We’re back, and we’ve got this week’s comics ready to discuss! There are a few good books that were released, and there were also a number of reminders of how DC might be killing some of their own brands due to poor direction/ decisions. Regardless of the quality, we’re happy to discuss these books because we love comics! And we hope that you love to discuss comics as well, because we want you to sound off in the comments section.
Justice League #32
“The Justice Doom War” part three! Things are getting dangerous across the time stream. On one side of time, the Justice League team finds heroic purpose; on the other, it’s a future full of chaos and trial. It’s the Totality in action. If they can’t stop Lex’s Legion across all fronts, there may be only one other option: embrace Doom!
Jay: Just as pure adventure, I’m enjoying this story. While I don’t have a close connection with the JSA, it’s nice seeing them back and interacting with the League.
Josh: I’m with you, Jay. I enjoyed this, but I feel it’s mostly because of all of the characters involved instead of the story itself. It’s almost like I enjoy the idea of it more than what we actually got.
Michael: Brian pretty much hit the nail on the head in his review saying there’s just too much going on. There’s no flow at all in this.
Nancy: Agreed. I loved the individual segments, and especially the way the JSA and JLA worked together. The story did feel choppy, though.
Michael: It’s hard to even write much about this, it’s just pure spectacle but when the stakes of each action sequence are constantly shifting, I can’t latch onto any scene in particular.
Matina: I’m with you guys, it did feel like there was a lot going on. I like that the team is split, and I like exploring the alternate timelines, I just wish the story settled into each area for a while, instead of jumping so much, because I do like the settings. Maybe I’ll feel different about this when it’s all in trade format, but for now this particular issue didn’t do much for me.
Josh: Yeah, now that I’m actually thinking about it, everything is just a little undercooked. I get that Snyder and Tynion are trying to build tension by jumping from one disaster to another, and while this technique can work in television and film, it doesn’t necessarily work in comics.
I would’ve preferred the issues to focus on each individual group for an entire issue, with the exception of a page – maybe two – to remind us of what the other groups’ missions. This approach would’ve added more time for the individual narratives to breathe, while also letting readers actually get a chance to connect with each story better.
Nancy: I especially feel that the futuristic JL didn’t add a lot. They gave a certain symmetry to the story, but the “we’re your enemies–oops, no, we’re not” happened so quickly that it’s almost a throwaway. It would’ve been better to focus on Hourman and the totality.
Josh: Yeah, you’re totally right. The scene felt relatively pointless and lacked substance when it was all said and done.
Nancy: I particularly liked the WW2 segment. The way Grodd and Sinestro manipulated the soldiers and sailors was logical and believable and created great conflict for our heroes.
Josh: Absolutely! In my opinion, this story was the best part of the entire issue.
Nancy: I think I liked this segment too because there was enough of it upfront to really get into it. The first future segment interrupted it unnecessarily, and the future part of the story didn’t really grab me until the end when we stuck with it for several pages.
Josh: You know, we keep talking about the future and past plot threads, but we’re not really talking about the team that traveled to the edge of the multiverse. I feel like this thread will lead to some of the most promising developments for “Doom War.”
Jay: The stuff with the Anti-Monitor is definitely interesting, to the point that… ::looks around::
::whispers:: I kind of want a one-shot or mini about him and his brothers.
Josh: I… wouldn’t be opposed to that.
Jay: Still, this arc is getting a little long and could use a bit more focus. It’s fun, though.
Josh: Any thoughts on the art?
Nancy: My favorite art bits were the flashes running across the water. I love their ability to do that, and the streaks behind them and their low, forward-leaning postures conveyed their speed.
Josh: Howard Porter is an artist that I’m hit or miss with. I think he’s incredibly talented and an amazing storyteller, but sometimes his lines are a little harsh. Like you, I enjoyed the scenes. Flash is definitely a character that he does well. It took me back to his Justice League 3000 days. (Which is totally worth a read if you’ve never read it.)
Overall, I thought the issue was strong, just not without its problems.
Nancy: This wouldn’t be a good jumping-on point for the series, but there was enough in the story for me to be reasonably happy with it.
Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Matina, Josh, Jay
Check out Brian’s full review of Justice League #32.
Teen Titans #34
Who is crazy enough to steal a djinn’s ring? We’ll do you one better: How much damage can you do with a stolen djinn ring? Robin and the Teen Titans hunt the thief of magic…but are they looking in the wrong place? The Year of the Villain strikes close to home-a major turning point in the Titans status quo starts here!
Josh: I thought this issue was really boring… Until the last two or three pages.
Michael: It’s a shame this book seems to be constantly in a cycle of building a team and trust, then wiping it away with some plot device. I know there was a creative team shift, but I wish we had more growth from Damian and the others by this point.
Matina: I totally agree. Over the course of the run, the relationships are what I’ve been interested in, and it does feel like whenever something is built up it’s immediately torn down the next instant.
Josh: In Upcoming Comics, I made the comment that this book needs direction, and the back and forth of the team dynamic definitely plays into that. There’s also a need for a consistent villain. We started by focusing on the Other, but we’ve hardly heard anything about him for months now.
Michael: The traitor plotline is decent with the ending of the book having a legitimate twist, but for me, the highlight was the scene between Crush and Djinn. The relationships between the characters are my favorite parts of any team book, particularly when everyone is more or less getting along, and I hope this book can shed its darkness sooner rather than later.
Matina: The moment between Crush and Djinn was great! If there was more of that type of character work in the book, I’d be more on board with how everything else seems to jump around. I’d just like a Teen Titans book where the team actually feels like a team for once.
Josh: Completely agree. I want a team book where the crutch or selling point doesn’t involve the team fighting with one another. It’s too much melodrama.
That being said, the traitor plot is intriguing, and the reveal that it’s actually Roundhouse is refreshingly unexpected. I’m also wondering if this will tie into the Other, or if Roundhouse actually is the Other… I don’t know, I just know this book wasn’t good until Emiko appeared.
Jay: I tried to read it, but no Lobo means no lo… go.
Matina’s review was great, though, and was assurance that all the problems I’ve had with this book for the last year or two are still present.
Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
No: Matina, Michael, Josh, Jay
Check out Matina’s full review for Teen Titans #34
Blüdhaven explodes in violence as a riot erupts in the streets. Ric can’t face this alone, so he’ll have to enlist the support of the Nightwings. Meanwhile, Talon has taken Bea captive to lure Ric into his grasp and reintroduce him (for the first time, in Ric’s memory) to the Court of Owls.
Josh: I don’t want to say that this issue is good, but I thought it was better than the previous issues.
Nancy: Yes, this issue initially seemed better than the prior ones. The pace doesn’t drag so much, probably because we get the recap in snippets sprinkled through the book instead of in a multi-page chunk upfront.
Josh: That’s actually a really good point. I didn’t pick up on that in the moment, but it definitely makes a difference. It makes all of the recapping feel a little more natural. We weren’t forced to read five to ten pages of straight regurgitation.
Nancy: The hospital scene still drags, though, running twice as long as it should.
Josh: This has been a consistent issue with the Notwings though, specifically Zak. Every arc he’s getting fatally injured, and each arc it’s played off as if he might die. It’s too much. The Notwings need to be developed, but the time and effort spent to try and develop them are repetitive and ineffective.
Nancy: When you drill down into the story, only three things in it matter for the progression of the arc. Rioters torch the Prodigal bar, Ric decides the BPD Nightwing Club really isn’t up to the superhero gig and Talon makes his move. Everything else is just framing for those three developments.
Josh: I think these three developments are also key to why this issue isn’t as bad. If there’s one thing that I think readers have possibly enjoyed about this Ric Grayson nightmare, it’s Bea and the Prodigal bar. So, having it get looted naturally creates an emotional response. Then there’s Ric’s admission that Notwings aren’t up to par. We’ve all felt that way for a year now. And then there’s Talon… He’s easily the most fleshed-out and intriguing villain in the Ric saga. So, across the board, we’re getting an emotional response, a viable threat, and validation that these wanna-be heroes aren’t cutting it.
Nancy: The best thing about the book is Bea, who reacted with appropriate suspicion to Talon’s personal questions, stood up to the rioters, and tried to get Ric to run from Cobb. The biggest downside, as usual, is Ric himself. He’s such a jerk that he can’t be bothered to refer to the Bats by their names, calling them the rich guy, the butler, and the redhead and reiterate that he cares about no one but Bea.
Josh: Beyond the fact that it’s disrespectful to the history of these characters, it also goes against continuity within Ric’s own arc. The last time he and Barbara were together, they were actually getting along. It was almost as if it were hinting towards a love triangle. It’s just bad. Ric is awful.
Nancy: In this issue, his ingratitude reaches new heights when he says the Bats are not “real family–more of an adopted one.” So much for the biggest adoptive family in the DCU. This gratuitous slam against adoption offended me. If I didn’t already dislike Ric intensely, that would seal the deal.
Matina: I’m still upset over the not a real family line. It’s really frustrating to me that DC as a whole seems to be pushing the idea that adopted families aren’t real. It’s cropped up in Batman often, and having Dick of all people say that is just the absolute worst.
Jay: Yeah, that was just bad.
Nancy: I know, right? I get how the “blood son” thing mattered to Damian when he was new and, whether or not he admitted it, insecure about belonging. But I couldn’t believe no one read this script, looked at that line, and said, “Um, no.”
Matina: Yeah! With Damian it made sense, here it really doesn’t. Even if Ric can’t remember them, they’re still his family. The blatant denial of that is really upsetting. It sends a very negative message to any reader, and I’m sure it’s turned off a lot of people who’re actually adopted or part of adopted families from both this story and DC.
Nancy: To me, it’s the most egregious example yet of his shallow, one-note view of them. This character would be so much more likable if he were more open to them, even if he wants to go his own way. That’s down to the writing. He’s not a layered character, and the hero points he gets for helping the Nightwing Club don’t outweigh his staggering lack of gratitude and empathy toward people who are, as you say, his family.
Matina: Exactly. He doesn’t have layers, and the only traits he has don’t make him enjoyable to read. And even if Jurgens is using Ric’s dismissal of his family as a way to showcase his new ‘personality’ it doesn’t excuse the fact that DC published a book where one of their major characters essentially said adoption doesn’t create real families. There are other ways to show he’s a jerk, and at this point, we’re pretty clear on Ric’s thoughts on anyone but Bea.
Josh: Early in this run, I commented that there’s potential here, but that DC was making a number of decisions that continued to turn people off from the story. A lot of people were already turned off by the entire amnesia approach, but then turning him into an unlikeable douchebag just made things worst. Then, throughout all of this – including loud backlash – DC just maintained an attitude of, “No, you’re going to like it, you just don’t realize it yet.” It’s this same arrogance that’s killing a number of other titles as well, and it screams Dan Didio.
I’d hoped that Jurgens would be able to turn this book around, but…
Jay: Part of me thinks Jurgens was brought in to be damage control, but he’s still being forced to keep up this facade that people actually want to read this. I was able to wave it away and justify it as it “not being Dick,” but I’ve been making that excuse for an entire year now.
Josh: And it’s been one year too many.
Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Hell No: Matina, Nancy, Jay, Josh
Check out Nancy’s full review for Nightwing #64
In the concluding chapter of the two-part “City of Bane” interlude, Batman and Catwoman pull a job to stop Bane’s supply ship from smuggling dangerous cargo into Gotham City. It’ll send a message back to the big guy that his reign of terror is soon to be over…but what does it also signal for the future of Bruce and Selina?
Josh: As always, I’m extremely curious to hear each of your thoughts on Batman. This is the one book that when I review it, I just think, “I don’t know…” It’s definitely divisive, and I think a number of people aren’t able to look past their anger for the overall run to see some of the positives… But then there are times that I wonder if I’m trying too hard to find something positive.
Jay: It’s that one, Josh. That last line.
Matina: The further away from reading this issue I am, the less I like it. My first reaction was “wow that wasn’t terrible” but the more time goes by, the more I can’t help but pick at all the little plot problems.
Nick: Holy shit, I feel like I’m in Bizarro world right now because I actually kind of loved this issue. Maybe it’s because I’m finally accepting King’s interpretation of these two characters. In different ways, they’re emotionally held back by something – a level of communication they never mastered, or an identity they never found. But in each other, they find something more. It’s inconsistent with their characters before now, but in a bubble, I can see why it’s rather sweet.
I also like Catwoman’s banter in this issue, and how she talks about love. I ended up genuinely smiling a lot through most of the issue.
Michael: I agree with Josh’s review that this is a definite step down from the previous issue, but I still thought there was enough value here to recommend it. I always assumed this beach arc was taking place before or concurrently with the events of the other books so I wasn’t really bothered by the editor’s note stating it took place before, but I think it should’ve been in the previous issue.
Matina: I was also irritated by the “Takes place before note”, it should have been in issue #78, and to be honest I’d rather have seen this whole interlude set before #77. It’s confusing and frustrating to see a note like that in the second part of an interlude.
Josh: Oh, yeah… There’s no doubt it should have been in the previous issue.
Jay: In all seriousness, this issue didn’t aggravate as much as the previous one, mostly because it was more of the same. The blow was softened. A bit.
Weirdly enough, though, I’ll still read Batman/Catwoman.
Nancy: I also think this issue wasn’t as good as the last one, though I liked the relationship conversation. It felt like people working through issues that were partly due to not communicating as they should’ve earlier, and Bruce engaged in some healthy self-examination.
Michael: King’s dialogue is worse here (I thought the dialogue in the previous issue was much better) and the whole “boat/street” thing has run its course, but I quite liked the way King wrapped it up with them agreeing they met on the beach. I thought it was a perfect way to end it as I read it as it not being important when you first met your romantic partner, but when you first fully understood each other. I get that people don’t want Batman to be a romance book, but I dig it.
Nancy: I loved the last two pages. I would buy the book for that long-delayed resolution, though I would’ve liked it to be part of the ongoing action, not the second book of a two-book hiatus from the main plot.
Michael: There’s definitely a lot of plot up in the air that I don’t think is completely adding up in regards to Alfred and Damian being in contact with Bruce and if future issues don’t clear all that up then I’ll be more annoyed.
Nancy: I agree with Michael about Alfred, Damian, and communication. That bit feels like it’s just tossed out there. How are they communicating with Bruce, how did they make the initial contact after he was abandoned, nearly naked, in the Himalyan snow and Thomas Wayne took over the Batcave, and why are they sending Damian in, as opposed to another of the Bat clan? None of this would take much to clarify, so it’s annoying that King just didn’t bother.
Josh: This is one of the things that frustrates me the most with King. He rarely takes the time to actually explain the “how” aspects of his story. He just has throw-away lines like the one about communicating with his team in Gotham… I know I’m beating a dead horse here, but he needs to do a better job of working his stories. He’s a professional, paid writer… Not taking the time to fully work a plot is lazy.
Nancy: Some of the story doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know how nailing petty criminals helps the overall situation unless it just gives Bruce and Selina the satisfaction of doing something.
Matina: I did enjoy the scene where Batman and Catwoman are taking down petty criminals, if only because the flavor of that scene is something I’ve wanted for most of this run. For that moment it felt like Batman again. I don’t really understand how it fits into everything, but just clipped from the story, it was enjoyable. And I think that shot of Selina holding the crying child was great, it’s my favorite scene in the whole book. It goes back to the heart of things, of protecting the innocent and representing someone striving for good against the evil of the world, no matter what form it takes.
Nancy: In the last issue, Selina said if she and Bruce could “take this beach,” they could take Gotham. The story never told us why. Now they can take back Gotham if they take this venom shipment, and never mind taking the beach. Again, the story offers no rationale for any of this, and it seems inconsistent.
Michael: The whole venom subplot is underwhelming, but I’m reading more into the metaphor of it representing Batman and Catwoman finally fighting back.
Jay: See, had this been an actual heist to steal a bunch of Venom from Magpie? That would have been awesome. Instead, that was waved away in a splash page montage. That was obnoxious.
Matina: I agree that parts don’t make sense. In fact, it feels like a lot of the little details, like the communication with Alfred, were tacked on to appease irritated readers. And if they weren’t, the plot holes seem worse to me. In a story this large and long the details are incredibly important. If specifics like “Bane is off venom” and “Taking this beach means beating Bane” are given, they should be followed narratively.
Michael: I love the art, despite it being sexualized but I understand if that turns people off it. Mann’s eyes do come off as soulless at times though.
Nancy: The art was gorgeous, with lush, beautiful exteriors that perfectly framed the romantic conversations. I’m not a huge fan of people or body parts jutting into adjacent panels because that distracts me, but that may well be just me.
Nick: My criticism, actually, lies more in the art. Clay Mann, your work is beautiful but please, keep it in your pants, lmao. You can’t tell me those two panels of nothing but cleavage were for the sake of the story, followed by Catwoman presenting her butt to the audience.
Unless Mann is making Selina act like an actual cat, in which case it’s genius.
Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Nancy, Michael, Nick
No: Matina, Josh, Jay
Check out Josh’s full review of Batman #79
Titans: Burning Rage #2
It’s neighbor versus neighbor as the violence in the streets escalates, thanks to the discord sown by Mento! But while the Titans try to keep the peace, things get even worse-and even deadlier! Collects stories from TITANS GIANT #3 and #4.
Josh: If we just have cricket noises here, do you think people will get the point?
[Josh received no reply other than distant chirping.]
Jay: ::walks in to say something::
::hears nothing but crickets; turns and leaves::
Would you recommend buying this for $4.99?
Check out Josh’s full review of Titans: Burning Rage #2.
Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain #1
Apex Lex has made his offer to the villains of the DC Universe…but has the super-powered evil genius gotten what he truly desires? The most deadly predator in the Multiverse has set out to answer that question by seeking out his counterparts on other Earths. But will this meeting of the Luthors be the greatest team-up in all of creation…or end in a bloodbath?
Josh: Well, I have opinions…
Matina: This one wasn’t really for me.
Jay: It was confusing and… kind of gross?
Michael: I’m not fully invested in the entire YOTV/Justice League storyline right now, but I found this to be rather pointless in the grand scheme of things. It’s repetitive by nature, but none of the alternate versions of Luthor were all that interesting or compelling to me besides “Botanist Luthor” at the end who has by far the best scene in the book.
Matina: I’m not really a Luthor fan in general, but I also found the exploration of various other Lex’s lives to drag on a little too long. The Botanist version of Lex was my favorite interpretation because we spent so much time there.
Michael: I feel if the book spent more time with fewer Luthors, it could’ve been an interesting dive into Luthor’s character, but as it stands it felt like a dozen “What If” comics shoved into a single issue.
Matina: I agree that it would have been stronger if it was focused longer on fewer Luthors.
Josh: Agreed. This is definitely an example where “less is more.” I mean, if we were going to explore these other Lex Luthors more throughout the “Year of the Villain” arc, then fine. I don’t foresee that happening though.
Michael: The art is nice though, I’m a fan of Hitch, and I think Latour has potential to grow as a writer, but I think it’ll take more time. Nick’s review brings up a lot of great points, but I might just be realizing that I do not care much about the multiverse outside of Morrison himself playing around with it. Also, I agree that this didn’t really feel like Luthor’s voice.
Nick: I do think it brings something valuable to Luthor that we haven’t seen in other “Year of the Villain” content, which I think elevates it a little for me. I am LIVING for the juicy subtext of an alternate Luthor in a relationship with the combination of Superman and Martian Manhunter, and I loved the page with Luthor against his Earth One counterpart. I also thought the end reveal was really cool. It’s just the fact that the book is rather rough around the edges that hold it back for me.
Josh: I do think there are interesting stories worth exploring here, but it just wasn’t necessarily handled well here.
Would you recommend buying this for $4.99?
No: Matina, Michael, Josh, Jay
Check out Nick’s full review of Lex Luthor: Year of the Villain #1