FUTURE STATE GOTHAM #1 Review

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Future State Gotham #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

Spinning out of the success of DC Comics Future State event comes Future State Gotham, an all-new ongoing series featuring former Robin Jason Todd: AKA the Red Hood. When a disaster strikes Gotham, all evidence points towards Tim Fox, The Next Batman, and Red Hood soon finds himself enlisted by the Magistrate’s totalitarian regime to hunt down this new Dark Knight.

Following the aftermath of events in Future State, Gotham is still run by a private Police force controlled by a mysterious figure known only as the Magistrate, and the law is enforced by his ruthless Peacekeepers. Written by Joshua Williamson and Denis Culver, with art by Giannis Milonogiannis, Future State Gotham #1 kicks off with an action-packed face-off between Red Hood and the Ventriloquist who has unleashed a gigantic robotic version of Scarface on Jason Todd’s neighbourhood. 

Although costumed superheroes are outlawed in Gotham, Jason Todd has thrown in his lot with the Magistrate’s regime and works for them by hunting down the remaining heroes who dare defy the lockdown. Williamson delivers a fast paced issue, with Red Hood and Peacekeeper 3 teaming up to fight the Ventriloquist and Scarface, before a city-wide terrorist attack changes the landscape of Gotham forever. Jason is still reeling from the break-up with his on-off girlfriend, Ravager, there’s fraught clandestine meetings with former allies to contend with too, and a surprise  promotion that finds him tasked with tracking down the new Batman as Peacekeeper Red!

Giannis Milonogiannis’ Akira inspired artwork impressively captures the Cyberpunk look of this near-future Gotham. The battle with Robo-Scarface, sweeping vistas of Gotham in the wake of an explosive attack, and the debut of Jason Todd’s new costume as Peacekeeper Red are just some of the many standout moments in this first issue. I really like black and white artwork in comics — I think it adds a whole new dimension to the characters and gives the story a very dramatic, noirish feel. I also expect Milonogiannis’ Akira style line-work led to DC Comics deciding to reprint a 1996 Batman story by Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo as the back-up story for Future State Gotham #1 as well.

Joshua Williamson, Denis Culver and Giannis Milonogiannis look set to craft a bold new direction for Red Hood and a thrilling continuation of Future State with this new series. Creatively it’s also very different from the usual Bat-Books, which I find both refreshing and exciting. Future State Gotham blends a stylish noir vibe with compelling action and is certainly going to one to watch in the months to come.

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Joshua Williamson and Denis Culver 

Art Giannis Milonogiannis

Lettered by Alw’s Troy Peteri

Cover Yasmine Putri

THE SWAMP THING #3 REVIEW

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The Swamp Thing #3 Review

Review by Paul Bowler.

Ram V’s and Mike Perkins new Swamp Thing ten part max-series has quickly become one of the major highlight of DC Comics Infinite Frontier initiative. The Swamp Thing #3 continues Levi Kamei’s dark journey of discovery as the new avatar of the Green following his battle with the Pale Wanderer. In a bid to understand the root cause of his frightening transformations Levi enlists the help of his friend, Jenifer Reece, while he undergoes an MRI scan which results in them both being unexpectedly transported into the Green…

“My Green Amaranthine” is an enchanting metaphysical voyage into the Green quite unlike anything we’ve seen before. Levi and Jennifer become separated after the MRI triggers a spore induced spirit quest down this proverbial rabbit hole to the Green, and writer Ram V heightens the psychedelic tone of the narrative further in their encounters with some of the realms bizarre denizens. Poison Ivy is perhaps the most intriguing of the characters Levi meets as Swamp Thing.  It seems she’s been split into to two personas that share a warped dynamic reminiscent of the relationship between the Red Queen and the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. After a fragmenting chase Jennifer is saved by the Floronic Man, whose motives as yet remain unclear, and somewhat unsettling.

Mike Perkins artwork on this issue is phenomenal. The intricate, clinical detail of the MRI scans melds seamlessly with the ongoing narrative and mystery that has dogged Levi’s life since returning from his trip to India to visit his dying father and secure his family’s ancestral lands for Prescot Industries. His depiction of the Green is a veritable paradise of mystery, magic and beautiful vistas of rich flora and fauna. Perkins delivers a stunningly beautiful rendition of both aspects of Poison Ivy, with each of her personas shining through, the Floronic Man is ungainly and sinister, the hulking Woodewos feels more like a terrifying force of nature, and the throughout the extent of Levi’s journey colorist Mike Spicer ensures everything is awash with gorgeous tones and hues throughout. 

Although three issues in we are still really none the wiser about Levi’s origin as the new Swamp Thing, Ram V does go some way to brining everything into a sharper focus by transposing events through then prism of the Green for this issue. Fortunately there’s a familiar face waiting in the wings to help Levi understand what’s happening to him and the contagion spreading through the Green. With its intriguing storyline and outstanding art Ram V and Mike Perkins are knocking it out the park with this maxi-series. The Swamp Thing #3 is an enchanting voyage into the heart of the Green itself, and highly recommended. 

Publisher DC Conics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colorist Mike Spier / Letterer Aditya Bidikar 

Cover Mike Perkins & Mike Spicer

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Robin #1 Review

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Robin #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

Damian Wayne strikes out on his own in Robin #1, DC Comics brand new ongoing series  from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Gleb Melnikov. Having cut all ties with Batman and the Teen Titans, Damian will have to emerge from the shadows cast by both of sides of his parentage to forge his own legacy.  Embarking on a quest to earn a place in the deadly League of Lazarus tournament, the teenage Robin uncovers new mysteries and allies as he seeks the prestige of proving himself the greatest fighter in the DC Universe! 

Damian Wayne is probably the most exciting and dynamic character in the extended Bat-Family that’s been crying out for his own series for a while now, and writer Joshua Williamson  is  clearly  going to address the emotional fallout from City of Bane and send Damian on a heroes journey of self discovery with this opening story-arc. Having gone off the grid completely Damian must find the secret island where the League of Lazarus tournament is being held. That means a cage fight with King Snake, some kick ass action, and the acquisition of a marker to enter the tournament. There’s time for some reflection along the way, we also have the reintroduction of established characters like Rose Wilson and Conner Hawke, and brand new faces like Flatline and ReSpawn for Robin to meet as well.

Gleb Melnikov’s engaging artwork brings a dynamic Manga-like look that is a perfect fit for this series and a character like Damian. Alfred’s death has impacted powerfully across the whole of the Bat-Family, none more so than for Damian, and Melnikov crafts some hauntingly moving scenes with the young Robin mulling over his plans with an imaginary spectral Pennyworth watching over him. The action scenes in the cage fight with King Snake and the journey to the island are also rendered with vibrant detail. 

This premier issue kicks off an important story in the DCU that will examine Damian’s connections to Batman and Talia Al Ghul like never before as Robin searches to find out the why his mother and father kept the League of Lazarus  tournament a secret from him. There’s also a great mix of new and old characters for Damian to interact with, especially Rose Wilson, Conner, and the intriguing Respawn – a character with a distinct penchant for copyright infringement!

There’s a wealth of potential here for Damian to grow and evolve as a character in this series. All-in-all Robin #1 sets up the new series and its premise very well. Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov make for an inspired creative team, and its great to see Damian finally getting a  long overdue stint in the limelight with his own book. 

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Joshua Williamson / Artist Gleb Melnikov

Lettering ALW’s Troy Peteri Cover & Variant Gleb Melnikov 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Amazing Spider-Man #64 Review

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The Amazing Spider-Man #64 Review

Review by Paul Bowler

The Amazing Spider-Man #64 finds Tombstone and Robbie Robertson at loggerheads yet again and Spider-Man’s life is getting trashed in the crossfire as a result! Mind you with Pete and his roommate Fred Myers (AKA. Reformed super villain  Boomerang), teaming up with Spidey to keep the pieces of the all-powerful Lifeline tablet out of the Kingpin’s clutches, and Peter’s other roommate Randy Robertson dating Tombstone’s daughter, Janice Lincoln (the Beetle), its little wonder Spider-Man’s life is a tad chaotic right now!

Nick Spencer continues to steer the series back towards a more scattershot, back-to-basics and fun approach to Spider-Man’s world that was so indicative of the early stages of his run. The first half of “King’s Ransom Part Two” is a frenetically paced blend of recap and cliff-hanger fallout after Madame Masque and Crime Master ambushed Randy and Janice back at Pete’s apartment — which was interrupted when Peter and Fred suddenly returned home. The ensuing fight details how Spider-Man managed to enter the fray — with Peter cleverly managing to protect his secret identity — while safely sidelining Fred but also failing to prevent Randy and Janice being kidnapped. 

Amazing Spider-Man #64 features slick artwork from Federico Vicentini, with Alex Sinclair on colors and lettering by Joe Caramagna. The pace of the action hardly lets up for a moment. Every page is dynamically structured, vibrantly illustrated and accentuated with a striking  pallet of color. Spidey’s battle with Madame Masque and Crime Master in the apartment offers further insight into the abilities of Spider-Man’s new high-tech suit (courtesy of JJJ’s Threats & Menaces podcast). The suit enhances Spider-Man’s strength, agility, web shooters, and also enables TNM’s subscribers to livestream Spidey’s adventures — at his discretion of course — and this quirky modern twist on Peter’s old job selling photos of Spidey to the Bugle has boosted Spider-Man popularity in NYC (much to the Kingpin’s annoyance) and sent JJJ’s channel subscribers though the roof!  I quite like the new costume, although I’m not overly fond of the Social Media slant to it all that much. Mark Bagley’s cover impressively showcases the current story line, however, it features Spidey in his classic suit, which seems a bit strange given all the time Marvel spent building hype about the new suit — guess this cover was commissioned before the new suit was revealed or decide on? 

The one thing I’ve really like about Spencer’s time on Spider-Man is the humour peppered throughout the dialogue and the fun dynamic between all the characters and situations they stumble into. This issue is no exception to that rule. The bromance between Peter and Fred has  also been a real highlight, and there are some especially moving moments this issue as Fred decides to take matters into his own hands against the Kingpin’s plans. Given all the years of bad blood between them, having Robbie and Tombstone set aide their differences — for now anyway — also leads to some fun hijinks as they try to track down Randy and Janice – as for the happy couple, well, as you’d expect there’re still bickering like crazy and testing their captors patience to the limit!

If all that wasn’t enough we also have the Kingpin’s scheme to assemble villains to send against Boomerang and Spider-Man, along with sinister machinations involving Kindred and Baron Mordo behind the scenes, and an ominous hint towards the Sinister War that’s coming in July thrown into the mix as well. While this issues not the best jumping on point, it does bring a lot of longstanding plot threads together, and sets up some intriguing possibilities. If you’ve stuck with Spencer’s run this long you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, while newcomers will find Amazing Spider-Man #64 crams in a hell of a lot but still manages to be a fun and enjoyable — if somewhat overwhelming — read nevertheless.

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Nick Spencer / Artist Federico Vicentini

Colorist Alex Sinclair / Lettere VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover Mark Bagley, John Dell, and Edgar Delgado

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Batman The Detective #1 Review

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Batman The Detective #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Dark Knight embarks on an epic European adventure in Batman The Detective #1, the new DC Comics six-part mini-series helmed by the dynamic duo of writer Tom Taylor and artist Andy Kubert. 

Opening with a harrowing mid-air tragedy in the United Kingdom which spells out a dark and personal message for the Dark Knight, writer Tom Taylor quickly establishes this mini-series’ intriguing premise and brooding atmosphere of mystery. This Batman is older, somewhat past his prime and questioning his role in the world. However, Taylor deftly circumvents the usual tropes by making this a Dark Knight Detective that isn’t simply driven by the death of his parents and the more recent loss of Alfred, instead we have a Batman in the twilight of his career who is finally ready to move on from the ghosts of his past. The terrible attack in the UK simply provides the catalyst Batman needs to pack his bags, put the past to bed, and set out from Gotham City to investigate!

Batman The Detective also sees the Dark Knight’s visit to England leading to an encounter with the UK’s own dynamic duo of Beryl Hutchinson as The Knight and her new Squire, Amina, who looks set to become something a of new side-kick for Batman over the course of his European mission. Of course the characters and Britain are very different in this modern iteration when the Squire was originally introduced in the 1950s (The Knight, Percival Sheldrake, was created by Roy Thomas and Michael Bair for You All-Stars in 1948, while The Squire, his sidekick, was created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang for Batman #62 in 1951), and their investigation into the crash-site at the West Pennie Moors in Lancashire spells  high-tech intrigue and supernatural danger for them both!

Andy Kubert’s pencils and inks are a perfect fit for this story. From the dramatic opening, to the emotionally charged scenes in the Bat-Cave, though to Batman and the Squire’s uncanny team-up against a spectral adversary Kubert’s art enriches every page with detail, while Brad Anderson’s vivid use of tone and shade accentuates  every nuance of Taylor’s action-packed story as it unfolds. The look of this incarnation of Batman is a cool hybridisation of Miller’s iconic Dark Knight Returns suit and the Snyderverse’s Kightmare Bat-Fleck, and the end result is extremely impressive looking indeed.

You can’t really go wrong with a superstar creative team like Tom Taylor and Andy Kubert.  The premise in itself is enough to ensure the first issue has the momentum to gets this new mini-series off to a strong start. Its going to be interesting to see where this adventure with new foes, allies, and the hunt for the menace known as Equilibrium will take Batman and Squire next. With its solid storytelling and great art Batman The Detective #1 deftly blends current themes with elements and characters from yesteryear; whilst also crafting a bold new take and look for the Dark Knight mythos.

Writer Tom Taylor / Pencils and Inks Andy Kubert

Colors Brad Anderson / Letters Clem Robins

Main & Variant Cover Kubert & Anderson

Variant Cover Riccardo Federici

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

The Swamp Thing #2 Review

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The Swamp Thing #2

Review by Paul Bowler

Levi Kamei’s nightmarish becoming as the new avatar of the green continues in The Swamp Thing #2, from writer Ram V and artist Mike Perkins. Confronted with terrifying transformations he cannot control, Levi turns to his friend Jenifer Reece in NYC to help him contend with the trauma of his past, and the horror of the Pale Wanderer’s bloody rampage of death across the Sonoran desert in Arizona.

Ram V’s new DC Comics 10 part Swamp Thing maxi-series expands the trials of Levi Kamei’s frightening transition into the realms and reality of the green, casting further light on Levi’s haunting origins as the new Swamp Thing back in India, and the murderous designs of the ghostly Pale Wanderer. Following their initial encounter this second issue charts the recurring nightmares Levi begins to suffer, where each of his fateful encounters with this wraith-like desert legend ends the same, and another victims perishes as the Swamp Thing is torn asunder. Writer Ram V skilfully  blends the mystery and horror of Levi’s plight. Levi’s long-term friend, Jennifer, proves key to helping him get closer to the truth, while the lone Sherif investigating the murders in the Sonoran desert resolves to seek out that which has become his own private quietus in the dwindling twilight of his career.

Mike Perkins art and Mike Spicer’s colors gloriously cultivates and infuses the rich narrative of Ram V’s script with a blend of dynamic page layouts, sumptuous detail, chilling undercurrents of horror and a subtle palette of delicate hues that flow seamlessly across every page. From the grotesque imagery of Levi’s dreamscape “lessons” as Swamp Thing with the Pale Wanderer, to more frightening revelations about what transpired during his trip India, and the shocking realisation of what he is becoming are all rendered in startling clarity. The Sherif’s discussion with his deputy in the run-down bar in Aztec Town Arizona is another highpoint, one brooding with atmosphere, dread and macabre insight into his fixation with finding the spirit of this long dead Cilvil War soldier that cast off its humanity after wandering into the desert. 

Ram V masterfully brings all these tangled plot threads together in The Swamp Thing #2, as this unholy trinity of Swamp Thing, the Pale Wanderer and the Sherif finally seek each other out. The spectacular evergreen fallout from this showdown is a sight to behold, one rooted firmly in Levi’s homeland, and bringing revelations that none of the participants could’ve ever expected or truly believed possible. A surprise, if brief, cameo from a prominent DC hero, and a knowing reference to Alec Holland are all just some of the tantalising narrative seeds sown into the plot to make this another hauntingly enthralling issue of this new Swamp Thing maxi-series!

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colorist Mike Spicer / Letterer Aditya Bidikar

Cover Perkins & Spicer

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Blade Runner Origins #2 Review

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Blade Runner Origins #2

Review by Paul Bowler

The action and intrigue ramps up in Blade Runner Origins #2 as LAPD detective Cal Moreaux continues his investigation into the apparent suicide of a scientist at the Tyrell Corporation. But what should have been an open and shut case has now become a murder investigation. Just as Moreaux begins to uncover the shocking truth about the company’s advanced Replicant research programme, dark forces close in to eliminate his only witness, and the conspiracy he finds could well redefine the essence of what means to be human in Los Angeles: 2029.

Titan Comics Blade Runner Origins comic series explores the story behind the first Blade Runners, and the genesis of the Nexus 5 replicants. Blade Runner Origins #2’s all-star creative team of K. Perkins (Supergirl), Mellow Brown (American Gods) and co-writing creative consultants Mike Johnson and Michale Green (Blade Runner 2019) stylishly builds on the atmospheric scene-setting first issue by adding a wealth of back-story and rich characterisation into the narrative. 

Perkins and Brown weave a dark, compelling and well measured story with characters and plot twists that constantly keeps you guessing. This issue primarily focuses on Detective Moreaux’s ongoing investigation and his attempts to protect the late Dr. Kine’s brother, Marcus – who also has suspicions about the Tyrell Corp. However, their frantic high-speed escape from the mysterious replicant that’s tracking Marcus and the sinister machinations of Ilora Stahl, along with Cal’s clashes with his superiors at the LAPD, all conspire to prevent Moreaux from getting close to the truth.

The art by Fernando Dagnio and colors by Jim Campbell stylishly captures every nuance of the neon-noir drenched world of Blade Runner. From the gleaming cityscapes, dark rain swept streets, corporate opulence and dazzling technology Dagnio and Campbell bring Detective Moreaux’s tale to life with startlingly clarity and there’s even a beautiful homage to Blade Runners iconic “tears in the rain” scene for  the mysterious replicant prototype that’s been following Marcus’s every move.

I’ve been really impressed by what Titan Comics have been doing with their Blade Runner comics, and this new series presents a fascinating prequel to one of cinemas most endearing sci-fi masterpieces. Blade Runner Origins #2 a worthy edition to Titan’s range and is sure to please fans and newcomers alike. 

Publisher Titan Comics

Writers K. Perkins and Mellow Brown

Art Fernando Dagnino / Colors Marco Lesko

Letters Jim Campbell / Cover Angel Hernandez / Esther Sanz 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

Superman #29 Review

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Superman #29

Review by Paul Bowler.

Following his innovative take on the future of the Superman family during Future State, writer Philip Kennedy Johnson takes the helm full-time for Superman #29, for the first in a two-part story that will unfold this month in both Superman and Action Comics. “The Golden Age” presents an insightful and moving character study where Johnathan Kent reflects on his father’s great legacy, just as a new threat strikes from outer space, attacking Clark and almost killing him! The young hero must finally confront the foreknowledge he gained during his time with the Legion of Superheroes in the future about Superman’s fate – one that might soon become a frightening reality…

Much like Philip Kennedy Johnson’s Future State work, his debut issue as lead writer on Superman also focuses more on character than the actual event, more specifically here he throws the spotlight on the complexities of Clark’s relationship with his son after the long time Jon’s spent apart from his parents. The fallout from Brian Michael Bendis’ era is keenly felt. However the “The Golden Age” which Johnson aims for centres on the adolescent belief that our parents are infallible, and the inherent consequences when that unwavering sense of fearlessness crumbles  when Jon witnesses his father falter for the first time in battle. 

Amidst the emotional turmoil of exactly how Jon chooses to have that conversation with his dad about what he discovered thanks to his time with Legion, and Clark’s heartfelt way of getting Jon to open up to him about what’s really worrying him, allows Johnson to explore a rich  emotional narrative that empowers the dynamic between the characters like never before. There’s also the mystery of who-or-what is causing the intergalactic breaches, and with Amanda Walker scheming on the side-lines you can be sure things wont go well for anyone who gets caught in the crossfire. 

The artwork for Superman #29 by penciller Phil Hester and inker Eric Gapstur, with colors by HI-FI provides a distinctly clean and uncluttered visual style and tone for the issue. The standoffishness of Jon’s somber reluctance to talk to his father — sure in the knowledge that Clark died once before and that the Legion of Superheroes told him it could happen again — is also cleverly portrayed through the page-layouts with subtle notes of body language that express Jon’s fears just as strongly as the dialogue. 

In the tales of Metropolis back-up story by Sean Lewis, with art by Sami Basri and colors by Ulies Arreola we see an old fan favourite from the 80’s / 90’s, Bibbo Bibbowski placed front and centre as this hero-of-the-people tackles an alien threat attempting to manipulate the citizens of Metropolis. Its a tale that taps into similar vein as the back-up stories Lewis did for Future State, DC’s Infinite Frontier penchant for back-up stories also offers a chance to showcase totally different — yet just as relevant — adventures and I’m sure there is a wealth of possibilities to explore with this format that will nicely complement the main narrative of Philip Kennedy Johnson’s run.

Overall, Superman #29 is a deeply thought provoking and emotional study of the complex relationship between Clark and Jon; along with their standing in Metropolis and indeed the universe itself. Superman #29 gets Philip Kennedy Johnson’s run off to a great start, with its character driven storyline and solid artwork, it would seem the House of El could not be in safer hands.

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Philip Kennedy Johnson / Pencils Phil Hester

Inks Eric Gapstur / Colorist HI-FI

Letterer Dave Sharpe / Cover Hester, Gapstur and HI-FI

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

The Swamp Thing #1 Review

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The Swamp Thing #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

A new era of horror blossoms in The Swamp Thing #1, DC Comics brand new 10 part maxi-series from the creative team of writer Ram V and artist Mike Perkins. The Guardian of the Green has a new host, Levi Kamei, who cannot control his nightmarish metamorphosis into the Swamp Thing. Finding himself caught up in a terrifying mystery surrounding the ghastly murders committed by an ancient desert legend, Levi must revisit events from the past in his homeland of India, and confront a fearsome new villain if he is to ever understand the horrifying reality of what is happening to him…

Ram V is no stranger to Swamp Thing having written for Justice League Dark and Future State Swamp Thing for DC Comics. Now as part of DC Comics Infinite Frontier initiative in the aftermath of the Death Metal and Future State events, Ram V’s new Swamp Thing mini-series introduces us to Levi Kamei (DC’s first lead character heralding from India), an everyday guy with a deep rooted fear of flying, who now faces an inner-struggle to understand and control his dream fuelled transformations into Swamp Thing.

Exactly how Levi initially became Swamp Thing is opaquely mapped out by Ram V over a series of flashbacks to Levi’s trip to India to visit his dying father. Burning terror, violence and a dark bargain made by his brother all played some role in Levi’s origin as Swamp Thing. Previously, once a character had been transformed into Swamp Thing it was permanent, and there was no turning back. Ram V masterfully sows an uncanny twist into the narrative that seems to indicate that Levi is some kine of vessel or conduit for the Green, especially if Levi’s petrifying trans Atlantic flight back from India to the USA is anything to by, and its a change that respectfully builds on the enduring legacy of Swamp Thing whilst also branching out in a completely fresh direction for the character.

Swamp Thing #1: Becoming Part 1 broodingly establishes this new set-up as the action divides between a Sherif and his deputies investigation of a gruesome murder in the Sonoran Desert, the haunting legend of the Pale Wanderer, and Levi Kamei’s recollections about his trip to India after he returns to New York where he is welcomed home by his long-term friend-with-benefits – Jennifer Reece. It is only really at this issues mid-way point that this series’ premise becomes more clear as we begin to see the wider picture of Levi’s plight, one that’s steeped in the history of India, along with powerful real-world and environmental issues, raw emotion and dark creeping horror. 

Gloriously illustrated throughout by artist Mike Perkins, every page blooms with intricate detail, vivid horror, and unsettling atmosphere. The scene setting opening in the desert offers a curious mix of isolation and dread, where the forensic examination of a corpse and the lifecycle of a blowfly provides a stark contrast with the symbiosis of Levi’s metamorphic relationship with  both Swamp Thing and natures inexorable cycle of life and death. The grim story of the Pale Wanderer, a former Civil War soldier who abandoned his humanity after he wandered into the desert, and subsequent manifestation as some ghostly ghoul is also rendered with eerie clarity by Perkins. Levi Kamei’s journey is filled with compelling mystery and drama throughout, with Perkins art and colourist Mike Spicer’s exquisite use of rich tones and shadows bringing Levi’s mesmerising mind-trip down the green rabbit hole of Swamp Thing’s domain to life as dark fantasy melds with the frightening real-world  horror of his transformations.

Ram V is clearly going for a less esoteric approach here than some writers have previously taken with Swamp Thing, and on the whole this makes the series feel extremely accessible to all. Fans might be disappointed there’s no mention or acknowledgment of the current Swamp Thing, Alec Holland, or recent events in Justice League Dark, and the battle with the Upside-Down Man. However, Ram V does such a great job introducing Levi Kamei as a new kind of Swamp Thing with this issue that it all serves to further the mysterious tone of the story anyway. This issue is a little bit of a slow burn, but its rich with characterisation, and everything builds to a nerve jangling face-off between Swamp Thing and the Pale Wanderer.

Swamp Thing #1 sets Levi Kamei on a hauntingly macabre path, one  fraught with emotional turmoil and grim revelations. I’ve been eagerly anticipating the arrival of this 10 part maxi-series, I’m a big horror and Swamp Thing fan, and I’m pleased to say that I was highly impressed with this issue. If Ram V’s Future State Swamp Thing wetted your appetite for more, then The Swamp Thing #1 is sure to satisfy your horror craving with its deep and enchanting take on the character, and a killer creative team firing on all cylinders.  

Publisher DC Comics

Writer Ram V / Artist Mike Perkins

Colorist  Mike Spicer  / Letterer Aditya Bidikar

Cover Mike Perkins & Mike Spicer

Variant Cover Francesco Mattina 

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook

X-Men #18 Review

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X-Men #18

Review by Paul Bowler.

The secrets of the mysterious Vault are finally explored in X-Men #18 from writer Johnathan Hickman, artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Sunny Gho. It has been a long time since this team of specialist agents were sent by the Quiet Council of the Mutant nation of Krakoa to investigate the Vault – a place where time moves differently and a chronal lock makes it impossible for anyone to rescue them. 

Along with the central premise of establishing the new Mutant Island nation of Krakoa, Johnathan Hickman’s relaunch of the X-Men, which began with House of X and Power of X, also revealed that Professor X’s long-time friend, Moria MacTaggert was really a Mutant with a Groundhog Day style power that allowed her to relive multiple irritations of her timeline. Having spent many lifetimes trying to advance the X-Men’s cause and rebooting the timeline each time to learn from their setbacks, House of X and Power of X saw Moria discover that the ultimate threat and suppression of Mutantkind rested with an artificial intelligence that would be created in the distant future – Nimrod. 

So when a Child of the Vault managed to escape from the Vault – a technological marvel that uses time dilation and advanced technology to alter humans — the X-Men sent the Mutants Darwin, Wolverine (Laura Kinney) and Synch to South America to enter the Vault and assess the potential threat, along with the capabilities of the children, and uncover any inherent weaknesses in the children’s powers or the Vaults remarkable technological infrastructure. The only trouble is the team never returned. They’ve been gone for months, but as time moves differently inside the Vault, Darwin, Wolverine and Synch have now actually been inside the Vault for centuries!

The ongoing narrative of Hickman’s new X-Men run has sometimes felt less of the compelling blend of fresh ideas and innovative character arcs that spun our of House of X and Power of X, and more like a case of two-steps forwards and two-steps back as branches of the storyline unconsciously folded back over itself or became diluted with meandering events like X of Swords. Hickman is keeping a lot of plate spinning — some more successfully than others — but so far its been enough to keep everyone guessing and excited about where all of this is essentially  going for the X-Men.

Darwin, Wolverine and Synch entered the Vault way back in X-Men #5, now with X-Men #18 Hickman is finally addressing this tantalising plot thread, and he certainly doesn’t disappoint with the often bizarre and mind-boggling revelations that are divulged thick-and fast throughout this issue with almost serendipitous glee. Having this issue narrated via Synch’s recollections of events is also a clever move by Hickman which organically drives the plot from key selective viewpoints, with the inner machinations of the Vault and the motivations of the Children of the Vault converging on parallel lines with the X-Men’s incursion, and the series’ now iconic bullet-point style info-graphics filling in the blanks — especially the insightful information concerning the evolution of Synch’s powers post resurrection and what this could mean for mutant kind going forward.

This team was selected for their unique survival abilities: Darwin can adapt to any life-threatening situation, Wolverine has her healing-factor, and Synch can duplicate their powers. They were ideally suited to this mission, especially as there was no way back if things went wrong (which of course they did), and X-Men #18 details what happened in the initial moments of the relative 537 years that the team have effectively been missing. The Children of the Vault are purportedly the true heirs of the world, meant to be vastly superior to humans and Mutants, so how they react to the “wild gods of the outside world” proves decidedly disturbing, and the technological wonders of the  Vault are an uncanny challenge in itself for the X-Men’s team to experience — let alone  fully comprehend. 

Artist Mahmud Asrar and colorist Sunny Gho give substance and clarity to the finer vagaries of Hickman’s storyline, with hauntingly futuristic landscapes, advanced machinery and technological interfaces, and the almost palpable mix of awe and trepidation the team experience permeates every page. Asrar does a fantastic job of rendering these powerful emotional moments as the mysteries of the Vault begin to unfold, with intricate, sweeping page-layouts seamlessly condensing the narrative, there’s an action-packed encounter between the X-Men and the Children of the Vault that is also impressively realised, while Sunny Gho’s subtle use of delicate tones and shade brings an almost spiritual quality to the teams journey into the unknown and the ensuing centuries of discovery that await.

It has felt like a hell of long wait for Marvel’s flagship X-Men title to finally get back to addressing the mystery of the Vault and the fate of Darwin, Wolverine and Synch after they failed to return. In that respect X-Men #18 certainly gets the ball rolling again, even though it frustratingly poses just as many questions as it answers. However, if you’ve stuck with Hickman’s new X-Men this far your patience is rewarded as X-Men #18 finally gives us a clear sense of progression, and in that respect above all it delivers in spades. 

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Johnathan Hickman / Artist Mahmud Asrar 

Colorist Sunny Gho / Letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles 

Design Tom Miller / Cover Leinil Francis Yu & Sunny Gho

About The Author

Hi, I’m Paul Bowler, blogger and reviewer of films, TV shows, and comic books. I’m a Sci-Fi geek, a big fan of Doctor Who, Star Trek, movies, Sci-Fi, Horror, Comic Books, and all things PS4.You can follow me on Twitter @paul_bowler,or at my website, Sci-Fi Jubilee, and on YouTube and Facebook