The second part of “Their Dark Designs” delivers an interesting chapter in Batman #87. While it builds upon the mystery of who is bankrolling this latest attack on Gotham, it’s the character interactions that stand out.
Written by James Tynion IV, the issue brings in new pieces of the puzzle, the Riddler and Penguin. Each are part of the game being played and both are also targets of the mysterious bad guy. Their interaction reveals who is and who isn’t behind the hiring of Deathstroke and his crew. And, it’s their interaction that sets the tone of the comic and focus.
Tynion continues to lay out the new status-quo for his vision of Batman. Without an Alfred to guide him, there’s a conscious effort to display what Bruce/Batman’s attitude is at this point. Whether it’s talking with Lucious, Catwoman, or Bullock, each scene gives us an idea of what we should expect and where Batman is at this point.
The issue also continues whatever the big picture plan is. Like a good heist story, the concept is already convoluted with being captured and needing to escape. There’s more to it but it’s best to not think about the details at this point. As more is revealed, hopefully the “why” of those details of this issue will make a bit more sense. For now, turn your brain off.
The art is where I’m most mixed on the issue. Guillem March both nails it and doesn’t. Details of characters feel lost at times lacking a crispness we’ve seen in other recent Batman artists. But, the layouts of the pages are inspired. There’s some very solid work delivering different perspectives that create an engaging flow of a read visually. Tomeu Morey‘s colors stand out as well, especially in the beginning. March delivers his vision for the Riddler and Penguin and each are more monstrous than we’ve seen recently. Morey’s color helps drive that home with a sickening palette for each. Riddler’s curved body mimicking a question mark is a nice touch and detail.
Batman #87 is a fine second chapter. There’s solid action and moments for characters but it feels like a chapter. The comic doesn’t have quite enough to stand on its own. It’s part of the puzzle and features too much of a mystery to totally praise. As part of the arc, it’ll be quite good but as a single issue, it lacks a little and doesn’t stand on its own.
Story: James Tynion IV Art: Guillem March Color: Tomeu Morey Letters: Clayton Cowles Story: 7.5 Art: 7.0 Overall: 7.25 Recommendation: Read
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review
Written by Brian Michael Bendis Art and cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado Variant cover by Bryan Hitch In Shops: Feb 12, 2020
The “United” Planets?
Not if Mongul has anything to say about it.
Mongul is definitely not a fan, and he’s got every intention of letting the galaxy know it. This is, without a doubt, a case of “my way or the highway,” and if anyone’s gonna unite, it’ll be under him, period.
The United Planets is a perfect, beautiful idea…that completely flies in the face of everything the barbaric Mongul has been fighting for his entire life. Mongol will destroy the United Planets and Superman with it. And he said something about using Earth as his toilet? Which doesn’t sound very nice. The return of one of Superman’s biggest and baddest villains…bigger and badder than ever!
The first mega-slugfest of 2020 continues in the pages of Superman #20, written by Brian Michael Bendis, on sale at comic book stores and participating digital retailers on February 12, 2020.
Wednesdays are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in!
Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!
Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this Wednesday.
Atlantis Attacks #1 (Marvel) – Marvel has been building to something involving Namor and we’re in for another piece of that bigger picture puzzle.
Batman #87 (DC Comics) – The new team has taken Batman in a new direction and all of the themes and upcoming stories hinted at in the last issue has us intrigued enough to see what else there is to come.
Ghostbusters: Year One #1 (IDW Publishing) – Never before seen adventures of the first year of the team after they’ve defeated Gozer.
Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel) – The team has saved the universe once again and decided to relax and take a vacation. But the returned Olympians ravaging the universe have a different plan. A new volume that seems to be the main series so much of Marvel’s Cosmic Universe will revolve around.
Kidz #1 (Ablaze) – Ablaze is an up and coming new publisher whose material has been solid so far. This zombie apocalypse has a twist in focusing on young boys whose world is turned upside down when some girls come to town.
Once & Future #6 (BOOM! Studios) – A fantastic modern fantasy series that plays with Arthurian legend. Well worth checking out.
Runaway Princess (Random House Graphic) – The publisher kicks off their new line of graphic novels with this one that follows the adventures of a Princess who has runaway. Kids’ comics are an explosive business and it’s always interesting to see the new releases and imprints focused on that audience.
Vampire State Building #4 (Ablaze) – Vampire survival goodness taking place in the Empire State Building. It’s just entertaining, solid, horror, and action.
The Visitor #2 (Valiant) – The Visitor targets the world’s leaders in this very intriguing series from Valiant written by Paul Levitz that has us wanting to see more and how it fits into the Valiant big picture.
Wonder Woman #750 (DC Comics) – It’s a huge issue with a who’s who of creators celebrating the iconic character. There’s also stories that will define Wonder Woman, and the DC Universe, going forward.
Wonder Woman #750, on shelves this Wednesday, is an all-star 96-page celebration of the Amazon Princess by longtime favorites and acclaimed new voices! This oversized gem tells tales from Diana’s past and present, along with major implications for the future of DC’s first Super Hero!
With the publication of Wonder Woman #750, DC returns to legacy numbering for Wonder Woman, gives a glimpse into Diana’s distant past, and heads boldly towards the future!
Storytellers contributing to the issue also include Colleen Doran, Mariko Tamaki, legendary Wonder Woman creators Gail Simone, Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott, and Greg Rucka returning to the character, and more! Wonder Woman #750 also features pinup artwork by Ramona Fradon, José Luis Garcia-López, Emanuela Lupacchino, Bilquis Evely, and Travis Moore.
One of those major implications was teased in 2019, that Wonder Woman’s legacy precedes all other Super Heroes in the DCU’s overarching narrative. A hint at what that looks like can be seen in Wonder Woman #750’s “A Brave New World” eight-page story by Scott Snyder, Bryan Hitch, Mike Spicer, and Tom Napolitano.
Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.
These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.
Batman #86 (DC) It is always darkest before the dawn. After the up and down fest that was Tom King’s historic Batman run we get a much welcomed change of pace here. James Tynion IV does not waste any time getting Bruce into costume again. This is a good thing because Tony Daniel draws such a great Batman. I am loving the Bruce and Lucius dynamic ala The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight rises movies. Bruce is still very much touched by his grief over losing Alfred and is not on all cylinders yet (something I can very much relate to having lost my father last year) I like how Deathstroke knows this and chooses to strike when Bruce is off his game. In addition to drawing an awesome Batman, Daniel draws one hell of a Slade and I always enjoy these two at each other more and more. Seeing the other side characters was cool but just fodder. We get new bat vehicle and gadgets and lots of cool toys this issue and Lucius is very much the Q to Bruce’s James and I want much more of it. So only a first outting but Tynion studied under the tutelage of Scott Snyder and if he keeps this up we are in good hands for short term. For the love of God though, no more fucking BANE. Let that character languish for a long while. I’d like to see what Slades bigger plan is. We all know he has one. Score: 8.6 Recommendation: Buy
Excalibur #5 (Marvel)– Excalibur #5 is an up and down comic for me. I love how Tini Howard writes Rogue so powerfully and Southern and Marcus To’s clean linework when she is trapped in Otherworld. However, the majority of the comic is a mess of explosions, crystals, magic, and Apocalypse being more of an overt villain. There is definitely something primal cooking in Howard’s overarching story, but at this point, I don’t know if I’m interested in as she and To switch characters perspectives and juggle plots each issue. Basically, Excalibur #5 has some entertaining moments (And it’s nice to see Rogue play an active role in the proceedings.), but doesn’t work together as a coherent unit of story. Overall: 5.8 Verdict: Pass
New Mutants #5 (Marvel)– Jonathan Hickman and Rod Reis are back with the “old school” New Mutants in space on a mission that’s, well, complicated by Shi’ar politics. This issue balances space and superpowered action with humor, characterization, and a dash of political intrigue. Hickman gives each New Mutant something to do whether it’s Chamber and Mondo sharing a toast to pacifism while their teammates fight the shit out of some Shi’ar Death Commandos, or Magik showing off her leadership (and flirting) skills with the Death Commando boarding party. Reis has been my favorite artist on the Dawn of X books, and he’s back with more expressive faces, lush colors, and Heavy Metal-inspired spaceships and stations meets Bob McLeod’s classic character designs. He’s also an economic storyteller. For example, one panel with a flatline tells more about Magik’s ruthless and combat abilities than five pages of protracted action. I didn’t mind the Ed Brisson/check with some underutilized mutants from Grant Morrison’s New X-Men interlude, but New Mutants #5 returns this book to elite status. A must read for anyone who likes their mutants in space and flirtatious. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
X-Force #5 (Marvel)– Benjamin Percy and Joshua Cassara’s X-Force #5 brings the gory and gruesome black ops action while also considering of the implications of these battles on the team and their antagonists. With Wolverine mostly out of commission, Domino takes center stage in the fight against Xeno, the organization that blew up a Krakoa gate and assassinated Charles Xavier. Percy and Cassara drive home the effects of the torture Xeno unleashed on her, and she returns it on kind. Percy also takes a moment to humanize a member of the team they’re fighting against, but not too much as he pivots to Beast undermining the utopian world of Krakoa through very human things like mental and physical torture and off the books operatives. X-Force is a book about the secret sins that nations commit to preserve themselves and shows this through words as well as sometimes revolting, sometimes stylish action. Overall: 8.4 Verdict: Buy
Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 (Titan)– The numbering is weird, but Tank Girl Full Color Classics #3.1 presents some absolutely bonkers Tank Girl, Jet Girl, and Sub Girl stories from the early 1990s by creators Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett with some stories drawn by artists Glyn Dillon and Philip Bond. Hewlett’s character design is fantastic, but he’s a great storyteller too as evidenced in the first story where he homages different film genres when Tank Girl and Booga take on every bounty hunter in Australia. His panels are crammed full of fun litle details and background jokes while Martin’s dialogue is easygoing and filled to the brim with double entendres. One thing I liked about this comic is that it also focused on Tank Girl’s supporting cast like a story where her kangaroo boyfriend Booga’s dad is a yeti, or a MAD-meets-Behind the Music parody of Morrissey and The Smiths that Sub Girl narrates. (Dillon draws a hilarious Morrissey Fat Elvis caricature.) Along with the original strips, this comic is packed full with photos of the creators and pinups from Hewlett, Bond, and Dillon and provides a window into the creativity of British comics and Deadline in the early 1990s. Overall: 8 Verdict: Buy
SFSX #5 (Image)– Jen Hickman joins SFSX as both artist and colorist, and they and Tina Horn tell an exciting heist story as Avory and her crew of sex workers from Dirty Mind try to break out her husband George from the Party’s reeducation camp. This comic is a bullet in the head of purity culture as Horn and Hickman systematically dismantle kink shaming. (Chasten Buttigieg would be appalled ;) ) Hickman’s character acting is amazing, and they add some clever touches like having characters’ knowledge of rope bondage and harnesses get them through vents and air ducts like some kind of BDSM John McClane. Add one incredibly (and actually) monstrous bad guy that has an emotional connection to the main characters, and SFSX #5 is another great chapter in this series. Overall: 8.6 Verdict: Buy
Steeple #5 (Dark Horse)– Billie finds her inner darkness in the conclusion of John Allison and Sarah Stern’s miniseries. Allison sets the tone hilariously by Billie finding Satan a bit buff and attractive and hanging up a John Wick poster in the rectory. This issue is compelling because it’s centered around the relationship between Billie and Maggie as they basically swap places/religions. A heart to heart at a coffee shop reveals that Maggie is a good person with a sensitive conscience who joined the Church of Satan so that she could forget about her activism and thirst for justice through hedonism. And Billie just wants to be “bad”. Allison goes the ending with a big character change route while leaving the door ajar for more stories in the Steeple world. His art continues to be a delightful treat as he makes possessed vacuum cleaners and the extinction of the water vole hilarious. Overall: 8.5 Verdict: Buy
Rising Sun#1 (IDW)– In a feudal tale of Ninjas fighting monsters, we get this comic book serialization of the popular video game, as someone who has never played the game, I felt lost for a good part of the issue, something that should never happen to any comic book reader. Hopefully, a second issue will do more to give more back story. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Borrow
Black Widow Prelude #1 (Marvel)– An adequate primer, nothing more, nothing less. Overall: 6.7 Recommendation: Borrow
Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!
Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Matt Fraction, Greg Rucka, Jody Houser Art by Steve Lieber, Mike Perkins, Bryan Hitch, Eduardo Pansica Cover by Bryan Hitch ONE-SHOT In Shops: Feb 26, 2020 SRP: $5.99
The Man of Steel’s greatest villains react to the biggest news to ever rock the DC Universe! Mongul, Toyman, The Joker, and more of the world’s greatest villains must come to grips with how the world changes now that the truth has been revealed by Superman.
But how will Lex Luthor handle the reveal of Superman’s secret identity? The team behind Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Matt Fraction, Steve Lieber and Nathan Fairbairn, give us a hint in this sneak peek into Superman: Villains #1.
Fraction, Lieber, Fairbairn, and some of comics’ most unique and creative voices unite to tell a story that changes all the rules!
Alex and Joe talk about DC movies and a bit of comic stuff. And probably other stuff, too – I’m writing this a week after we recorded, and I’ve forgotten what we said.
As always, Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jcb_smark if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong individually, or @those2geeks if you want to yell at them together on twitter, or by email at ItsThose2Geeks@gmail.com.
(W) Ivan Cohen (A/CA) Walter Carzon, Horacio Ottolini In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $2.99
Daffy Duck stressed out? Say it isn’t so! Under doctor’s advice, the mollified mallard takes off for a tropical resort, anticipating some rest and relaxation. But a familiar face on the premises may provide the exact opposite of the experience Daffy’s hoping to find.
(W) Kat Howard (A) Tom Fowler, Craig A. Taillefer (CA) Kai Carpenter In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $3.99
Tim’s burgeoning magical abilities got onto the radar of the London police, but he was able to keep them at bay…until Detective Celia Culpepper of the Other Side took his case. She’s a sorcerer herself-quite a powerful one, it seems-and now there’s no place Tim can hide! But should he hide? Or does Celia have much grander plans for Tim than locking him away? He’d better decide what side she’s on soon…because Tim’s evil doppelga nger is on the loose, and Tim can’t stop him on his own!
(W) Joe Hill (A) Leomacs, Dan McDaid (CA) Reiko Murakami In Shops: Jan 22, 2020 SRP: $3.99
Is June Branch a woman fighting for her life-or a deranged axe murderer with a basketful of paranoid fantasies? In the long hours of the night she makes a desperate run for the Brody Island Police Department, unsure whether she’s a victim who needs protection-or a killer who must be stopped!