Comic Review: Detective Comics, Vol. 6: Fall of the Batmen

Published: June 26th, 2018
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Eddy Barrows, Joe Bennett, Phil Briones, Miguel Mendonca, Jesus Merino

DC Comics, 163 Pages

Review:

Well, I don’t know how the volume after this one is but thus far, this is the peak of James Tynion’s Detective Comics run. This built off of all his stories before this one, tied them all together in a great way and delivered on a few major narrative promises established in earlier volumes.

In fact, this volume made the volumes before this one better. That’s a hard thing to do but Tynion proved to me, here, that he is a pretty worthy Batman writer.

As I’ve stated in just about every review of every volume in Tynion’s run, I don’t like large Bat-Family groups. But Tynion makes the most out of it here and this may be one of the best Bat-Family stories I’ve read in recent memory.

If you are a Clayface fan, which I am, this story is pretty heartbreaking. I don’t want to spoil anything but if you’ve read some of the stuff before this, things come to a head and it’s pretty emotional. And there’s a lot to be said about that, as comics rarely make me emotional these days.

The Victim Syndicate return and we discover that they’ve had a bigger, darker plan all along. While I didn’t like this villain group when they debuted, they really start to gel here.

As should be expected with a comic book title of this caliber, the art is superb and every panel of this book looks great.

In an effort not to spoil more than I may already have, I’ll shut up now. This was a damn solid story with real consequences that the team can’t just walk away from. It’s got me excited to read the followup, which is Tynion’s final volume.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other collections of James Tynion IV’s run on Detective Comics.

Video Game Review: Batman (NES)

This game came out in early 1990. In fact, I got it for Easter that year, which made me extremely happy and lead to me playing the crap out of this game for weeks on end.

It was made to tie-in to the 1989 Batman movie but the game has a lot of original stuff in it.

For one, it has more villains than just Jack Nicholson’s Joker. It also features a high tech version of Killer Moth, the Electrocutioner, as well as minor DC Comics baddie, Firebug.

The game also features two other boss battles with super computers.

All that being said, while the framework of the story follows the movie’s plot, the game really goes in its own creative direction and has a sort of futuristic cyberpunk vibe between killer robots, killer computers and all types of other high tech things. The entirety of Level 4 feels like you are inside a massive super computer.

That being said, I always kind of dug this take on the Batman ’89 universe. I think that the game designers may have been somewhat inspired by Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

My only issue with the game is that the mechanics are a bit clunky, especially in regards to jumping from wall-to-wall. You do adapt to it and after playing this for awhile, the mechanics almost become second nature.

In fact, the game is kind of a breeze until the final level, which is the giant, towering cathedral from the ’89 film’s climax. Except this version isn’t mostly empty minus three thugs and the Joker. This version is full of flamethrower troops, killer machines and an infuriating boss in the form of Firebug. After all that, hopefully you’ve got enough health to take on the Joker.

I can’t say that this game has aged particularly well but it is still a really fun game from its era. It reminds me a lot of Ninja Gaiden but less frustrating.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other Batman games for the NES, Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis.

Comic Review: Detective Comics, Issue #359 – First Appearance of Batgirl

Published: January 4th, 1967
Written by: Henry Boltinoff, Gardner Fox
Art by: Murphy Anderson, Henry Boltinoff, Carmine Infantino

DC Comics, 25 Pages

Review:

I recently bought this comic, graded and slabbed. It was pretty high up on my bucket list for years, as the Barbara Gordon version of Batgirl is one of my top heroes of all-time. Granted, a lot of my love of the character came out of the ’60s Batman TV series and the casting of Yvonne Craig, who brought a lot of energy to the show.

Still, I’ve loved Barbara Gordon for almost my entire life. I felt the horror when the Joker shot her, crippling her and ending her career as Batgirl, I felt proud when she picked herself up and became the Oracle and then I was initially excited to see her return to her Batgirl role in recent years. However, those stories pretty much snuffed out my excitement in record time.

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to own this and now I do. But I can’t read a slabbed comic, so I bought this digitally. You can get this on Comixology for less than two bucks if you want to check it out.

This is a pretty solid introduction for its time but the story itself isn’t that great. We immediately learn who Batgirl is and she meets Batman on her first outing. The story here pits her against Killer Moth and his two henchmen that look too much like he does, so it’s visually confusing. This was also the era where Killer Moth looked like a ridiculous D-level villain and not the solid C-level one he would become over the years.

As is typical with late ’60s comics, the story is pretty self-contained and over rather quickly. Part of that is also due to the issue having a short story with the Elongated Man wedged into the end of the book, taking real estate away from Batgril’s debut.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other late ’60s Detective Comics and Batman stories.

Comic Review: Batgirl: Year One

Published: September 3rd, 2000 – December 31st, 2000
Written by: Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Javier Pulido, Robert Campanella

DC Comics, 203 Pages

Review:

Batgirl: Year One has been paired up in a trade paperback format with Robin: Year One in some releases and for good reason.

Mainly, this is done by the same creative team and it has a similar tone, art style and narrative structure.

This was released a year before Robin: Year One and is equally as good, if not a wee bit better. Reason being, this has a threat that feels larger, a plot that’s more cohesive over the multiple issues, as well as more characters that come into the story in ways that really help to flesh out Barbara Gordon’s origin.

Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon wrote a body of work that is close to being a masterpiece and is one of the best Batgirl stories ever produced, hands down.

Just like with Robin: Year One, which I already reviewed, I absolutely love the art of Javier Pulido and Robert Campanella. It has a pristine look while also looking retro for the time where this is set. It has a similar feel to Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Batman epics, also from the same time period, and it even kind of channels elements from Batman: The Animated Series, which was still very fresh in people’s minds in 2000.

If you know Barbara Gordon, this book just feels right. Contrary to a lot of her more modern stories, this is the Batgirl I want to read about. I have loved this character since first experiencing her on the ’60s Batman TV show. While that was campy as hell, Barbara always resonated with me and I always loved when she showed up alongside the Dynamic Duo.

Batgirl: Year One is a classic in my opinion. It isn’t something that I hear a lot of people reflect on but it was a real high point in the careers of all the creators involved and for the character.

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: Robin: Year One, as well as the Batman related books by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

Comic Review: Robin: Year One

Published: September 3rd, 2000 – December 31st, 2000
Written by: Scott Beatty, Chuck Dixon
Art by: Javier Pulido, Robert Campanella

DC Comics, 203 Pages

Review:

I loved this miniseries when I first read it back when it was collected into a trade paperback form around 2001. I actually pick it up every few years because it just hits the right notes for me and I’m a lifelong fan of Dick Grayson.

I absolutely love the art style here by Javier Pulido and Robert Campanella. It fits the story well and it also gives it a similar tone to the classic Batman events that Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale were doing in this era: The Long HalloweenDark Victory, Haunted Knight and Catwoman: When In Rome.

This was also written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. Beatty had worked on a few Batman related books and Dixon was one of the top Batman writers of the ’90s with his massive Knightfall arc and the creation of Bane, Birds of Prey and Stephanie Brown.

The story is exactly what it implies, it follows Dick Grayson in his first year as Robin. It does a great job of examining the struggles he faces with his new life, responsibility and how bringing a child into the crime fighting world weighs heavily on Batman, Alfred and James Gordon.

This is comprised of four double sized issues. Each issue works as a standalone story with its own tale. However, it still forms a larger arc, as we see all the key crime fighting heroes evolve due to Robin’s inclusion in their lives.

We get to see Robin go up against several notable villains, the biggest of which is Two-Face, who pops up in more than just one of the four issues.

I really liked the first chapter though, which saw Robin take on the Mad Hatter, one of my favorite villains and one that always seems to be underutilized or just used as an easy, humorous foil that is typically taken down with ease.

We also get to see Mr. Freeze and some lesser known villains but the story really takes a turn towards more serious stuff when Robin leaves the Bat-life behind and starts training under Shrike.

This is such a good series and while it is very much centered on a young Robin, it’s a story every Batman fan will probably love.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: Batgirl: Year One, as well as the Batman related books by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.

Comic Review: Green Arrow: Broken

Published: June 4th, 2014 – September 3rd, 2014
Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Andrea Sorrentino

DC Comics, 123 Pages

Review:

Broken followed up the Green Arrow story The Outsiders War. It is also the last big story arc from Jeff Lemire.

While many people thought that Lemire’s run on Green Arrow was spectacular, I’ve felt pretty lukewarm towards it. I thought it started out well and was building towards something great but it just seems to move a long with a whimper.

It just continues to feel like it is trying to be more like the show Arrow, as opposed to the comic book series that has come and gone for decades. It’s almost too dark, too serious and just lacks the character and charisma of years of Green Arrow stories. This sort of falls victim to the gritty reboot trend in the worst way.

It sucks because I generally like Lemire’s writing but as his Green Arrow tenure ran on, it also ran dry. I’m not sure what people see in this, unless most people only really know this character from the more serious and dark television show.

Anyway, this closes out most of the big plot threads from Lemire’s time on the series.

The only real highlight of this is the artwork. Andrea Sorrentino has a real talent for capturing action in a unique and refreshing way. This guy should get more work on action heavy titles from the major publishers.

In the end, the Jeff Lemire run was a disappointment for me, especially after I heard people rave about it for a few years.

While it sounds like I’m being hard on this, it isn’t terrible. It’s decent, for sure, but it’s hardly as iconic as the hardcore Lemire fans claim.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: The other story arcs in the Jeff Lemire run on Green Arrow.

Comic Review: Green Arrow: The Outsiders War

Published: November 6th, 2013 – May 7th, 2014
Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Andrea Sorrentino

DC Comics, 157 Pages

Review:

This is the biggest story arc in Jeff Lemire’s run on Green Arrow.

This was also pretty damn intense. But as Lemire’s run on the title rolls on, I have developed a love/hate relationship with it.

For one, I’m not entirely sure of why this version of Oliver Queen lives in Seattle as opposed to Star City and it’s never really been explained within Lemire’s stories. It’s a weird setting for a DC title and maybe trying to ground this in some sort of gritty reality is why they use a real world city but Seattle is hardly some dark and gritty metropolis like Star City has been in the past.

Also, this started bringing in characters and concepts from the TV show Arrow. I’m not sure if that’s because this came out just after the show started and was at its height in popularity but the comic doesn’t need to follow the show or be a comic book version of the show. That show is its own thing and what works on TV isn’t always what works in comics, and vice versa. This is why the show has changed some things but Lemire’s run is adopting some of those changes and characters. But it is also an attempt to make this more accessible to the fans that have only watched the TV series.

The stuff between Oliver and Komodo is really good though. I like the Komodo character, what he represents and how he’s completely altered the course of Oliver’s life.

I like the mystical elements of the story, as well, and it reminds me of old school Iron Fist comics in a lot of ways.

The best thing about Lemire’s run on Green Arrow isn’t Lemire though, at least not for me. The best thing is the art. Andrea Sorrentino has such a unique and incredible style that it breathes more life into these tales. His ability to showcase action in new and exciting ways is really refreshing.

All in all, this is fun if you are a fan of the character, whether through the comics or just from the television series.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: The other story arcs in the Jeff Lemire run on Green Arrow.