Tag Archives: dc

Movie Review: Justice League

Justice League posterIt’s hard to think of a time recently when a film has had so many expectations riding on it. 

And Justice League will undoubtedly fulfill many of those for a lot of fans of the source material. If you’ve been a fan of what Zack Snyder has done with the DC universe so far, you will continue to enjoy this. If you enjoyed Joss Whedon‘s work on The Avengers but have been “meh” so far on Man of Steel or Batman v. Superman, then you may enjoy yourself here, as the best explanation of Justice League is “Joss Whedon meets Zack Snyder.”

Unfortunately, that also means the film also embodies many of their respective weaknesses, too.

It’s no wonder this feels like a mishmash. Zack Snyder finished principle photography on the film and then had to step away from the project due to family issues. He entrusted finishing the film, including some reshoots and a script polish, to Whedon. Both of their fingerprints are evident in this film. Snyder’s stylized action is key and brings a bombasticity to the fights Whedon has never been capable of. Whedon brings some humor and teases out character elements in little asides that are key to enjoyment of the movie. In a lot of ways, this is a marriage that makes sense. In others. . . well, let’s say it’s easy to tell which parts of the film who was responsible for. It’s sort of like listening to The Beatles’ White Album — Lennon and McCartney were credited for all of their songs together, but it was very clear who took the lead on which track as the two partners styles started to diverge more wildly.

THE SETUP

Superman is dead. (Spoiler alert!) Sensing a moment of weakness and hopelessness, intergalactic conqueror Steppenwolf has returned to Earth to try to conquer it. Yes returned, because apparently he tried this schtick before and was repelled by the combined armies of Amazons, Atlanteans, and men. So he’s going back after them and artifacts he left behind that he needs to conquer the planet.

Batman (Ben Affleck), wracked with guilt over the death of Superman, is trying to put together a team to fight what he sees as this oncoming storm even before he’s aware of Steppenwolf’s presence. When Wonder Woman (Gal Godot) informs him the threat is already here, they redouble their efforts to find new teammates.

This includes Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Barry Allen aka The Flash (Ezra Miller), and Victor Stone aka Cyborg (Ray Fisher). While Bats and Diana get top billing, make no mistake that the other teammates are not sidekicks. Indeed, each gets their due and gets their own fun moments and character arcs.

Yes, Aquaman is really f*#king cool. You would’ve told me 20 years ago I’d be saying my favorite part of a Justice League movie might be Aquaman, I’d have laughed in your face. You’ll believe a man can swim. . . and kick all sorts of ass. Momoa’s comedic skills are put on full display here as well, delivering some of the best lines in the movie.

Speaking of comic relief, The Flash has always been the Justice League’s jokey conscience. In this version, we get a much younger, greener version of the character who is only barely discovering his powers. This is a double edged sword, as it gives the character room to grow and a great story arc, as well as giving Batman a chance to play superhero mentor. Ezra Miller does a great job and tries to steal every scene he’s in, which can sometimes be a little overbearing, but is overall really fun.

Unfortunately, we also get a wildly uneven powerset and skillset. At one moment Flash is literally tripping over himself, and not ten minutes later must perform a demanding run to deliver a static electricity bolt at a precise moment. Characters can be layered and be able to grow and have varying degrees of competence, but we can’t expect someone to be so bad at something one minute and five minutes later perfect at it (without even the use of a sports training montage!) That’s not showing growth and nuance, it’s just sloppy storytelling and characterization.

Speaking of, this brings us to Cyborg. It’s a good thing most audiences aren’t familiar with the character, or else they may have expectations about his powers. Apparently, Cyborg’s main superpower is exposition. He also has the ability to pull a Deus Ex Superhero at any given time. Need your jet to take you from Gotham to Russia in under 2 hours? Cyborg can “hack” your plane and make it happen!  Need to prevent Steppenwolf from assembling his doomsday terraforming machine to conquer earth? Cyborg can “hack” it!!

To be fair, [Minor Spoiler] Cyborg’s origin in the film is tied in to one of the artifacts Steppenwolf is using, but it’s still incredibly convenient. You know what else is incredibly convenient? The Kryptonian spaceship containing all sorts of technology (for the THIRD. MOVIE. IN A ROW.) whose main purpose, again, is to move the plot forward. Equally convenient? Another alien would-be conqueror who wants to terraform the earth.

It’s almost hard for Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and The Flash to shine under the weight of all of this– but they do. It’s just unfortunate that they have to.

WHEDON v. SNYDER: DAWN OF “JUST US” LEAVE

Getting back to the description of the film as “Joss Whedon meets Zack Snyder”– Note that in this description of the film, nowhere is a mention of Patty Jenkins. And that’s with good reason. Jenkins’ Wonder Woman still stands head and shoulders above all other DC movies, including this, as Princess Diana herself does among her teammates. Nowhere here do we match the spirit and fun of Wonder Woman, but we get occasional glimpses of it.

And Wonder Woman is the best part of Justice League. Her mere introduction on screen elicited cheers and applause from the audience, and her opening intro is masterful and fun. No small amount of credit should be given to Whedon, whose trademark handling of “strong female characters” is basically a cliche at this point, but it’s still missing some of what Jenkins brought.

Indeed, the film’s best analogue is Whedon’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. That film nearly collapsed under its own weight of trying to move Marvel’s franchises forward, but forgot to really ever be or say anything in and of itself. Justice League sometimes feels that way– an obligatory team up sequel because that’s the next step in the movie franchise plan.

Another apt comparison might be to Superman II, which famously had Richard Donner fired from it and the rest of the film was completed by Richard Lester. The seams are clearly visible on that Frankenmovie where Donner ends and where Lester begins. So too is it clear how much of Whedon’s sardonic essence was brought into this film both in its script and reshoots which he oversaw.  While Snyder stepped away due to family issues (and I’m not going to give him any hard time about that) and entrusted Whedon to finish his movie, the end result is more Donner-Lester than Lennon-McCartney.

But perhaps this is best seen in the film’s most glaring flaw: Steppenwolf is a boring villain. The only thing remarkable about him is he’s big and powerful and he wants to conquer the earth, so we need an equally awesome team to work together to defeat him. In this, he’s a lot like Ultron. . . and, come to think of it, Zod. Unfortunately you don’t have as interesting an actor portraying Steppenwolf as Terrance Stamp, Michael Shannon, or James Spader. He’s not bad, he’s just lackluster. He can join Malekith from Thor: The Dark World as the least interesting superhero movie villains of recent memory.

And yet, both Avengers: Age of Ultron and Superman II are incredibly good, enjoyable films. You might invoke an aphorism about how great power brings great responsibility, and so maybe we should expect even better than this, but that’s a completely different guy– and he has his own track record of mediocre movies he’s trying to fix (and largely succeeding).

A STORY ABOUT SUPERHERO MOVIES

My son is 9. He is a frequent companion of mine to press screenings, especially when superhero movies are concerned. His first movie in the theater was The Avengers in 2012. He liked Batman v. Superman ok, but mostly just the final battle. Fast forward to 2017: He liked Guardians 2, but not as much as the first one. He was not a fan of Spider-Man: Homecoming — let’s be clear, that was a teeanagery John Hughes movie with superheroes in it, so give him a few years. He was not a huge fan of Wonder Woman —ugh. Girls. (His father is hugely disappointed in him for this)

He gave Thor: Ragnarok a “13 out of 10” and begged to go see it again as soon as possible.

He gave Justice League a 9 out of 10. Because if you can just enjoy this movie for its jokes, its iconography, its action, and its broad characters, you can have a great time with it. Truth? It made my inner 9 year old pretty happy, too– the same 9 year old who taped Superman II off of tv and watched it over and over not at all aware of the film’s flaws. It was simply “Kneel before Zod!” time, and everything else was just fine.

There are also moments of sheer brilliance in this movie, some of which we can’t get into without spoilers. DC fans will be happy, though, as other characters are referenced or implied.

And there are some sweet moments. In a flashback that opens the movie, little kids interview Superman for a podcast they’re doing. A sign of the type of hopelessness Steppenwolf and his parademons feed off of are a white skinhead hassling a Muslim shopkeeper and kicking over his fruit stands. Wonder Woman signs autographs for some little girls and I triple dog dare you not to tear up a little at how much it matters to them.

And then there are the after credits scenes. Yes, two of them. So make sure you stay. The one at the very end of the credits made me want a direct sequel as soon as meta-humanly possible.

It’s unfortunate these moments only checker the film rather than deeply permeating it like a piece of finely marbled kobe beef. Instead it adds extra sizzle to the steak, but doesn’t leave the whole thing as tender and juicy as it might otherwise be. But when you’re dining at Snyder & Whedon steakhouse, this is the meal that we expect. And at the end of the day, it’s still a pretty good steak.

3.5 out of 5

Underrated: (The Concept Of) DC’s Earth One Graphic Novels

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: DC’s Earth One graphic novels.


Because I’m currently reading Batman Earth One Vol. 2, this week I wanted to take a look at DC’s standalone graphic novel series Earth One. The series started with Superman in 2010, followed by Batman and a sequel to Superman in 2012, Teen Titans in 2014, two more sequels (Batman and Superman) in 2015, with Wonder Woman and a Teen Titans sequel in 2016. There will also be more released in 2018 and beyond, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today.

Batman-_Earth_One.jpgEach book in the Earth One brand is, as far as I am aware, unconnected to the others aside from the sequels which means that they’re not bogged down by decades of continuity and the ever present worry of making sure the events in one don’t contradict another.

Full disclosure: I haven’t read them all, or even most of them, so don’t expect this to be an all encompassing review type Underrated. The reason I wanted to shine a light on these books is that in the current comics climate where there’s almost too much to keep track of month to month for some of these characters the Earth One books are a breath of fresh air.

It doesn’t hurt that these hundred and forty odd pages were never written as individual issues so there’s a different flow to the stories as the graphic novel format allows the creative team a little more freedom in building their stories. For the reader this means that you get a full and complete story in one read without having to worry about the other Earth One books (yes, obviously the sequels are designed to be read in order as the story follows the characters on their respective journeys).

And books they are.

The two Batman: Earth One books that I own have a slightly embossed dust jacket free hardcover that look and feel fantastic, but that’s not why I wanted to spotlight the series today. The reason I sat down to write about them is that I had forgotten how wonderful it is to read a self contained story about a character you love without thinking about where it fits in the character’s life.

Sometimes all you want is a story that isn’t weighed down by the constraints of continuity and history – I think that’s why the Elseworlds and What If series are so appealing to fans – so that you can lose yourself in a hundred or so pages of your favourite characters.

There we have it. A much shorter Underrated than usual, but hopefully no less enjoyable.

 


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover something else comic book related next week.

Those Two Geeks With Alex And Joe: Episode Six

This week on Those Two Geeks!

Recording the day after the Mayweather/McGregor fight the hosts start off by sharing their thoughts on the scrap.

There was a topic planned this week, but we ended up tangenting away from it with more discussion about the state of the Marvel and DC television and movie universes.

Disclaimer: there is a bit of cursing this episode.

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you feel the need to tell them they’re wrong. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week!

DC Rebirth Recap And Review For Comics Released 8/23

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And 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 – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

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. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

DTC_Cv963_open_order_varAction Comic #986 Lex Luthor, now a hero, has been mind controlled into fighting Superman by a mechanical chip that’s on his neck. As long as you don’t care too much about plot and just want to enjoy a good Superman/Super Lex scrap then you’ll be okay to start here – even though there are some story beats that tie into the whole Rebirth story event as a whole. Depending on how you approach the comic will depend on whether you find this Friendly or Not6.75/10

Batgirl #14 Unfortunately it has been awhile since I picked this series up – in part because I always do this feature at the last minute and tend to not read the series I enjoy the least (something that isn’t happening this week). So without a recap we’re both in the same place. Fortunately, this is part one of a new arc (which seems to be my luck when I pick a series back up) that guest stars Nightwing, and tells a dual story of Now and Then that’s an easily read Friendly comic. 7.25/10

Batman Beyond #11 So Damian Wayne has taken his grandfather’s place as Ra’s Al Ghul and is currently engaging in a battle to the death with Terry McGinnis who is wearing a murderous version of his suit that is overriding his ability to control himself – all while Bruce Wayne looks on. It is a Friendly issue, which is a nice change for a concluding chapter. 7.5/10

Blue Beetle #12 Another comic that I’ve had an on again off again reading relationship with, this series has gone unread by yours truly for a couple months. This issue is HJGLC_Cv27_dsfairly Friendly, but not overly good as Batman makes a guest appearance. 5/10

Detective Comics #963 Tim Drake is dead (except he’s not and Batman just found that out last issue) and Spoiler has abandoned Batman because, in part, of her grief over Red Robin’s death. Oh, and Clayface is a hero now. This issue refers back a little to the Night Of The Monster Men that saw Gotham’s heroes facing off against Godzilla sized beasties with infected blood. As far as these things go, this is a Friendly issue. 7/10

Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #27 So I don’t actually remember the last issue… at all. No idea why. Still, having forgot the last issue, this one turned out to be pretty Friendly all the same. 8/10

Harley Quinn #26 Full disclosure: I am not a Harley fan, and so usually when I’m pushed for time when writing this feature her comic is the first to go on the chopping block. And while this issue is somewhat chaotic, it is Friendly. I just didn’t enjoy it myself (but that doesn’t mean you won’t). 5/10

Nightwing: The New Order #1 The first of a six issue miniseries that takes place in 2040. It’s a fantastic future/alternate reality style take on Dick Grayson, and one that’s well worth checking out (bonus: the first issue is, somewhat obviously, Friendly). Because this is a miniseries, don’t expect the next issue to appear here. 8.5/10

FLS_Cv29_open_order_varSuicide Squad #24 Last I remember, Harley Quinn is the new leader of the Squad because the last one died. Beyond that? Not a clue. This issue is good enough to make me want to go back and read some of the more recent issues because this isn’t exactly an ideal place to start. Indeed, you could call this Unfriendly. 7/10

Teen Titans #11 The newest Teen Titan, the son of Black Manta and an Atlantean, is underwater with Black Manta as the villain tries to locate a powerful artifact that he’s been after for years. The conclusion to the current arc is Friendly enough as far as things go, but you could always wait to the next issue if you’re unsure. 7.25/10

The Flash #29 Barry Allen has a new set of powers because of the Negative Speed Force, and while I can’t quite remember the previous issue exactly, I seem to recall that the Flash’s new speed powers are incredibly destructive to those around him. As Barry Allen, he’s also been tasked to figure out who has been stealing evidence from the crime lab by Captain Singh. Good news: this issue is fairly Friendly7.5/10

The Hellblazer #13 I honestly don’t remember the last time I read this series, but it’s been at least a couple of months. Needless to say, while there’s no recap, this is a Friendly issue (partly because it’s another first parter). 7.75/10

DC Rebirth Recap And Review For Comics Released 8/16

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And 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 – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

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. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

 

BW_Cv6_open_order_varAquaman #27 If you haven’t been reading Aquaman you’re missing out on a fantastic story. But what have you missed? Arthur Curry has been deposed as King of Atlantis and is hiding in the deepest parts of Atlantis with a fresh new hair cut – or more specifically a lack of one – that’s almost as effective as Clark’s glasses at concealing his identity (though one could argue it’s more so as he’s still wearing the same clothes and nobody has noticed). Recently he and a new ally, Dolphin, have been captured by an underworld mob boss… the issue is almost Friendly without the recap, and it’s so good. 9/10

Batman #29 The fourth part of The War Of Jokes And Riddles is here, and thus far the story basically boils down to Joker verses Ridler with Batman caught between them -as told by Bruce Wayne to Selina Kyle while they’re in bed. This gross over simplification doesn’t do as much justice to Tom King’s story as it should, but it gives you a rough idea of where we’re at before reading this tense, Friendly, issue where Bruce Wayne hosts a dinner party for the two warring criminals. 8.5/10

Batwoman #6 It’s been awhile since I read this series because, honestly, it just didn’t do it for me and I usually read the comics for this feature the night before it comes out because I love procrastinating, but this week I started early, so I figured I’d give this a shot. While I enjoyed the comic I had almost no idea what was going on, but near as I can tell it seems to be taking place several years in the future. Batwoman #6 is just about Unfriendly, but if you’re willing to stick with it all the way through it’s really quite enjoyable. 7.75/10

Green Arrow #29 Green Arrow is travelling across the country looking for something (I honestly don’t remember what), and he’s about to hit Gotham.  While he’s doing this, Oliver Queen is due to face trial for murder, but the former billionaire has skipped town (Ollie lost his money after the evil Ninth Circle ruined his life, took control of his company and burnt his base down in a much more interesting story than this short bracketed recap would indicate). So with Ollie in Gotham, guess who makes an appearance… the comic is a Friendly one, and a solid chapter in the longer story, but I’m worried it may start to drag soon. 7/10

GA_Cv29_dsGreen Lanterns #29 Simon and Jessica have been shunted back in time ten billion years, and now they have to train the first seven six lanterns in the use of their brand new Power Rings in order to confront a much younger version of the enemy that pushed them back in time – only Simon’s ring was destroyed. So now they have to train the new lanterns and convince them to fight an enemy that isn’t theirs. The issue is Friendly, but feels like it dragged it’s feet a little here. 7/10

Justice League #27 The children of the Justice League have come from the future to seek help from the League. With the story only being an issue deep, and the kids having to update their future parents, this is  Friendly issue. 7.25/10

Nightwing #27  Much to the continued dismay of my Those Two Geeks cohost Joe, I have still not read Grayson. That presents a bit of a hurdle for this arc that pulls a fair bit from Nightwing’s spy past, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless, especially with Dick’s recap Friendly monologue at the beginning. 7/10

Superman #29 This is a new story, and by this point you know who Superman is which aids a great deal toward making this a Friendly comic. 7.5/10

Super Sons #7 The Teen Titans guest, and have just lost a fight to some mysterious folks, with some rather amusing (for us) consequences for Robin. This series has been so incredibly fun that it’s hard not to just be immediately happy when reading it – thankfully this is an almost entirely Friendly comic on its own, but you may want to SUPSO_Cv7_dsgrab #6 while you’re at it. 8.5/10

Trinity #12 Another series I haven’t read in awhile but conveniently it’s the first part of  new arc, and seeing as (again) you should know who the Trinity is… and as much as I was able to follow along with this comic, I felt that I was missing something; that maybe it should have been part two, not part one. That being said, it is almost Friendly. 7.5/10

Wonder Woman #28 I don’t think I read last issue, but then I didn’t miss much. Wonder Woman’s friend was injured at a wedding and seems to have spent some time in the hospital – anything else you can pick up as you go along. As a jumping on point this is Friendly enough to work out, but it’s not the best comic this week. 6/10

DC Rebirth Recap And Review For Comics Released 8/9

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And 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 – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

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. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

DTC_Cv962_open_order_varAction Comics #985 If you’re reading this, and you don’t know the basic history between Superman and Lex Luthor then no recap is going to help you. If you’re dimly aware, but have missed a lot recently, Lex is now a hero – a Superman (or Super Lex), and this issue is Friendly enough to jump into. 6.75/10

Detective Comics #962 Azreal’s former bosses, the Order of St. Dumas are trying to wipe dissident factions within themselves out, and Azreal who was once a programmed killing machine before breaking free has fallen once again under their control (though he’s mentally fighting back against the embodiment of that control, Ascalon, which currently looks like a child in his mind – and a murderous killing robot in real life. Yes there’s two of them). In order to break that control Batwing has created an armour that’s got a very familiar look for those who’ve read the Knightfall story… Unfortunately this is an Unfriendly place for new readers to jump on, but it’s a good comic. 8/10

Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps #26 As Friendly as this issue is, you don’t need a recap in order to get some enjoyment from this issue. 6.75/10

Justice League of America #12 You can get all you need from this comic from the comic itself – with it being the first part of a new story (that kinda follows on from Atom’s introduction issue) you’ll find this Friendly enough. 7/10

MisterMiracleCoverMister Miracle #1 I have no idea who this dude is, so I can’t give you a recap – but then this is the first issue and there isn’t much to recap post Rebirth. What I can tell you is that this Friendly comic is pretty damn fantastic cerebral tale. 8/10

Red Hood And The Outlaws #13 Last issue Bizarro died saving his friends, Red Him and Red Her. It was quite emotional. Then Lex Luthor arrived… This issue is Friendly, and very good. 8/10

Supergirl #12 It has been a long time since I remember to pick up  an issue in this series, but I figured this first part of a new arc should be a decent jumping on point. It almost is, but it’s not a great issue. 6.25/10

The Flash #28 Barry Allen has somehow gained the power of the Negative Speed Force, probably when he went into the future to save Iris from the Reverse Flash  (who died). There’s a solid recap within the issue itself, which has the aded bonus of making the issue Friendly. 7.25/10

DC Rebirth Recap And Review For Comics Released 8/2

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And 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 – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

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. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

BATMAN #28Batman #28 Joker and Riddler are at war in this story set in the second year of Batman’s career, with Bruce telling the story to Selina Kyle in the present. It’s not exactly the easiest (read borderline Unfriendly) place to jump on board if I’m being completely honest, but you should be fine. 7/10

Cyborg #15 It has been a long, long time since I read a Cyborg comic so there’ll be no recap here. The issue itself is kinda Friendly, and quite entertaining in a roundabout way. 7/10

Green Arrow #28 Green Arrow has lost everything at the hands of the evil Ninth Circle; his alter ego has been framed for murder, and while Ollie Queen is facing trial, Green Arrow is travelling across the country looking for something. currently he’s in Metropolis. The issue is Friendly enough on its own without the recap, assuming you just want to read a good comic. 8/10

Green Lantern #28 Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz have been sent back a couple billion years into Earth’s past after the First Lantern, Volthoom, tried to return home (he’s from an alternate reality and wanted to rebuild his dimensional travel Lantern that, surprise surprise, was used to create  the first seven Green rings that were needed to combat a crisis. Two guesses what that crisis turned out to be…). Oh, and Simon’s ring has exploded, with fragments lodged in his arm, which means only Jess has a working ring. Every now and then you’ll also see a short page or so origin for each of the original seven Greens. Friendly. 8/10

Justice League #26 A brand new arc which is  actually a very Friendly place to jump on because almost nothing in previous issues has any relevance to this issue. 7.5/10

Nightwing #26 Nightwing is living in Bludhaven now, and this first part of a new story arc is Friendly. You’ll not need to know as much about Nightwing’s past as you’d think with  story that harks back to his Spyral days, but the interspersed scenes with Shawn Tsang may give you pause. The former villain is Dick’s ex girlfriend who ended things when Dick reacted poorly to a pregnancy scare. Nightwing #26 is a Friendly issue, and as good  jumping on point as any right now. 7.25/10

Superman #28 The Kent’s are on a road trip to visit historical places in the USA. It’s a Friendly and very interesting look at American history. 7.75/10

DC Rebirth Recap And Review For Comics Released 7/26

Welcome to Graphic Policy’s DC Rebirth: Recap And 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 – we’ll also be providing  recap of sorts for the relevant story beats up until the issue in question in order to help you figure out if the series is something you’re interested in.

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. More consideration regarding the comic’s accessibility will be given for the specific issue being read rather than the series overall, but if reading a back issue will help, then that will be mentioned. You’ll also notice that each comic will get a rating that falls on Graphic Policy’s typical ten point scale, which is there to help you pick between issues if you only want to check out one or two.

Not every comic is covered week to week, and that’s because I  sometimes forget to read them  (although that doesn’t happen often), or I really can’t bring myself to pic up the issue. If I have missed an issue, typically I won’t go looking for back issues to catch up on events – this feature is all about accessibility for new readers, after all.


 

AC_Cv984_dsAction Comics #984 Superman smackdown! The last issue was basically just a super-fight with Superman, the New Super-Man, Super Lex, Supergirl, Super Woman and Steel taking on General Zod, Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator, Mongul, Metallo and a telepathic dude who loves white. There’s a rhyme and a reason behind this but it doesn’t really matter what it is at this point, does it? When we left, Zod had just discovered that Superman had a wife and child, and that they were inexplicably at the Fortress of Solitude during the smackdown. This issue is almost Friendly enough to jump right on board, but you may need it twice to get the most out of it. 7/10

Batman Beyond #10 Terry McGinnis ran/flew off to confront Ra’s Al Ghul in a suit that will likely kill him (there’s a dangerous AI in the suit, I think), and Bruce Wayne has flown after Batman to try and keep him alive. Oh, and Ra’s? Is actually Bruce’s son, Damian. This issue is really Friendly, assuming you’re slightly familiar with the Batman Beyond concept. 7.75/10

Detective Comics #961 The new agent of the Order of Saint Dumas is a cyborg sort of thing that’s confused by Azreal’s existence, but has somehow brainwashed Azreal into succumbing to his programming again. This will make even less sense if you’ve got no idea what that means because I have no idea how to briefly explain it effectively (but I’ll try: Azreal is a brain washed assassin under the control of said order, but he’s escaped his programming and has been working to spread peace a different way while occaisonly working with Batman), but the cyborg has been attacking old members of the order. Meanwhile, Bruce Wayne is having flashbacks of when he trained with Zatanna in the past as he seeks her aid in the present and is somewhat unaware that Azreal is attacking the rest of the Batfamily. This issue is kind of Friendly, but worth the read anyway. 7/10

Hal Jordon And The Green Lantern Corps #25 Green Lantern Tomar Tu murdered a Yellow Lantern, which is kind of a big deal seeing as how the Green and Yellows are HJGLC_Cv25_dsallied together. Anyway, Corps Leader Jon Stuart announced to the allied Corps that Tomar Tu has been accused of murder and will stand trial… and some of the Yellows weren’t too happy and have gone to extract the proverbial pound of flesh from the ringless Green Lantern, who just happens to have Hal Jordan visiting him in his jail cell. Meanwhile, Soranik found out that her son from the future is dead, and Kyle Raynor knew (and was also his father). This will end well, right? Oddly, a Friendly issue despite the shit storm brewing. 8.25/10

Justice League Of America #11 I would love to give you a recap of the relevant parts to this series, but it’s not exactly the best thing out there and I don’t remember what happened in #10. This issue is, at best, Unfriendly, and at worst utterly forgettable. 4/10

Suicide Squad #22 I missed the last issue, but the former leader of the Squad died saving them, and Amanda Waller appointed Harley Quinn as the leader in #20 or so. Once you know that, then you can muddle through this Friendlyish issue. 6.25/10

Teen Titans #10 The codenameless Teen Titan Jackson’s mother is fighting Black Manta while the rest of the Titan’s face an internal leadership struggle – Robin is too tough on them and, arguably, seems to expect too much from the team. Teen Titans #10 isn’t the most accessible issue, but if you pick up issue #9 as well as this one then you’ll find the comic Friendly, and it’s worth your while to grab them both. 8/10

The Flash #27 I honestly don’t remember much about the last few issues other than Eobard Thorne is back and has taken Barry and Iris to the future for the likely purpose of tormenting him, and somehow Barry tapped into the Negative Speedforce. Beyond that? Can’t remember really remember too much. Luckily this Friendly issue has a lot of awesome action scenes that make up for my poor recap. 8/10

Wonder Woman #27 I have no idea what happened last issue, but this comic is Friendly enough, I suppose. 5/10

Those Two Geeks: Episode Two

The hosts of Gotham Weekly return with a new name and a new episode count as they move aware from being a Batman centric podcast into the wider world of nerd and geekdom. Think of it as our very own Rebirth!

But don’t worry, Bat-fans, once again despite the new name there’s still a lot of Batman talk this week  as Alex and Joe sit down to talk about some of the things from SDCC that caught their eye, Superman #27, Batman #27, 

This week’s Comic Club (the feature we don’t name in the actual podcast), in which our hosts assign a comic to the other in order to discuss it on the episode should have been Kill or Be Killed #1 and  Dark Days: The Casting #1, but if you’re wondering where it is, the segment never made to the episode due to time constraints.

As always, the Alex and Joe can be found on twitter respectively @karcossa and @jc_hesh if you have suggestions for a future Comic Club comic for them to check out.

Underrated: Comic Book Contributors – Colourists

This week’s Underrated originally ran on Ramblings Of A Comics Fan in October 2015

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:  Colourists.



When it comes to the names attached to comics usually you know who the writer and artist is, whether that’s because of previews, or even just general talk around the Internets water cooler or your local comic shop. Recently I’ve noticed that  there are some very good comic book contributors that don’t get the same level of attention as those who write or draw the comics, such as the colourists.

A few things before we start; firstly, there is no way I’ll ever be able to list every talented colourist out there. Just no way. Secondly, if you take nothing else from this post, at least be aware of just how much colourists add to a comic. Thirdly this post will only contain a select few examples of some great colouring work from comics released within the not too distant past, or stories that should be easy to find in trade format. It is not meant to be an exhaustive, or complete, list of great colourists, and there will only be a select few examples here (and even then, only covers).

Because, frankly, if I tried to do that I would miss too many.

Sometimes a colourist can make an already great comic book into something that’s truly a work of art, where the same rai11ccomic in black and white would feel incomplete, hampering the enjoyment of the reader. As an example of this, take a look at the work of Clayton Crane: Rai #10 and #11 from Valiant. Although Rai may not be your cup of tea story wise – an android samurai from the year 4001, but you cannot deny that the artwork of Clayton Crane is something special here. He does full duties here, but it’s the colouring that really helps this comic stand above the others. The story in the two issues I mentioned takes place between a utopia and a barren planet, and just look at the way the colours allow you to tell which is which without even thinking about it.

ztcThe thing is, colourists are almost always unappreciated, but if it weren’t for their contributions to a comic some scenes would be borderline unintelligible.Zachariah Thorn‘s Robert Reichert is an example of this. The opening scene from Indigo Comics first publication has a brilliant dreamlike quality to it that would fall completely flat if not for the way the colouring brings out the detail (if you want to check it out, you can read it for free at their website.

There are occasions where the colourist will capture the feel of the comic so well that it’sbatman-44-cover almost uncanny. Lee Loughbridge did just that in DC‘s Batman #44. In what was probably the best comic featuring Batman released this year (certainly that I have read), the art was provided by guest artist Jock, and as talented as Jock is, it’s the colours that really make his artwork shine elevating the comic to the next level (although credit should also go to letterer Deron Bennett, too, but that’s another post for another day). Batman #44 is an example of the creative team firing on all cylinders, so it can be easy to overlook  the at times minimalist colouring work.

And that brings us to another point.

Colourists are often overlooked because their work can be so integral to a comic that you often don’t even notice how great it is. Now I’m not intending to say anything negative about black and white comics here, some of the best comics I’ve read are black and white, but there’s a difference between an intentionally black and white comic and one that’s missing the colour (Maus is an excellent example of a black and white comic that would probably not work quite as well if it had colours added). In a time when adult colouring books are seeing a stratospheric rise in popularity as people use them as a relaxaton method, maybe it’s time we stop taking the work of a comic book colourist for granted.


There we have it – an all too brief homage to an underrated art form that can sometimes make, or break, a comic. Are there other contributors to comic that are also underrated and under-appreciated?

Absolutely.

For that reason expect a second or third part to this post in the future. In the meantime, Underrated will probably return next week to highlight more comic book related stuff  that either gets ignored despite it’s high quality, or maybe isn’t quite as bad as we tend to think it is.

Until next time!

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