Published: May 16th, 2017
Written by: James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett
Art by: Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez, Ben Oliver
DC Comics, 142 Pages
I’ve liked James Tynion’s Batman work and I also liked the volume before this that set things up. However, I was not digging this story at all.
It’s not that it’s bad or that there weren’t some interesting ideas here but it didn’t resonate with me and this new villian team called The Victim Syndicate just seemed like generic, throwaway, one-off baddies.
Also, this story happens in the wake of Red Robin’s death and it shows how Spoiler, a former Batgirl, deals with this loss. Frankly, I’m wasn’t happy with how her character was handled, as it felt like a major and uncharacteristic regression when compared to who she was by the end of her Batgirl run.
And while I’m not a big fan of Batman having a large Bat-Family, I do like how he’s been working with Batwoman in this series, as well as how Clayface has evolved into a character that is trying to be heroic and looking for redemption.
This volume is a mixture of good and bad. I think the good slightly outweighs the bad and even if I didn’t like the story, it wasn’t boring or dull and I still got through it with hope that the next volume in Tynion’s Detective Comics run would be a better one.
Pairs well with: other collections of James Tynion IV’s run on Detective Comics.
Published: August 21st, 2019
Written by: Tom Taylor
Art by: Cully Hamner, Dave Stewart, Mitch Gerads (cover)
DC Comics, 37 Pages
I’m not really into this Year of the Villain megaevent that DC is doing right now but I am a fan of Black Mask, so I figured I’d pick up this one-shot and see if it peaked my interest in the larger event itself.
And this was mostly a mediocre read.
I guess I needed more backstory to the event itself to grasp some of what was going on but that’s not a great approach, creatively, if you’re trying to get people invested into the thing.
Black Mask is doing typical Black Mask things but then Lex Luthor shows up and tries to convince him to think bigger and to become a more prominent criminal, as opposed to some third tier Batman baddie.
That’s really the gist of the story.
So in the end, I still don’t give a shit about Year of the Villain but at least the art in this one-shot was good.
Pairs well with: other Year of the Villain tie-ins.
Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Denis Medri, Paolo Pantalena
DC Comics, 141 Pages
I was a fan of Scott Lobdell’s work on Red Hood and the Outlaws, so I figured I’d go backwards and read his short-lived Red Hood/Arsenal series that takes place just before the formation of Red Hood’s Outlaws team with Artemis and Bizarro.
Also, with the recent death of Arsenal and Red Hood having to deal with it and process it, I wanted to get more context to their friendship.
This was a good read, a pretty energetic story and it does do a lot to show you how special Red Hood and Arsenal’s relationship is. It also channels back to events that effected them before this story. And maybe I’ll have to go back further and read those too.
However, this wasn’t as good as the Red Hood and the Outlaws stuff that followed. While both are written by Lobdell, the more recent (and still ongoing) series has just a bit more depth to it.
This collection is the first of only two in this series and while this one serves to set things up, upon finishing it, it doesn’t feel like there is much to look forward to, as the series seems to present itself as something with more longevity than just one more arc. And maybe that longevity was intended to be the Outlaws series but I know that I’ll probably want more of Red Hood and Arsenal than just this small sample size. Especially, now knowing what Arsenal’s fate will be down the road.
If you like Red Hood stories though, this is probably worth your time. It’s hard to judge it though, as there is one more volume after it and maybe I should have just read both as one body of work.
Pairs well with: Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Alfredo Alcala, Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary
DC Comics, 169 Pages
I’ve heard great things about Batman: Year Two. Surprisingly, I’ve never read it even though it came out in the time when I was just starting out reading superhero comics, specifically Batman titles.
Plus, seeing that this was written by Mike W. Barr is pretty exciting, as I read Camelot 3000 a few months back and loved it.
This story starts off with a bang. However, it gets away from itself after the first issue or so.
It explores Batman’s motivations and what he is willing to do in the name of justice. The story actually sees him team up with Joe Chill, the guy who murdered his parents, and Batman does brandish a gun in this. Eventually, he becomes the Batman we all know and love but his journey here was weird and it seemed kind of forced and shocking just to be shocking.
I guess this is a sort of sequel to Frank Miller’s Year One but it doesn’t seem to fit well with it.
I liked the Reaper character and his weird way of passing the torch to Gotham’s new hero but honestly, this was kind of a mess and Batman, despite this being early in his career, didn’t feel true to the character. I guess that’s kind of the point but it didn’t gel for me.
That being said, this is still worth a read and it has resonated with a lot of people. Also, it’s really cool seeing early art from Todd McFarlane, before his epic Spider-Man run.
Pairs well with: Batman: Year One and other late ’80s Batman tales.
Published: October 17th, 2017
Written by: Tom King, Joshua Williamson
Art by: Jason Fabok, Howard Porter
Based on: Watchmen by Alan Moore
DC Comics, 99 Pages
I haven’t started the big Watchmen-centric sequel series Doomsday Clock because I’m waiting for all the issues to come out first. Now that it is almost complete, though, I thought that I’d read the story that sets it up.
This was a four issue crossover that happened between the regular Bamtan and The Flash titles.
This also links back to the Flashpoint event and is kind of a bridge between that and Doomsday Clock. The main way it connects to the previous story is that it brings back the Thomas Wayne version of Batman. And in this story, Thomas Wayne’s Batman finally meets Bruce Wayne’s Batman.
Apart from the meeting of the two Batmen, the rest of this seems kind of pointless. It doesn’t really take you anywhere worthwhile other than also bringing back the Reverse Flash. But then you just see him die, rather quickly, due to some powerful being on the other side of a portal.
By the end of this, we still don’t know who or what that being is. And no actual Watchmen characters appear.
If you want to read this before Doomsday Clock, I don’t really think it’s necessary. Although, if you have Comixology Unlimited, it’s free to read there.
All this really did was make me want more of the Thomas Wayne Batman. I think he’s a cool character that can be explored more in the future and a Batmen team up would be kind of neat to see.
Pairs well with: Flashpoint and Doomsday Clock.
Written by: Enrico Marini
Art by: Enrico Marini
DC Comics, 136 Pages
While not specifically labeled an Elseworlds tale, that’s what this is, as it is Enrico Marini’s take on Batman and the Joker with its own twists that don’t exist within the normal DC Comics continuity.
In this world, Batman apparently fathered a little girl after a one night stand. The Joker kidnaps the girl, thinking that he can blackmail Bruce Wayne into bidding on a fancy gem that Harley Quinn wants. Man, the story sounds really stupid now that I’m typing it out.
Overall, the plot is lame, not all that engaging and this seems to fit so far outside of the box of who these characters are that I couldn’t wrap my brain around it.
Hell, Jim Gordon is even seen vaping in this.
There is also a lot of humor thrown in but most of it isn’t funny and the jokes fall flat, immediately.
I’m not sure what the tone of the book is supposed to be as it feels all over the place.
However, I did enjoy the art. Marini has a cool style, even if he took some liberties with the looks of the characters.
I’m all for new creatives taking on the Batman mythos and doing their own version of it. It worked incredibly well when Sean Gordon Murphy did it with White Knight. However, here, it just feels like some edgy boi bullshit.
The art saves this from being a complete waste though.
Pairs well with: other Elseworld tales featuring Batman.
Published: January 10th, 2017
Written by: Patrick Gleason, Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Patrick Gleason
DC Comics, 163 Pages
A few friends of mine have talked up the Superman stories that started with DC’s Rebirth up until Brian Michael Bendis showed up and took over all the Superman books.
So starting at the beginning, I’ve got to say that this arc really peaked my interest. It establishes an interesting direction for the character and his son, the current Superboy, Jonathan Samuel Kent.
This story also features multiple Supermen, so I’m not sure what that’s all about, as I didn’t read any of the New 52 stuff before this.
But I love Clark in this story, his relationship with his son and the fact that he and Lois aren’t in an incredibly weird and uncharacteristic spot thanks to Bendis being Bendis.
Patrick Gleason does some stellar art and his story, which is also written by Peter J. Tomasi, one of my favorite writers of the last few years, especially, is pretty compelling and just feels like classic Supes.
I think I’ll check out the first volume of Action Comics‘ Rebirth run next, as that usually runs parallel to the events of this book.
So for fans that aren’t really digging Bendis’ Superman experiment, this might satisfy you more.
Pairs well with: Superman and Action Comics at the start of DC’s Rebirth.