is on. The game is afoot. This is going to be awesome.

Tom Taylor wrote the first few years of the original Injustice comics, and he’s back to write the start of this series. That’s awesome, because he nailed a lot of these characters in a way that the nu52 didn’t, even in this strange world of extremes. Joining his are artists Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran, both of whom had a lot to do with the success of the original series.

DC Comics has been pretty great since Rebirth, and the Injustice comics were among the best to come out of the nu52. As Rebirth is better than the nu52, so we expect this series to be better than the last.

Fingers crossed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go play the original game again and get myself all warmed up for the second.

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311

God of Comics: Bane – Conquest #1 (DC Comics)

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 2, 2017

Bane is a weird character.

No, wait, scratch that. Bane isn’t a weird character, but the treatment of him is. Bane is an important character that can and should be a major player in the DC Comics world and maybe not for the reasons you think.

See, the thing with Bane is that people think that the Venom is what makes him interesting. This is a failure to understand who Bane is; this is a man born into a prison sentence for crimes he never committed, who watched his mother being eaten by sharks and was victimized by a cruel warden of a third world country. He taught himself several languages and a series of arts and histories while imprisoned, honing his mind and his body in circumstances that should have killed him.

If this sounds like the beginning of a hero’s story, it’s because it could be. He freed the other inmates in his prison, was captured and subjected to medical experiments by his country’s military, destroyed them all and escaped. He’d grown up hearing stories of Batman and attacked him not out of obsession but out of a sense of rivalry: Batman was the bar against which he measured himself. He broke the Bat, was beaten by Azrael, kicked his Venom habit over a couple of months – a task that took Bruce most of a year.

Yes, the Venom makes his already incredible athleticism superhuman, but it’s his mind that makes him dangerous. He’s a detective of a skill that nearly matches that of Bruce himself, a scholar and strategist of enough talent that he was able to take down the Batman, a man who can kick his addiction to one of the most addictive substances in the DCU seemingly at will. He’s informed by the trauma of who he is and has no secret identity: Bane is his actual name, the only one he knows.

He’s fascinating. He’s incredible. Most writers use him as simple muscle and miss the subtlety and subtext of the character; he’s just as complex as the Batman that he’s come so close to destroying. Bruce’s reaction to Bane tends to be panic because he knows Bane is the one person who can maybe out-think him.

This series sees the people that originally created him – Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan – back to take him beyond Gotham. Bane has put his original band back together, a trio of criminals known as Bird, Trogg, and Zombie, and the four of them are setting out to build a worldwide criminal empire. This might be the scariest thing that could happen to the criminal underworld in the DCU, a man who gives Batman nightmares coming to rule them all.

And he should. He’s intelligent, ambitious, and ruthless in a way that no one else in the DCU can really match. This is a twelve issue maxi-series, too, meaning that our creative team has a beginning, middle, and end in mind, and if that end doesn’t lead to every hero in the DCU suddenly having to deal with a much more dangerous criminal element I’m going to be very surprised.

See, here’s the thing: the only character I can see that’s gone on this journey before was TAO over in Sleeper (and if you haven’t read Sleeper go to your comic shop and buy Sleeper). Bane is just as dangerous and driven as TAO was, and Bane could make his organization work in a world where DC Superheroes operate (unlike TAO, who could operate in the Wildstorm universe but never the DCU).

This is going to be awesome and you really should get in on the fun now.

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God of Comics: Batman / The Shadow #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 25, 2017

Batman / The Shadow #1 (DC Comics / Dynamite Comics)

The Shadow beat Batman.

Got your attention? Good. The Shadow was a radio play serial that debuted in July of 1930 and followed that up with print in April of 1931. Batman, of course, debuted in Detective Comics in March of 1939. It’s safe to say that Bruce took some things from his forbear, though he upped the theatricality and lost the faux East Asian mysticism. Both characters did originally use guns and outright murder evil-doers, though Batman gave that up shortly after his origin was firmly established, but Bruce still follows a lot of rules the Shadow started.

The Shadow only hunts after dark. So does Bruce. The Shadow has sidekicks and supervillains and a secret lair. So does Bruce. The Shadow has a multi-millionaire alter ego whose life was touched by tragedy. So does Bruce. The animated series even paid homage to the Shadow and his influence on Batman with the Grey Ghost character.

Here’s the set-up: there’s been some spectacular murders happens in Gotham, which is very much the sort of thing that attracts Bruce’s attention. Trick of it is, all the evidence points to Lamont Cranston as being the culprit – but Lamont has been dead for more than fifty years, and is the alter-ego of the original Shadow~!

This is very much the sort of mystery that Bruce loves and can’t let go of, so he’s going to dig deep and peel back the layers until he gets to the truth at the core of Lamont’s life… but the Shadow is out there, trying to stop him, and the Shadow knows exactly the sort of evil that lurks in the heart of every man.

Also, the writing team on this is Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando, the former of which has a reputation as one of the best Batman writers of our era and the latter of which has been doing amazing things all over post-Rebirth DC, so that has a lot of promise. Both of them are also fans of the Shadow and they’ve promised that this is going to be a classic mystery, a meeting of the minds as much as anything else.

As if that wasn’t enough, Riley Motherfucking Rossmo is handling the art on this. You might recognize his gorgeous stylings from Rasputin, Constantine, Hellblazer… the man is unspeakably good at creating mood with a sketchy style that is utterly unlike anyone else working today. His artwork is perfect for a story like this, where nothing is certain and everything is always in danger of falling apart, a world where truth is a vague ephemera, more promise than reality.

Yeah, this sounds like exactly the comic we need right now. Bring it on.

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