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Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For December

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: A list of underrated comics.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have an definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of thee series out next time you’re looking for some comics and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six comics that are worth your attention. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from each publisher – this was done to try and spread the love around, because otherwise Valiant Voracious_TPB_Cover_Vol1would dominate the list below. Not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for December’s comic sales, which is why they’re Underrated.

All sales data comes from Comichron.


Voracious: Feeding Time
(Action Lab)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get hadrianswall_01-1caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second issue of Feeding Time just hit the shelves. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now; if you’re looking for an original concept executed beautifully then you need look no further. Simply an amazing series.

Hadrian’s Wall (Image)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 257/5,265
The creative team  behind C.O.W.L. reunite to tell a fantastic murder mystery set in space. It’s a gripping tale that isn’t without it’s faults, but in comparison to where Kyle Higgins is taking this story they’re easy to over look. Sci fi isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this is one of the comics that I’ve become a big fan of. Don’t miss this.


faith_007_cover-c_tanFaith 
(Valiant)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 221/7,375
If Stan Lee were to have created Spider-Man in this century, then he’d probably have come up with a character like Faith Herbert. The high flying superhero has been a favourite of mine since I read the first miniseries Hollywood and Vine early last year, and the current ongoing – still written by Jody Houser – has been fantastic. Although the artist tends to change with each story arc, there is a visual consistency to the comic because of Marguerite Sauvage’s fantasy sequences that act to blend the differing styles of the artists across the issues. Faith is a series that almost every comic fan will find something to love, whether it’s the character’s unrelenting optimism or her love of being a superhero (come on, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t love to fly), there’s something here for those looking for an escape.

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK4 Kids Walk Into A Bank (Black Mask)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 198/8,675
You’d be forgiven for overlooking this comic, as there was a bit of a delay between the second and third issues being released. For the nearly nine thousand people who did pick up this comic, you would have found one of the most effortlessly charming stories about four kids about to rob a bank. Both the writing is the artwork is fantastic;I can’t recommend this enough to you. Whether you pick it up in trade form when it inevitably is released, or track down the three issues currently on the racks, be prepared to find a comic that you’ll fall head over heals in love with.

midnapo_cv4Midnighter and Apollo (DC)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 180/10,773
If you’re surprised to see a DC book on this list, don’t be. Midnighter has struggled to light up the sales charts as he should be with his previous series. This miniseries has Midnigher literally going to Hell to save the man he loves in one of the mot brutal sequences I have read in a long time, coupled with some fantastic dialogue between Apollo and his captor. Although I assume things will work out eventually, it’s been a hell of a ride (pun intended) so far, and with only two issues remaining in the miniseries I’m really excited to see how Steve Orlando brings this home.

Black Hammer (Dark Horse)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 170/12,352
bkhmr-5-variant-fc-fnl-600x911Jeff Lemire is an incredibly prolific writer,and while I may not always like everything he comes out with, Black Hammer has spoken to my love of modern takes on distinctly Golden Age heroes. With a Justice League like group of characters locked in mysterious pocket dimension where they’re forced to live normal lives on a farm, we get to explore what happens to a hero on a forced retirement. Not everybody I know is a fan of where this comic is going, and how it’s been getting there, but every issue has been a win for me – which is another reason this appears in this issue of Underrated. But the tinges of something lingering just beneath the surface give a genuine sense of unease to the comic. Black Hammer is very much a slow burn, but it’s going to be incandescent when we get the pay off at the end.


 

Obviously there are many more comics that should be on that list, so look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t selling as well as they should be.

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Rebirth Review: November 30th’s Comics

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
bm_annual_cv1new 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.

This week only saw two annuals released, so expect a much shorter post than normal.



Batman Annual #1 
The beauty of this annual is that for the most part the collection of stories within the comic are standalone, taking place at various different times over Bruce Wayne’s history as Batman, but always centered around the holidays. This makes it easily one of the most Friendly Batman comics released thus far, but whether it’ll allow you to smann_cv1ease your way into the other Bat-books is debatable. Still, it’s absolutely worth the price of admission.

Superman Annual #1 Is a little less accessible than the other annual released this week, but has a bit more of a direct connection to the regular series as it instead has Superman and Swamp Thing doing something that, honestly, is largely forgettable; the annual is a good one but far from integral to the story at large, which I feel is not the intention. This is technically a Friendly comic, but I don’t think it’s relevant for your enjoyment of the series.

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.

nocolordeadpool

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.

coloreddeadpool

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.

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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
1dig

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.
4dig
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
2dig

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

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