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

Comic Review: X-Force – Epic Collection: Under the Gun

Published: March 22nd, 2017
Written by: Rob Liefeld, Fabian Nicieza, Todd McFarlane, various
Art by: Rob Liefeld, Greg Capullo, Todd McFarlane, Mike Mignola, Mark Pacella, Darick Robertson, Terry Shoemaker, various 

Marvel Comics, 463 Pages

Review:

Man, oh, f’n man… it’s been ages since I’ve read the Rob Liefeld era of X-Force. When I was a kid, I thought that this was the greatest new series Marvel had but I also think I was convincing myself of that, as Rob Liefeld was a hot commodity and I was also a fan of The New Mutants, which this was born out of. Besides, there was just so much hype at the time and I was at a pretty impressionable age.

Reading this now, I still found it really enjoyable and was surprised that I liked it as much as I did.

However, I also know that the story essentially came from Liefeld like bullet points and then it was handed to ace writer Fabian Nicieza, who actually wrote all the dialogue and massaged Liefeld’s notes into a usable script. After Liefeld left the series to co-found Image Comics, Nicieza stayed on as the writer and worked with other greats like Greg Capullo and Mike Mignola.

Now looking at the other side of this, creatively, the art isn’t great and even if I loved Liefeld when I was in 7th grade, I see the issues with his art much more clearly now. However, I don’t want to shit all over the guy like everyone else has done for years. I just notice the issues he has with anatomy and perspective.

It’s worth mentioning, though, that the art did improve once Liefeld stepped away, which happened about two-thirds into this collection.

As far as the story goes, I really got reinvested in this and want to keep reading it. Possibly beyond where I stopped when I was buying this month-after-month, which was about four or five years into the series.

Additionally, this also reminded me of how much I liked some of the long forgotten characters that were so cool in 1991. Characters like G.W. Bridge, Garrison Kane and the other people associated with them and Cable’s past.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Superman: Doomsday

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Brett Breeding, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund

DC Comics, 332 Pages

Review:

Well, Superman is already alive and we’ve reached the fifth and final part of the Death/Return of Superman saga. With that, this story takes care of the last thing that needs to be dealt with and that’s Superman finally defeating Doomsday without dying and thus, restoring balance the the DC universe.

Generally, I like Dan Jurgens writing but overall, I wasn’t blown away by this saga. However, I did find this to be better than all the big DC Comics Crisis events, which always read like overloaded, convoluted messes to me.

While these stories had a lot of characters in them, Superman was always really the focus and for the most part, this stayed on that thread, even if there were some distractions with new “Supermen” and with checking in on individuals after Superman’s death.

I felt like the art, here, was a bit more fine-tuned and better than the rest of the chapters in this massive saga.

Additionally, the writing felt tighter and more focused, as Jurgens pretty much handled it all and the work wasn’t spread out over a handful of people.

The highlights of this are that Superman is definitely back, we get to see Darkseid mix it up with Doomsday, Cyborg Superman cements his place as a major villain, and Doomsday finally gets some receipts cashed in on his ass.

In the end, I’m glad that I finally experienced this saga in its entirety. It was long but by the end, the total body of work made all of the smaller parts come together, giving them deeper meaning and relevance to the overall DC universe. 

Rating: 7/10

Comic Review: Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure

Published: 1989
Written by: Walt Simonson
Art by: Mike Mignola

Marvel Comics, 49 Pages

Review:

I have never read this comic and for that, I feel ashamed.

I love Wolverine, especially his solo adventures of this era, and The Jungle Adventure just features him and Apocalypse duking it out in the Savage Land. Well, there is a big twist to that fight but yes, Apocalypse is in this.

Also, it’s really damn cool seeing a Wolverine comic drawn by Mike Mignola, which wouldn’t have meant as much to elementary school me in 1989. However, I like looking at Mignola’s earlier work and seeing how its grown and evolved since, as he has one of the most unique and patented art styles in comics.

This is also written by Walter Simonson, who did a lot of great comics that I’ve loved for decades. Many of which I’ve returned to and re-read multiple times.

Additionally, this was one of those Marvel graphic novel one-shots. Those always had a harder edge to them, as they did things that they couldn’t do in the regular monthly comics.

All that being said, this is a near perfect storm of a lot of great things coming together in a very satisfying way.

This is a quick but engaging read. However, I still took my time with it as I wanted to absorb Mignola’s art.

In the end, this is now one of my favorite Marvel one-shot releases during their ’80s and ’90s graphic novel run. 

Rating: 8.25/10

Comic Review: Stars Wars – Omnibus: Quinlan Vos: Jedi In Darkness

Published: February 5th, 2015
Written by: Pat Mills, John Ostrander
Art by: Ramon F. Bachs, Christian Dalla Vecchia, Jan Duursema, Davide Fabbri, Guy Major
Based on: Star Wars by George Lucas

Dark Horse, Marvel Comics (reprinted), 509 Pages

Review:

Outside of the Star Wars films, Quinlan Vos is my favorite character. I first came across him during the Clone Wars era of the Dark Horse Star Wars comics between 2002 and 2005.

I guess, technically, he is in The Phantom Menace even though he is just a background character in one scene and originally, he was just some random dude that the character was later based off of. But he was set to appear in Revenge of the Sith and even got a name drop in the movie but his scene was left out of the film. Although, that scene did make it into the novelization.

This beefy collection of issues collects his earliest comic stories and I had fun reading this, as these were stories I missed, as they predate his Clone Wars tales.

While I didn’t like these as much as the Clone Wars stuff, which saw Vos infiltrate the Sith and stand alongside Count Dooku, I did enjoy these stories because it gives Vos’ backstory and shows you where he came from, who he is and also establishes his relationship with his padawan Aayla Secura.

Vos always interacted with the seedier parts of the Star Wars universe and that’s one of the things I always liked about him and his stories. In a lot of ways, he feels like Star Wars‘ version of ’80s Wolverine. He’s down to do dirt if he has to and you never really know if he’s truly a hero. Vos walks on the line and if anyone crosses him, they’re probably going to regret it.

Ultimately, this really reignited my love for this era of Star Wars in the comics and I really want to go back and read the Clone Wars stuff again. Maybe I will, in the near future.

Rating: 7.5/10

Comic Review: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D – Masterworks, Vol. 3

Published: February 15th, 2018
Written by: Jim Steranko, Gary Friedrich, Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin, Ernie Hart, Steve Parkhouse
Art by: Jim Steranko, Frank Springer, Herb Trimpe, Barry Windsor-Smith, Dick Ayers, Sal Buscema

Marvel Comics, 309 Pages

Review:

I started with Masterworks, Vol. 3 because it is a collection of what’s considered to be the most beloved work featuring Nick Fury, as the solo star of his own stories.

This also takes the character, puts him in S.H.I.E.L.D. and makes him a cool, hip superspy, as opposed to a military hero on the battlefields of war.

Marvel, like everyone else at the time, wanted to capitalize off of the ’60s spy craze that started with the first James Bond film, Dr. No in 1962. That movie inspired its own sequels, a slew of rip-offs, parodies, pulp novels and comics. So, instead of creating a new character, Marvel reworked one that was already pretty popular but existed in a genre that was drying up.

A lot of this is written and has art done by Jim Steranko. A lot of people worked on the issues in this collection, though, but Steranko is the guy that has always been given most of the credit for this groovy reinvention of Nick Fury.

Tapping into the ’60s era spy genre, this is trippy and colorful and it stands out in a really unique way when compared to the other Marvel titles of the time. I love the hell out of the art and the style in these comics and it’s why I’ve picked up a lot of the single issues, over the years.

I was never as captivated by the stories, as much as I was by the visuals, however. But the stuff featuring Nick Fury fighting Hydra and the multi-issue arc pitting him against the Hate-Monger were really damn enjoyable.

I never got to read all of these issues and experience the bigger picture. I’m glad that I finally did, though, as it’s really different than what was the standard ’60s Marvel fare. Plus, it’s also infinitely better than anything Marvel’s doing these days.

Rating: 7.75/10