Comic Review: Detective Comics, Vol. 2: The Victim Syndicate

Published: May 16th, 2017
Written by: James Tynion IV, Marguerite Bennett
Art by: Eddy Barrows, Alvaro Martinez, Ben Oliver

DC Comics, 142 Pages

Review:

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.

Rating: 5.25/10
Pairs well with: other collections of James Tynion IV’s run on Detective Comics.

Comic Review: The House of Secrets, Issue #92 – First Appearance of Swamp Thing

Published: June 30th, 1971
Written by: Mark Evanier, Jack Kirby, Virgil North, Len Wein
Art by: Dick Dillin, Bill Draut, Alan Weiss, Bernie Wrightson

DC Comics, 26 Pages

Review:

While this issue is mostly widely known because it is the first appearance of Swamp Thing, I can’t review it just based on that story. This is an anthology comic and I have to review this issue as one body of work.

That being said, the Swamp Thing story was far and away better than the other chapters in this. But I’m also not a big anthology fan, as I’ve stated many times. And this issue is an example of why I’m not big on anthologies, as it features one great story while the rest fall well below the mark of this issue’s only memorable tale.

However, these old school ’70s horror comics still resonate with me and luckily, the Swamp Thing story resonated enough with other people that the character would go on to survive for decades and even get multiple films and television series.

I think the reason it really had the lasting power it did was due to the artwork of Bernie Wrightson. The art is spectacular but I also have to give credit to Len Wein’s writing. But when you put two superb talents like this together, magic often times happens, as is the case with this character and his first story.

For fans of Swamp Thing, it is really worth going back and checking this out. Luckily for all of us, DC just released a facsimile edition. But you can also read it digitally on Comixology for just a few bucks.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other early Swamp Thing stories, as well as other issues of The House of Secrets anthology comic.

Comic Review: Year of the Villain: Black Mask – One-Shot

Published: August 21st, 2019
Written by: Tom Taylor
Art by: Cully Hamner, Dave Stewart, Mitch Gerads (cover)

DC Comics, 37 Pages

Review:

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.

It didn’t.

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.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other Year of the Villain tie-ins.

Comic Review: Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 1: Open for Business

Published: April 5th, 2016
Written by: Scott Lobdell
Art by: Denis Medri, Paolo Pantalena

DC Comics, 141 Pages

Review:

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.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Red Hood and the Outlaws.

Comic Review: Batman: Year Two

Published: 1987
Written by: Mike W. Barr
Art by: Alfredo Alcala, Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary

DC Comics, 169 Pages

Review:

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.

Rating: 6.25/10
Pairs well with: Batman: Year One and other late ’80s Batman tales.

Comic Review: Preacher: Book Two

Published: 1996-1997
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Steve Dillon, Glenn Fabry (covers)

Vertigo Comics, 369 Pages

Review:

A big chunk of this book in the Preacher series is the Crusaders story arc, which I already reviewed here. It takes up six issues of the fourteen collected in this volume but I wanted to also review this book as a whole body of work, as I am reading through Preacher in its entirety and in order.

Man, I fucking loved this book in the series and it would actually have been perfect, except for three of the issues that served as flashback/origin stories for Jesse’s dad and Cassidy. Now those stories are important but they kind of slowed things down a bit.

I guess reading this from month to month, the backstory issues were fine but it kind of gets in the way of the larger, more energetic story for the main characters. And I think that the main plot threads in this were just so damn good that even though the origin tales added context and depth, they just had a negative effect on the overall momentum.

This book is pretty important to the larger Preacher mythos, as this is where we meet supervillain Herr Starr, as well as learn all about The Grail and what their purpose is. For those that watch the television show, the events here sort of line up with the end of season three and the start of season four.

But the comic book and the TV show are very different. While they follow similar threads and have similar themes, the comic is way more over the top and intense than the show. In fact, until really reading this from the beginning, I guess I didn’t understand the depths that the comic would go, even for ’90s edgy boi shit.

While the first installment to the series was damn good, this one is close to perfect for what this story is and for Ennis’ style as a writer. I hope that momentum continues going forward as I don’t want to waste too much time before jumping into the third book.

Rating: 9.75/10
Pairs well with: the other Preacher stuff, as well as ’90s Spawn and Garth Ennis’ run on Shadowman.

Vids I Dig 081: Literature Devil: A Look at King Baby a.k.a. Mark Waid (In 3 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): The favorite weapon of those in charge has always been to censor “rogue thinkers.” And let’s not kid ourselves…a Republican may be in the White House…but the far left is not only still in charge, but they’re actively shutting down competing opinions. And there have been few better examples of the left-wing censor in action…than what happened during the Jawbreakers fiasco.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): Let’s take a journey into the marvelously malicious mind of a madman.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): How do you think Meyer v Waid will go? Let’s take a look. (Yes – I got that idea from the Hugbox Chronicles. Watch and you’ll know what part I’m talking about)