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: 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: The Return of Superman

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Gerard Jones, Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice

DC Comics, 464 Pages

Review:

Well, this is a step up from the previous two volumes in the larger The Death/Return of Superman saga. This is also the fourth of the five big chapters but now that Superman is back, we can stop spending time on mediocre replacements and get back to business.

The four replacements are still here, however, but now they have to find their place in the world with Superman reclaiming his mantle.

Two of these replacements remain heroes and two let their villain flags finally fly for all to see. Where these characters would end up wasn’t a surprise, though.

I think that the most impactful thing about this story isn’t simply Superman’s return, as much as it was seeing him return to Lois after all she had been through in the previous three chapters of this multi-year saga.

Once Superman actually returns, you’re not totally sure it’s him but as a reader, you hope it is and it’s really a breath of fresh air, as the replacements just didn’t cut it. I also think that DC Comics knew this and brought the famed hero back earlier than they probably wanted to.

Regardless, it’s good that he did return, as it was like a shot in the arm to this story, which I found myself losing interest in. Had I been buying these and reading them back when they were current, I know that I would’ve stopped before we even got to the return.

In the end, I’m not super keen on these books, beyond the pretty emotional battle that ended with Superman’s death. Although, this did make up for some of the lower points a bit and it sets up the next showdown between Supes and Doomsday, the jerk that killed him.

Rating: 6.5/10

Comic Review: Reign of the Supermen

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Dan Jurgens, Gerard Jones, Karl Kesel, Louise Simonson, Roger Stern
Art by: Jon Bogdanove, M.D. Bright, Tom Grummett, Jackson Guice

DC Comics, 325 Pages

Review:

I’m not going to lie, even though I slept on this big event back in the early ’90s, I went into this with some real enthusiasm, hoping it would be interesting and have a real purpose.

Sadly, this started out kind of neat but quickly devolved into a clusterfuck without any real sort of cohesive narrative trajectory.

With Superman dead, four new figures pop-up and try to fill the void. Three of the four believe themselves to be Superman while the fourth was simply inspired by him.

As we know now, years later, two of these Supermen would go on to be villains: Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. As for the other two, Steel would just continue to be Steel and Superboy would just stay Superboy and go on to be a really popular character in his own right.

Ultimately, I just didn’t care about any of this and even though I can see how some of the new characters may have resonated with some people, none of them have ever really grabbed me.

I guess, in the end, I can say that I’ve now actually experienced this once important major comic book event. But honestly, fuck these characters. I can see why they brought Superman back almost immediately after this experiment.

Rating: 5.25/10

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