All right, it is time for another enhanced podcast. I took the good advice of some of the followers of The Revolution with my second effort at podcasting. I decided to have my fellow Revolutionary, Shawn, come aboard for this podcast. The two of us will be giving our takes on the comic books that came to the Bunker last Wednesday.
I have known Shawn forever. We are the yin and the yang. Shawn is pretty diplomatic, PC and very nice. Me? I’m crass, mean and confrontational. We make a pretty good team.
To be expected, Shawn and I often disagree on comic books. We have purposely refrained from discussing this week’s comic books until now. We have no idea what the other one is going to say. My guess is that I end up calling Shawn an idiot by about five minutes into this podcast. Here is the list of comic books that we will be covering in this podcast:
BATMAN AND ROBIN #3
BATMAN WIDENING GYRE #1
BLACKEST NIGHT TITANS #1
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #3
GREEN LANTERN #45
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #30
SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN SPECIAL #2
FANTASTIC FOUR #570
GUARDIANS OF GALAXY #17
NEW AVENGERS #56
SECRET WARRIORS #7
Or, if you don't care about the pictures, then you can click on the link below and hop over to my mediafire page. Then you can right click the link and download the podcast and listen to it at your leisure. I am all about offering choices.
This week had such a huge shipment of comic books that this podcast was much longer than we were anticipating. Normally, we won't crank out podcasts at this length.
Monday, August 31, 2009
All right, it is time for another enhanced podcast. I took the good advice of some of the followers of The Revolution with my second effort at podcasting. I decided to have my fellow Revolutionary, Shawn, come aboard for this podcast. The two of us will be giving our takes on the comic books that came to the Bunker last Wednesday.
I figured it was time for a little round table discussion to get the view of each member of The Revolution concerning the news of Disney purchasing Marvel. Here we go.
Rokk: I was fortunate enough to hear the Disney Press Conference this morning concerning Disney’s acquisition of Marvel. The Disney executives at the press conference stated that the three factors that lead them to purchase a company are creativity, technology and global growth. Disney was confident that Marvel possessed all of those three assets.
The Disney executives went out of their way to strenuously stress how much respect they had or the creative and business acumen and talent of Marvel Comics. Clearly, Disney was smitten by Marvel. The Disney executives stressed that this purchase of Marvel was just like their purchase of Pixar. They stated that Disney had a “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude toward Marvel and do not intend on interfering with the creative direction of Marvel.
The Disney executives strongly stressed that Disney’s goal is not to rebrand Marvel as a Disney property. Instead, Disney’s goal is to put a brighter spotlight on Marvel. They said that it is very much the same approach that Disney has taken with Pixar.
The Disney executives stated that Marvel accounts for 40% of the comic book industry. They said that Marvel’s presence in the United States is impressive, but it is not particularly strong in the global market. On the other hand, Disney enjoys a large global presence. The executives believed that by selling to Disney, Marvel would enjoy a boost in its global presence.
The Disney executives said that they would honor Marvel’s distribution deal with Paramount concerning Marvel’s movies. This will be done for obvious legal reasons. However, the Disney executives made it clear that once the deal with Paramount expires then Disney will obviously handle the distribution of all of Marvel’s movies.
The Disney executives addressed the fact that Marvel had gained financing for their movies by placing the licensing to their characters up as collateral. Again, Disney will honor any previous agreements Marvel’s movie house had with financiers. However, the Disney executives did state that film financing was never something they even though about when they were looking at purchasing Marvel. They said that Disney has its own ability to finance its own films. So, we can look for Disney to eventually take over the financing and distribution of Marvel’s films.
The Disney executives were asked if Disney’s studio or Marvel’s studio would handle the creative direction for all new Marvel movies. The executives showered praise upon Marvel’s film studio and their creative talents and decision. The Disney executives stated that they were impressed with Marvel’s film studio from a creative and business perspective and that they plan on trusting Marvel’s film studio’s decisions for a long time.
The Disney executives stated that Disney’s marketing ability with retailers like Wal-Mart will be boosted with the addition of Marvel Comics. That Marvel will benefit from Disney’s much stronger marketing division and Disney’s stronger relationship with national retailers.
The Disney executives stated that they were interested not just in Marvel’s movie potential, but also Marvel’s potential for television shows. Disney wants to use their television channels to increase Marvel’s presence on television.
If you want even more detailed information concerning Disney’s purchase of Marvel Comics and the press conference then check out the article over on Comic Book Resources.
After my initial shock has faded and I have had a chance to digest the information in the press conference as well as read several articles concerning the purchase I am no longer as worried as I was this morning.
Look, there is a part of me that is going to be sad that Disney bought Marvel. Growing up, Marvel was the “bad boy” publisher. DC was the PG family friendly publisher. Marvel was our comic book publisher. DC was our parents’ comic book publisher. Marvel was like the kid who wore all black and smoked pot. DC was like the kid who wore the pink golf shirt and khaki pants. I know this impression I had of Marvel and DC is not totally true, but that was the impression I had growing up.
Marvel was the renegade that owned themselves and did not have to answer to anyone. Marvel could do whatever they wanted with their characters. On the other hand, DC was owned by a big corporation in Time Warner. DC had to deal with more of the corporate red tape and restrictions than Marvel did.
Time Warner has always displayed an attitude that they could care less about DC’s comics. Time Warner just wants the comic characters around so they can make money from licensing merchandise, television shows and movies. Since DC never really felt pressure to turn a profit on their comic books they had a more laid back approach to marketing and trying new approaches to their comic books.
Marvel, on the other hand, had no giant corporation to take care of them if their comic books did not generate a profit. Therefore, Marvel has had a more aggressive marketing campaign than DC and also has seemed more likely to take chances with their titles than DC ever would.
Now, I know that Disney swears they are going to treat Marvel like they have done with Pixar. If that truly is the case then I have no worries. If Marvel is allowed full creative freedom with its comic books and movies then the sale to Disney is nothing but great news for Marvel fans.
The fact is that Marvel will greatly benefit from Disney owning them. Disney is a juggernaut in the entertainment industry. Marvel will now have much greater access to television with the power of Disney behind them. The Disney-ABC Television Group includes ABC, ABC Family, Disney Channel and Disney XD.
Marvel’s movies will get a huge boost with Disney’s might behind them. Walt Disney Pictures distributes for their film studios that includes Walt Disney Animation Studios, Pixar Animation Studios, DisneyToon Studios, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures and Miramax Films.
Marvel will also sell much more merchandise now that Disney owns them. Disney has stronger deals with retailers across the world. Plus, Marvel merchandise will surely be sold at every single Disney resort. I mean, honestly, who knows how to push merchandise better than Disney? They seem to be the masters of promoting and selling merchandise.
Now, who should be depressed about the news of Disney purchasing Marvel? Boom and DC. Boom has been doing a great job publishing Disney licensed comic books. That is obviously going to come to an end now. This will be a big financial blow to Boom. It shall be interesting to see if they can survive such a loss.
DC should be worried. In terms of money and security, the playing field between Marvel and DC is now level. Marvel was already beating DC in terms of comic books sales prior to Disney purchasing them. Marvel is now in a much stronger position to make a run at DC in other areas where they might have been weaker such as with their animated movies, animated television shows and merchandising.
Time Warner better learn to get a bit more creative and aggressive with how they utilize DC. I could easily see Disney’s ownership of Marvel simply boosting Marvel to all new heights.
Shawn: I have no concerns over Disney’s purchase of Marvel and how it might impact Marvel’s comic books. Let me put it this way; do you think that Disney really bought Marvel for the comics? They bought them for the toys, cartoons and movies.
So Marvel may get a tiny bit less controversial, but I don't see the Disney overlords messing too much with Marvel’s comic books as the types of stories and characters they deliver. I see the future of Marvel films being very secure with Disney as their owner. And Disney gets an in house publishing arm to do a lot more comic books with built in distribution and such. Of course, this deals certainly sucks for Boom in the long run.
But I figure, with Mr. Steve Jobs being the single largest shareholder of Disney and on their Board of Directors, that Disney’s purchase of Marvel must be a good idea, because Jobs certainly had to have a say in it. (That was for Rokk’s benefit as he is such a sycophant of both Apple and Mr. Jobs.) I will say that maybe Disney owning Marvel means that we will be getting Marvel Comics on the iPhone (or the iTablet for that matter) faster and easier.
I have no concerns over the content of Marvel’s comic books with Disney as the owner. Remember, Disney owns Touchstone and they do not always crank out family friendly movies. I expect that Disney will not ask Marvel to tone down the violence or adult stories in some of their comic books.
However, I will admit that maybe some of the more controversial stuff or some of the way out of left field stuff may occasionally get tweaked. However, the current output by Marvel should probably remain largely untouched. While I do think that Disney will want Marvel to avoid truly controversial publicity, we will still see things like the Hulk in the Ultimates eating people occasionally.
Kevin: From a pure business position this is a great thing for Marvel and its fans. One of the advantages that DC Comics has had over Marvel, though they have poorly used it, is that they have a big company like Time Warner to help them market and finance their products. DC has sort of been that rich kid only getting by with what they can because they know that they would not go out of business since Time Warner would never sell the rights to the DC characters that make Time Warner a boat load of money.
For Marvel they always have to (over) market their products because they were/are a publicly traded company who lives on what they make from the comic book sales. But now that Disney has bought Marvel it gives the company a similar "security" that DC Comics has had for a long time.
Also, Marvel has already been known as a marketing machine and with having Disney they have an even bigger chance to widen their marketing scope and do more TV spots on the various networks the Disney owns like ESPN, ABC, and the Disney channel.
This is especially true with Marvel opening up their Marvel Studios branch. It will be much easier for Marvel to market their movies and cartoons like the upcoming Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and Avengers movies. As a marketing major this is the most fascinating aspect of this deal to me.
Also, this may give Disney an opportunity to publish comics for their shows along the lines of Marvel's "Marvel Adventure" line and give them some credibility among the younger fans. I wouldn't mind seeing a comic book based on Kingdom Hearts :)
So, overall, I see this a good thing for Marvel and I hope that everything works out great for both companies.
Andrenn: Another thing to add to the list of why I'm so cynical and have no faith in the world. We can put this right between Glen Beck and the Birthers on that list.
On one hand, I feel like Marvel sold out. They gave a big middle finger to all their independence and free will and sold all of that away for money. I hate that. I really do. One thing I was happy about Marvel was that they didn't have to answer to any higher power or worry about if the big wigs upstairs cared if they killed a certain person off or not. It gave them a quality that DC could never hope to match as far as what they can and cannot do. Now they've sold that away and it pisses me off.
I do hope that this means Marvel will no longer have to keep rebooting all their damn comics to try and get new readers. Maybe it can even mean that Marvel can do some more adventurous projects without the fear of losing a ton of money. That's about the only plus I can find in this though.
In the long run, I still feel pissed off. Like a friend who had been working hard all his life finally gave up and decided to take his parents' check and not have to work hard anymore and just lounge around after all his previous hard work. It's sad to see Marvel get so lost like this and I wouldn't be surprised if we see a major quality drop over the next few years.
Maybe it's just me being a fanboy, but I can't help but wonder if my father would feel the same way. He'd probably be just as pissed and I wouldn't blame him. This feels like a slap in the face to all that Marvel has done over the years and it's a damn shame.
With all that said, I'm going to go play Arkham Asylum and pretend that I'm throwing Batarangs into Mickey Mouse's forehead.
It has been a while since I picked up Fantastic Four on a consistent basis. While this is one of my favorite titles there hasn't been a creative team over the past few years to get me to have this every month. Ever since Mark Waid and the legendary Mike Wieringo run there hasn't been a great run on this title.
While I liked the beginning of Mark Miller and Bryan Hitch's run delay's hurt their run so I am waiting for the trades of their run to come out. Hopefully the creative team of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham can hook me into putting the Fantastic Four onto my permanent pull list. Let's see what the new creative team has in store with Fantastic Four #570.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin in Reed Richards' childhood where we see a young Reed scared to get down from his tree house. On the ground below, Reed's father tells his son that everything is okay and that being afraid is nothing to be ashamed of and that Reed needs to try and come down himself. Reed's father continues to tell his son to trust him as he knows his son can do it. Reed jumps down from his tree house.
In the present, the Fantastic Four are fighting a bunch of giant robots in the city. The robot is able to put Johnny out of commission by using a fire extinguisher it had in its palm.
Sue yells at Reed to figure something out to stop the robot. Reed tells Sue that the robots all seem to have been constructed to fight against each member of the Fantastic Four. The Thing comes up with a solution for them to each switch the robots they are fighting and he smashes the robot fighting Reed as an example of his plan.
Elsewhere, the Wizard thinks about the hole in his logic. Back in the city, the Fantastic Four finish defeating the robots and Johnny uses his heat vision to discover that each one was piloted by Wizard clones.
In The Wizard's lair (do villains still use the word "lair" to describe their hideouts?) he says to his kid how disappointed he is that his plan failed. The Wizard talks about how all he has in his heart is anger for his son's generation and that he has to do something about it.
Back were the Fantastic Four are, Reed is analyzing one of The Wizard clones. Reed realizes that the clones are actually robots designed to terminate each member of the Fantastic Four (I guess Arnold Schwarzenegger was busy being the Govenator with his big budget cutting knife that he couldn't make a guest appearance as The Terminator in this issue.) Reed uses the data in The Wizard's robot to program his teleporter to locate The Wizard's location. He tells Sue that he will be home for dinner and teleports to The Wizard's location.
Upon Reed's arrival he sees a bunch of pods holding clones of The Wizard that are of different ages. The Wizard then appears in front of Reed telling him not to be afraid of the discovery. The Wizard asks Reed if he wants to team up to find out the origin of the universe.
Reed tells The Wizard that the Wizard is sick. This infuriates The Wizard. The Wizard goes to push the self destruct button to blow up his lair. Reed uses his powers to tie the Wizard up. Reed says that the Wizard is going to be locked up. Reed tells The Wizard that he will visit him in prison and that maybe they can publish a paper together.
Later that night, Reed is in Valerie's room telling Valerie and Franklin about the Fantastic Four's adventure from earlier that day. Franklin tries to get his dad to tell him another story but Reed tells him that it is bedtime. Reed says that next time the story he tells his kids will be from a book. Reed says that he does not like telling his children about the Fantastic Four's adventures. Franklin leaves Valerie's room upset over not getting another story.
Reed tells Valerie good night and asks her if she was scared of the bombs from earlier. Valerie tells her dad that she wasn't scared especially since her father built the whole top floor to be an inter-dimensional panic room. She continues by saying that she is three years old and she does not have time to think of stuff like that. Valerie than tells her father goodnight.
We then see Reed with Franklin on his shoulders walking to Franklin's room with Franklin telling his father that when he grows up he is going to stay up late just like Uncle Johnny. Reed puts his son in bed and they each tell the other that they love each other and Reed tells his son goodnight. As Reed turns of the lights to his son's room Franklin asks if The Wizard's kid will be alright. Reed says he hopes so but it will be a difficult process. Franklin asks his dad if he will help the kid and falls asleep.
In the living room of the Baxter building Johnny is trying to make The Thing choose were they should go on a trip to "heal" The Thing's broken heart by giving him three choices. The Thing says he does not know and Johnny makes him choose one which turns out to be 3 days and 2 nights stay at Nu-World. The Thing tells Johnny that Johnny will just ditch him as soon as they get there but Johnny tells The Thing he won't do that and that they will have a blast.
As the two of them talk about their trip Reed walks in and tells Sue the kids are in bed. Reed says that Val already figured out the changes he made to the building already and that she is going to be smarter than himself. Sue doesn't think she can handle Val but Reed assures her that she is a great mom and she will do a great job.
Sue tells Reed she is going to turn in for the night and asks if Reed is coming. Reed thinks back to what The Wizard said about the world tearing apart and he tells Sue that he has some things to do before turning in. Sue wishes Reed luck and asks him not to fall asleep in his lab again.
We then see Reed going down to his lab. As Reed walks around his lab we see that every inch of the walls covered with different writing of ideas Reed has been working on to save the world. As he walks around he enters another room with The Machine thinking about how he wants to build a better future than the one he currently see. Reed activates The Machine. Three shadowy figures emerge from the machine. Reed asks the three figures to help him.
The three figures show themselves to be different versions of Reed. Reed asks the other versions of himself "How do I solve everything?" They answer "Aggressively." Our Reed ask his other versions who they are. One of them answers by saying they are the Reed Richards from Earth-6590 and Earth-12 and were chosen because of them being the most familiar to our Reed due to their powers being closely resembled to his family's.
Reed asks his other version were they are exactly. He answers by saying they are inside a pocket reality outside of the universal structure and space between them. As they walk towards a building one of the Reed's welcomes our Reed to the Council.
They enter the building to find different versions of Reed from the multiverse. As our Reed says how amazing the place is an alert sounds off and we see that Galactus has attacked Earth-2012. One of the Reed's says how unexpected this is. Our Reed asks what exactly is the place they are in. The other Reed saying that they are the ones who police time and much more as the founders of the Council intended.
Our Reed asks who built the place. Someone speaks up and says that it is a place to become something greater than what you were. The heads of the Council ask our Reed to join them.
We then get a splash page with three different Reed's each with an Infinity Gauntlet. The three Reeds tell our Reed it is time to reach his full potential. End of issue.
The Good: Fantastic Four #570 was a great read. Jonathan Hickman knock it out of the park with his first issue on this series as he was able to hook me with this first issue to put the Fantastic Four back onto my pull list.
Hickman did a very good job making this issue of the Fantastic Four new reader friendly. For a first issue of a run this an important thing to do as Hickman has built up interest in his work with what he has been doing in Secret Warriors and new readers interested in his newest project. He did a great job establishing who each member of the Fantastic Four are and how this is more of a family than a team.
And while this was a very new reader friendly issue Hickman did a great job making this an enjoyable issue even for long time readers with how quickly shows he has a good understanding of the group and what makes them great characters. Each character in on the team, along with Franklin and Valerie, had their own distinct voice with no one character sounding like the other.
I especially liked that Hickman quickly established that Reed Richards will be the star of his run. While each member of the group is an interesting character in his and her own right with everything that has gone on with Civil War and Secret Invasion Reed has risen to become one of the stars of the current Marvel Universe. I love seeing his lab were Reed covered every inch of the walls with writing and equations of him trying to figure out the problems facing Earth. It also a good way to continue the Nu-World storyline from Miller's run on this title as we saw that the Earth's leaders trying to find a way to solve the planet's current problem.
And I like The Wizard's involvement in making Reed think harder about the problems facing Earth right now and how the two of them as scientist are seen as Gods do to their genius scientific minds. The Wizard is a cool old school Fantastic Four that has been rarely used over the past few years. And it will be cool to see if Reed does actual work with The Wizard in the future as it was hinted that they would make a good team though it was probably a sarcastic comment.
Even though I don't know when Reed built The Machine transporter that got him in contact with the other versions of himself I thought it was a cool addition to the things Reed has built. And though I am not a big fan of multiverse spanning stories seeing all the different versions of Reed was awesome. I love how Hickman made the Council of Reed Richards act as protector of the multiverse and seeing all the different versions of Reed from all the different Earths was cool to see as each one had a look that stood out.
What will be interesting to see is if the three Reeds with their own Infinity Gauntlets is a sign that our Reed will be getting the Infinity Gauntlet from his universe since he does have one of the Infinity Gems from his time in The Illuminati. This can also be a good way to involve the other members of the now defunct Illuminati.
Another thing I enjoyed about this issue is that Hickman understands that unlike most teams the Fantastic Four are first and foremost a family. Sometimes writers forgot this in favor for them being a superhero team battling the bad guys. Even though the team fought The Wizard in this issue it did not take the whole issue to take care of The Wizard and only the first third of the issue was the battle with the middle third taking place in the Baxter Building showing us the members of the team interact. I especially liked how Johnny tricked The Thing into taking a trip to Nu-World as it is a good way to bring in the world built in Miller's run and not just letting the Nu-World concept forgotten because of the new creative team.
Also I like that Franklin and Valerie where a part of this issue as they are characters that are usually forgotten in this issue. While they can't exactly be involved in their parents adventures it is good to see them in the series as it makes the title feel like more of a family title. And also having both characters involved in the story allows for Hickman to show the parental side of Reed and Sue showing that they aren't just scientist and superheroes. I am interested to see how Hickman deals with Valerie growing intelligence as it seems it will be a major sub-plot in his run.
Dale Eaglesham's artwork was incredible. While it took a few pages to get used to him drawing a Marvel title do to his time spent on drawing DC characters he did a very good job giving this title the old school feel it should have. He did a very good job giving this title a Jack Kirby-like feel with his artwork and I especially liked how he drew the different versions of Reed as they each had their own distinct look. Also I liked how he drew the nice moment with Reed and his two kids as it was a nice quiet moment between a father and his kids.
The Bad: While I enjoyed this issue a lot I wish that Hickman would have informed us when Reed actually built The Machine that allowed him to come into contact with the different versions of himself. It would have been nice to get at least a little information about The Machine as it feels like a convenient deus ex machine to move the story forward.
I also did not like how Eaglesham drew Reed. It looks odd to see Reed buff and with a beard. While I know that Reed, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four, have been given different looks over the years I just don't like the look Eaglesham gave Reed in this issue.
Overall: Fantastic Four #570 was a great start to Hickman and Eaglesham's run on this series. They did a very good job making this a very new reader friendly issue while also hooking long time readers with the introduction of the multiverse versions of Reed and continuing the Nu-World plotline. I definitely recommend picking this issue up for fans of team books and of the Fantastic Four specifically.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Batman and Robin #3
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quietly
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story – Batman Reborn Part 3: Mommy Made of Nails
After a short delay we finally get the final chapter to Morrison and Quietly's first story arc of Batman and Robin. Batman and Robin #3 was a fun read. These are the type of stories that I expect from Morrison.
No other writer in Marvel or DC does high concepts like Morrison. Even though his stories tend to be a hit or miss his work in these first three issue are a nice reminder why Morrison is so highly praised for his off the wall ideas and storytelling. This issue is dark, funny, disturbing (mostly coming from Pyg's over the top bad guy personality) and sweat all in one.
Morrison does a great job with Dick and Damian's dynamic not being the typical Batman and Robin dynamic we are used to. These are two very different characters who see their roles as very different. For Dick he sees that in being Batman he needs to balance out the dark persona he has to show to the bad guys with some of the sense of humor he had as Robin and Nightwing or he will turn into a clone of Bruce. As for Damian we see him take the role of Robin more seriously than previous Robin's as he acts more darker and brooding since he sees Robin as a stepping stone to becoming Batman. This leads to an interesting dynamic as Morrison shows that it is Batman who has to try and show Robin the lighter side of things than the other way around.
Also I like that Morrison is continue the storyline from his Batman RIP story with the new Batman and Robin taking down Le Bossu. Even though I have admitted to not being the biggest Batman RIP fan I am interested to see Morrison continue his Black Glove storyline as he didn't really finish it yet.
And what really helps Morrison's story is Quietly's artwork as it is just plain phenomenal. Quietly's artwork in this issue is something you won't find in any other comic as his style is very distinct with a great balance between the dark and humorous moments. Though it is to bad Quietly can't continue to be the ongoing artist in this series as Phillip Tan steps in next issue to take over the art duties. Good thing is he will return for what is said to be the Joker arc later in this series.
Story: 9.3/10 – Morrison continues to tell a deep read that is very enjoyable to read. I like how he writes the new dynamic between Dick and Damian.
Art: 9/10 – As with the previous issues Quietly's artwork here is phenomenal. Quietly does a very good job being able to tell a story with his artwork alone.
Overall: 9.15/10 – Batman and Robin #3 was a spectacular read and a good way to cap off the first story arc of this title and begin the second arc. I am looking forward to seeing what Morrison has in store for the new Dynamic Duo with a new duo stepping on their turf.
Blackest Night Titans #1
Writer: J.T Krul
Artist: Ed Benes
Inkers: Rob Hunter, Jon Sibal, and JP Mayer
Colorist: Hi-Fi Design
Story – When Death Comes Knocking
Yep you read it right I picked up Blackest Night: Titans #1. As seen with my previews for this week I did not have this issue on my list of comics to get but when I went to my LCS and flipped through this issue I liked what I saw and decided to get it. And I got to say I am surprised that this was actually a good read. While it is not as good as the Blackest Night: Batman issue this was still a solid addition to Blackest Night and another case for the tie-ins to the event being better than the main book.
With all the characters involved in Blackest Night the Teen Titans is one group that it actually feels like they need to have a mini-series to tie into Blackest Night. They have had the most losses in their team members out of all the teams running around in the DC Universe. J.T. Krul definitely did a great job showing the rich Teen Titan history, both good and bad. His characterization of all the various Teen Titans members, past and present, were spot on.
Ed Benes excellent artwork helped Krul's story immensely in this issue. While Benes does overdue it with the model like poses of the female characters I liked how much emotion he brought into this issue through his artwork alone. The characters were all well designed and Benes was able to capure the dark part of the story while not going overboard with making the issue feel too dark that it takes away from the story.
I especially liked how Krul wrote Starfire and Beast Boy with each one providing an argument for Terra being considered either a villain or hero. I have always liked the Beast Boy and Terra relationship and it is nice to see a writer address the relationship. With Terra being back as a Black Lantern it should provide Beast Boy and Geo-Force, who had a non-speaking cameo in this issue, with plenty of drama as they are sure to be the center of this mini-series.
The other main part of this story involving Hawk and Dove was just as interesting. As we saw in Blackest Night #2 the original Hawk was revived as a Black Lantern while Dove was not. And in this issue we got another clue to why Dove is not brought back with the current Dove having a white aura that is unreadable. After thinking about this for a bit I am starting to think that this white aura that Dove had and the reason the original Dove was not brought back is not because of their heroic acts being unselfish but that they are characters in full control of their emotions from the time they were alive and when they died. And it would make sense that white would stand for serenity since that is what Dove stands for and it will be interesting how this concept affects what happens in the main series.
Though I do have one problem with this issue and that is that there is way too much going on. With the original Hawk's, Terra, Lillith, Donna's husband and son it seems that Krul is going to be juggling a lot as we will most likely see other dead Titan related characters return like the original Ravager and the recently deceased Kid/Red Devil. Krul is going to have to pick and choose which characters to return as Black Lanterns because if he doesn't this three issue mini-series may be dealing with the problem Geoff Johns is having in the main Blackest Night series with too many characters to juggle.
Story: 7.5/10 – J.T. Krul impressed me with his storytelling abilities. His strong character work in this issue was what sold me two pick up the rest of this mini-series.
Art: 8.2/10 – Ed Benes provided plenty of his solid artwork and he did an especially good job with giving plenty of emotion to this issue through his artwork.
Overall: 7.85/10 – Blackest Night: Titans #1 was a solid read and even though I was not originally going to pick up this mini-series Krul and Benes combined to tell a very good Blackest Night story that I will read the rest of this three issue mini-series.
The Flash: Rebirth #4
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist: Brian Miller
Story – Flash Facts
Another Geoff Johns book released this week that showed signs of improvement and some actual plot progression. Unlike this week's issue of Green Lantern though we didn't get much development until the last half of the issue as the first part of the issue felt more like a recap than an actual story. Though for his part Johns writing in this issue is the strongest it has been this whole mini-series.
While Barry still came off as having a one note personality what helped make this issue better than previous three is that Johns was able to balance the Barry scenes with scenes that involved the whole Flash family. And that has really been one of the biggest problems facing this mini-series, as well as Blackest Night. While this issue still has that "Barry is the greatest" theme going it is good to see that Johns did not forget that Wally was the one that took the Speed Force to the level it is at right now since he did things with the Speed Force no one before him did.
Also I liked that the characters weren't just mopping around like they have been for three issues and actually did something about the strange actions of the Speed Force. That is definitely one thing that made Professor Zoom's appearance even better as he was his appearance made the story move forward and had the heroes act like heroes, yeah I know weird concept right.
And the dramatic moment when Zoom appeared in Wally's house where his kids and Linda were was great as I was on the edge of my seat since I did not know if Johns would actually kill Wally's family in order to show Zoom is the badass he says he is. I glad Wally's family did not die as killing a main character's family members has become too much of a cliché in comics now in order to darken up the character(s). For the first time in this series I was actually rooting, in my head of course, for the heroes when Bart and Jay showed up to save Wally's kids as it was great to see them save their (extended) family.
I also liked the parallels Johns used with having both Wally and Barry run towards one another without the other knowing how close they were to one another. Along with the Zoom battle going on this made the issue tenser and dramatic as both characters were thinking of what makes them get out of the Speed Force's is their loved ones. And it was great that it was Barry that helped Max find his lighting rod to get out of the Speed Force since it was the first time Barry did not act like a sad and depressed loner and showed a sign of hope.
With that said there were aspects of this issue that really keep it from being a home run. The first thing is that I don't really like or understand the concept of Barry being the Speed Force. While it puts Barry above all the other Speedsters it makes the Speed Force an overly complicated concept that can become over convoluted. Because since all the Speedsters basically derive their powers from Barry does that mean how fast they can run depends on how powerful Barry is at that time? Also if Barry is the Speed Force were exactly does Barry get his powers? Does Barry's power level depend on his emotional state similar to how the Lantern power rings work? Or is it something else? While it is interesting if mishandled Johns can turn the Speed Force into a very convoluted power source.
The other thing I did not like about this issue is that the first half of the issue felt more like a recap than actually moving the story forward. A lot of Zoom's and Barry's dialogue at the beginning felt forced and unnecessary. And all of the dialogue made the first part of this issue boring that I almost stopped reading the issue halfway through because of Johns overuse of the dialogue.
Story: 7.5/10 – Johns finally stepped up his game in this issue. While he still had some of the same problems from the previous issues this was a much better executed story than previously.
Art: 9.2/10 – Ethan Van Sciver's art is as strong as it has always been. Sciver's art has really been the strength of this series and this was some of his best work as he finally was able to draw some action that turned out great to look at.
Overall: 8.35/10 – Flash: Rebirth #4 was the strongest of this mini-series and is what saved this series from being classified as one of the worse stories of the year. Hopefully Geoff Johns can carry the momentum from this issue into the last two issue of this mini-series.
Green Lantern #45
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Maghnke
Inkers: Christian Alamy, Doug Mahnke, and Tom Nguyen
Colorist: Randy Mayor
Story – Love Hurts
I have been one of the biggest critics to Geoff Johns recent work especially what he has been doing with Blackest Night. It is not that I am don't want to like Johns work, specifically Blackest Night, but just like Bendis and Brubaker in Marvel I hold Johns work at a higher standard than all other DC writers. Johns has done such a fantastic job for the past few years to get me into reading other DC books other than the Batman titles that the past few months of his work on Green Lantern and Blackest Night have just not been at the level I expect from him.
But finally in the fourth Blackest Night related issue that Johns has written we get an actual story that is not a bunch of senseless action scenes with deaths that I could care less about. While there wasn't much plot progression in the overall story being told in Blackest Night what Johns was able to do in this issue is finally makes this event feel like it has universe ramifications and not just another event that affects Earth and its heroes. This is really the first issue where I felt that the threat of the Black Lanterns is really a danger to the whole universe especially since there is a war that is spanning across the universe making the Black Lanterns arrival even less unwelcome to all the characters involved.
Also I am going to say this knowing I may piss of fans of these two characters but I believe the reason I liked this issue more than the two Blackest Night issues and the other Green Lantern tie-in issue Johns wrote is because Hal and Barry weren't in it. While I like those two characters they aren't characters who have very dull personalities and when they are together they are even more dull which is what has hurt Blackest Night so far. Which is why this issue stands out as we get a bunch of different characters interact with one another with each having their own distinct personalities. If Johns wants to make me enjoy the main series more he needs to mix in characters like Sinestro, Attrocius, Gathet, Carol, and all of the different Lantern Corps along with presenting the War of Light to give the story more balance.
I also liked how Johns introduced the Black Lantern homeworld in this issue as a living planet just like Mogo. While this wasn't a big part of this issue it was a nice introduction at the beginning of the issue a good way to introduce more of to the Black Lanterns than just that they are characters risen from the dead. It should be interesting to see how Johns takes this plot line that he should pick up on in the main series.
As I said before the best thing about this issue was the involvement of the various characters that Johns has developed over the year. The stand outs of this issue were Sinestro and Carol. I have never seen these two fight before and their fight and back and forth dialogue was very interesting. These are two characters that have a long history with Hal and it is an interesting argument they each share with their views of what roles they and all the other Lantern Corps have in the War of Light. Also it was interesting seeing that one of Sinestro's greatest love was Abin Sur's sister and makes me wonder if she is Soranik's mother or if it is another person.
And the interaction of this character as well as all the various battles going on made the reveal of Abin Sur and the rest of the Black Lanterns rising across the universe more dramatic. With the constant hectic battles going on the appearance of the Black Lanterns should pose as an interesting challenge for all the Lantern Corps since they were in the middle of the War of Light and now they may have to put the war on the back burner to fight the Black Lanterns. The best of the Black Lantern attacks was when they went to where Larfleeze is and his reaction to the Black Lantern rings appearing in front of him.
Also I like that the Indigo Lanterns were mentioned as being the most mysterious of the Lantern Corps since they are the only ones yet to make an official appearance along with the other Lantern Corps. This adds more mystery to the Indigo Lanterns as we still do not know what position they will take in the War of Light and the battle against the Black Lanterns as well as the powers the Indigo rings have.
Story: 8/10 – Johns does a very good job balancing the War of Light along with the threat presented by the appearance of the Black Lanterns that Blackest Night finally feels like the big event that has been advertised.
Art: 9/10 – Doug Mahnke art is incredible in this issue. Mahnke gives the War of Light and the Black Lantern reveal the big epic feel that Ivan Reis has given the main series.
Overall: 8.5/10 – Green Lantern #45 was a big step up from the first three issues of Blackest Night related comics that Geoff Johns has written. With this issue I am finally excited to see what happens next in the event as Johns has built a solid foundation to pick up on in Blackest Night #3.
Guardians of the Galaxy #17
Writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Artist: Brad Walker
Inkers: Victoy Blazaba and Scott Hanna
Colorist: Jay David Ramos
Story – Adam Magnus
After a weak issue last month Guardians of the Galaxy returns to form with this issue that deals with the aftermath of War of Kings. With everything that went on in War of Kings DnA do an excellent job continuing the story as this issue is a natural progression of what went on in the event.
What is great about this issue, and all of DnA's work on Marvel's cosmic universe, is that this is a team that embraces having a large cast in their titles. Team books seems to be the hardest type of titles writers to write in the modern era of comics as they it is hard for them to juggle a cast of 7 to 10 main characters. Which is why I love this series and this issue as we do not only get the Guardians of the Galaxy but also the Inhumans play a big role in the issue as well.
And as always the thing that puts this issue above most books is the strong character work DnA do with the two teams involved in the story. Even characters like Phyla, who is the only character in this series that I have not liked, was well written as she could be seen as the antagonist of this issue with her confrontations with Medusa, what she did to Warlock, and her fight with Gamora.
While I had to make a quick trip to Wikipedia to understand the ending with the alternate future stuff with Adam Warlock I thought it was a cool twist DnA threw in at the end of the issue. With the appearance of Adam Magnus along with what is happening in the aftermath of War of Kings the Marvel cosmic universe looks to get a lot more chaotic which translates to being fun for us.
Also I can't do a review of Guardians of the Galaxy without mentioning how awesome one of my favorite comic book characters was in this issue. Rocket Raccoon was as awesome as he always is and I loved his interaction with the Inhumans specifically Crystal as they talk about Maximus and Groot. And I loved how Maximus basically says the Groot doesn't say "I am Groot" but is actually talking but we are to dumb to understand him as he is a higher lifeform than us.
As for the artwork this was some of Brad Walkers strongest work to date. Walker is really a hit or miss artist on this title with how inconsistent his art is from issue to issue. But here Walker does a great job making this issue have an epic feel in the aftermath of War of Kings. Though he still had some inconsistencies in his art when it came to some character faces which I overlook because of the great action and ending he illustrated.
Story: 8.7/10 – DnA continue to make Guardians of the Galaxy a blast to read and their strong characterization of the GOTG and Inhumans in the aftermath of War of Kings was great.
Art: 8/10 – This was some of Walkers best work thus far. He did a really great job with everything going on in this issue with only a few minor inconsistencies. Hopefully he can carry this quality into the next issue.
Overall: 8.35/10 – Guardians of the Galaxy #17 was a great read. With what happened at the end of this issue and all the problems falling out of War of Kings the Marvel cosmic universe continues to get more and more interesting and fun.
Teen Titans #74
Writers: Bryan Q. Miller (main story); Sean McKeever (back-up story)
Artist: Joe Bennett (main story); Yildiray Cinar (back-up story)
Inkers: Jack Jadnson (main story); Julio Ferreira (back-up story)
Colorists: Rod Reis (main and back-up stories)
Story – Child's Play Part 3:….We All Fall Down (main story); Fresh Hell Part 3 (back-up story)
Bryan Q. Miller has been doing a great job with this story arc and this final issue did a great job finishing up this fill in story arc. And this arc was one of the strongest story arcs this series has had since Johns work before Infinite Crisis. For the first time the Teen Titans felt like the Teen Titans as they worked well as a team and not as a bunch of individuals trying to work together.
As has been the case with the first two parts of this story arc were Miller excelled at in this issue is his strong characterization of the members on the team. The only character I still do not like is Bombshell, but of course I have never liked the character in the first place so it did not hurt this issue. All the members of the team were given great moments to show off their power levels and how close they became.
This was especially shown with the death of Eddie/Red Devil. While I never liked Eddie it was great to see Miller give the character a heroic moment to die in and not just some lame death that characters of his level in the Teen Titans usually gets. It is the first time that I felt the character was a hero and I like that in his death the team came closer together as they realize the risks they take as an official team.
The Fearsome Five came off as a very strong and competent challenge for the Teen Titans to face. Miller did a very good job building up the members of the villainous group to be the threat they once were to the original team. I hope that we see this group again as there are plenty of story possibilities with this team of villains. And the ending with the Calculator makes it look like this story isn't over with yet and we will see him and the Fearsome Five again.
And the back-up by Sean McKeever was much stronger in this issue than the previous installments. Even Yildiray Cinar art was stronger in this issue. I love seeing finally kick some ass and hopefully this is a sign the back-up to Teen Titans is actually going somewhere.
Story: 9/10 – Miller did a fantastic job with this filler arc. His strong characterization in this arc will make it tough for Felicia Henderson follow Miller's short run. Also McKeever's back-up story was very well written than the previous installments.
Art: 8/10 – Bennett and Cinar's artwork in the main and back-up stories, respectively, was well done and did a very good job carrying the action packed issue from both the stories in the issue.
Overall: 8.5/10 – Teen Titans #74 was a great read. This was definitely a step-up from the stories we were getting in this series from the past year or so. Henderson has some hard shoes to fill after this arc by Miller.
The Revolution has been less and less impressed with Flash: Rebirth with each issue. Johns has gone nowhere with this story. The pacing has been poor as the story is clearly being written for trade format rather than a monthly format. The plotting has been less than average as Johns has unnecessarily stretched the story out thereby giving the reader too much fluff and not enough actual plot progression with each issue. Hopefully, Johns can get this story on track and deliver a tight read with Flash: Rebirth #4 that actually moves the story along in an interesting and purposeful manner. Lets hit this review.
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Reverse-Flash (Eobard Thawne) holding Barry Allen captive in the crimson lightning. Barry thinks how Reverse-Flash is his Joker. Barry then gives a brief history about his rivalry with Reverse-Flash. Barry continues how he ended up snapping Reverse-Flash’s neck. Barry notes that Reverse-Flash is now back and is clearly different.
Reverse-Flash rants about how he will have his resurrection at some point in the future thanks to some good friend of Barry’s. Reverse-Flash beats the hell out of Max Mercury. Reverse-Flash comments how for every positive there must be a negative.
Reverse-Flash says that the sea of crimson lightning that they are in is the Negative Speed Force. That Reverse-Flash generates the Negative Speed Force. Reverse-Flash is its engine. Reverse-Flash says that his Negative Speed Force is poisoning Barry’s Flash Family via Barry.
Reverse-Flash says that when he came back to life he was so angry when he learned that Barry had sacrificed himself to save the world. Reverse-Flash says that Barry became more than he ever was when he was alive. Thawne says that Barry was a boring lab rat who was romanticized into the most selfless hero of his time.
Reverse-Flash then yells at Barry that class is in session. Reverse-Flash explains how after Barry died and got lost in the Speed Force that Barry did manage to emerge from the Speed Force to save Bart Allen when Bart was fighting Superboy-Prime. (During the events of Infinite Crisis.) When Barry did that he left open a door in the Speed Force.
After that, Reverse-Flash sent Barry a “pulse” into the Speed Force to try and wake up the rest of Barry’s self-awareness before it faded away again. Thawne then managed to draw Barry back out of the Speed Force under the guise of Barry being needed to fight a “great evil.” (That would be Darkseid during Final Crisis.) Reverse-Flash then transformed himself in a new kind of speedster.
Reverse-Flash then ran hard enough to generate enough negative energy in order to infect Barry with it. This turned Barry into a weapon to be used against his own Flash Family.
Reverse-Flash says that Barry was supposed to kill his Flash Family with his touch. That Barry was supposed to live the rest of his life in guilt. That Barry was supposed to go down in history as a monster and not a martyr. That Barry was not supposed to burn off the Negative Speed Force and arrive here.
Reverse-Flash then says that if you want something you have to do it yourself. Reverse-Flash then disappears.
We cut to Fallville, Iowa where the JLA members are wondering where Barry went. Wally refuses to lose Barry again. Wally says that he is going to go after Barry and will bring him back alive. Wally says that he can survive going into the Speed Force. That he has done it before. That as long as Wally has Linda he will have an anchor to pull him back from the Speed Force. Wally then blasts off running.
We cut to Wally’s house where Linda, Jai and Iris are hanging out. Iris wants to go help Wally find Barry. Jai teases Iris that all she can do is walk through stuff and that he is sure Bart thinks that her power is stupid. Iris gets upset and runs out of the room.
We see Iris running downstairs. Suddenly, Reverse-Flash appears in front of her. Iris bounces off of Reverse-Flash. Reverse-Flash states that Iris has finally found something that she cannot run through. Reverse-Flash asks if Iris’ mother is home.
We slip back into the Speed Force where Wally is racing his way toward Barry. We hop over to Mercury Max telling Barry that Max cannot escape the Speed Force. That all the speedsters had an anchor. Barry had Iris. Jay had Joan. Wally had Linda. Johnny Quick could not escape the Speed Force after he lost Liberty Belle. (The original version.) And Max has no one.
We zip over to the JSA Brownstone where Liberty Belle (The new version) is saying the speed formula over and over but is unable to finish it and access her speed powers.
We cut back to the Speed Force where Max tells Barry that he is like Thawne. That Barry is not like the rest of the speedsters. Max says that it all began with Barry. That Barry didn’t tap into the Speed Force when he gained his powers. That Barry created the Speed Force.
Max continues that when Barry runs he creates the kinetic wall between the present and the time barrier. It is an electrical energy that exists in every dimension, every universe and every era. That it touches all parts of reality and contains the knowledge of every time and space. Max says that “The Speed Force is the all-encompassing Flash Fact.”
Max says that if Barry does not stop Thawne then Thawne will keep running and his Negative Speed Force will grow and eat away at Barry’s Speed Force. Max says that Barry needs to create more fuel. Max tells Barry to run.
We shift back to Wally still streaking through the Negative Speed Force. We cut to Linda telling Jai to come with her so he can apologize to Iris. They come across Reverse-Flash holding Iris. Jai attacks Reverse-Flash. Reverse-Flash then grabs Jai.
Thawne holds the two children and says that he can feel the Speed Force inside of the children. That the Speed Force inside the two children is tangled in knots. That their bodies have not managed to mainline it yet. Reverse-Flash says that he will untangle the knot and then strangle them with the rope. Reverse-Flash crackles with lightning that flows through the two kids.
We cut back to Wally racing through the Negative Speed Force toward Barry as Barry is trying to use his speed to escape the Negative Speed Force. Barry thinks that if he is the engine of the Speed Force and if the lighting comes from him then he needs to turn this engine over and get it cranking.
We hop back to Jay and Reverse-Flash battling. Thawne takes away the aura that protects Jay from the friction of moving at super speed. Reverse-Flash then holds Jay and starts running fast. Jay begins to catch on fire. Bart quickly puts out the flames and saves Jay. Bart then begins punching Reverse-Flash.
We zip back to Barry finally cranking up his powers. Barry tells Max that he has broken through, but that Thawne must be running. That the Negative Speed Force is still growing. Barry says that he cannot get out of here.
Wally then appears in front of Barry. Barry tells Max to take his hand. That they are leaving. Max takes Barry’s hand. Barry then holds out his hand toward Wally. Wally takes Barry’s hand. Barry tells Wally that Thawne is back.
We cut to Reverse-Flash beating up Bart. Reverse-Flash says that Bart’s mother may have been a Thawne, but that Bart’s father was an Allen. Reverse-Flash says that Bart’s blood is polluted. Reverse-Flash says that Bart’s very presence disgusts him. Reverse-Flash knock out Bart and is about to kill him with his lighting rod wand.
Suddenly, a massive bolt of lightning hits Reverse-Flash. We see Max Mercury appearing from the lightning bolt. We cut to Liberty Belle saying that she has suddenly remembered her father’s speed formula. We see lightning bolts hit Jay, Wally and Bart. They are all fully powered once again.
We see Barry Allen glowing with the Speed Force and racing toward Reverse-Flash. We see Jay, Wally, Bart and Max behind Barry. Barry says “I’m back, Thawne. But this time it’s on my terms.” End of issue.
Johns whips up plenty of nice dialogue. That is no surprise. The previous issues of Flash: Rebirth may have had many defects, but the dialogue has not been one of them. The character work also continues to be excellent. There are very few writers who can rival Johns’ feel for the various characters of the Flash Family. It is obvious that Johns genuinely loves each of the different members of the Flash Family. It is this attachment for the Flash Family that Johns has that makes the characters in Flash: Rebirth so three-dimensional.
Flash: Rebirth #4 was a well-paced read. Johns gives the reader a good mix of action scenes and dialogue heavy scenes. Johns is also able to create plenty of tension in the reader as Thawne makes his attack on Wally’s family and Barry struggles to break through the Negative Speed Force. This has the reader on the edge of their seat during this issue. This is a nice example of how tension can boost the reader’s interest in a story. This enabled Johns to only employ only an economy of action in this story to keep it moving at a lively pace.
Flash: Rebirth #4 was soundly plotted. Johns finally got this story moving with a point and purpose. This is the first issue of this title where Johns has actually made an honest effort to perform plenty of plot progression. Johns finally introduced the main villain, explained how Barry returned from the dead, explained Barry’s role within the Speed Force and the Flash Family, presented the reader with the main conflict that Barry must overcome and also gave us some action on top of it all. Johns certainly packed plenty of information into Flash: Rebirth #4.
Johns’ biggest talent as a writer is his world building ability. There are few writers who can rival Johns’ ability to fashion a coherent, logical and detailed vision for re-inventing a franchise. Johns finally tackles the job of fully explaining how Barry returned from the dead and what his role is within the Speed Force and how Barry relates to all the other speedsters. And Johns does a magnificent job pulling all of this off in a plausible and pleasing fashion.
I liked Johns’ explanation of how Barry returned. Johns was able to nicely fold the events of Flash: Rebirth into Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. The explanation that Barry’s return during Infinite Crisis was enough for Thawne to try and reach into the Speed Force and pluck out Barry’s consciousness before he was re-absorbed into the Speed Force worked for me.
This was a plausible enough explanation within the context of comic book science and logic for me to buy into how Barry was able to return from the “dead.” It also created a nice progression as the reader can see how the events of Flash: Rebirth were set in motion back during the events of Infinite Crisis. This explanation also helps to create another bond between the two Crisis events.
Of course, the big reveal in Flash: Rebirth #4 was the fact that Barry did not discover the Speed Force when he gained his powers. That, in reality, Barry created the Speed Force. That Barry is the embodiment of the Speed Force. Barry is the engine that creates and powers the Speed Force, and by extension, powers all of the other speedsters in the DCU.
This makes sense, as historically, Jay Garrick was never able to run as fast as he could after Barry Allen gained his powers. This move by Johns clearly makes Barry the central Flash, which is where I believe Barry belongs.
Johns does a fine job explaining and defining the Speed Force for readers who are unsure of the concept of the Speed Force. We learn that when Barry runs he creates the Speed Force. Also, that the Speed Force is the kinetic wall between the present and the time barrier. It is an electrical energy that exists in every dimension, every universe and every era. That it touches all parts of reality and contains the knowledge of every time and space.
This has been the most concise and clear description of the Speed Force that I have read. Of course, my favorite part of when Johns has Max explaining the Speed Force was when Max calls the Speed Force the “all-encompassing Flash Fact.” Yeah, that line was a little cheesy, but it worked and it put a big smile on my face.
I also liked how Johns finally explained why Wally’s children are not speedsters like their father, great uncle and cousin. Thawne states that the Speed Force is like a tangled knot inside of the two kids. That the children’s’ bodies have not been able to properly mainline the Speed Force yet.
I have to wonder if by the end of Flash: Rebirth if we are going to have two more speedsters in the DCU in Jai and Iris. Personally, I hope not. We already have too many speedsters and I like that Wally’s kids have powers different from him.
Johns makes great use of Reverse-Flash in this issue. Johns wisely gives the reader just enough back-story on Thawne in the very beginning of this issue. What was so impressive was how Johns was able to explain Reverse-Flash’s relationship with Barry in such a concise manner and also within the natural flow of the story. Comparing Flash’s rogues with Batman’s rogues was an excellent method in which to explain Reverse-Flash’s role in Barry’s career.
The problem Johns was facing with Flash: Rebirth was that Barry’s arch-nemesis, Reverse-Flash, simply is not well known by the vast majority of modern day readers. Thawne was killed by Barry back in Flash #325 in 1983. That was almost thirty years ago.
I know that Thawne did appear in Flash #74-79 back in 1993. And Thawne appeared in a two or three other issues during the 1990’s. That is it. The challenge Johns faced was getting the modern reader to understand what an arch nemesis Thawne is for Barry.
Well, who is one arch nemesis that every comic book reader knows? Even comic book readers who only read Marvel comics? The Joker. Johns saying that Reverse-Flash is to the Flash what the Joker is to Batman immediately and effectively got across to the reader the intensity and scale of the feud that has existed between Barry and Thawne.
I have always liked Thawne. Reverse-Flash is a classic villain and one of my favorite Flash villains of all time. I was fantastic seeing Barry and Thawne knock heads once again. I certainly am looking forward to the big showdown between these two rivals in the next issue.
I also enjoyed how Johns took head on some of the criticisms that have been leveled at Barry’s character. Critics of Barry have complained that he is a boring character and that only in death did he ever attain more credibility and respect from comic book readers. Johns has Reverse-Flash rant about how dull of a person Barry was. Reverse-Flash chafes under the fact that Barry became the very definition of a “hero” after Barry “died” during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Johns has Reverse-Flash point out how dull Barry Allen was and how Barry was romanticized into the most selfless hero of his time.
This was a brilliant move by Johns. By having the main villain in this story espouse the criticisms of Barry Allen’s character, Johns is able to place them into the story in order to address them. Since the villain is voicing these criticisms the reader is automatically predisposed to disagree with these statements.
Also, Johns will now be able to properly re-invent Barry’s character into a more interesting character fitting for the modern era of comics versus the Silver Age version of Barry Allen that we got prior to his “death.” Hopefully, Johns will be able to address these criticisms and evolve Barry into a character with a more powerful personality than what Barry had in the 1960’s and 1970’s.
Even though Barry is by far and away the star of this issue, Johns still made a concerted effort to give the other Flashes their moment in the spotlight light in this issue. Wally got to take center stage when he fearlessly raced into the Speed Force to go and rescue Barry.
This was a great moment that showed Wally’s fearless and heroic nature. This also showed the strong bond between Barry and Wally, as there was no chance in hell that Wally would ever give up on Barry. Johns has made sure to give Wally plenty of love during Flash: Rebirth in an effort to assuage the Wally fans that are disappointed that Barry has returned as the main Flash.
Jay and Bart get their moment to shine as they rescue Wally’s children from Reverse-Flash. Jay then gets his own moment as he battles Reverse-Flash just after Reverse-Flash takes out Bart. Then Bart gets his moment as he saves Jay and then battles Reverse-Flash. The constantly shifting spotlight on the different members of the Flash Family emphasizes the fact that Johns views each member of the Flash Family as an important character.
Johns ends Flash: Rebirth #4 with an excellent ending as we see Barry firing on all cylinders and generating massive quantities of the Speed Force with the other members of the Flash Family flanking him on both sides. I absolutely loved the final line in this issue as Barry states that he is back, but this time it is on his own terms. Perfect.
As a Barry Allen fan, this final page had me jumping up and down and cheering. Barry is officially back and is no longer questioning his resurrection or his purpose in life. It is now time to see Barry Allen flex his muscles and kick some ass. The next issue should be great.
Ethan Van Sciver supplied the reader with gobs of gorgeous artwork. Van Sciver is able to pack so much detail into each panel. I liked the way that Van Sciver did the panel layout for this issue. The different layouts for each page give this issue an appealing look. Van Sciver also knows how to draw speedsters. Van Sciver is able to properly convey the kinetic energy that pours forth from each speedster.
The Bad: I have to admit that I found the entire gold lightning versus the red lighting and the Speed Force versus the Negative Speed Force a bit corny. Especially in light of the various colored Corps that Johns is giving us over on Green Lantern. At a certain point, it seems that Johns is getting too gimmicky in his approach to the two franchises. Having said that, it did not bother me to the point that I did not enjoy the story. But, some readers might roll their eyes at the idea of a Speed Force and a Negative Speed Force.
Overall: Flash: Rebirth #4 was a great read and by far and away the best issue that we have gotten on this title. This story has been stuck in neutral for the first three issues. Finally, Johns kicks this story into high gear and delivers a read that has an abundance of depth and substance and moves at a good pace. There is plenty for the reader to enjoy in Flash: Rebirth #4.
Readers who have stuck with this title despite the slow and unimpressive fist three issues are certainly rewarded with Flash: Rebirth #4. For readers who gave up on Flash: Rebirth or who did not pick up this title at all, I would recommend getting this title when it comes out in trade format. I have a feeling that Johns is going to end this story in excellent fashion
Friday, August 28, 2009
Batman and Robin closes it’s first story arc and I was on the fence if I would enjoy this issue or not. While we had a very strong debut chapter I can’t deny that the 2nd issue last month wasn’t too impressive for me. Hopefully, Morrison can win me back and sell me on the most prominent of the Batman Reborn titles.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Art: Frank Quitely
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Batman is dragging the flaming man (seriously, this guy could put Ghost Rider to shame) alongside his new quad-bike. Batman warns him that he isn’t sure if he can hold him up for much longer. Batman asks him again if he’s ready to talk. After a few flying jumps the flaming man says he’ll talk. Gordon is angry about what Batman did, asking him “Who the hell are you?” to which Batman replies “I’m Batman” he then drives off. (I’d say it’s about right here that I was finally sold on Dick as Batman
Robin wakes up, threatening to break someone’s neck as he sees Pyg just about to perform a surgery. Pyg stops and starts rambling about gods. Pyg turns on some Disco music (with a hot pink iPod no less) he rambles on, showing us all he’s crazy as can be. By the end of Pyg's rambling monologue, just as he’s ready to operate on Robin, Robin breaks the binds and starts beating up the dolls and Pyg.
Batman stops one of the bomb carrying dolls around town. Batman realizes that the dolls don’t have bombs. In fact, the dolls have germs that they are trying to infect Gotham with. Batman pulls up his cape to avoid being sneezed on as the dolls are trying to spread their germs.
We cut back to Robin grabbing the girl that Pyg was about to operate on. The two try to make an escape as Pyg and the dolls follow them. As Robin and Pyg fall from a roller coaster car the dolls grab the girl.
The roller coaster car flies out of the building and crashes outside. Pyg is able to knock Robin back with a stick that is on fire. Just as Pyg about to smash open Robin's skull Batman arrives and knocks Pyg down.
Pyg tries to run but runs right into a wall (smartest villain ever) as Batman corners him. Pyg freaks out and starts screaming in fear. Batman and Robin take care of the rest of the doll people. Robin is soon in mild shock that Batman just saved his life.
Robin looks for the girl as the tent catches fire but no one alive is in there. Gordon and the police arrive on the scene. Batman runs down to Gordon the origin of Pyg. That Pyg was a small time circus ringer who discovered a new drug that is incredibly addictive.
Pyg was planning to use the drug to hold the city for ransom. Gordon thanks Batman. Batman tosses Gordon the antidote to the drug that was going to be spread like a flu virus around Gotham.
We cut to Pyg locked up in his cell. Pyg snickers to himself later and says that he has crept into Gotham and soon it will all be like him.
Later in the Batmobile, Robin says that it’s going to be Robin and Batman from now on. Batman sarcastically mentions that should catch. The Dynamic Duo finally find the secret hideout of Le Bossu. (that ugly mofo we all loved so much from Batman R.I.P.) Batman mentions that this time it’s personal.
We cut to inside of Le Bossu's hideout. Bossu is torturing a cop. Bossu mentions that Batman and Robin are dead. Suddenly, Batman and Robin break in through the window. (awesome only begins to describe this image.)
We shift to Alfred in the Batbunker. Alfred looks at pictures of Damian and Dick when they where younger. We see a shadowy figure watching Alfred from a Gargoyle outside the building.
We cut to the police arriving at the scene where the girl that Robin tried to save is killing one of Pyg's dolls. The girl attacks the police. Suddenly, the police are shot and killed. We see the Red Hood appear on the scene. The Red Hood says that he is looking for a partner. Red Hood says that the girl can trust him. End of issue.
The Good: Morrison definitely won me back this time around with Batman and Robin #3. Morrison turned in a much more exciting and enjoyable read. This issue had a solid balance of character work and dialogue and great action. Something this series will hopefully excel at as it progresses because, sadly, this isn’t a norm in comics.
I was very happy to finally see Dick over all his past frustrations of becoming Batman. No more crap about how he hates the cape. It is all behind him and I must say he makes a great Batman. His line of “I’m Batman” after nearly killing some guy for answers just had me rooting for him to kick ass. I’m almost feeling a throwback to All Star Batman where Miller portrays the younger Batman as more violent and brash. Thought I’m not sure if that was intentional of Morrison or not.
I’m not sure but it did seem that Damian has gained more respect for Dick. Damien seemed shocked that he was saved by Dick and no longer seemed to have doubts on working with Dick. If anything, this issue did a great job of strengthening the new dynamic duo and showing that this isn’t such an awkward team after all.
While I do have a complaint about Pyg, Morrison did do a good job of showing us that this guy is absolutely nuts. I can’t tell if half of Pyg's babbling was interesting and important or if half of it was nonsense that Morrison wrote down while on an acid trip. Either way, it was some pretty crazy stuff and actually fun to read just how nuts this guy is.
This issue’s pacing was very solid. Last issue definitely suffered in the pacing because one moment we got solid action, but suddenly we changed to a more somber simple discussion. It was simply to jarring. Here however, the dialogue and action blend seamlessly together and with that Morrison weaves a great story in one issue even while continuing plot developments from prior issues.
Jim Gordon got some nice moments in this issue. It was great seeing him pissed off at Batman again. I almost laughed at how this seems even closer to earlier days of Bruce as Batman with the two clashing momentarily. Still, I’m hopeful the two can come to an understanding, I can’t blame Gordon for clashing with Dick’s dangerous tactics.
I mentioned this in my Streets of Gotham #2 review but now I’m certain that this is indeed something the writers are all doing by having Dick be more aggressive. He’s got a lot on his hands. The Black Mask, Two-Face and a lot more while Pyg and other villains are coming out of nowhere to add a lot more stress to Dick’s role as Batman.
In other words, it couldn’t be a worse time for Dick to become Batman. He’s got villains coming at him from every side and it makes sense that to keep them in their place he’s going to have to be a lot more aggressive and violent if he wants to not drown in his own spilled blood. Dick has got to fight hard and take them down fast so there’s no time for stalking the shadows and being careful. Dick has got to be brutal if he wants to stay alive. I like this twist a lot. It’s brilliant.
Of course, I have to mention Damian who has been great so far in this series. Morrison has done a great job of evolving the character from his annoying brat persona that he had early on into a more interesting and manageable hero. Sure Damien’s more brutal than even Dick is being but it makes sense. Also, with how things are going a dangerous Robin is perfect to be Batman’s sidekick.
Also, of course, it’s funny seeing how Damian insists on being his own Robin. Not doing things like Tim or Dick would have. Damien works well with Batman but also can handle things on is own. It is a nice contrast to what I was expecting and it fits the character very well.
I did like the plot of Pyg trying to poison Gotham and hold it for ransom. It is not an amazing twist and it is not big stretch of the imagination but, for the most part, it gave Batman and Robin a great disaster to triumph over and keep Gotham safe. That is exactly how you want to start a new dynamic duo out.
Morrison was smart to give them something major to conquer. Once they conquered it they were able to earn a lot more respect from the readers. Hopefully, this arc will have helped with the transition of people who can’t accept that Bruce isn’t Batman right now.
A quick mention about Pyg’s dolls. I find the dolls to be the creepiest minions in a long while. Those things top any creepy looking robot and almost feel like something that walked out of the Silent Hill series then put on some make up. It’s messed up.
While I’ve never been a big fan of Quitely’s art I have been enjoying his work on Batman and Robin. I still feel that Quitely has some weird facial moments. And I also think that Quitely does overdo it sometimes with detail, thereby making some people look like they are made out of beanbags. Having said that, Quitely's work on Batman and Robin has been very impressive. This is probably Quitely's best work I have seen yet.
Now for the cliff-hanger with Red Hood. I have to say that even though I saw this ending coming, Morrison did do a good job of ending this issue off with a cool show of how bad-ass Red Hood is. This ending certainly made me excited for next month's issue.
Morrison finally won me over with this series and made it a permanent stay on my pull list. While DC may be messing around with Streets of Gotham, Batman and Robin is definitely going to be the Batman book to be reading this year as well as next.
The Bad: My biggest complaint for this story is Pyg. While as I mentioned that I liked his evil plot and it was funny reading how crazy he is at the same time I don’t really feel he’s a credible or exciting villain just yet. While I’m not looking for the next Joker, it is no use having a crazy guy who we see can do evil things if we don’t really see him cut loose.
Morrison has developed the character nicely but now it’s time to unleash him on Gotham! Pyg really was a contained villain this issue. I was disappointed that he didn’t really get to go wild. Hopefully, it will happen another time.
I can’t deny that I’ve never liked Quitely’s art and this story arc didn’t make me a fan. As I mentioned, Quitely's art has some brilliant and good moments, but he still overdoes it from time to time with the weird detail. Sometimes to the point where the art almost looks inhuman. While Quitely's art doesn’t have any major glares he still has his awkward moments with the heavy line work.
While I was happy that Morrison finally updated us on the Le Bossu moment it did feel random and out of nowhere at this point in the story. I wonder if Morrison should have opened issue #4 with this scene instead of taking it onto the end of this issue.
Overall: Batman and Robin is finally reaching the potential this series had from day one. Morrison has sold me on the series and hopefully will do the same for the rest of you.
I highly recommend you go pick up the last two issues as well as this issue and get ready for one wild ride after another. Great character work and solid art makes this series a must have for anyone looking for a great Batman read.