The Dark Knight Returns is a masterpiece. Frank Miller could do no wrong. Daredevil, Batman: Year One, and Sin City; the man was untouchable. In 2001 he followed up TDKR with a sequel. It was trash. Next came his film adaptation of The Spirit. It too, was trash.
The one-time mastermind was quickly becoming a parody of his former glory.
So when DC announced The Dark Knight 3, any anticipation was also met with a considerable amount of pessimism. Which Miller would we be getting? The man who blazed a new frontier for comics? Or the Miller that no one wants to invite to Thanksgiving?
Breath easy, classic Miller is back, and he’s brought some friends with him, most notably, Brian Azzarello (100 Bullets, Wonder Woman). Anyone familiar with Azzarello’s work will find his voice all throughout this issue, which provides a fresh take on Miller’s well-established world. Future Gotham is a shitty place. Crime is always at an increasing high. Taking from headlines of today, police brutality and racial unrest are more prevalent in Gotham of the Future, but none of it ever feels preachy. In fact, it serves as a mere backdrop to the book’s themes of Legacy.
Our heroes are old, if they’re even around anymore. The mantle must be passed on and the flame must continue to burn. With Commissioner Yindel still trying to make a name for herself, Carrie Kelly’s continuing evolution, and Lara, the daughter of Supes and Wonder Woman, trying to find her place in life; Legacy is the undercurrent here. Not to mention three of the biggest roles in the book are all female. That just kickass in its own right!
Andy Kubert (Batman and Son, Flashpoint), Klaus Janson (Superman) and Brad (Superman: Lois & Clark) Anderson‘s art hits all the marks. The style is reminiscent of the original Dark Knight while not being a slave to it. The book takes on a claustrophobic feeling, cramming as much content into its panels as it possibly can. Fans will find Miller’s biggest presence in the mini-comic towards the end of the issue that helps to flesh out the supporting characters — including one CW superhero show favorite — that feel 100% Miller; it’ll be interesting to see how they tie in with the rest of the story as a whole.
Miller, like the Dark Knight himself, is back. This first issue packs plenty of punch. While feeling like a set-up to an epic run, it sometimes feels like it forgets to focus more on the smaller, issue-to-issue story. At least for now. 4/5 Batfleck Bibles.
Thanksgiving Stash (Update: 11/25) – The Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1, Ms. Marvel #1, Vader Down #1/Darth Vader #13, The Mighty Thor #1, Red Thorn #1
Fistful of Comics I (Update: 11/23) – Spider-Woman #1, Black Knight #1
Sunday Stash (Update: 11/22) – Huck #1, Batman Europa #1, Web Warriors #1
Better late than never… Ms. Marvel #1 has got to be one of the most charming comic books I’ve ever read (GO MARVEL!). The book opens up with Kamala Khan fighting alongside the Avengers and quickly transitions into her everyday life and everyday problems as a teenager. Though I’m a newbie to the series in this Volume 2, I had no problem following writer G. Willow Wilson‘s fantastic bit of backstory throughout the issue.
Being an Avenger has kept Kamala extremely busy, too, so she has missed out on quite a few things that have been going on at school. As her friends tell her… she hasn’t really been “there”. The story then focuses on her love interest, Bruno and his new girlfriend Mike (trust me, jokes are cracked). Bruno walks Kamala through the initial steps of his new relationship, which seems pretty dumb–but the New Avenger just had to know. It’s a good thing her resent can slowly melt into her busy new lifestyle. Later, we see how popular Ms. Marvel has become in Jersey City, when she finds her picture on a Hope Yards Development billboard–something she isn’t thrilled with, which leads to further intriguing obstacles.
While the story felt a little rushed and the amazing artwork by Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona was also a little jumbled and kind of IN YOUR FACE, I did enjoy how accurately the sketches portrayed Kamala’s nervous/irritable mood. I could totally relate to the story, and Kamala’s feelings which made the story even more fun to read (not really sure why though… since I’m not an Avenger, nor am I a teenage girl in high school… maybe just because she is all over the place and so am I). Even if you missed out on the first volume, definitely give the All-New Ms. Marvel a shot! Till next time, Geeeekkksss…!!! 4/5 Qurans.
Before I get to this week’s Darth Vader #13, yours truly has the distinct pleasure of bringing you two reviews. That’s right. You’re getting TWO reviews for the price of ONE! Have we at GHG gone insane? Possibly, but the lab results are still out…
Vader Down #1 is brought to us by the extremely talented duo Jason Aaron (The Goddamned) and Mike Deodato (New Avengers). Aaron is hands-down one of my favorite writers right now. His take on Vader is on par with both Kieron Gillen’s take on the Sith Lord and the cinematic version, but Aaron and Gillen’s take actually make Darth Vader that much more powerful, frightening and that much more awe-inspiring. Vader Down sees the Sith Lord continue his search for Luke Skywalker on Vrogas Vas, taking out entire space squadrons on his dreaded way.
Deodato’s artwork is just superb, like always, as he’s able to capture the strength and the magnitude of Darth Vader and just why everyone is afraid of him. And why is everyone afraid of him? Because everyone should be, as Vader himself says while surrounded by a massive army of rebels, “All I am surrounded by is fear. And dead men.” That’s a pretty ballsy thing to say, but when you are a Sith Lord as powerful as he is, it’s not cockiness; it’s the truth.
Before I continue, allow me to state that I have not been disappointed in one Marvel Star Wars book. The writing and artwork has just been spectacular, but I think that is what happens when you are working on something that everyone loves and reveres. Also, these books do a fantastic job of connecting A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back.
In Darth Vader #13 — the second part of 6 in “Vader Down” — Gillen’s Vader takes on an entire army of Rebels…and it’s not even a battle. Luke tries to find a Jedi temple that both him and daddy accidently stumble upon one, a nice touch since we all know Luke won’t receive any training until Empire Strikes Back). More interesting is the trio of Aphra, Triple-Zero and Beetee and what Vader has in store for them. Salvador Larroca’s artwork has been just as nice as the story, considering the challenge of capturing the likeness of characters everyone knows and loves. You can almost hear James Earl Jones come off the pages of Vader Down. Both issues = 4.75/5 Darth Bibles.
This title reminds me a bit of the “Dangerous Habits” arc from Hellblazer, of played a bit looser, a lot quicker, and a bit lighter. Jason Aaron (Vader Down, up above) throws us right into the story, not stopping for any filler, but just reintroducing us to Jane Foster as the Mighty Thor, more the worse for wear this time out. The art is workman-like, neither standing out nor distracting, merely there to tell the story and not embellish. In, out, and moving on. This title is much the same: throwing us straight into the plot with minimal exposition (which is great, since I am far behind my modern Thor lore). But this is an interesting first issue, has a lot to offer (although, again, the art is nothing spectacular or unique), and a bit light and short, surprisingly. After padding out the Amazing Spider-Man, I’d have expected Thor to get the same treatment, but alas. 3.75/5 Crashing Weather Space Stations.
It is time to break out the old Scottish mythology books because Red Thorn #1 will most likely have more allusions and symbols like the one spoken by what looks like a chained up hot, nude ginger tattooed god. Writer David Baille (2000AD, Judge Dredd), a proud Scott, pays tribute to his city of Glasgow by putting landmarks such as the Barrowland and King Tut’s in the comic.
The readers in issue #1 is truly getting a tour of Glasgow by Baille himself, and it seems to even come with Baille’s special 90’s mixtape. And, with artist Meghan Hetrick (Bodies, Joker’s Daughter), colorist Steve Oliff (Akira, Spawn), and letterer Todd Klein (Sandman, The Omega Man), one has to pause and wonder how much of Baille really put himself into the main character, Isla, and should readers be worried.
The beautiful protagonist Isla is on a quest to find answers about the sister that she never met. However, on this journey, she will most likely learn more about her ability to make her art come to life and even control people through her sketches. This ability seems like a gift. After all, who wouldn’t want to draw oneself out of receiving a traffic ticket or make the perfect partner? But watching Isla’s flashback to the first time when her ability became apparent, no one would want to gamble by putting pen to paper. No matter how hard she tries to abstain from drawing, she finds herself drawing the same unknown man. This impulse she discovers is ancient and in her blood. The first issue of any comic series can be difficult, but Baillle seamlessly frames the story to give readers a clear exposition and gives an intriguing background of the main character that makes readers beg for more. 4/5 Blood Bibles.
FISTFUL OF COMICS
If a Spider-Woman #1 written by Dennis Hopeless sounds familiar to you, yes, this did happen last year; but thanks to those Secret (and possibly Interminable) Wars, it’s time for yet another #1 to grace the stands.
Hopeless (Avengers Arena) takes this opportunity to shake up the status quo and make our heroine eight months pregnant. This by no means takes Jessica Drew out of the action, maternity leave notwithstanding. She gets an opening-scene mentor-by-headset exchange with her porcupine-suit-wearing protege Shriek while standing on top of Ben Urich’s car, we get reminded that she and Carol Danvers are best friends, and then we cut to a maternity-leave party in which Hopeless does a solid job letting Tony Stark serve as reader’s proxy and voice the paternity question on everyone’s mind. The following maternity-leave montage is much more interesting than it sounds before a cliffhanger that is very interesting if you’ve been reading Marvel comics longer than five years.
Hopeless does a terrific job setting everything up and walking the line between the fantastic and the mundane, but his art team does a whole lot of heavy lifting. Javier Rodriguez hit the big time as colorist and occasional fill-in penciler on Waid’s Daredevil and teams here with Alvaro Lopez (Catwoman) to infuse this tale of a superheroic mother-to-be with a European sensibility full of strong character work and facial acting. If you’re at all intrigued by the premise, definitely pick this up and expect to be won over. 4/5 + Results.
Consider this Demi-Fan of Comicdom, so Marveldosed over the fact that his formerly favorite fanboy publisher, has rebooted his own oeuvre sooo many times in the past thirty-some-odd years; that he nary has any interest in Stan Lee’s re-salvaged lore… You mean…the BEST The Man can do anymore, is give us yet another iteration of his battle axed-weary, Battleworld Mash-Up, every decade or so??? That’s so 1984!!! How about a NEW Majestic Marvelverse, with some NEW Fangled Villains and Ass-Kickin’ Heroes??? But here we are: Another reboot. Another repeat. Another replay… Another fucking yawneth, on the horizon…… And then again…perhaps not?? What slay you???
Now…let us breaketh down the Round Table here, shall we? So…dear Ladies, and good Sirs…who is responsible for this Marvel Rebooteth, entitled Black Knight #1? Why…it is none other than: The Write Knight, known as Frank Tieri (Underworld, Wolverine, Deadpool); Sir Pencilalot, Luca Pizzari (Glimmer Man, red Skull); Color-at-Arms, Antonio Fabela (Spider-Man 2099, BlackAcre); and Letter Bearer, Joe Sabino (Deadpool, Thunderbolts)… Allow me to proclaim right here and now, that even though the Kingdom of Marvel grants us a title redux; I must confess that this Band of Knights, does deliver with a certain air of chivalry…
Yet unbeknownst to us mere mortals, is how our righteous hero, Dane Whitman, (once again inheriting the familial mantle of the Black Knight), has come to inhabit the enigmatic realm of Weirdworld. Wielding his Ebony Blade, this Dark Knight has risen to conquer a new keep; and he has bequeathed it, New Avalon. Although this is Black Knight III, our aforementioned Marvelers have given us an exalted environ within which to retell a tale that portends of sordid subversion. Turmoil exists within Sir Dane’s inner ranks; and left to their own devices, his lieutenants may not give quarter unto one another, when quarreling in kind. The underpinnings of this particular sphere of Weirdxistence seems most sinister, in every iota of its manifestations; and all may well be damned, no matter where their blades may fall…
Despite this Third Battleworld rehash, this latest incarnation of Black Knight may yet yield an insidiously enticing parlay of epic proportion… What say ye, to a Blood Curse that may turn the tide of this goodhearted hero, into one of unbridled blackness??? Can a cavalcade of Uncanny Crusaders wreak vengeance upon a conflicted cavalier, whose own morality may be at risk of melting into the primordial ooze, of this wickedly weird, weird, weird, Weirdworld??? 3.75/5 Severed King Heads.
THE SUNDAY STASH
I really just have one word for Huck…adorable! This is the story of a man who was left at an orphanage as a boy who now lives everyday by doing one good deed. He has a secret, though. He has super strength and never tires out. Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Old Man Logan) captures the simplicity of this tale of the world’s sweetest man through very charming dialogue, while Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire, Blue Beetle) captures the feel of the mid-west with his muted colors and thin lines. He especially pays great detail to facial expressions, since a lot of the story is told without dialogue.
Huck #1 was also a very quick read, but still fun to flip through. The real drama is at the end when you find out that someone has betrayed Huck’s secret. All in all, I would say this was a great set up for what seems to be a heartbreaking tale of betrayal, with a quasi-superhero twist. 4/5 Bibles.
Following in the foot-steps of the Spider-Verse and Secret Wars comics, Web Warriors #1 provides a proper follow-up to the story of the many Spideys and their universes. The Web Warriors (as they decided to be called) is a group consisting of many Spider-people from the various universes, coming together to monitor and protect the ones that no longer have a Spider-presence, some of which are a result from the Secret Wars. In this first ish we not only get a bit more understanding of some of the Spider-members, but also learn that they aren’t the only ones that know about the multiple versions of themselves and how to travel between said universes. It was interesting at first to see what various versions of Spider-man could exist, and now we’re given a glimpse at some of the variations of a popular nemesis of Spider-Man.
Written by Mika Costa (G.I. Joe: Cobra) with art by David Baldeon (Nova, X-Men: Legacy), the story has a bit of humor mixed in with the main storyline to remind you that while these Spider-folk are here to protect and help, they also find the different universes to be a bit strange and yet oddly familiar. Reading the previous Spider-Verse issues and the Secret Wars series would give a better understanding of the background, but Web Warriors was written so its not necessary, and anyone could jump right in on the first issue. Costa even put in a few little notes pointing to previous issues, and a page giving a brief background on each of the members of the team. As a bonus, the last few pages of the comic gives yet another variation on Spider-Man, but not one that is part of the Web Warriors… yet. Hopefully we will see more of this very interesting and excellent take on the character. 4/5 Woven Webs.
Look. The platform for a review is to make a sort of a general determination whether or not a particular comic is worth your time. Let’s just make that clear since this could come off as being too harsh a critique or having a pretty bleak outlook on the state of comics.
I’m sorry for all of that, obviously, but also, don’t waste your time with this comic.
Batman Europa #1, the Caped Crusader’s latest globe-trotting DC adventure, takes Batman to — you guessed it — EUROPE! Berlin! The city of doorways and arches, avenues and alleyways; Europe’s own Gotham City! A city with enough history and personality to bring a new look and, possibly, new threat to the Dark Knight! And what newfangled threats await The Dark Knight in ominous Berlin? — The Joker! The Joker. The. Joker. The Joker? The fucking Joker. How many times — and in how many ways — do we have to see this same showdown again and again and again? And again?! And…again. Our mightiest comics’ heroes suffer from a terrible bout of the “same old story, same old song-and-dance,” and here’s the hard evidence. If anything new had been done to keep both characters and the story fresh (perhaps actually utilizing the European setting some more significant way), this title would have been a lot better. As it is, though…ugh.
It’s a shame as well, as Batman’s titular book has created a new, unique dynamic, while introducing a terrifying new villain, AND getting into social commentary (just reread the excellent Batman #44). The talent involved here (Brian Azzarello writing? Jim Lee doing art?! How could this possibly not be good?) usually delivers as well, but here the talent doesn’t elevate the concept. As smaller indie publisher take comics off into new storytelling territory and the comics-to-film movement becomes the behemoth we’ve all waited for it to be, some of the well-trodden territory of mainstream comics are going to have to step up their game. 2/5 Bibles.