Tag Archives: ivan plascencia

Blue Beetle Graduation Day will debut in English and Spanish

This November 29th, Jaime Reyes, a.k.a. DC’s Blue Beetle, will debut in a new solo comic book series from writer Josh Trujillo and artist Adrián Gutiérrez. The comic will be simultaneously available in both English and Spanish editions—fans can preorder the Spanish language edition of Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #1 with their local comic book shop. Make sure to get your pre-orders in before October 30th!

The six-issue series follows Jaime as he graduates from high school and attempts to figure out his future, responsibility to his Scarab, and what comes next for him as a Super Hero. Blue Beetle: Graduation Day will introduce new characters, like the Yellow Beetle, as well as familiar faces from across the DC Universe.

Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #1 features variant covers including Rafael Albuquerque, which is an homage to the original introduction of the character, and a papel picado insert designed by Ivan Plascencia featuring the Scarab Khaji Da, to celebrate Jaime’s solo series. The papel picado will be polybagged with a foil edition of the main cover by Gutiérrez and colorist Wil Quintana.

Blue Beetle: Graduation Day #1 by writer Josh Trujillo, artist Adrián Gutiérrez, colorist Wil Quintana and letterer Lucas Gattoni will publish on November 29 with a cover by Gutiérrez and Quintana and variant covers by Cully Hamner, Rafael Albuquerque, and David Marquez and Alejandro Sánchez.

English preview

Spanish preview

Review: Batman: The Knight #3

Batman: The Knight #3

A young Bruce Wayne embraces the darkness and tracks down a wealthy serial killer with the help of cat burglar Lucie and the mysterious Henri Ducard, who has also been hired by Alfred Pennyworth to find Bruce. Chip Zdarsky, Carmine Di Giandomenico, and atmospheric colorist Ivan Plascencia continue to lay the foundation for Wayne’s transformation in Batman along with the growth in his detective and criminal profiling skills as he kind of, sort of tracks down his first criminal. Glonet, the serial killer, is yet another twisted mirror of Bruce Wayne and takes out the loss of parents on the people of Paris in a violent, yet methodical way, but Zdarsky’s strongest writing comes in the characterization of Lucie and Ducard, who are two very different mentors for Bruce.

From its first page, Batman: The Knight #3 features layers of storytelling voices from Chip Zdarsky’s narrative boxes for Glonet and Bruce to his more straightforward police procedural dialogue and finally the visuals of Di Giandomenico and Plascencia. Like many of Batman’s future rogues, Glonet looks sick and twisted, and later, Ivan Plascencia goes operatic with swatches of black when he gets desperate after the police and media catch onto his serial killer pattern. A guy who removes people’s finger nails after slashing them to death has serious issues, and this is Bruce’s first taste of the kind of utterly depraved villain he’ll have to face when he becomes Batman. The 12 issue length of Batman: The Knight gives Zdarsky and Carmine Di Giandomenico room to breathe, develop Bruce’s arc, and not pull a Jeph Loeb and introduce the big, twist-y bad guy towards the beginning of the series. (His anti-Asian racism aside, Long Halloween and Hush are pretty great especially on the art side.)

No story of Bruce Wayne’s training to become a creature of the night is complete without checking in with Henri Ducard. Wisely, Chip Zdarsky doesn’t put all his cards on the table in regards to the character, but shows his cunning and that he always gets his many as he easily finds Bruce for Alfred. However, he and Di Giandomenico aren’t afraid to show Ducard’s vulnerable side with a big image of him getting shot in the gut by Lucie’s fence for the jewelry box in Glonet’s safe. Carmine Di Giandomenico takes a moment to show the pure terror on Bruce’s face when he thinks that he is responsible for yet another person’s death. The sequence also shows Bruce’s awkwardness and lack of savvy around criminals and shady folks with his gaze lingering on the man that Lucie is about to sell the jewelry box to. He’s all rage and raw ideology with some acrobatics and fighting skills and is light years away from Matches Malone.

I was initially skeptical of yet another comic set in Batman’s past, but Batman: The Knight #3 continues to plead its case through its focus on character development and Bruce’s relationship with his mentors. Alfred Pennyworth doesn’t appear in the book that much, but every panel he appears in is charged with emotion with Zdarsky going silent and letting Carmine Di Giandomenico just having him react to the fact that Bruce is alive and that maybe his dangerous trip is a passing phase. We know it’s not, but it’s nice to see a character that has been missing from the present day Batman comics for a couple years and showing someone who 100% has Bruce’s back unlike Lucie and Ducard, who deep down just care about money although Lucie has more of nurturing relationship with Bruce as evidenced by her cheek kiss and calling him “little knight”.

Batman: The Knight #3 comes across as a rough draft version of one of Batman’s great mysteries and villain fights, but Chip Zdarsky, Di Giandomenico, and Ivan Plascencia masterfully show Bruce’s flaws while hinting at the darkness and obsession that would make him a legendary crime fighter.

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Ivan Plascencia Letters: Pat Brosseau

Story: 8.3 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batgirls #3

Batgirls #3

The Batgirls are facing a lot of issues and enemies are all around. There’s a serial killer. There’s Tutor. And then there’s the Saints as well. Plus, they’re a new trio that’s figuring out how to work together and their dynamic. It all comes together for a fun and entertaining comic that’s full of kinetic energy. Batgirls #3 is another solid entry with eye-popping visuals and some great humor.

Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad have delivered another fantastic issue with Batgirls #3. The team is confronting Tutor and getting a better idea as to how the mysterious villain is controlling everyone. They why… well that’s still up in the air.

Cloonan and Conrad have put together a hell of an issue that’s full of solid action and a lot of laughs as has become a standard of the series. The Batgirls deliver a lot of the action but also some humor as Barbara runs into an old flame while they’re on a mission. The back and forth is fantastic taking what would be a rather dull and slow point of the story and ramping it up with some fun banter.

The comic is full of small moments that really stand out. A call between Barb and Dick is interesting, then delivers a twist. A small moment at the end adds a lot of heart. Then there’s small details of the art that add a hell of a lot.

Jorge Corona along with colors by Sarah Stern and Ivan Plascencia and lettering by Becca Carey deliver what feels like a pop art explosion. The series is a perfect match of attitude and visuals. The colors are bright and jump from the page creating a feel of kinetic energy that’s beyond fitting for the series and characters. The art reflects the main villain who’s a graffiti artist and the use of colors all comes together in a solid synergy of style and story.

Batgirls #3 is another fantastic issue that perfectly combines the story and art. Action, humor, and a little heart along with some unexpected twists make for another winning entry for the series. This is a comic to look forward to with each release. It’s beyond infectious.

Story: Becky Cloonan, Michael W. Conrad Art: Jorge Corona
Color: Sarah Stern, Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Becca Carey
Story: 8.25 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.25 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Batman: The Knight #1

Batman: The Knight #1

For quite some time, comic readers only knew Chip Zdarsky for his comedic series. With Marvel’s Daredevil, Zdarsky planted a new flag showing off he could do “serious” and more brooding comics. The result is a run that has been praised by critic and fans alike. Now, he’s taken his talents to DC Comics and sees if he can repeat the quality with Batman: The Knight #1, the start of a new series taking a look at Bruce Wayne’s early years.

The early years of Bruce Wayne training to become Batman have been danced around in various ways over the years. Generally though, we get a story about a young man angry and reeling from tragedy lashing out on a journey of training and discovery. The details and specifics change but the general idea remains the same. Batman: The Knight #1 is a new take on the story. It bridges that gap between the angry and the journey around the world to train.

Batman: The Knight #1 is an interesting start to the story. It’s slow and a bit of a headscratcher. We get the foundations of what Bruce Wayne will become but very rough and at times unlikeable. He stands up for justice. He also is very brash and headstrong. At times he comes off as a bully. It’s not until the very end of the comic that we get a better sense of the Bruce Wayne we know.

Zdarsky gives us a slow start in Batman: The Knight #1 and honestly a character that at times is not enjoyable at all. You want to pull him aside and slap him around making Alfred’s handling of things even more saintly than that character already is. But, maybe that’s part of the point and the plan? Zdarsky is delivering a story that we get to see Bruce’s journey to become the world’s greatest detective and it has to start somewhere. The growth is the point of the journey.

The art by Carmine Di Giandomenico is solid. With color by Ivan Plascencia and lettering by Pat Brosseau the characters look great but there’s a timeless aspect to it all that’s interesting. This story could be the present. It could be the past. It’s all kind of up in the air allowing the reader to focus on the interactions between the characters which is key. This is very much focused on Bruce attempting to figure things out and those he entrusts near him. The action is limited and instead we get a solid sense of mood and feelings through the art and its subtle body language.

Batman: The Knight #1 isn’t a bad start but it also doesn’t excite. It’s an interesting comic that doesn’t quite yet make the case as to why it exists and also doesn’t quite make a whole lot of sense character wise leaving out what has lead up to the current state. Zdarsky has show he can play the long game and pays off after a while, we just might need to wait a little bit more until we get to that moment.s

Story: Chip Zdarsky Art: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.15 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Tim Drake returns in Batman: Urban Legends #10. Get a First Look

After an issue #6 appearance that left comic book fans slack-jawed, Robin returns to Gotham City just in time for the Holidays when Batman: Urban Legends #10 arrives in comic book stores and on participating digital platforms on Tuesday, December 14.

Written by Meghan Fitzmartin, the feature-length story “A Carol of Bats” features art by Alberto Albuquerque Jimenez (pencils/inks), Nick Filardi (colors), and Pat Brosseau (Letters). This continues Tim’s journey of self-discovery from Urban Legends #6, and sees Tim balancing his drive to fight crime with his desire to be a great partner. Amidst the ashes of a devastated Gotham City and Fear State, Tim Drake comes back to Gotham City to help Batman and Nightwing try and put the city back together again after its devastation at the hands of The Scarecrow and The Magistrate. Along the way, Tim tries to get Batman out of a Scrooge-level funk, where the Dark Knight has serious doubts about if he’s failed Gotham City, and if its citizens will stop being scared and angry enough to have hope for the future. 

Featuring a main cover by Belen Ortega, who’d previously drawn the Tim Drake story “The Sum of Our Parts.” and a powerful Azrael variant by Riccardo Federici, Batman: Urban Legends #10 also includes another feature-length (22 pages) Nightwing tale, by writer Tini Howard, marking her first DC story since 2016. Howard will take over as writer of Catwoman beginning with issue #39 in January. Featuring art by Christian Duce and colors by Sarah Stern, this follow-up to the events of Fear State follows Nightwing around the holiday season, avoiding attending the Bat-Family holiday party before he’s doused with Fear Toxin and forced to relive memories of his past, present, and future shown to him by three ghostly versions of Batgirl – Barbara Gordon, Stephanie Brown, and Cassandra Cain. 

Writer Dan Watters and artist Nikola Cizmesija conclude the three-part Azrael tale, “Dark Knight of the Soul,” with colors by Ivan Plascencia. In his return to Gotham City, Jean-Paul Valley faces off for a final time with the new villain Poor Fellow, who has a lot more to tell Jean-Paul about the legacy of Azrael than he ever knew. Batman: Urban Legends #10 also features a stunning Azrael variant cover by artist Riccardo Federici

Rounding out this issue is the heartbreaking close of the two-part story featuring the terrorizing twins Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, written by Punchline co-writer Sam Johns and Injustice: Unkillables artist Karl Mostert

Batman: Urban Legends #10 arrives in comic book shops and participating digital platforms on Tuesday, December 14, 2021.

DC, Yen Press, and Harlequin all have new Comics for you on comiXology

There’s six new releases on comiXology today from DC Comics, Yen Press, and Harlequin. You can get shopping now or check them out below.

Legends of the Dark Knight (2021-) #16

Written by Yedoye Travis
Pencils Nina Vakueva
Inks Nina Vakueva
Colored by Ivan Plascencia

HEALING! The worst night of Batman’s life, the night his parents were murdered, has been removed from his memory by the machinations of the Scarecrow! Batman will need to figure out how it was done and if he wants to return it so Gotham City can keep it’s Caped Crusader. The DC Comics writing debut of acclaimed writer and Comedian Yedoye Travis and fan favorite artist Nina Vakueva!

Legends of the Dark Knight (2021-) #16

Truth & Justice (2021-) #20

Written by Preeti Chhibber
Pencils Lalit Kumar Sharma
Inks Lalit Kumar Sharma
Colored by Wendy Broome

Zatanna continues to search for a way out of the insane dreamworld that she has been trapped in.

Truth & Justice (2021-) #20

Dead Mount Death Play #68

Written by Ryohgo Narita
Art by Shinta Fujimoto

The mysteries surrounding various troublemakers only deepens… Read the next chapter of Dead Mount Death Play the same day as Japan!

Dead Mount Death Play #68

Goblin Slayer Side Story: Year One #58

Written by Kumo Kagyu
Art by Shingo Adachi, Noboru Kannatuki, Kento Sakaeda

This series is rated Adults Only
DISCLAIMER: graphic sexuality gore
After finally tracking the goblin riders to their source, Goblin Slayer must inform the chief of a nearby village of the danger they pose… Read the next chapter of Goblin Slayer Side Story: Year One the same day as Japan!

Goblin Slayer Side Story: Year One #58

Un partenaire peu idéal Vol. 2: The Merits of Marriage

Written by Renee Roszel
Art by Erio Hori

Depuis qu’elle a foncé dans le bateau de Marc avec son radeau en pleine nuit, Mimi l’aventurière se pose des questions. Elle veut voyager autour du monde, elle ne peut pas tomber amoureuse de Marc, médécin dans un petit cabinet insulaire ! Et pourtant elle accepte de travailler avec lui en tant qu’assistante pour qu’il paye les réparations de son radeau… Doit-elle suivre ses sentiments alors qu’ils n’ont pas d’avenir ensemble…?

Un partenaire peu idéal Vol. 2: The Merits of Marriage

The Millionaire Bachelor #1

Written by Susan Mallery
Art by Rin Ogata

It’s a daily ritual for Cathy Eldridge, a phone operator, to talk to reclusive millionaire Stone Ward. Every night, Cathy presents herself as a confident, glamorous, well-traveled woman, but in reality she thinks of herself as boring, a little shy, and she barely gets paid enough to travel! After two years of chatting, Stone and Cathy have struck up a friendship, but one night during their call, Cathy’s office catches on fire and a sudden explosion cuts the phone line, prompting Stone to hurry to her rescue…

The Millionaire Bachelor #1

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Get a First Look at DC’s Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Spectacular!

On June 29, join DC in celebrating eight decades of emerald-clad swashbuckling, crime-fighting, and trick arrows of every kind when the Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1! Honoring Green Arrow and his allies across his 80-year history, from the Golden Age to now, the anniversary special includes 12 stories from some of DC’s most esteemed writers and artists who have contributed to the legacy of Oliver Queen. The title will also include 8-decade variant covers depicting the Emerald Archer through the ages.

This anthology not only features a “who’s – who” of comic book storytellers but also includes a unique and heartfelt tribute to the career of iconic DC and Green Arrow scribe Denny O’Neil“Tap, Tap, Tap” is a silent, wordless story from Denny O’Neil’s son Larry, Jorge Fornes, and Dave Stewart. The story chronicles the challenges and victories in Denny’s life both in and out of comics, from his childhood, raising a family, his stellar career as a writer, until his passing in 2020

Additional stories in this anthology include:

  • “The Disappearing Bandit”
    Written by Mariko Tamaki, Art by Javier Rodriguez
    It’s the Golden Age of Green Arrow and Speedy, brought to humorous and loving life by New York Times bestselling writer Mariko Tamaki (Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass) and acclaimed artist Javier Rodriguez (Batgirl: Year One). A lot of people attempt to affectionately show the silliness of the first age of super heroes, but few have done it as exceptionally as Mariko and Javier. Trick arrows for everyone!
  • “Punching Evil”
    Written by Tom Taylor, Art by Nicola Scott, Colors by Annette Kwok
    To become a more adept superhero and fighter, Green Arrow goes to train with the Golden Age superhero Wildcat at his gym. In true Wildcat fashion, he shows Ollie the hard way of what it takes to be your own hero. Tom Taylor (NightwingSuicide SquadInjustice) brings this story to life, with incredible artwork from Nicola Scott (Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special) and Annette Kwok (Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity).
  • “Who Watches the Watchtower?”
    Written by Stephanie Phillips, Art by Chris Mooneyham, Colors by Mike Spicer
    The Green Arrow is left behind on the Justice League Satellite while the rest of the team goes on an important mission. Oliver is less than thrilled, and righteously indignant about the situation as usual until an alien armada invades the Satellite. Can Ollie stand alone against an alien onslaught before it reaches earth? Acclaimed writer Stephanie Phillips (Harley Quinn) captures that “Denny O’Neil Green Arrow”-voice, and this story is brought to life in gorgeous fashion by Christopher Mooneyham’s (Nightwing) retro/modern bronze age aesthetic.
  • “Out of the Shadows”
    Written and Art by Mike Grell, Colors by Lovern Kindzerski
    Legendary Green Arrow writer and artist Mike Grell return to the 1980’s era of The Longbow Hunters. The Green Arrow must team up with the legendary anti-hero Shado to stop a shipment of smuggled guns from making it into Seattle. Depicting The Emerald Archer as only he can, Grell will remind readers why his take on Ollie Queen is still a Green standard.
  • “The Arrow and the Song”
    Written by Ram V, Art by Christopher Mitten, Colors by Ivan Plascencia
    This tale is a beautiful meditation on the love between Green Arrow and Black Canary through the years and the found family that they’ve created. Writer Ram V (Catwoman) puts together this beautiful story of love and how life takes turns you don’t expect. Gloriously brought to life by the work of Christopher Mitten (Batman: Arkham Unhinged) and Ivan Plascencia (The Flash).
  • “One”
    Written by Brandon Thomas, Art by Jorge Corona, Colors by Matheus Lopes
    We go right back to the mid-90s with this story. Oliver Queen is dead. Connor Hawke is Green Arrow and he has to save the main Queen Industries building in Star City, the home of a business and family he was never part of, from a group of terrorists. Brought to you by Infinite Frontier and Future State writer Brandon Thomas (Future State: Aquaman) and amazingly drawn by Jorge Corona (We Are Robin).
  • “Green Man and Autumn Son”
    Written by Devin Grayson, Art by Max Fiumara
    Catwoman writer Devin Grayson and artist Max Fiumara shine a spotlight on Roy Harper, a.k.a Red Arrow, as he continues to manage his transition from “sidekick” to adult hero, along with single parenthood and his struggles with addiction and recovery.
  • “Star City Star”
    Written and Art by Phil Hester, Inks by Ande Parks, Colors by Trish Mulvihill
    Phil Hester drew nearly fifty issues of Green Arrow in the early 2000s, working with popular writers like Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, and Judd Winnick. Here, Phil synthesizes what was so great about his run into a tremendous eight-page story. Green Arrow tries to save a young girl named Star who has been kidnapped but has to run through a gauntlet of his greatest villains and allies to get to her. Including: Onomatopoeia, Speedy (Mia Dearden), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Black Canary, Arsenal, Connor Hawke, and Count Vertigo.
  • “Happy Anniversary”
    Written by Vita Ayala, Art by Laura Braga, Colors by Adriano Lucas
    This story focuses on the point in time where Green Arrow and Black Canary were married right before the New 52. On the day of their anniversary, the two are at each other’s throats and then Green Arrow gets kidnapped. Black Canary thinks the kidnapping is part of an anniversary game/present but quickly discovers that Green Arrow has REALLY been kidnapped by DEATHSTROKE and she has to save him. Vita Ayala (Future State: The Next Batman) writes a wonderful Mr. and Mrs. Smith-style action rom-com brought to life by Laura Braga (DC Comics Bombshells).
  • “The Sympathy of the Woods”
    Written by Ben Percy, Art by Otto Schmidt
    It’s the DC Rebirth Era, Green Arrow is feeling lost, the world is getting worse, and he doesn’t feel like he’s making enough of a difference. To cheer him up, Black Canary, Red Arrow (Emiko Queen), Diggle, and Henry Fyffe try to throw him a party to remind him of the beautiful community he’s built. But what starts as a celebration will become a rescue mission as Green Arrow is hunted down by the Dark Archer known as MERLYN. From DC talents Ben Percy (Nightwing) and Otto Schmidt (Harley Quinn).
  • “The Last Green Arrow Story”
    Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Colors by Jordie Bellaire
    The acclaimed Green Arrow creative team from the New 52, New York Times Bestselling author Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth)  and Andrea Sorrentino (Joker: Killer Smile) tell a transcendent final tale of Oliver Queen. In his older years, he requests to be left alone on the island where he was stranded so many decades ago. He’s gone there to connect to his own myth, his legacy, and to die in peace. But is it ever that simple for The Green Arrow?

The variant covers for this must-have collector’s item come from some of the most prolific artists in comics:

  • 1940’s Variant: Michael Cho
  • 1950’s Variant: Daniel Warren Johnson
  • 1960’s Variant: Neal Adams
  • 1970’s Variant: Derrick Chew
  • 1980’s Variant: Gary Frank
  • 1990’s Variant: Howard Porter
  • 2000’s Variant: Jen Bartel
  • 2010’s Variant: Simone Di Meo

Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 arrives in participating comic book stores and digitally on Tuesday, June 29, 2020, for $9.99.

Review: Harley Quinn #2

Harley Quinn #2

DC Future State debuted a neon Gotham protected not by Batman but a fascist police force. In the current pages of the various Bat-family comics, we’re seeing the first steps toward that bright but dark future. Harley Quinn was an interesting take on the character focused on her degrees in counseling and PhD in psychology. This wasn’t the clownish Harley but one with quips and using all of her abilities. With it’s debut, Harley Quinn also showed us some steps towards that take with Harley in Gotham attempting to make amends for her crimes. Harley Quinn #2 continues her growth and delivers fun action and a foe for her to focus on.

Stephanie Phillips has knocked it out of the park with her take on the character. Balancing physicality, laughs, and smarts, this Harley Quinn is the complete package and not just a comedic foil to whomever she’s with. Harley Quinn #2 focuses a bit on her next steps and goals as she has decided she wants to help “The Clowns”. But, Hugo Strange has been “rehabilitated” to do the same, except he has city backing. And to Strange, Harley is the ultimate clown to rehabilitate.

Phillips gives us a fun Harley but one that’s about growth. She still acts out and doesn’t quite get how to act around people, but you can tell she wants to do good. That’s helped with her new sidekick Kevin. Kevin joined the clowns during the “Joker War” committing a crime and clearly wants to make amends. He delivers a character you actually want to hug. He’s the clay by which Harley can mold some good.

Phillips does an amazing job of balancing everything in the comic. We have Harley acting out with some hilarious results. There’s some solid action. Then there’s Kevin who makes you want to say “awe” and squeeze him. One issue in and I actually care for the character. And the comic pulls it all off with a sort of glee.

That’s helped by the art. Riley Rossmo delivers his kinetic style to the comic and it fits so well. Ivan Plascencia‘s colors pop as well. The combination is an impressive duo that nails down the character and tone of the series so well. There’s an energy about the comic that oozes from the page. Deron Bennett does an amazing job of packing in so much dialogue at times and with it keeps the chatter flowing and never once distracts from the art. This team, along with Phillips’ scripts, is an amazing one that’s firing on all cylinders.

Harley Quinn #2 is such a fantastic issue. It takes you on a ride and ranges of emotions. The fact I already love Kevin as a character and am cheering for him says everything. Sadly, I’m already attached so fully expect something terrible will happen. For now though, like Harley, I want him, and this comic, by my side.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Harley Quinn #1

Harley Quinn #1

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Harley Quinn. I always felt the character was more interesting (for me) as part of an ensemble and not the center spotlight. I’m also not a fan of the more slapstick take, instead, I like the bit more goofy but very intelligent version that’s torn between different worlds. DC Future State delivered a take I hadn’t seen before, focused on her background as a psychiatrist as she took on Gotham’s worst. She still delivered laughs and a bit of manic self and very interesting insight into others. Harley Quinn #1 kicks off a new volume for the character set back in the present and a Harley who’s attempting to make amends for her past misdeeds.

Stephanie Phillips continues to guide Harley on her adventures giving us a character who’s still a bit out there but also one you can relate to a lot more. Harley has made mistakes, being the sidekick to a mass-murderer will do that. She now has a clean slate due to her work with the Suicide Squad and she wants to make things right. But where to start?

Phillips gives us a Harley with a mission. She has a clear focus now and it’s not random adventures. She wants to do the right thing but she’s not completely sure how to go about that. She’ll also need to face her past. It’s a solid direction for the character who has been an anti-hero for so long after her villain roots. Harley Quinn #1 has the character really making her “face” turn as she attempts to be a hero. And to me, that’s really interesting.

The debut issue has Batman who is rather skeptical of her abilities and intent. She has to now deal with not having income as a hero (this seems to be a popular topic lately). She’s starting over. Harley Quinn #1 is a woman who has finally broken away from an abusive relationship and life and is starting over. There’s a lot of potential in that. Most importantly, it entertains too.

Riley Rossmo helps deliver a kinetic punch to Phillips story through the art. It’s in Rossmo’s distinctive style with color by Ivan Plascencia and lettering by Deron Bennett. Rossmo’s art is perfect for the character as it captures the energy she has. It matches her energetic personality. The colors pop adding to it all and Bennett’s lettering often delivers the punchline in dialogue delivery. The trio come together to capture and create the feel of the comic and character. It’s a perfect mix of humor, action, and some more grounded emotional moments. You get the sense of the highs and lows of Harley throughout.

Harley Quinn #1 is the first Harley comic that has me hooked in to really check out what’s next. I like Phillips’ take on the character and mixed with the art, it has a fun punch to it all. It’s a fresh start for the character and is a solid jumping-on point for new readers and a pivot point for long-time fans.

Story: Stephanie Phillips Art: Riley Rossmo
Color: Ivan Plascencia Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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Review: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

As seen in The Lego Batman Movie, the Arkham video games, and the Batman comics of the 1990s and early 2000s, Batman’s strength is in the world and characters that he creates access to. Whether that’s his allies, villains, nooks and crannies of Gotham, or even police officers that he either works with or against, these personalities and settings are why I continue to return to the Batman side of the DC Universe. The creators of Batman: Urban Legends #1 understand this and flesh out different Batman-adjacent characters and even sometimes explore their relationship to the Dark Knight while also telling action, romance, and crime stories.

First up in this Gotham-themed anthology is the beginning of a six part Batman and Red Hood serial where Batman and his former protege-turned-killer vigilante (He’s switched to rubber bullets for the moment.) investigate a source of a hallucinatory street drug tackily called Cheerdrops. Writer Chip Zdarsky has a firm grasp on Jason Todd’s voice, including the darkness inside his soul and his hunger for justice, especially for Gotham’s beleaguered working class. Artists Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira and colorist Adriano Lucas nail the grit of the city with explosive linework and jagged layouts to go with a color palette that has had all the light sucked out of it. However, Excalibur’s Marcus To does the art in the flashbacks, which features brighter colors as well as simpler, cleaner lines with a more traditional superhero feel even though one of the scenes is set during “Under the Red Hood” when Jason Todd came back from the dead and started killing criminals.

“Batman and Red Hood” is also a study in contrasts in how two very different crime fighters deal with the same crisis. Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective and is super methodical with Barrows and Ferreria drawing him looking at the chemical makeup of Cheerdrops CSI-style, and his All-Star Superman-esque moment with a jumper is less feel-good and more evidence collection. On the other hand, Jason fights crime with his guts and heart and even admits in a wry line from Zdarsky that he’s not a great detective as he struggles to find a Cheerdrop stash house. However, he does find a boy named Tyler, and of course, Jason is great with kids and even lets him wear part of his mask while he looks for his dad in a dodgy part of Gotham. Zdarsky, Barrows, and Ferreira create something truly heartwarming between Jason Todd and Tyler.

There’s a throughline between this and the flashbacks where Batman (Portrayed as more of an action figure than man by To) struggles being a father figure to Jason, and Alfred does the job perfectly because he sees him as a human being and not an obstacle in his war on crime. Chip Zdarsky writes Alfred Pennyworth as the perfect parent to the Bat-family, who isn’t afraid to tell Batman that he’s full of shit and chooses compassion over a closed fist. And speaking of Batman, I love how Zdarsky doesn’t give him an inner monologue and depicts him more as a force of nature than a gun toting, broken man like Jason Todd, who agonizes over every decision and whose interaction with Tyler bring back memories of his mom who died of a drug overdose. Also, he’s not afraid to go a little dark, and Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira jagged layouts and emotional poses are along for the ride.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

The second story in Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an eight page Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy one-off from writer Stephanie Phillips, artist Laura Braga, and colorist Ivan Plascencia. Plascencia is this story’s secret weapon that shows the happy, hilarious times of Harley and Ivy’s first dates and the bleak current times for Harley as she has moved back to Gotham in her solo title and as a recurring character in Batman. Braga’s art is expressive and high energy for both the good times (Harley and Ivy smooching and snapping selfies) and bad times (A sudden bolt of lightning shattering their pictures), and she is a good fit for a story that isn’t centered around a heist or fight against a superhero, but a relationship. She and Phillips tap into the depth of feelings that Harley has for Ivy, and through some handy plant symbolism, they create hope for the relationship that has become very popular for fans in the past decade. “Harley and Ivy” is a nice, nearly slice of life oasis in the midst of the three other stories, which have more moving parts.

The third story in this comic is a 10 page “Outsiders” feature by Brandon Thomas, Max Dunbar, and Luis Guerrero starring Black Lightning, Katana, and an interesting take on Metamorpho. Thomas turns in kind of a mystery plot with the story starting with Black Lightning and an unseen Metamorpho in a Japanese prison before cutting to a bonkers, two page spread of a speedboat chase. Unlike the previous two stories in Batman: Urban Legends #1, Thomas and Dunbar go for a action over character focus, and honestly, I’m here for it. Dunbar uses arrows from their pursuers to act as eye-lines to follow the high speed chase, and he and Thomas have a clever moment or two up their sleeve, especially in regards to Metamorpho’s first appearance. The story isn’t particularly deep, but it has the vibe of a James Bond cold open with superpowers as Guerrero really makes Black Lightning’s abilities sizzle. Finally, Brandon Thomas’ plotting really kept me engaged with thinking about why characters were acting a certain way, and the the mini mystery box structure has me intrigued for the upcoming issue.

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Grifter is a character I didn’t really know a lot about except for some random comics like the New 52 Team 7 and JLA/WildCATs, but Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela have made this anti-hero/rapscallion and his various pratfalls quite lovable and hilarious Batman: Urban Legends #1’s final story. Grifter is like that guy who bluffs at poker, but never has a good hand. And until maybe the penultimate page of the comic, he’s either screwing up or making a joke about it beginning with his mad rush towards supervillain fire during his Team 6 days with a lot of characters with familiar names from Wildstorm comics. (I’m not an expert on these characters, and you don’t have to be to enjoy the story.) Grifter uses his sense of humor to detract from his mediocre performance as Lucius Fox’s bodyguard or to avoid getting his ass kicked by Batman, but he also has a mystery side that is revealed when he has a “date” at one of Penguin’s bars. The mystery starts to really unfold towards the end of the comic, but Rosenberg hints at every time, he talks on a headset with what I assume is his older brother.

The comedy in “Grifter” isn’t just limited to Matthew Rosenberg’s delightfully smartass dialogue. It shows up a lot in Ryan Benjamin’s visuals, which range from G.I. Joe or Authority homages (When the superheroes clean up Team 6’s mess.) in the flashback to pure slapstick. For example, Grifter spills a drink at a party Lucius Fox is meeting a client at and spills a drink on a woman. In this situation, Benjamin doesn’t just show a simple facial expression, but throws in some growlixes and makes you know that she’s furious that the soaking wet guy in Converse and blue jeans is even in the same room with her. This playfulness extends to the fight between Batman and Grifter, which starts as a serious throwdown and ends up in a total cat and mouse situation with Grifter finally getting enough self-awareness to call it quits. However, their paths will cross, and you can tell that Batman understands he’s a wildcard with his connections to Lucius Fox, the criminal underworld, and probably those Wildstorm guys. All in all, Matthew Rosenberg, Ryan Benjamin, and Antonio Fabela turn in a hilarious action-comedy set in DC’s weirdest and (sometimes) dourest city and also slowly unveil what seems to be a master plan to merge the worlds of Wildstorm and Gotham.

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is an absolute win for the anthology format that DC Comics has been trying out with all of the four stories in the comic being entertaining and shedding light on a unique cast of characters. The longer stories that bookend the comic are especially noteworthy thanks to Chip Zdarsky’s pitch-perfect handle on the fascinating character of Jason Todd in “Batman and Red Hood” and Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s skill with verbal and visual humor in “Grifter”.

Story: Chip Zdarsky, Stephanie Phillips, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg
Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Marcus To, Laura Braga, Max Dunbar, Ryan Benjamin
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Ivan Plascencia, Luis Guerrero, Antonio Fabela
Letters: Becca Carey, Deron Bennett, Steve Wands, Saida Temofonte
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.6 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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