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Review: Justice League #59

Justice League #59

Although the Rebirth numbering is intact, both the Justice League and Justice League Dark titles get a bit of relaunch in Justice League #59. Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, and Tamra Bonvillain bring large scale action and a sequel to Bendis, David Walker, and Jamal Campbell’s Naomi in the lead story. While in the backup “Justice League Dark” story, Ram V, Xermanico, and Romulo Fajardo Jr. tap something a little more mystical as Merlin makes his return, and John Constantine and Zatanna investigate cults and prophecies in rural New Mexico. One of these strives to be modern mythology with all of the biggest toys in the DC Universe toy box while the other one might actually succeed with its riffs on Arthurian legends, the conflict between Heaven and Hell, and the senselessness of human existence underneath it all.

Justice League #59 is a 20 page story, but it feels a lot shorter thanks to an abundance of double page spreads from artist David Marquez. He and Brian Michael Bendis throw readers right into the middle of the fray as a mysterious interdimensional invader named Brutus lands in Kahndaq and confronts its king and protector, Black Adam. This later escalates into a kind of, sort of team-up between Adam and some of the members of the Justice League, which doesn’t thrill a monarch that is more into isolation than cooperation. However, this tension only really shows up towards the end of the battle when Black Adam immediately ejects the Justice League from his land and finally towards the end of the story. Having Black Adam has a wild card is Bendis’ smartest plotting decision, and he definitely fits Green Arrow’s idea of a “dissenting voice” when Oliver talks to the other members about doing “more” as a team.

But, for the most part, this initial Justice League story is lots of punching against a villain that is generically enough called “Brutus”, and the only interesting thing about him is that he’s most likely from Naomi’s home world giving her a reason to appear in the comic beyond being a Bendis co-creation. If you’re familiar with Bendis’ run on the Superman books, there’s a Rogol Zaar vibe to him in that he’s not an interesting character except in his connections to pre-existing characters or lore. You can definitely tell that he’s going to be forgettable character when he decides to peace out in the middle of the battle through an interdimensional portal before

Justice League #59 doesn’t really much to draw readers in beyond being a kind of sequel to the excellent Naomi comic, but it does have its bright spots. David Marquez and Tamra Bonvillain really embrace the wide screen nature of the book and make a middling script gorgeous with Bonvillain contributing deep blues to the bubble-shaped panels when Aquaman and his army of sharks battle Brutus. She also uses really intense red and blues to match Marquez’s speed lines as Superman and Black Adam race to grab Brutus before he disappears. This page is pretty busy, but it drives home the point that Black Adam thinks he’s beyond the Justice League and doesn’t respect Superman unlike the other heroes. (Even the edgy, cocky Green Arrow just wants Superman to agree with him.)

Justice League #59

To go along with the blockbuster visuals, Brian Michael Bendis’ writing is at its best when characters are ribbing or arguing with each other a la New Avengers. He seems to have a lot of fun with Green Arrow and Black Canary, who debate both sides of the Justice League’s current status quo and adds a little extra reverence when Superman opens his mouth. Superman also takes lead during the fight scenes, and you can tell he’s the team leader without any kind of exposition about it. We’ll see what Bendis does with them in future issues, but for now, Flash and Hawkgirl are exposition spouters while Batman just reacts to things. As the one non-powered hero during the fight scene, he may have been trying to make Batman a POV character, but few readers can react to an (ex) billionaire and genius strategist/martial artist. Thankfully, Naomi is coming soon to fill this role, and hopefully, she brings a hook too.

Ram V and Xermanico’s “Justice League Dark” doesn’t have a problem with hooks and opens with the return of Merlin to the mortal plane. If you’ve read V’s work on Future State: Justice League, then you know that his take on the mythical wizard is more nefarious than kindly, and Merlin definitely sets himself up as the Big Bad in the pages of this issue. His actions on the final pages definitely set up a need for a Justice League type of team to take him down as Xermanico’s lovely cathedral window layouts and Fajardo’s warm color palette turns bloody and scarlet. Also, V logically connects the John Constantine/Zatanna plot to Merlin’s rise through the appearance of a fan favorite character and basically shows that their mission was just a symptom of a larger disease. It’s tension and escalation all in ten pages.

However, as well as setting up a big-time enemy for this disassembled team to face, Ram V and Xermanico still find time to explore the relationship between John Constantine and Zatanna. There’s a real softness to their interactions even as Constantine does his usual con man hijinks to get them out of a bind as the narration goes slightly nihilistic and focuses on humanity’s stupidity and willingness to place their lives in religions and cults while there’s literally bigger fish to fry. I love how Constantine cares about Zatanna’s feelings after the loss of her father and the disbandment of Justice League Dark, and Xermanico shows this through a beat panel where their hands nearly touch. Constantine and Zatanna will never be a stable couple, but V and Xermanico know they have great chemistry and use it to carry this initial installment of “Justice League Dark” because while Merlin is quite metal, we need someone to root for.

Thanks to a one-dimensional baddie and the usual Brian Michael Bendis decompression issues, Justice League #59 only gets a slight recommendation for me. However, David Marquez and Tamra Bonvillain’s take on DC’s A-list is truly awe-inspiring, and their Black Adam exudes power and contempt as well. Hopefully, there’s more Naomi, Green Arrow, and Black Canary in future issues and less alien punching bag. But the real reason this comic crosses the line from trade wait to a purchase is Ram V, Xermanico, and Romulo Fajardo’s “Justice League Dark” backup, which features both Arthurian legends and supernatural hijinks and has a formidable villain plus witty, yet emotionally honest writing for its leads, John Constantine and Zatanna.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, Ram V Art: David Marquez, Xermanico
Colors: Tamra Bonvillain, Romulo Fajardo Jr. Letters: Josh Reed, Rob Leigh
Story: 7.1 Art: 8.5 Overall: 7.8 Recommendation: Buy

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Preview: Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #17

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #17

Story: Liz Erickson
Art: Tom Derenick
Letterer: Josh Reed
Digital Release Date December 23 2020

“The Morning After”

Harley is absolutely determined to give Boxing Day the over-the-top celebration it deserves, and small considerations like “knowing what Boxing Day is” aren’t going to get in her way. But when a low-down crook steals an entire orphanage’s worth of presents one day after Christmas, you’d better believe she’s gonna get in THAT guy’s way…

Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #17

Review: Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red #17

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red #17

DC Comics has done an amazing job with Harley: Quinn: Black + White + Red. The digital comic series has been a wonderful idea and breathe of fresh air in many ways. Each issue has delivered a new set of voices to deliver their take on the popular character. A new round of holiday theme digital comics has been released with Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red #17 celebrating Boxing Day! Yes, Boxing Day!

A crime has been committed and packages have been stolen that were supposed to go to orphans. Harley and Poison Ivy team up to find out who took them and save Christmas Boxing Day for the kids.

Writer Liz Erickson delivers an entertaining story that’s fun and goofy in all of the right ways. Opening with a fantastic poem, my only criticism is I’d like to have seen that carry through the entire issue. I’ll admit, it was a bit of a letdown from the issue opening with two pages of Christmas poetry to then shift to normal dialogue and storytelling. There’s a decent amount of humor and action mixed into the comic but overall, it plays things a bit more straight than some previous releases. That’s not a bad thing at all. It just shows how varied Harley Quinn can be and it’s still the character and her crazy antics.

Tom Derenick provides the art with lettering by Josh Reed. It’s again a different style and take on Harley and Ivy keeping each release from the series unique. There’s a bit more “realism” in this version toning down some of the crazier elements we’ve seen from other digital releases. It sticks to the three color look which works really well and overall delivers a bit more of a crime/action comic vibe to the visuals.

Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red #17 is another solid entry into the digital series. It delivers another style and voice to Harley and really show how varied the character can be in the look and tone of her adventures. It’s also the rare comic celebrating Boxing Day… there should be more.

Story: Liz Erickson Art: Tom Derenick Letterer: Josh Reed
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy

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Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse That Laughs #1

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs

I’ve been vocal in my mixed feelings about Dark Nights: Death Metal. The main event has been mixed in quality and the one-shots, while they used to stand out, are now fumbling themselves. Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs is another stumble presenting four stories with few standing out and most being forgettable.

Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs opens with an introduction introducing the scary stories to follow. Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Joshua Williamson, the intro isn’t so much Cryptkeeper as it’s a tease. Juan Gedeon handles the art, Mike Spicer color, and Troy Peteri the lettering and the art is solidly entertaining. But, the tales the Robin Kings aren’t what’s presented, and sadly what is, is far less interesting. A nice introduction to lay out the concept of the comic but it actually hurts what’s really could have been accomplished with some text on the first page.

Patton Oswalt, Sanford Greene, David Baron, and Josh Reed to a twisted take on Zsasz in “Feeding the Beast”. Sadly, the story itself doesn’t make a whole lot of sense at all. It feels like interesting ideas chopped together without a strong narrative. To say it’s a frustrating start is an understatement and the issue stumbles from there.

The Super-Pets get the spotlight in “The Super-Threats“. Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, the story is a Super-Pets spin on DCeased. Krypto returns from space to find a planet ravaged and all that remains are the Super-Pets. It’s a nice horror short story packed in well and filled with a little bit of humor to make it different and stand out from DCeased. Chad Hardin‘s art with color by Enrica Eren Angiolini‘s color is solid as the animals are filled with emotion as the story unfolds. There’s a slight coloring issue when one infected creature is described as having yellow eyes and red teeth and neither being present. Lettering by Carlos M. Mangual really stands out with the unique speech bubbles that makes the story really fun.

In “Hard-Traveled“, Earth has been taken over by Hal Jordon who’s used his power to bring order to the planet. Standing in his way is Green Arrow. Saladin Ahmed‘s story is interesting in concept but sadly doesn’t get enough pages to really stand out. But, it’s a comic I’d love to read. What does stand out is Scot Eaton‘s art. With Norm Rapmund on ink and Hi-Fi on color, the story builds to a Rocky vs. Apollo ending.

Much like the story leading into it, “The Fear Index” also suffers from not enough pages. Steel has to deal with a planet that has been enveloped by Scarecrow’s toxin. It’s a great idea that we’re mostly teased with. Written by Brandon Thomas, the story itself is the trailer for a film we want to see more of. The art by Thomas Mandrake is solid. With color by Sian Mandrake, it comes off as the twisted fear-induced visions you’d expect. It’s not the over the top trip that has been done before but it’s presented as unsettled. That’s helped by Deron Bennett‘s lettering which enhances the hallucinations from the fear toxin. It emphasizes the situation and world.

There are some things to like about Dark Nights: Death Metal The Multiverse Who Laughs. The idea of an anthology telling stories in this twisted world has potential but few are given the space they’re needed to really be interesting. Instead, they all fall short as teases for something far more entertaining. Both the Green Arrow and Steel stories are worthy of their own one-shots and an entire line could be done like the other Dark Multiverse one-shots releases. But, as is, there’s not a lot here to get excited about.

Story: Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson, Patton Oswalt, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Saladin Ahmed, Brandon Thomas
Art: Juan Gedeon, Sanford Greene, Chad Hardin, Scot Eaton, Thomas Mandrake
Color: Mike Spicer, David Baron, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Sian Mandrake, Hi-Fi
Ink: Norm Rapmund
Letterer: Troy Peteri, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual, Deron Bennett
Story: 6.0 Art: 7.0 Overall: 6.0 Recommendation: Pass

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Review: Naomi Season One

Naomi is an amazing debut with art that captures that magical beginning. One of the best debuts of a character and comics of the year.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker
Art: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual

Get your copy in comic shops now and in bookstores on October 29! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle/comiXology
TFAW

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Review: Batman Universe #1

Batman Universe #1 collects the original stories that first appeared in the exclusive Walmart Giant Comics. It’s Batman vs. the Riddler… or is it?

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Nick Derington
Color: Dave Stewart
Letters: Josh Reed

Get your copy in comic shops now and! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
Kindle & comiXology
TFAW

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Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Invisible Mafia

Superman and Clark’s life has been shaken up and new threats emerge in Metropolis as his personal life is in shambles.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Invisible Mafia features issues #1001-1006 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ryan Sook, Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette, Wade Von Grawbadger, Alejandro Sanchez, Brad Anderson, Nathan Fairbairn, and Josh Reed.

Get your copy in comic shops and book stores now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

Review: Young Justice #3

Young Justice #3

Continuity has been thrown out the window (Oops.), and Conner Kent aka Superboy is back in the pages of DC Comics as a farmer in Gemworld, who recently invaded Earth. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, artists Patrick Gleason and Viktor Bogdanovic with inker Jonathan Glapion, and colorists Alejandro Sanchez, Chris Sotomayor, and Hi-Fi give him plenty of time to reintroduce himself and banter with Impulse while the rest of the Young Justice “team” languishes in a prison. And what results in Young Justice #3 is a classic case of good characterization, disjointed plotting, and okay art. It’s definitely a middle chapter.

But, first, the good. I haven’t read any of the old Young Justice or other pre-New 52 comics in which Conner Kent and Bart Allen appeared in, but Bendis, Gleason, and Bogdanovic immediately show their friendship complete with hugs, jokes, and a little trash talk of Gemworld goons. (Comparing a bad guy to an Intergang member is always a sick DCU burn.) Gleason’s expressive art and Bendis’ overcaffeinated dialogue for Impulse has been my favorite part of Young Justice, and there’s a lot of it in this issue as he fights back against the Gemworld fighters and also comes to grips with seeing his old friend having changed so much. It’s a little difficult to process seeing your BFF transform from a black Superman t-shirt wearing teen rebel to a bearded farmer with a wife and baby.

Another decent part of this comic is when Bendis, Gleason, and Bogdanovic tell the story of how Conner Kent came to be in Gemworld. Bendis channels Ultimate Spider-Man a little bit by having the teacher’s lecture about rules and society in what I assume is a class on Lord of the Flies connect to Conner’s arc in the issue. He can fly and has super strength so what is he doing sitting in class when he could investigate some STAR Labs sketchiness.

Conner was created in a lab from Lex Luthor and Superman’s DNA so he’s not a fan of those kind of places. Gleason, Bogdanovic, and Glapion are trying to show his extreme rage and recklessness in wrecking the lab, but the facial expressions don’t match his action in these scenes. Also, Glapion tries to make his pencillers’ work look too much like Greg Capullo so switching from flashbacks to present day is a little jarring. Chris Sotomayor’s colors do highlight the otherworldly mystique of Gemworld as Conner is transported there from a mysterious room in STAR Labs. It’s a quick, simple way to discuss his whereabouts without getting caught in a continuity jam.

So, if the Superboy and Impulse parts of Young Justice #3 are entertaining, slightly mysterious, and character driven albeit with some awkward art transitions, the scenes with the rest of the team are extremely boring. Except for a splash page of Wonder Girl, Tim Drake, and the rest of Young Justice battling the Gemworld warriors, it’s mostly them just complaining while being trapped in dungeons and remarking on how weird reality is. There’s nothing much to look at, and thankfully, there is just a few pages.

With the entire team captive, Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason, and Viktor Bogdanovic do have the team in quite a pickle though, and I’m interested to see some of the flashbacks that show Conner’s life as a family man in Gemworld. And as long as it’s a good story, continuity doesn’t matter. Young Justice #3 is compelling as a Superboy solo issue, but sometimes the art doesn’t mesh and the check-in with the rest of Young Justice is either rushed or unnecessary.

Story: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Patrick Gleason and Viktor Bogdanovic
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez, Chris Sotomayor, and Hi-Fi
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual and Josh Reed
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

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DC Comics Review: Superman Vol. 1 The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth

Brian Michael Bendis takes on Superman and first up? The Earth is stuck in the Phatom Zone!

Joining Bendis is Ivan Reis on pencils, Joe Prado and Oclair Albert on ink, and Josh Reed as letterer.

Get your copy in comic shops today and book stores today! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon
TFAW

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Review: Young Justice #2

The young heroes are in Gemworld not knowing what’s going on. Young Justice #2 builds on the first issue introducing us a bit more to the heroes and bringing them together.

Young Justice #2 is by Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Alejandro Sanchez, and Josh Reed.

Get your copy in comic shops now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Amazon/comiXology/Kindle

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from this site. Making purchases through these links helps support the site

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