Justice League Dark #1

Justice League Dark #1

Apparently it’s the year of returning characters. Both Marvel and DC seem to be on their classic reintroduction and renumbering methods in order to pull in alienated fans (Marvel a little more egregious than DC) but these last few efforts at reintroducing teams and forgotten heroes / villains on DC’s part, to be fair, has actually been a lot of fun. Characters like Plastic Man, Booster Gold and Hawkman are characters that had a fundamental spot in the pre-New 52 era of DC comics and to see them coming back slowly into the spotlight is a welcomed change to the otherwise safe but stale main line of heroes. Batman / Superman / Wonder Woman and the rest of the league are great characters, I like them all, but they only go so far in entertainment value. DC Universe is massive in scale, and they’re finally showing that again for the first time since 2011. Justice League Dark is another addition to that growing gallery. In the beginning of the New 52, JL Dark had a healthy run unlike some of the other mentioned titles, but it quickly became somewhat bland. While we had some great, well-known characters like Constantine, the New 52 roster was quickly replaced by new and less interesting weirdos of the DC universe. This new JL Dark looks promising, bringing some much needed attention to the dark and mysterious underbelly of the DC Comics world with a roster of fan favorites.

Magic is all out of whack and the entire magic community of the DC Universe is feeling its effects. Zatanna’s magic shows are going all wrong, Constantine is lying low, Swamp Thing is in despair and much of the rest of the magic world has gone into hiding. After the events of No Justice, Wonder Woman is tasked with creating and leading a magic focused department of the Justice League. While WW isn’t exactly the most textbook Magic user on the League, her time on her home island Themyscira and history with the Greek Pantheon provide more experience than any other league member. Still, Wonder Woman doesn’t exactly fit into the Magic side of the world. It’s dark, mysterious and things aren’t quite so black and white as truth and justice. Wonder Woman is a paragon of light, and that alienates her. That, along with the unanswered going-ons with Magic in general makes things a little difficult for Diana. The Magic world isn’t exactly friendly with each other, though with a great evil force descending upon them in the near future, Wonder Woman will have to find a way to band these old allies together again and reform the Justice League Dark

Tynion IV is writing this comic, which is a good and a bad thing. His story writing and his big scale tendencies make for really exciting and intense comic books. But Tynion is most well known for writing big event style comics. Metal, Batman Eternal, Zero Year, etc. So JL Dark quickly feels perhaps too big for its britches. It’s extremely dialogue heavy, and we’re quickly thrown into a storyline that’s world ending in size. It’s a little jarring from what you would expect of Justice League Dark, which usually deals with the shadows and the terrors underneath your bed. I’m not saying the writing is bad, it’s actually quite good, but I’m concerned of the direction this comic is immediately going in, and how much staying power it has if it goes huge from the very beginning. Tynion’s work on Constantine does show that he knows the Magic world of the DC Universe, and his style and finesse with these kind of darker characters shows pretty well in this first issue. Wonder Woman is a great paragon to balance everything out, and I think she’s a really intelligent aspect that will bring an awesome spin on the otherwise bleak comic. Not to say the comic shouldn’t be bleak, it should, that’s what JL: Dark is, but we’re quickly finding a strong balance with WW and I really enjoy it.

Dark has great writing and beautiful art, to be expected, though its story starts out huge with questionable room to grow. Hopefully Tynion can pull through and deliver a team comic with some staying power.

(4.5 / 5)

Beckett #1

Beckett #1

Listen, I’m a sucker for Star Wars content. I don’t care what it is or who it’s about, I’m probably in. Does Marvel oversaturate the Star Wars comic book market? Yes. Am I their pathetic demographic? Absolutely. Beckett is a one-shot Star Wars comic based off the Han Solo mentor character from the Solo movie. Why is there a comic about this character? Who knows. There shouldn’t be, and yet here I am, buying and reading it. In all fairness, Marvel usually does a pretty good job with these short stories, and it’s hard to pass up these 1 and done issues. As long as they’re not trying to make anything continuous out of this, I can’t really complain. With the controversy that surrounded the necessity and the quality of the Solo movie still here though, I question the decision to print this comic book. DJ from The Last Jedi got his own comic book and I’m sure that sold all of 3 copies total. I gave it a read anyway.

Beckett is about everything you would expect. He’s a scoundrel and he doesn’t care who he screws over if it means he and his team are better off for it. We follow Beckett and his familiar band of criminals across the galaxy in 3 small adventures, paying homage to some characters from Solo and giving us a few glimpses into Becketts otherwise everyday life. He’s clever, shoots from the hip and he gets away with it too. Each different chapter shows a some different sides of the crew, though all seriousness aside, it’s mostly about them getting out of any precarious situation they manage to get themselves into, and there’s not much else to it.

Reviewing a Star Wars comic book is pretty easy for me. Does it feel and look like Star Wars? Yes. Beckett manages with it’s art and story to give off a pretty convincing Star Wars vibe, and that’s more than I can say about a few of the Marvel Star Wars comics of the past few years. The look of this comic works, and while the story is extremely simple and provides nothing new or exceptional it’s also entertaining enough to keep you reading. That info can be turned on its head though, especially when considering what this comic book is. No one really cares about this character, and while I liked Solo, like Woody Harrelson and didn’t mind Beckett as a character, he’s pretty disposable. This comic is obviously designed for die hards and loyal readers, because no one else is going to pick this up, nor should they, and if Marvel is okay with that then it looks like we have a pretty decent comic book here. What more can you ask for? Beckett is a passable comic that should appease Beckett fans. If they’re out there. Kudos to the artist for putting chapters in this comic, and using an entire half page to indicate chapters 1-3. That’s cool and different.

(3.5 / 5)

Superman #1

Superman #1

All good things must come to an end, and Peter Tomasi’s run on Superman was a very, very good thing. Upon the release of New 52, Superman became a very different character. He was young, inexperienced, perhaps a little angsty. It was a massive shift from the type of Superman that had been so recognizable for the back 80 years. Kudos to DC for trying something different, for taking such a staple character and twisting him just enough to really shake things up, but it didn’t work, and for a few years we were left with a Superman that just wasn’t very likable. Nostalgia overtook us. Fans of Superman longed for the truth and justice boyscout to come back to the DC frontline once again. Haters of Superman realized they didn’t care what DC did, and as such, voices were heard. Rebirth Superman was whole again, and Tomasi took everything about that old Superman and ran with it, this time with his young son Jonathan to help him out. It was the most fun I’ve had with a comic book in a really long time, but Tomasi eventually was shifted out, and he moved on to other projects. Brian Michael Bendis, after his departure from Marvel Comics, took over the comic book, and as controversial as he is across the comic book industry, Superman would be his chance to show his skills on the comic page once again.

Superman #1 opens showing the superpowered Kryptonian in all his superhero glory – putting out fires, punching giant dinosaurs, exploring the unknown reaches of space. You know, the typical stuff. After realizing the true history of his planet (something I won’t spoil here), Kal is in a bit of a bind. Could he be doing more? And what is he raising his young superpowered son to be? A hero like him? Being perhaps the most powerful mortal in the entire universe had it benefits, but it came with some difficulties too, and perhaps Kal could provide something more for his son than just his legacy. J’onn J’onzz, a similarly powered being with a similar backstory has an option for Supes. Become the world’s leader. Hell, become the leader of the galaxy. Superman is a good person, a benevolent person. He could bring the people of Earth and others together. Uncountable amounts of needless turmoil would be put to rest. People would rally around him, desperate for change. Kal, for obvious reasons isn’t exactly convinced. Though perhaps on paper it was a good idea. Perhaps he could do more. He half heartedly says he’ll think about it, knowing the idea is pretty sketchy.

This comic is interesting, and I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it overall. There are some points of contention. The comic borderline feels like it’s trying too hard. It has this very enjoyable 70’s vibe to it. An occasional narration overlord talking to the reader, which harkens back to the classic “Meanwhile, at the Legion of Doom!” style of storytelling, but it skirts the line of being over the top. Luckily, it doesn’t cross it quite yet. The comic is humorous, and not afraid to use Superman’s overpowered nature to its fullest in an enjoyable way, but again, any further and it’ll feel ingenuine. Bendis’ criticisms about thinking he’s a bit more clever than he actually is peeks its head here, but Superman #1 remains lighthearted and entertaining enough to not ruin itself. My expectations after Tomasi are near unreachable, and that’s the unfortunate reality DC is going to have to face with a lot of people who have cherished this short comic book run up until this point. This new team and new series is, after 1 issue only, satisfactory. But the direction Bendis teeters in his writing style for the Man of Steel will make or break this comic book, and that’s a little scary. I’ll always stick with Superman regardless, and I’m excited to see where this comic book goes.

(3.5 / 5)

X-23 #1

X-23 #1

I stopped reading All New Wolverine half-way through. I felt like it was lacking an important aspect of what every comic book should have – an identity. Laura Kinney, better known as X-23 is a really cool and likable character. She’s an equally violent but less serious version of Wolverine and in the midst of the extremely well written but extremely dark comic Old Man Logan that was in its prime, All New Wolverine was an equally action packed but much lighter rendition of the clawed mutant. About halfway through, however, it began to falter in its storytelling. Many of the issues felt filler and boring to read. They weren’t leading anywhere, and the characters, say for Laura and her younger quippier sister Gabby, we’re uninteresting. The comic really began to lack in telling a story that mattered, and as such became somewhat of a shell of a comic. X-23 is a chance to revitalize the ongoing story of the young wolverine clone and give it some structure where it had lost it previously, and while I hold some of the same fears that this comic will take a similar path and fade into obscurity, these first issues may be worth the time and effort to hope.

It’s X-23’s birthday, but she’s pretty lukewarm on the whole thing. Her birth and upbringing aren’t really anything to celebrate, at least in her eyes. She’s a clone created out of a malicious science. Meant to be used as a dangerous weapon to kill countless lives at the command of some pretty bad people. On top of that, there’s hundreds, maybe even thousands of clones just like her, just like her sister Gabbie, all with the Weapon X serum running through their veins. All used as weapons and killers. Is X-23 different? She’s not so sure. Nevertheless her journey continues to find information, anyway she can, about the mutant scientific experiments constantly creating newer and more dangerous versions of the Wolverines. Those responsible are few and far between, and they’re hard to find. With a myriad of villains and Weapon X clones waiting to stop her at her every move, Laura fights tirelessly, though not without the upbeat company of her little clone sister, to uncover secrets of her life and the Weapon X programs.

X-23 #1 finds its footing pretty quickly here by throwing its readers back into the action and forgiving anyone who didn’t read the entirety of All New Wolverine by offering a few points of review. The reality is that A.N.W. really wasn’t that impactful from the story perspective say for the first maybe 15 issues so it’s easy to say a few lines to refresh or quickly catch everyone up to speed. Laura and Gabbie are sisters, they’re Wolverine clones, they have claws, there’s a lot of other Wolverine clones running around, they’re trying to stop them. That’s 35 issues read, here we are. X-23 offers both a good, clean opening story and some great inner dialogue from X-23. Life can be a little difficult when you’re born and raised as a clone and a killer drone, and this first issue, by using Laura’s birthday, does a really great job of delving into her thoughts about the whole thing. Not only that, the mystery and investigation aspect of trying to uncover the secrets of the Weapon X programs makes for a compelling read. With the inclusion of the X Mansion and a bunch of other X-Men to boot, this comic was surprisingly easy and fun to read. Now the question remains: will this comic retain its interesting story and maintain its theme? Or will it go off the rails similarly to how All New Wolverine did. I think we have a great, strong start here. Now we just wait, and read.

(4 / 5)

The Weather Man #1

The Weather Man #1

Image just doesn’t stop. It’s kind of crazy in all reality. They’re truly a powerhouse of the independent world, and there’s something oddly consistent about the quality of the comic books they’re putting out. But on top of that, there seems to be no quality over quantity method here or vise versa. The sheer amount of quantity and quality Image is putting out on a weekly basis is borderline unexplainable and whatever they’re doing over there it’s working. Weather Man is really no exception and even though I was skeptical about the creative team and the genre of story going into this comic, The Weather Man is really a shining example of the benefits of this company taking risks and allowing these creative teams to put their ideas to page unfiltered.

Mars has been terraformed and of course taken over by humankind. It’s a technological wonderland and every aspect of it is carefully controlled and kept in order. Mars and its volatile ecosystem likely isn’t the most livable place in the universe so the weather is not only controlled but bought as sold as a commodity. Millionaires can purchase days of rain or sunshine and while that may be morally questionable, it certainly makes reporting the weather pretty easy. Nathan Bright is Mars’ #1 weatherman. He’s casual, suave, care free, and you can see why. Life is pretty easy when there’s no research to be done. Report the weather that’s scheduled to happen and your job is done. Life is pretty good, but of course, not for long. There seems to be more going on with Mars than meets the eye, and when Nathan goes on a date with a new mystery woman life comes full circle as he’s thrown into a life or death situation, running from an unknown bounty hunter with his girlfriend who turns out to be a Mars cop. Turns out Nathan is responsible for the death of near 20 billion people, a terrorist attack that took place sometime in the past. While it’s apparent Nathan has no idea what’s going on or even how / if he actually did, everyone wants his head nonetheless.

There’s something really special with The Weather Man. It’s intelligently written and it’s clever. It knows how to be funny and it knows when to be cool, and it’s certainly not afraid to cross any boundaries. There’s a certain amount of potential I see in this comic that I don’t see in a lot of the other really good comic books. Descender / Rat Queens potential, and I really hope the creative team carries it to fruition because they’ve successfully created a comic book #1 that can truly go anywhere and still work. There’s no obvious or right pathway here and that’s pretty useful for not only the creative team but the people waiting eagerly for every next issue. The Weather Man was an extremely interesting and wonderfully written open ended #1 and that’s always a major win in an over saturated comic book industry. Another win-win for Image.

(4.5 / 5)

Catwoman #1

Catwoman #1

The Bat wedding is upon is, and as expected so is controversy. If you haven’t read Batman #50, it’s worth checking out to at least understand what all the buzz is about. It’s been a very long buildup – months of it, and the climax of it all has people at opinionated polar opposites. Catwoman is the fallout of Batman #50, a branching of Selina Kyle’s story as she breaks away from being a main character of the Batman main title and begins her own journey outside of Gotham. If it’s not obvious yet, things don’t go exactly according to plan, and a master thief in emotional unbalance is a character worth following. Perhaps this reboot of a Catwoman going title walks in dangerous territory though, treading the line of walking on Batman #50’s coattails. *Spoilers Ahead*

Catwoman and Batman are in a questionable place right now, and although its apparent Selina’s conclusion to not go through with the wedding hasn’t left either of them in bad standings with each other, emotions and relationships are delicate right now and Selina feels the need to leave her life in Gotham, at least temporarily, and pursue both her capture of criminals and her desire for commiting her own crimes elsewhere. However, despite her lying low, someone is after her with an army of copycat Catwomen, full body catsuit and all. It sounds corny, and it kind of is, but somehow with the suave, sly and 70s spy style this comic book is going for it works, crazy deformed main villain and all.

Catwoman #1 has a couple of things going for it. It’s style and its self-awareness trump all other things here. Selina Kyle is best when she’s outsmarting everyone and looking good doing it. The black and purple colors that play into the scenery of this comic blend beautifully with her jet black hair and black costume, so the artist really knows how to add that sleek and appealing look that makes a thief / heist comic look so beautiful. While the writing isn’t anything to be disappointed about, the story is lacking, and like I mentioned earlier it’s kind of difficult not to feel as though the comic book really rode on the success of Batman #50, even putting all over the cover that it was basically just a continuation. #1’s should be and are a big deal, it’s why Marvel keeps renumbering back to #1 like every 6 months. So, with that being said the whole thing feels sort of lame. The comic itself doesn’t really deal with the wedding in a meaningful way, so it fails to really hold any identity. Had it really gone and done its own thing rather than use Batman #50 as a marketing maneuver, I would have felt better about it. Setting aside that aspect for just a second though, Catwoman does a pretty okay job at presenting a fun, stylish and easy to enjoy #1. Selina Kyle hasn’t had a solo comic in some time now, and it’s the master thief is overdue for a good run. I think there’s some potential to this, as long as it keeps its amazing style and develops an identity away from the Batman run.

(3.5 / 5)

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