Comic Review: Batman Arkham – Penguin

Published: September 4th, 2018
Written by: various
Art by: various

DC Comics, 241 Pages

Review:

As I’ve stated just about every time that I’ve reviewed one of these Batman Arkham “best of” collections, I love these damn things. Each one focuses on a specific villain from Batman lore and, for the most part, collect the best stories from all eras of Batman comic book history.

Now while I did enjoy most of this volume, I can’t honestly say that these are the Penguin’s greatest hits. Some of the stories here were kind of drab and just from memory I came up with about a half dozen that were better than the ones collected here.

However, I think part of the problem is that they want to cover all the eras and most of the great Penguin stories I’m thinking of are from the ’70s and ’80s.

This still does a good job at showcasing the character and giving fans a peak into how he’s evolved over the years as times change and new writers have come and gone, most of them leaving their imprint on the character.

In the end, this is worth adding to your collection if you’ve also been buying every volume. However, I wish that DC would come up with a better and beefier collection to honor the longevity and greatness of this 79 year-old character.

Rating: 6.75/10
Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections.

Comic Review: Doomsday Clock

Published: November 22nd, 2017 – December 18th, 2019
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Gary Frank, Brad Anderson
Based on: Watchmen by Alan Moore

DC Comics, 456 Pages

Review:

Well, Doomsday Clock has finally ended! This twelve issue series wasn’t supposed to stretch out for over two years but it did. I’m glad that I didn’t start reading it until it was over, as I would’ve forgotten all the details due to the delays and the dozens of other comics I would’ve read between each issue.

Now that it’s all out, I finally read it: binging through it in two days.

I guess my first thoughts on it are that it is underwhelming and that it doesn’t justify its need to exist.

I had always been against new Watchmen stories without the involvement of Alan Moore. My mind changed, however, when I read some of the Before Watchmen stories from a couple years ago.

They made me see Watchmen the same way I see other comic book properties and that’s as a sort of modern mythology that is told and retold by countless others, each bringing something new and unique to the table. Superman and Batman have had countless writers and many of them have evolved and grown the character in great ways beyond their original concept. Granted, some writers have gravely failed too.

Generally, I like Geoff Johns’ work, so I wan’t against the idea of him tackling the Watchmen property.

Ultimately, though, this took too long to come out, especially with how sloppily put together it feels.

This is one of those stories where it feels like a lot happened but also like nothing happened.

It tries to merge the Watchmen universe with the DC universe but it doesn’t work. But I’m also over the crossover trope of using inter-dimensional portals or a superbeing that basically acts as a super-dimensional portal. That being said, I don’t know how else to bring these universes together but that also makes me ask why they had to try it in the first place?

Watchmen is very much its own thing, as is DC. Hell, Marvel is also its own thing in that same regard and whenever they tried to crossover Marvel and DC, which happened multiple times, it always felt forced, clunky and weird.

The only real highlight of this was seeing how certain characters from different universes would interact with one another but honestly, none of it was as cool as I felt it should have been and it all felt pretty pointless and made me realize how bad the Rebirth era of DC Comics has been – well, for the most part, as I liked some titles in the last few years.

In the end, this doesn’t feel any different than one of any of the dozen indie publisher crossovers that pit Green Lanterns against Ghostbusters, Ninja Turtles, Transformers, Star Trek crews or the apes from Planet of the Apes. While those crazy crossovers are neat to a point, they’ve been done to death in recent years. And despite this being better written and having better art than the other franchise mashups, it feels like DC Comics were really late to the party and didn’t even realize that it was over.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: Watchmen and the Before Watchmen stuff, as well as just about everything under the DC Rebirth banner.

Comic Review: Action Comics, Issue #23 – First Appearance of Lex Luthor

Published: March 31st, 1940
Written by: Jerry Siegel
Art by: Joe Shuster, Paul Cassidy

DC Comics, 14 Pages

Review:

I had never read the first appearance of Lex Luthor but I had always heard that he was a weird ginger dude that may have been smart but was not very Lex Luthor-ish.

Well, that’s an accurate description. And frankly, I’m glad that Luthor, as he’s just called here, evolved into something more akin to his modern form. Honestly, I couldn’t see him lasting in the form that he took here.

However, I guess this issue was popular enough to have the character return, albeit retooled and repackaged into the bald, power hungry tycoon he’s most most recognized as.

The story is pretty short and it just sees Lois Lane get kidnapped. Superman gets a clue to her whereabouts and tracks her down in Luthor’s lair. He bests the ginger madman and saves Lois, the end.

I’d have to go back and read more on the history of kryptonite but there is a sequence here where Luthor weakens Superman with a green laser beam. It’s unclear what the beam is but maybe this was an early version of kryptonite being used.

Anyway, this wasn’t a terribly exciting comic but it was okay for what Golden Age comic stories were.

Rating: 5.5/10
Pairs well with: other Golden Age Superman comics.

Film Review: Batman: Hush (2019)

Release Date: July 19th, 2019 (SDCC)
Directed by: Justin Copeland
Written by: Ernie Altbacker
Based on: Batman: Hush by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee
Music by: Frederik Wiedmann
Cast: Jason O’Mara, Jennifer Morrsion, Geoffrey Arend, Jerry O’Connell, Maury Sterling, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Sean Maher, Peyton List (I), Peyton List (II), Vanessa Williams, Tara Strong

Warner Bros. Animation, DC Entertainment, 81 Minutes

Review:

“Riddle me this – “The less of me you have, the more I am worth”… what am I? Answer – A Friend.” – The Riddler

The DC Comics animated films are really hit or miss for me.

Mostly, I enjoy them but there are usually things that don’t click in the right way or the films claim to be adaptations of a famous story but then take tremendous liberties and are really only those stories in name only. Look at Gotham by Gaslight for an example of that.

For the most part, this takes a lot of liberties while still holding on to the spirit of the original Hush story.

The biggest difference here, is that Hush is not Thomas Elliot like in the comics but is actually someone else. Thomas Elliot appears in this film but he’s just a red herring. I won’t spoil the plot and tell you who Hush is though but I thought it was worth mentioning for those who would prefer a beat-by-beat adaptation.

I thought that the animation was some of the best DC has had, thus far. A lot of care was given to the character design, the actual motion in the film, as well as the visual tone.

The film also benefits, in my opinion, by not being cast with more well-known stars. Sometimes famous voices can be distracting in these films. Here, the main characters weren’t played by famous distinct voices. The more famous actors who were in this actually just blended in nicely and didn’t detract from the proceedings.

Overall, this is in the upper echelon of DC’s animated features. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely got a lot more positives than negatives.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: other recent DC Comics animated movies.

Comic Review: Superman, Vol. 1: Son of Superman

Published: January 10th, 2017
Written by: Patrick Gleason, Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Patrick Gleason

DC Comics, 163 Pages

Review:

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.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Superman and Action Comics at the start of DC’s Rebirth.

Comic Review: Superman/Shazam!: First Thunder

Published: 2005-2006
Written by: Judd Winick
Art by: Josh Middleton

DC Comics, 146 Pages

Review:

There’s always something special about Superman and Captain Marvel team ups. Well, most of the time at least.

What’s really cool about this miniseries is that it focused on the first time that Superman met Captain Marvel. Here, he discovers the truth that this hero that is very similar to himself is actually a young boy, an orphan, that is having to learn how to accept and manage the responsibility of his powers.

There are some great, touching moments in this and a lot of those moments are sort of seen through the eyes of Billy Batson a.k.a. Captain Marvel, as he becomes friends with a hero he looks up to and aspires to live up to.

The story here is well crafted and it feels very personal. There’s a lot of passion in the writing and that’s refreshing when I feel like we are in an era where mainstream comics aren’t as concerned with quality and are more focused on flooding the market with shit product just to make a quick buck as the industry continues to shrink.

But this also came out over ten years ago and that was an era where a lot of care still went into most top tier comic books.

Anyway, this was a good, wholesome and emotional read. It also featured a unique art style that kind of made the book feel timeless and presented its main characters in an iconic style befitting of their place in comic book history.

Rating: 7.75/10
Pairs well with: other Superman and Captain Marvel team ups.

Comic Review: The Flash: Flashpoint

Published: October 8th, 2013
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Andy Kubert

DC Comics, 166 Pages

Review:

This is the best Flash event that I’ve ever read. Granted, I’m not a hug Flash fan in the comics and I haven’t read a lot of his big events but this wasn’t bogged down by too much Speed Force bullshit, which is typically a bone of contention with me, as it’s used to explain every random ass weird thing that happens in modern Flash stories. It’s also why I lost interest in the TV show, which started out pretty damn good.

The Speed Force does play a factor here but it doesn’t make this a mental clusterfuck like the plot of The Flash: Rebirth.

And while The Flash does fight another speedster, this isn’t just about a guy with speed fighting another guy with speed because that shit also gets tiresome and is another reason why I stopped watching the show.

There are a lot of characters and the fact that this takes place in an alternate reality where things are different enough to make the world interesting, makes this feel different than the standard Flash event.

Granted, I wish this featured more of the regular rogues that aren’t speedsters but when most of those villains have become jokes, that was probably for the best. At least we get small cameos from Captain Cold and the Pied Piper, even if they don’t have much to do with the story.

The thing that makes this so good, is that it just grabs you and holds on. It’s a quick read, as it takes place over just five issues but there is a lot to absorb. But in the end, this will hit you in the feels from a few different angles and frankly, that took me by surprise. But the final moments in this made this whole journey worth it.

Geoff Johns is one of my favorite writers of the last decade or so and this is the first Flash story that I felt was on the same level as his best Green Lantern work. Plus, Andy Kubert’s art was incredible and it wasn’t too far of a departure from the style I’ve come accustomed to seeing in Johns’ biggest stories, which were mostly drawn by Ethan Van Sciver.

Flashpoint is an action packed and legitimately emotional ride through two men’s tragic journeys. It was well executed and a visually stunning piece of work.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the Geoff Johns era of The Flash, as well as other major Flash events.