The Geekly DC Review #9

A new Justice League team assembles and Tom King begins his battle with PTSD in this week's reviews from DC Comics.

Cover designed by Courtney Pugh

Reviews by J.T. Johnson

Welcome to another edition of ‘The Geekly DC Review’! This week, I take a look at a new Justice League book while Tom King begins his “Heroes in Crisis” event. I also look at Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman’s latest adventures in addition to the latest issue of the team books “Justice League Dark” and “Titans”. As always, I hope you enjoy these quick reviews of some of the latest issues from DC Comics!

“ACTION COMICS” #1003
‘Invisible Mafia’ Part 3
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST: Yanick Paquette

I must say that Brian Michael Bendis has had a hard time with both of his third issues. “Superman” #3 was a middling chapter in that story and the same can be said here, but I did enjoy this issue slightly more thanks to an impromptu guest appearance by Batman. Though, I must say that the Dark Knight’s presence also highlights the problem with this book.

I can’t tell you why Batman was in this issue other than to act as filler while Bendis tries to figure out where to take his story next. I don’t want to say that Bendis is starting to lose steam, but maybe DC Comics shouldn’t have given him both major titles. He’s telling two different stories anyway, so why not let someone else take over one of these titles?

Despite the lackluster writing from Bendis, though, the artwork by Yanick Paquette was a highlight. There were no crazy standout moments from the artwork, but at least the issue was good to look at. I hope that Bendis hasn’t lost his groove, but this is two separate issues where I feel like Bendis had no direction. Here’s to hoping that I’m wrong when the next issues swing around.

“DETECTIVE COMICS” #989
‘Deface the Face’ Part Two – An Optimistic Man
WRITER: James Robinson
ARTIST: Stephen Segovia

Writer James Robinson gives us a rather unique commentary by one of Batman’s lesser villains. Lady Firefly is questioning why she joined Firefly in order to learn from him when he always loses to Batman. Firefly reveals that he is fully aware that he is a third-tier villain but he also admits that he always learns from his encounters with Batman and at least a lesser hero isn’t the one always stopping him.

Of course, then Batman shows up and easily defeats them before moving on to finding the true culprit behind these recent attacks. As it turns out, Two-Face is the one that Batman has been looking for in his latest case. It is also teased that Commissioner Gordon is somehow behind Two-Face’s motives this time.

There are moments of corny dialogue and, so far, this has been a routine story for “Detective Comics”, but at least it’s a fun one. Stephen Segovia is also still on point with his artwork and this issue provided several action scenes for Segovia to cut lose and shine! This was one of the better reads this week!

“WONDER WOMAN” #55
‘The Enemy of Both Sides’ Finale
WRITER: Steve Orlando
ARTISTS: Raúl Allen and Patricia Martín

Writer Steve Orlando finishes his ‘Enemy on Both Sides’ storyline in a rather anticlimactic fashion. Yes, it is pretty cool that Wonder Woman essentially stops a full-blown war with nothing but words (and the lasso of truth, of course), but dammit I want some superhero action! I do get that from a brief battle with Rustam, but after that, the story ends not with a bang, but with an extremely quiet whimper.

Thankfully, the artwork from Raúl Allen and Patricia Martín is extremely well done and I enjoyed looking at this issue. The story also resolves some of the differences between Wonder Woman and Artemis as they head in separate directions by the stories conclusion. Despite my problems with the issue, I did at least enjoy it though I’m definitely looking forward to ‘The Witching Hour’ storyline that will soon begin in both “Wonder Woman” and “Justice League Dark”.

“THE FLASH” #55
‘Faster Than Thought’ Part 1
WRITER: Joshua Williams
ARTIST: Scott Holins

The latest issue of “The Flash” sees Barry Allen facing yet another one of his foes as another Force rears its ugly head. This time, the Sage Force begins to affect Heat Wave and the Flash has to find a way to stop him. Meanwhile, Iris has a little heart-to-heart with Commander Cold.

The issue starts off fine enough with the Flash battling Solomon Grundy with the assistance of the Justice League Dark. Afterwards, a night out with friends is interrupted when Heat Wave suddenly burst into flames. This issue was fun if not entirely memorable. The good news is that the action is particularly good and Scott Holins does a fantastic job on the art of the book.

“JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK” #3
‘The Last Age of Magic’ Conclusion
WRITER: James Tynion IV
PENCILS: Alvaro Martinez Bueno

In only the third issue, “Justice League Dark” finishes its first story, but it does so by setting up ‘The Witching Hour’ crossover in a dramatic fashion. In this issue, Wonder Woman and her weird team battle a being of pure magic. All hope seems lost until the being taps into a strange source of power that resides within Wonder Woman.

While ‘The Last Age of Magic’ is over, Zatanna warns that the story is just beginning. Unlike “Wonder Woman”, which ended its story on a rather quiet note, this issue is filled with pure action and was a fantastic read. Thankfully, even though this first story was only three issues long, it didn’t feel like it ended abruptly which was what I feared going into it.

Not only did James Tynion IV write a decent story, artist Alvaro Martinez Bueno provided some rather trippy panels without losing the focus on what the reader should be looking at. While I can’t wait to see what ‘The Witching Hour’ crossover will bring, I’m just glad that this version of “Justice League Dark” is hitting on all cylinders and it definitely has a spell on me!

“JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY” #1
‘Ghost Sector’ Part 1
WRITER: Joshua Williams
ARTIST: Stjepan Sejic

“Justice League Odyssey” was announced along with Scott Snyder’s current version of “Justice League” and James Tynion IV’s “Justice League Dark”. Unfortunately, for unknown reasons, the book was delayed for several weeks. Now, the book is out and thankfully, it was worth the wait as writer Joshua Williams sets up a fun story where Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael are called to the mysterious Ghost Sector by an unknown voice.

Also there is Jessica Cruz because only a Green Lantern is allowed to watch over the Ghost Sector. She is losing her mind with boredom when suddenly Cyborg and the others come through on Brainiac’s old ship. Eventually, they discover that Darkseid was the one who summoned them and that the people on the ghost worlds worship Cyborg, Starfire and Azrael as their old gods that will eventually bring about a new age for the multiverse.

Not only was this a fun setup, I was glad that it didn’t feel like the usual “roll call” story that these team-up books can be for their first issue. Instead, it feels like these characters have come together naturally and it also seems like it will be a fun ride. Here’s to hoping that issue two is just as fun as this thrilling debut!

“TITANS” #26
‘Blood Will Flow’
WRITER: Dan Abnett
PENCILS: Brent Peeples

The “Titans” continue to hunt down emergent events and the latest one leads them to a small town with only a thousand people. When Nightwing, Miss Martian and Donna Troy arrive, they are attacked by beings that seem to be made entirely of blood. Instead of this being an emergent event, it is the first attack from the Cult of Blood and it appears that they have not only found Source Wall energy, but that they’ve also found a way to weaponize it.

“Titans” has been very episodic with several one-shot issues that only has a few continuing threads. It has been like watching several episodes of a television show. Well, this was a pretty good episode and we even had a stunning revelation about Miss Martian. I must admit that I do enjoy “Teen Titans” a little more than this title, but “Titans” still manages to keep me engaged and it remains a dependably good read from writer Dan Abnett and artist Brent Peeples.

“HEROES IN CRISIS” #1
Part 1 – ‘I’m Just Getting Started’
WRITER: Tom King
ARTIST: Clay Mann

ISSUE OF THE WEEK

So, writer Tom King killed off two major heroes with the first chapter of his event series, “Heroes in Time”. One was pretty predictable seeing how “Red Hood and the Outlaws” Annual #2 ended. That heartfelt goodbye between Jason Todd and Roy Harper was exactly the foreshadowing I was afraid it was as Roy Harper was killed off in issue #1 of the storyline.

Surprisingly, though, King also killed off Wally West as well! This one was a little more surprising as he wasn’t really a contender when it was discovered that two heroes would be dead when the story started. Yet, I was impressed with how King treated their deaths in this issue.

Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are heading towards the Sanctuary, a remote location where superheroes can go to heal themselves mentally as well as physically. Basically, it’s a place for a bunch of superheroes with PTSD. In the issue, something has alerted the trinity that something tragic has happened at Sanctuary.

When Superman arrives, he sees several dead superheroes and this is where he discovers Roy and Wally’s bodies. The mystery deepens when Harley Quinn encounters Booster Gold at a diner and the two proceed to beat the shit out of each other. By the end of the issue, Sanctuary is lost and the mystery deepens when both Booster and Harley are convinced that the other person killed the superheroes at Sanctuary, hence why they started fighting.

This was a fantastic start to what I hope will be a great event and mystery. King’s writing is on point as the deaths of Roy and Wally are simply tragic rather than them going out in a blaze of glory. The more somber storytelling is also helped by writer Clay Mann’s fantastic artwork. Mann perfectly captures the raw emotion that King has put into his book.

Normally, I hate it when writers take superheroes too seriously, but King handles the more realistic elements perfectly. King said that he wanted to deal with PTSD through this story and I think he’s off to a brilliant start. If you collect DC comics, then this is one you definitely need to check out this week if you haven’t already.

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