Saturday, 14 September 2013

Issue #34: I heart Harley.

Back already!  There's not much time to rest if I'm throwing in on all 52 Villains Month issues.  That's thirteen a week!  Apologies, because I could have got this up earlier, but I scored NHL 14 this week so I disappeared into that for a while, and since GTA V is out in three days... well look, I'll do my best.

With so many of these out I've decided to award a Villain Of The Week title to the comic I liked best from each week's releases for DC Villains Month.  As I didn't do this last post, I'll award last week's one to Cyborg Superman.  Braniac ran a close second, but this issue's Villain Of The Week is....


Read what I thought of Harley Quinn below!

Aquaman #23.1  Black Manta #1   This issue has a lot going for it compared to most of these villain one-shots for several reasons.  Firstly, if you’ve been reading Aquaman, the previous events regarding Black Manta are directly referenced.  Second, there is some insight in to Black Manta’s motivations and psychological state not previously offered.  Third, it’s sets things up for a tie in to Forever Evil that looks like it might actually be worth reading.  Black Manta is one of the prisoners in Belle Reve freed during the Secret Society’s mass break out.  He receives his invitational coin and recovers his suit from storage.  At the Secret Society meeting aboard the fallen Justice League headquarters he also finds Aquaman’s trident.  He’s not too impressed with what’s on the table though, and when Ultraman does what he does (see Forever Evil #1, no spoilers here) he finds good reason to oppose the Secret Society.  This comic is one of the better ones of the bunch, fleshing out Black Manta well.  He may be a bad guy, but he is a human with human motivations on his own path.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  It’s awesome.  The ribbons of blood jump off the cover and contrast beautifully with the light blue whirlpool of water in the background, the depth of Manta’s arm, then head, then backpack is perfect.  The whole thing exemplifies the savagery of the character.

Batman #23.2  Riddler #1   One of the Dark Knight’s top villains, the Riddler has been laying pretty low in the New 52.  We saw Edward Nygma fired from Wayne Enterprises and that’s about it, but if we learn one thing here, it’s that the Riddler can hold a grudge.  We follow him as he executes a meticulously planned entry and shutdown of Wayne Tower, remaining wonderfully calm as he comfortably kills anyone that attempts to halt his ascent… or touches him, Ed doesn’t like to be touched.  There’s not much more than that, other than the fact that the Riddler seems to be the only one so far who is convinced Batman must be still alive, and the book finishes promising to continue in Batman #25.  Not bad, there’s none of the cookie cutter plot I complained about last week which is a plus.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Almost top marks, because the 3D effect here is excellent.  Riddler’s staff is pencilled at the perfect angle to make the effect work.  One point off though for the unimaginative background, as I can easily picture it being a psychedelic pattern of question marks, nodding to the TV series.

Batman & Robin #23.2  Court Of Owls #1   When Scott Snyder wrote the Court Of Owls at the beginning of the New 52 he achieved something remarkable – the introduction of new villains for Batman that resonated with fans in such a way that we expect them to be around for a long time to come.  I’m not a fan of Talon, but I like this opportunity to revisit the Court and discover more about them.  From that storyline, there’s two particular standout moments; Batman’s hallucinogenic torture in the labyrinth, and Batman’s discovery of all the different bases the Owls have occupied, each tying them to a different generation through history, and the beats of the latter echo through this issue.  A masked member of the Court and his daughter flee below a post-Forever Evil Gotham as he recounts to her stories of the history of the group, each one reaching further back in time.  What a creepy bunch of individuals they are.  A small gripe though, as this story is to continue in Talon, why the Batman & Robin branding?  Is it simply because B&R is a better selling book?  Is your average New 52 fan really so fickle about what logo is on the cover?  And even so, considering the villain title is written across the original logos, does it really matter?

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  A sepia portrait of a family all in those creepy masks is cool, backed by more masked portraits.  Nice and freaky, but nothing reaches out.  This would be a cool cover without the 3D effect.  The wallpaper, however…. what a delightful nightmare.

The Dark Knight #23.2  Mr. Freeze #1   I’m surprised there wasn’t more noise when in Batman Annual #1 last year, Mr. Freeze’s continuity was changed to reveal that his frozen “wife” was simply an abductee, and his tragic love story merely part of his psychosis.  I actually liked it a lot though, thinking it made the character much more fucked up.  This issue sees Mr. Freeze discover he has more family members while in prison, and following a breakout, attempt to track them down.  It’s a good development, that he needs adoration as the basis for his actions and behaviour.  I really like this one too.  Batman’s bad guys make for such fun reading.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Great depth here as Freeze points his gun right at you.  Batman encased in ice is pretty blurry but this seems to add to the illusion.  Freeze’s right shoulder appears a bit further back than it should, and the skinny head is an odd artistic choice.

Detective Comics #23.2  Harley Quinn #1   I’m a little disappointed to learn that Matt Kindt and Neil Googe are not the creative team for the upcoming monthly title Harley Quinn, because I was instantly won over with what they’ve done here.  Googe presents a slightly cartoonish, almost cheeky style that compliments the character exceptionally well, and Kindt pens a serviceable one-shot that treads the childhood flashback stuff without it feeling repetitive, because Harley didn’t have a turning point event that set her on the bad girl path, she just chose violence and crime because it excites her.  I find the sassy/crazy nature of Harley very interesting, even a little bit sexy, and her amusing spree of violence just to put together her outfit is gold.  One of my favourites so far.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Harley is strong in the foreground, but the hammer loses focus, and I had to look closely to see that’s the Batcave in the background.  The floating card symbols might have looked better in front of all of it.

Earth 2 #15.2  Solomon Grundy #1   This one is also written by Matt Kindt, but Solomon Grundy and Harley Quinn are chalk and cheese, mainly because all we get is an origin story of Grundy killing everyone at his workplace after his wife kills herself, then he comes back to life.  There’s no explanation of how this might be possible, or why he is the only one resurrected.  Couple this with the modern day zombie Grundy lumbering towards a city killing everyone he comes across and… well, that’s it.  Probably one of the most pointless comics I’ve read in recent memory, and so far for Villains Month it’s the dud of the bunch.  See that panel below from this comic?  The whole thing pretty much amounts to that one panel.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  The cover artwork is good but perhaps too detailed to get the effect across well.  With too little contrast the image can’t jump like it should.

The Flash #23.2  Reverse Flash #1   This issue fits right in to the final story arc for The Flash with Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato on creative duties, and it’ll be sad to see them go.  There is a lot of the childhood flashback stuff here, but…. shit, how can I describe how it’s relevant without spoiling the final page?  I don’t think I can, but look, for Flash fans it’s pretty fucking good!  This book has an almost Hitchcockian influence in that it drags on with detail that doesn’t grab you much, only to snap your attention back when it does.  The origin tale of Reverse Flash admittedly isn’t great, but it does tie in to events from the previous issues pretty well.  And his redesign is so badass.  Looking forward to the rest of it.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  How can anyone ignore this?  Layers all work really well. An excellent image of the character running towards the reader and the shards do a much better job than Deadshot’s bullets did.  Almost lost a point for The Flash looking too big back there, but I don’t care.  This one’s ace.

Green Lantern #23.2  Mongul #1   This book opens with a huge space fleet surrounding Warworld in an effort to defend their home planet, when the Admiral is beamed from his bridge and given a tour of Warworld by all-round space bastard Mongul.  Mongul extends polite courtesy at first, but soon soapboxes about his survival-of-the-fittest creed before admitting he is in the process of destroying the Admiral’s entire homeworld.  Yep, when it comes to fucking shit up around the universe, Mongul is hard to match, with intelligence, determination, and the tools to back him his attitude, and the Green Lantern Corps is next on his list of parties to poop.  Some nice artwork by Howard Porter, recently confirmed for duties on the upcoming Justice League 3000.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Kinda cool, with the bloody boot stomp pose, but his chest looks like it’s floating about twenty centimetres further forward than it should be.  Not into it.

Justice League #23.2  Lobo #1   My social media sparked with a little internet rage last week as a redesigned Lobo reminiscent of Capcom’s Dead Or Alive Dante reboot drew the ire of a few in the comic book community, so I couldn’t help but smile at the opening dialogue of this book: “You think you know me.” [next page is reveal of new design] “Screw you.”  There’s so much I’d like to say about this one, but I simply cannot bring myself to hint at any details.  I simply recommend you read this well written one shot and decide for yourself how it stacks up against its 51 brethren this month, because I am all over whatever book this story continues in.  Great stuff.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Look, I want to like it, but the disjointed hair and the chain that is almost completely out of frame isn’t doing it for me.  The necklace works nicely though.

Justice League Of America #7.2  Killer Frost #1   This story is more or less by the numbers, but it served as an introduction to a character I know nothing about, so it was entertaining enough.  Killer Frost’s origin… well, she gained her powers being locked in a scientific machine.  Yawn.  The better stuff comes in the second half, where we learn Firestorm has the power to warm her back to normal… temporarily.  Given that she has a black belt in physics, Killer Frost wants the scientific answer for this.  She’s yet another walkout for the Secret Society though, when it looks like Ultraman’s gang have done away with Firestorm along with the Justice League.  Not bad.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Really nice, with some of the ice shards deliberately out of focus to convey distance.  Is it something about light blue that makes the effect look more convincing?

Superman #23.2  Brainiac #1   I was immediately struck by the artwork of Pascal Alixe in this book, a beautiful pencilled style with subtle cross hatching over hard inks that I’d really like to see more of.  As a planet called Noma is attacked by Brainiac, a brilliant scientist named Victoria Viceroy is informed of Brainiac’s intentions by her robotic assistant Pneumenoid.  He also recounts an untruthful and glorified account of Brainiac’s origins.  Too late to save her own people, Victoria sends a distress signal deep into space to warn others, a signal picked up by Dr. Veritas on Earth.  Perhaps I’m viewing this one through my pro-Kryptonian prism but I loved it.  At least check it out for the artwork alone.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  I’m leaning more towards the covers that have creative backgrounds over the standard backdrops, like the lab in this one, which looks pretty slapped together.  I wish Braniac didn’t just look like a green Lex Luthor considering how great he’s drawn in the book.  Still, the 3D effect is great here, with nice believable depth on the character and the sharp robotic arms creeping in to the foreground.

Teen Titans #23.1  Trigon #1   Trigon, eh?  I’ve never heard of him, but there was an interesting concept here, that a kind of hell exists somewhere in space, a floating black “heart” that feeds on evil itself.  It’s here that Trigon gains his powers, and er… sets about busting a nut into as many poor female aliens as possible to sire an heir.  All his heirs either die or don’t end up badass enough for him though – ooh how convenient!  Better bring Trigon more space vagina!  It’s all kinda fucked up in an entertaining/imagine-a-demon-fucking-an-alien way, so yeah, I thought it wasn’t too bad.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Almost on the money, except Trigon’s head is a little too detached.  The glowing hands look great though.

Action Comics #23.2  Zod #1   Another good one.  Greg Pak’s Zod as a boy is stranded in a remote part of Krypton for a year forced to defend himself against wild beasts to survive, a nice explanation as to why Zod has a warlike temperament in a peaceful Kryptonian society.  Yearning to return his people to their warrior roots, he engineers a war with an old foe which he wins, but Jor-El discovers the plot, and it is for this crime he banishes Zod to the Phantom Zone.  Nice artwork, particularly in the action sequences, courtesy of Ken Lashley.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Not much lending itself to the effect here, and Zod’s right bicep armour pokes out strangely.  My cover seems to have a couple of speckled dots across the front, and I’m not even sure if it’s intentional or an error in the printing process, but it just looks like someone spilt something on it, and I literally attempted to wipe it off before realising it was under the lenticular coating.

Thanks kids, more next week.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Issue #33: Infinite villains.

This week I offer thoughts on a whopping fifteen issues, taking a look at the current event number ones from Marvel and DC, then all thirteen issues out this week for DC’s Villains Month.  I got them all with lenticular 3D covers so I hope the scans aren’t too messy.  I’m surprised how they came out actually, much better than I thought.  I’ve added ratings out of five for each of these based on how well the illusion works.  Let’s get on with it, there’s a lot to get through.

Infinity #1   It’s Marvel event time again.  Seemingly not content with stopping at Age Of Ultron (which I didn’t even read because I heard it wasn’t much chop), Marvel’s new opus is upon us.  This issue is the first of a six part series, with additional details featured in issues #18 to #23 of Avengers, and issues #9 to #11 of New Avengers.  The cover price of $4.99US may seem steep but you get 56 pages of content here and you can feel the weight of it.  

Now some of those pages are these quite pretentious and annoying white title pages that say dumb things like “Orbital” and “What Was Hidden, Now Uncovered” for very little reason, and I’m thinking this is bullshit padding, but luckily the book itself is a bit of a looker, and features a just-vague-enough story to put Marvel veterans and newcomers both on reasonably equal footing going in.  I think.  Because Marvel’s spacey stuff is something I’ve pretty much ignored all this time (I’m more likely to tell anyone dipping their toe into Marvel to read something like Civil War), until recently when I gave some Guardians Of The Galaxy from a few years back a bit of a spin last month (and yes, I thought it was pretty cool).  This looks like it’s designed for new readers too, particularly someone who liked the Avengers movie and wanted to see “what this whole comics thing is about”, and I don’t mean that in my usual, eye-rolling sense.  There’s not a lot I can explain about the plot after one issue as what we have here are simply seeds sown for the rest of what will transpire, so rather than dictate the whole comic I’ll give you the gist of it: Thanos is planning to invade Earth with a small mix of alien races as his resources, The Inhumans and particularly Black Bolt look to be important to the story, Cap prepares a space battle while Iron Man prepares Earth, and I’m going to go out on a slightly shaky limb and say that the cross-title thing for this one, because it sticks to just two Avengers books, will be relevant and actually worth a damn. [STOP PRESS! It looks like there's more offshoots to this than I was first aware of!  Buyer beware!]  As DC marks September, the New 52’s second birthday, with an event of their own and a vast collection of one-shots (see below) I’m intrigued by Marvel’s decision to step up in competition with Infinity as their trump card.  Considering they released an Infinity preview on Free Comic Book Day back in May, Marvel has probably timed the release quite deliberately, and that says to me that Marvel must think they’ve got something pretty ace.   I’m a little excited because the whole Marvel-in-space thing is new to me (I think someone just laughed at me from the 80s) so let’s hope it’s a fun ride, and not just another easy trip to the bank for Marvel.

Forever Evil #1   DC’s seven part mini series carries on pretty much directly from their previous event, Trinity War, where it was revealed that Pandora’s Box is a gateway to Earth 3.  Cyborg was torn from his cybernetics to create the evil counterpart Grid, and Ultraman, Superwoman, Owlman, etc. announce they are in control.  This first issue sees these nasty versions of Earth’s superheroes freeing and rounding up a vast army of villains under the banner of The Secret Society, and announcing to the world that the Justice League is dead.  When we last saw the Justice League they were in a bad way, particularly Cyborg, reduced to a painful pile of flesh, and Superman, with a chunk of Kryptonite lodged in his brain.  If they are indeed all dead, there’s still a tale to tell here, but obviously DC isn’t going to can the books that pay the bills.  As Nightwing is caught off guard, it’s hinted that it may be up to the Teen Titans to defeat this new threat, and Batgirl is warned by Nightwing about trouble before he is captured.  Perhaps we’ll see this series bring together a few second tier heroes to shine, and if it’s done well it could benefit the New 52 in a positive way, even enough to help halt the spate of cancellations we’ve seen in the last two years (that might be optimistic, but if that’s what is being attempted, I think it’s a good thing).  Forever Evil still feels a universe away from Marvel’s event and is all the better for it.  The gap, or lack thereof, between the setup in Trinity War and this issue is welcome too.  Fun times ahead.

Batman #23.1  Joker #1   I picked up the first thirteen villain issues in one hit, but how could I start with anyone else but Joker?  Andy Kubert writes a darkly humourous one-shot set a few years back from current continuity.  The Joker hasn’t yet cut off his face, and while there’s no appearance from Batman, he and Robin are mentioned, and the Bat signal is seen in one panel.  Flashbacks to The Joker’s childhood tell a new origin of sorts, though I like to subscribe to Nolan’s angle that the character’s background changes depending on who he’s telling it to, and that he himself may be too insane not to believe each new story.  If you like crazy, you’ll enjoy this tale of Gotham’s nastiest character reflecting on his childhood as he raises a kidnapped gorilla as his own evil sidekick.  I love the two of them watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre on the couch together.  Nice one.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  The “Ha Ha Ha” is a little blurry, and Batman in the background is tough for the eye to process.  Love the tie flailing in front of the jacket.

Green Arrow 23.1  Count Vertigo #1   The second villain issue I’ve read and already patterns emerge; the neglectful childhood of the character, and the absence beyond offhand mention of the corresponding hero.  I know bugger all about Count Vertigo, but I suspect if I stare at the lenticular version of the cover long enough he could probably explode my head too!  It’s not spelled out for the uninitiated, but I guess Count Vertigo’s implants allow him to disrupt people’s brainwaves, sometimes just enough to subdue them, other times to pop their brains like a watermelon.  The story flashes back to the Count’s younger days as his prostitute mother berates him, and later as he is bullied at his scientifically experimental school.  Then Count Vertigo kills his mum.  I’m not sure what the fuss is about Jeff Lemire.  Can someone suggest something to me that he has written that is awesome?  It’s not that his writing is bad, just functional, and as far as the New 52 goes, he hasn’t written anything that’s jumped out at me to justify his reputation.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  The Count’s raised hand in the foreground doesn’t focus from any angle, but I love the psychedelic background.

Green Lantern #23.1  Relic #1   This issue tells its story almost entirely in narration, and interestingly does away with panels; with the exception of the double splash page on 2 and 3, every page is its own panel.  The book seemingly functions as an issue zero for the Green Lantern event Lights Out which kicks off next month.  There’s almost a theme of environmental debate here, as Relic tries in vain to convince the inhabitants of the universe that existed before ours that light constructs should be used sparingly, and that those that use it (they build everything out of it) are diluting a limited resource.  He is ignored, and eventually the universe folds in on itself as a result.  Relic somehow survives this, and is reborn into this universe with a lot less patience for anyone wearing a light ring.  Not a bad comic, with plenty of colour, and perhaps a Villain Month issue with more to lend to ongoing continuity than just a basic one-shot.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5. A blurry Hal Jordan from any angle barely distracts from a great foreground Relic casting shattered rings at the reader, backed by a great looking fiery planet in space.  Pretty awesome.

Action Comics #23.1  Cyborg Superman #1   Oh man, now we’re talking!  Events in Supergirl have recently involved Cyborg Superman, but other than the character acting all nice to Kara and being secretive behind her back there’s not much villainy going on.  This issue shows how cold and horrible Cy-Supes can be.  Braniac recovers a dying Zor-El, and constructs him in the image of the “superior” Jor-El.  Cyborg Superman then arrives at a planet and begins terrorising the population and forcing some of them to make horrible (almost) Saw-style decisions to do terrible things to each other to prove their “superiority”.  The story is interspersed with scenes that are more or less the fall of Zor-El.  Credit to Mike Hawthorne’s art, that while not the fanciest work, manages to use that in contrast against a Cyborg Superman that looks absolutely menacing in every panel he’s in.  A good one-shot, but excellent character background for current readers of Supergirl.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  The extended claw takes advantage of the 3D effect perfectly, while the green and yellow circuit board, which usually should never go with red and blue, serves to throw Cyborg Superman at the reader even more.

The Flash #23.1  Grodd #1   Wow, Grodd is a fucking jerk.  Just as humans and apes set about building peace after last time Grodd went bananas, back he comes to pretty much be the biggest butthole he can and killing anyone that looks at him sideways.  This issue directly ties in with Forever Evil (no spoilers, but there’s an eclipse), and without Flash around, Grodd makes himself king right away.  And that’s about it.  The story is supposed to lead in to Forever Evil: Rogue’s Rebellion, which I suppose is one of those event off-shoots that I usually ignore (and since the spoiler is in the title I’ll probably ignore this one too).  I suppose an OP nazi monkey is pretty good villain material, but I just wanted The Flash to turn up and deck him.  I guess it ape necessarily so….. (thank you, thank you).

Lenticular cover rating: 1/5.  It’s a shocker.  The foreground seems to be the skulls on sticks, followed by Grodd’s tits, then his face which falls into the blurry no man’s land on the same plane as the heroes on these covers.  Grodd is too Saturday-morning-cartoon-purple too.

Justice League Dark #23.1  The Creeper #1   All this time I’ve spent in the DC universe feels like it pays off in some form of geek currency when a low key bad guy like The Creeper comes along and I know exactly who he is.  I’ve been collecting Katana, and in the third issue Killer Croc bites and breaks her sword, releasing all the souls inside of everyone who has ever been killed by it.  One of those souls is The Creeper, a demon who we learn has been subjugating and tormenting others trapped within the sword for his own amusement.  After his release, The Creeper inhabits the body of Jack Ryder, who has a tv show that follows up on death and disaster…. the very same incidents Jack is unconsciously causing when under the control of The Creeper.  He’s a bastard, and while it’s hardly top tier stuff I found this to be kinda fun.

Lenticular cover rating: 5/5.  The best one yet.  The perspectives for each of the layers seems just right, and the chain across the middle looks excellent.  One freaky cover.

Superman #23.1  Bizarro #1   Oh no!  I get that the New 52 changes things, but whittling Bizarro down from an opposite-Superman from a strange reverse universe to a lab experiment created by Lex Luthor is sacrilege!  Where’s the trippy cube-Earth and the muddled Bizarro speak?  This Hollywood dumbing down is horrible!  And considering Lex has to explode him into a flesh puddle just minutes after his creation, well, this is fucking not Bizarro!  Boo!  Not talking about it anymore!

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  Nice use of the depth on this one too, but unblurry buildings not look unexcellent and not cause unheadache.

Justice League Of America #7.1  Deadshot #1   Ooh, I like this one a lot.  Deadshot’s childhood trauma is similar to Batman here, but with very different consequences.  His family are tragically killed by stray bullets from a mob hit in an adjoining apartment.  A young Deadshot recovers a handgun from the scene and with revenge on his mind, teaches himself to shoot.  Most of this is inner monologue, and as a result of playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution this week, I mentally made Deadshot’s voice that of Elias Toufexis.  I loved how calm and inward the character remains as he prepares for a sniper shot while in free fall after leaping from a plane.  He’s a nasty fucker, but Deadshot is pretty cool.

Lenticular cover rating: 3/5.  Would have scored higher, except there’s a bit too much going on for its own good.  The bullet in the centre doesn’t work at all.

Justice League #23.1  Darkseid #1   I wasn’t much into Darkseid.  Here we get a story where before he was a god himself, Darkseid was known as Uxas, who plows fields and is an atheist despite his gods being titans that turn up every now and then and cause trouble.  Uxas gets a bit pissy with this, and decides to kill them all, gaining powers and strength with each act of deicide.  Then, in a strange fast forwarding of the story, we skip over some details in three panels: Darkseid is about to fight his brother, er…. planet blows up,  “and then… Apokolips”.  Did I miss something?  You bet.  The rest pretty much skips up to the point where the Justice League defeat him, and I was left with a sense that someone wants to tell the story of Darkseid, but not here or now, and that makes this issue pretty pointless.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Darkseid’s head is slightly offset just enough to make him look like a bobblehead.  The top half of the background is empty, and regurgitated-strawberry-ice-cream pink.

The Dark Knight #23.1  Ventriloquist #1   Set following the events of Forever Evil, this tells the story of Shauna and her telekinetically controlled puppet Ferdie, who put on a murderous ventriloquist act in a lawless Gotham City, while flashing back to Shauna’s disturbed childhood.  A small group of hungry Gothamites are lured into a theatre with promises of food, and watch a second rate comedy show until a bunch of thugs break in to rape and pillage.  Shauna takes offense at the interruption, and Ferdie turns the whole thing into a bloodbath.  I know little of this character but I know of him, so I enjoyed reading this one, but the childhood flashback thing is a theme of Villains Month that’s starting to wear a little thin.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5.  The background is blurry as hell which is a shame, because the little lynched Bat-family puppets are great.  The foreground of Shauna pushing Ferdie towards the reader looks fantastic.

Earth 2 #15.1  Desaad #1   I confess that when most DC stories pertain to Earth 2 I tune right out.  I have an instant association that nothing important happens in the other universe (I’ve always had an identical attitude towards Marvel’s Ultimate stuff), mostly because the main universe has more than enough going on.  I’ve never heard of Desaad, but he’s a mean bastard just for the sake of it, with the power of suggestion to make people kill themselves and each other.  He’s attempting to build a boom tube to Apokolips (is that Apokolips 2?) so Darkseid (is that Darkseid 2?) can invade Earth 2.  And the whole thing has a give a shit factor of fuck all.  But at least I didn’t have to wade through pages of little Desaad being teased in the playground.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  The depth effect is scattered at best here, as Desaad’s right bicep seems to be the foreground.  His face is difficult to focus on, as is his right hand.  Try not to vomit as your optic nerves attempt to send some kind of image to your brain when you stare at Huntress and Power Girl.

Batman & Robin #23.1  Two Face #1   Again, set during a chaotic downfall of Gotham, the opening events here tie directly into Forever Evil.  Two Face (dramatically standing on top of a lit bat signal) receives his invitational coin to the Secret Society from Scarecrow.  Two Face flips a coin to accept, but makes clear that the rule of the coin takes precedence over any orders from the group.  What follows is a night of gunshots, as Two Face brings his own brand of justice to the Gotham night, only to find himself at odds with the society.  Not a bad one this, Two Face is a pretty good villain to follow around.

Lenticular cover rating: 2/5.  Good idea that lacks execution, with all layers being difficult to focus on.

Detective Comics #23.1  Poison Ivy #1   Reading this one last out of the bunch isn’t going to do this review any favours.  All I can see is the boxes being ticked: Gotham running riot post events of Forever Evil, intermittent flashbacks to a rough childhood, and the rinse-and-repeat that has always followed this character, that Ivy gets loose and starts overgrowing Gotham with plants.  I can’t wait until someone comes along and does something original and surprising with Poison Ivy.  I did like the little stab at the cancellation of Birds Of Prey: “I was even a part of a team.  Until they outgrew their usefulness.”  But until Poison Ivy does something really cool and special, she’ll always be in the shadow of better Bat-villains.  Yawn.

Lenticular cover rating: 4/5. A subtle background of falling leaves while the foreground layers do quite a nice job.  Nice one.

Thanks kids.  DC Villains Month continues through September.