October 13th brings an exciting week! Death Metal is back on, The Flash has a new creative team and a new storyline, Detective Comics resumes where Joker War left off, the Hal and Pals are headed into yet another cosmic battle, and things really heat up for Bruce in The Batman’s Grave! Let’s go, go, go!
DARK NIGHTS DEATH METAL #4
If you didn’t grab the one shots and tie-ins from September, the wait for this issue must have been agonizing.
In case you missed out, I go through each of last month’s one shots in another article, which can be found before the spoilers portion of this post.
In short, last we left off, SuperWonderBat were separated and left to fend for themselves against some of their fiercest foes found in different crisis events around the timeline. There was also an all out battle featuring… pretty much everyone else (and in which we find out Kyle Rayner bites people). Oh, and the Speed Force made for a brilliant one shot as well. If you want the full story, check out that link.
Dark Nights, Darker One Shots.
Your cheat sheet for all those one shots you probably didn’t buy in September. Also, a refresher for what’s up…
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR DEATH METAL #4
The plot continues to thicken with only three issues left in the main line. While Dark Nights Death Metal has seen plenty of one shots and tie ins, Snyder is on his way to wrapping up this absolute epic. This issue in particular brings everybody together, so there is a lot of dialogue.
The book shifts back and forth between Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Last we saw these three in the Trinity Crisis one shot, they were separated, landing in one of three major crisis events in the DC Universe. Batman (Crisis on Infinite Earths) is talking to a version of the Anti-Monitor, but fading fast. Batman tries to use his Alfred Box to communicate with the others, to let them know they must head back, but it is too late. Each member of the Trinity has been dropped into the worst reality, one where they lost. As Batman’s form begins to break apart, the story shifts to Superman.
Clark’s not fairing much better. Darkseid has not only won, but he claims to have been ruling for Eons with the use of Anti-Life. There is not much chatter before Darkseid throws Superman into a burning pit.
Wonder Woman is fairing a little better all things considered, and she is set to square off against Superboy Prime (he’s on a variant cover for this issue and it looks sweet, y’all). Superboy Prime reveals he sought out the Batman Who Laughs, making deals so that there may be one Earth where sh*t doesn’t hit the fan. How he ever believed the Batman Who Laughs would uphold his end of the deal if Superboy Prime handed over Wonder Woman beats me. And Wonder Woman is awful suspicious of that bargain, too.
Robin King steps in grimly, holding onto a terribly disfigured Jonah Hex while Harley tries fruitlessly to make him let go of his captive. Jarro is worried about the Flashes, who are still running on their way with the Mobius chair. While this is happening, Wonder Woman is arguing with Superboy Prime. He may have made a “perfect” world, but because he did so at the expense of all others in the Multiverse, his world is still one born of death and destruction. Superboy Prime doesn’t agree.
As they’re fighting, the other Alfred boxes self destruct, and only Superboy Prime’s is left. After talking about change, hope, and all things good, Wonder Woman convinces Superboy Prime to take a chance…. And next we know, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Superboy Prime have banded together and are meeting up with the others.
Unfortunately, the end of the issue takes a dark turn. The Flashes reached Wonder Woman with the Mobius Chair, but the Batman Who Laughs got to it first. All power has gone to him.
We all love Greg Capullo, ‘nuff said.
DETECTIVE COMICS #1028
Since our last issue of Detective Comics, The Joker War has ended and it is time for something new!
The end of #1027 gave us a look into what Bruce was going through during The Joker War and it can be safely assumed that #1028 will bring us back to the streets of Gotham… Though surely Gotham will be worse for wear as the city is in need of major reconstruction.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR DETECTIVE COMICS #1028
In the aftermath of The Joker War, Gotham’s got a new candidate running for mayor, and his promise on the podium might be a shock!
#1028 opens with a view of a brightly lit Gotham, seems the city is fairing better than expected after being burned down during the Joker War. A man, who is later revealed to be Richard Gotis, is shot down and then killed (with a sword) by another man on horseback… All set a little ways away from the city in an outdoor storage container facility. The scene quickly turns to the man’s funeral, and Bruce Wayne is in attendance. Through Bruce we learn that Gotis was a crooked cop (what else is new, this is Gotham), and that his funeral is of significance for the opportunity it provides to spy on others who have showed up to pay respects. Bruce visits the scene during the night as Batman, showing off some cool new tech while he makes sure the man buried is truly Grotis.
We follow along with Batman as he investigates multiple crime scenes and gathers evidence, and bear witness to another murder by this mysterious man on horseback. Not everyone is thrilled to have Batman around after the Joker War. Detective Bullock is back on with GCPD after throwing down his badge in Batman #100, and he seems less than happy with Batman’s presence at a new crime scene. Batman insists he won’t rest while crime is still happening in his city, but Bullock is not convinced Batman’s such a big help. Should this continue, it will be an interesting new dynamic between Batman and the GCPD. The friendship forged between Batman and Commissioner Gordan is something readers may have taken for granted, it’s what we’ve known for decades. Will Batman and the GCPD be working more independently from here on out?
The mystery of this killer wraps up quickly, and we discover he is the son of a cop who was framed for crimes he did not commit. Steven Holman was seeking out vengeance for the wrongful, needless death of his father by killing all those involved who drove him to madness. Before Steve can take one more life, Batman arrives on scene and a pursuit on horseback takes place.
As expected, Batman captures the culprit, and the crime is solved… Which brings us back to Wayne Manor. Bruce is hanging out, reading the paper and listening to the news… But who is that on the screen! Remember this fellow from Detective Comics #1027?
He’s running for mayor and he is none too pleased with our beloved caped crusader. What’s in store for both Batman and Bruce Wayne in the following issues? Bruce Wayne is trying to save face and recover the Wayne name after the Joker War…
…And Batman has definitely landed himself in a spot of trouble.
All these masked up do-gooders have seemingly only succeeded in paving the way for an endless string of new and creative villains. Batman’s Rogues Gallery is massive! Needless to say, just how helpful are the bats and birds if these villains don’t stay locked up because Arkham has the world’s worst security detail? Sure, all this action keeps the Batfam busy, but at the cost of lives and millions in property damage. Maybe Bruce could take up Damian’s idea for a more secure prison? Speaking of, where is that little loveable kiddo?
Overall, the art for this issue was nice, nothing that made me ooh or aah, but it was crisp and clean. The colors and backgrounds were pretty standard. The city, a graveyard. Hoping for some fun splash pages and big action in the next issue!
Necessary or Nah?
Definitely not a necessary issue. Still, this book reminded me of older Batman stories and comics, the kind of thing where we got a cut and dry mystery that unraveled quickly in the beginning and wrapped up neatly at the end. It’s also worth mentioning that this issue is dropping hints at what is likely to be a larger concern as Batman and Detective Comics continue: the aftermath of the Joker War. At the end, we see the set up for a campaign against vigilantes in Gotham, which should make for more complicated stories involving the whole Batfam.
THE FLASH #763
Again, October gifts us with something new! #762 wrapped up a full story arc and we have some newcomers on the creative team. Let’s welcome writer Kevin Shinick and artist Clayton Henry!
Henry’s art is just oh so fine, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store when I flip this cover.
From previews all I know about this next storyline in The Flash is that Barry has a run in with Trickster. Previews has also promised it leaves on quite the cliffhanger, so without further ado let’s flip that page!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FLASH #763
Have to say, as someone who is still painfully new to Flash comics, The Flash’s rogues gallery of baddies is hilarious.
The date is the anniversary of the death of Barry’s mother. Barry and Iris are on an outing together, and Barry is trying his best to enjoy the day. At the mention of New York City pizza, Barry makes quick moves to impress Iris and grab her a slice… But there’s a problem.
He’s burned through his clothes and is missing his Flash ring! After a worry filled talk with Iris, Barry decides retracing his steps will lead him to his ring.
He begins with the arcade they were at earlier in the day. Immediately, Barry noticed police and Trickster, who he wraps up in a literal whirlwind before the cops are convincing him to let up on this member of his rogues gallery. Curiously, he has done nothing wrong, or so it seems…
This new arcade is owned and operated by Trickster himself and he sure has a peculiar way of doing things. To give credit to Flash’s new writer, Shinick, the scene with the dunk tank had me in stitches. Trickster has found a way to monetize The Flash’s good deeds.
Trickster’s still got more up his sleeve and is soon joined by some similar criminals. Taking on 5 pranksters sounds exhausting, but Barry has no choice if he wants to reclaim his ring. Turns out he has been fooled yet again, none of these criminals are real and instead Trickster is using The Flash as an arcade game for his guests! The emotional weight of the day’s significance paired with Barry’s draining efforts to reclaim his ring soon wears him down… And so when Trickster promises to return the ring if The Flash reveals what makes it so special, Barry feels he has no choice. He reveals that not only did he make the ring himself, but that when touched just right it creates “what he needs to be The Flash.” Well, he wasn’t being dishonest. Trickster took that and ran (or tried to), but was inevitably knocked down by the sheer force of the energy that emerges from Barry’s ring when tapped. With Trickster down and out, The Flash is able to reclaim his stolen possession and move on his merry way.
Now back with Iris, Barry reveals the origins of his ring. While the alloy he created does make the ring special, what really gives it meaning is the gold that makes up his ring. Melting down the wedding bands from his father and mother, Barry was able to make himself something special. Sentimental value is very real in the jewelry industry.
Shinick leaves us on a cliffhanger, with a page dedicated to Iron Heights and Dr. Alchemy. Looks like The Flash is in for more trouble!
Clayton Henry has been tasked with pencils and inks, while Marcelo Maiolo is on the colors. Henry’s one of my top favorite artists. His style really stands out in an industry with so many, and he’s got a knack for creating dynamic poses. When it comes to real feeling displays of emotions, Henry doesn’t let his audience down. Something I admired about his work on this Flash comic was his attention to detail. While I haven’t read much Flash in my life, I’ve noticed that when The Flash is doing… Flash things… There’s a tendency for backgrounds to be forgotten.
Check out the above. While Barry’s whirlwind takes up an impressive amount of the panel, Henry keeps things interesting. The Flash is anything but stagnant, and none of those running poses are repeated or reused. There are six different motions! And off to the side is the city streets, with the police watching as Barry does his thing. Trickster is looking literally swept up, too!
Another panel that caught my eye. Barry’s worried about his missing ring, he’s tired, and Trickster’s managed to fool him. Henry and Maiolo managed to put those feelings down on paper, and in one panel! Henry’s drawn Barry alone, and Maiolo has put him in the dark.
Necessary or Nah?
As a new Flash fan, I’m not sure my opinion means much here, but I’d say this issue is necessary. #763 gave me some insight to Barry’s character, and I enjoyed the pacing. Jumping into The Flash where I did a few months back was a mistake. I didn’t have all the background knowledge I needed to really get into the story, and having the whole Flash Fam and the entire Rogues Gallery was a heck of a lot to take in.
GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #8
Before I get into things, feel free to skip to the end of this article and check out the variant cover for this issue. Season Two has not been my favorite Green Lantern run by any means, but the variant covers knock it out of the park!
#7 left off with our heroes launching themselves not just into space, but towards some fiendish foes. With the Green Lantern Corps suffering heavy losses, this fight ain’t gonna be easy. Still, it’s easy to have faith in the Corps.
SPOILERS FOR GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #8
The issue doesn’t open with any of the Emerald Warriors, instead we are taken to Qward. Weaponeer 666, who is in the middle of being questioned, is the lens through which we see events unfold. Side note: all the backwards reading from everyone not a part of the Anti-Matter universe gave me a slight headache. That said, this is a great tool for separating those from the Positive Matter Universe when they enter the Anti-Matter.
Will and fear are two themes that come to mind when reading a Green Lantern comic. (And if you ever make a Green Lantern drinking game, stay away from pairing the “take a sip” rule to the mention of fear or will, you’ll drown.) #8 focuses instead on love and pain, with Sinestro playing a supporting role. Morrison suggests there is a more meaningful relationship between Sinestro and Weaponeer 666, with Sinestro saying lines that read like something out of a cheesy romance novel. But don’t take my word for it, here’s the panel.
The main message of this book revolves around love and pain. In his world, the Anti-Matter Universe, Weaponeer 666 has aligned himself with feelings of pain. Weaponeer 666 shows his encounter with Hal, who is supposed to be the opposite to his character. When Hal leaves, he tells Weaponeer 666 that killing him would be true mercy, but he allows him to live on instead. Under any normal circumstances, leaving someone alive is an act of mercy, but not in the Anti-Matter Universe. Allowing Weaponeer 666 to live only causes him more pain, which he uses to fuel a new oath at the end of the book… “Hate, death, pain, kill.”
Weaponeer 666’s view, “pain is the ultimate strength,” forces him down a different path from Sinestro’s previous suggestion.
Weaponeer 666’s attitude towards pain fuels his destructive actions as he chooses to go to war. His final words before reciting his oath clue us in that he plans on one day fighting his Qwa-Masters. Could someone from the Anti-Matter world also bring about it’s demise? Morrison might clue us in next month, with #9!
The creative team continues to impress with each issue from Season Two!
Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff don’t hold back. Their collaborative efforts stand apart in the comic world, as they give the characters in this book an unmistakably realistic feeling. Also, all that detail on Weaponeer 666’s mechanics? Amazing! Clearly everyone’s imagination has run wild, as it should when dealing with space, aliens, and life on other planets. With nothing truly tangible to go on, a Green Lantern series is the perfect venue to let your imagination go.
Space is the kind of setting that is easy to leave blank. I’ve seen it done before and undoubtedly, you have too. Set the fill to black, maybe add a few shining specks, and move on… Not here. Up in the corner, Hal’s glowing green self can be seen moving away from some bright yellow lightning. Each character is also illuminating the vacuum of space that surrounds them. Buildings in the Anti-Matter Universe also have a unique, grim-dark industrial quality to them. Sharp and Oliff deliver on a bleak, loveless world, where there is no hope.
Conjuring up worlds that do not exist will never not be impressive and is forever wicked cool.
Necessary or Nah?
Grant Morrison might be testing my patience with Green Lantern Season Two. I love Green Lantern and Season Two has been hit or miss for me. #6 has definitely been the best issue by far, with #7 at a close second. To me, #8 did not live up to that hype, especially taking into consideration the set up from last month’s issue! The pacing felt awkward, and skipping around in time didn’t do the book ay favors. However, the “love/pain” message was interesting from the “will/fear” that is the norm with Green Lantern anything.
If you’ve been reading up till this point, this issue is necessary reading, though you may want to pay more attention and go over it a few times.
Bendis gave us a deeper look into Synmar last issue, and with so much info on this new alien planet, Superman’s interaction with his newest villain should prove interesting. Clark does not have the same perspective as us readers, which should lead to different interpretations of actions once Synmar lands.
Back on his home planet, Synmar saw devastation and felt the guilt of not being available to his people when needed. How this translates into a fight with Superman? Looks like we’ll all have to wait and see!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR SUPERMAN #26
I have to admit, after the way this character was introduced last issue, I had high hopes we’d see Superman and Synmar have a conversation when they arrived on Earth. Not so. Still, Bendis hits us with a curveball as soon as the cover is flipped and that is pretty impressive. The opening page is strong, devoted entirely to the catastrophic arrival of Synmar and their immediate takedown of Superman.
And then Bendis brings us to the bedroom. Synmar has not yet arrived on Earth. Clark, still in costume, is taking a minute to rest. With all that’s going on, can you blame him? Lois joins him and we hear about some of the major events stressing Superman (are you reading Action Comics right now? You best be!) as he confides in her.
Their conversation remains sweet and the pair share a kiss before Clark has to be Superman and check in on an alert from Kelex. While Kelex can make Superman aware of the approaching threat, the computer is unable to provide any details about the alien until it comes closer.
Oh, and Jimmy’s been crashing in the Fortress of Solitude while the FBI raids the Daily Planet (seriously, check out Action Comics). Unfortunately for Jimmy, Synmar is headed straight for the Fortress of Solitude, and so it is time to get the heck out. The Bermuda Triangle being the new location for Superman’s Fortress has been giving me a lot of laughs, and I truly hope Synmar does not force another move. Jimmy and Superman head for the Daily Planet, and Superman opts for his civilian attire. While talking to coworkers around the office, and convincing them the Daily Planet is one of the safest places to be in the event some big baddie comes for Superman, Jimmy is going crazy taking photos of Clark. It’s somewhat endearing.
Still, Synmar is approaching and this issue wraps up with Superman meeting his next foe in the sky. Synmar is strong, able to get a good grip on our hero, and it appears Superman briefly loses consciousness. As they fall through the sky together, Synmar is aiming to squash Superman into the building full of those he loves the most, but that does not quite go as planned, and we see why the Daily Planet is so safe. Should someone of something aim to destroy this building, a portal to the Phantom Zone opens as a last ditch effort to keep those within safe.
Throughout the rest of the issue, Superman struggles endlessly to try and communicate with his new foe. Synmar is either not listening on purpose or truly does not understand Clark, but my money’s on the former. Synmar does not respond to any language Clark is speaking, and it seems he has no interest in telepathically communicating either. Offering up a psychic link is a terrifying thought in general, yet Clark mentally repeats he is willing to do so in an effort to communicate with this Big Bad.
The issue ends on a cliffhanger. Clark’s obviously confused and frustrated as to why this alien refuses to communicate, and he has also just taken a hard hitting blow. But, Superman always prevails in the end (and even when he doesn’t he gets written back into existence so whatever)!
While the entire creative team does out of this world work, Ivan Reis’s pencils take the cake. From Earth shattering duels, to quiet moments at home, and everything in between, Reis’s work demonstrates the range in his abilities.
Even panels some might argue are “simple” have have a lot going for them. Obviously these two are hurtling through the sky faster than a bullet, but the composition is just neat. Alex Sinclair’s colors are also worth mentioning. A sky can be a pretty basic backdrop, and with Superman having the power of flight, it’s something we see pretty often in both Superman and Action Comics. Still, Sinclair adds depth to an expansive space both in how the clouds are colored and the use of a blindingly bright light source.
Let’s go a little further and talk inks, shall we? Danny Miki is on inks this issue and these lines are looking sharp! Furthermore, all the heavy shadows are in just the right places, adding depth, motion, and emotion to this thrilling two page spread.
Necessary or Nah?
You bet you want this issue in your hands! Be like me and go all the way for your Local Comic Shop and snag two! Both the regular and variant cover are freakin’ fantastic. Artwork aside, Bendis has yet again done impressive work on this Superman series. Superman is somehow super relatable, even though he is essentially a god among regular folk. Also, if you’re like me and love a tender moment between Lois and Clark, give this a read.
My opinion is extremely biased because I love the way Bendis does Superman.
THE BATMAN’S GRAVE #11
Things really started heating up in #10. Batman saw a lot of action, and Alfred was forced to defend himself within Wayne Manor. The Scorn Army is moving through Gotham, but Scorn is acting rather quickly, and when something is done hastily it isn’t always done properly. As Batman points out, Scorn’s getting messy.
#10 left off with a public news broadcast. Batman’s trying to egg on his villain, which is good for the plot because Ellis only has two issues left! The Batman’s Grave will conclude at issue #12 and Bruce hasn’t got much time to wrap things up!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE BATMAN’S GRAVE #11
Scorn’s ready to up the ante and he goes right for the GCPD. Commissioner Gordan rallies his folks together and we the audience can look on in awe at some amazingly drawn catastrophic explosions! Oh the excitement!
Thankfully, Batman’s not to far away and he drops in to fight Scorn on his own, while also letting Scorn in on the fact he knows who he is.
This seems to only rile him up more and Scorn starts laying down some heavy hits, he’s also brought knives and guns. Just when Scorn starts to get the upper hand on Batman and deliver some nasty blows, Gordon comes in to save the day, causing Scorn to flee. Concerned for Batman’s well-being, Gordan tries to get him to stay, but Batman flies off in a hurry. As Alfred sews Bruce back together, GCPD is making an announcement about Scorn’s true identity, revealing that his name is Robert Anthony. The GCPD go on to say a few more words that hit a little close to home for Bruce, prompting a conversation between him and Alfred.
I’ll be honest, I’ve really been missing Alfred, he was a fantastic character to have around and for so many reasons. He was also more than just the comic relief he brought when it came to putting Bruce in his place. Alfred also serves as Bruce’s confidant; he knows Batman and Bruce Wayne. He does more than stitch Bruce up when he’s been knocked down. Alfred is an intelligent character and able to help out with Batman’s missions, even if he isn’t out on the field. Warren Ellis recognizes this, and so Alfred plays a larger role in this Batman mini.
Alfred and Bruce continue to discuss Robert Anthony, and Bruce takes a few moments to himself. Following his short escape to the showers, Bruce suits up and the Batman is ready to dive in for a final fight!
Hitch’s work is always impressive, and something to look forward to with each issue! Hitch has a great grasp on the power of perspective, and he frequently uses that skill to his advantage.
Sometimes, it feels these issues could to with a little less fight scenes and a little more plot… but Hitch’s art keeps things interesting. While Batman’s battles move on quickly, each panel is something to take your time with.
Necessary or Nah?
The Batman’s Grave has been a fun mini, that’s all really. The pacing seems unbalanced at times, and I don’t believe this needed to be 12 issues. As enjoyable as this series has been, especially considering why I picked it up in the first place, The Batman’s Grave feels like it could have been maybe 8 or 10 books. Still, if you’re looking for a neat little Batman mini, next month concludes this issue and the collected edition is set to hit shelves not long after completion.
BONUS ROUND! VARIANT COVERS
Variant covers are such a fun novelty. Sometimes they’re only a dollar more for that lovely, thick cardstock paper… And other times they’re quite a bit more due to scarcity (you won’t find me blowing dough on a 1:100 cover, folks). Sometimes I want something with a little extra oomph, and other times the regular cover is just fine for me that month. Whatever your preferences are, here are some variants I picked up this week.
Variant cover for Green Lantern: Season Two #8. This is just plain beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me that some artists can take a severely limited color palette (black, green, white, and the smallest bit of brown) and use it to give so much life to a character and scene.
Variant covers are all the rage, and while #8 was not exactly a significant Green Lantern issue, this is a great cover for any fan of Hal Jordan!
Now this one is just plain cool, and just like the Green Lantern cover, has embraced a limited color palette. Superman’s off world battling all kinds of baddies. Clark’s in a classic heroic pose, eyes flared up, and he is ready to rumble!