This Week in Comics: A Giant Zombie, The Adorable Jarro, and New Team Mates!

In case you missed it: in the latest Upcoming Comics, Josh introduced our new team mates—Matina, Nancy, Nick and Michael! Though you’ll have to wait a few days for their first reviews to come out, you can already enjoy their commentary in this week’s This Week in Comics!

Below we’re discussing giant zombies, powerful cliffhangers, our love for Jarro, our thoughts on Batman #76, and how surprisingly good Harley Quinn was this week. Our new team mates are ready to kick some ass—so sit back, relax, and check out what we have to say about DC’s latest Batman-related releases.

DCeased #4

The Daily Planet has become a beacon of hope for the living as the Anti-Life Equation sweeps the planet. What’s left of the Justice League have begun to gather there, bringing survivors and family alike. But the city is being overrun with infected humans…and superhumans! The war for Metropolis begins!

Casper: Dude…this is the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers. This issue is incredible! The pacing was super fast and yet Taylor managed to include endearing character moments that elevate this issue. 

Josh: Yo! I mean, I’ve loved this book since the first issue, but I completely agree with you here. From start to finish, I thought this issue was excellent!

Jay: Tom Taylor seriously needs to stop making me sad over a zombie book.  That scene between Damian and Alfred? Guh.

Josh: Don’t cry, Jay… Don’t cry!

I’m throwing it to a newbie. Nick!

Nick: Ahhhhh, my first “This Week In Comics”! I’m gonna have to make a point of not rambling for too long.

Jay: Yay first “This Week” wooooooo!

Josh: Haha! No stress.

Nick: I think Tom Taylor has found something strong in DCeased. I wouldn’t call it spectacular or groundbreaking, but it’s a wonderful concept with a great hook utilized incredibly effectively, which is what makes a comic stick. 

Josh: Oh, agreed. I don’t think it’s groundbreaking either. There’ve been so many zombie stories, and even within the superhero subgenre, Marvel has done this for years. Taylor just adds a human element, and so much heart to this that is often lacking in these types of stories.

Nick: True, though I do think Taylor gives it a fresh enough interpretation for it to work. I can imagine there being sequels to this, or alternate takes on how it might go—perhaps it’ll go down the same route as the Batman/TMNT brand. I wonder if the pace could be slower, though—it’s nice to see a lot of crazy stuff go down, but I feel like you can cover more ground with the whole universe while still keeping the shock value intact, ala The Walking Dead. The character moments they did include are great, though, and Palmer ripping Captain Atom apart from the inside was chilling.

Josh: Yeah, I’ve previously mentioned that I wished the run were longer than six issues just to let the story/characters breathe a little more. 

Michael: I had some catching up to do so I read issues 3 and 4 back to back and found 4 to be a large improvement. I think the pacing is a little off at times and kind of wish this was a 12 issue maxi series. 

Josh: Great minds, y’all.

Michael: I get a small feeling of whiplash going from the Giganta sequence immediately into the pretty horrifying Captain Atom ending. But despite this, Taylor manages to wring a good amount of emotion out of relatively short scenes, like with Alfred and Damian on the roof. Probably the best cliffhanger I’ve seen in a comic for a while too!

Josh: Agreed! The Captain Atom stuff… It was intense.

Any thoughts on the art?

Casper: Hairsine’s faces still look kind of wonky to me, but that Giganta splash page is awe-inspiring! What did you guys think?

Jay: It was a great reveal, for sure.  When the stomps kept getting closer I knew what was coming, but man was that intense.

Josh: I just thought of Jurassic Park… And because of that, I really wanted Giganta to eat someone who was sitting on a toilet. Haha! 

Michael: I’m with Casper in that I think Hairsine’s faces are still off, but overall I’m warming up to his style.

Nick: Personally I don’t mind the art style, which is suitably gritty and grizzly most of the time, but I have to say I do really miss James Harren’s art from issue #1. Hopefully we see more of that too!

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Nick, Michael, Josh, Jay
No: Nobody

Read Casper’s full review here.

Justice League #29

Does a Starro dream of an electric Justice League? Sensing the danger to come, Jarro fears for his newfound friends. He ponders each one and their potential fate to decide whether he should mentally block them from going forward into what could be certain destruction…the coming war with the Legion of Doom!

Casper: This issue sure suffered from a few technical problems, but Jarro just has to be the cutest little starro. Although I could have done without the lengthy exposition, I have to say that this was definitely entertaining!

Jay: Jarro is love.  Jarro is life.

Josh: You need to hashtag that, Jay… Get it trending!

Jay: Waaaaaaaaay ahead of you.

Nick: I love Snyder’s work to a ludicrous degree, and Tynion’s work has a lot of good qualities too. Tynion is especially effective here, as this was a really useful recap issue that had a lot of dialogue, but in all the right places—so I’m glad Tynion was on this one. It’s amazing how much I’ve come to love Starro (and Jarro) over the course of this story, and now I’m devastated that Starro wasn’t the villain of the Justice League movie (preferably with Alex Hirsch as the voice).

Matina: This is the first issue of Justice League I’ve picked up in a long while, so I really enjoyed the recap. To me the exposition was helpful in catching up on what’s been going on, though I agree that it could have been trimmed down a little. I found myself skimming it here and there of it just to get back to Jarro’s adventure. I knew I was going to like the character, but every time I see him I fall a little more in love with him. This issue really moved him from adorable to someone who’s got a lot of heart for me. The tender moment between Jarro and Batman at the end was the highlight of the issue in my opinion. 

Michael: Like Matina, I have not been reading this book but figured this was a good issue to jump in on. Jarro is great. I was completely unfamiliar to the character but found myself attached pretty fast. I’m not sure how much interest I have in the “Year of the Villain” plot, or how I feel about this take on Luthor, but this issue did its job in making me want to continue reading a story I haven’t been keeping up on.

Nancy: I’ve been reading Justice League and have found Jarro very appealing. He mainly amused me before, but he really stepped up this issue. I liked him even more after that, and I loved his little Robin suit. A highlight of the issue for me was the way Batman saved the League from Jarro’s good intentions and Jarro from himself. What followed is the kind of moment we don’t see often enough with Batman. It reminded me of the way he talked Jessica Cruz down from her fear in Justice League (vol. 2) #33. I also agree the recap could have been trimmed a little, but it didn’t bother me the way that kind of thing sometimes does. The ending was truly ominous, a great hook for moving forward. I like the way this story is rolling toward its conclusion. Everyone has had a chance to stand out in this arc, and I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Jay: I am all in on Batman not being a huge jerk, and even showing affection toward people.  He’s supposed to frighten criminals; no reason he should be cold and hateful towards those he cares about and those who care about him.

Plus, it’s Jarro.  He’s adorable.

Josh: He is! I mean, come on… The Bat-cannon!?!?!? That moment alone made the issue for me. 

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Matina, Nick, Brian, Michael, Josh, Nancy, Jay
No: Nobody

Read Brian’s full review here.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #4

Batman and the Turtles grapple with the laws of Krang’s combined universe, desperate to return their two worlds to their original states. But there are some who do not want things set right. In this reality, the Laughing Man runs the Smile Clan, the most dangerous criminal organization ever to strike New Gotham City—and that’s how he wants things to stay! He’ll kill anyone who gets in his way…even the Shredder!

Jay: This is losing steam.  I didn’t hate it, or even necessarily dislike it, it just felt really unfocused.  Or rather, its focus was on “let’s set things up for the final two issues,” not “let’s have a strong issue that can stand on its own.”

Josh: See, I thought it actually started building momentum. There’s definitely an element that feels like it’s missing due to Eastman no longer playing a role in the plot/art, but I felt as though the focus was narrowing as the title pushed towards the conflict.

That being said, I think a large chunk of this depends on your excitement towards Batman and the Turtles teaming with Shredder. (Which, by the way, I’m completely down for.)

Casper: I gotta say…I totally intended (like every month) to catch up and comment on this book. I guess I’m going to try again for next month. But, in all honesty, the main reason I was getting really interested in reading this was because of the art mashup. Finding out that Eastman’s actually no longer in the book kind of diminishes my enthusiasm. But, who knows, he might be back?

Matina: I too had been meaning to catch up, and this month I did. I sat down and read all four issues back to back. Reading them together helped keep the momentum up for me. I think it’s one of those titles that feels stronger as a whole than piece by piece.

I’m also totally down for the team up with Shredder. It’s one more wacky idea in this whole series of wacky wonderful ideas. 

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Matina, Josh, Jay
No: names

Read Jay’s full review here.

Batman #76

“City of Bane” continues! Bane has taken over Gotham City, and Batman is nowhere to be found. At least, not a Batman anyone recognizes. Flashpoint Batman is now patrolling the city, dispensing a violent brand of justice and taking out rogue villains who haven’t yet signed on with Bane. It’s all building to a rebellion among the bad guys who don’t want to play along— and distrust in those who do! Meanwhile, a surprising ally has come to Bruce Wayne’s aid, nursing him back to health so that he can get back to his city.

Josh: I’ll kick this off since people are finding my review rather problematic. I didn’t think this was great; however, I felt that Batman #76 was an improvement on previous issues strictly due to a technical aspect. King actually told a linear story, and utilized standard technique to write it. This kept the script from being pretentious, and allowed us to see and experience what was taking place rather than have the details thrown away in a single line or or be paralleled through some form of poetry. I also felt that the characters—aside from Captain Atom—were actually represented well. 

Casper: I think your review is fine, actually. All your points are well articulated and I probably would have given the issue a similar score had I reviewed it.

Nick: Mmm. I’ll try to keep this short; there have been 76 issues of this comic that I’ve had opinions about, and this is the first issue where I get to voice them.

I like the concept, the designs, the spectacle, the characters, and I think it’s better than some of the previous arcs…but I don’t really like the structure. When I read King’s Batman, it never really feels like a complete “chapter”, unlike one of his Mister Miracle issues. Stuff just sort of happens in each book, and it may or may not be relevant later, and then everything just sort of…ends. 

Josh: I agree with you on that. 

Nick: In this issue, we mainly got more of the same, and while some introspective parts were cute, it bothers me that King writes so much of Batman, and so little feels ultimately substantial.

Casper: Yeah, that’s fair.

Matina: I agree, the lack of substance in such a large number of issues has been frustrating to me at times. One of my problems with the run, and this issue specifically, is that I feel like there were some story aspects that should have been expanded on, and others that really needed less time. I think there was too much Catwoman and Bruce and not enough exploration of what Gotham looks like outside the city. I feel like this issue could have been a great balance to the last one. We got to see what’s going on inside Gotham, and now let’s see how the Robins and, by extension, the world does. I feel like that idea came across partially here, but I would have liked more focus on that than what we got. I did really enjoy the moment between Tim and Damian, though. It was nice to have the question of where are they, and what are they doing answered.

Michael: Overall, I’ve been a fan of King’s run, though I don’t necessarily disagree with any of the criticisms against it (and against this particular issue). However, I thought King did a good job of explaining the current status of Gotham here and how it works. The previous issue threw us into the deep end of the pool and made us play catch up in comparison. To me, this read like a bit of a mood piece or a calm before the storm. It’s definitely tapping into a certain existential dread (that perhaps some readers feel in the real world currently) with Captain Atom’s speech about how no one cares about who is running Gotham as long as they can brag that the villains have been defeated. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that it’s followed up by Catwoman’s musing about how the artists of yesteryear (Vermeer/Renoir) attempted to reflect themselves and their world through myths and heroes.

Josh: Michael, you made a good point about being thrown into the deep end during last month’s issue, compared to this issue which takes the time to explain what and how/why things are taking place at the moment. That’s a large part of what I tapped into with this issue to feel as though it were an improvement. 

Am I crazy about the concept in general? Not really. It feels like a lift of many different stories from the past, while also pulling from similar themes that King has already played with in previous arcs. However, you also mentioned the existential dread from characters in this issue, and that’s something I wish King would have tapped into to build the story. I think one of the key pieces that really would’ve helped “City of Bane” is if we’d actually gotten to see the fall of Gotham rather than jump right into it. If that had happened, readers would’ve come into the book expecting Batman to save the day before the city is lost, only for him not to. I feel it’s a critical foundation that King just glossed over, and it dampens the impact of the overall story. It’s also something he’s fallen victim to many times before. 

Casper: I agree with you, Josh, but I’m also kind of done with seeing Batman lose again and again in King’s Batman. It’s a tough situation where you either show the fall of Gotham and once again present a failing Batman, or you just skip past that and work on building toward Batman’s victory. Seeing the fall of Gotham will probably bore me to death after all the sad, dreary stuff that the title has been infused with as of late, but skipping past it creates some technical issues and missed opportunities. Maybe the best thing right now is to just focus on that inevitable final victory and hopefully a kind of optimistic ending. It’s already too late to fix things, so I’d say, full speed ahead and be done with it.

Nancy: There have been moments in King’s arc that I really loved, but I’ve often felt since the non-wedding that it suffered from agonizingly slow pacing and too much repetition. This issue, for me, suffers from a similar lack of progress. The Tim-Damian scene, while well done, accomplished nothing for this story other than reminding us why there are no Bat clan members in Gotham. Gotham Girl and Captain Atom reinforced and re-explained the status quo, though their confrontation did trigger fannish disputes online about the two characters’ relative power levels. Both of those things could’ve been done in less space, leaving room for more story development. Selina’s taking care of Bruce, as promised, but how did they get where they are if he has been unconscious all this time, why was she where she found him in the first place, and how did she find him then? I was hoping that would be explained this issue, but no such luck. The bit with them could’ve accomplished as much in less space. I’m curious about the next issue and hoping things start moving toward the final showdown.

Jay: The art was nice.  The end.

Josh: Haha! The art was nice! Huge shoutout to Tomeu Morey on colors. The guy elevates everything he touches. 

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Michael, Josh
No: Nick, Brian, Matina, Nancy, Jay

Read Josh’s full review here.

Harley Quinn #64

Harley’s tried everything to avoid Lex Luthor and his stupid “Offer”—she’s destroyed half a dozen of Lex’s drones, she’s changed her name, her cell phone number—she even faked her own death! Why won’t this bald, pasty-faced weirdo take no for an answer? Harley Quinn takes on the crossover event of the summer in this comic-within-a-comic take on “DC’s Year of the Villain”!

Casper: As I said in my review, I’ve been rather critical of Harley Quinn for quite a while now, but I actually ended up enjoying this issue. I think Humphries wrote a cool, layered story and Basri’s art is really good.

Matina: I agree! This was the first issue of Harley Quinn I’ve read and I was pleasantly surprised by how honestly funny I thought it was? I really enjoyed how it was self aware and played with making fun of just about everything going on in DC’s comics right now. Then, with all that, it managed to still hit home with some solid emotional beats. 

Casper: Yeah, exactly! It was just a cool balanced issue, and especially the emotional beats were well timed and well executed.

Jay: I’m a few issues behind, and need to catch up.  I really like Humphries, and I want to support his work. You guys reading Dial H for Hero?  That book is the best.

Casper: I haven’t been reading Dial H, but if you say it’s good, Jay, I’ll definitely check it out soon. Thanks for the recommendation!

Nick: I read the first issue and kind of fell in love with it, so maybe I need to start catching up on Humphries’ work!

Matina: I haven’t picked it up yet, but it’s been on my radar for a while now. I might have to go pick up a copy and see what it’s all about.

Jay: Dial H has pretty much become a running joke about how much Snapper Carr sucks and I am here for that.

Josh: I… Have not read it. I tend to have a love/hate relationship with Harley, and then, after a while, I’ll catch up. With Birds of Prey on the horizon, as well as all of the other titles featuring Harley in the near future, I’m curious to see how this impacts Harley Quinn. I’m also curious to see if this is DC’s way of testing different avenues for Harley in her main title.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Matina
No: names

Read Casper’s full review here.