What a week this was for DC! Young Justice is over, but everything else marches on.
This was a great week for variant covers, if that’s your thing.
Ghost Maker has made his comeback! It feels like forever since Batman #100 dropped and we had that one page dedicated to this new villain.
Tynion IV spent much of #101 wrapping up loose ends (Bat/Cat, etc.) and introducing us to the new direction our beloved caped crusader would be heading in.
We were keyed in that Wayne Enterprises is about to be broken up, Lucius Fox still has Bruce Wayne’s billions, and Batman is going to have to get crafty with supplies.
Batman’s heading into different territory: he’s seemingly strapped for cash and Gotham’s no longer too keen on keeping him around.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BATMAN #102
Gotta say, Gotham is not the city that would come to mind if I were looking for a fresh start where I could improve upon myself, but the man behind Ghost Maker’s mask sure thought so. Dude could have picked anywhere else. DC telling us this man could have seen/heard about bright, sunny Metropolis yet still said, “Oh man, let me go move to GOTHAM.” I’m on the floor. That said, Gotham is probably in worse shape than he left it, just take a look for yourself:
The writers and artists on Batman are not about to let us forget that Gotham has entered a revival of sorts. Not only are buildings being constructed from the ground up, but Gotham’s politics are being overhauled as well, though more of that last one is seen in ‘Tec than in Batman. Ghost Maker’s on a mission to improve upon the city as he sees fit, too. A scene unfolds where Ghost Maker admits he has set up the “Ghostnet,” a network which feeds him information about no gooders, crime patterns, and more. He’s also captured a man, demanding his captive hand over any information he has on Clown Hunter. Previously, Batman had visited Bao Pham (Clown Hunter), telling him to give up on his crusade against leftover goons, and seek therapy. Naturally, Bao Pham was not ready to do either of these things. Still, Bruce has bigger fish to fry.
Meanwhile, Barbara has hung up her own cowl and cape, opting to work from the shadows as Oracle. Without his fancy pants computer networks, it’s likely Batman needs all the help he can get and Oracle is able to give him eyes and ears all over the city. With her help, Bruce is able to locate and infiltrate the hideout of some remaining Jokers, but the bloody mess he’s greeted by was not what he expects. Immediately, he asks Barbara to shut down her computers and stay out, that he will explain what is happening once he is finished. No doubt Bruce knows exactly who he’s dealing with, and the narrative switches to events from his past. We meet the man behind Ghost Maker.
Quite literally a ghost from Bruce’s past as he was traveling the world. Tynion IV gives us some backstory before returning us to present day. Harley Quinn. She’s picking up the pieces after Joker War, and trying to make a fresh start for herself in Gotham. If anyone can pull that off, it’s her… But Clown Hunter has his eyes set on her and someone has given him the components to make a rocket launcher? In ‘Tec we’ve heard mention of The Mirror, could this be who has given CH such extreme means to an end? Or is it someone else. We won’t get to know just yet because Ghost Maker’s made CH his next target, but before he can finish the job Batman’s on scene and roaring for a fight. The outcome is going to have to wait!
There were a few different artists working on this issue, and the entirety of pages 13–16 are credited to Carlos D’Anda (who does a stellar job).
As a whole, the entire artistic team on #102 did a fantastic job throughout this book, but let’s start here.
Now this panel has everything, folks. Action over the city, a look at the leftover Joker goons, a fierce Batman, and an interesting perspective. Can’t say I’ve seen someone draw a fight quite like that before.
This page was quite the gruesome shocker. While DC is known for those grimdark themes, the artists went above and beyond (or overboard, up to you) with this panel. No horrific detail was spared, and the amount of work to take in is truly incredible. Broken glass, shredded clothes revealing knife wounds, walls riddled with bullet holes, and more. Can’t have been an easy page for the penciller, inker, or colorist. Still, each worked together to bring an air of eerie drama to the scene.
Necessary or Nah?
Absolutely. Gotham’s recovering? New Villain? Someone else helping out Clown Hunter? If you don’t have this issue by now, get out there and get it. Especially because collectors and resellers are probably on it like hawks thanks to the revealed origin of Ghost Maker.
BATMAN: THE ADVENTURES CONTINUE #6
The last issue of B:TAC was a lot to take in. Tim got the juicy deets he’d been waiting for on the Robin who came before him while Bruce connected the dots and went out into Gotham for a meeting with Red Hood.
Red Hood revealed his identity as one very much not dead Jason Todd… And then took off in the kind of dramatic fashion only a member of the Batfam could pull off.
The issue left off with a number of questions. What was Bruce to do now that he knew Jason was alive? What about Tim’s opinions on Bruce’s decision to just let Jason (seemingly) die? To not avenge him? And where exactly was Jason headed to next?
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR B:TAC #6
The book begins with an exchange between Bruce and Leslie, and once her patient leaves all of Leslie’s attention turns to Bruce. She faults him for what happened with Jason, and reveals her grief over having played a part in Jason’s role as Robin. Batman does what batman does best, a few short remarks before turning his back.
The narrative returns to the Batcave as Alfred continues his tale of Jason’s time as robin before the narrative changes once more. The writers and artists give us the events of Jason’s last fight as Robin from his own perspective. Tied up, beaten, and sure he was dying, he pleaded with Batman to kill the joker. A life for a life, like in the streets where he grew up. This is an interesting spin on Red Hood’s origin. Where Blown Up Jason didn’t exactly have any last words for Bruce, this Jason was able to make last requests before he felt his time was up. Still, true to his own code, Batman actually saves Joker before going back for Jason… Who is nowhere to be found. These choices work to hammer down the narrative we’ve been presented of Jason through this series: he was violent as a youngster and he continues to be violent as an adult. Oh, he’s also bitter as hell.
Conveniently, at the end of Jason’s revealed tragic origin, Batman returns to the cave… Or so we are lead to belief. A quick skirmish unfolds between Alfred, Tim, and Jason (dressed as Batman)… Jason takes everyone down and then leaves with Tim in one hand, and the old Robin suit in another. Can’t say it’s looking good for Tim.
I’ve not got much to say here about the art. That nostalgic feel we all came here for is maintained through the end. On my life, the following was the funniest panel of the whole issue.
There is certainly something to appreciate about the streamlined, smooth designs given to the characters throughout this series. Also, there are a few glimpses of Gotham with a red sky, something that feels very unique to the Animated Series as a whole.
Necessary or Nah?
B:TAC definitely is not everyone’s cup of tea. Where this lies in it’s own line of continuity, it is easy to see why some interpretations of characters may not fit the narrative we’re used to. For example, Alfred would never:
While Alfred’s sass is a staple across all Batman and Batfam comics, this decision with writing seemed a little less than fair and (as you continue) pretty harsh. However, if you’re in the mood for something to take you back to your childhood or your early days of enjoying Batman in the late 90’s and early 2000's? This is a series to pick up. It’s light, fun, easy to read, and will definitely put a twist on these characters.
DCEASDED: DEAD PLANET #5
Constantine being the one to make a compelling case as to why Scott Free should come out of hiding to fight the good fight was not my prediction for last issue, but it sure was interesting. Thankfully, with the help of WW’s Lasso of Truth, Constantine was able to convince Scott to take a shower and join him in the fight against the undead.
While a few made their way to Apokolips and Cyborg tried to work out the Anti-Life equation, we saw one Big Baddie make his approach.
Darkseid’s undead and that can only spell trouble!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR DECEASED DEAD PLANET #5
Man oh man sometimes a month just seems too long a time between these issues, they’ve been excellent!
While the others are busy working on Metron’s Chair, Constantine has been making other moves. He enters the Tower of Fate where he has summoned Etrigan; Swamp Thing also waits. Words are exchanged and Constantine emerges with Swamp Thing following close behind. He re-enters the Gotham Garden, asking for (Damian) Batman’s help. While Constantine’s plan is kept secret to readers, he tells all to Batman. They recruit a team and they’re on their way. Also… DC stop throwing Jason at every woman who crosses his path. Last week he was dumped by Barbara and Artmeis… Now he is married to Rose Wilson? Give the man some room to grow.
After fighting through a hoard of undead, the group reaches their destination and in one piece. They knock on the doors to the city and out pops Deadman, whom they can all see! His explanation? “Things work a little differently.” Together, the group passes through the gates and Constantine’s off bringing his plan to fruition. He’s on the hunt for the Spear of Destiny and he’s ready to take it by force if necessary.
Which he absolutely does. Why would you expect any less of John Constantine? He also does away with Deadman. Now having what he needs, Constantine and the others continue to their next destination. They’re ambushed by a DCeased Captain Marvel Junior and we all have a front row seat to the second death of Jason Todd… Guess you only live thrice? Maybe? If they bring him back at the very end of this series.
And the group moves on yet again. Cass is carrying Jason’s body along for the ride, meanwhile Constantine meets up with The Spectre. They share a moment of tense politeness and understanding before The Spectre heads off… And this book ends in true 2020 fashion…
What do they say? Things get worse before they get better. Well I think we are all ready for things to “get better.”
Necessary or Nah?
If you’ve been reading this whole time, no sense in stopping now! The plot thickens with every issue and now that Constantine’s really got himself going there is no way we’re slowing down!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #56
Things left off in #55 with the group regaining some sense of self, thanks very much in part to the work of one Lex Luthor.
Once the group was able to overcome the crisis which befell them in the valley of Starros, they made haste to a ship Lex had ready to go. They were on their way to save the Multiverse and J’onn J’onz. As expected, reaching their destination was no smooth sailing process, instead the group had been found by Perpetua’s Omega Knight.
Williamson left us with quite the cliff hanger, though I’m confident this group will be able to pull themselves together and overcome their next fearsome foe!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR JUSTICE LEAGUE #56
Justice League #56 opens up to a grim sight. Nightwing’s on the ground, clawing his way from the destruction of the Omega Knight. Hawkgirl squares off against Mindhunter up in the air. Lex, Cyborg, and Starfire have all been beat down; they lay unconscious on the ground. Detective Chimp has stayed away from the battle, remaining on the ship with Comet. Unfortunately, events only seem to get worse for our heroes. Nightwing seems about ready to give up when Detective Chimp swoops in to save him.
As Detective Chimp & Nightwing run around rescuing the others, Hawkgirl takes out Mindhunter in a blaze of glory, tearing through him with fire and finally reuniting with J’onn.
Towards the end of the book, the team makes a hasty decision to split. While one half distracts the Omega Knight, the others head off to take down the tower holding the Legion of Doom. Detective Chimp makes the ultimate sacrifice in helping take down the Omega Knight and tower in one go…. But now that the Legion of Doom is free, they’ve got their sights set on Nightwing!
As can be expected from this title, the art is out of this world yet again. The thrill picks up immediately on the cover page, pulling you right back in where we left off two weeks ago.
Robson Rocha and Daniel Henriques are a great team when it comes to pencil and inks, but Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s colors certainly steal the show on pages like the one above. Jam packed with action, Fajardo Jr.’s command of colors takes your eyes on the journey they’re meant to go.
Throughout this arc, the character designs have been gorgeous to look at as well, and be sure to flip those pages carefully when Mindhunter goes to battle with Hawkgirl. There is some fantastic work to be seen!
NECESSARY OR NAH?
Why on earth would you quit reading this title now? If you’ve been following along with the Death Metal Doom Metal tie-in, this is a must have. Plus, this issue saw many great variants this week. But, if you’re uninterested in tie-ins, leave this one alone. You’re not in need of it.
YOUNG JUSTICE 20
YJ #19 saw this huge group of young heroes enjoying some downtime between their last big adventure and the next. Quite suddenly, Cassie called on the help from her friends to take down a monster on a rampage.
Cassie was being tested by a family she would rather have let her be. Bendis touched on her feelings of being stuck between two worlds, and her struggle with finding herself. Very relatable, as this is something all of us go through at one point or another, and sometimes during multiple points in our lives. Still…
Seems Poseidon was an easy enough threat to quell because that cliffhanger was dropped and not picked up on in issue 20.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR YOUNG JUSTICE #20
This last issue opens with one wordy page about the previous successes of Young Justice and dives right into the next story. Throughout this series, Bendis has done his best (only 20 issues for nearly 10 characters is a tough order) at giving everyone their chance in the spotlight, and 20 is no exception.
Robin has just brought the gang to Mount Justice, an unofficial Justice League HQ, where they can finally have their own clubhouse. Together, they move through this new space until they find Red Tornado, who Robin explains is an android there to guard, guide, and train this young crew.
Seeing the group as trespassers, Red Tornado boots back up and these teen heroes must work together one final time. Unfortunately, things don’t go so well and all but one are laying on the ground. It’s up to Teen Lantern to save the day… Just in the nick of time Green Lantern John Stewart shows up to provide some much needed help… And to give the Teen Lantern a lecture on why she must hand over her power source. She’s not a “real” Green Lantern after all. Too bad for Stewart. The others dust themselves off and come to Teen Lantern’s defense, and she gets to keep her nifty alien tech.
Bendis wraps up this story nicely, and on a positive note. While DC might have decided to toss this series for now, book 20 was written in a way that would make it easy for another writer to pick it up later. These characters could certainly use a bit more development, but they would need someone who is not only good at writing teens, but also good at writing groups. Bendis has demonstrated that he is completely capable of both, but with everything else he is working on, I can see why this is a series DC decided to drop.
At times, the pacing on this story did feel a little awkward, but it is important to take into consideration the limitations imposed on Bendis with this run. Each comic has a finite amount of pages (unless it is an oversized issue), there were NINE characters to write about, everyone had to be tied together in a cohesive manner, and the plot had to be driven to a point where it could be wrapped up neatly while giving characters some decent development. For everything that was undoubtedly asked of Bendis, I believe he did a great job writing Young Justice. Leaving the teens to their new HQ gives the next writer a concrete place to start, should Young Justice continue in the future.
18 going on 28. Get him out of Young Justice and maybe more into the JL.
Jokes aside, I’ve found the art for the last few rounds of issues to be enjoyable, even though they do have a little bit of same face syndrome going on. The inks look great, and add depth to the characters. The colorist on this issue really knocks it out of the park (for me). Throughout the issue there is a more cell shaded approach to the work, but what’s so pleasing to the eye is how smooth it looks. Not sure what kind of brush the artist is using digitally, but it sure looks good.
NECESSARY OR NAH?
Had I not bought #20, I wouldn’t have missed out on much. Our young heroes were given another Monster of the Week to overcome, and there was no real plot development. Seeing as how the story was ending, there was not a huge necessity for some big driving force in the plot. Instead, Young Justice concludes with a place the team can call their home away from home. While I enjoyed this issue, I would not say it was absolutely essential. We all knew it would be ending, and it was unlikely for DC to use this as a chance to throw a cliffhanger at their audiences.
The panels of Conner Kent will forever make me laugh, though.
Alrighty folks, sorry this one came so late…. But between real life and the election I just didn’t have the time needed to read these issues…. And reread what came before.
HELLBLAZER RISE AND FALL #2
My expectations were low, last issue lacked some kind of spark. This issue was wild from start to finish and the first 10 or so pages had me on the floor! Tom Taylor really had me going. But the Devil makes a good point… He could have anyone he wanted and Constantine looks like the end of a month long bender. The Devil gives us some background on the demon who has possessed the child from John’s childhood, and the story moves right along.
Definitely something I’d recommend picking up! Issue 3 is the third and FINAL one in this mini series.