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Review: Future State: Dark Detective #1

Future State: Dark Detective #1

Out of all of the various aspects of DC’s Future State so far, the place Gotham’s in has been the most intriguing. It’s a police state ruled by “The Magistrate”, an organization that hunts down masked individuals to bring order to the city. It’s a literal police state where the jackbooted militarized force patrols the streets to bring order. We’ve seen a new Batman and Harley Quinn’s place among other stories, but, where’s Bruce Wayne? Future State: Dark Detective #1 begins to answer that question with one of two stories.

Writer Mariko Tamaki brings us the main event, what happened to Bruce Wayne. The Magistrate is good and is able to do what so many have tried, “kill” Batman. But, like so many before, Batman’s not really dead and now underground figuring out what to do next. With Batman dead, Bruce Wayne too is dead. The duo wander a Gotham that’s unfamiliar and dangerous. It’s a neon city that feels like something out of an anime as opposed to the dark and grimy Gotham of the past.

Future State: Dark Detective #1 delivers an interesting Batman and Bruce Wayne. Stripped of his toys and money, Wayne is on the run and underground. It’s a city he doesn’t recognize and one where he’s unsure of what to do and where to go. But, he’s Bruce Wayne, he’s the Batman. When he witnesses a crime, he suits up back into action which puts him on the run from The Magistrate again. Injured and battered, this isn’t the Batman we’re used to, there’s an actual feeling he might fail and lose.

Part of that dread is due to the art of Dan Mora. Joined by Jordie Bellaire on color and Aditya Bidikar on lettering, the art shows the pain of Bruce’s battle. Juxtaposed with the bright lights of Gotham, you can see a beaten down Bruce, one who’s struggling. From the way he moves, to the look on his face, the details to show Bruce’s struggles are fantastic. There’s also the bright lights of the city which really pop. There’s such some great details here that really make the city stand out as a character by itself. This is a Gotham I want to explore and see more of.

There’s a second tale, “Future Past” focused on Grifter. Written by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Carmine Di Giamdomenico, color by Antonio Fabela, and lettering by Andworld Design, it’s a fairly straightforward story that also adds depth to this new Gotham. With Gotham under a police state, Grifter is playing it low, trying to not bring attention to himself but that doesn’t mean he’s not being hunted by the Magistrate. He comes across Luke Fox and from there it’s a race to get out of Gotham. The story is one we’ve seen but it adds depth to Gotham and allows us to see another slice of the big picture that’s playing out through multiple series. It’s an entertaining story full of personality and action and shows that Grifter should be front and center in his own series.

Future State: Dark Detective #1 is an entertaining comic. It works better as part of the puzzle through multiple series in Future State. On its own though, it still delivers a comic you can sit back and enjoy. The art shines as it powers two stories that are similar in some ways and tell us so much about this new reality. So far, this is a Gotham and world I want to see more of it after this mini-event ends.

Story: Mariko Tamaki, Matthew Rosenberg Art: Dan Mora, Carmine Di Giandomenico
Color: Jordie Bellaire, Antonio Fabela Letterer: Aditya Bidikar, Andworld Design
Story: 7.75 Art: 8.65 Overall: 7.85 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Preview: King in Black: Thunderbolts #1 (of 3)

King in Black: Thunderbolts #1 (of 3)

(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Juan Ferreyra (CA) Kyle Hotz
Rated T+
In Shops: Jan 13, 2021
SRP: $3.99

KINGPIN’S KILLERS VERSUS AN ARMY OF UNKILLABLE DRAGONS!
An army of evil space dragons have come to attack Earth and are starting with New York. MAYOR FISK has a plan for that. Assembling a group of killers, mercenaries, and just generally pretty horrible people like TASKMASTER, RHINO, STAR, MR. FEAR, and BATROC THE LEAPER, Mayor Fisk tasks them with saving the city or die trying…or die right then and there. The fate of the entire world may rest in the hands of the absolute worst people in the Marvel Universe. What could go wrong?

King in Black: Thunderbolts #1 (of 3)

Preview: Future State: Dark Detective #1

Future State: Dark Detective #1

Written by: Matthew Rosenberg, Mariko Tamaki
Art by: Dan Mora, Carmine Di Giandomenico

The world thought Bruce Wayne was dead. They were dead wrong! When the sinister para-military organization known as the Magistrate seizes control of Gotham City, the original Batman went big to put them down…but even the Dark Knight couldn’t predict how far this evil force would go to stop him. Now, Bruce Wayne is on the run! From Eisner Award-winning writer Mariko Tamaki and rising star artist Dan Mora, it’s the story of a Batman pushed to the brink-with nothing left to lose. Also in this issue, Grifter is back! Cole Cash is having a bad day, and that’s not going to improve when the detectives of the GCPD show up! Will a chance meeting with Luke Fox change his luck? Or is his day about to get a lot worse?

Future State: Dark Detective #1

Preview: Sweet Tooth: The Return #3

Sweet Tooth: The Return #3

Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Jeff Lemire

Oh no, oh no! Things are even worse now! Father told the boy and Penny to go to the jail cell for a time out, but now it looks like they have escaped! And what’s this? One of Father’s nannies has gone missing too? And the Downsiders are angry with Father? Oh dear, this simply will not do. Not one bit. The people must be put back in their places. Order must be maintained. Otherwise humanity cannot survive. Will Penny and the boy ruin Father’s perfect plans, or will he have to put an end to the meddlesome children?

Sweet Tooth: The Return #3

Preview: Amazing Spider-Man #54.LR

Amazing Spider-Man #54.LR

(W) Matthew Rosenberg, Nick Spencer (A) Federico Vicentini, Takeshi Miyagawa (CA) Marcelo Ferreira
Rated T
In Shops: Dec 23, 2020
SRP: $3.99

LAST REMAINS TIE-IN!
• The Order of the Web faces Sin-Eater. And if you saw what Sin-Eater did to Spider-Man in ASM #49, you know just how much trouble the other Spiders are in!
• Also, what is Mary Jane Watson’s part in “Last Remains”? Don’t miss this chapter that raises her stakes by about a million times!

Amazing Spider-Man #54.LR

Batman: Urban Legends Dives Into the World of Gotham Spotlighting, Jason Todd, Grifter, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, the Outsiders, and more

Explore the world of Gotham in a brand new anthology series, Batman: Urban Legends which launches in March 2021 from DC Comics. Batman may be the biggest name in Gotham City, but there are lots of other heroes—and villains—who will get a turn to shine in a brand-new monthly anthology series highlighting top talent and a mix of new voices making their mark on the city the Dark Knight calls home.

The first six issues are anchored by a Batman/Red Hood thriller from writer Chip Zdarsky and fan-favorite artist Eddy Barrows. Renegade vigilante Jason Todd, a.k.a. Red Hood is investigating a new and lethal drug sweeping through Gotham City. In the course of one night, this investigation will change his life forever – and put him in Batman’s crosshairs.

Future State: Grifters writer Matthew Rosenberg and artist Ryan Benjamin continue from the pages of Batman #101, as gun-for-hire Cole Cash is still in Gotham, on the trail of the true motives of the Halo Corporation…and yes, Batman and Grifter go head-to-head again!

In a story set before the launch of the new ongoing Harley Quinn series, writer Stephanie Phillips and Future State: The Next Batman artist Laura Braga team up to help Harley sort out her complicated history with Poison Ivy – but first she’ll have to find her!

This debut issue also launches a three-part tale of the Outsiders, courtesy of Future State: Outsiders writer Brandon Thomas with art by Max Dunbar. This saga reunites team members Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho, but this reunion quickly turns into a confrontation with the appearance of a figure from Katana’s past!

Batman: Urban Legends #1 is a $7.99 prestige format series, debuting on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 with covers by Hicham Habchi (main), David Finch (variant), and Kael Ngu (variant).

Review: Twelve Reasons To Die TP

Twelve Reasons to Die

Twelve Reasons to Die acts as the source material for the 2013 concept album of the same title by Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah, and the record’s producer/composer Adrian Younge and executive producer RZA even get story and writer credits respectively on this comic, which is finally being released as a collected edition.A pre-4 Kids Walk Into A Bank/Marvel Matthew Rosenberg and Patrick Kindlon handle the brunt of the scripting though. The comic is a multi-generational crime saga in the mold of such classics like The Godfather Part II, Goodfellas, and Once Upon A Time in America with a horror spin. With the exception of the final one, each issue tells two parallel stories. The first is about the rise of African-American gangster Tony Starks (One of Ghostface Killah’s aliases.) from muscle for the DeLuca family to a kingpin in his own right, and it is drawn predominantly by artist Breno Tamura. Gus Storms handles the other story which features “crate digger” Michael Migdal looking for 9 rare records for Lucraze, the don of the DeLuca crime family, because he feels like they’re cursed and wants to destroy them.

The parallel structure of Twelve Reasons to Die allows Rosenberg, Kindlon, RZA, Tamura, Storm, colorist Jean-Paul Csuka, and the various guest artists to play with different genres, art styles, and palettes like Younge and Ghostface Killah play with different beats, instrumentation, samples, and deliveries on the album. Starks’ story is a crime saga while Migdal’s story is more horror, and both use elements from the blaxploitation genre. This really shows up in the artwork with Tamura’s work being looser with scratchy inks and Bronze Age era Ben-Day Dots while Storms’ art is softer and more grotesque with the mysterious “Ghostface Killer” lurking around the edges like something out of a bad dream waiting for the needle to drop and to bring vengeance.

The different guest artists, like Nate Powell, Joelle Jones, Edwin Huang, and Riley Rossmo, meld well with Storms and Tamura while bringing extra flair to key scenes like Starks torturing a racist DeLuca made man and framing him for having an affair with the boss’ wife, Logan (Who Starks is actually sleeping with.) or several night club and murder sequences. Csuka’s colors really tie everything together and control the mood of each sequence whether that’s the sleazy red and blue of the strip club where Starks gets his first assignment from the DeLuca (and later runs) to the pop art pink of a “masqua-rave” that Migdal goes to get one of the records from a DJ, who decides to play the record and gets devoured by ravers turned into insects. It’s a Kafka-esque acid trip that shows the decadence of the DeLuca “social club” (They’ve filed off the serial numbers of their criminal enterprises.), and of course, there’s a panel where Migdal vomits.

Twelve Reasons to Die doesn’t shy away from showing the racism that Tony Starks faces from his employers, the Delucas, who bar him from becoming a made man because of the color of his skin and hurl slurs and stereotypes at him throughout the entire comic. Starks gets passed over for the mob equivalent of a promotion even though he has killed, tortured, and general gone above and beyond the call of duty because of the color of his skin. Eventually, this causes him to band together with his colleagues from the Black community to take over the DeLucas’ turf and even have some DeLuca foot soldiers work for him. There’s a dark, cathartic glee to watching him topple an empire in twelve months that had been established 30+ years ago. (See the prologue featuring Mussolini, mainland Italy vs. Sicily, and double page map spreads.) Starks’ ruthlessness is magnetic, yet frightening as he goes from possibly negotiating with one of the DeLuca’s made men to pistol whipping him in an alley and then tying his neck to the back of a car and having him dragged. This comic definitely uses torture creatively a la “Method Man” from Wu-Tang Clan’s classic album, 36 Chambers.

Twelve Reasons to Die

However, Rosenberg, Kindlon, and RZA also take time to develop Tony Starks’ softer and more vulnerable side through his relationship with Logan, who he genuinely cares about and basically uses as a spy for the DeLucas (Although she betrays him because femme fatale trope.) and especially for his love of records. There’s a touching scene where Starks says that his only dream is to get his hands on the most “hype” records, and he uses his organized crime money to build a factory where he can press his own wax. This is why his demise in that same factory is so tragic, and his vengeance via the drop of a needle is so satisfying as the Ghostface Killer slays the men who betrayed him in new and fucked up ways, or just a single page beheading. (I guess that’s pretty messed up though.) The exception is the noble fencer Batiato, who gets an epic sword fight complete with Ghostface in samurai armor and some fun, blocky cartooning from Edwin Huang.

I haven’t really touched much about Migdal in this review, and initially he seems quite distant from sex, violence, and racism-tinged world of Tony Starks and the DeLucas. He’s just a guy with a sarcastic sense of humor, who you’d see digging through the crates at your local record store, probably every day. However, as he continues to be treated like shit by the aging DeLuca crime bosses and see more horrific things, Migdal seems more attuned to this grindhouse movie of a world even though he doesn’t lose his innocence making the high energy Chris Hunt-drawn finale have a tinge of sadness. He really just wants to get paid so he can buy more records.

Even though it has an entire restaurant of chefs in its proverbial kitchen, Twelve Reasons to Die is a damn good fusion of the crime and horror genre with a charismatic protagonist and a social conscience in the midst of all the schlock. However, it never gets preachy. For three decades, Ghostface Killah has been one of hip hop’s best storytellers, and his vision translates really well to the comic book page thanks to Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon, RZA, Breno Tamura, Gus Storms, Chris Hunt, Jean-Paul Csuka, and the guest artists that are the visual equivalent of that perfect drum sound or soul sample that raises a track from skippable to total earworm. Finally, and it goes without saying, but this comic pairs really well with the 12 Reasons to Die album.

Story: Ghostface Killah, Adrian Younge, C.E. Garcia
Story/Script: Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon with RZA

Art: Breno Tamura, Gus Storms, Chris Hunt
Guest Art: Kyle Strahm, Joe Infurnari, Tim Seeley, Nate Powell,
Tyler Crook, Toby Cypress, Joelle Jones, Edwin Huang, Russell Roehling,
Ryan Kelly, Riley Rossmo Colors: Jean-Paul Csuka
Letters: Jim Campbell and Nic J. Shaw
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.4 Recommendation: Buy

Black Mask Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: AmazoncomiXology

Preview: The Amazing Spider-Man #53.LR

The Amazing Spider-Man #53.LR

(W) Matthew Rosenberg, Nick Spencer (A) Federico Vicentini (CA) Marcelo Ferreira
32 PGS./Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 25, 2020
SRP: $3.99

LAST REMAINS TIE-IN!
o Another classic Spider-Man villain gets pulled into the most soul-shaking Spider-Man story ever. You won’t believe what you read, and it will break your heart.

The Amazing Spider-Man #53.LR

Comics Deserve Better Episode 16: 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Thomas Mauer

On this episode of Comics Deserve Better, Brian and Logan geek out about the darkly comedic, crime comic 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, and Thomas Mauer.

They break down the cast of annoying, yet endearing middle-school-aged characters, their favorite sequences, and the connections that this Black Mask Studios masterpiece has to other works of pop culture. Brian and Logan also discuss the latest indie comics news, including Graham Coxon‘s comic Superstate from Z2, the announcement of Vault‘s queer monster love story Hollow Heart and Geoff Johns and Gary Frank‘s creator-owned series Geiger, and a new ordering format from Scout Comics. They also talk about the upcoming Black Hammer: Visions and their dream creators on the miniseries. Other comics mentioned on the show are We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, Getting It Together, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, and 12 Reasons to Die. (Episode art by Tyler Boss)

Preview: 12 Reasons to Die

12 Reasons to Die

Created by: Ghostface Killah / Executive Produced by: RZA
Written by: Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon
Illustrated by: Ronald Wimberly, Breno Tamura, Gus Storms, Kyle Strahm, Joe Infurnari, Christopher Mitten, Jim Mahfood, Tim Seeley, Nate Powell, Ben Templesmith, Tyler Crook, Toby Cypress, Juan Doe, Joelle Jones, Edwin Huang, Johnnie Christmas, Russel Roehling, Ryan Kelly, Michael Walsh, Chris Hunt, Riley Rossmo, David Murdoch, Garry Brown, Johnny Ryan, Shaky Kane, Benjamin Marra, and Brian Level
Colored by: Jean-Paul Csuka
Lettered by: Jim Campbell, Nic J. Shaw
Mature / $24.99 / 180 pages

Guns. Sex. Vinyl. Revenge. Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah and RZA teamed with then young-gun writers Matthew Rosenberg (Uncanny X-Men, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank) & Patrick Kindlon (Survival Fetish, Nobody Is In Control) for this brutal tale of a dangerous crime lord’s rise and fall.

Collects issues 1-6.

12 Reasons to Die
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