Thursday, 20 February 2014

Issue #37: Why Avengers 3 won't be The Infinity Gauntlet.

Yes, yes, long time between blogs and all that.  Here’s a few thoughts on how an old classic relates to a modern audience, and a couple of DC number ones for you.

The Infinity Gauntlet   I decided to finally read this old thing when Comixology put in on sale for about five or six bucks, and while I was expecting to get something perhaps a little rough around the edges, I was also looking for a little insight into where the Marvel movie universe is likely headed, with community rumours and internet speculation pointing me in the direction of The Infinity Gauntlet, I was expecting a rough draft of Avengers 3.

After about three seconds of contemplation I’m left with the impression that anyone who may have put forward the idea that the appearance of Thanos at the end of The Avengers is evidence of The Infinity Gauntlet being made into a film has either not read it in a very long time, or not read it at all, because almost the only things that could be successfully retained from this book in a translation to film are Thor, Thanos, and the gauntlet itself.  This story in it’s original format is unfilmable for so many reasons:

 Thanos lives on a stone monument that floats in space that he has built to honour Death (yes, Grim Reaper Death), who also appears as a woman at times.  Thanos, you see, seems to want nothing more than to fuck Death.  Big purple alien with magic glove has space boner for mute skeleton woman.  Not exactly a premise to hang your billion dollar movie franchise on.

          To win Death’s favour, Thanos clicks his Infinity Gauntlet clad fingers and snuffs out half the life in the entire universe.  Bit OP, and a huge plothole is created later when Thanos is happy to get punched up for a bit by a few supeheroes.  Modern audiences just won’t buy a truly omnipotent villain.

     Hanging out with Thanos on his little floating rock are his grand daughter Nebula (possibly turning up in Guardians Of The Galaxy?), who Thanos leaves in a miserable zombified state from the start of the book, Thanos’s brother Eros, who looks suspiciously human, whose mouth Thanos has removed, and Mephisto, who is pretty much Marvel Satan.  Call me old fashioned, but there’s just too much weird shit for the opening ten minutes of a film here.

      Apart from Thor, The Infinity Gauntlet is a bit light-on for the Avengers.  Sure, they’re all in it (just try and forget The Hulk’s spiffy open-chest brown jumpsuit), but the main players here are Doctor Strange, Adam Warlock (both yet to be introduced in the Marvel movie universe), and The Silver Surfer (the film rights of whom still belong to Fox).  There’ll need to be more than a few witty Tony Stark quips to keep Joe Popcorn from yelling “WTF” at the screen for this one.

           Spoilers, but the final act sees Adam Warlock talk Thanos into being a good guy.  Groooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn………….

Is it a good comic though?  Well, if you like your nostalgic space Marvel I guess it’s okay, but it’s a bit of a difficult one to recommend.  It’s just so weird, and not in that wonderful bizarre comic book way, more of suspend disbelief / get confused way.  There’s some cool shit here, just not enough to fit together into something cohesive and memorable.  The Infinity Gauntlet stands as an old monument to the tentative first steps of what has become known as the Marvel event, and in 2014 is really only for the morbidly curious.

Justice League 3000 #1   I’m not sure exactly what it is, but DC’s future stuff just does not sit well with me at all.  For some reason I thought I might be into Justice League 3000, after all it’s quite a nice looking book, with 3K Batman looking particularly cool, but it soon reminded me that the year 3000 is a time period in the DC Universe I have no interest in.  The premise of a cloned Justice League, the members of which are less powerful, and also complete jerks, does little to buck the trend, and I’m sure they’ll grow to be better but I’m just not invested at all, and I doubt most people would be either.  This will be on the chopping block before it makes twelve issues, I’m calling it.

Harley Quinn #1   During Villains Month last year, issue #23.2 of Detective Comics was “taken over” to become Harley Quinn #1, an issue I really enjoyed, and while I had some small reservations upon hearing the same team would not be retained for the full time book, I’m glad to report the take on the character from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti improves on that one shot I liked so much.  The schizophrenic issue #0 that preceded this is also well worth a look, but what we have to look forward to with Harley Quinn is a Bat-universe book that truly shows that world through different eyes.  It’s not set in Gotham though; this opens with Harley moving to Coney Island after inheriting an apartment building from a deceased patient (the details of this story are as yet untold).  Trouble follows, as we learn someone has taken out a contract on our unfazed anti-heroine.  This is a cool book, and if I had any room in my comic book budget I’d pick up Harley in a heartbeat.

One more thing, if by some chance you haven't seen it, how much fun does Guardians Of The Galaxy look?

Thanks kids.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Issue #36: Now my eyes can go back to normal.

I finally found the time to get through the last twelve issues of Villains Month.  Much like my reviews for the New 52 number ones that birthed this blog, there were highs and lows, and this week was no exception.

My Villain Of The Week for week 4 is......


 You can read my opinion of Man-Bat below!

I have more comics to read in the huge pile I picked up last week which I will hopefully post some thoughts on in the next couple of days.  For now, I hope you enjoy my thoughts on the final week of Villains Month.

Batman #23.4  Bane #1   This issue sees Bane revered by his followers as he sails north to Gotham to take advantage of Batman’s absence, even as he seemingly spends the entire trip punching them all to death.  Weird, but darkly humourous, especially when he backhands a little girl even as she thanks him for breaking the back of her abusive father.  We don’t learn much more about Bane other than that he likes to constantly hurt people, and that while his intentions are to take over Gotham, there’s no explanation about his motivations or what he exactly intends to do once he does.  Perhaps this leaves a little more room in Forever Evil: Arkham War to flesh out, as this issue serves as a precursor to that series.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5. Quite a nice one, while a little blurry here and there, shows nice depth with the hoses, Bane’s head and the arms in relation to each other.

The Dark Knight #23.4  Joker’s Daughter #1   Seeing this one on the list, I wondered just exactly how/when/what the fuck happens for The Joker to have a full grown daughter, but there’s nothing biological going on at all.  Duela lives below the streets of Gotham alone, but nearby a small community that shuns society on the surface.  Everyone down here is loopy to some extent, but through an origin story we discover Duela was always a screw loose.  When she recovers the discarded face of The Joker in the water, she decides to wear it, and adopt a more authoritative attitude, overturning the small subterranean society and earning title of Joker’s Daughter from her subjects.  This one didn’t really grab me at all, because Duela isn’t clever, likable in a villainous way, or even that interesting.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  The illusion of the Joker face held in front of the character’s face is spot on for the kind of effect these covers have been attempting.  A great example of the 3D effect done properly.

Action Comics #23.4  Metallo #1   Metallo walks through darkness as he recounts his tale to himself, how he was a comatose experiment until the military decided to juice him up with kryptonite.  It’s a bit of an old school treatment, as simply placing a large shard of Superman’s homeworld into a cavity in his chest seems to make all the difference, but I’ll take it.  Metallo is vengeful after General Lane follows an order to explode Metallo’s plane over the ocean following a mission where Metallo levels a civilian hospital, but the cool part is when he emerges from the sea on a beach, and we learn the dark environment he has been travelling through is the ocean floor because he is too heavy to swim.  There’s been better Superman villain one shots from this series, this one is merely okay, but it wins extra points at the end where Metallo accepts an invitation from Scarecrow to join the Secret Society – refreshing, given the high number of villains that have opted out.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Blurry as hell background and not very good use of depth given the original concept of the image.  It looks like it should jump, but doesn’t.

Justice League Of America #7.4  Black Adam #1   I consider Black Adam to be one of the most powerful bad guys in the DC universe, who utilises brute strength, dark magic and a bad attitude to make himself a worthy adversary to anyone on the Justice League.  This issue tells of his resurrection following his defeat at the hands of Shazam earlier this year, and presents in a more sympathetic light as I defender of his people.  Not sure if it’s a take I can get on board with, but at least it breaks away from the monster-on-a-mindless-trail-of-destruction narrative that has already popped up a few times in Villains Month.  Edgar Salazar’s artwork seems a little inconsistent here but the good stuff looks really good, and on the whole the book stands stronger than many of the titles in this series.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.   Could’ve won top marks, with Tony Daniel’s Adam looking suitably menacing, but it’s the effect mostly being judged here and those foreground hands just won’t focus no matter which way you slice it.

Green Lantern #23.4  Sinestro #1   Lyssa Drak and Sinestro should just get a room, because as she floats aimlessly in space, all she can think about is Sinestro and how awesome and perfect his ego is, and she doesn’t mind wasting this issue telling us.  This one functions as an introduction to Sinestro, but it’s not very good – I’m not a regular Lantern reader and even I knew all this shit.  His green again/yellow again antics are mentioned, his friendship with Abin Sur is here, and well, blah blah blah.  I liked the intricate borders around all the flashback pages, but really this one let me down.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  The foreground of Sinestro’s construct hurts to look at but everything else looks great, especially the planet in the background.

Batman / Superman #3.1  Doomsday #1   Again, DC have decided to brand the title to a big seller rather than a title that is relevant to what is happening.  There’s no Superman as you know him here, and Batman has nothing to do with this – Supergirl 23.1 would be much more appropriate as Kara is the main character in this book.  That aside though, this one weaves a slightly confusing tale courtesy of Greg Pak, and vividly comes alive thanks to the team of Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse – in fact it’s easily one of the best looking books in this series.  There’s so much crammed in here: Doomsday’s attack on Krypton, Lara’s valiant effort to fight him off, Zod saving the day yet being secretly revealed to have released Doomsday in the first place, and Kara speaking to Zod in the Phantom Zone and waking from a nightmare, with the exact point where her dream began being ambiguous to the reader.  The change in visual tone for the prophecy sequence looks amazing too.  Anyone interested in Krypton would do well to pick this up.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Oh dear.  This should be incredible, but mine actually suffers from a fault similar to video game clipping, with an extra 3D strip horizontally moving up and down in the middle of the cover.  Background causes double vision too.  Nope, fail.

Batman And Robin #23.4  Killer Croc #1   The interspersed origin flashbacks here should grate by now, but whether it’s the cold hunt in the present tale, the relevance of the past story to how things play out, or just the impregnable cool currency that Gotham bad guys seem to have in spades, Killer Croc manages to get a pass.  Tim Seeley writes a book that ticks some generic boxes of this series but manages to side-step contrivances and in the process grants his subject a decent one-shot.  Croc lures a bunch of crooked cops down into his sewers, then lives up to his first name.  His motivation?  Well that’s explained simply too, and the danger of making a murderous character too sentimental to swallow is flirted with, but generally avoided.  There’s no “continued in Arkham War” tagline on the end which surprises me because it seems the last few pages build to that sort of stepping stone.  I’ve found Killer Croc to be a little underused in the New 52 so far, so I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Again, this would have made for an excellent 2D image, but in the conversion to 3D we suffer some very blurry flying bones, and an unfortunate impossible-to-focus-on mouth for Killer Croc himself.  Shame.

Wonder Woman #23.2  First Born #1   I haven’t been reading Wonder Woman so I’m probably flying blind through whatever is going on here, but here’s the thing: I just can’t get past Apollo speaking like that meth head friend of Jesse in Breaking Bad.  And then Zeus was all like “Ain’t no one gonna diss me” [not exact quote, but it really is along those lines].  It’s impossible to swallow, and I think I’ve put the boots in to the Azzarello reputation here before so I’ll refrain for doing so again today, but I really could not give a shit about this comic, and unless you’re an avid reader of Wonder Woman, neither should you.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Background just a little blurry, but otherwise the effect is pretty much nailed.  It’s a bit dingy though.

Aquaman #23.2  Ocean Master #1   This starts out great, with a quick flashback to the events of Throne Of Atlantis, leading into Orm meeting with his lawyer in Belle Reve, then escaping during the Forever Evil breakout.  Looking to return to the ocean immediately, Orm makes a point of not helping people in trouble, then upon eventually diving into the water, he has a change of heart for…er…. no reason.  Fuck it’s dumb.  And I was getting such a kick out of it for the first half.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  Absolutely fucking lush, with it’s inviting splashing blue water up front and seemingly through the titles, and a tubing wave in the background.  Looks great.

Detective Comics #23.4  Man-Bat #1   The Man-Bat story has been a backup in Detective Comics for a little while, so this issue is a little unique in that it’s the final chapter of a story arc.  So far Kirk and his wife (maybe just girlfriend?  Sorry, I forget) Francine had been working on the Man-Bat formula until she began doing her own experiments, then came the revelation that she was faking the relationship to get a perfected formula to someone else.  This issue sees Kirk defeating her after mixing the different formulas together.  Francine is arrested, but not before she warns Kirk in her own snide way that he is in danger of getting more than he bargained for.  Kirk decides to help protect Gotham, and works to develop his formula further, though he quickly slides into addiction and loses his rationale, before finally giving in to his new animal nature.  Probably not worth much to you without the slow burn of the previous issues, but I really enjoyed this one.  Man-Bat is one villain they took their time developing again and I’m looking forward to his next story arc.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  Very well layered, with the three bats up front, then Man-Bat’s head, then body, then wings over a background of silhouetted bats over a lit bat-signal, and all by new burger favourite Jason Fabok.  Great cover.

Superman #23.4  Parasite #1  My experience with Parasite doesn’t extend beyond his appearance in All Star Superman, so I got a kick out of this origin story with it’s monologue about hunger, and the demonstration of the powered up Parasite, who is capable of heat vision if he feeds on Superman enough, and the deflated, hungry Parasite who reminds of a creature from an old X-Files episode.  This leads into Parasite being yet another escapee from Belle Reve who forces a mother and her child to drive him away.  Aaron Kuder has done a good job juggling writing and art duties.  Parasite is a cool villain for Superman and I look forward to his next appearance.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.   The depth field is nailed with Parasite’s hand, arm, and the rest of him all maintaining believable distance, and instead of the generic trapped Superman we have a more relevant, recently drained Supes instead.  The wrapping paper from hell background is awesome too.

Justice League #23.4  Secret Society #1  A prequel to Forever Evil, but told from the Earth 3 side, and focused on Owlman and (Earth 3) Alfred, I’m surprised this wasn’t released in the first week of Villains Month.  Still, I wasn’t that into it for any reason other than the artwork of Szymon Kudranski, and even then, I wish the colourist had have taken a quick flick through Kudranski’s work on Spawn before making an attempt here, because the artist seems to leave space for all the bells and whistles that usually compliment his style, but the chances haven’t been capitalised upon.  I left this one until last expecting something important, and I guess there is a little detail but it didn’t rock my world, and it really just left me wanting to get on with more of the actual Forever Evil series.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Can’t whinge about the depth here, but the fist with the torn Superman cape really should jump out more.  Artwork not doing it for me, not that it’s particularly bad, it’s just that these three guys look like sex offenders somehow.

Cheers kids.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Issue #35: Love In The Clouds.

I got the updated Comixology recently.  Not that exciting really.  It doesn’t do much new that I’ve noticed, just has things shuffled around a bit.  I used to have to restart when redeeming codes for the Marvel version of the app before they would appear for purchase, and that seems to be fixed with purchases now appearing instantaneously so that’s a plus.  However, I noted in a recent Comixology survey that some titles in my digital collection are out of numerical order somehow, and a simple tap-and-drag feature would be a cool addition.  Not this time unfortunately.

Villains Month is well and truly over but I vowed to review them all, so here we are.  Sorry if it seems old news to you.  I sent a confusing tweet out that blamed car trouble.  What I meant was that without a car I couldn’t pick up my comics, hence the delay.  That, and my new job has eaten into my downtime pretty heavily.

I’m sticking to the format, so here we have all the titles that made up week 3 of Villains Month, plus one new book this week.  Week 3’s best villain was very nearly The Rogues, but I’ve decided to award Villain Of The Week to….


Read what the hell is so good about H'el below!

Swamp Thing #23.1  Arcane #1   Your payoff for this issue will likely depend on your own level of investment in Swamp Thing, which isn’t much for me because I kicked this title a while back, but it is nice to see one of these not afraid to use characters away from the Justice League.  The opening is great, with Anton Arcane trapped in a hell made just for him; Anton craves the rot, so his hell is a lush meadow on a sunny day surrounded by fluffy bunnies where nothing can die, littered with corpses of himself from all of his attempts to commit suicide.  Great so far, until Abigail turns up seeking the truth about her family background, which may or may not be true, and I guess the non-regular Swamp Thing reader gets a little lost.  The beautiful thin line artwork of Jesus Saiz is a definite plus.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  At first glance this one seems only okay, but I’m giving it extra points because there’s an excellent effect on Arcane’s face when you look closer; the lines of his facial features sit above the flesh tones underneath in a way that makes the character’s face seem semi-transparent and it’s quite impressive.  That, and the fact that the other covers often have a generic, re-used image of their respective hero in the background, and this is Swamp Thing’s only Villains Month issue thus his only cover appearance, making this one a little more unique.

Green Lantern #23.3  Black Hand #1  I’ve always had an interest in the Black Lantern stuff but I’ve never got around to reading any of it, so this issue served me pretty well as an introduction.  The book begins with two workers cremating William Hand and dumping the ashes outside.  The black ring descends and resurrects him immediately and a amnesiac Hand wanders the night zombifying pretty much anything that crosses is path as his memories return.  Finally finding Martin Jordan’s grave, he chats with Hal’s dead dad and swaps hands with him (which I didn’t quite get – more reading required?) and resumes being Black Hand.  The art for this issue steps away from the vibrant fancy style I would expect from a Lantern book, instead opting for the sort of stuff you get in DC’s more horror-oriented titles, which is fitting given the theme, but it didn’t quite win me over.  A not bad one-shot which again made me question whether ignoring Green Lantern in the New 52 has been a wise move.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Usually the darker toned covers have not had the impact to work so well, but this one’s a beaut.  All the depth is just right and the artwork looks great.

Wonder Woman #23.1  Cheetah #1   Following the Belle Reve breakout in Forever Evil, US Marshal Mark Shaw is tasked with tracking down and arresting Cheetah.  He heads to a cult compound where she was raised, a group of women who worship the goddess of the hunt (I guess that would be Diana?) and where no men exist, a skewed take on the Amazons.  Here some backstory is fleshed out for Cheetah before the cult turn on Shaw and begin hunting him.  Functional artwork and story serve this not-bad-but-nothing-special one-shot.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  The plain blue background seems rushed, and the fallen pillar at the bottom is difficult to focus on to the point where my keyboard is crawling as I type this, having stared at it for twenty seconds.  Still, that blood trail runs from background to foreground and looks excellent.

The Dark Knight #23.3  Clayface #1   It occurred to me while reading this that I’ve never read a Clayface story before, and I was left with the impression that while Basil Karlo thinks he’s smart and should be in charge, he’s really just a dumb brute that is destined to make shitty decisions.  The book opens with Clayface and a small gang of crooks using the sewers to get access for a bank job, but a small argument with one of the guys prompts Clayface to kill all of them.  Clayface emerges in Gotham to learn of the Secret Society, and embarks on a mission to win favour with them, only to have his plan literally blow up in his face.  The story ends with a loop of sorts as he buddies up with a new crew, mentally reassuring himself that he should be in charge, and no lessons sinking in at all.  Because of this it’s actually a very unfulfilling tale, and I’m left thinking that the opportunity to coax the reader to embrace the bad guy makes for better story telling rather than just let the character be a complete dick.

Lenticular cover rating: 1/5.  This cover must be moved around to focus Clayface’s arms and never works from a single angle.  That girder in the background is also a serious offender.  Boo.

Teen Titans #23.2  Deathstroke #1   There must have been an uneasy moment from at least someone on the DC staff when they decided to splash “Deathstroke #1” across the cover of this issue, given that Deathstroke’s own book was cancelled earlier this year.  It’s also odd because while Deathstroke is hardly a hero, I wouldn’t quite qualify him as villain material either – Slade just goes where the money is, and as outlined here, he has his own – and hardly sinister – motivations for doing this.  All the boxes are ticked for fans of Deathstroke and Team 7 in this one, with flashbacks and horrible violence aplenty, and we finally see Slade lose his eye in the New 52.  I liked this one a lot based purely on my affection for the character, and while I doubt DC would bring back any cancelled 52 books any time soon, Deathstroke would be second on my personal wishlist after Resurrection Man.  Moritat’s artwork doesn’t really grab me here, and he’s probably better suited to All Star Western where his skills really shine.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Nice fire in the background, but it’s not the best picture of Slade, and the foreground sword doesn’t focus well.  Ow, my retinas.

Justice League #23.3  Dial E #1   Another spin off from a cancelled book, instead of Dial H we get the bizarre choice of Justice League branding.  What I read of Dial H was great fun and it’s on the list of stuff to chase up digitally.  Perhaps if I had done so sooner this issue would make a little more sense but I had enough grounding in how the dial works to make some sense of it.  A small group of kids get their hands on the (or another?) dial and do what pretty much any kid would do: dial it every three seconds and turn into a new and strange creature each time.  This makes for a comical, chaotic and pacy one-shot where you’ll be scratching your head one moment and giggling the next.  There’s so many weird and wonderful creations crammed in to this story it’s almost exhausting, which is exactly what China Mieville has gone for and it’s great.  I only wish I knew more.  It’s confusing on it’s own, but rather than intimidate you it instead invites you in to it’s world and plays on your curiosity to read what you’ve been missing.  Very nicely played.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  The effect of the candy in the foreground slightly misses the mark in the focus department, and I’m not even sure who that woman is supposed to be there, but extra points for the Mad Magazine style names on all those packets.

Justice League Dark #23.2  Eclipso #1   I first bumped in to Eclipso when his Black Diamond Probability crossover bled in to Team 7, and this issue references that crossover in a two page spread halfway through.  Here, a fallen genius, down on his luck, receives the black diamond by courier (but from where?) and is tempted and tricked by Eclipso, who is trapped within the gem, to be released.  This story is your regular ancient trickster / temptation tale with not too much originality.  It makes for a pretty average one-shot but I do get the sense that DC intend to use Eclipso either heavily, or in something big in the next twelve months.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Nice depth effect, great use of foreground with the flails of dark energy from the gem, and an excellent blue tunnel of light as a background.  This one is a winner.

Superman #23.3  H’el #1  Ever since the conclusion of the H’el On Earth crossover a while back I’ve been looking forward to the continuation of this character’s story.  H’el is comatose on Krypton, being studied by a Jor-El ten years younger than when they last knew one another.  H’el is conscious though and free to move about and observe in a kind of telekinetic spirit form.  His very presence is creating a paradox and as his memories become inconsistent with his surroundings the reader wonders if this is the same universe H’el left, a theory further accelerated when H’el regains conciousness and proceeds to kill Zod, then snap Jor-El’s neck.  How?  What?  My brain!  The story possibilities that can stem from this issue could be potentially massive, very exciting for a Superman fan, and manage to skate around the Forever Evil stuff that so many of these other titles are required to depend on.  H’el is becoming my favourite Superman villain and however all this eventually resolves itself is going to be a lot of fun.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Not a bad one, it just doesn’t go as deep as some of them, and it really should have the way H’el hands are aimed straight at you.  Background Superman is poorly focussed.

Action Comics #23.3  Lex Luthor #1   There’s a clear reason why Lex Luthor is the true arch enemy of Superman; he’s a polar opposite in that Lex is a giant, monumental arsehole.  This issue serves well as an introduction to Lex, because in one day he manages to take full advantage of the absence of Superman by killing a team of astronauts in space to make a point that Superman is unable to save them, killing his assistant for not being on board with the plan, and ruining a corporate rival, who he er…. also kills.  Lex is such a confident power hungry douche, but it just works for me, and he’s been laying reasonably low in the New 52, so it’s nice to see him crack his knuckles and get back out again.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Pretty good, but all that green energy stuff might have been a little ambitious.  Whether it’s supposed to be all blurry and unfocussed around the title or not is unclear.

Batman #23.3  The Penguin #1   Like Lex, this book shows are character in comeback mode.  The Penguin was usurped by Emperor Penguin until he was dealt with, and with Gotham without it’s Batman, Cobblepot makes moves to tighten his grip on his interests, first by killing some blackjack cheats outside his casino, then blackmailing a governor in clean-up mode with the old dead-woman-in-the-hotel-room trick.  The Penguin has a nasty street reputation to regain, and a legitimate businessman’s public perception to maintain, and that’s pretty much the point of this story.  A nice issue that highlights the underbelly of Gotham pretty well.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  A not too impressive picture of The Penguin with buildings in the background that ghost a second image instead of nailing the depth effect.  The gun smoke is alright though.

Batman And Robin #23.3  Ra’s Al Ghul And The League Of Assassins #1   An emissary of the Secret Society (wearing a knock-off of a Red Robin costume – sorry I have no idea who this is) meets with Ra’s Al Ghul to offer membership.  As they battle, the emissary recounts a few chunks of the history of the League Of Assassins.  Ra’s isn’t impressed though, and defeats his visitor then declines the offer, preferring to stay his own course for world domination.  Not too much on offer here, and I was left thinking Ra’s has an ego that actually serves as his greatest obstacle.  I mean, he’s had over seven hundred years to pull his finger out.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  It’s great, with plenty of layers and all that green fire, and swords jumping off the cover too.

The Flash #23.3  The Rogues #1   This one might be a little too television show for some, but there’s a dramatic theme of family prevalent in this issue that I quite liked.  The Rogues have their own mini series alongside the current Forever Evil event and it looks like this acts as an issue #0 of sorts for that.  The narration of Captain Cold allows the reader to get a little more personal with the character and it’s a real strength.  When his sister Glider seems to lose her astral form in her attempt to rescue Mirror Master from the mirror universe, it serves as a bonding moment for the team on the cusp of breaking up.  They decide to bust Trickster out of prison but do so just as the Secret Society conduct their own mass prison break.  What happens next may inspire The Rogues to be the best weapon against Ultraman’s team.  Solid stuff, and I may just pick up that Rogues mini series after all.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Maybe a little too much orange going on to get top marks, but the depth of each character’s position is almost 100% spot on, and Cold’s ice spiral is really cool (pun not intended).

Justice League Of America #7.3  Shadow Thief #1   Not bad this.  The whole crazy mix of the shadow powers, espionage, and freaky aliens is the kind of pure comic book pulp I just eat up.  The whole thing is structured in narration during a fall after Aviva is blasted out of a skyscraper hotel window in Dubai and manages to cover the above topics with a little origin stuff thrown in for good measure.  Shadow Thief doesn’t seem particularly evil in spirit, but she more makes a mess of anyone who gets in her way.  I haven’t read the Hawkman stuff that is referenced here, but it looks like Shadow Thief will be making an appearance in JLA soon.  Not bad.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  Thanks to contrasting background colour and what was probably some very careful and attentive work, this cover manages to make a very dark black leap into the foreground.  Excellent.

Detective Comics #23.3  Scarecrow #1   After reading so many of these villain one-shots it’s really refreshing to see the familiar structure being bent a little, and Peter J. Tomasi achieves this here by having Scarecrow walk through various territories of Gotham and holding conversations with several other key enemies of Batman.  The dialogue is great too, particularly during the opening pages as Scarecrow and Mr Freeze exchange pleasantries as several fear gas victims wail in terror around them.  Scarecrow moves on to converse with The Riddler, Killer Croc and Poison Ivy as a kickstarter for the Forever Evil: Arkham War mini series.  Hmmm, should I also buy this too?

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Not a bad one, but the colours are a quite drab, and that foreground raven is a bit too blurry.

Superman / Wonder Woman #1   When Superman and Wonder Woman became lovers in Justice League a while back I wondered if it was going to be a short term gimmick or something DC intended to stick with for a while, and with Superman / Wonder Woman launching last week as a regular title it looks like I have my answer.  First up, I think Tony Daniel draws a top notch Superman, but he also manages to craft a very beautiful and powerful Wonder Woman as well.  There’s plenty of action here, including a battle with a very nasty enemy which I refuse to spoil, but what really did it for me were the panels where Diana speaks to her friend about the shortcomings of her relationship, which really nailed something realistic and likeable.  I picked this up out of blind Superman love, but I will stay on board for the exploration of the personal relationship exhibited here.  Great writing, great artwork, and a hint of great character development.  Well done DC.

Thanks kids.  Week 4 Villains Month reviews will also obviously be late, but I'll get to them asap.