Comic Review: Batman: Three Jokers

Published: November 17th, 2020
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Jason Fabok

DC Comics, 161 Pages

Review:

I enjoyed this story and its concept quite a bit. But generally, I’ve been a fan of Geoff Johns’ writing since he took over Green Lantern in the mid-’00s.

This isn’t really a canonical story but then again, nothing that’s modern DC really is to me anymore because they’ve rebooted their universe more times than my Uncle Terry has created children out of wedlock.

The story does directly build off of the events of classic Batman stories The Killing Joke and A Death In the Family. With that, it also utilizes Batgirl and Red Hood in the story, as it brings their issues with the Joker full circle and provides some closure to him crippling Batgirl and “killing” Red Hood when he was Robin.

The reason why the story is called “The Three Jokers” is because there are three Jokers. Each one represents a different version of the character, as he’s been used historically. One is the “criminal” Joker, another is the “comedian” Joker and the last is the “clown” Joker. The story plays off of their differences and the heroes aren’t sure which one is the real Joker or if possibly there’s been more than one all along. However, by the end, we see that there’s a much bigger, more sinister scheme at play and it’s revealed that Batman has always known who the real Joker is, all the way down to his real identity.

The story was very noir-esque, which isn’t uncommon for a Batman story but this one had so many curveballs that it just fits within that genre’s framework quite well.

Admittedly, I got to a point in the story where I started to think that the whole thing was ridiculous. By the end, though, it all came together in a really cool way and it seemed a lot less ridiculous and like something that would fit within the Joker’s larger worldview and his and Batman’s place in it.

I also really, really liked the art. I don’t know much about Jason Fabok but he captivated me, here, and I’ll be on the lookout for some of his other work. Frankly, I’d like to see him and Johns maybe work on a follow up to this and create their own unique continuity within Batman, similar to what Sean Gordon Murphy has been doing the last few years.

Rating: 8/10

Book Review: ‘The Untold Legend of the Batman’ by Len Wein, Jim Aparo & John Byrne

This was a paperback book I had when I was a kid and it may have actually been the first Batman comic that I read, as I got this when I was really young.

This paperback is a collection of a three-issue comic book miniseries of the same name. Except, here, the comic is in black and white and reformatted to fit this medium, having just one-to-three panels per page.

The Untold Legend of the Batman is a bit strange, as its details differ from the continuity of the actual comic book series. Events in Batman’s past are slightly altered but it was still a fun read and the origin of the Caped Crusader wasn’t so different that it wrecked anything. At worst, it’s still more accurate than many of the film and television versions of the hero’s backstory.

I really dug the art in this, especially with it being presented in black and white, as it allowed the linework of both John Byrne and Jim Aparo to really standout on its own.

This was a really fast read but it was still worth hunting down and giving it a look again.

Rating: 6.5/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 8: Lethal Force

Published: November 20th, 2018
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Rick Burchett, Staz Johnson, Trevor McCarthy, William Rosado

DC Comics, 243 Pages

Review:

Well, this is the end of the lengthy Chuck Dixon Nightwing run.

With that, I was a little underwhelmed by this. The reason for that is because I anticipated some of the major plot threads being wrapped up, such as the stuff surrounding the Blockbuster character but he doesn’t even appear in the issues collected, here.

Still, I did mostly enjoy this.

It all just felt kind of random, though, and there wasn’t a thread that tied this all up like in previous volumes.

Like some of the other volumes, this also has the problem of too many artists, which makes the book visually inconsistent, throughout. It’s not as jarring as it was in some of the earlier volumes but it’s still noticeable.

In the end, this just felt like the series had become directionless. I’m not sure if the blame for that lies on Chuck Dixon’s shoulders or the brass at DC Comics, who were going to keep the Nightwing title going while handing it off to other people.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Superman: Funeral for a Friend

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, Brett Breeding, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice, Doug Hazlewood

DC Comics, 366 Pages

Review:

There are five acts to the death and rebirth of Superman. This is the second act, which follows The Death of Superman and sets up the third act, Reign of the Supermen.

Funeral for a Friend is definitely emotional in spots and it does show how great of an impact that Superman had on the DC Comics universe. However, even with every major hero coming out and paying their respects, this collection is bogged down by some smaller, side stories that don’t really need to be there.

This reads more like an anthology, as opposed to one coherent narrative and that hurts the overall flow of this chapter in the larger saga.

I did like the parts that dealt with the fallout of Superman’s death in regards to those who were actually closest to him from Lois Lane, the Kents, Jimmy Olsen and even Lana Lang. I also liked seeing how his former friends and allies in the Justice Leagues of the past and present came together to honor him and reminisce.

Overall, this isn’t bad, it’s just somewhat of a mess that tries to wedge in short stories of D-level characters that don’t need to be there.

Rating: 6/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 7: Shrike

Published: February 20th, 2018
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Rick Leonardi, Mike Lilly, Trevor McCarthy

DC Comics, 254 Pages

Review:

With this seventh volume in Chuck Dixon’s solid Nightwing run, we’re introduced to one of Dick Grayson’s most deadly enemies, Shrike.

The assassin is brought in by Nightwing’s biggest enemy, Blockbuster, after roughly a dozen other gimmicky assassins have failed at taking the street level hero down.

This was one of the more enjoyable volumes, as it just got back to basics and saw Nightwing have to tangle up with an evenly matched, badass baddie, in the alleys and on the roofs of Blüdhaven.

This also features some one-shots from the era collected into this volume. They’re actually one-shots I’ve already read and reviewed but it was cool seeing how they lineup in the overall Chuck Dixon Nightwing timeline.

The art is also really good in this, especially the work of Greg Land, who this deep into the series, has probably cemented himself as my favorite Nightwing artist of the Dixon run.

All in all, this is just straightforward street hero action with some solid storytelling, really good art and ’90s attitude.

Rating: 7.25/10

Comic Review: Batman: The Black Mirror

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Scott Snyder
Art by: Jock

DC Comics, 295 Pages

Review:

So this takes place when Dick Grayson was still Batman. That whole era gets screwy in my head and even though I’m a massive Nightwing fan, it’s like my brain blocks out that he was ever Batman, until I come across one of those stories and it jars me back into that strange stretch of reality.

This was written by Scott Snyder for Detective Comics before he would go on to his solid run in the main Batman comic.

So this is pretty damn dark, even for a Batman comic but I liked it quite a bit, as Snyder gives us some new villains, very different situations and also links these multiple stories together quite well.

While “The Black Mirror” story is just about the first third of this collection, the other tales build off of it and maintain the same tone.

My favorite part of this was the story about Commissioner Gordon’s serial killer son and whether or not he was truly “cured”. I’ve always liked this character and how he fucks with the heads of Jim Gordon and Barbara Gordon, whether she’s Oracle or later on when she went back to being Batgirl.

The art in this was distracting at first but I adjusted to it pretty quickly and liked how well it added to the brooding atmosphere of these stories.

Batman: The Black Mirror is weird for me because it takes place during Dick Grayson’s Batman stint and I think this would’ve been better with Bruce Wayne in the story. However, it’s still a neat collection of really dark tales and it helped set Snyder on the right path for his career.

Rating: 8.25/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 6: To Serve and Protect

Published: July 18th, 2017
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Kieron Dwyer, Patch Zircher

DC Comics, 256 Pages

Review:

This chapter in the long Chuck Dixon run on Nightwing was a bit laid back compared to the previous installment but that one swung for the fences and after its ending, you kind of needed a bit of a breather.

Like the other volumes, this includes multiple story arcs while still progressing the larger arc of the series forward.

The highlight of this stretch of issues, at least for me, is that we get to see Dick Grayson go into the field as a beat cop for the first time. Seeing him have to balance that life and its responsibilities while also being Nightwing was really interesting.

I actually kind of wish they kept him as a cop. Although, I won’t go to deeply into where the Nightwing comics went in the last year or two but it did completely wreck the series and had me remove it from my pull list after being on there for nearly fifteen years.

Anyway, this also features some stories with some really cool new villains. It also features a good story with Catwoman.

The artists do change a few times over this stretch but like the last volume, I think I most enjoyed the issues that were done by Greg Land, which was a real step up from the art of the series before he got the gig.

The other artists are also pretty good in this and overall, it’s a better looking comic series than it was over its first four volumes.

Ultimately, this is still leading towards an eventual showdown between Nightwing and Blockbuster. I’d have to assume it’s coming soon, as they’ve been planting the seeds since way back in volume one.

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Nightwing, Vol. 5: The Hunt for Oracle

Published: November 1st, 2016
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Greg Land, Scott McDaniel, Karl Story

DC Comics, 331 Pages

Review:

I took a bit of a break, as I had reached the middle of the collected editions of Chuck Dixon’s classic Nightwing run. But now I’m ready to jump back in with this installment, which I thought was pretty good and full of action and multiple story arcs, which were mostly entertaining.

The two best stories are the ones that are essentially the bookends of this volume.

The first is about Nightwing breaking into prison to take down the supervillains that have taken it over. It features a lot of villains and some of them actually help Nightwing, as they’re not happy with the conditions they’ve been provided with under the new tyrannical rule of Lockup and his right hand, KGBeast.

The last story is about Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Oracle and the former Batgirl, being abducted with Nightwing and his allies trying desperately to find her. I don’t want to spoil what happens, as there is a cliffhanger that sets up the next volume.

As for the art, the earlier issues here continued to have a very ’90s style, which hasn’t aged all that well, even though I liked it at the time. After the first third or so of this volume, Greg Land took over and the book looked more refined and polished.

Overall, this is a good chapter in the larger Dixon run. It also progressed the stories of Blockbuster and Nite-Wing, the ripoff wannabe sidekick, in ways that kept their stories interesting.

Rating: 7.5/10