Review: Justice League of America #6, Superior Carnage #1, Batman ’66 #1

Talk about a weird line up for a review…but these titles caught my eye this week, and though there were plenty of other gems on my pull list from the Big Two, like Batman and Catwoman #22, Batwoman #22, Wonder Woman #22, the titles in this review deserved just a little bit more attention. We’re talking debuts and major events, people!

Justice League of America #6

JLA_6I wasn’t incredibly impressed with Justice League #22, the first part of the Trinity War event, if only because there was a ton going on, and although it melded well over a dozen stories together, for some reason it didn’t click. Must’ve been the Doctor Light thing…such a huge lead up to “someone” getting killed, and it just kinds puttered by (albeit wrapped up in a fancy Ivan Reis package to go). That, paired with Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1 and my qualms therewith, I really just wasn’t sure what to think before opening JLA #6. But, damn! It. Got. Good.

Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire pull us into the aftermath of what is a life-changing event for the New 52 Superman, and which has the two non-Dark JLs rather shook up. I think Justice League of America #6 has revived Trinity War from the path of Age of Ultron because it combined serious mythological mystery, superhumans plagued with the problems of mortals, and strikes fear and concern into the hearts of the World’s Finest. We start to learn more about the Question, and just what he can do, and we find out that the gods of Olympus used Pandora because they were afraid of the box (that clarifies some of my conundrums with Pandora #1).

Johns and Lemire deliver what is not only the best JLA issue so far, matching the Johns’ skill at complex multi-level narrative creation with Lemire’s ability to make his characters seem human, imbuing them with emotions and fears we never think to see in the like of Superman (who’s now got a cold!). Douglas Mahnke provides pencils that rival Reis’, though they have a more cartoony feel compared to Reis’ very realist approach to character representation. The page spreads in this book are magnificent, fitting the grandeur of two Justice Leagues going head to head.

Trinity Warriors, Justice League of America #6 effectively redeems the long-awaited event, takes the intrigue of Justice League #22 to a new level by questioning the origin of evil, pitting mythology and science and magic against one another in a tale of drama that captures the mystico-scientific and superpower paranoia facing us mortals in the real world.

Trinity War continues with Justice League Dark #22, and if JLA #6 is any indication of how earth-shatteringly awesome this event is panning out to be, then you can’t miss the next installment.

Story: Geoff Johns, Jeff Lemire  Art: Douglas Mahnke
Story: 8  Art: 7.75  Overall: 8  Recommendation: Buy

Superior Carnage #1

2961334-superiorcarnage_1_coverI’ll lay it bare: even for a Spidey fan (my second favorite Marvel menace), I had absolutely no idea who Carnage was until the solicits for Superior Spider-Month, and I’m not necessarily ashamed, though my collection includes Amazing Spider-Man #340, an issue in which Peter is attack by a bunch of female baddies, and just four issues before Carnage’s debut in #344 (1991). So putting Superior Carnage #1 on my pull-list was really just a nod to the whole Superior Spider-Month of July. I can say after reading it, that as a fan of horror comics, this five-part mini-series is going to stay securely on that list.

Writer Kevin Shinick, who has a very diverse track record, and artist Stephen Segovia blew me out of the water with this first issue, and creeper me out just a bit…they almost had me a shit-stained Ted Connelly. Scarlet Spider’s monstrous side, and the more demonic incarnations of Venom, have nothing on Superior Carnage, who’s really a blood-red Venom on bathsalts, a murdering, rampaging monster, and the ultimate weapon.

Shinick’s use of the throwaway Connelly character is a brilliant way to build the legend of Carnage for a first-time reader, allowing the anticipation of the red horror to sink in for seven pages before SPLOOSH! Carnage is back, baby! Segovia’s Carnage is the child of nightmares, and he expertly captures the fear and piss-stains of Connelly, and shows his talent with a remarkable full-page bleed panel in which The Wizard reveals something of Venom’s history and his own plans for Carnage. The transitions between characters while juxtaposing Shinick’s monologue for The Wizard is cover-worthy comic art.

Superior Carnage #1 is a fantastic debut for this creative team, and a great way to get to know this absolutely terrifying character. I’m a little on edge to see what The Wizard has in store for Carnage, but I trust this series will live up to the first issue and make for a great Marvel horror saga.

Story: Kevin Shinick  Art: Stephen Segovia
Story: 7.5  Art: 8  Overall: 8  Recommendation: Buy

 BATMAN-66-1-CoverLRBatman ’66 #1

I’ve saved the best for last, and no, I didn’t think this comic was going to be worth even the $3.99 cover price—I think I need to stop underestimating comics, or maybe I should keep doing it so I keep reading great ones when I’m expecting drivel. Batman ’66 #1 really is a case of judging a book by its cover; it’s a little mean to say, but Michael and Laura Allred’s cover is offputtingly ugly (which is weird, because Michael Allred’s covers are usually fantastic), but once you get past its ugly exterior, it’s a joyride inside.

Jeff Parker weaves a tale of the Riddler and his quest to solve a riddle left in the statues of a bygone artist, and this first issue involves Batman, the Boy Wonder, Catwoman, and the Riddler. Holy Good Writing, Parker must have rewatched Batman: The Movie (1966) and the original television show (1966-1968), because all of the dialogic camp of Adam West and Burt Ward is incarnate in the script. The original TV series and movie will always have a place in comic fans’ hearts, and though we may laugh at the ridiculousness of the 60s Batman, Parker has made Batman ’66 #1 both an impressive homage to that era in the Dark Knight’s history as well as a light-hearted adventure that I think even the most close-minded of Batman fans with take seriously.

Jonathan Case goes miles beyond Parker’s script to creates the atmosphere of the iconographically pot-drenched, acid-tripping 1960s (seriously people, there was more to that whole decade that peculiar intoxicants and smelly dancers swinging to guitar medleys), and with the fell swoop of his artistic genius he invigorates Batman ’66 #1 with bold pastels and bright psychedelic hues. Case does not shy away from an ingenious and plainly fun use of Kirby dots in a nod to that era’s artistic style, and he pairs these with some of the best colorist work I’ve seen all year. Is it too late to sign him up for a Harvey?!

Batman ’66 #1 is a unique pleasant surprise, a nice break from the dark world of today’s larger-than-life superhero narratives, yet still couched in the mythology of the Dark Knight! Go figure, folks!

Story: Jeff Parker  Art: Jonathan Case
Story: 9  Art: 9  Overall: 9  Recommendation: Buy