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Restarting The DC Universe was something everyone knew was coming. The New 52 Universe as a whole was classed as an absolute failure. Most of the 52 original series’s were cancelled early on with only the big hitters staying strong.
Arguably the strongest of The New 52’s Universe was Batman. Reason? Two names: Snyder and Capullo.
The end of that duo has come to a close however. Snyder still writes Batman but instead of the main series, he is writing All-Star Batman with the highly competent and infamous artist John Romita Jr.
That left people wondering who would write for the new main series? Who could possibly take over from where Snyder left off? Tom King.
Tom King may not be a comic book house hold name, his latest work before Batman included The Omega Men and Grayson. But now he has been given the honor of writing Batman and if he succeeds well, then he may end up joining Snyder in becoming a quintessential Batman writer.
No pressure right?
The story much like Snyder’s first New 52 Batman story introduced new characters.
On the verge of a heroic death, Batman is ‘saved’ by two new superheroes: Gotham and Gotham Girl. At first we know very little about these characters except that they can fly, they are stupidly strong, in fact they seem to mirror a lot of Superman’s abilities.
Batman is faced with a dilemma, it’s Batman’s usual dilemma; can they be trusted?
Batman knows the limits of being just a man, the walls that come up with having no powers, the ease of pain and death. He does contemplate the idea that these two ‘heroes’; Gotham and Gotham Girl could succeed in ways he feels he was ever able to.
Things are made complicated (of course) when famous villains come out to play.
You have to give King some credit, it’s his first story arc with Batman and for all intent and purposes, he knocks it out of the park.
It’s not perfect of course with a few little things holding the story back from being amazing. In the third arc there are a few things that happen off panel, we are meant to assume certain things have happened because that’s what has been told to us, but actually seeing these confrontations take place would have led to more empathy and understanding of where and why the characters are the way they are.
Now, a comic book writer is nothing without a good artist to express his vision and King is blessed to have somebody as good as David Finch to bring his story to life.
Finch has had a history of drawing Batman with his previous work being the Batman: Dark Knight series and it’s clear this man knows what he is doing. Gotham is just as much a character as Batman and some of the art here is top notch. Each characters psych is well presented in each panel, whether it be a panicked Gordon or a distressed Alfred, we feel what they feel because the art is so well done.
Everyone is naturally going to compare King’s work with Snyder’s and King is obviously aware of that. Tom King is not Scott Snyder so if you’re expecting that then maybe just read All-Star Batman. Tom King is however the man responsible for Batman Vol 1: I Am Gotham. A good, sometimes great story that shows clear confidence in the future narrative to come.
It’s a worthy read for anyone calling themselves a Bat Fan.
Written by: Landry Q. Walker
Art by: Chad Thomas
By James Kochalka
Zine-Age Mutant Ninja Turtle:
By: Caleb Goellner, Chad Thomas, and Noah Sciver
The Meeting of the Mutant Animals:
Written by: Matthew K. Manning
Art by: Chad Thomas
Freaks and Frogs:
By Ben Costa
Donnie Finds a Relic:
By Sina Grace
Reviewed by: Tyrone Burns
It’s thirty years this year since the pilot episode of TMNT aired across the world and through those years it has experienced a lot of ups and downs and surprisingly it wasn’t until 2012 that TMNT really hit big again with all ages when Nickelodeon aired a brand new series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
For years people had been begging for a TMNT series that had in its soul the same magic that made the original show such a hit. Of course if you watch the 80’s series now it’s hard not to find that it has aged like most 80’s cartoons have: Badly. So the challenge everyone involved had with the show was to make it feel like a worthy successor to the original but with enough modern freshness to bring in a brand new audience.
It became a big hit, not just to children but to adults too and it is this series that has sparked off the comic book series “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Amazing Adventures.
It would be hard for me to talk about this comic book and not mention the art by Chad Thomas. It perfectly complements the television series in much the same way Dean Rankine’s Simpsons comic book does the TV series. Each character is exactly as you know them with only Splinter being the exception. He looks great but not exactly like his TV counterpart. The Turtles personality comes off brilliantly in each panel even down to the exaggerated “chibi”features often seen in the animated series.
The volume is split into six stories with the first issue being the highlight. The Fab Four with master Splinter must team up with their archenemy Shredder to take on an old Ninja and friend of both Shredder and Splinter who calls himself Zodiac. I found the story gripping as it delved more into the history of ninja’s before the Turtles in a half shell were born. That made each moment exciting!It felt just like the TV show which is all any fan could want.
It was sad then that the other stories bar “The meeting of the Mutant Animals” didn’t succeed in the same manner. They were all enjoyable but lacked the same stakes and character growth. “Volcano Time”was fun, with a good look into the type of comic book stories Mikey himself would make.
These characters have existed for so long because of how relatable they are. Four turtles with four distinct personalities, we all know a “Michaelangelo” in our lives or a “Raphael” type. Sadly the lack of many strong female characters has held the series back from appealing to a larger audience but even still, this is a series strong in people’s hearts and for good reason; the series showed you can kick ass as a ninja but still be a walking fail button like Mikey or a nerd like Donny. They are not perfect, but we love them for that.
If the 2012 series (still ongoing) appeals to you and you just can’t get enough, than I would recommend this comic series to you. However if you are looking for deep, rich stories that extent the universe in more ways than just ‘filler’ type content than this might not be the TMNT series for you.
Booyakasha turtle fans! What a time to be living in. There is so much TMNT content out there now and I can’t get enough of it.
Though this series is Silk’s first solo comic, it expects you to know a little bit about who she is. So here is a small rundown.
Young teenager Cindy Moon was bitten by the same radioactive spider that had bitten Peter Parker. When her powers started to manifest, she was taken from her family and trained by a man named Ezekiel Sims. It’s soon after, the totemic predator “Morlun” tracks down Cindy for reasons not yet understood. In order to protect Cindy from his machinations, Ezekiel hides her in a bunker at the bottom of his tower. Free to go when ever she pleases, out of fear of Morlun, Cindy realising there is enough food and magazines to keep her busy for a long time, chooses to live alone in this bunker for good.
A decade later, Peter Parker learns of Cindy Moon and goes to free her. When hesitant to leave in fear of Morlun, Peter reveals to her that that Morlun is dead. After leaving the bunker, Cindy’s first quest was to find her parents. It would be failed attempt-after-failed attempt as Cindy’s parents are no- where to be found.
Working at the “Facts Channel” for JJJ (Jay Jonah Jameson) Cindy hopes her job and her new secret identity “Silk” will help her on her quest to find her parents.
I know what your thinking, “another spider-person!” Don’t we have too many already? Peter’s Spider-Man, Mile’s Spider-Man, Spider Woman, Spider-Gwen and the million Spider-Man clones from different universes.
What were Marvel thinking making another wall crawler?
The truth is, in the last few years Marvel have been making some amazing new characters and it’s not really been their powers that has made them so relatable, but the brilliant writing behind them.
It’s clear in his writing of Silk, Robbie Thompson used the recent Ms. Marvel as inspiration. The story is neither complicated nor convoluted. The art is simple yet expressionistic. We get to see in the mind of Cindy Moon, her inner monologue is expressed on every page allowing for humour and greater insight.
As mentioned the story is fairly straightforward. Cindy’s brother got mixed up in the wrong crowd; The Goblin Nation. It has left his mind ill and sick. Cindy wants answers and she is willing to fight any Goblin King-wannabe to get some.
Meanwhile, Black Cat is up to something. Cat and her gang are stealing tech from all over the city. Cindy has been hired by Shield’s Mocking Bird to infiltrate Black Cat’s gang and find out what her motives really are.
The key to making these types of comics enjoyable seems to be in the tone. Keeping things lighthearted without it coming off too childish or young in theme.
Cindy is a great new character. Thankfully it isn’t her powers that make her a welcome addition to Marvel but her attitude, her personality, and drive. Being locked up for over a decade has left her a little naive with how to handle situations. It’s not that she acts stupid or foolish, but is always the optimist. She seems to have a thing for smells as much as everyone she encounters leaves her holding her breath in disgust. She is funny but in a different way to Peter. Where Peter shows the stupidity in his opponents and often their attire, Cindy makes fun of herself and her predicaments. Though implied to be a young adult, her absence from society for over a decade has left within her a drive often lost in adulthood.
The supporting characters even appearing regularly never really left any imprint. Black Cat was her normal self, though now appearing in more of a gang leader role, and Peter appears in the third quarter to basically tell Cindy she is doing everything wrong. The only possible exception is JJJ who showed Cindy his rarely seen softer side when he worries about her absence at work.
The Goblin Nation are an interesting group of villains, with each new member being someone either an outcast or a rebel. Like any cult, they target the feeling of belonging. It’s quite dark when you think about it, but the comic manages to handle it in a light manner.
The art by all three artists is good with Stacey’s Lee’s contribution being my favourite. It really set the tone for the rest of the comic. The expressions are exaggerated and the colours are beautiful and vibrant. Sadly, it made Tana Fords art dull by comparison, which is sad because as a stand-alone her art is brilliant, but as a follow up to Stacey it just didn’t have the same life. Veronica Fish did the last two issues, it’s not quite as stylised as Lee’s however, it does bring back the tone I liked so much at the beginning.
Marvel seem to be on a roll with their new characters lately, especially with their female ones. This first volume of Silk is proof that Cindy Moon has a place in Marvels pantheon of heroes. It’s fun, engaging with a touch of heart.
Though I’m not bold enough to say she is my new favourite Marvel character, I will say this: “She is my new favourite “webhead” next to Parker and a hero I will be reading more of!”
J. Michael Straczynski
In 2010, DC took on the challenge of giving their heroes fresh origin stories. They created a new comic book universe that does not connect with any prior continuum and thus would allow each chosen writer a chance to flex their creative muscles in bringing famous characters to life for the modernised reader.
This series would be called Earth One and DC decided that to get the ball rolling, they would start with a tale every comic book fan knows, The tale of Superman.
DC were not throwing any punches. The writer they got to script the story was none other than award winning J. Michael Straczynski.
Straczynski has a tried and true writing history. His name is attached to television series like “Twilight Zone” and “Murder She Wrote”, but he may be best known for his classic 90’s sci-fi series “Babylon 5”.
He wrote the screenplay for the Wachowki’s “Ninja Assassin” and Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award nominated movie “Changling”.
So by getting Straczynski on board, DC was reassuring their readers that they were taking this seriously and wanted to get it right. Straczynski once stated in an interview that one of his skills is to re-examine the tropes of whatever genre he is working on.
So how do you change a character’s origin that is so affirmed in everyone’s subconscious?
Well now, you would use Superman: Earth One as a guideline!
The main flow of Superman’s origin remains the same: Kal-El was sent to Earth as a baby by his parents on the dying planet of Krypton. On Earth, Kal-El was found and raised in Smallville by country bumpkins Jonathan and Martha Kent. As a young adult (now legally named) Clark Kent, he decided to independently move to Metropolis where opportunities are more likely to arise that would earn him enough of a living to provide for his now widow mother Martha.
His first time dressed in his skin tight suit is also played out as you would expect: A group of aliens aware of Kal-El’s survival from Krypton go to Earth on the mission to kill him, a man they feel deserved to have died with the rest of krypton.
It’s in the little things though that change things up, instead of someone like fellow Kryptonian Zod coming to kill Kal-El, it’s someone else named Tyrell who looks like a cross between a David Bowie character and WWE’s Goldust. His look and origin fits well into the Superman mythos, he is a somewhat familiar but refreshing villain that goes on to motivate Clark Kent to become Superman.
The familiar cast is all here with Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen taking a fair bit of spotlight in the second half of this tale. Straczynski is able to give new complexities to these characters that end up fitting beautifully. Jimmy, when asked why he puts himself in danger for just a photo replies ‘no, it’s not for the photograph, it’s for the truth!’ It’s lines like this that really give new found respect to these characters. We are in an age now where news and media often either exaggerate a story for views or lie completely. So characters like Lois and Jimmy may not have been as respected today as they once were. So hearing that line really gives a nuance to these characters we know so well.
It also showed the Daily Planet in a realistic light. Their firm stance to only print the truth has left them at the bottom of the food chain. It’s that promise though that makes Clark want to work with them.
Speaking of which, even fairly early in the story we see how resourceful Clark Kent really is. He literally has every job at his beck and call including working with some of the most intelligent scientists in the world. The fact he is so easily able to get these types of work isn’t just a testament to his physical strength but his mental strength as well. Clark is shown to be perhaps one of the smartest minds on earth and yet we see where his heart truly lies. Which isn’t money or fame. It’s keeping the world safe and keeping the world honest. From Clark’s point of view, the Daily Planet is best able to spread that ‘truth’ to the world.
Becoming his alter ego Clark Kent is probably for me the weakest part of this comic book at least in terms of the art style. Instead of looking nerdy and shy, Clark honestly looks very strange and almost a little creepy. It sadly threw me off from the reason as to why he decides to mask himself from the world.
That’s not to say the art overall is not beautiful. It’s amazing, truly! Obviously DC were not planning on making Superman: Earth One a series, so the money spent on Shane Davis to make all his pictures shine is clearly apparent. Everything is exceptionally detailed and expressed. From superman’s angry red glowing eyes to buildings in metropolis crumbling under its own weight, it’s all done just how it should be. I wish all comic books were drawn like this.
Often when people ask “what Superman comic book should I get” it’s replied with “Red Son, All-Star Superman or the Death of Superman” and while all of those are wonderful choices, I would recommend Superman: Earth One. Sure it may be similar to what they have already read or seen, but because it’s done a little different in all the right places it does make it special enough for a first time Superman purchase.
John Belushi is known to many as an American Icon. Dying at the young age of thirty three, John had one of the most respected comedic portfolios in Hollywood. Not only was he one of the original members of SNL (Saturday Night Live) he also went on to star in the cult classic Animal House and soon after he became everyone’s favourite ‘Soul Man’ in The Blues Brothers.
Alberto Schiavone does a wonderful job of telling the story of a man never without talent and yet always without happiness. For all of John’s skills, he was not deprived of personal demons and though we may never truly understand what they were, this telling of John’s life by Schiavone does a good job of not hiding the elephant in the room… that is, his life battle with drug consumption.
Sure, this comic book may not show John Belushi fan’s things they haven’t seen before, but it does a fantastic job of expressing (what seems) all the important pieces of Johns life in a small bite size story.
One aspect that may throw many people off from buying this is the art style. I’m sure to some it is just heavily stylised. However, it sometimes becomes unnecessarily difficult to understand what is happening on the page. It’s unsure whether this was happening because of the strong art style or just bad drawing on the part of Manera.
Some panels are well brought to life though, like the famous scene from Animal House where John gives the camera a cunning smirk while he stares at his college class mate getting changed. People like Dan Aykroyd are drawn beautifully but ironically it’s John Belushi himself that is drawn poorly to the point I couldn’t work out which person on the page was him.
Even with the non consistent quality of art, I still found this a worthy read and one that many should pick up for themselves.
John’s career work is full of moments that would make anybody laugh, but his personal life was anything but jolly. Often times instead of working or attending important meetings, he would be at a bar drinking or somewhere else snorting cocaine.
It’s clear he did highly value things in his life, like his wife Judy who even herself could never understand John’s lack of happiness. The most positive this book describes John is when he befriends Aykroyd. The both of them quickly form a bond of friendship and thus the Blues Brothers dynamic was born. Though Johns personal battles would continue and get worse, it is clear John held great value in many things, just never himself.
This biography of John makes you wonder how someone like him would get on today. With mental illness being understood and respected on such greater levels, the obvious question is; would he still be around if he had the help we have now? Would he of accepted it?
These are the questions that were left with me and I’m sure you will be left with your own, but one thing is clear, John Belushi had a beautiful mind most likely not compatible with the type of world the 70’s offered and yet his work (as short as it was) will be remembered for a long time.
Belushi: On a mission from God may not be perfect but neither was John. Instead it’s in the imperfections that lay a beauty and that’s why I give this comic book a thumbs up!
When I first heard they were doing a Chewbacca Comic Book, I was joyfully surprised. I assumed Han would get a solo comic before Chewbacca, but with his ‘solo’ movie coming in a few years, Marvel have chosen to give his best friend Chewy a comic book all of his own.
The story is this: Chewy crash lands on the planet Andelm IV while on his way to a secret personal mission. Here he meets “Zarro”, a young girl who wants nothing more than to free herself and her father from working the mines as slaves. The two quickly become friends and Chewy puts his personal mission on hold to rescue Zarro and her father from their evil master.
What quickly becomes impressive with Zarro is how strong she is. She is definitely no pushover. Zarro maintains a strength and a mental drive long gone from her father. While he is no more comfortable with being a slave, his strength to resist is a thing of the past, his main concern now is surviving each day at a time with his daughter.
The main antagonist of this story is the slave trader/gangster “Jaum”. In a way he is just a two bit thug who happens to be in control of a group of slaves, but never does his presence encourage fear in the heart of the reader. He is just a slave trader out for one thing: money, and it might of been an intentional act by writer Gerry to just have him maintain that single mindset and goal but I can’t help wishing he was written a little bit more engaging or ominous.
It was amusing seeing how Chewy interacts with different characters in the comic, especially Zarro. Though only ever hearing from Chewy different versions of “Whhhrrrrurrraaagh”, Zarro would always just assume Chewy was agreeing with her and ready to go along with her plans. The art by Noto is appropriate here as we see what each character is thinking even when they are not saying anything at all. I loved some of the expressions Zarro would pull. Some times it was excitement, fear, determination or all of the above.
It really is the perfect story for Chewy. It’s mostly light with cuteness throughout. One of my favorite drawings within has Chewy laying back on bed of flowers. It sums up what some may see in him. On the outside he is this 7 foot hairy monster with super strength but on the inside he is all flowers of loyalty and love.
Having him team up with a young girl only exemplifies that.
The last thing I want to touch on is what we see of Chewy’s backstory. Though only hinted at, (probably because of the future film on Han Solo) we see that what ever he had been through has sadly left him with some PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and even the simple act of climbing down a hole in the ground is made difficult for him.
But it’s in these moments we see his true strength. It isn’t from his long hairy arms but from his big heart.
Though the story isn’t, I would say for young children, it’s theme is light and positive. It’s story is exactly what any fan of Chewbacca could want and even if your fairly new to Star Wars, the story here is self contained and doesn’t really rely on any prior movie knowledge.
As Chewy would say whrraaaauuurraaghh which I translate as “pick this comic up, it’s awesome!”