It’s another week of comics.  Some great, some… less so, but all worth talking about.  The final adventure of the Caped Crusader and those Heroes in a Half-shell reached its conclusion, Harley Quinn reunited with her mother (in a way) in a genuinely moving issue of her self-titled series, Batman finally (finally) returned to Gotham City, and Superman… well, Superman’s a real hero, isn’t he?

Check out what the members of the Batman News review team had to say about this week’s releases, good, bad, and otherwise.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #6

Krang has steered his Ultra-technodrome into the skies above the new Earth he sought to conquer and rebuild in his own image. He thought the heroes of the worlds he’d conquered were down for the count, but now he faces two sets of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two Batmen and a whole host of angry heroes looking to save their worlds once and for all. If Krang can’t own the Multiverse, then he will destroy it!

Matina: What a fun way to end this series! I loved seeing everyone in action during this. There were a few moments that felt like a little too much was happening, but overall I had a great time reading this issue. All the Batfamily content was fantastic, exactly what I’ve wanted to see for a while now. It was all perfect, from Bruce’s admission that he was fighting for more than his parent’s memory to Jason and Dick squabbling. 

Casper: Yeah, good stuff! It’s nice to see Batman smiling for a change, as well. This really was a cool, upbeat adventure story, which was a lot of fun overall. But the best thing about all of this was definitely the art. It’s so cool to see two artists working together like this. I’d love to read or watch an interview with them where they explain the process.

Jay: Like I said in my review, while I wish this had gotten bigger and crazier, I still enjoyed the sentiment.  It was a fun ride all the way through, and much better than its immediate predecessor.

 

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Matina, Casper, Jay

No: None

Check out Jay’s full review here.

Batman #80

The bad guys thought they had it made with Bane in control, but with Batman back in Gotham they’ll be reminded what justice feels like…and how it hurts when it hits you in the face. With Catwoman at his side, the Caped Crusader is looking to take down Bane’s army and reclaim his city. But what happens when old allies like Gotham Girl also stand in his way? The legendary art team of John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson join BATMAN for two action-packed issues that will rock Gotham City to its foundation.

Nancy: I had mixed reactions to this book and finally realized I was more disappointed than anything. Josh’s review pointed out all the weaknesses—failure to develop the story, illogical story developments, Batman responding out of character. I hoped this issue would be an explosive start for Batman and Catwoman’s takedown of Bane. Instead…we get them making short work of rogues gallery cops and Hush, and we see Gotham Girl in pathetic shape. Josh realized the connection to the venom in last issue, as many of you probably did, but I didn’t. As a result, I  found her dialogue baffling. Then we get Thomas Wayne with a choice to make. 

John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson’s depiction of the Batman-Hush confrontation was beautiful.

Jay: I’ve come to appreciate JRJR.’s style more recently.  While I don’t think it totally fit everywhere in this issue, that was at least a gorgeously constricted scene.

Nancy: I loved the muted colors of their showdown and rain effect there and throughout the book, but I didn’t get the point of the whole sequence. Or the point of quoting philosophers. 

Jay: Pretty sure that was “Hush’s thing” in the original story that was quickly dropped and forgotten.

Nancy: Bruce’s attitude about “the order” being given was way too casual for my taste, and I want to know if he had a plan of some kind. Batman always has a plan, right? At least, he should.

Jay: I will say that I laughed at the Kite-Man scene, pretty much because Batman was acting so out of character.  It was just so silly.

As for Gotham Girl using Venom, I didn’t even think about it until just now.

Matina: I missed the venom connection at first too, and only realized it when a friend and I were discussing the issue. It’s incredibly frustrating how King continues to repeat information we know well, and then leaves out key points like the fact that Claire has been using venom for a while now. Like Josh said in his review, that would have made so many things make more sense. All these plot holes and problems are driving me crazy. 

Don’t get me started on how casual Bruce seemed about the idea of Thomas being ordered to kill Damian. My first thought reading that was “This is a man who has already lost his kid once, there’s no way he’d put him in this kind of danger”. No matter how sure he is of Thomas not doing it, there are a million things that could happen to ruin that plan and get his kid killed and yet he’s so blasé. The only thing that would have made any of this make sense is knowing at least part of their plan ahead of time, and even then there’s not a whole lot of ways it really would have worked for me.

Another thing that bothers me is that so many issues seem to rely on moving the story forward only through cliffhangers and the last few pages of each book. This habit means wasted space and wasted time that could be given to other things. Take the scenes between Thomas and Claire this issue, I know that was supposed to make me feel something, but because they haven’t been shown creating that relationship it felt hollow and pointless. The majority of this run has been King telling readers things instead of showing them and I’m so so tired of it. 

Michael: As the resident King apologist I unfortunately have to say that I liked the issue, but I did find some of the confrontations between Batman and the rogues gallery to be a little underwhelming. I loved the opening with him taking out Two-Face and Pyg, but besides that I didn’t get too much excitement. I agree with Nancy that the standoff between Hush and Batman is just absolutely beautiful. I’m a fan of John Romita Jr., but didn’t think this was overall his best work besides a few of those standout sequences. His layouts are top notch though. Again, it’s difficult to really refute criticisms against King’s writing, but I just tend to like the way he structures things. I liked learning how venom was important in this issue as well as not knowing the full plan in terms of Thomas’s final decision. It’s definitely all scattershot, he lays out little pieces here and there without fully explaining them, but in my book he usually brings it all together at the end – just like he already did with venom’s importance. I don’t think it’s bad writing that we didn’t know exactly why it was such a big victory in the previous issue as it’s a technique King has used repeatedly throughout his books and don’t really agree with the line of thinking of he’s just realizing he has plot holes and goes back to fill them all the time, particularly since it never really feels like that to me. I do wish he spent more time with Thomas though, especially since his psyche seems to be pivotal in how this cliffhanger will play out.

Casper: While I definitely think there are problems with the way this story is structured, I do agree with you, Michael, that King has always brought everything together in the end. When I read his other works I often wonder where the story is going. A great example is the Futures End Grayson issue. On first reading that I was bored because it just seemed like it was sequence after sequence and whatever. But then I got to the final panel and immediately read it again, and I’ve read it a few more times, and even backwards, and it’s amazing. Now, the problem, I think, is again this arbitrary 100 issue goal. If you structure a story of a shorter length in the way that you describe, Michael, then there’s a good chance that it’s going to be successful. But now we have a series that feels like it’s moving slow because there are so many issues and sometimes not a whole lot happens in a given issue. The narrative seems disjointed as a result. I have no doubt that King will bring everything together in the end, and it may even make me like the series better in general! But it will still be a disjointed structure and, to me, sometimes I feel like that arbitrary 100 issue goal is more important to DC than the story itself (and yes, I am counting Batman/Catwoman as part of those 100 issues). These are technical problems that even a fantastic ending can’t fix.

Josh: There really wasn’t any set-up for Gotham Girl using venom though. This has apparently been going on since Batman #50, Batman #64 at the latest, and the only reference to this that was made was in the last issue. And it’s not that I think King is realizing the plot holes, fans are. I simply think King is moving too fast to work a story well. 

But even your comment on Thomas… There’s been no narrative to support any of what he’s doing, his mentality, or how he even got here… Those are all key details need to be explained, but aren’t. 

Casper: Yeah, those are fair points, Josh. I don’t know about King not realizing the plot holes, but I definitely see those plot holes. My main gripe is that Bane just isn’t fleshed out well enough. I mean, of course I know who he is from past stories and I know his MO. But he’s been so invisible in this story and if Bane’s motivation was ever clearly stated, I’ve forgotten it by now. I wonder what would happen if we swapped out Bane for a different villain. How much would the story really change? Bane, ironically, seems to me like one of the most important characters that just kind of got left behind and now he just exists as this unseen force that must be dealt with somehow. It’s weird.

Matina: I was wondering about Bane too! I feel like it’s been so long since we’ve seen him do very much at all. You’re right, it is weird. 

Nancy: I overheard a guy at my LCS last week say “Everything at DC now is written for the trades.” While I think that’s an overstatement, the slow pacing of any King series tends to support it because it yields lots of issues to collect in trade, where they’ll read more like a novel.  When he writes a stand-alone, then I’m right there with Michael in thinking he can be brilliant. But I find his series pacing just agonizing. Which is not to say I disagree with your theory that he’s moving too fast, Josh, only that I think the speed is in his approach and not in the story. 

Casper: This is more or less what I meant! I think the speed is definitely in the approach and not in the story.

Jay: I don’t disagree with your LCS guy at all, Nancy.  Arcs are set up to be collected. That’s why we have so many five- and six-parters, and why miniseries fun about that long too.  

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Michael

No: Nancy, Matina, Josh, Jay, Casper

Check out Josh’s full review here.

Justice League #33

“The Justice Doom War” part four! Apex Lex Luthor is in ascendance, and he’s taking out the remaining members of the Justice League in the present just as his Legion of Doom is beating down the time-traveling heroes in both the past and the future. Batman, Superman and the rest of our heroes may have just figured out how Kamandi’s timeline works when terrible Hypertime quakes rattle their existence, threatening to strand them far from their own time. Meanwhile, the Flash, Green Lantern and the Justice Society take another leap through time, heading for…ancient Atlantis?

Josh: I enjoy “Justice Doom War.” I genuinely do… But there were a couple of moments here that just felt really hokey to me.

Matina: I know there was a lot about this book I liked, but I’m a day away from reading it, and I feel like many of the events are blending together in my mind. I still like the concept of the alternate time adventures, but man I wish it was just a tad less busy.

Nancy: Busy is a good word for it. I thought it had more focus this time, but it still felt a little disjointed. I especially liked the Aquaman parts and the look at Atlantis. It’s a different Atlantis than the one we know, and we meet Aquaman’s grandfather? I can’t wait to see where that goes! I also liked the ending. The last page implies the future’s going to have a bigger chunk of the story next month.

Sh’ayne is especially intriguing. I always enjoy characters who show us what might have been, or still could be, for characters we love. Yet, as Jay said in his review, this kid tugs at the heartstrings. I’m rooting for him to have his family back and for J’onn to break free of Evil Luthor and return to Kendra and Sh’ayne.

Josh: Sh’ayne is definitely a strong element within this story. He brings a lot of heart to the table, and that can be very effective. I wasn’t crazy about the Monitor, Anti-Monitor, and World Forger joining as a single being though… It just made me think of Digimon or Power Rangers. I wasn’t a fan. 

I also thought the exchange between Lex and Kendra was rough. Overall small issues though. 

Nancy: “Digimon or Power Rangers”—too good! I didn’t think of it that way when I read it, but I surely will now.

Casper: I was also thinking of Dragonball. They fuse together and … now they better actually do something really epic that justifies their merging, otherwise this just seems like it’s there because it’s cool, but not because it actually serves the story. I mean, I think it’s hilarious and it made me laugh (in a positive way), but it’s also really, really weird.

Michael: I just cannot wrap my head around any of this. It feels like reading an encyclopedia. The last page definitely intrigued me though. Overall, the book just isn’t for me, but I do think this was much better paced and structured than the previous issue. I’ll keep reading just so I’m aware of what’s going on with the larger story at play.

Josh: Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of information being hurled at us to set-up and explain everything that’s going on. I still believe that this should have been written and executed through the three Justice League titles. I know the teams aren’t separated that way at the moment, but it would’ve allowed each of the three narratives to breathe a little more. 

Jay: At the end of the day, I think it’s a lot of zany, ridiculous fun.  I’m not always the biggest proponent of fan-service, but it works for me. “Oh sweet, Justice Legion A!  Kamandi! Oh snaps, Justice League Unlimited!”

Casper: Justice Legion A and Justice League Unlimited in the same story … this comic (and my head) just exploded! Sometimes it does feel like fanservice for the sake of fanservice, but @#$% it. I’ll take it — haha!

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Nancy, Josh, Jay, Casper

No: Matina

Check out Brian’s full review here.

DCeased #5 

The world is dying at the hands of the infected, and the very survival of humanity is at stake. Facing extinction, Superman and the heroes will make a decision that will fundamentally alter Earth’s present and future!

Matina: Sorry guys, I’m still not reading this series. Every panel I see from it kinda just breaks my heart. Maybe I’ll read it all together when it’s out in trade.

Nancy: I’m not either. Too much darkness and angst for me. Plus zombies. I know people who’re enjoying it, though, and more power to them! 

Jay: I totally get it, and I try to stay away from books that are angsty for its own sake.  Taylor makes it work, somehow, and simultaneously makes this one of the most heartfelt and touching books out there.

Josh: I will say, I’m not a zombie fan, but I love this book! And as much as the subject matter is dark, Tom Taylor infuses so much heart into this book that it’s unreal! I feel as though I get emotional with every issue. 

Michael: A great opening and great ending, but it’s a shame that the middle is so unbelievably rushed. Casper’s review is spot on. We go from utter devastation to having arks that house millions of survivors within a few pages. It’s ridiculous that this was only a six issue mini, but I can’t really fault Taylor too much for trying to fit an epic story within what I presume was a mandated amount of issues. There may have been a smaller, more intimate storyline to tell in this series though. None of the earth shattering events are the book’s high points. The greatest strengths are all in the character moments, particularly Lex’s temporary vulnerability at seeing Metropolis destroyed and a certain character’s demise in the ending. Besides that though, this issue feels like snapshots with a truckload of exposition speeding by readers that have to sprint to keep up with.

Josh: Yeah, I feel like we say this every month, but the book should’ve been a 12-issue run at the least. There’s so much that’s being skimmed over, and it’s details that I’d love to witness and experience organically. That’s all DC editorial though. They’ve been pushing quicker, shorter stories for a while now. 

Nick: I keep spoiling this comic for myself for some reason. Not that it matters – the book is really quite strong regardless. I’m really coming around to the gritty style of the art, and whenever the story handles those intimate character moments – the goodbyes in particular – the tale really shines. Absolutely agree with the others in that this could – and should – have been WAY longer. I’d love to see this as an ongoing, or as a show. I feel like this book will read best as a trade.

Josh: Stop spoiling it for yourself, Nick!

Nick: BUT IT’S WHO I AM

Casper: You do you, Nick — haha!

Seriously, though, besides wanting more character moments, we’re also missing out on a lot of details. Building those arks … that could be an entire arc on its own (no pun intended!), depending on how you structure the story. And they could build an entire story around Barry Allen infecting everyone (although the fact that the Superman vs Flash stuff happened so quick was actually pretty cool). Anyway, there are more things that could fill an entire story that we just kind of rush through. But I feel like Taylor is well aware of this, and he’s making the most of it, and it’s still a pretty entertaining comic, all things considered. It just could be better, but then again … any work of art could be better.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Michael, Nick, Jay, Casper

No: None

Check out Casper’s full review here.

Young Justice #9

Oh man! Lost in the Multiverse with no way home, the teens of Young Justice find themselves trapped on a dark world that was once run by the evil Justice League known as the Crime Syndicate, but is now run by their younger, more feral, more anarchic counterparts the Young @#$@#$@! They are not nice. All this and finally, the truth behind Teen Lantern.

Matina: I’m back and forth on this issue. I really liked seeing Teen Lantern’s origin story, but it felt a little odd stuck into this romp through the multiverse. I feel like it would have landed better after the team had returned to their Earth, or if it felt like her backstory had a strong tie to how to escape and return home (watch it totally be that next month and me eat my words, but I’ll stand on it for now haha). The long departure from all the action going on felt a bit odd, especially juxtaposed against both the last issue and the few moments of chaos this issue. That said, I agree with Nancy in her review, I think the backstory itself was really strong and the art was just gorgeous. 

Nancy: Thanks, Matina! I went back and forth about the balance of plotlines as I read. I finally decided I was okay with so much of the book being devoted to her. That’s partly because we haven’t seen much of her in the past and partly because I feel like the next step in going home will need the whole book to develop the story. I hope you’re right about her origin being tied to that process. That would be great! I thought the Earth-3 Batcave was terrific. I loved the big, purple computer screen with all the bubbles and Tim’s last speech in the book.

Matina: I agree, and I think that’s why I’m also so back and forth on it. So much of it was good, I hate having the gripe that I wanted more, I think I just wanted more pages in the book haha. 

Nancy: LOL! Despite everything I liked, I still wanted Conner and Cassie. There’s always something…

Matina: Wanting more is a good problem to have, at least. It means the story’s strong and readers are enjoying it. I can’t wait for next month’s issue. 

Nancy: Me either, but you know what I keep thinking about? What happened to the woman on Gemworld Conner was living with, being a surrogate dad to her kid? Then YJ shows up, and he’s all, “Welp, it’s been great, but I gotta go.”

Matina: At the time I read that issue I think I was happy with the resolution, but now that you say that, it makes me wonder a bit. Conner was so important to them it’s a bit sad he just had to leave. Though, I have a feeling that it isn’t the last time we’ll see the Gemworld so maybe it’ll come up again later. 

Nancy:  That would be fun to read. There’s such potential in that relationship for internal conflict for Conner. I would like to see that explored.

Jay: I read it and I… think I enjoyed it?  I don’t know. Stay tuned for a future episode of Everyone Loves Young Justice to hear my thoughts (after I read it again).

Casper: I didn’t get around to reading this one, unfortunately. I’ll chime in next time. Hopefully.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Matina, Nancy, Jay

No: None

Check out Nancy’s full review here.

Harley Quinn #66

The trials are over, and Harley Quinn has won! Or has she? Now imbued with the awesome power of the Angel of Retribution, Harley is given an impossible choice-and a chance to raise a loved one from the dead! Choose wisely, Harley-the fate of the universe hangs in the balance!

Matina: I know Harley Quinn has been crazy and over the top for a while, but these last couple of issues have been great reads. I talked about this a bit in my review, but man I feel like Humphries has really set up a great character arc with her over his run. He’s gradually taken her from someone who would rather drive into Apokolips than deal with problems, to someone who turned over that same kind of power because she needs to deal with her problems. And he did it with mirroring super suit events! I mean, that’s delightfully sneaky good story telling. It hasn’t all been perfect, but it’s at least been solid and fun. 

Nancy: I haven’t been reading this series because Harley has never really appealed to me. Your reviews, though, are leading me to rethink that. She seems like a much more layered character than I realized.

Jay: Matina’s review was excellent, as was this issue.  It was a great blend of silliness and emotional drama.  Never did I think I would be genuinely and sincerely moved by an issue of Harley Quinn, but here we are.

Matina: That layering is really something I’ve felt has started to show over this arc, and as you go back and look at the run as a whole. It’s not something that’s always super obvious, but it’s there, and I’m really hopeful that Humphries continues to go in this direction with future issues. 

Josh: I don’t know… Whenever I check this book out, it still feels as though Humphries is trying to be Palmiotti and Conner… And he’s not. Just comparatively speaking, his jokes and moments never quite land for me like the original creative team. I just can’t seem to look past it.

Matina: Being relatively new to Harley in general, I actually haven’t read a lot of Palmiotti and Conner’s work with her. I started on Humphrie’s run (because Hoopla had his first trade labeled as #1) and as I’ve had time I’ve been working my way through the earlier stuff, but I can totally understand preferring a different team. I think this book in general is going to be a bit divisive simply because of the way teams treat the jokes and 4th wall breaking.  

Casper: My reviews on Harley Quinn haven’t always been positive, but you have a great point, Matina. The last issue I reviewed was pretty good, and it’s still pretty good. This is definitely Humphries’ best writing on the title so far, even if I sometimes don’t care for some of the jokes. But, anyway, looking back on Harley’s character arc, from the start of Humphries’ run to where we are at now, I see what you mean, Matina! Also, Basri’s art … it’s really freaking good!

Matina: The art is so so good. Basari’s very quickly becoming one of my favorite artists, he makes the book that much better to read.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Matina, Jay, Casper

No: Josh 

Check out Matina’s full review here.


What did you think of this week’s comics?  Join in on the conversation below!