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.

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