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Review: Justice League Dark #1

Justice League Dark #1 is like the Justice League only weirder and dysfunctional, Seriously, Wonder Woman and Man-Bat are the only two team members until the Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Raul Fernandez, and Brad Anderson splash page. In the opening salvo of his series spinning out of the Justice League: No Justice, writer James Tynion IV introduces his main threat both verbally and visually: magic is dying and humanity with it. However, he gives the varied denizens of Justice League Dark humanity and humor and along with Martinez’s engrossing double page spread, keeps the book entertaining and not overwhelmed by the gravity of its stakes like its brother League book.

From the first scene where Zatanna’s simple rabbit in the hat trick turns into a B-horror movie, Tynion and Martinez set up Justice League Dark as a book about the ever shifting and chaotic nature of magic first and punching things later. These priorities are reflected in his choice of cast members, who with the notable exception of Wonder Woman aren’t the team up and fight things type although they are in all out action by the time the final page arrives. Zatanna, who is Wonder Woman’s first choice for her “magical” Justice League team, refuses at first because of complicated reasons like her father’s death and a valid belief that a superhero team isn’t the best way to investigate the dying of magic. In Justice League Dark #1’s first double page spread, Martinez and Fernandez show that Diana and Zatanna don’t have the greatest chemistry with Wonder Woman relying on brute force while Zatanna continues to fall back on her spells even as they backfire in multicolored explosions from Anderson. And the other “members” are even less conventional from Detective Chimp, who is more mopey bartender and comic relief and heavy hitter to Man-Bat,

Speaking of Man-Bat, Dr. Kirk Langstrom almost steals the entire comic of Justice League Dark #1 as he pulls off the whole villain striving for redemption as a hero with humor and quirkiness instead of the cliched brooding darkness. The inviting nature of Man-Bat as a character begins with the visual design with Alvaro Martinez Bueno and Raul Fernandez going for the totally adorable combination of bat head and lab coat and Brad Anderson choosing a more neutral grey instead of going full Goth with his palette. Until the big fight at the end when Martinez and Fernandez make Man-Bat more ferocious and less cuddly with intense line work, they and Tynion craft the character more like Beast from the X-Men and less than the horrific, nocturnal threat of Batman The Animated Series’ pilot “On Leather Wings”. He’s another hit on James Tynion’s “rogues gallery rehab” world tour that kicked off with his heroic and heartbreaking writing of Basil Karlo aka Clayface in Detective Comics.  Hopefully, these small moments of Man-Bat obsessively rattling his scientific credentials, Traci 13 jokingly turning Detective Chimp’s beer into apple juice, and heaven and Hell (Aka Lucifer and Zauriel) squaring off in basically a Goth board room setting continue throughout the series as the threat of the Otherkind ramps up.

In Justice League Dark #1, James Tynion takes one part of his tongue in cheek, yet serious exploration of magic and its consequences and complexities in his Hellblazer run, another part the family dynamic of Detective Comics, and gives the book the blockbuster sensibility of co-writing gigs with Scott Snyder and others on books like Dark Nights Metal and Justice League No Justice even going back to his work on the Batman Eternal weeklies and turns into a fairly delightful concoction. He, Alvaro Martinez Bueno, Raul Fernandez, and Brad Anderson create connections between characters before having them punch, bite, or throw tendrils of the Green at things and the philosophy makes the book shine even if the antagonists are vaguer and vague.

Plus Tynion writes Swamp Thing like Treebeard from Lord of the Rings, which is incredibly ingenious.

Story: James Tynion IV Pencils: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
Inks: Raul Fernandez Colors: Brad Anderson Letters: Rob Leigh
Story: 8.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.8 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1

WildHuntCoverDetective Chimp and Grant Morrison fans, rejoice! Both play pivotal roles in Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt, a one-shot that acts as the penultimate chapter of obscure DC Comic character and evil version of Batman filled “Metal” crossover. Morrison is joined by writers/DC architects Scott Snyder, James Tynion, and Joshua Williamson and a blockbuster art team of Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke, Jamie Mendoza, Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, and Wil Quintana to show the last stand of the multiverse against the Dark Multiverse and its metal album cover Batmen. You might want to dust off that copy of Final Crisis or at least check out the Wiki page of The Bleed before diving into this one-shot. The Batman: Red Death one-shot helps the emotional beats land.

The Wild Hunt has several gears it hits. There’s the Morrisonian multiversal technobabble that gets dropped pretty early on and thankfully is roasted by mad scientists, like T.O. Morrow and Sivana, who are apparently good guys in this crossover. This is when the book is at its least fun. However, it’s entertaining when the writers say “Screw it!” and let Porter, Jimenez, and Mahnke cut loose with super cool double page splashes that show these high (As balls.) concept in action. Some personal visual highlights include Jimenez’s manga meets speed lines pages of Raven interfacing with and then empathizing with The Bleed (Barrier between universes.) and then throwing down a kick-ass one-liner with a purple background. There’s also Porter’s ballad of Red Death, who gets a golden makeover and a little redemption in a decent homage to Crisis on Infinite Earths down to his final fate. (Maybe, you should read that comic too before taking on this one.)

The third gear of Wild Hunt, and honestly I blame Morrison for this one, is pure comics kookiness embodied by the first and final pages of the book. (I think they were drawn by Mahnke and Mendoza, but don’t quote me because his style blends well.) Morrison and Mahnke retell the origin story of Detective Chimp and gets a little metafictional by including the map from Multiversity and the sheet music from Superman’s song in Final Crisis. These panels feel like a couple of old rockers digging into their greatest hits before the last third of the comics hits, and they realize they need a new hit single to get the fans on their feet again. (In light of the event of Wild Hunt #1, this comic could be taken literally or metaphorically.)

ChimpYearOne

However, I don’t think they stick the landing and going for wacky for the sake of wackiness instead of something poignant. I do find the idea of Detective Chimp as a kind of ersatz furry Batman to be fascinating, and he gets a full Hero’s Journey in Wild Hunt #1 as he comes to grips with using the vast knowledge of the DC multiverse stored underneath his deer stalker. (The origin for his trademark headwear gave me all the feels.) He wants to be hopeful and look up in the sky, but hell is opening up at his feet. Chimp is piddling around a keyboard and trying to find a tune to save the world, and hell, he might have found it. Also, his piano playing is a nice throughline between Morrison’s work on Final Crisis and Snyder’s on Metal because a shared superhero universe is a neverending symphony of players, characters and creators both.

With searing multiversal land (and sound)scapes from Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, and Doug Mahnke; enchanting and frightening colors from Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, and Wil Quintana; and a very Grant Morrison, The Wild Hunt #1 is a decent setup to the Metal finale even though the last few pages will either make you laugh nervously or do a hard eye roll.

Story: Scott Snyder, Grant Morrison, James Tynion IV, Josh Williamson Art: Howard Porter, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke with Jamie Mendoza
Colors: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Wil Quintana

Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Heroclix – Detective Chimp


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Wizkids has released a preview of it’s latest creation for the DC 75th Heroclix, Detective Chimp.

Heroclix Detective ChimpFrom the Wizkids website:

His early dial Outwit and Occult Investigator Special Powers are wonderful representations of his cognitive abilities while his Trait (“No One Touches the Monkey”) shows off his physical prowess and keeps Detective Chimp mobile and hard to hit.

Combine that with some early dial Stealth and you have a great addition to your Shadowpact, Mystical, Animal, or (my personal fave) Detective Theme teams!