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Review: The Batman Who Laughs #4

The Batman Who Laughs #4

Batman, our Batman, has been injected with the Joker toxin and slowly transforming in to the Batman Who Laughs, the deadly version of himself from the Dark Multiverse. In this issue we get the bigger idea and plan as Batman desperately attempts to stop two deadly adversaries.

Writer Scott Snyder delivers an issue of desperation and heartbreak as Alfred confronts Batman resulting in a battle between the two of them and some revelations. It’s hard to see the two fight and Alfred being both angry and scared at what his “son” is becoming. To also hear Batman/Bruce slowly succumb to the toxin is a tragedy all its own as we get a better idea of the negative thoughts of his mind.

It’s an interesting issue as it really draws that line and makes it clear as to what the difference in worldview and vision is between Batman and the Batman Who Laughs. We also finally find out how the Batman Who Laughs Can see through that visor.

There’s also the Grim Knight who has a vendetta against Gordon which feels like will be his undoing in the end.

The art by Jock is amazing with solid coloring by David Baron. The style fits the breakdown of Bruce/Batman as he slowly loses it and fights to keep his focus. There’s just a level of emotion and raw ugliness there that works well as we see the duality of how he sees the world now.

Letterer Sal Cipriano deserves recognition as the dialogue is a little special jumping between Bruce/Batman’s personalities with key words emphasized to show his emotional state. Then there’s the style of the Batman Who Laughs which helps make the demented feel of the character.

The issue is a solid one with just a few more to go before things wrap up. This absolutely is that key issue that gets the ball rolling to the end and delivers a lot of reveals as well as emotional and exciting moments. This series has been fantastic and there’s not only excitement in how it’ll wrap up but where things go from here.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Jock
Color: David Baron Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Batman Who Laughs #3

The Batman Who Laughs #3

All the pieces are starting to fit together as the Batman Who Laughs acquires another key element in his plan-one that is linked to the founding fathers of Gotham City and to a legacy started by the Wayne family and protected by none other than Oswald Cobblepot.

Writer Scott Snyder has put together a fascinating miniseries the explores the lines that Batman will and won’t cross by pitting him against the Batman Who Laughs. The introduction of the Grim Knight delivered another Batman who we can explore yet another aspect of the character through. In The Batman Who Laughs #3, we get confrontations but also an exploration of exactly when “Batman was born.”

Through the action sequences and the comic as a whole, Snyder explores this idea of what created Batman. Was it the death of his parents? Was it his falling in the cave? Was it the bat breaking through the window? Was it a combination? Or, was it something else entirely?

There’s also a dive into what lines Batman and Bruce will and won’t cross. In his confrontation with the Grim Knight, a Punisher-esque version of Batman, we dive into his unwillingness to kill and his not wanting to use guns. It’s a scene that’s smart in many ways and shows that Batman is more than brute force.

But, the issue is basically a bridge to what’s next. It’s Batman running around trying to figure out what the bad guys’ plan is and realizing that he’s too many steps behind. It’s desperation but really a bridge to what’s next.

Jock‘s art, along with color from David Baron, and lettering from Sal Cirpriano combines the style of a Batman comic with a bit of a nightmarish tinge. The action is solid and there’s subtle focuses that really enhance the desperation of it all. Through the art, the psychological aspect of it all is enhanced.

The issue as part of the whole is a good one though on its own it falls a bit short. It’s definitely not a place to start but for those already reading the series, it’s a good addition to the overall story.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Jock
Color: David Baron Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.15 Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Batman Who Laughs #2

The Batman Who Laughs #2

A ticking clock sets Batman on a trail throughout the different realities of the Multiverse. He starts to see all the iterations of his life, and what could have been…but more importantly, Bruce Wayne begins to deduce that his current life is somehow wrong, and that all the mistakes he’s made are somehow connected. Meanwhile, the Batman Who Laughs raises the curtain on his second act, pulling out the big guns to break into Arkham Asylum…enter one of the most punishing Batmen of the Dark Multiverse: the Grim Knight!

The first issue of this series was fantastic and this second one seems to outdo it in every way. Writer Scott Snyder delivers a desperate and brutal story in The Batman Who Laughs #2. If this Joker/Batman mix from the Dark Multiverse wasn’t bad enough, we now have one of the deadliest Batmen out there in the Grim Knight, a Batman who’s a weapons expert and willing to do whatever it takes.

As we saw at the end of the previous issue, the Joker has infected Batman and possibly killed himself. This issue is the ramifications of that as our Batman must fight off the Joker toxin and at the same time deal with evil versions of himself. There’s a sense of urgency about it all that Snyder makes sure to emphasize whenever he can. Add in that this is a twist on what made the Batman Who Laughs and we see a Batman struggling to not become what he’s fighting. That focus on different aspects of Batman, and the roads not taken, is one of the most interesting things to be added to Batman’s myth in quite some time and Snyder knocks it out of the park by doing so.

There’s also the emphasis on the Dark Multiverse Batmen and really just how horrible they are. These are Batman without the control or the moral focus. They do what they need to do to win. It also makes us realize how much Batman really holds back and the monster he could become if he chose to.

The art by Jock, colors by David Baron, and lettering by Sal Cipriano helps it all and there’s some fantastic moments in the issue. Brutal fights, explosions, but it’s the subtle details of Bruce/Batman’s infection with the Joker toxin that stands out. The way he stands, the look in his eyes, the body language overall, it adds so much to the storytelling and a depth of emotion to it all.

The first issue was fantastic and this second issue is amazing as well. This is a hell of a story that seems to really be a match that tests everything about Batman. Not since the Court of Owls have we had a villain who is a match, if not the better, of Batman. And we haven’t had a story where it really felt that Batman might lose but also cross a line he doesn’t want to. This is the mini-series to go all in for as it’s one hell of a story so far.

Story: Scott Snyder Art: Jock
Color: David Baron Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Batman Who Laughs #1

Dark Knights: Metal introduced us to the Dark Multiverse and one of the most frightening villains ever, The Batman Who Laughs. He’s still loose hoping to “win” and the only person who can stop him is Batman. But, will Batman have to cross the line he hoped to never cross and kill the evil version of himself? Plus, a whole new Batman from the Dark Multiverse!

The Batman Who Laughs is by Scott Snyder, Jock, David Baron, and Sal Cipriano.

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle
TFAW

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
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Preview: Valiant High TPB

VALIANT HIGH TPB

Written by DANIEL KIBBLESMITH
Art by DEREK CHARM
Colors by DAVID BARON
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover by DEREK CHARM

Valiant proudly presents its first ALL-AGES escapade with a pitch-perfect entry point for new fans and longtime readers alike!

Before they became legends, the world’s most formidable heroes were roaming the halls at Valiant High – a superpowered preparatory academy where Aric “X-O Manowar” Dacia is a record-setting running back, Colin “Ninjak” King is a debonair foreign exchange student, and Coach Bloodshot is way, way too into dodgeball. Now, Amanda “Livewire” McKee and her best friend, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, are taking it all in for the first time at the one high school where power trumps popularity!

From rising star Daniel Kibblesmith (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Eisner Award-winning artist Derek Charm (Jughead), get ready for your first day of school inside a hilarious reimagining of Valiant’s award-winning superhero universe – one where the next world-ending cataclysm will have to wait until after prom night!

In the tradition of Archie and DC Super Hero Girls, this side-splitting adventure takes place outside of Valiant’s standard continuity and comes packed with all-new incarnations of virtually every Valiant hero and villain! You’ve never seen the heroes of the Valiant Universe quite like this before!

Collecting VALIANT HIGH #1–4.

$9.99 | 112 pgs. | T+ | On Sale SEPTEMBER 5th
TRADE PAPERBACK | ISBN: 978-1-68215-279-9

Underrated: The Death Defying Doctor Mirage

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Death Defying Doctor Mirage



dddm.jpgDoctor Mirage real name Hwen Mirage, first appeared in Shadowman #16 during Valiant’s first run at publishing comics, eventually getting an eighteen issue series in the form of The Second Life Of Doctor Mirage that ran from 1993-1995. The character was a parapsychologist along with his wife Carmen Ruiz who ran afoul of Master Darque a few times.   After the relaunch in 2012, Doctor Mirage reappeared, quite fittingly, in Shadowman #5 as Shan Fong, a scientist and paranormal investigator searching for the spirit of her deceased husband Hwen.

All of that is more than I knew going into The Death Defying Doctor Mirage, a trade that I got in a buy one get one deal at my LCS (the one I intended to buy was Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado). I was on the fence with this one as I had tried reading an issue of The Death Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives but struggled to get into the story (probably because it was the second issue of the sequel story, if I had to make a guess). With a TV series recently commissioned, I figured I’d best give the series another shot.

So what’s the story about?

Doctor Mirage talks to the dead… but the only spirit Shan Fong can’t find is that of her late husband, Hwen. Instead, America’s favorite semi-retired paranormal investigator is haunted and raw, using her gift to solve homicides and bring peace to the recently bereaved. But when a big-time occultist with a classified military past hires her for a special job, Shan discovers a lead that might close the greatest mystery she’s ever tackled – how to get Hwen back! Now, Doctor Mirage must enter the undiscovered country and cross all the realms of the underworld if she has any hope of rescuing the man she loves…or be forever lost beyond the earthly plane.

I was hesitant when going into this book, but I needn’t have been. The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is perfectly suited to  new readers, whether you’re familiar with Valiant or not, and for those of you who  enjoy reading a complete story in one go, you’ll be super happy with this. Although there is room for a sequel, there isn’t one of those obnoxious cliff hanger endings that drive you bonkers in a miniseries.

No, what you get with The Death Defying Doctor Mirage is a really engaging story with a lot of supernatural elements that shouldn’t deter you if that isn’t your cup of tea because they end up allowing Roberto De La Torre and David Baron the opportunity to run absolutely wild with some fantastical colours and environs to bring Jan Van Meter‘s story to life. Shan Fong is a brilliant character, and the glimpses I had seen of her in other issues as she made cameo appearances didn’t prepare me for how much I enjoyed her snark, her heart and an innate sense of Indiana Jones style of gambling and reckless sense of abandon that brings the story together into a crazy mix of the supernatural adventures, a gentle horror element all set against the underlying love story between Hwen and Shan.

I really enjoyed this book – far more than I expected to. So why is it today’s subject? Because I hear very few people talk about Doctor Mirage with the enthusiasm the character deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Preview: Valiant High #4 (of 4)

VALIANT HIGH #4 (of 4)

Written by DANIEL KIBBLESMITH
Art by DEREK CHARM
Colors by DAVID BARON
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover by DAVID LAFUENTE
Variant Cover by DEREK CHARM
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | ALL-AGES | On Sale AUGUST 1st

Save the last dance!

Homecoming is here! For the students of Valiant High – the super-powered preparatory academy where tomorrow’s heroes learn what it takes to save the world – that means that the biggest night of their young lives is almost upon them…and that the Immortal Enemy is finally ready to make his move! But as Faith, Colin “Ninjak” King, Peter Stanchek, and Amanda “Livewire” McKee try to stir unity amongst their classmates, can teamwork triumph over ancient evil? From rising star Daniel Kibblesmith (Lockjaw) and Eisner Award winner Derek Charm (Jughead), this side-splitting, all-ages reimagining of Valiant’s greatest heroes is going out in style!

Underrated: Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado



bs colorado.jpgJeff Lemire has been writing Bloodshot across various series for a long time. Longer, even, than I have been reading. Two days ago, I picked up the first volume of Bloodshot Reborn as despite reading from around the eighth issue of the series on, I had never actually read the opening to the series. The blurb on the back of this book gives you a pretty good idea of the book’s plot, but what it doesn’t do is tell you that this book is so much more than your typical superhero story.

Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit — a private contractor trafficking in violence — very well. Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self-imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving head-long into the violence that nearly destroyed him.

Picking up after the events of The Valiant (expect spoilers for that book if you haven’t read it), Colorado opens with a monologue telling you who Bloodshot was juxtaposed against images in stark contrast to who he is now. Lemire wastes no tie in showing you that a  man who was forced to kill for others has, seemingly, wasted his opportunity at a second chance for a normal life. Within a page or two, you’re hitting rock bottom with the man formerly known as Bloodshot. You can feel his guilt and shame emanating  from the paper as you turn the page, and not once do you blame him for what he’s going through.

This is a man who was broken, and who doesn’t know how to move past what he was. Who woke up from a nightmare only to understand that he was the monster, and now wears the question of whether he deserves to move on as an armour.

Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado is an origin story, of sorts, for Ray Garrison. Which means you don’t need to have read Bloodshot prior to picking up this comic (and, really, although the first series post Valiant relaunch is good, it pales in comparison to the more psychological horror take on the character that Lemire presents us with). This first volume in the series is a brilliant read; I devoured it in one sitting and immediately wanted to read more. I am a huge fan of Jeff Lemire, and think his take on the character is a vastly underrated one when looked at in the grand scheme of the comics read world.

Lemire’s take on Bloodshot is my favourite version of the character, but the opening of his story takes more from the horror genre than one would initially expect. The character’s inner turmoil is obvious and very clear to the reader as Ray Garrison struggles to discover who he is now that he’s no longer a monster; and his biggest fear, and one he must confront as the volume progresses, is that he’s nobody. Without the monster, he is a shell of a man.

Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado is a book I can’t speak highly enough of (were this a review I’d be giving it a solid 10; the art is every bit as impressive as the story), and it genuinely surprised me that I hadn’t heard much about it prior to reading it myself. Maybe that was part of the magic, that unexpected kick in the teeth, but this first volume of Bloodshot Reborn needs to find its place on your shelf – whether physical or digital.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Preview: Shadowman Vol. 1 Fear of the Dark TPB

SHADOWMAN VOL. 1: FEAR OF THE DARK TPB

Written by ANDY DIGGLE
Art by STEPHEN SEGOVIA with ADAM POLLINA
Colors by ULISES ARREOLA with DAVID BARON
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover by TONCI ZONJIC (MAY182101)
$9.99 | 112 pgs. | T+ | On Sale JULY 18th
TRADE PAPERBACK | ISBN: 978-1-68215-239-3

DON’T FEAR YOUR DEMONS…FIGHT THEM!

Orphaned as a child and raised on the margins of society, Jack Boniface never knew his place in the world. Until he discovered it waiting for him… in a darkness far older than the reign of men…

Unbeknownst to him, Jack was fated to become the next in a long lineage of Shadowmen – mortals bound to loas, violent voodoo spirits of immense power – that could safeguard our world against incursions from realms beyond.

For years, Jack struggled to control his loa’s murderous urges – a battle he eventually lost.

But now, after years of self-imposed exile, the man once known as Shadowman is returning home to sharpen the weapon within…and unleash a reckoning on the evils of our world that will soon send shockwaves through heaven and hell alike…

Shadowman storms his way to the forefront of the Valiant Universe – more powerful, more terrifying, and more relentless than ever before – in an adrenaline-fueled ongoing series from superstar writer Andy Diggle (Green Arrow: Year One, The Losers) and high-octane artist Stephen Segovia (Action Comics)!

Collecting SHADOWMAN (2018) #1–3.

Preview: Valiant High #3 (of 4)

VALIANT HIGH #3 (of 4)

Written by DANIEL KIBBLESMITH
Art by DEREK CHARM
Colors by DAVID BARON
Letters by SIMON BOWLAND
Cover by DAVID LAFUENTE (MAY182099)
Variant Cover by IRENE LEE (MAY182100)
$3.99 | 32 pgs. | All-Ages | On Sale JULY 4th

An all-ages dose of superpowered school spirit!

All schools have their secrets…but at Valiant High, the truth is ETERNAL! Enigmatic foreign exchange student Colin “Ninjak” King and his new bestie, wallflower Peter Stanchek, have made it their mission to find out what’s really going on behind the scenes at their superpowered prep school…and the fallout is going to take EVERYONE – from Coach Bloodshot to Principal Harada – by surprise! Red-hot writer Daniel Kibblesmith (The Late Show with Stephen Colbert) and Eisner Award winner Derek Charm (Jughead) present the Valiant Universe like you’ve never seen it before with another all-ages chapter set outside of Valiant’s standard continuity!

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