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Review: The Flash #64

THE PRICE OF INNOCENCE, PART 2

The two greatest detectives in the DC Universe take on the one cold case that will tear them apart! As chief architect of the Sanctuary program that cost so much for so many, especially Wally West, Batman will be held accountable… by the Flash! A cold case from the Justice League’s past has mysteriously re-opened, and Batman and the Flash — the only two heroes who stand a chance of cracking the case — are at each other’s throats! Our heroes must combat a demon from the past while burying their own inner demons in the process… and neither the World’s Greatest Detective nor the Fastest Man Alive will ever be the same again! But who is really pulling the strings here? And how does Gotham Girl fit into all this? Friendships will be tested and blood will be spilled in this titanic crossover event…

Review: Heroes in Crisis #4

Heroes in Crisis #4

Booster Gold is captured by Wonder Woman. Harley is still on the run. Batman and The Flash are attempting to figure out who did it and Superman has a confession. There’s a lot packed into the fourth issue of Heroes in Crisis and it’s both good and bad making for rather mixed issue.

Writer Tom King continues his murder mystery with pages dedicated to the confessions from Sanctuary interspersed throughout. This exploration of the trauma heroes experience is some of the most interesting aspects of the maxi-series as it reminds us, the readers, that these giants are very much human. Heroes in Crisis #4 has some interesting ones, including Batgirl who references a certain infamous and controversial storyline, Blue Beetle who gives us some bromance, and Black Canary who… well it’s just solid in how it’s presented.

While the topic of PTSD runs throughout the four issues, the series is more focused on the murder mystery, who butchered the heroes in Sanctuary? This issue drops some hints as both the prime suspects, Booster and Harley, have their moments that point to their innocence… and maybe their guilt?

It’s an intriguing issue that really hints as to who may be behind it all with one aspect really being emphasized. Superman’s duality is explored as Lois has been receiving videos of the confessions from the medical facility (hello HIPAA violation). Videos that Batman claims have been erased. That’s clearly not the case pointing to the prime suspect, Sanctuary itself. Yes, there’s a chance that the program behind the facility is the actual murder and if that’s the case, this maxi-series may wind up being more eye roll than anything else. But, there’s a lot still to go in the story and things may still weave and change.

But, out of the four issues, there’s some things here that fans of DC Comics will want to see, primarily Booster Gold and Blue Beetle back together again. Why does that duo work so well? Beetle explains in the comic for those who might not “get it.” It’s some fantastic artwork and has me hoping for a Clay Mann Booster/Beetle series down the road. The presentation is solid and out of all of the moments, that’s the one that really stands out.

The art by Clay Mann is fantastic and the real draw to this issue (no pun intended). Along with Tomeu Morey on color and Clayton Cowles on lettering, the art is solid. There’s a proper focus and a few pages that really stand out. There’s the Batgirl confessional whose visuals tell you everything you need to know. There’s the pages of Booster and Beetle together which by the end will have you saying “f#!k yeah!” Then, there’s a 21 panel page between Batgirl and Harley Quinn that’s actually a little daring in how it’s told. But, there’s also some issues like a page spread of Lois Lane that’s a little too sexy to make sense at all as presented. It’s a bit pin-up and takes you out of the story.

There’s a lot to like about the issue with some humor breaking up the seriousness of the series and moments that have you looking forward to what comes next. Then there’s other moments like the Lois pin-up and a few scenes where it’s hard to tell when they happen that makes things a bit disjointed in flow and tone. It’s a mixed-bag of an issue for an otherwise intriguing event series and for a writer who generally nails these things. Hopefully it’s more a bump in the journey than a sign up things to come.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Heroes in Crisis #3

Tragedies deepen as more secrets behind the “superhero hospital” called Sanctuary are revealed! What compelled Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman to create it in the first place? How was it built? And if the hospital truly is alive via A.I., who – or what – is the brain of “Sanctuary?”

What is Sanctuary? We know this is the location heroes can go if they need help to deal with the issues they experience. It’s a hospital of sorts but up to this point, we don’t know much about it. This issue changes that as we learn how it all works and the more we learn, the more heartbreaking the series is.

Writer Tom King has delivered an issue that’s hard to not reflect upon and come out the other end rather depressed. Through various patients of the facility, we learn how Sanctuary works. We also learn those individuals’ pain. Why was Wally West there? What about Lagoon Boy? How about Booster Gold? King dives into them in various ways and reveals how much they hurt, each in their own way. And, that makes their deaths even more tragic and sad.

King reveals more regarding that as well as who the killer might be. But, the issue also throws up some flags that all might not be what it seems. I left it pondering if there’s not more going on and there still isn’t a rabbit hole for us readers to go through.

The art by Clay Mann and Lee Weeks with color by Tomeu Morey and lettering by Clayton Cowles is as fantastic as expected. It’s top notch work that has you focusing in on the details to enhance the emotional ride. The look on a character’s face or their body language says as much about what’s going on or how they feel as the words that King puts on the page.

This is a hell of a downer of an issue but it makes the story so far even more tragic. We’ve gone past the shock of it all to the point of realization of what has happened and who it has happened to. The team presents heroes not cut down in battle protecting the world but individuals murdered at their most vulnerable.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann, Lee Weeks
Color: Tomeu Morey Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Heroes in Crisis #2

Suspected of murder, [REDACTED] and [REDACTED] find themselves on the run from the super-hospital called Sanctuary -with each thinking the other one is the real killer! It’s up to Batman to solve this heinous crime, but suspicion falls on him when Superman and Wonder Woman ponder just how much Sanctuary’s A.I. is telling them. Meanwhile, [REDACTED] tries to make a shady deal to hide from the Trinity, while [REDACTED] searches out an old friend to help him out of this mess-and only gets deeper in trouble.

That’s a whole lot of “redacted” in that description and going into this comic with as little information as possible is helpful. Heroes in Crisis #2 not only deals with the fallout of the murder of an unknown amount of individuals, but also peels back more about Sanctuary and those that have visited it.

Writer Tom King balances a lot in this issue with a few tracks along the way. Harley is on the run both wanting to get caught and not at the same time. Her actions as presented make her a prime suspect as to the massacre at Sanctuary. The trio of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are on the hunt for her and it’s not the eventual confrontation that is the key moment, it’s what it reveals. King intelligently adds a wrinkle to the situation with that reveal, one that will make relationships rocky going forward.

But what of our other suspect? Booster is on the run as well deciding what to do and his decision is simple, try to find the killer. That also might mean him. Unfortunately, he’s kind of rambling and while we can say it’s the trauma of the situation, he’s not off the hook. His intentions make it seem like he might be but again King gives us just enough to leave him as a suspect. It also expands the story bringing in another hero impacted by the events.

While all of that would be more than enough to enjoy, King uses confessionals to dive deeper into our heroes. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman, are all explored showing each have deep trauma. No matter how much we think of them as together, they’re not. They have flaws and while brief, it’ll make you think of each of them and how their confessions add to their characters.

There’s also revelations of more murdered individuals, with one being a shocker. That leads to the most touching moment as one character mourns their loss. What’s said is sweet and beautiful in a way and gives us an emotional punch beyond the shock and anger we’ve seen.

Artists Clay Mann and Travis Moore, along with colorists Tomeu Morey and Arif Prianto, and letterer Clayton Cowles deliver a beautiful comic. It looks great on every level and a high profile comic like this deserves art like this. The characters are solid with much of the emotion delivered through their facial expressions. Teasing just enough for us to get the situation and where they’re at. There’s also solid transitions between scenes as the comic might go from a fight to a quieter moment in a page. And the art helps deliver those highs and lows of emotion from a high octane fight to mourning. What details are focused on add to the narrative.

The first issue was solid and second continues the pattern. This is an event you’ll likely either love or hate and I’m enjoying it as it explores layers we rarely see discussed when it comes to superheroes and all of that is wrapped up in a nice murder mystery.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann, Travis Moore
Color: Tomeu Morey, Arif Prianto Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Story: 8.15 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.2 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis is the next big DC event and it kicks off today! It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This is one you don’t want to miss and is sure to sell out.

Heroes in Crisis #1 is by Tom King, Clay Mann, Tomeu Morey, Clayton Cowles, Jamie S. Rich, and Brittany Holzherr.

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

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or 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: Heroes in Crisis #1

Heroes in Crisis #1 coverHeroes in Crisis #1 delivers a first issue that’s an emotional punch and continues writer Tom King‘s streak of delivering an emotional and personal experience. Inspired by the real world issue of how our soldiers handle PTSD, Heroes in Crisis ponders how does the superhero community handle it?

Enter Sanctuary, an ultra-secret place to help superheroes who’ve been traumatized by their experiences in protecting the world and fighting evil. But, what happens when this safe space is violated? Something goes wrong and heroes are dead with two individuals as the prime suspects. While the comic is a murder mystery, it’s as much about the failures of Sanctuary. There was safety. There was security. But something has gone horribly wrong and ripped that away.

King has had a knack of delivering an emotional and personal spin to his comics that have included The Omega Men, Batman, Sheriff of Babylon, and Mister Miracle. As a former CIA counterterrorism operative post-911 it’s clear that King is working through his experiences through entertainment. Each of these series seems to have a different aspect of what he’s internalized whether it’s trauma, tough decisions, or one’s role in the world. Heroes in Crisis is about heroes who have to live through violence to save the world, something that King himself most likely has experienced himself.

That personal spin to it all is one of the things that makes this stand out. The issue is split between or initial suspects who are together in a cafe and also DC trilogy of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Superman. While the suspects talk and have pie, the three heroes come across the scene of the crime. And King makes sure to deliver their emotional response. That feels like it jumps off of the page. All three are shaken no matter how stoic, cool, calm, and collected we generally think of them.

The stakes are raised as well with the suspects and who is murdered. There’s some high profile characters and some lesser knowns as well. That too ups the tension of it all as we the reader realize the impact that will reverberate throughout the DC Universe.

Clay Mann provides art, Tomeu Morey on colors, and Clayton Cowles with lettering and it’s fantastic. This wouldn’t work with another artist. There’s both a beauty and horror to it all with Mann delivering just enough detail but not over the top gore. Small details like a tear tell us so much as to what happens. We piece together the horrific events through the details much like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman do.

The comic is interwoven with “single camera confessionals.” Their body language delivers as much as their words. Mann’s focus on the movement of a head or hand is key in that sense. Morey’s colors too add so much to the storytelling. There’s just a tranquil aspect to it that hides the horror within. Some panels that are just amazing to look at put together and there’s a beauty to it all. Cowles’ lettering too is spot on with extra care taken, it seems, to use as little bubbles as possible. There’s just great placement to it all that helps frames some of the scenes driving one’s eye to the center of the action. A perfect example is scenes involving Booster Gold and Harley Quinn which combine the penciling, coloring, and lettering together for a near perfect artistic experience.

While we all claim we dislike comic events, Heroes in Crisis shows that there’s little reason to stop them. They deliver a break in story that can’t be told in any one series. They can also be of a quality that entertains, shocks, and has a deeper emotional impact all at once. And, they can be personal. Heroes in Crisis shows that even event comics can be more. If King has taught us anything from his past works, it’s that we’re in for a hell of a ride.

Story: Tom King Art: Clay Mann
Color: Tomeu Morey Lettering: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.0 Art: 10 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Batman #54

Dick Grayson-the original Robin-gets to spend some quality time fighting crime with his mentor for the first time since Batman popped the question to Catwoman. It’s a walk down memory lane as Bruce Wayne helps Dick get over the loss of his high-flying acrobat parents, which in turn led to his crime-fighting career.

Have you ever read a comic that you know was a filler issue? The quality of the story an the art just didn’t match what had come before. Something was off? Batman #54 is the filler issue of writer Tom King‘s impressive run. For the first time I got a sense of a comic which was thrown into the mix to create a breather and some padding.

The issue explores the relationship between Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne as both father and adopted son and as Batman and Nightwing. There’s some aspects that are great, including a running joke about Batman’s D-List villains. But, there’s an emotional disconnect that creates a distance between the reader and the subjects. Where Batman should be emotional, really cold and uptight, he instead comes off as a douche. This isn’t someone we want to help, this is an asshole we want to let stew in his misery.

King attempts to slide the emotions throughout the issue. In the beginning Bruce is the caring one, helping Dick cope with his loss. Dick acts like you’d expect a child to act in numerous ways. We can have empathy for him and his reactions seem natural. As Dick grows up, Bruce feels like he’s more detached. This could be his war as Batman is weighing on him but you’d expect some distance in the beginning as well. Instead at the middle point he’s already cold and uncaring. It’s odd and due to it, it’s kind of surprising Dick is helping him post being stood up at the alter. He’s a jerk at this point and emotionally distant. He’s the cold, uncaring parent.

Later in the story, things are switched with Dick attempting to help Bruce but unlike the emotional child reactions of a young Dick Grayson, we’re presented again with the cold lack of feeling that we experience in the middle of their relationship. Dick is expecting him to show emotion when it’s clear he hasn’t for some time. Dick is expecting a reaction we are shown shouldn’t be expected.

There’s a disconnect there and also with the more affable Bruce we’ve seen over these years. It’s hard to care for his well-being after reading this.

Then there’s Matt Wanger‘s art. The cover, where he’s joined by Brennan Wagner is fantastic. The interiors, where he’s joined by colorist Tomeu Morey, are lacking. The style just doesn’t quite work though Wagner does do a solid job of juxtaposing the time frames. Detail feels like it’s lacking. Poses are awkward. Perspectives don’t look right. And the coloring doesn’t work either beyond one panel where you can’t tell if a line on Batman’s cheek is lighting or a tear.

Awkwardness abounds in this issue which just stumbles at every opportunity. A story which relies on emotional connection doesn’t give us any reason to care for a character’s well-being and connect with them. They’re cold and leaves the reader much the same.

Story: Tom King Art: Matt Wagner
Color: Tomeu Morey Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Cover: Matt Wagner, Brennan Wagner
Story: 5.0 Art: 5.0 Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Catwoman/Tweety & Sylvester Special #1

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got the return of Looney Tunes and DC Comics coming together for a series of one-shot specials!

Catwoman/Tweety & Sylvester Special #1 is by Gail Simone, Inaki Miranda, Eva De La Cruz, Taylor Esposito, Emanuela Lupacchino, Tomeu Morey, Sandy Jarrell, Shea Fontana, Walter Carzon, Horacio Ottolini, Silvana Brys, and Wes Abbott.

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

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology or 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: DC’s Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special

It’s Wednesday which means it’s new comic book day with new releases hitting shelves, both physical and digital, all across the world. This week we’ve got a summer special!

DC’s Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special is by:

“WORST FINEST“
A JOKER/BIZARRO STORY
Lee Bermejo – Writer
Francesco Mattina – Artist
Tom Napolitano – Letters

“HELP“
A LEX LUTHOR STORY
Jeff Loveness – Writer
David Williams – Artist
Steve Buccellato – Colors
Carlos Mangual – Letters

“CLOSE SHAVE“
A MR. FREEZE STORY
Paul Dini – Writer
John Paul Leon – Artist
Deron Bennett – Letters

“FALSE IDOLS“
A CHEETAH STORY
Vita Ayala – Writer
Amancay Nahuelpan – Artist
June Chung – Colors
Clayton Cowles – Letters

“ICY EMBRACE“
A BLACK MANTA STORY
Gabriel Hardman & Corinna Bechko – Writers
Gabriel Hardman – Artist
Matthew Wilson – Colors
Deron Bennett – Letters

“GIGANTA STRONG“
A GIGANTA STORY
Michael Moreci – Writer
Max Raynor – Artist
Paul Mounts – Colors
Dave Sharpe – Letters

“CRUEL SUMMER“
A GORILLA GRODD STORY
Tim Seeley – Writer
Minkyu Jung – Artist
John Kalisz – Colors
Tom Napolitano – Letters

“DOG DAYS OF SUMMER“
A DEATHSTROKE STORY
Shea Fontana – Writer
Carlos D’Anda – Artist
Luis Guerrero – Colors
Carlos Mangual – Letters

“PERFECT GENTLEMAN“
A PENGUIN STORY
Daniel Kibblesmith – Writer
Laura Braga – Artist
Arif Prianto – Colors
Dave Sharpe – Letters

“INDEPENDENCE“
A CRIME SYNDICATE STORY
Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing – Writers
Giuseppe Camuncoli – Pencils
Cam Smith – Inks
Tomeu Morey – Colors
Clayton Cowles – Letters

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

Amazon/Kindle/comiXology

 

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: Batman #50

It’s the wedding you never thought you’d see! The Batrimony is real as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are set to tie the knot in a can’t-miss, extra-length milestone issue that will reshape Gotham City. All their friends (and a few enemies?) will be party to a comic book coupling for the ages.

The build up has been coming for a while now and with Batman #50 writer Tom King answers the question as to whether Batman and Catwoman tie the knot.

The issue is done in an interesting way with what amounts to two page spreads with generally half dedicated to Batman’s preparation for the day and the other half for Catwoman’s. In between these normal panel pages, there’s full page images by some top art talent on top of which we’re presented the two’s thoughts about their meeting and what they’re about to do.

While the “will they or won’t they” has been spoiled the comic is interesting as it delves into the thought process of two individuals who are clearly nervous about tying the knot and if they do what it means.

Catwoman isn’t a hero, she’s a criminal.

Batman is a hero. He’s a hero driven by his pain.

If they were to get married, what does that mean for each of them? Can Batman be happy? These are the types of thoughts that run throughout the comic as the two characters explore their love for each other. And that’s the impressive thing, Tom King convinces you that these two love each other. By the end, you’re convinced there’s no one else for these two.

And that spoiling? Well, not quite. There’s a twist but you’ll have to read the comic yourself and go elsewhere.

The issues with the comic is the hype and a build up that doesn’t pay off. The quality of the narrative is excellent, it all just doesn’t quite live up to the lead up and the end result is rather predictable. A single panel does not make a comic and this one relies heavily on that final panel.

The art duties are mainly handled by Mikel Janin with colors by June Chung and lettering by Clayton Cowles. The art is solid and there’s some fantastic page layouts. The way some of these pages are laid out is impressive with very creative visual storytelling. What’s also interesting is the use of pin-ups to tell the story as well. There was a similar thing done in Action Comics #1000 and here it sort of works. The artwork is fantastic, there’s some talent. But, it breaks up the story a bit and after a while becomes a little tedious. When the big picture comes in to focus, the choice is an interesting one and adds a poetic aspect, somewhat appropriate considering what’s happening.

This is a chapter in King’s larger story. There’s much more to come as things weave together and that final panel indicates we’ve got a hell of a lot of excitement to come. As a single issue, this one has its good and its bad but as a piece of the larger puzzle it fits like a perfectly crafted piece of the larger picture.

Story: Tom King Art: Mikel Janín
Pin-up Art: David Finch, Joëlle Jones, Mitch Gerads, Rafael Albuquerque, Neal Adams, Andy Kubert, Becky Cloonan, Ty Templeton, José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Frank Miller, Lee Bermejo, trish Mulvihill, Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson, Alex Sinclair, Hi-Fi, Tony S. Daniel, Tomeu Morey, Amanda Conner, Paul Mounts, Tim Sale, José Villarrubia, Paul Pope, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Greg Capullo, FCO Plascencia, Lee Weeks
Color: June Chung Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Story: 7.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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