Tag Archives: dc

Rebirth Review: Comics Released 10/12

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series, with more consideration given for the specific issue being read when it comes to the final rating than the series overall. You may notice that not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes forget to pick them up. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


ac_cv965_dsAction Comics #965 This Friendly once you accept that the two people at the center of the book, Clark and Lois, aren’t from this world. They’re the same characters from before the New 52, but due to circumstances beyond their control, they’ve got to step into the lives of their now disappeared counter parts (Superman and Lois Lane – there’s already a Clark Kent). It’s an interesting concept, and a story focusing on Lois shows a less super side to their lives.

All-Star Batman #3 is very good,but completely Unfriendly to new readers. If you’ve been reading the series so far, however, you’ll be fine.

Batgirl and the Birds Of Prey #3 This really isn’t a bad comic, provided that you’re at least partly familiar with the previous events – specifically why there’s a Oracle and a Batgirl, because that crucial detail is missing this issue, which ales this decidedly Unfriendly.

Deathstroke #4 I have a feeling that this story will be far better read as a trade, but even if you were to start here, you’ll find it Friendly enough.

hjglc_cv5_open_order_varDetective Comics #942 The finale of a multi-part, multi-comic crossover that ends strongly, but it’s an Unfriendly place for new readers

Gotham Academy: Second Semester #2 Having no idea what this series is about, the second issue was actually a lot more Friendly than the first for me. An entertaining comic that focuses on several students at a Gotham boarding house who’ve set up a detective club – think in a similar vein to Scooby Doo. I didn’t expect to like this.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #6 There’s two ways to look at this comic, an depending on how you approach it will approach it’s accessibility. If you just want to read a story about Hal Jordan being awesome and kicking ass, then this is the place to be; but if you want to know why he’s kicking ass beyond the fact he has to stop the Yellow Lanterns, you’re a little out of luck. I’m not giving this a rating for that reason.

New Super-Man #4 You can jump on board here and be able to have a half-decent Friendly comic, just about, but it’ll be so much better if you start at least an issue ago.

nsm_cv4_dsRed Hood And The Outlaws #3 Is actually more Friendly than the last issue. There are moments that may not make sense, but by and large… you can jump right in here and enjoy the story.

Suicide Squad #4 Is a chaotic mess that somehow still explains just about what you need to make the fourth issue Friendly. That Suicide Squad #4 is also hugely entertaining in a popcorn action flick kinda way is a pleasant bonus.

Supergirl #2 Another comic this week that falls right in the middle of the Friendly/Unfriendly line. There are aspects that welcome newer readers, and just as many that will cause confusion. We’re only two issues in, so if you’re even a little curious about Supergirl, pick both issues up.

Superwoman #3 The advantage to reading as many of the DC comics as I do for this feature means that I tend to forget what happened in previous issues. Rather than going back and rereading them to catch myself up, I use my poor memory to judge  how accessible the comics are. Unfortunately, in cases such as this fls_cv8_dswith Superwoman I don’t recall too much of the previous issues, making this comic a tad Unfriendly.

The Flash #8 Although this wraps up the current Gospeed focused arc, there’s actually a decent amount of the comic that’s Friendly to new readers, and the set up for the next tale is also well done. You could do much worse than starting here with the series.

Wonder Woman #8 An interlude into the current stories that delves a little into the past of Dr. Minerva. It’s an interesting foray into the past, but not the most Friendly place to start (that’s not an unfriendly rating, but rather a friendly comic that doesn’t feature Wonder Woman at all).


Rebirth Review: Comics Released 10/5

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series, with more consideration given for the specific issue being read when it comes to the final rating than the series overall. You may notice that not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes forget to pick them up. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


bm_cv8_dsAquaman #8 – Unless you have been reading at least one of the previous issues, you’re going to be a little lost as to why the events of the comic are happening. It’s just a tad on the Unfriendly side, but it’s worth picking up nonetheless.

Batman #8 continues the Night Of The Monster Men crossover that’s running through this series, Detective Comics and  Nightwing. It’s an Unfriendly jumping on point, but the story’s growing on me and will probably be worth reading in a trade a few months down the line.

Cyborg #2 takes a lot of time introducing us to the villain. The effect of this, for the reader, is the same as a prolonged recap page as the events of  the previous issue are eventually touched upon. This allows you to really appreciate the events of the comic, making it incredibly Friendly.

Green Arrow #8 will be fairly Friendly for fans of the TV show that just reappeared on our screens, as it opens after Ollie has washed up on an island of some kind. There’s not a lot of background, but seeing as I only remembered why he’d washed up there as  I was writing this blurb and not while I was reading the comic, the lack of background info isn’t a big deal.

Green Lanterns #8 – Part one of a new story in one of DC’s most consistently accessible for new readers is, obviously, a Friendly comic. It’s also very good.

gls_cv8_open_order_varHarley Quinn #5 isn’t always my cup of tea, but as far as the series goes this isn’t a bad place to start up for new readers. Friendly.

Justice League #5 I’m assuming if you’re reading this you’ve a fair idea who the Justice League is. However, much like the first issue, you’re thrown into the middle of something with little explanation – but because there’s no reference to previous issues, this is a Friendly comic. We’re all on the same page when the comic opens.

Midnighter And Apollo #1 is as Friendly a place as you’re likely to find within the post Rebirth line of comics.

Nightwing #5 if you read what I wrote for Batman #8, then just repeat it here.

Superman #8 kicks off a new story arc, and because the story throws you inn the deep end right away, it’s a Friendly comic. Just don’t expect much light shed on the setting right away.

Rebirth Review: Comics Released 9/28

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review where we take a look at the comics released under DC‘s Rebirth banner and try to work out just how accessible they are for new readers.

Each comic will receive a rating of Friendly or Unfriendly based on how easy it was for new readers to pick them up; the ratings are based solely on the issues released in the post-Rebirth ongoing series, with more consideration given for the specific issue being read when it comes to the final rating than the series overall. You may notice that not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I have a memory like a sieve and sometimes forget to pick them up. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.

ac_cv964_dsAction Comics #964 The second part of Superman, Meet Clark Kent can be read quite easily as a stand alone story. Needless to say, it’s a Friendly comic.

Batgirl #3 It’s nice to look at, but unless you’ve read the previous issues you’ll find this Unfriendly.

Batman Beyond Rebirth #1 The latest in the Rebirth specials aims to get you involved in the story from the beginning-ish. It’s not a bad comic, but it feels a little… like a knock off Batman story. It is Friendly, though, so there’s that.

Blue Beetle #1 As a first issue this isn’t quite as accessible as some of DC’s other series’ #1’s have been over the past few months. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing, as the origin-type information is all there, you just have to read between the lines a little more than you would have done before. A deceptively Friendly book that you may want to read twice.

Deathstroke #3 One of the most interesting things about this comic, and the series itself, is the segmented story telling. By having two to four different mini chapters spanning at least two different times in Deathstroke’s life, the reader needs to put the story together themselves to a certain extent. Unless you’ve read from the beginning, this isn’t easy to do based off this comic alone, making it quite Unfriendly.

dtc_cv941_open_order_varDetective Comics #941 Probably the most Unfriendly comic in the series so far for new readers, and also for those who are following the series and haven’t read Batman #7 or Nightwing #5 as those issues contain the first two parts of the crossover story.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #5 A fifth issue shouldn’t be as easy to pick up as this. A Friendly comic, because there’s very little plot development here – and I don’t mean that as a negative.

Six Pack And Dog Welder: Hard Travelin’ Heroes #2 I have no idea what I just read, but it was surprisingly entertaining. Whether it’ll be Friendly or Unfriendly will depend on whether you’ve read the last issue, and you enjoy the style of story telling that Ennis is using here. I like it, but you may not.

Suicide Squad #3 If you haven’t read the previous issue, this will be an Unfriendly mess.

Teen Titans Rebirth #1 If you’ve never read a Teen Titans comic, then you’re in for a story about how somebody (no prize for guess who that is) is kidnapping the former team members. You can probably guess why they’re being kidnapped within the first couple of pages, but this is a Friendly introduction for those new to the team despite the predictability of the story (that doesn’t make it a bad story).

The Flash #7 is a tense ride that emphasizes the Flash’s inability to be everything he thinks he should be. I hesitate to call it a Friendly comic, because it straddles the line a little more than the last issue, but it’s a better comic than that and does establish the next ww-cv7_open_order_varchapter very effectively.

The Hellblazer #2 This is a surprisingly Friendly comic, once you get past the first few pages.

Titans #3 A half Friendly comic that has a couple of hints toward what will, probably, be a major event in the DCU in a couple years time.

Wonder Woman #7 This isn’t an ideal place to start as there’s no real recapping of previous events, but I urge you to read the last couple of odd numbered issue. This Unfriendly comic has a story that’s worth reading.

Adult Coloring Books: Art Therapy or BS?

WonderwomanColorI’m sure, that by now, most DC Comics collectors are aware of the coloring book variant covers being pushed. I too fell for the marketing trap, picking up a Wonder Woman variant that appealed to my aesthetic senses (with no intention whatsoever of coloring it). Looking over the cover, I got into a conversation with the Midtown Comics floor guy. What he told me was that adult coloring books have been around for a number of years, and that it’s suppose to be relaxing.

Not really buying it (frankly I thought it was bullshit), later that night I started Googling it. Surprisingly, I found more than expected, across some very serious articles from the likes of: The New Yorker, New York Post, The Atlantic, and NYMAG.

They all had similar themes: this is not a fad that is going to go away, and adult coloring books serve as a means to exercise our creative muscle in a zen-like therapeutic setting. In addition, the internet and social media has served to increased its popularity, with adult colorists posting their artistic colored pages on the web via Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and pretty much everywhere else.

Then a couple days later I saw that Marvel put out a Deadpool adult coloring book. I bought it, and that evening at home, I unboxed an old set of coloring pencils that I had bought for my daughter (which she never used), and went to town.


Damn, if they weren’t right; as I stared at my completed colored page with satisfaction and pride. The only negative I could come up with was that I had wasted an unproductive two hours. Then again, that’s kind of the point isn’t it? To do something enjoyable, just for the fun of it.


After my coloring experience, I can see why the marketing pros at DC and Marvel are jumping on this bandwagon, and carving out another niche market (Marvel has a slate of coloring books coming to print; and DC isn’t far behind, selling both the books and their own branded set of coloring pencils). One has to wonder at the amount of research (psychological and field tests) they put into this product.

All I have to say is that I’ve been schooled. You should expect to see more of my colored pages proliferating out there on the web soon; and perhaps this can serve to resurrect my sub-latent artistic abilities.

And let us know what you think: is this a short-lived gimmick, or a serious new hobby for comic book enthusiasts? I’d love to hear what others think about the Big Two’s concerted push into the adult coloring book world.

Alex’s Favourite Comics of 2015

Now that 2015 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics that really stood out for me, personally. These comics were all released this year, and in the case of a limited series if had at least two issues released this year (if a mini series began late this year, then expect to find it on next years Yearly Round Up). Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, I may not have read it.

Best Ongoing Superhero Comic

moonknightThis wasn’t as easy a choice as I expected, and the comic that I ended up selecting as my #1 is there because of the awe I felt when reading it, even if it may not have been on my radar until half way through the year. But honestly, any one of the runners up could have easily taken this slot (and I’m still wishing I had decided on a “top five” for this category without picking a winner, but that just feels like a cop out on my behalf).

Moon Knight (Marvel)– This was THE book for me this year, and perhaps one of the biggest reasons I was against Marvel suspending publication of some of their titles over the summer, because it meant I wouldn’t get to read any Moon Knight. This book’s use of colour, and the deliberate lack there of with the title character consistently made my jaw drop, and I loved how each issue told a complete story. 

Honourable Mentions:

  • Rai (Valiant) This is a beautifully painted comic, and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this series because I will typically shy away from anything set too far into the future. But some stellar writing, the gorgeously rendered artwork and the introduction of one of my favourite comic book characters elevated this series above almost any other this year for me. Why wasn’t it my top pick? Because the coin landed on tails.
  • Captain Canuck (Chapter House) A comic that exemplifies exactly what I love about comics. Action, humour, and a style that doesn’t preclude younger readers from enjoying it.
  • Howard The Duck (Marvel) I loved everything about this series, the art may not have been super detailed but it was absolutely perfect for Chip Zdarsky’s writing style. I’ve described issues of the two series this year as an almost anti-Marvel Marvel comic. The dry humour, jabs at Secret Wars, and the fact that there were two first issues of Howard the Duck in one year combine to make this one of the best series of the year.
  • X-O Manowar (Valiant) Is another series that took me by surprise this year. I wasn’t expecting such a well rounded character who exemplified virtues that we all wished we had. That he’s a time-stranded 5th century warrior in control of the most powerful weapon on Earth? The icing on the cake.
  • Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior (Valiant) Although only two issues in, I’m already eagerly anticipating the next issue. This is a series that focuses on one of the most interesting characters in comics, the immortal guardian of the Earth, and forces the reader to ask themselves whether if they can do something to help others, would you risk everything to do so?


Best Non Superhero Comic 

johnnyred2 coverI’d love to say that I had as much trouble with this category, but… I didn’t. There were several great non-superhero series that I didn’t read this year, and a few that I did. None came even remotely close to taking the top spot for me, hence no honourable mentions.

Johnny Red (Titan) is comic that reminded me so much of the old British war comics that I read as a child, striking a powerful nostalgic cord within me. There’s something inherently powerful about nostalgia done well, and I understand not everybody will have the same emotional attachment to the series.

But on top of the nostalgic glory, the thing is is that there is also a very good comic lying underneath. Focusing on the search for the history of a plane, Garth Ennis uses an interesting method of telling the World War Two era story, coupled with some fantastic double page spreads from Keith Burns, and Johnny Red was a  very easy choice for me here. I’d encourage you to check it out.


Best Limited Series or One Shot 

paybacks1The Paybacks (Dark Horse) This was one of those series that just crept up on me. I read it up on a whim, and I laughed all the way through. It’s a fantastic look at the darker side of superheroing, and what happens when the bills mount up. If this was an ongoing series, it would have easily been my best book of the year, that it’s only a miniseries is the only bad complaint I have.

Honourable Mentions:

  • The Fox (Dark Circle) Six issues of pure brilliance. If you haven’t read this, you really should, because this is what a superhero miniseries should be.
  • We Stand On Guard (Image) An effective look at a decades long conflict between the USA and Canada that, at times, seems a little too on point for comfort. This isn’t an easy series to read, and there is very little that’s black and white if you consider both sides to the story. It’s brutal, but absolutely worth reading.
  • Old Man Logan (Marvel)  I don’t think I realized just how much I missed Wolverine until I picked the first issue of this comic up. One of only two Secret Wars tie ins I read, the series seemed to falter a little in the middle until I finally twigged as to what Bendis was doing, and had a light bulb moment. I’m looking forward to the new ongoing series that’s due to hit later this month.
  • Hank Johnson: Agent Of Hydra (Marvel)  The other Secret Wars tie in was a great look at the daily life of the typical henchman. It’s a shame there was only one issue, but any more than one may not have gone over quite as well.
  • Legends Of The Geomancer (Valiant) The only reason this didn’t take the top spot is the same reason I struggled to recommend this series to people: Valiant’s insane distribution choice. This brilliant-in-every-way-series was a retailer incentive that was notoriously hard to find in the wild. But if you could find it, it was absolutely amazing.


Best Single Issue

batman-44-coverAgain, there’s no honourable mentions because there was nothing remotely close to Batman #44 (DC) for me this year.

There was never a question of this comic not being the best single issue I’ve read this year. Aesthetically this is a stunning comic, with the colours and lettering just elevating an already well drawn issue. That it also is the first time we see Bruce Wayne as Batman in the series post convergence also struck a cord with me; it wasn’t until reading this issue that I realized how much I don’t enjoy the Robot Bunny Batman.

In conjunction to that the slap to the face that Snyder delivers with his commentary on the societal injustices of the day make this issue just incredible.  If you only read one comic from last year, make it this one.


Best Event/Story Arc

bod4cThis is another category where there was only ever going to be one choice for me. I started reading Valiant’s comics around the middle of the year, and they quickly became my favourite publisher. They may not release many comics every week, but the ones they do release are almost always among the best on the racks that week. Valiant emphasize quality over quantity, and it shows with what is arguably the best and most cohesive super hero universe out there today.

Book Of Death (Valiant) As a new reader, this event was incredibly friendly. Despite the tagline being the final story of some of the publisher’s greatest heroes told in tie in one shots (and all but one of those were fantastic, and even then the less than great issue was largely because I had no idea  about the characters involved), the entire event was incredibly accessible  from a story line point of view. The main four issue mini series was head and shoulders above anything else released this year, whether that means an event or an arc told within a series.

If I’m being completely honest, this could have placed on almost every category this year for me, I loved it that much, but with there already being so much Valiant here, I figured that maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t go overkill with the publisher.

Runners Up:

  •  Ivar, Timewalker: Ending History (Valiant) This was just a phenomenal arc that utilized time travel in a way that I’d never seen before. Technically this is the third part of a trilogy, but you don’t need to have read the first two parts to love this chapter – I didn’t.
  •  Batman: Endgame (DC) This was without a doubt my favourite Batman centric arc this year. Snyder was really able to give the story a sense of impending doom and finality leading into DC’s lackluster Convergence arc that can be hard to do in comics. I reread this a few days ago, and the quality of this arc reminded me of just how great the Batman series can be.
  • X-O Manowar: Exodus (Valiant) If you ever want to read an arc that perfectly encapsulates being stuck between a rock and a hard place, this is it. The artwork is beautifully realized, and convey’s the sheer power of X-O Manowar brilliantly.



Bill Finger To Receive Credit For Co-Creating Batman

In a statement released to The Hollywood reporter, DC said:

DC Entertainment and the family of Bill Finger are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement that recognizes Mr. Finger’s significant contributions to the Batman family of characters. “Bill Finger was instrumental in developing many of the key creative elements that enrich the Batman universe, and we look forward to building on our acknowledgement of his significant role in DC Comics’ history,” stated Diane Nelson, President of DC Entertainment. “As part of our acknowledgement of those contributions,” Nelson continued, “we are pleased to confirm today that Bill Finger will be receiving credit in the Warner Bros. television series Gotham beginning later this season, and in the forthcoming motion picture Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

cover - Bill the Boy Wonder - MEDIUMIt’s about damn time.

Artist Ty Templeton posted a comic on his website that really says all that needs to be said, and I urge you to click the link here to check it out. Templeton illustrated the book Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman. Nobleman was a driving force behind getting finger recognized as the co-creator of Batman; for a detailed timeline on Nobleman‘s considerable efforts, check out his blog post here.

This undoubtedly great news for those who have been campaigning to have Bill‘s name recognized, although there’s as of yet still no confirmation on what form the credit will take, whether it’ll be an inclusion in the Batman created by… byline, or something else entirely for Gotham and the DC movies featuring Batman that are released down the road – however thus far there is only confirmation of credit for Bill Finger appearing in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice at the moment (though it’s reasonable to assume that will carry on to Suicide Squad and beyond).

Also aside from the fact this is a great step in getting the name of Batman‘s co-creator out to the masses via Gotham and Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice, it isn’t a full credit on all of the Batman stories yet. Will there ever be a byline like Superman receives (Superman created by Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster) on any an all comics featuring the Caped Crusader?

Maybe. Full credit for the previously (officially) unacknowledged writer is certainly more likely today than it was last week.

One thing is for certain, however; this is a phenomenal step in getting Bill Finger recognized for the contributions he made to Batman‘s world. A huge amount of credit to this achievement should go toward Marc Tyler Nobleman, and his tireless crusade over the past decade. His efforts prove that with some determination, one man really can make a difference.

Image of Nobleman‘s book Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman sourced from his blog. The feature image sourced from Templeton‘s blog.
Also posted on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan.

Five Superheroes Whose Faces Are More Visible Than Diggle’s In His New Magneto Helmet

You’ve probably seen the image released of the new superhero costume of Arrow‘s John Diggle by now. If not, then scroll down a bit for a better look.


There are some concerns that the open faced nature of the helmet leaves enough of his face visible to make him easily identifiable. Personally, I like it; I think it does what it sets out to do by obscuring his facial features just enough. And besides, his helmet does more to conceal his identity than these five uperheroes below.

The five characters below are from their most recent live action incarnations.

Five: Clark Kent.3dig

He wears glasses with a bit of a hair style change. Glasses. I’m sure there’s a genuine reason why this works (indeed, Christopher Reeve did show brilliantly in that one scene where he became Superman by straightening his back a bit, changing his entire posture). But still. Glasses.

Four: Catwoman

It isn’t that Catwoman‘s mask is bad, per se, but that this style of mask doesn’t do quite enough to conceal a person’s identity; you can still her eyes, hair length, etc. It certainly isn’t the worst facial concealment on the list, though, I just don’t think it’s as effective as Diggle‘s

Three: Ray Palmer/ The A.T.O.M.
Aside from his desire to say “hi. I’m Ray!” as he lands, Ray Palmer‘s mask is a clear visor with some light in it. Not exactly the most concealing piece of equipment, now, is it?

Two: Hawkeye

Wait… for a man with such a deeply kept secret, you’d think he’d want to do a bit more to hide it than simply keeping it off the grid. You know, like with a mask.

One: Arrow5dig

In the first season and a half of ArrowOliver Queen wore only a hood and a bit of make up to conceal his identity. How his secret remained safe so long is completely beyond me. It took the arrival of Barry Allen to the series for Oliver to finally wear an actual mask that, combined with his hood, is actually pretty good at hiding his identity. But the make up? Not so much.

Review: Batman Arkham Knight Pre Order Story Packs (Red Hood and Harley Quinn)

Batman Pre-Order DLC packsOne of the things I was looking forward to most with Batman: Arkham Knight was the huge load of DLC that was planned to come out with it. Being that I’m a huge fan of both Batman and the Rocksteady Trilogy, the thought of having more to do in these titles besides the main story was downright exciting. So when I heard that there was going to be a Season Pass for the final title in the Arkham Trilogy, $40 didn’t seem like a bad idea for 6 months worth of extra content. Well, I was as wrong about that as I was about the new Godzilla film, as I was sure it was going to be fantastic. Both were still pretty entertaining though.

When I heard there were going to be pre-order bonuses for the game that featured extra chapters, I had high hopes that they were going to be wonderful additions to the game, especially since I’m a huge Red Hood fan, and this would be the first time playing as both him and Harley Quinn. Well needless to say, I was disappointed in both story packs as they had little to actually add to the game besides 45 minutes of combined gameplay. Yeah, you heard me. Combined. Seeing as how the Pre-order DLC packs are incredibly short, I decided to lump them together in a dual review.

So the Harley Quinn portion of the DLC starts out with you playing as everyone’s favorite sex symbol henchman. Yeah… Henchman. You’re ordered to help break Poison Ivy out of prison and are required to beat up guards along the way. This isn’t a bad setup as the prison is a decent size, with a few rooms to go through. Harley gets her own version of a “detective mode” that is quite hilarious to see, since everyone knows she absolutely nuts.

Batman Arkham Knight Cover ArtThe gameplay mechanics are similar to Batman’s, as you’re forced to eliminate every enemy on the map to progress to the next room. While Harley isn’t a steathy ninja like B-man, she still gets to go into vents and jump up walls. She plays a lot like Catwoman in Arkham City, minus the sweet whip. It makes sense, because from what we’ve seen, Harley is a pretty incredible gymnast, doing all kinds of flips everywhere in the cartoon. She makes it well known to the player that stealth isn’t her “thing,” so the silent takedown is gone and she’s just given a loud beat down with her trusty bat. While I’m a little sad that players weren’t given her giant mallet like in the cartoons, it’s still pretty entertaining to watch her clobber enemies into submission. The downside about this is that despite her lack of stealth, it’s somewhat needed to get past the enemies who all have guns, while you don’t.

There are a couple problems I have with the direction DC is currently taking our beloved Harlequin-based villain. The first is the need to add sex appeal, with the second being the split personality Harley has now. Why DC felt the need to give Harley Quinn all this sex appeal is beyond me. Harley doesn’t need pigtails, cleavage and a thong. She just needs comedy! Her whole appeal, and why she complimented the Joker so well, was the fact that she was a funny character. She used a mallet for crying out loud! The addition of her having a split personality was also unnecessary. It not only destroyed the story of Mad Love, but it cheapened the Joker’s influence, as he wasn’t completely behind Harley’s insanity anymore.

The reason I bring these issues up is because they were added into the game. Harley has a corset, cleavage, pigtails and an inner dialogue as she progresses through her story and it drives me nuts. Why DC felt the need to give depth to Harley Quinn is beyond me, and it wasn’t needed at all.

Overall, while enjoyable, this story pack wasn’t as amazing as I was hoping it would be. If it wasn’t free, I’d definitely regret getting it altogether.

The Red Hood story pack was the DLC I was looking forward to the most. While hearing it was only a Gamestop preorder exclusive, I was a little disappointed that I wouldn’t get it immediately like the Harley Quinn DLC. I was pleased to hear that Season Pass holders would get it eventually, because I really hate going to Gamestop. So when this DLC went live, I had to play it immediately, as Red Hood is easily one of my favorite characters in the Batman Universe.

*Spoilers ahead*

Seeing as how Jason Todd plays a huge role in Arkham Knight, I was excited to see that he would get his own form of DLC, since he’s a very interesting character that would definitely add a lot more depth to the Batman games. A vigilante that kills to save Gotham and using crime to control crime was an absolute brilliant concept that Judd Winick came up with, and using revenge as a means to try and break Batman was absolutely fantastic. Under The Red Hood is my all time favorite Batman movie, yes it’s a cartoon, but the story is amazing!

So after much waiting by the PS4, and avoiding anything on Youtube, the DLC finally came out last week, and I played it right away. You can imagine my surprise when I got through the content in about 15 minutes. The story itself has you, as the Red Hood, proceed to stop Black Mask and his thugs. The downside to all of this is that it’s episodic, so once you complete the objective, you immediately go to the next area. While I think it makes for a better story this way, I would have preferred to go through a larger area, similar to the Harley Quinn story, as it would give players a better chance to see what the Red Hood was capable of.

Being that the Red Hood is every bit as capable at the Dark Knight in apprehending villains, yet crosses that line of resorting to murder, the character always fascinated me as a foil to Batman, which gives the Red Hood so much potential. I would love for DC to dive more into this, giving fans more insight on the darker vigilante that Winick has crafted so carefully.

While Red Hood does kill enemies with his trusty pistols, I feel like they don’t utilize this function enough, as it merely works like the batarang. There are enemies you apprehend that are wearing bulletproof armor, who need to be beaten down instead of simply shot. Why a simple headshot wouldn’t work is beyond me. With his limited arsenal as well, only having a grapple gun and his pistols, your choices are extremely limited. With the Red Hood being trained by Batman himself, one would at least expect the use of more gadgets at his disposal. I guess Rocksteady forgot those elements…

The boss mechanics of both DLCs are pretty standard, with the objective just being to beat up the boss and take down the horde of minor enemies that come to intervene. The mechanics don’t introduce anything new and the battles are pretty easy to get through, offering no real challenge to people who are already used to playing the game. I made the mistake of beating the main scenario first, so the extra chapters didn’t prove to be much of a challenge since Batman’s portions were much harder.

All in all I am pretty disappointed with the DLC tidbits that are offered with the game. The whole experience really makes me regret spending $40. If anything, the amount of content customers are getting is really only worth half as much, as so far all we’ve gotten is a few short DLC chapters, a bunch of costumes and VR missions, and nothing really added to the main scenario. I know Rocksteady is working on some extra Gotham chapters for later DLCs, and I’m sincerely hoping they can redeem my purchase, as I would love nothing more than to feel like my money has gone to good use. So far it’s just felt like highway robbery. Isn’t Batman supposed to prevent that…?

Harley Quinn Story Pack

Story: 3 Gameplay: 7 Side quests: 0 Re-playability: 2 Overall Score: 3

Red Hood Story Pack

Story: 5 Gameplay: 7 Side quests: 0 Re-playability: 2 Overall Score: 4

Review: Gotham Academy #6

gothamacademy6-covSo far into its run Gotham Academy has been one of the biggest surprises coming out of DC Comics in years.  It features a group of characters that are ostensibly connected to the DC universe, but who are also mostly on their own.  In the first issues, Batman (or Bruce Wayne) has shown up from time to time, but the story has focused mostly on the Academy itself with Olive as its main feature.  She has been portrayed as a complex character, one that is striving to do well at school while also dealing with a recent tragedy.  The introduction of Killer Croc brought the series back into the DC Universe, albeit only a little, though the events of the previous issue produce more connections, directly through the inclusion of Batman.

This issue deals with the fallout of those events, included a short battle between Batman and Croc, but the focus lies where it should, on Olive.  While she deals with the after effects of the revelations about her mother by Croc, she realizes that she is part of a bigger story, one which ties the Academy into a deeper story.  This was a nice moment for the series, which gave Gotham Academy a bit of a Morning Glories vibe, although it was also short lived.  In what will be a common occurrence for all of DC Comics leading into Convergence, this issue also felt a little bit like one which is the final issue of the a series.  This gave it a bit of a somber attitude as it tried to wrap up some plot details with a degree of finality, even if the series is still scheduled to return in June.

The series still stands out as one to watch at DC, only it must be noted that once again a big DC wide crossover is thrown into the mix and will have an impact on this series.  It would seem as though the series is teetering on some kind of a breaking point as the epilogue throws a bit more Batman into the Academy, which might work for the series and it might not.  Nonetheless this issue works where it needs to, and while it might not be as strong as others in the series, its quality is still above what to expect from other series.

Story: Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher Art: Karl Kerschl
Story: 8.4 Art: 8.4 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

By The Numbers: January 2015

By The Numbers: January 2015

Welcome readers for the first article in a new series at Graphics Policy!  Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money!  What does your money tell them?  What does it tell us as fans?  What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out?  What are the trends?  What looks good?  What looks rough?

All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.

Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor.  He’s worked in the industry for 5 years but grew up reading comics.  He loves the format deeply and spends way too much time concerned that his favorite books will be cancelled.  He intends to use these articles to help as therapy for his OCD.  He also releases comics now and then and has a weekly column right here at Graphics Policy where he talks about whatever takes his fancy.

Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the Death of Superman. He is a writer and editor for GrayHaven Comics, in addition to his day job. He started out as a DC Zombie, but has broadened his tastes to Marvel and indie books in recent years. He follows the comic sales charts obsessively, primarily to cheer on Magneto’s steady hold each month.

All sales figures retrieved from ICv2.com

What Went Well

Glenn:  Well obviously the big debut and the big story this month is Marvel new Star Wars title which sold just over an astounding 985 thousand copies.  I don’t recall a Marvel book selling that well since the Obama, Amazing issue and I don’t think it did those kind of numbers right away.

This property is obviously back at Marvel who had in initially in the 70’s after being a solid backbone of Dark Horse for 20 years or so.  I don’t think the Dark Horse versions of the Star Wars comics ever broke 6 figures.  Why do you think that is here?

Ray:  I agree, this is just incredible. I think the Obama issue sold something in the 350K range, and that was a cultural event. This is probably the highest sales for any comic since the 90s. The big question, of course, is how it holds up from here, but the early rumors is that #2 sold over 200K. That would put it in a position to regularly be the top selling comic on the stands.

I think the big x-factor here is probably the sense of a new beginning. This is no longer expanded universe stuff, catering to an audience of die-hards following the complex continuity of the books and comics. This is the start of a new era, where the story of the original characters will continue in the movies. I think it felt much more important to the larger Star Wars fandom at large. I think the comic benefitted from that a lot, as well as the huge creative team and glut of variant covers, of course. It’s pretty much a perfect storm for massive success.

Another big success story for Marvel is Thor. This seems to be a rare case of a new status quo actually delivering a lasting sales change. The combination of buzz for the new female Thor and the continued excellence of the Aaron run has turned this into the second-highest selling Marvel Universe series, only behind Amazing Spider-man.

It’s a smaller-scale success, of course, but I feel like the debut of Jonathan Hickman’s The Dying and the Dead is noteworthy as well. Launching with 32K for a creator-owned book is pretty impressive in the superhero-dominated top 100.

I feel like the news is a bit more mixed for this month’s other four big Marvel debuts, though.

Glenn:  Yeah, it seems the big media push they gave the new Thor paid off.  This is likely why they have also decided to do a whole team of female Avenger’s.

It doesn’t seem like it’s paid off as well on the new Captain America but we’ll get there.

It seems like Hickman has now become a name that sells on its own.  I mean he’s been one of Marvel’s big names the last few years now, he actually made the Fantastic Four sell better than it has for like…years.  I’m not surprised his creator owned stuff would do well, he’s on the same level as Snyder who seemingly will get a big debut with Wytches.

Batman, Amazing and Walking Dead seem to be the reliable sellers for their respective companies.  It seems that concerns that Superior sales wouldn’t carry over to a Peter Parker led book but it seems those fears at least have been quelled but I’m sure Spider-Verse has helped there.

I think it should be noted that currently, Walking Dead is the cheapest book in the top ten and two of those books in the top ten were 4.99, which to me, could be a scary sign of things to come.

A new launch this month was Ant Man which debuted at number 7 with just over 70 thousand copies sold.  I’m not expected this to last up there, to be honest.   Even with the movie coming out.

Ray:  All-New Captain America did fall pretty hard right off the bat. I don’t think Remender’s style is really clicking with what the public expects a Cap comic to be, but this did make up for some of the slipping sales of the previous run. I think the timing of this run, with Sam Wilson debuting as Cap and then promptly being inverted to be evil, took a lot of the wind out of its sales.

Ant-Man debuted impressively for what it was, for sure. I think the critical acclaim might help it to keep some of its momentum, at least a bit longer than some books. It’s interesting that it debuted roughly in the same level as Uncanny Avengers, another big launch this month. I expect both of them to drop a good deal next month, just based on the pattern for Marvel relaunches lately.

One of Marvel’s most significant debuts this month was the weekly series “Wolverines“. This is their first foray into weeklies, as well as the first weekly comic priced at $3.99 besides the unconventional “Wednesday Comics“. It debuts in the top ten – and then promptly slips hard the same month, with #2 landing at #25 and out of the top 30 by #4. By the end of its first month – all ordered at the same time – it’s selling well below Batman: Eternal, which is almost a year in. If I was Marvel, I’d be pretty worried about what this looks like once orders get adjusted for the following months.

Glenn:  Well to me, since Brubaker left and really since Bucky stopped being Captain America, the book has struggled.  When you had Death Of Cap, obviously that was a big thing but then the book sold continuously well.  It just seems to be one of those nuts that overall are hard to crack, like Fantastic Four or Superman.  By all intents and purposes, those books SHOULD sell but for some reason or another they’re (at best) middle of the road.

Yeah no doubt.  I kind of made the joke that by killing Wolverine, Marvel have only made him stronger.  Overall they’re still coming out because instead of one Wolverine book that sells like 50-70 k or whatever, you have 4 so overall they’re ahead.

Squirrel Girl seems to have had a solid launch too for a D list (being generous) character.  Maybe because of her exposure on Bendis Avenger’s run but I think that’ll be short lived too.

One of the big surprises is having the Star Trek/Planet Of The Apes mini do so well.  I can’t remember what the Doctor Who crossover sold but I think this is a pretty solid debut.

Ray:  Squirrel Girl is a big question mark. I wouldn’t be surprised if this one is closer to the mark in terms of demand than some of the other debuts, and so it starts lower but might hold better. I assume Marvel is trying for the same audience that is buying Ms. Marvel, and it’s not a bad idea. Of course, next month will tell the tale.

I’m pretty sure that is a very impressive debut for a licensed comic. One factor that might have helped it is that it’s one of the seven books that were sold on New Year’s Eve. Those tend to be ordered heavily because casual readers might take a chance on them during an unusually small week.

Steady books/books in the middle

Ray:  The first thing I notice is that comedy is still doing well. Harley Quinn, of course, is probably the most surprising big hit out of DC in years, and is still hanging around just below the top ten. Not a surprise this creative team is getting a new book and a spin-off in June. And Rocket Raccoon is hanging around in the upper 30s, about 40 spots before the other Guardians spin-offs. I expect to see more of this type of book from the companies.

Wonder Woman had a brief peak when the Finches landed on the title, but now it’s selling at about the same level as the end of the Azzarello run with far weaker response. DC has to be a bit worried about that one.

I’m surprised SHIELD fell this far with its second issue, from a top ten debut. I’m less surprised by the drops for Angela and Spider-man & the X-men, as those two seemed like they were dropped with relatively little fanfare. It’s a bit surreal to see an Angela comic in the top 50 again, heh.

Glenn:  I actually thought that they might be looking at the people buying Harley Quinn, the success of that book may be the oddest thing to happen in years.

Wonder Woman will be definitely one to watch, I think.  I mean the Azzarello run wasn’t a best seller but it was extremely stable.  Putting Finch on will definitely keep those sales but like you said, the critical response has been less than generous.  If Finch can stay on schedule, it may be fine but its likely to face a creative overall after Convergence I’d say.

SHIELD is kind of something with a specific hook.  It’s a kind of fringe book that don’t tend to stay stable long at the big two.  It kind of makes you wonder that if the same premise and writer had been done at Image how it would have performed in the current market.

I think a lot of the success of ‘Wolverine and the X-Men’ has to attributed to Jason Aaron, now he’s gone and they’re trying to shoe horn Spider-Man in, I think this is the kind of response the current comic market will give you.  I’m as big a Spidey fan as anyone but I’m not picking up this book, it seems to be a bit of a hail Mary to me.

A lot of indie/creator owned books seem to stabilize very quickly.  They might not do as big number as say Amazing or Batman but the audience seems more dedicated.  No one can overlook the success of Star Wars this month but as you said, its set to lose like 700 thousand sales in one issue.  It seems like most Image or Dark Horse or whoever books obviously launch a lot lower but suffer less of a drop.

Green Lantern and Green Arrow have both seen better days at DC but both are stable sellers.  Of course, we’ve found out recently that Green Arrow is set for another creative change which I believe is the 5th since the new 52 launch 3 years ago.

Ray:  I think it’s actually six creative changes. All but one of them (the acclaimed Lemire/Sorrentino run) have only lasted one arc. And that’s not counting Judd Winick’s one-off. This title has been in creative flux since moment one. With Green Lantern, I think this is sort of course correction after they lost their A-list creator in Johns. The line will be paring back to only three books come June, which seems like a smart move.

Looking at the other weeklies for DC, it’s a world between Eternal and these books. Futures End is sort of a mid-level performer, but World’s End is really sinking fast. It probably doesn’t help that the title lost its chief architect right before the weekly began, with Tom Taylor leaving the line.

I must say, I’m sad to see three of my favorite Bat-books, Gotham Academy, Gotham By Midnight, and the short-lived Arkham Manor sinking out of the top 100 so quickly. These are clever, unique books, but they don’t seem to be reaping the benefit that Bat-titles seem to get.

This is where we start to see a lot of lower-tier books from Marvel and DC that just aren’t finding their footing, unfortunately. And I think the fact that Hulk’s main title is selling scarcely 1K more than Magneto’s solo book is testament to the diminishing returns we’re seeing with Marvel’s frequent relaunches. I’m interested to see if Secret Wars and the likely relaunch that follows will turn this around, or if we’ll continue to see the huge starts and huge drops. Marvel has developed a strategy of using tons of variant covers and mainstream press to launch huge, but it doesn’t seem to be carrying over past the first month or two.

Glenn:  This to me presents two very big problems in this market at the moment.  Firstly, people say they want something a little different/off-beat but when they deliver, it doesn’t seem that the market indicates the demand.

The second problem is like you mentioned, diminishing returns.  Back in the day, a relaunch was a big, big deal but 30’s-50’s, especially in terms of Marvel are rare.  It just seems to be relaunch, boom, sink, relaunch and so on and so on.

The Danger Zone

Glenn: This may sound a bit random but I noticed Halo on the charts, near the bottom.  I remember when this property was a big deal at Marvel, it seems to have fallen in a major way.

Then again, outside of the monster hit that it was Star Wars, it seems a very bad time for properties in the industry.  A lot of them are scarping around the low end of 5 figures.  Most of them are even being outsold by creator owned.  It doesn’t seem that properties like Star Trek, Doctor Who, Tomb Raider and more have a place in today’s market.

It also looks to me that Constantine is now down to the level ‘Hellblazer’ was at during its Vertigo days.  It’s due for a rebranding following Convergence though.

I would think that Bucky would be performing better given the fact that this title is essentially a follow on from ‘Original Sin’ and he was in a movie a lot of people went to see.

Ray: I also forgot Marvel was even putting out Halo comics, to be honest. And outside of Star Wars, as you said, it seems very hard for licensed comics to get any traction. Besides that and the Star Trek/Apes crossover, the next one down is My Little Pony all the way at 119, and that’s clearly an unconventional mix of fanbases driving it. Even Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the TMNT/Ghostbusters crossover are hanging around the mid-130s. It seems like there’s a lot of problems getting a significant portion of the original fan base to check out the comic.

Constantine fell to earth rather quickly. I’m not surprised they’re relaunching it – it was the lowest-selling un-cancelled DC book for a while, before the Earth 2 tie-in briefly boosted its sales. While the relaunch should help, I wonder if the character is just a bit too unconventional to sell to a wide superhero audience.

With Bucky’s book, I think this is just a mismatch of property and comic. Original Sin was rather poorly received, and it has an odd concept with Bucky in space fighting aliens. I think if they launched a spy comic starring the Winter Soldier that resembled the movie more, they might have done better.

Two comics that jump out at me are Klarion at 225 and Star-Spangled War Stories at 245. For main-line DC comics only a few issues in, that’s shocking. It’s interesting that DC’s experiments in unconventional, non-superhero comics like these are landing with such a thud, but they seem to be doubling down on this type of book with the June relaunch. What is their plan to make things like Prez, Doomed, Bizarro, and Omega Men succeed, when they’ve had such trouble recently?

Glenn:  I think they’re going to be looking to replicate the success they’ve had with Harley but to me, that might be lightning in a bottle.

Again, at least they’re trying new things, which is fans say they want but sales prove different.

It’ll be an interesting summer at both companies, for sure.

Coming up next month

Ray: Looking ahead to next month, it’s sort of the calm before the storm. Next month’s chart will have a few interesting points, though. We’ve got the launch of Grant Morrison’s first Image ongoing, The Nameless. Marvel is bringing us the next Star Wars launch in Darth Vader, plus the internet phenomenon of Spider-Gwen makes its ongoing debut. Those will probably be dueling for #1. There’s also the launch of Silk, a more controversial character that Marvel has a lot of faith in. It’ll be interesting to see how those books shake up the charts.

Glenn: It should be the debut of Wytches on the sales chart, I believe.  I think this one might be one of the big winners from the company.  You’re right though, the majority of books will be treading water sales wise until we get our annual huge shake up.  Most of the ones to watch next month will be the indie books.  I’m personally hoping that Nailbiter can gain a stronger following over time.  Once upon a time, Walking Dead was down that part of the charts too.

Enjoyed what you read?  Let us know and follow us on Twitter @glenn_matchett & @raygoldfield





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