Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 5: World Tour

Published: January 22nd, 2019
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Steve Erwin

DC Comics, 237 Pages

Review:

Man, I really love this series outside of the weird third volume. I’m glad that it recovered from that chapter and this one is actually a bit better than the previous one.

Marv Wolfman really knows Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke but then he should, as he created the character a decade before this series.

I love this in the same way I love the earliest G.I. Joe stories by Larry Hama. It has that same sort of gravitas and machismo while also featuring badass characters outside of just the main one.

With this series, I’ve become a much bigger fan of the Pat Trayce version of Vigilante than the original version. She looks great in the costume, is a complex, solid character and it’s extremely hard not to like her, even if she sometimes acts too reactionary and doesn’t trust Deathstroke, the man she unfortunately loves but who is also, in this era, trying to do good things and atone for his sins.

I love Deathstroke and Vigilante’s relationship, though, as they are usually allies but often times in each other’s crosshairs. Wolfman writes these characters and these stories so well, however, that it just works and makes sense.

Like most of the previous volumes I also really enjoy the art in this.

I guess this volume is probably the most important one in the series, thus far, as it shows a bridge finally being built between Slade and his ex-wife, who still wants him dead due to his part in their sons’ deaths.

This volume also takes Deathstroke around the globe and just about every single issue collected here has him somewhere else. That reminded me a lot of G.I. Joe, as well.

I really dug the hell out of this volume and that should come as no surprise if you’ve read my other reviews of this series.

Sadly, there isn’t a volume six but the series continued on beyond this. I’m not sure how I will review the rest of the run but I may just read everything that’s left and review it as one big batch of issues.

Rating: 8.75/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 4: Crash or Burn

Published: May 15th, 2018
Written by: Steven Grant, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman
Art by: Will Blyberg, Steve Erwin, Gabriel Morrissette

DC Comics, 196 Pages

Review:

The last volume of Deathstroke: The Terminator really took the wind out of my sails. However, this chapter in the series was a return to form.

This gets back to being a little smaller in scale and more like a street level story, which is where I like my Deathstroke stories to be. I don’t mind them getting somewhat grandiose but the third volume was too over-the-top and crammed full of ’90s comic book cliches.

Here, we see the Pat Trayce version of the Vigilante come back into the story and I didn’t realize how much I liked her until she was absent from the last installment.

This also felt fresh and I think a lot of that had to do with the writing. While Deathstroke is Marv Wolfman’s creation, we also got scripts from the great Len Wein, as well as Steven Grant. These two kept things pretty consistent with the better parts of the Deathstroke series, thus far. They understood the character, the tone and also did a superb job with not just Deathstroke but the other core characters, as well.

I also really liked the art and while it has been good since this series started, it stood out to me a bit more here. Although, some of the new one-off characters looked a bit wonky. But, it was the ’90s and new comic book characters often times looked goofy for the sake of unrestrained edginess.

In the end, this reinvigorated my love of this series and I can’t wait to get into volume five.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter

Published: October 17th, 2017
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Steve Erwin, Will Blyberg, Art Nichols

DC Comics, 257 Pages

Review:

I was really high up on this series after reading the first two volumes. Sadly, this one was a big step down and I’m hoping it was just a minor hiccup, as I continue to read on beyond this one.

I think the big issue with this was that Marv Wolfman felt the need to crossover Deathstroke with the Teen Titans, as the anti-hero has had a deep connection with those characters since he debuted in their comic a decade before this.

However, in this era, the Teen Titans title had gotten really weird and the team was full of a bunch of D-team noobs undeserving of their spots, at least in my opinion.

That being said, this collection of issues was a clusterfuck and that mainly has to do with this just collecting the Deathstroke issues within a larger crossover story. Additionally, this tacks on a completely unrelated story at the end, which was just chapters taken from the Showcase anthology series.

Overall, this just felt like a bunch of random ass shit thrown into one beefy, double-sized trade paperback because they needed to dump it all somewhere.

Hopefully, volume four doesn’t do this and it gets back to kicking proper ass.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 2: Sympathy For the Devil

Published: December 29th, 2015
Written by: Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens
Art by: Steve Erwin, Dan Jurgens, George Perez

DC Comics, 190 Pages

Review:

I loved the first volume of this series but crazily enough, I found this one to be even a wee bit better, as the story of Deathstroke takes shape and becomes more fleshed out, allowing him to evolve beyond just a simple anti-hero that looks cool and shows up once in awhile in other characters’ books.

This also spends some time on developing Pat Trayce, another version of the Vigilante character. While I wasn’t totally sold on her, I really grew to like her in this volume and I hope her run as a character and a major part of this series isn’t short-lived. I know that she’s pretty much been nonexistent since this series in the early ’90s but I don’t know her fate and don’t want it spoiled. I just hope she isn’t killed off before she really comes into her own.

This volume collects a few stories but the one I liked most had to deal with Deathstroke accidentally hurting Lois Lane’s sister, which brought out Superman and opened up the story to show us the personal relationship that Deathstroke had with Lois’ father, an ally during his time at war.

We also see Deathstroke face off against some of the Justice League while Nightwing also gets involved towards the end of this volume.

This volume really solidified Wintergreen as one of my favorite minor DC characters. He’s essentially Deathstroke’s Alfred and while I’ve always seen him that way, this collection of issues really made me appreciate him and the two men’s relationship a lot more than I already did.

All in all, this was superb. Now on to volume three!

Rating: 9.25/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Deathstroke: The Terminator, Vol. 1: Assassins

Published: April 14th, 2015
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: Will Blyberg, Steve Erwin

DC Comics, 264 Pages

Review:

I became a fan of Deathstroke back in the ’80s and early ’90s when I’d see him appear in The New Teen Titans comics. Deathstroke being in a story was a guaranteed sale for DC, as far as my wallet was concerned.

However, I never really read his original solo series from the beginning. I’d pick up issues, here and there, but for some reason I slept on it. That could also be due to it being a bit harder to find, as it wasn’t typically available in convenient stores and sometimes the comic book shops were out before I could get there on my bicycle on Saturday afternoons.

Being that this was written by Marv Wolfman, the character’s creator, is a really big selling point. I didn’t understand the importance of that in 1991, as I was more into artists over writers. Granted, that would shift, as I started recognizing names and then figuring out certain writers’ track records.

This series really starts off by portraying Deathstroke as an anti-hero trying to absolve the guilt he feels after having killed his son. This ties directly to those issues and showcases his rough relationship with his ex-wife, the mother of his dead son.

Beyond that, this shows that Deathstroke is developing a moral code where he’ll still do mercenary jobs and kill scumbags but he won’t just take any job or kill anyone. Early on, Deathstroke refuses a job and with that, he deals with the consequences of pissing off that potential customer.

Additionally, this features another big story arc that sees Deathstroke and Batman at odds but then finding common ground in order to stop the real threat that has descended upon Gotham City. In that story, we’re also introduced to Pat Trayce, who becomes a new version of the Vigilante character and teams up with Deathstroke.

Beyond the solid storytelling, the art in this is really good and frankly, it made me miss this era, as this came out in a time where I really started buying comic books on a weekly basis and was so inspired that some friends and I started our own comic book company to sell our characters’ stories to other middle school kids.

This was awesome and I’m glad that I hadn’t yet read it and get to experience it as something new. What’s really great about that is that I now have a deeper appreciation for this than I would have back in the day.

I can’t wait to jump into the other volumes.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.

Comic Review: Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying

Published: 1989
Written by: Marv Wolfman, George Perez
Art by: Jim Aparo, Tom Grummett

DC Comics, 116 Pages

Review:

This story arc came out not too long after A Death In the Family and it serves as a sort of resolution to it, as it shows how Batman has been much harsher in the streets and how the possibility of a new Robin starts to help him overcome his grief after losing the second Robin, Jason Todd.

While this isn’t the first appearance of Tim Drake, that happened in the previous arc – Year 3, this is where he enters the lives of Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth and Dick Grayson.

This story also crossed over with The New Teen Titans and involved some of those characters as a minor supporting cast for Dick Grayson/Nightwing’s part in the story.

We also see Batman, Nightwing and Tim Drake unofficially playing Robin try to take down Two-Face, a villain with major ties to the deceased Jason Todd. We even get to see a brief appearance of The Joker, the person who murdered Jason, and how he’s involved with this story’s plot.

The action and the crime solving in this aren’t anything great but they serve as a good framework to tell the more important story here, which is pulling Batman out of the darkness and allowing him to love those around him once again. It also serves to establish who Tim Drake is and why he might be better suited for the Robin role than Jason Todd was.

The writing was solid and I also loved the art by Jim Aparo, who will always be one of my favorite Batman artists because he was one of the top guys drawing these books when I first started buying them regularly.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Batman: A Death In the Family and Batman: Year 3.

Comic Review: Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson, Vol. 1

Published: March 6th, 2014
Written by: Frank Miller, Bill Mantlo, Roger McKenzie, David Michelinie, Marv Wolfman
Art by: Frank Miller, Klaus Janson

Marvel Comics, 326 Pages

Review:

I recently got to scratch off one of my comic book bucket list items. That item was the completion of the entire Frank Miller Daredevil run. I now own all the single issues and it feels good. So to celebrate, I thought that I’d re-read through them all, as they were collected in three beefy volumes that I also own.

This first collection starts with two issues of The Spectacular Spider-Man, which featured Daredevil and had art by Frank Miller. Getting into the start of his run on Daredevil itself, the first handful of issues aren’t written by Miller but he does do the art. But once Miller fully takes over and Klaus Janson comes in to do Miller’s inks, this book really takes off in a new and exciting way, as it becomes grittier and almost has a noir vibe to it.

In this collection, we see the Bullseye character evolve more into the lunatic he actually is. We are also introduced to Elektra, as she makes her first appearance here.

Now nothing is truly wrapped up in this volume and it mainly just lays the foundation for the rest of Miller’s tenure on the title. But it sets things up nicely, really changes the landscape of the title, as long-standing love interest Black Widow moves on with her life and Daredevil is pulled into two new romantic directions.

This also establishes the real tension between Daredevil and The Kingpin.

As the first of three collections covering this run, this book is damn stellar. It’s also a great jumping on point for fans that want to read some of the best years in Daredevil’s long history.

Frankly, I’d read all of Miller’s run and then follow it up with the Ann Nocenti era.

Rating: 9/10
Pairs well with: the rest of Frank Miller’s run, as well as Ann Nocenti’s and the stories in-between.

Comic Review: The Tomb of Dracula – The Complete Collection, Vol. 2

Published: October 3rd, 2018
Written by: Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, Gary Friedrich, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman
Art by: Gene Colan, Ross Andru, John Buscema, Dick Giordano, Don Heck, Mike Ploog, Gil Kane (cover)
Based on: Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Marvel Comics, 512 Pages

Review:

Over the last few months, I’ve been reading a lot of the ’70s Marvel Comics stuff. I dabbled in some of these stories when I was a kid but they were before my time and weren’t as easy to get when I really started collecting comics circa 1990. Plus, my attention, at that time, was focused on superhero stuff, as well as G.I. Joe.

I enjoyed the first volume in this massive collections of The Tomb of Dracula, so naturally I wanted to check out this one too. In the end, I liked this one even more. I think a lot of that has to do with this taking place more in the modern world, which allowed Marvel’s incarnation of Dracula to interact with some of Marvel’s famous superheroes.

In this collection we get to see Dracula meet Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night and Marvel’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster. We also get a small cameo by the Human Torch, as well as the debut of Dracula’s daughter, Lilith. This even had a swashbuckling tale in it.

Now this had a ton of different writers and artists, as it bounces around to different titles that featured Dracula, at the time. Despite this, the book feels consistent, which is a testament to how great Marvel’s editorial was in the ’70s. As far as that company has fallen in recent years, they wouldn’t be able to pull this feat off in 2020.

Most of the stories here were good, it was an energetic read with great art by several legends and it is a fantastic example of ’70s Marvel horror at its finest.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Marvel Dracula stories, as well as other ’70s Marvel horror titles.

Comic Review: Crisis On Infinite Earths

Published: 1985-1986
Written by: Marv Wolfman
Art by: George Perez

DC Comics, 359 Pages

Review:

Crisis On Infinite Earths is one of DC Comics’ sacred cows. Yet, I’ve never had much urge to read it because my experience reading massive DC Comics crossovers has never been that great.

But now I have read it because I felt like it was long overdue and because this is a storyline that is referenced a lot, still to this day, thirty-five years later.

The first problem with this story might be apparent by the number of tags at the top of this post. It’s overloaded with so many characters that it is mostly a convoluted clusterfuck of biblical proportions.

In fact, this post may be the record holder for the number of tags I had to add to it. And frankly, that’s not all the characters, just the ones I know because two-thirds of the characters here are generic one-offs or so minute to the DC universe that they aren’t worth noting.

Now I know that some people love the splash pages from this series, as they showcase dozens (if not over a hundred) different characters all in one giant image. If I’m being honest, I’ve always disliked them and they are why I never really wanted to read this. Most of the action is minimal and many of these scenes are just characters standing around. They lack the energy that a splash page needs and look more like they belong in a Where’s Waldo? book. And I don’t say that to come off as a dick because I almost always love George Perez’s art. This just seems like DC management telling Perez to squeeze in as many characters as artistically possible. It’s hard on the eyes and it’s shit.

Another big problem with this twelve issue story arc is that every moment feels larger than life. Well, when everything is so big and grandiose, that becomes normal and status quo. You can’t possibly go bigger and with everything being so big from start to finish, none of it is memorable. It’s just a busy, stressful read without allowing the reader to catch their breath and reflect on what’s happened. It’s kind of like a Michael Bay movie. Throw so much intense shit at the audience, don’t let them stop and think and they’ll just move from point A to point B to point C and so on, forgetting everything that happened two points prior.

This event was made in an effort to sort of reset the DC universe. Honestly, all it does is make a giant fucking mess of things and splatters the mess all over everything it touches.

The plot doesn’t make sense, I’m not sure what exactly changed and with so many universes crashing together into one, it’s not properly organized and then re-established in any sort of way that a reader can follow. If this was supposed to be a jumping on point for readers in 1986, I don’t know how they made sense out of any of it and then knew which characters to follow.

The main reason for the previous sentence is that this is so overloaded with people that you don’t get to really know any of them. There is no character development and this is written in a way that it assumes the reader knows all about every character in the story. For a seasoned comic book reader like myself, who has been reading comics for three and a half decades, I was lost and didn’t know who half of the low tier characters were.

Crisis On Infinite Earths should have been written as a Justice League story with some inclusion of the Fawcett Comics characters and the Golden Age DC heroes. All the third tier and lower characters could have made cameos but even then, they don’t really need to.

I really hoped that this was going to pleasantly surprise me but it hurt my head.

It was too much, too big and too long.

Rating: 4/10
Pairs well with: mid-’80s DC Comics titles, as well as all the other massive DC crossover events.

Vids I Dig 216: Comic Tropes: The History of Every ‘Crisis’ in DC Comics

From Comic Tropes’ YouTube description: The CW is adapting DC Comics seminal crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths. This video takes a look at the various Crisis stories in DC Comics which have been running since the 60s. The word “crisis” in a title in DC Comics tends to imply an epic event with changes to their ongoing comics.