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Review: I Am Batman #0

John Ridley delivers the start of Jace Fox’s next chapter and steps to becoming Batman.

Story: John Ridley
Art: Travel Foreman
Ink: Norm Rapmund
Color: Rex Lokus
Letterer: Dave Lanphear

Get your copy 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.

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Review: I Am Batman #0

I Am Batman #0

In DC’s Future State, we met a new Batman, Jace Fox. The future Gotham has turned into a neon fascist nightmare where masks are outlawed and the Gotham PD are overshadowed by a private military police force called the Magistrate. The result created a nightmare future where Batman was the enemy and freedom as an illusion. When DC launched its current line and focus, the Batman comics started to lay the ground for that nightmare future. One of those series was The Next Batman: Second Son which laid the groundwork for Jace’s new role. I Am Batman is the next chapter in Jace’s evolution as he takes his first steps in the Batman persona.

Writer John Ridley returns to tell Jace’s story and continues to explore how his family dynamic and past mistakes drive his focus. Ridley’s storytelling has a brilliance about it. He does an amazing job of balancing outright telling the reader what they need to know and seeding enough hints and details for them to put things together themselves.

What Ridley also gives us is a flawed hero. Jace messes up, a lot. He doesn’t know everything he’s doing and we’re really getting an “origin’ story with some pretty hard lessons for the hero to learn. And that extends beyond just the physical part. Jace has to deal with public relations and perception as well and due to the past Ridley has driven home, we understand why.

But, Ridley also delivers a story that has relevance. The issue’s tension, at multiple times, is about the clashes between the Gotham PD and protestors. It’s hard not to think about Black Lives Matter and the real life protests that regularly occurred over the past year. Ridley is a master of mixing entertainment and social relevance.

Travel Foreman‘s art is good though never quite excites. With ink by Norm Rapmund, color by Rex Lokus, and lettering by Dave Lanphear, the art does its job of conveying the tension, emotion, and action. But, it misses the mark for those iconic moments. The comic’s art works best during the quieter moments like when Jace has trouble talking to a potential romantic interest. The protests, and Batman’s moments, never quite deliver the punch needed. It does well but not great.

I Am Batman #0 is a nice bridge from the previous series and this one. We get to see Jace’s initial steps as Batman after his discovery in the previous series. We get more of his thoughts, motivation, and his view as to what he needs to do next to succeed. It gives us a flawed individual who we can see grow and while we might not always agree with what he does, we can understand his viewpoint. It gives us a well-rounded character that could very well be the future of the DC Universe.

Story: John Ridley Art: Travel Foreman
Ink: Norm Rapmund Color: Rex Lokus Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Story: 9.0 Art: 7.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Next Batman: Second Son #4

Jace is attempting to turn his life around. As one chapter ends for him a new one begins as this mini-series wraps up.

Story: John Ridley
Art: Travel Foreman
Ink: Norm Rapmund, Le Beau Underhood
Color: Rex Lokus
Letterer: Andworld Design

Get your copy 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
Zeus Comics
TFAW


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: DC Pride #1

DC Pride #1

In honor of Pride Month, DC Comics dropped DC Pride #1, an 80 page anthology featuring short stories with LGBTQ+ characters by mainly LGBTQ+ creators. In addition to the stories, there’s an introduction by prominent gay comics writer Marc Andreyko (Manhunter, Love is Love) and pinups by some of the best LGBTQ+ artists (and artists period) like Sophie Campbell, Nick Robles, and Kevin Wada. The overall tone of the anthology is celebratory, but one story definitely made me tear up. I really enjoyed how DC Pride touched all corners of the LGBTQ umbrella and its exploration of how our differences make us stronger and really hope that one day all the characters featured in the book can have their own comic.

After the aforementioned introduction by Andreyko and a vibrant pinup of queer Teen Titans Aqualad, Bunker, Traci-13, and Crush from Travis Moore, DC Pride #1 leads off with a Batwoman story from James Tynion and Trung Le Nguyen. It starts with a look back at Kate Kane’s childhood, and how she didn’t conform to traditional gender roles and desires beginning with the games she would play with her sister Beth (Now the supervillain Alice) where they would pretend to be dolls complete with makeup, frilly dresses, and the accoutrements of traditional femininity. There’s almost a fairy tale cadence to both Tynion’s writing and Nguyen’s art as Kate grows up, finds love in the arms of a variety of women, and forges an identity as the superhero, Batwoman. Trung Le Nguyen’s flat reds and blacks punctuate these changes while James Tynion’s script takes a macro-level to the theme of pride as they show a montage of various queer heroes in the DC Universe fighting their battles and being themselves. This opening story is a fine encapsulation of Batwoman’s character journey and also is an ode to embracing queerness and gender conformity in a heteronormative world. Plus Nguyen’s story book style applied to superhero comics is a real visual treat.

estrano and midnighter

The next story was one of my favorites as Steve Orlando returns to Midnighter (kind of) and Extraño as the magician regales John Constantine with a tale of a night out with the violent vigilante. Orlando and artist Stephen Byrne’s story is pure fanservice and adventure in the best way with iconic visual and verbal moments like Midnighter punching a Nazi vampire’s head off and John Constantine flirting with Extraño at a bar and totally being open to a threesome with Extraño and his werewolf husband. This story is mostly made up of fun things like one-liners, magic, and mayhem. However, Steve Orlando digs a little deeper with his script and commentates on how queer history is rewritten by bigoted historians with lovers becoming relatives (Like in the original Sailor Moon English dub) or “pals” as Midnighter and Extraño fight the aforementioned vampire to stop him from casting a spell that makes people think the mythological heroes Achilles and Patroclus were cousins, not lovers. This is a very real issue, and it’s vindicating to watch Midnighter and Extraño kick the asses of those who would straight-wash history in a thrilling, beautiful way thanks to Orlando’s witty script and Byrne’s power-packed visuals.

The third story in DC Pride is a noir-tinged saga of dark alleys, fisticuffs, and political activism starring Renee Montoya aka The Question from Vita Ayala, Skylar Partridge, and Jose Villarrubia. The plot is fairly straightforward with the Question tracking down missing defense attorney and city council candidate Valeria Johnson. Partridge and Villarrubia bring the dark shadows, atmosphere, and flat background colors when Montoya puts the fear of her into some loutishly heterosexual goons. I love how Skylar Partridge uses inset panels to show Montoya’s speed and skill and match Ayala’s snappy narrative captions. The whole story looks gorgeous, and there’s also a hint of budding romance between Renee Montoya and Valeria Johnson as the latter isn’t just a do-gooder damsel in distress. It definitely feels like a backdoor pilot for a Renee Montoya Question series, and I would love to see more of this creative team fleshing her and her relationship with Valeria out.

The Question story is followed by a hilarious and touching Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy story from Mariko Tamaki, Amy Reeder, and Marissa Louise. Basically, this anti-heroic duo stop a plant monster from going on a rampage (After giving it several cute pet names.) and talk about their relationship. Underneath Louise’s candy-meets-body horror palette and Reeder’s memorable facial expressions and high-wire layouts, they chat about going from the “will they, won’t they” stage to the moving in and starting a life stage. Tamaki’s script is peppered with jokes (Including a classic lesbian U-Haul one.), but she also once and for all shows that Harley and Ivy are a well-matched, occasionally wacky queer couple, and that they’ve brought a lot of support and laughs into each other’s lives. Also, Harley’s hammer should always have a Kirby face on it.

Alan Scott and Obsidian

Full disclosure: Sam Johns, Klaus Janson, and Dave McCaig’s Alan Scott and Obsidian story was the one that made me cry. At brunch with Obsidian and his partner, the Golden Age Green Lantern opens up to his estranged son and tells him that Obsidian’s confidence to live as an out gay man encouraged him to finally come out and be his full, true self to the world. Janson uses nine panel grids, Ben-Day dots, and a command of 1940s fashion to show Alan’s secret romance with a train conductor named Jimmy and also walk down memory lane when being gay was a crime and gay bars were shuttered and didn’t have liquor licenses. As well as expanding on Alan Scott coming out in the main DC continuity in Infinite Frontier, this story is an homage to queer elders and their struggles in a world where they could be jailed or even killed holding someone of the same gender’s hand in public. It’s a beautiful intergenerational story and really made me fall in love with Alan Scott as a character even more. He’s the queer grandpa I never had.

The sixth story in DC Pride #1is a fast-moving, romantic story from Danny Lore, Lisa Sterle, and Enrica Erin Angiolini about Jess Chambers (Future State Flash) getting ready for their date with Andy Curry aka Aquawoman. This pair had fantastic chemistry in Future State: Justice League, and it’s nice to see a story centered around their relationship that also riffs on the classic Flash tropes of lateness, Rogues, and legacy. As Jess faces off against Reflek, who was trained by Mirror Master, Sterle and Angiolini get play with different panel shapes simulating the speedster trying to break free from a hall of mirrors while trying to get their outfit, makeup, and gift together. Also, it’s refreshing to see a story featuring a nonbinary character not be all about their gender identity, but focus on action and relationships like any other Flash story. Andy and Jess have a nice thing going, and like many of the other characters who appear in this anthology, I hope to see more of them, their impeccable fashion senses, and cool superpowers in future DC titles.

DC Pride #1 returns to the intergenerational queerness well in a Pied Piper story from Sina Grace, Ro Stein, and Ted Brandt. They introduce a new character, Drummer Boy, who is inspired by Pied Piper to create mind-controlling beats so that he can take money from rich fat cats and save Central City’s gayborhood from gentrification, which is a very real problem in real life today. Drummer Boy calling out Pied Piper’s photo ops and not taking direct action since he’s been rich and famous is something that could be directed at many LGBTQ+ celebrities like Ru Paul, who literally uses his wealth to destroy the Earth. This issue creates a real fantasy in which LGBTQ+ celebrities help their community instead of palling around with war criminals at NFL games while Grace gets in some licks about being smart with one’s direct action and abilities when Pied Piper points out that if Drummer Boy steals money off rich people’s credit cards that they’ll just contest the charges. Drummer Boy has a real activist streak as a hero, and I love the energy that Stein and Brandt visually bring to his powers as well as not making him look like the average Ken-doll superhero body type.

The penultimate story in DC Pride #1introduces the transgender superhero Dreamer, who first appeared in the Supergirl television show, to the comics in a story written by Nicole Maines (Who played Dreamer in the show) and with art by Rachael Stott and Enrica Erin Angolini. Dreamer’s debut is a slice of story as she rushes to clean up a League of Shadows cell before rushing off to date night with Brainiac 5. Maines’ script has a cheery, humorous tone with a hilarious final panel, and Dreamer makes a lot of quips to go with Stott’s acrobatic fight choreography that is still good at showing motion even though her art style is more photorealistic. There’s a big feeling of wanting to get the fights over with so that Dreamer can spend time with the man she loves, and this story could honestly be one big metaphor for work/life balance. Dreamer makes her mark with charm and wholesomeness in the story, and her oneiromantic abilities have real visual flair.

Jackson Hyde

DC Pride #1 wraps up with a superhero spin on a big damn Pride parade with Andrew Wheeler, Luciano Vecchio, and Rex Lokus chronicling Aqualad’s first Pride since coming out with his new friend (and Extraño’s apprentice) Syl. Lokus’ colors match the tone of the story from bright and triumphant to dark and dreary as Eclipso has everyone at Pride airing out their worst thoughts and finally triumphant again with a group of DC’s LGBTQ+ superheroes led by Extraño saving the day and being the true, queer selves in the process. This story is a true victory lap, but Wheeler spends a little time in Aqualad’s head as he takes in the sights and sounds of Pride and also grapples with not wanting to be like his father, the villainous Black Manta. Even though everyone feels isolated and alone when targeted by Eclipso, there is actually a large, vibrant LGBTQ+ community of heroes in the DC Universe and hopefully they show up in stories beyond this anthology, which has honestly been a recurring theme as I read through the stories in DC Pride #1.

DC Pride #1 is a fantastic showcase not just for DC Comics’ LGBTQ+ characters, but the company’s LGBTQ+ creators too as they capture a range of relationships, feelings, sexualities, and gender identities. There’s a lot of focus on established romantic relationships, but some of the stories explore activism, community, and the Midnighter/Extrano/John Constantine is a straight up adventure yarn. I enjoyed seeing myself and my queer siblings uplifted in this comic and hope DC can do something more ongoing with these characters, situations, and especially creators.

Story: James Tynion IV, Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala, Mariko Tamaki
Sam Johns, Danny Lore, Sina Grace, Nicole Maines, Andrew Wheeler
Art: Trung Le Nguyen, Stephen Byrne, Skylar Partridge, Amy Reeder, Klaus Janson
Lisa Sterle, Ro Stein and Ted Brandt, Rachael Stott, Luciano Vecchio
Colors: Jose Villarrubia, Marissa Louise, Dave McCaig, Enrica Erin Angiolini, Rex Lokus
Letters: Aditya Bidikar, Josh Reed, Ariana Maher, Tom Napolitano, Becca Carey, Steve Wands
Story: 9.8 Art: 10 Overall: 9.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: The Next Batman: Second Son #3

What’s the secret of Jace Fox? What’s the lawsuit that’s being hinted at? What’s his “origin”? Find out in The Next Batman: Second Son #3.

Story: John Ridley
Art: Travel Foreman
Ink: Norm Rapmund, Mark Morales
Color: Rex Lokus
Letterer: Andworld Design

Get your copy 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.

comiXology
Kindle
Zeus Comics
TFAW


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: The Next Batman: Second Son #1

The Next Batman: Second Son #1

DC‘s Digital First series have been knocking it out of the park. The digital comics have been engaging, intriguing, and feel like they’re comics we might not otherwise see on the printed page. They give creators a new avenue for their voices to be heard and generally allowed them to do so without having to worry about continuity. The Next Batman: Second Son #1 kicks off the newest series that interestingly has some major ramifications for Batman’s pocket of the DC Universe.

Tim “Jace” Fox is the estranged son of billionaire Lucius Fox and man of mystery…what has the eldest son of one Gotham’s premiere families been up to for these ‘missing’ years and how does he find himself getting shot at in the jungles of Vietnam? The Next Batman: Second Son #1 kicks off a series that’ll have some repercussions and part of a dark future for Batman.

Writer John Ridley is absolutely brilliant. He’s known for so many thought-provoking releases, he’s a creator that I’ll read or so whatever he’s involved in. In “Future State” Ridley has driven Jace’s story and his role as the future Batman. The Next Batman: Second Son #1 gives us the pieces to that path and kicks things off with a James Bond-esque adventure.

Ridley doesn’t tell us a ton about the who or the why, instead of focuses on Jace’s abilities, actions, and personality. The opening chapter is the opening 15 minutes of a Bond film dropping our hero into the middle of the action without explanation. We just accept the direction and the cool and overlook what we don’t know. It’s a ride that sets the tone. By the end of the issue we get a good sense of who Jace is and what we should expect as far as the character going forward. It plants the flag as to who our protagonist is.

The art by Tony Akins, with breakdowns by Ryan Benjamin, is interesting. There’s such a fantastic sense of action in the comic that really feels like a solid Bond adventure. Mark Morales provides inks, with Rex Lokus on color, and lettering by Deron Bennett. It all comes together for a sense of cool but subtle visual details let us know that Jace is still learning. There’s one glaring issue for me in the final two panels of the digital comic as Jace returns to his apartment and finds a visitor. The panels should be flipped going Jace then visitor not visitor then Jace. That might have been an issue with my digital copy but it’s something that stands out taking the wind out of the up to that point excellent ride.

The Next Batman: Second Son #1 is an intriguing series as it looks to have some major implications for the print comics of Batman. It’s a digital series that’s going to be a “major player” and one to keep one’s eye on. Luckily, it’ll eventually make it’s way to print but this is one you won’t want spoiled for you.

Story: John Ridley Art: Tony Akins Breakdowns: Ryan Benjamin
Ink: Mark Morales Color: Rex Lokus Letterer: Deron Bennett
Story: 8.0 Art: 7.75 Art: 7.95 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: The Next Batman: Second Son #1

The Next Batman: Second Son #1

Written by John Ridley
Pencils Tony Akins
Inks Mark Morales
Colored by Rex Lokus
Cover by Doug Braithwaite
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Meet Tim “Jace” Fox, estranged son of billionaire Lucius Fox and man of mystery…what has the eldest son of one Gotham’s premiere families been up to for these ‘missing’ years and how does he find himself getting shot at in the jungles of Vietnam? Learn these answers and many more as the story of the SECOND SON begins!

The Next Batman: Second Son #1

Review: DCeased: Hope at World’s End #6

DCeased: Hope at World's End #6

DCeased: Hope at World’s End has been an interesting venture for DC Comics and its DC Digital First initiative. The series has been a mix of one-shot reads and interconnected issues, though the latter is rare. DCeased: Hope at World’s End #6 feels like the first release that’s the middle of a story. It’s the middle section of an arc and with that, it’s very different than what’s come before.

The issues revolves around the stand at Jotunhueim as Black Adam and his Anti-Life forces numbering in the millions attack. It’s a desperate situation and one that you just expect the worst. There’s little hope or a clear path for those hunkered down to survive.

That feeling of desperation partially comes from what writer Tom Taylor has set up so far in the previous five issues. This is a series mixed with sorrow and hope. When things look good there’s a moment where the rug is pulled out from under you. With most of the chapters so far, there’s an “oh no” moment when you get hit in the gut with how bad things are and tragedy strikes.

This being a “middle chapter” there’s a mix of things here as well. The survivors do what they can, including trying to find help. There’s a creative moment where there’s a glimpse of hope and then things begin to collapse and you expect the worst. Taylor gives us those trope-ish moments that one might expect in a last stand (someone heads off for help but will they get back in time!?) and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s expected but also gives us some moments of true emotion from the characters.

The art by Renato Guedes is pretty solid. DCeased: Hope at World’s End #6 feels like the weakest chapter so far when it comes to the art. There’s some characters that feel off to me but they’re also characters I’m generally unaware of so I don’t know if that’s how they’re supposed to look. The characters are elongated and avian like but that could be by design. Compared to other characters it’s a bit noticeable and for those unfamiliar, it might look off. There are also some moments that should be jaw-dropping that never reach that aspect. A mountain is cleaved in two and that you’d expect a splash page for the ages but what’s shown doesn’t quite deliver. It looks good but doesn’t reach the level of great. Rex Lokus‘ colors are solid as well as Saida Temofonte‘s lettering.

DCeased: Hope at World’s End #6 isn’t bad in any way. It’s a middle chapter so not a place to start and not an issue you can pick up and dive in to. It has its roller coaster of a ride moments and leaves us awaiting the next chapter to see what happens next. As part of the larger picture, it does its job well but this isn’t a chapter that really stands on its own. As part of the series its a nice chapter and for those who have been reading, you should enjoy it. For those new to the series, there’s other places to start.

Story: Tom Taylor Art: Renato Guedes
Ink: Renato Guedes Color: Rex Lokus Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Preview: DCeased: Hope At World’s End #5

DCeased: Hope At World’s End #5

Written by Tom Taylor
Pencils Marco Failla
Inks Marco Failla
Colored by Rex Lokus
Lettered by Saida Temofonte
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Damian, Jon, and Cassie take a trip to the deadliest place on Earth—Gotham City! Damian has unfinished business in the fallen city and his best friends aren’t going to leave him to face it alone. A Trinity team-up for the ages!

DCeased: Hope At World's End #5
Almost American
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