DC Drops for the final week of October! This is a big week for DC, and we see the wrap up of the thrilling three part Black Label series Batman: Three Jokers. Yes, I buy a bunch of unnecessary covers. The Jason Todd cover will be my reader because I have a slabbed 9.8 on pre-order from months ago. While some of our heroes are wrapping up stories, there are more who are really in the thick of it. Let’s hope they come out on top!
There are a lot of books here, so let’s get moving! Just as always, you’ll find a shorter review of what went down last issue before we dive into the guts of all the new goodies this week!
ACTION COMICS #1026
Last issue was a bit of a doozy. Superman was too late in asking Conner to halt his pursuit of Parasite. Jon Kent ended up in the wall of the Daily Planet while Lois watched on helplessly. And for all of us Conner Kent fans, well we were left wondering if this punk rock jock was alright!
Superman, Supergirl, and Brainiac-5 seemed a-ok at the end of the issue. They held back. Now they will undoubtedly have to enter the fold.
Lois is fighting the good fight at the Daily Planet, and after watching her son hit the building and Conner take a horrible hit, she definitely has something to write about! But what’s in store for our beloved Superfam now?!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR ACTION COMICS #1026
Before I even flipped the cover my mind went to Conner Kent! After he took that nasty hit I was sincerely hoping someone moved him to a safer space…
Anyway, Brainiac-5 brings us (and everyone in the 31st century) up to speed with an event no one saw coming! The history books bear no mention of this current event in Action Comics #1026, so Brainiac-5 & Team Kent have nothing to go on, well almost nothing. They know this Parasite has basically gobbled up the Superman of his universe and can manifest those powers for evil, leaving everyone in a rough place. The majority of this book is action packed.
Once Jon’s back from the Daily Planet and Superman’s feeling a bit better after his own beat down, the Superfam (minus one unconscious punk rock teen) and Brainiac-5 come together for one big blast against Parasite. An interesting part from this book, is that this battle is narrated entirely by Brainiac-5. While the Kents land most of the major blows, Brainiac-5 participates some, watches, and gives the audience his perspective. However, as this fight continues, Bendis brings us back to Lois’s struggle over in the Daily Planet… And I have to admit, it was a real stunner to see someone else berate Perry for once.
When Superman’s new villain reveals his origin, and that he is aware of the many multiples of Earths that exist, Superman all but loses it and stares down The Red Cloud. Clark’s making moves to leave the scene when he is stopped dead in his tracks. Parasite is able to get some sort of hold over Superman with what appears to be a telekinetic power. Luckily for everyone (and mostly for Clark), Supergirl comes through and delivers a massive blow to the villain. This frees up whatever lock gripped Superman and he goes on what is arguable a suicide mission. (Remember how Red Cloud was able to put down Jon a few issues ago?)
Superman’s confident the others can detain Parasite, and he is right to put his money where his mouth is. Supergirl, Jon, Conner, and Brainiac-5 make quick work of Parasite. Using a wonderful weapon we’ve seen in old school Superman comics, Brainiac’s “Shrinking Ray.” It’s been used on villains, and I’m pretty sure it’s also been used to shrink Kandor. Don’t quote me on that.
With Parasite in a daze, teamwork takes the cake and he is shrunk way, way down. Kara’s ready to keep him for the beginnings of a tiny creature collection… And I can’t say I would have stopped her. Brainiac-5 has other plans, and he will be bringing Parasite with him to the 31st century. Gotta keep close tabs on your Supervillains!
This issue’s not over just yet! With Parasite out of the picture and Conner back up and ready to go, the four gather their strength and head for Red Cloud. Unfortunately for Superman, she’s enveloped him and his situation is looking quite grim. Clark, deeply angered by the murder of Melody Moore, seemingly charged into this fight without a plan in hand. If Clark did have a course of action, Bendis leaves us in the dark, as he has chosen to use Brainiac-5 to narrate this issue instead of Superman.
The issue ends on a dark note. Not only is Superman going down fast, his family, the Daily Planet, and the whole of Metropolis is watching it happen. Furthermore, Lois is sidelined despite her best arguments and attempts to publish the article Clark gave her last issue. While Marisol Leone has been shouting to all who will listen that Lois Lane is not of this Earth, the FBI makes the bold choice to handcuff Lois, placing her under arrest before she can take any further action. Man, I would not want to be Jon Kent right now.
John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson have been killing it on their issues together, and this was no exception!
Romita Jr. uses plenty of lines in his art, and it works well for the Superfam. They’re a dynamic bunch, always on the move at super speed. However, Romita Jr.’s lines show more than speed. He’s got an ability to use lines in a way that create movement and flow through contour. Romita Jr.’s style is distinct, it’s obvious when he’s on the creative team, but his characters never look the same. Each character is unique and easy to distinguish from another, and even with Jon and Connor sharing some very Clark features, they never look too similar.
Brad Anderson’s colors have been consistent throughout each issue of Action Comics that he’s worked on. Still, with so much red and blue from the Superfam, plus a totally red villain (The Red Cloud), he manages to keep it easy for the audience. The Red Cloud is a slightly pinker shade from the reds we’re used to seeing on Superman, Jon’s blue has a grayer tone to help separate him from the rest, and Anderson’s use of oranges and yellows adds a little more color to the book overall.
Necessary or Nah?
If you’ve been following along with the House of Kent arc there is no sense stopping now. Definitely grab a copy of this! You won’t want to miss a thing! Tensions are high, and while the Superfam may have bested one villain, but there’s a heck of a lot more to go.
BATMAN BEYOND #48
Batman Beyond #47 was the end of a rather large arc. Damian helped them fight the good fight, but he’s gone back to the League of Assassins to work things out on that front.
Meanwhile, the rest have returned to Gotham and seen the sun rise over the city another day. The snow has melted and the city has (seemingly) returned to whatever sense of normalcy Gotham is allowed. But that wasn’t it for these heroes…
Michael Jon Carter (aka Booster Gold) made an appearance on #47’s last page. And you know when Booster Gold shows up, something serious is about to go down because something somewhere is seriously messed up.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BATMAN BEYOND #48
Terry really can’t ever seem to catch a break, then again neither could Bruce while he was racing around in his cowl and cape.
Jurgens delivers some fun banter between Terry and Matt, which leads us in with a false sense of security. A panel closes in on Bruce’s face next, and something about his features doesn’t look quite right. Completely out of nowhere, Bruce accuses Terry and Matt of trying to kill him and sends out drones to kill them. Terry fights while Matt hides, and Booster Gold makes his entrance! Yet, we find out it is too late for Matt.
Terry and Booster aren’t exactly off to a good start. While Booster Gold is undoubtedly used to awkward situations and bizarre occurrences, Terry needs a little more time to adjust. His brother has been mercilessly murdered by his mentor and this new guy who flew in out of nowhere is claiming it’s all one big whoopsie, and that they can just go back in time and undue the mess. Booster realizes Terry needs a shove in the right direction… And into the Time Sphere.
Even when Booster brings Terry to a decade way in the past, Terry remains hellbent on kicking the snot out of Booster. Let’s take a moment to thank Skeetz for a few laughs amidst all this rough and tumble. Booster has laid out what’s happened: Bruce Wayne wasn’t himself, there was a villain who planted a ticking time bomb in his brain. This caused him to attack Terry and Matt, unfortunately killing Matt. But Booster is around because this can be fixed. There’s a way to prevent everything Terry just experienced and dump him back in his own timeline with brooding old Bruce and his boisterous baby bro. But that’s all we get, there isn’t much time for small talk because whenever they are, Gotham is burning.
Terry makes a quick save and is reunited with… His father?! Though not in the way you may think. Meanwhile, Booster’s getting his butt whooped six ways to Sunday. Blanque, dressed all in white, is our villain of the month for this series, and he is able to communicate telepathically. He sends Booster flying through houses, and while he is unable to get up for a moment, Terry is there to save the child in that home.
They were looking for the Batman of 2020, and it looks like they’ve just found him. Will Bruce be ready for a team up to take down Blanque? Or will he go after this “new” Batman with everything he’s got? My bet? This Batman has to know Booster by now and will (hopefully) listen to what Michael’s got to say while they’re all in the thick of it.
The art team for #48 did a stellar job. Everyone’s body is drawn to move as it should, without any awkwardly long limbs or funky poses. Movement feels fluid and fun. Furthermore, the panels are set up to with a good flow and read smoothly. As seen in some of the above panels from the spoiler section, it’s easy to see penciler Paul Pelleteir had no trouble with showing us scenes from multiple perspectives, keeping the comic interesting even when some of the backgrounds may have felt a little similar (city rooftops, the last third of the book being burning buildings…). But the amazement doesn’t stop there. Tensions run high in this issue, there are plenty of angry faces to be seen, and Pelleteir shows incredible range when drawing expressions on each character’s face, as well as using body language to convey emotions.
Chris Sotomayer’s in charge of colors and boy do they look fantastic. Fire is always more than reds, oranges, and yellows, and to see an artist add a little flair to the flame certainly looks good.
Necessary of Nah?
Booster Gold’s shown up in the timeline, might not be a bad idea to pick up this issue. However, if you were good with Jurgen’s wrap up of last week’s arc and have no interest in continuing with Batman Beyond, you don’t need this issue. Still, this is absolutely the set up for themes that will carry through to the end of the series at issue #50.
I went ahead and grabbed two. One main, and one for the gorgeous variant.
Booster you brought Terry to 20-freakin-20. Real talk: I’m wondering if everything coming next was already so set in stone the writers can’t add in a few bonuses relating to this 2020.
Oh, and let’s add Matt McGinnis to the Dead Robins Club.
After that lackluster annual, I was so looking forward to this issue! Not that the annual was bad, but it wasn’t my favorite.
Last issue, Batman and Superman were nearly taken out by the Batcave, but Superman was able to crush tons of Batman’s toys as they tried to take them down. Still, this powerful duo ended up… kidnapped… You can’t really call it that for two 35+ year old super dudes can you?
#12 left off with Batwoman and Steel grabbing a jet and taking a flight to space. They’ve got the means to find Batman and Superman, but have they the grit to duel it out?
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BATMAN/SUPERMAN #13
Joshua Williamson packs a punch in the beginning. Batwoman and Steel encounter a Doomsday mech, and even though they take it down with ease (read: Batwoman absolutely crushes it), there are more robots ready to take them down. This duo is able to hold their own and the scene changes to Batman.
Batman’s upside down in the lair of a mechanical Riddler, and he’s stuck playing chess while answering riddles. When Batman’s able to best this mechanical monster, it self destructs and we see Batman move onto the next challenge… Where he is met by a mechanical Two-Face and Scarecrow. These two are easy enough to take out and The Bat moves on. It is pretty quickly revealed that Batman and Superman have not actually been captured by Brainiac, but a rogue computer program that was able to sneak past Bruce and overwhelm whatever OS he’s got running on all his Bat-tech. While stalking through a maze, Willaimson leaves Batman to handle a Joker bot, and the book moves to Superman.
No surprises when we meet up with Superman; he’s doing what he does best and smashing these robots into rubble. Batman’s program has big questions for both our heroes, and the Lex bot stops Clark for a moment, and makes a point.
Whatever Clark may have been thinking, we will never know. The Joker bot shows up and takes Lex bot down for the count. Instead of pummeling it to bits, Batman decided to make use of the chaos engine that is Joker, rewire the bot, and let it loose. Why work harder when you can work smart, right Bruce? But the Joker bot can’t take down everything. Batman and Superman find themselves surrounded, yet just as they take their fighting stances, Batwoman and Steel show up to beat the heck out of the remainder of the robot hoard. But Williamson isn’t done quite yet.
This rogue program which was hellbent on discovering why Batman and Superman do as they do isn’t done by a longshot. Emerging from seemingly out of nowhere is some ungodly, wild creation that is a Super/Bat combo robot. And this large lad is ready to kick some serious butt. With Batman, Batwoman, Superman, and Steel stuck on planet Brainiac fighting hoards of robots, this robot takes off for Earth.
Can’t wait to see who ends up battling this big lug back on Earth!
#13 had art that slapped! Max Raynor delivers on action packed panels throughout this entire issue. Our heroes smack down villains with blow after devastating blow, and not a single pose feels overused. Meanwhile, Alejandro Sanchez really brings life to the pages with his colors. This next page doesn’t have much to work with for a background on planet Brainiac, but Sanchez uses an array of purples and greens to create depth and mystery… And just look at the way those vibrant lights reflect on Batman’s suit! Amazing!
There’s more to see than bright colors and bold poses from our heroes. Sometimes it’s the smaller details that catch your eye. For me, this panel of Clark’s creeping five ‘o’ clock shadow that does it.
When Batman’s been out for a while, artists will almost always give him a little bit of scruff to be shaved when he’s done patrolling, but this is much more subtle than that. If you look closely at Clark’s face, you can see a faint gray/blue tint to his skin where a beard would be growing in. Sanchez is really showing his attention to detail. Love it!
Necessary or Nah?
This book was lacking the classic Batman & Superman team up feel I read the title for, but was a good read nonetheless. Williamson gives us a Batman who doesn’t have to hold back and can let his fists fly without mercy because he’s up against robots. While Batman could not normally do this kind of thing because his villains are soft and squishy real people, he can rip these robots apart.
BATMAN: THREE JOKERS
Refresher on #2? I needed it.
#2 was spicy. Jason was beat down by Joker. There was one cringe-worthy kiss. Batman decided to let murder slide. And Joe Chill was brought into Joker’s game.
While Jason recovered from his date with Joker’s crowbar, and shared an emotionally vulnerable moment with Barbara, Bruce was working on his own theories about the three Jokers.
By the end of book 2, Joe Chill became a center focus. Maybe Bruce didn’t know exactly why, but the detective in him would work out the details.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THREE JOKERS #3
What were you expecting? What was I expecting? Certainly not what was given, but Three Jokers #3 did not disappoint (or maybe it did, I saw a lot of discourse this morning).
Our crew made a crazy wall just for Joker. Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood have been working tirelessly to solve the mystery of the Three Jokers, and Batman’s just about ready to go in for the kill. Figuratively. Batman and Red Hood are feeling a little more than argumentative over the stressful ordeal, and Bruce goes for the throat when Jason takes the time to remind him that there are now only two Jokers. He took one out when Bruce would not. Batgirl’s able to ease tensions a bit, and Bruce eventually apologizes to Jason.
Jason’s over the whole mess and Johns changes pace to Batman’s investigation of Joe Chill’s room. There, he discovers letters addressed to Bruce Wayne… And a final letter addressed to The Batman. Within this final letters are tickets to everyone’s favorite movie, Zorro! The trio make their move and head to the movie theater. Jason tries to talk to Barbara first, but that doesn’t exactly go well for him.
Once they’ve arrived, each member of the team takes a different entrance. Batman moves steadily through the front entrance, and we see him pass under a sign reading “The New Joker.” If Jason’s killed one out of three, of course the remaining Jokers must bring in a new one… While Batgirl and Red Hood are busy fighting off an ambush of clowns, Batman is met by one of the Jokers, who happens to be holding Joe Chill hostage. This Joker reveals he considered making Jason or Barbara into a third Joker, and what a twist that would have been.
Jason finds himself distracted by Batgirl’s sweet moves as she takes on a few Jokers, but don’t worry, she saves him in the end. Just as that happens, the entire theater goes up in flames and we’re left watching a final duel between Joker and Batman as Batman fights to save the life of Joe Chill. Hate to say it, but Joker thought this one out well. Just before this, Chill tells of his motivation for killing the Waynes that night, and admits he was wrong to do so. The Waynes were not like the other wealthy families in Gotham, they were better and they were genuinely good people trying to help.
And just like that, Batman’s got himself a Joker… But another creeps up from the shadows and shoots the other. (At least Jason didn’t have to do it.) The Comedian is the last Joker standing, and he’s begging Batman to lock him up. At the end of the day, Joker’s only real motivation is the attention he craves.
Johns wraps up the book so neatly, you may as well have put a bow on it. The last Joker’s locked up, Joe Chill dies as peaceful a death he can, Barbara is back on her treadmill, Bruce is heading off to Alaska for that last lead, and Jason’s… Feeling a little blue that Barbara’s all set.
The note ends up on the floor, and the true hero of this story (the janitor) sweeps up that bad boy. Or… perhaps not. Anyone else feel a little anxious after taking a second look at the color scheme on that uniform… How about the name?
Johns and Fabok definitely worked together on that one.
Jason Fabok gave us another Jason Todd picture book. /s. Just as before, Fabok and Brad Anderson work together fantastically for one more solid book in this series. Throughout the last two books, Fabok knocked it out of the park with his abilities to convey feeling while drawing expressions on character’s faces and with body language. Composition within a panel matters as well, and Jason hiding his face below clues us in to how hurt he is feeling. Even with Bruce’s apology. Considering Three Jokers uses a more classic panel set up (no break, no wonky edges) the choices made for spacing within panels arguably matter more.
While the characters are expressive, sometimes the book feels a bit stiff… Still Fabok reminds us that he’s got range!
Joker’s little surprise party grabs Batgirl and Red Hood by surprise and suddenly the panels are flooded with bodies. Fists fly, bullets meet their mark, and everyone’s moving and grooving to their own beat.
Necessary or Nah?
Get out there and get this book already. I’ve got 5 with a slab on the way.
DARK NIGHTS DEATH METAL RISE OF THE NEW GOD
The Dark Nights Death Metal Universe has been given an awful lot of one shots. Keeping up with them is a task all it’s own. This picks up where Robin King left off.
Robin King (we found out he was a Bruce from another universe who decided to kill his folks) brought down the Flash fam. They had traveled through hell to bring the Mobius chair to Wonder Woman, but Robin King foiled their plans. At the end of the issue, Robin King is swept up by this monstrously huge, shadowy figure… A new form of The Batman Who Laughs!
What’s to become of not only our fallen heroes, but the multiverse?! Tynion IV is here to shed some light on that for us!
SPOILERS FOR DNDM RISE OF THE NEW GOD
Robin King is neither seen nor heard from, and Tynion IV begins this issue with a broken Mobius Chair. With the universe riding on that delivery, it’s hard to feel positive about the future of the universe.
Rise of the New God (RotNG) kicks off with the introduction of a new character, The Chronicler. This alien being is in a class all his own, moving through multiverses and recording everything as it happens, so that once a world is gone its story is remembered. Strangely (or for plot, I mean who knows) Chronicler is drawn in by the stories of this multiverse, growing attached to all the characters while feeling their stories are unfinished.
As Chronicler moves through the multiverse, The Batman Who Laughs battles Perpetua, and they are hurling whole planets at each other in a fight for dominance across the multiverse.
Wondering aloud only does so much and sometimes you need a sounding board. In an unexpected turn of events, Chronicler develops an attachment for this dying multiverse and summons up Metron, bringing him back to life to find some answers of his own. Chronicler exists only to record events and move on, but upon seeing this multiverse has had a change of heart, does not want to pursue his original function. Metron helps him understand why.
At this one shot’s conclusion, Tynion IV paints a picture that belief and hope are driving forces in this specific multiverse. That because something is believed, this multiverse will work to make it so. Interesting concept when Chronicler’s need for information is taken into consideration… He becomes a believer in the stories of this multiverse and so it cannot die.
The Batman Who Laughs and Perpetua may be causing harm on some godly cosmic scale, but that means nothing when faced with the person holding all the records. Dark Nights Death Metal has brought our heroes a giant crisis to fight through and it seems they’ve just got the best cheerleader they could ever hope for!
There was a tiny story at the back of the book here, and it goes back to Multiverse’s End. The Green Lanterns get some love, and we see them lead a ship full of passengers back to their home… Or what’s left of it. The leave The Bleed only to find their Earth has been ruined, but that doesn’t mean there is no hope! John looks to the crowd, offering up a Green Lantern ring. If they’re to win this fight, our heroes will need all the help they can get!
RotNG’s art is impressive. Jesus Merino lays down the pencils, Vicente Cifuentes inks, and Ulises Arreola colors the whole darn book! An extra big book demands extra cool art and this team delivers. Much of the issue takes place in space and these artists give us quite the view as Chronicler moves through his journey. They also show a fair amount of range, when you consider the amount of different characters contained in RotNG. One book, tens of unique characters!
DC is constantly adding new characters to their roster, and it is endlessly amazing how artists can continuously deliver on character concepts we have never seen before. Chronicler certainly stands out, and his overall look definitely lends to the idea that he is the powerful cosmic entity Tynion IV has written.
Necessary or Nah?
Folks, I don’t know how to say this, but literally all of the one shots are necessary. DC, shut the front door and take my money. If you haven’t been buying the one shots, I go more in depth here:
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…
And if you’re looking for Robin King, you’ll find it here:
DETECTIVE COMICS #1029
Detective Comics #1028 set the state for what’s to come. Bruce Wayne is broke and so is The Batman, so he will have to get a bit more creative on the case. To make matters worse, the new man running for mayor is looking to put every costumed crusader out of a job.
#1028 showed us that the GCPD doesn’t exactly want Batman around anymore either, though Bruce Wayne still wants to defend his city. People are rioting outside of city hall, asking for no more heroes, too.
While Gotham works on piecing itself together after Joker War, what will happen to the heroes we know and love… And seriously, where is Damian Wayne?
SPOILERS FOR DETECTIVE COMICS #1029
Batman and Detective Comics are really just throwing a ton of new villains at us and seeing what sticks, huh? All the while teasing in previews that Damian is lurking somewhere in the shadows and that Hush, and older Batman villain, is set to reappear at some point. DC, chill. And with that thought, let me introduce to you, The Mirror.
So he is a reflection of sorts on the people of Gotham, and his speech works well for the city’s current political climate. While we’ve seen shining examples of Gotham citizens who are fond of their masked cryptids stalking city streets in the night, The Mirror is preying on those who are terrified after the Joker War has ended. Do people really love Batman, Robin, and the other bats and birds as much as they claim, or is it really time to take off the masks? Not only is The Mirror working against vigilantes (though I have a feeling his aims are more sinister…), but the new mayor is working tirelessly as well.
The above panel is aboard a yacht for a fundraising event. Can’t campaign without a little dough. Broke Bruce is in attendance, and when a few baddies come on board it is Nightwing who glides in to save the day! No thanks from the likely future mayor of Gotham though. Just like that, Dick moves on.
Backtracking to the beginning of this issue, Bruce made an attempt to apprehend villains as Batman… But things did not go quite his way. Zooming along the trail of the criminals in a high speed chase, someone shot out the wheels of his bike! Bullock made it clear he did not want to see The Batman snooping around, is it possible this mystery shooter could be someone from the GCPD? Lack of a uniform doesn’t mean much… Or could it be someone working with The Mirror? Gotham may not be so kind to The Bat anymore. If DC reveals the shooter is Damian, I might take a break from this book.
The identity of Batman’s assailant isn’t the only mystery Tomasi left us with at the end… Bruce discovered someone was in the Batcave and had stolen the Black Casebook we saw back in Detective Comics #1027. That someone was none other than Damian. But where is Damian and what’s his aim? Damian’s motivations will undoubtedly unfold throughout following issues of Batman and Detective Comics.
ART TALK (and maybe some other fun things)
Kenneth Rocafort is one of my favorite artists out there right now, and Dan Brown has been doing fantastic work coloring these pages. Kenneth Rocafort’s pencils give that good Gotham grit I look forward to every month in Detective Comics. Only pulling one panel for this because this team was working on the last issue as well.
Rocafort’s lines convey the speedy action effortlessly, but what really grabbed my attention was Brown’s work on colors. Nothing is lost in the above panel. The siren’s lights reflect beautifully on the windows of the car, as expected… But those pink hues shine brightly off the uniforms of the GCPD officers, Batman’s bike, and the batsuit.
Necessary or Nah?
Bruce, Batman, the GCPD, and Gotham as a whole are changing quickly and you won’t want to miss an issue of Detective Comics. DC is bringing us a new era of Batman and there is no reason to miss out on the beginnings as they set the stage for what’s coming up next. Best pick this one up! And maybe snag a variant cover while you’re at it. Lee Bermejo’s art is out of this world, no detail is left behind. And in conclusion:
Detective Comics bringing back some of those good, silly feels from way back in the day. The creative team missed nothing here. Bruce even goes back for the ears in following panels. Batman’s broke, can’t waste good ammo.
THE FLASH #764
#763 not only featured a new story from a new writer, but re-introduced us to Barry Allen… Which I needed because I’ve only been reading The Flash for the smallest amount of time and that issue gave a good feel for his personality and motives.
After an emotionally draining ordeal with Trickster, Barry was able to reclaim his Flash ring. More importantly, we learned why this piece of jewelry is such a cherished item. It is made from the wedding bands of Barry’s father and mother… And if there’s one thing the jewelry industry will tell you, it is that sentimental value is key.
The end of the book left on a cliffhanger, another villain for The Flash to face!
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE FLASH #764
As Iris laments on what it must be like to have a ring you would never want to lose or take off, Barry is hanging by the kitchen counter lost in thought. Dating a Superhero has got to be tough, I’ll give her that. And it’s not about to get any easier. As Iris chats about their plans for the day, the news interrupts her and Barry’s out the door quick as can be! Dr. Alchemy’s causing a stir.
As I said previously, The Flash’s Rougue’s Gallery is driving me wild. They’re just goofy. I mean, Dr. Alchemy is all smiles while he uses his Philosopher’s Stone to cause trouble! He also insults Barry, saying he is a way better chemist. Ouch man, Barry’s a scientist, too. Unfortunately, Barry doesn’t understand how Dr. Alchemy can change the chemical composition of just about everything and it puts him at a major disadvantage for this fight. After their battle, Barry does some digging of his own, trying to piece together Dr. Alchemy’s next move… Only to be further insulted by Iris.
That has to hurt. Iris is a little upset with Barry, no doubt feeling blown off because he is busy with so much Hero related work. All part of a day’s work. Seeing these characters balance more than just their hero and work lives is interesting, and Shinick tosses a relationship into this mix without creating a forced feeling. We get the idea that Barry really does try, but sometimes duty calls and there isn’t much he can do about it. When Barry solves his problem, he goes back in for round two with Dr. Alchemy.
Sometimes surprising the villain isn’t enough, even when you’re certain you’ve got all the pieces to the puzzle. Barry’s quick on his feet (haha), makes the right moves to save the crowd, but Dr. Alchemy gets in a fatal shot. Folks, I just got here what does he mean the Speed Force is leaving? Shinick really twists the knife, too. This was a very public duel between the two and the entire crowd witnessed the fall of The Flash.
That’s it, that’s the end. The villain wins this one, everyone. On the following page, Dr. Alchemy flies off with ease, no one in pursuit. Meanwhile, Barry is surrounded by a crowd of cameras and camera phones.
Admittedly, seeing there was another new artist on The Flash after I loved what Clayton Henry did in #763 had me downright nervous. Turns out there was nothing to be nervous about. Hi-Fi is an artist who will provide eye catching colors, and Will Conrad joined on as the new penciler.
Conrad kept Barry looking lean like a runner, and used smooth transitions throughout this issue.
The above panel definitely looks like the same three drawings of Barry were used, but they’ve at least been flipped and rotated. Worth mentioning, while The Flash may be moving quickly, this panel still has a background and other characters who can be clearly seen. Artists working on Flash who can work together and show audiences something other than Speed Force lines deserve an award, and this panel illustrates that. The pages are kept interesting and engaging because, simply put, there is more to them… One more set because I was really feeling this art.
Shinick wrote a devastating end for The Flash in #764, and the artists captured that tone perfectly. Before Barry noticed his lack of speed, he’s still chasing after Dr. Alchemy, grabbing onto the villain’s cape in a last ditch effort to catch the crook… And Dr. Alchemy takes a cheap shot. Oof. Not only do we see that is Barry left powerless from his position, but Hi-Fi’s colors convey a sense of loneliness and despair. What’s Barry to do? Nothing to be done.
Necessary or Nah?
With an ending like that this issue felt like a must have. Villains get away often enough for one reason or another, but it isn’t everyday a writer strips a beloved hero of their powers. In The Flash’s last arc, Barry emerged triumphant with the help of friends and family, but what’s he going to do next?
RED HOOD: OUTLAW #50
Red Hood #49 ended one big battle, and Jason made the choice to let Roy run off back to his own time… Not saying a word even though he knows he just sent his friend to his death.
Crazy multiverse timelines be damned, that felt pretty out of character for our beloved anti-hero. Still, that’s in the past and it is time for everyone to move on.
The day was saved, everyone could go home… Except Bizarro, who decided to remain behind… And we were set up for the end of Lobdell’s run on Red Hood: Outlaw.
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR RED HOOD OUTLAW #50
So long, Lobdell!
Even with #50 being an oversize issue, the pacing doesn’t sit quite right. Loose ends are wrapped up, but they sure do move along fast!
Things kick off with a callback to #48, Jason realizing that Duela is still alive. Lobdell spends a little bit of time here, as Jason catches up with this wayward teen before moving on. And just like that we are back at Ma Gunn’s spot… Remember these guys?
I have the distinct feeling that the two pages they were given is the last we will see of them for some time. If another writer can find something interesting to do with this crew, that would be something… But Jason’s solo series doesn’t need so many tagging along. Moving on!
Jason makes a hasty decision to allow Duela to become part of the crew while he and Artemis take down some fools in suits. In the thick of it, Duela removes her mask and realizes this life isn’t for her. Her moment with Pup-pup changed her mind and she is ready to go home to her real family. Tie that one up neatly with a bow.
Next, Lobdell tackles this on again, off again, awkward feeling relationship between Jason and Artemis. Thankfully, their ending isn’t so dramatic and there don’t see to be any hard feelings. Jason definitely has some abandonment issues, so losing Artemis as a romantic partner has got to hurt, but hopefully we will see him grow into himself as the run progresses in #51.
Perhaps we will see Artemis around sometime, but preferably the next writer gives Jason a journey where he is a bit more independent. When Red Hood & the Outlaws first began, there was a lot of potential for Jason, Bizarro, and Artemis to work together as their own Trinity. Unfortunately, that got lost somewhere… with Bizarro choosing a throne all his own, and Artemis telling Jason they were parting ways, that team likely won’t be getting back together anytime soon (or at all).
Try as they might to leave Gotham, the Bats and Birds always end up returning to their beginnings. What’s Jason going to get up to in a Gotham that’s been ravaged by clowns?
Paolo Pantalena has been doing the pencils and inks for a while and every time I flip that cover I know I’ll need a minute to adjust. Pantalena’s linework has that grit I love to see in a Batfam story, but the proportions given to the characters never feel quite right. But man oh man are those background stunning!
The ending panel (above “art talk”) was one of my favorite from this book. The composition is balanced, and Gotham’s laying in wait for Jason as he speeds down the highway.
How many Jason Todd resurrection panels and pages have we seen over the years? Plenty. Still, Paolo Pantalena’s linework on the backgrounds deliver a distinctly fresh feeling to that dead lad crawling across the bottom of the page. Arif Prianto, colorist, keeps the color palette simple, yet consistent as he moves through the pages. Puddles gather where the ground floods and Jason’s covered in mud as he claws himself back to the world of the living.
Necessary or Nah?
Truly invested fans who needed the closure of everything that’s happened over the last few years will be happy to have this issue. If you’re part of the crowd who did not care for Lobdell’s work on this run, don’t worry about leaving it on the shelf, seeing as how you’ve read this review.
This panel was an absolute gem. Remember that group of young outlaws Jason picked up 15+ issues ago? Dropped. Just. Like. That.
DONE DONE DONE.
That’s a wrap and thanks for staying if you made it all the way to the end. Currently re-reading all of Three Jokers for a larger post that explores some of the more human scenes and feelings present in those books. Join me for some words on whether or not portions deserve to make it into DC’s main line of continuity, or if the whole series should remain a Black Label series all on it’s own.
Apologies for the long post, DC didn’t hold back this week and I had ten books on my Pull List. See you again soon!