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Preview: Batman: Urban Legends #2

Batman: Urban Legends #2

Written by: Matthew Rosenberg, Brandon Thomas, Cecil Castellucci, Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Ryan Benjamin, Marguerite Sauvage, Max Dunbar, Eddy Barrows
Cover by: Hicham Habchi

The new Batman anthology series continues! In part two of Chip Zdarsky and Eddy Barrows’s epic Batman/Red Hood story, Jason Todd has taken a man’s life, and now his mission is to keep the dead man’s young son safe. But Batman plans to take down Jason before he can make another mistake. Then, in chapter two of Matthew Rosenberg and Ryan Benjamin’s senses-shattering tale, Cole Cash earns his pay as personal bodyguard to billionaire Lucius Fox, but what led him to Gotham in the first place? How does the mysterious HALO Corporation play into it all? And which Bat-Family character does he have an unfortunate meeting with in this chapter? And in part two of Brandon Thomas and Max Dunbar’s epic Outsiders story, see Katana’s perspective on what brought the Outsiders to Japan, who wants her dead, and what her ultimate punishment will be for no longer having her husband’s spirit in the Soultaker sword. Plus, Barbara Gordon has identified a citywide system hack from a foe she faced before as Batgirl…but this time around, Babs may have found a way to defeat her for good as Oracle!

Batman: Urban Legends #2

Batwoman Star Camrus Johnson will Pen a Story in Batman: Urban Legends in June

Out on June 8, Batman: Urban Legends #4 features Grifter, Red Hood, Tim Drake, Luke Fox, and a story by Batwoman‘s Camrus Johnson.

The comic features:

  • The Penultimate chapter of the Grifter story is here! Grifter’s walking a deadly line between Lucius Fox and HALO’s plan…can he survive the endgame? Oh, and yeah, now Superman is after him!
  • As old wounds threaten to Sabotage Batman and Red Hood’s investigation into the Cheerdrop drug turning Gotham City upside down they run afoul of Gotham’s coldest criminal MR. FREEZE! And the force behind the Cheerdrops will be banking on the former dynamic duo’s demise…
  • TIM DRAKE has returned to the streets of Gotham City and is seeking a new purpose, but what he finds is a string of young adult kidnappings committed by someone known only as “The Chaos Monster” will Tim be able to get to the root of the kidnappings or will he fall prey to them? Critically acclaimed Future State Robin Eternal writer Meghan Fitzmartin returns to tell this Tim Drake story with rising star artist Belén Ortega
  • Acclaimed creator and actor Camrus Johnson writes an action-packed story featuring Luke Fox—the character he portrays on The CW’s hit television series BATWOMAN!

Batman: Urban Legends #4 will feature stories and art by Chip Zdarsky, Meghan Fitzmartin, Matthew Rosenberg, Camrus Johnson, Eddy Barrows, Belén Ortega, Ryan Benjamin, Marcus To, Eber Ferriera, and more, with a cover Jorge Molina and variant covers by Dustin Nguyen and Irvin Rodrigues.

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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Preview: Batman: Urban Legends #1

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Written by: Brandon Thomas, Stephanie Nicole Phillips, Matthew Rosenberg, Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Eddy Barrows, Laura Braga, Ryan Benjamin, Marcus To

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 Batman: Urban Legends, a brand-new monthly series tying into the biggest events in Gotham City. The series begins with these can’t-miss tales:

– Superstar writer Chip Zdarsky enters the world of Gotham City with celebrated Detective Comics and DC Future State: Robin Eternal artist Eddy Barrows for a six-part story chronicling Red Hood’s investigation of a new drug sweeping through Gotham. It’s a night that will change his life forever—and put him in Batman’s crosshairs.

– Writer of the DC Future State “Grifters” story Matthew Rosenberg picks up where he left off, continuing from the pages of Batman #101! Superstar artist Ryan Benjamin joins the team as we learn why Cole Cash is in Gotham in a tale that hints at what Halo might be…and we also get Batman vs. Grifter-round two!

– New Harley Quinn writer Stephanie Phillips and DC Future State: The Next Batman artist Laura Braga join forces for a Harley tale set just before the launch of her new series. Harley’s determined to sort out her history with Poison Ivy—but first, she’ll have to find her!

– Coming off the DC Future State “Outsiders” tale, writer Brandon Thomas begins a three-part saga reuniting Black Lightning, Katana and Metamorpho. But this reunion quickly turns into a confrontation with a figure from Katana’s past, in a story drawn by fan-favorite artist Max Dunbar (Champions, Dungeons and Dragons, Judge Dredd)!

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Legends of the Dark Knight Returns in a Brand New Series

Debuting in 1989, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight put Batman in the hands of some of the most talented writers and artists in comics, such as Denny O’Neil, Grant Morrison, Ed Hannigan, Mike W. Barr, Doug Moench, José Luis Garcia-López, Klaus Janson, and others. Their efforts yielded unforgettable story arcs for comic book fans, such as “Shaman,” “Prey,” which redefined the evil and twisted Dr. Hugo Strange, “Gothic,” and “Venom,” the story that introduced the dangerous super steroid to a Santa Prisca prison inmate who would later be known as Bane.

On April 2, this influential anthology returns as a new DC Digital First series, Legends of the Dark Knight. Stories will be released digitally as 10-page weekly “chapters,” with two digital chapters making one print issue; issue #1 arrives in comic book stores on May 18Legends of the Dark Knight will serve as a place for both well-known and up-and-coming creative talent to tell new, evergreen stories, appealing to a wide variety of fans, all based on one of the most beloved and enduring characters in popular culture.

Legends of the Dark Knight kicks off with a six-part weekly/three-issue monthly tale, written and illustrated by Darick Robertson, with colors by Diego Rodriguez and letters by Simon Bowland. In “Bad Night, Good Knight,” a new player has arrived on the scene in Gotham City and is selling deadly chemicals to the worst villains in town: Mr. Freeze, the Penguin, and even The Joker! It’s up to Batman to stop the villains, track down the supplier, and save Gotham City from not only his most vicious foes, but this new mystery villain.

Future stories will showcase the talents of writers Stephanie Phillips, Becky Cloonan, Brandon Thomas, Matthew Rosenberg, Brandon Easton, Che Grayson, and comics writing newcomer Yedoye Travis.

Contributing artists include Cian Tormey, Giannis Milonogiannis, Karl Mostert, Max Dunbar, Dike Ruan, Belén Ortega, and Nina Vakueva.

The series debut issue features a dynamic cover by Robertson, with a card stock variant cover by David Marquez, 1:25 ratio variant cover by Riccardo Federici, and a special “teams” variant cover by Francesco Francavilla available to retailers ordering more than 250 copies. At the series digital launch on March 28, each digital chapter sells for $.99 on all participating digital platforms. Each 32-page monthly issue sells for $3.99, with the card stock variant priced at $4.99.

Preview: King in Black: Thunderbolts #2 (of 3)

King in Black: Thunderbolts #2 (of 3)

(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Juan Ferreyra (CA) Kyle Hotz
Rated T+
In Shops: Feb 10, 2021
SRP: $3.99

THE THUNDERBOLTS GET COMMITTED!
• The secret to saving the world lies within the Ravencroft Institute, but can the Thunderbolts get it out?
• Not if a mob of Knullified inmates have anything to say about it!
• The Thunderbolts’ plan to save the world is revealed, and it must be seen to be believed!

King in Black: Thunderbolts #2 (of 3)

Preview: Future State: Dark Detective #3

Future State: Dark Detective #3

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

In this issue, Bruce Wayne meets the next Batman! As the dark detective makes his move to put an end to the villainous Magistrate once and for all, the man who once wore the cowl encounters the next Batman-and these two have some questions for each other! Fists will fly as this explosive meeting erupts in the skies over Gotham…but with the clock ticking, can Bruce finish what he started and unlock the secrets of the fascist surveillance that plagues his city? And in “Grifters” part two, the lucky streak that Cole Cash and Luke Fox have enjoyed just hit a brick wall in the form of the Huntress! The over-the-top adventure in the gutters of Gotham City concludes in the most bone-crushing fashion possible!

Future State: Dark Detective #3

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)
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