Daredevil #24 Review

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Daredevil #24

Review by Paul Bowler

The Man Without Fear gets ready to face the music in Daredevil #24 (Truth / Dare Part 4) as his trial for murdering Leo Cararo looms. Ironically, Matt Murdock is only just Back in the Red as Daredevil following the chaos wrought on Hell’s Kitchen by the Stormwyns, and with the citizens of the city looking for someone to hold accountable Matt’s crime-fighting return might soon be over before its even begun.

Daredevil #24 is a masterclass in storytelling from writer Chip Zdarsky that sees Matt and the ensemble cast, both friend and foe alike, run a gauntlet of frayed emotions and angst as Daredevil’s trial approaches. With the erstwhile Mayor Fisk now considered a hero in the eyes of New York’s citizens, Matt has been moved into making plans of his own to ensure the safety of Hell’s Kitchen from the threat of Fisk’s corporate and criminal machinations with the imminent  likelihood that Daredevil will probably soon be behind bars. Daredevil has already enlisted Spider-Man’s help to put the frighteners on a meeting of the crime families where Wilson Fisk appointed Izzy Libris as the new Kingpin of New York City, and asked Tony Stark to gain board approval to bid in the property auction for Hell’s Kitchen to keep it out of Fisk’s clutches. 

Matters have been complicated by Foggy Nelson decision to go behind Matt’s back to recruit not just Kirsten McDuffie into DD’s legal defence team, but also calling in Mike Murdock – Matt’s twin brother — to pose as Matt himself during the trial as Daredevil takes the stand. As if all that wasn’t’[t enough for Matt to deal with Mayor Fisk has also made a dangerous new ally, Typhoid Mary! Zdarsky juggles all these plot threads and characters with consummate ease throughout this issue. For a superhero who is blind like Daredevil there’s a certain irony to be had in having the supporting characters spending most of this issue wrestling with own inner conflicts and emotions to such a degree that it consequently makes them all essentially blind to the secrets, lies and uncomfortable home truths right under their noses — which is all frankly genius scripting from Chip Zdarsky.

The Devil’s in the detail and that certainly the case here as the art for this issue of Daredevil is handled by penciler Mike Hawthorne, inker JP Mayer and color artist Mattia Iacono who collectively render the numerous scenes and character perspective with a striking level of detail, exciting page layouts, and bold colors. The fallout from Matt and Kirsten’s relationship resonates especially powerfully throughout, and the art beautifully encapsulates this integral driving force of the issues richly compelling narrative. The loneliness of Daredevil’s plight is also wonderfully depicted as Matt ponders the fate of Hell’s Kitchen alone on a rooftop, the courtroom is a veritable who’s who of friends and foes, and we even get a masked, suited and booted look for Daredevil as he prepares to face justice in this remarkably illustrated issue.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed Chip Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil since the tiles 2019 relaunch. He’s taken Matt Murdock on a dark journey, turned all the familiar DD tropes on their head, and woven a masterpiece of interconnected story arcs and unexpected character beats into a rich narrative that has ultimately lead to this point. Daredevil #24 is a stylish blend of courtroom drama, shady scheming, and emotional drama with the fate of Hell’s Kitchen at stake and only a whisper of hope remaining  for Daredevil as his trial begins. Highly recommend. 

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Chip Zdarsky / Penciler Mike Hawthorne

Inker JP Mayer / Color Artist Mattia Iacono

Letterer VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover Marco Checchetto & Matthew Wilson

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 #103 Review

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Batman #103

Review by Paul Bowler

The Dark Knight and Ghost-Maker clash in Batman #103 and only one will walk away as Gotham’s hero! After a slow build up things now take a dramatic turn in Ghost Stories Part 3 as writer James Tynion IV ramps up the action and suspense. The idea of Bruce having a childhood rival who has lived, trained, and taken the same crime-fighting path as him is an intriguing one and this issues flashback to their confrontation in the Gobi desert further illustrates how their choices have inevitably brought them to this moment.

However, while Ghost-Hunter believes Bruce’s emotions make hm weak, Bruce clearly doesn’t, and it is this key difference in their crime-fighting natures that will undoubtably prove crucial moving forward, Tynion has really changed the landscaper of Gotham since Joker War. Lucius Fox now controls the majority of the Wayne fortune, Batman has less resources at his disposal, the citizens of Gotham are calling for Punchline to be released from prison, and Clownhunter has set his sights on taking out Harley Quinn who is trying to get her life back on track in the aftermath of Joker War.

Fortunately Batman still has the rest of the Bat-Family on side, including Barbara Gordon in he role as Oracle, but even she cannot get past Ghost-Hunter’s intricate Ghost-Net to uncover anything about this new threat to Gotham. With artistic duties for Batman #103 handled by Carlo Pagulayan & Danny Miki, Guillem March and colorist David Baron, the look and pace of the issue holds together very well, and overall the issue is packed with detail and awash with vivid colors that nicely accentuates the action. Batman going toe to toe with Ghost-Hunter is every bit the action-packed spectacle you’d expect, Harley Quinn’s moments of reminiscing in her run-down apartment and subsequent fight with Clownhunter are the big highlight though, and I really like how Harley is becoming one of the most interesting additions to Tynion’s ensemble cast for this book. 

The introduction of Ghost-Hunter has delivered a compelling new villain for Batman to face following Joker Wars turbulent fallout on Gotham, and the shared history between them offers a wealth of possibilities to explore. Ghost-Hunter has only been in Gotham for less than a day and he’s already been on a one-man crime-busting spree, but as he soon finds out, in Batman’s world everything isn’t always as cut and dried as it first seems. With familiar faces and a cast of colourful new character all jostling for attention, Batman #103 brings a frenetic mix action and exposition into this story-arc. It’s an exciting issue for sure, I just hope Tynion can maintain the momentum and keep all these plates spinning.

Publisher DC Comics

Writer James Tynion IV

Artists Carlo Pagulayan & Danny Miki, Guillem March

Colorist David Baron / Letterer Clayton Cowles

Cover Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey

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 Amazing Spider-Man #52 Review

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The Amazing Spider-Man #52

Review by Paul Bowler.

The darkest, most macabre confrontation imaginable awaits Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man #52 as the wall crawler comes face-to-face with the new villain – Kindred! As Kindred reveals his true power to Spider-Man, horrors past and present are unleashed, and Spidey begins realise the terrible danger he’s in!

Having failed to secure the help of Doctor Strange last issue Spider-Man decided to take the fight directly to Kindred himself, but it’s a decision Peter might come to regret as their showdown unfolds. With a gathering of high profile skeletal remains for Kindred’s ghoulish tea party from hell, including George Stacy, Jean Dewolf, Marla Jamerson, Flash Thompson, Gwen Stacy, and Ben Parker, writer Nick Spencer ramps up the horror quota of Kindred’s vendetta to the max in Spider-Man #52 to such a degree that its positively skin-crawling. The way Kindred taunts and goads Spidey before brutally pummelling him to a pulp is done with almost surgical precision, and its not long before our friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man finds the tables have been horrifically turned on him.

Kindred has been plotting and scheming from the shadows for much of Spencer’s run, having first killed Mendel Stromm and then Mysterio, Kindred went on to resurrect Sin Eater to cleanse criminals of their sins — including Norman Osborne (the Green Goblin). Last Remains kicked off with Kindred sending these collective sins after Spider-Man’s Spider-Friends,  Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Miles Morales, and Madame Web, transforming them into twisted demonic version of themselves in order to unleash carnage on Peter and terrorise New York City. It is this demonic version of The Order of the Web that Kindred now uses against Spider-Man in this issue with almost frightening relish, and effetely forces him into a fateful no-win scenario.

Patrick Gleason’s artwork is a perfect fit for The Amazing Spider-Man. Employing a dynamic blend of overlapping page layouts and spectacular two-page spreads to convey the horror and intensity of Spidey’s face-off with Kindred, Gleason renders every moment of raw emotion, grisly horror and bone crunching action to perfection. Every scene is packed with detail   and colourist Edgar Delgado enhances the action with a glorious use of vivid color, rich tones, and  sinister shadows.

Everything builds towards a shock cliff-hanger which is brilliantly ambiguous and shockingly chilling. Grim thrills and intense action makes Amazing Spider-Man #52 riveting reading, Nick Spencer is firing on all cylinders here, and Patrick Gleason’s art continues to impress on every level. The creative team on this book are doing a fantastic job and Last Remains is easily one of the most darkly compelling Spider-Man storylines that I’ve enjoyed in a  long while. 

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Nick Spencer / Artist: Patrick Gleason

Colorist: Edgar Delgado / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover: Patrick Gleason 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

X-Men #14 Review

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X-Men #14

Review by Paul Bowler.

The cross-dimensional saga X of Swords continues apace in X-Men #14 as writer Jonathan Hickman delivers the long awaited reckoning between Apocalypse and his wife, Genesis!

As events go this year’s epic crossover X of Swords has been vast in scale, it has encompassed the entire X-Men comics range, and brought a series of startling revelations to the fore. The X-Men champions of the Mutant nation of Krakoa have been chosen to retrieve ancient swords before their participation in a tournament against the champions of Arakko, led by Genesis, and their children, the first horsemen and now sword-bearers of Arakko! As the champions gathered at the Starlight Citadel Apocalypse learned that the fearsome Annihilation, ruler of Arakko, is actually his long lost wife genesis!

Last issue virtually retconned everything we once knew about Apocalypse. In X-Men #14 we get another perspective on those events as Genesis meets him on the eve of the coming battles to recount the history of Arakko. Its a spellbinding blend of legends, world-building, conflict and heartbreak as Genesis’ story unfolds. We see how Krakoa and Arakko were torn apart across the dimensions, the subsequent wars that followed raged on, and witness Genesis’ salvation ultimately became her own cosmic hubris. One of the most compelling aspects of the mutant amnesty on the island of Krakoa – established during House of X and Power of X – is how it allowed for a far more sympathetic and insightful portrayal of Apocalypse. X of Swords has continued the renaissance of Apocalypse which has now become a cornerstone of Hickman’s X-Men run. The reunion with his wife Genesis in this issue is fraught with emotion and tension, indeed, this is probably the most intricate character development the ancient mutant has ever undergone.

Featuring art by Mahmud Asrar and Leinil Francis Yu, and colors by Sunny Gho, X-Men #14 is a visual cornucopia of beautifully rendered scenes, lush gardens bloom with opulence, while magnificent battles unfold across vast landscapes as magic and legends entwine as one. The attention to detail Asrar and Yu have lavished on this issue is quite staggering, every page is packed with detail, and Sunny Gho’s vibrant colors encapsulate the epic scope of the story perfectly.

This issue of X-Men effectively bring us to the midway point in the X of Swords saga. As a whole the event has been sound enough, in concept at least, but the sprawling nature of the narrative has also seen it veer alarmingly between grandiose storytelling and pretentious twaddle at times. So far X of Swords has hardly been essential reading. A lot of far more compelling plot threads have been effectively sidelined to accommodate this crossover event as well. However, now that we are getting to the nitty gritty of the story perhaps X of Swords will take a turn for the better once the tournament begins and the combatants clash – with the fate of Krakoa and Arakko resting on the outcome. 

We now see how the shared history of Apocalypse and Genesis has forged the evens leading into X of Swords (which in some instances even reach back as far as X-Men #2), its tragic how Genesis fell to the corruption of Annihilation, and inevitably a titanic showdown between them is now on the cards at some point. X-Men #14 brings some much needed elucidation to X of Swords somewhat contrived storyline, its gorgeously illustrated throughout, and stands as a compelling character piece in its own right.

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman /Art: Mahmud Asrar & Leinil Francis Yu

Color Artist: Sunny Gho /Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Design: Tom Muller /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

Batman Beyond #48 Review

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Batman Beyond #48

Review by Paul Bowler.

The future and the past collide in Batman Beyond #48 when Terry McGinnis’ mentor Bruce Wayne suddenly turns against him! Luckily histories greatest unknown hero – Booster Gold – is on hand to whisk Batman Beyond back to the Gotham of yesteryear, to the time when Bruce Wayne is Batman. It looks as if Batman and Batman Beyond are finally going to meet at last… or will they?

Its time for Batman Beyond to go all back to the future — well sort of — but with a fun twist as writer Dan Jurgens turns familiar tropes on their head and sends him back to the present day instead. Events unfold extremely rapidly from the outset, throwing us right into the heart of this intriguing time travel quandary Terry McGninnis faces, and the stakes are deeply personal for him as well.

The addition of Booster Gold is the real masterstroke here. Not only is it a good old-fashioned team-up, the banter between Batman Beyond and Booster Gold is also very funny, and I really like the quirky dynamic between them. Given that Dan Jurgens is at the helm we can rest assured Batman Beyond’s time travelling shenanigans with Booster Gold are in safe hands, other writers have used Booster Gold very poorly of late in my opinion, so it’s great to see Jurgens redressing the balance.

Visually this is quite a striking issue of Batman Beyond from penciler Paul Pelleteir, along with inks by Norman Rapmund and bold colors by colorist Chris Sotomayor that seamlessly melds the two different eras this issue bridges to great effect. The action flows at a fast, almost unbroken pace for virtually the entirety of the issue as Batman Beyond and Booster Gold go through the ubiquitous team-up squabbles and fisticuffs before they join forces to achieve their goal — to prevent the time delayed subliminal message that caused Bruce Wayne to turn against Batman Beyond in the future from ever being implanted by the telepath Blanque. Characters, locations and emotional beats are all rendered in rich detail and vibrant color by the artistic team — along with a terrific final page that nicely encapsulates the tone of this issues eye catching cover by Dan Mora.

A hugely enjoyable issue in its own right, Batman Beyond #48 feels like a breath of fresh air in the DCU at the moment. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Batman Beyond who became a part of the DCU after the success of the Batman Beyond animated series (1999-2001), this has been the characters longest running comic book series to date, and I’ve really enjoyed it. I’m also a fan of Booster Gold, so I’m really happy to see him being written in the way he should be again, and teaming up with Batman Beyond is the icing on the cake! Batman Beyond in 2020 is such a great concept as well, its just a shame its taken until nearly the end of Dan Jurgens iconic run for it to finally happen.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Dan Jurgens / Penciller: Paul Pelleteir 

Inks: Norman Rapmund / Colorist: Chris Sotomayor

Letterer: Travis Lanham / Cover: Dan Mora

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 #101 Review

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Batman #101

Review by Paul Bowler

A new dawn rises over Gotham City in Batman #101 as the dust settles in the aftermath of Joker War. The full impact of the Joker’s reign of terror and the effect its had on the citizens of the city is now realised in the cold light of day. Batman chooses a bold new path for his war on crime as Bruce Wayne’s life is changed forever, and why exactly is Cole Cash – a.k.a.-Grifter, now working for Lucius Fox?

It’s time to ring in the changes as writer James Tynion IV sets out a new direction for the Dark Knight in this somber, emotional and reflective issue of Batman. Joker War might be over but the fallout from what the Clown Prince of Crime did to the city using the Wayne fortune will have long lasting ramifications for Bruce Wayne. Tynion delivers some terrific character moments for Batman and Lucius Fox as they reevaluate their lives in the wake of the traumatic  events they each suffered, both mentally and physically, during Joker War. Fox now has control of the Wayne fortune, the board of Wayne Enterprises want Bruce quietly sidelined from the company, and Batman is going to have to tighten his utility belt with a more cash strapped, low-tech, approach to crime fighting.

Guillem March’s strikingly detailed artwork for Batman #101 brings vivid clarity to the events in this issue. Numerous pages are awash with swapping vistas of Gotham as Batman looks back on simpler times, where Commissioner Gordon always stood by the Bat-Signal, Robin fought by the Dark Knight’s side, and Alfred was ever present in the Bat-Cave to offer advice.  Now all these constants in Batman’s life are gone, March’s artwork beautifully encapsulates these reflective, emotionally charged moments, whilst Tomeu Morey’s subtle colors heightens them perfectly in the Dark Knight’s powerful scenes with Lucius Fox and his tender soul-searching moments with Catwoman. Batman’s no-holds-bared fight with Lucius Fox’s new bodyguard, Grifter, is another highlight as well.

Along with having Bruce relocating his operations as Batman to a more modest location in Gotham, Tynion also acknowledges what Joker War will mean for Bat and the Cat relationship now. Tough decisions need to be made to accommodate the new status quo Bruce has adopted to allow himself to work off the grid as leaner, more self-sufficient Batman, and Catwoman being the number one target of Gotham’s underworld after stealing the Wayne fortune back from the Underwriter isn’t exactly going to make things any easier for them or their relationship going forwards.

Brief mentions of Punchline’s media message and Clownhunter’s vigilante antics also get thrown into the mix to keep those plot lines bubbling away in the background for future issue to explore. Although this issue comes across initially as being rather downbeat after Joker War, there’s a distinct move by Tynion here to really start to place his stamp of the character with a more back-to-basics approach. With its excellent character driven narrative by James Tynion IV and terrific artwork by Guillem March, Batman #101 heralds a new beginning for the Dark Knight – in more way than one!

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: James Tynion IV / Artist: Guillem March

Colors: Tomeu Morey / Letters: Clayton Cowles

Cover: Guillem March & Tomeu Morey

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 Amazing Spider-Man #50 Review

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The Amazing Spider-Man #50

Review by Paul Bowler.

The Amazing Spider-Man #50 marks another landmark issue for Marvel’s friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man. LAST REMAINS begins here, the first chapter of a new epic from writer Nick Spencer and artist Patrick Gleason. The mysterious villain Kindred finally enters the fray to strike at Spider-Man. But, having just saved Norman Osborne – director of the Ravencroft Institute for the criminally insane — from the Sin Eater, Spider-Man and his friends, the self styled Order of the Web (Spider-Gwen, Spider-Woman, Spider-Girl, Miles Morales, and Madame Web), are all completely unprepared for the terrifying horror that Kindred is about to unleash! 

Following on directly from the colossal Amazing Spider-Man #49 (or #850 if we go by the legacy numbering), the double-sized Amazing Spider-Man #50  kicks off the LAST REMAINS story-arc with a bang. The scope and scale of events depicted in this issue are mind-blowing and far-reaching as writer Nick Spencer balances the twisting narrative threads into a nerve jangling  web of intrigue, one where every strand is relevant, precisely crafted, and rich with powerful emotional beats for Spider-Man, his friends and even his foes. Furthermore, this issue also spins an uncanny recapping of the battle at Ravencroft, its chilling aftermath, and the brooding set-up for LAST REMAINS into the mix. As such, there’s plenty here for long-term fans to enjoy whilst still providing enough for newcomers to go on to quickly get up to speed with the plot.

After seeing Spider-Man and the Green Goblin fight side-by-side last issue against the Sin Eater, it was inevitable the Goblin would betray him. However, Spidey’s subsequent fit of rage and his decision to leave Norman behind in the ruins of Ravencroft as he escaped with The Order of the Web now pays off big time with the frightening aftermath of what that battle holds for Sin Eater, Norman Osborne and Kindred alike. Throw in a frightening encounter for The Order of the Web, a crushing defeat for Spider-Man, a visit to Doctor Strange, and some rather ominous interludes with Kindred and the stage is set for what might well become one of Spider-Man’s darkest and scariest stories ever. 

Patrick Gleason takes over artistic duties with this issue of Amazing Spider-Man to craft the distinctive tone and style of the saga that is LAST REMAINS. Using a striking mix of overlapping page layouts and bold splash-pages to convey the action, Gleason packs every scene with rich detail and grim atmosphere, which, together with colorist Edgar Delgado’s subtle use of intricate shades and hues, ensures this issue of Amazing Spider-Man is a visual treat. Spider-Man’s frenetic flight from the danger and horror he encounters is also hauntingly portrayed, as is his conversation later with Doctor Strange about the fate of The Order of the Web, Norman Osborne’s sinister encounter in the bowels of Ravencroft is steeped in horrific menace, and Kindred looks absolutely terrifying. Overall I was  really impressed with the style of Patrick Gleason’s work on this issue of Amazing Spider-Man and look forward to seeing more.

Nick Spencer’s run on Spider-Man has had its ups and downs for sure, the early optimism and back to basics approach of the relaunch did go on to get bogged down in a deluge of seemingly unrelated events and crossovers, but for the most part I’ve enjoyed the majority of Spencer’s run and Amazing Spider-Man #50 really sets the series back on a more even keel — more so perhaps than even last issues super-sized 850th extravaganza.

Aside from brining two years’ worth of plotlines to fruition, what really makes Amazing Spider-Man #50 stand out is how Kindred’s gruesome agenda  begins to take shape as this skin-crawlingly disturbing villain steps from the shadows for the first time. Nick Spencer has teased us for a while now as Kindred Spider-Man’s life, watching, waiting and plotting. Amazing Spider-Man #50 is an excellent milestone issue, elements of Spencer’s run begin to slot into place to reveal a much wider picture as Kindred’s identity is uncovered, and its a bombshell of a revelation that is sure to rock Spider-Man’s world to the core! 

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Nick Spencer / Artist: Patrick Gleason

Colorist: Edgar Delgado / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramanga

Cover: Patrick Gleason and Morry Hollowell

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 #100 Review

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Batman #100

Review by Paul Bowler

Life changing events await the Dark Knight in Batman #100 as Joker War reaches its thrilling finale courtesy of the dynamic creative team of writer James Tynion IV, artist Jorge Jimenez and colorist Tomeu Morey. The fate of Gotham City hangs in the balance as Batman reaches his epic showdown with the Joker at ACE Chemicals, the outcome will change Gotham forever, and the aftermath will herald a bold new era for Batman and his allies!

James Tynion IV deftly juggles an ensemble cast of Bat-characters and numerous ongoing plot strands in Batman #100, with Batgirl revisiting her role as Oracle in the iconic Clocktower to coordinate the Bat-Families efforts by initiating latent protocols in the Bat-Computer and broadcasting a message of hope to Gothamites while Nightwing leads the fight against Joker’s marauding goons on the streets alongside Red Robin, Batwoman, Red Hood, Spoiler, Orphan, and Signal. I’m really pleased that Dick Grayson is finally back as Nightwing at last, especially now the whole Ric Grayson fiasco is out the way, and his banter with Barbara is a joy to behold here. Commissioner Bullock also steps up to the plate too; putting career on the line to keep GCPD in the fight to save Gotham.

Of course the main event of this landmark issue is Batman’s confrontation with the Joker at ACE Chemicals. The Clown Prince of Crime has donned his own Jokerized next-gen Bat-Suit for the occasion, and he’s even brought a present to the party to taunt the Dark Knight – Alfred’s weaponised corpse! Batman’s eternal conflict with the Joker has been elevated into a frightening theatre of war over the course of James Tynion’s Joker War story-arc – quite literally in some instances — and Tynion skilfully delivers a refreshingly new slant on the familiar tropes that inevitably resurface when Batman and Joker clash so spectacularly as this. The Joker really manages to push Batman’s buttons this time around though, finally getting the chance to really twist the knife just for good measure, before a wild card enters the fray and forces the Dark Knight to make a game changing choice that I feel won’t be as easy to walk away from once the dust has settled.

Joker War has seen some amazing work grace the pages of Batman from artist Jorge Jimenez and colorist Tomeu Morey, and with Batman #100 they’ve certainly gone that extra mile to make this issue extra special. Jimenez’s richly detailed artwork and dynamic page layouts convey the action at a break-neck-pace. Batman’s showdown with the Joker is all boiling vats of chemicals, brutal combat, and frightening horror — both psychological and physical. Alfred’s weaponised corpse is also chillingly macabre and looks like something that’s just shambled out of a Re-Animator movie. Other highlights include Oracle back in the Clocktower, the Bat-Family fighting Joker’s forces on the streets of Gotham, and Nightwing’s face-off with Punchline are all especially standout moments as are the vivid colors and hues by Tomeu Morey which bring a startling clarity to a fire ravaged Gotham gripped by chaos, the oppressive shadows of ACE Chemicals look more sinister than ever, whilst gleaming tones from Bruce’s futuristic dreams for the Bat legacy become a maniacal twinkle in the Joker’s eye, and the fiery finale is awash  with the bittersweet hopes and shades of the new dawn waiting on the horizon.

In the aftermath of Joker War writer James Tynion manages to wrap things up with considerable style. There’s no attempt to pull the wool over out eyes. As is the way with most comic book ‘events’ nowadays everything and nothing changes in almost equal measure,  corruption in Gotham may been exposed on every level, but the ambiguities of Joker’s fate are unashamedly  glossed over to leave things open-ended, there’s a funeral for a dear friend, and we even get a tantalising glimpse of Gotham’s newest vigilante and rival to Batman – the Ghost Maker! 

If all that wasn’t enough Batman #100 also features two back-up stories, both written by Tynion. Intervention, with art by Carlo Pagulayn, inks by Danny Miki and colors by Tomeu Morey features the first meeting between Batman and Clownhunter. The reveal of Clownhunter’s true identity wasn’t quite what I was expecting, if anything it had an almost Robin-in-waiting tone to it, and it will be interesting to see where Tynion takes this interesting — if somewhat messed-up — character next. Dead Ringers features art by Guillem March and colors by Tomeu Morey, and shifts the focus towards Punchline in the aftermath of Joker War. I‘m not a huge fan of  Punchline, her character has slowly grown on me over the course of Joker War, but unfortunately this tale proved rather underwhelming and was easily the weakest out of the two back-up stories in this issue.

The only criticism I can really level at Batman #100 is that the requisition of the Wayne fortune feels little more than a sidebar to the main action and isn’t really explained in any detail at all. As for Joker War itself, well, as comic book events go, I think it turned out rather well. Some might argue that it was just a series of big set-pieces with scant narrative content and that James Tynion was writing solely for the omnibus / trade collection. To a degree, Joker War certainly reads better as a whole, but the story is far more than the sum of its parts. Joker War has examined the dark schism between Batman and Joker from an entirely fresh perspective, its shaken up the status quo, reunited the Bat-Family, and tackled the emotional fallout from Alfred’s death in a way that finally brings some meaning to his senseless demise during Tom King’s run.

Joker War reaches a powerful, emotional and action-packed conclusion with this outstanding issue — and overall I think Joker War can be considered a rousing success on practically every front. James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey have excelled themselves with Batman #100, they’ve revitalised DC Comics flagship Batman book in every conceivable way, and I can’t wait to see where this teams run on Batman will take the Dark Knight and his allies next.

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artists: Jorge Jimenez / Gillem March / Carlo Pagulayan

Inks: Jorge Jimenez / Gillem March / Danny Miki

Colors: Tomeu Morey / Cover: Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey

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

Juggernaut #1 Review

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Juggernaut #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

Cain Marko returns in Juggernaut #1, Marvel’s brand new five part mini-series from well renowned X-Men scribe Fabian Nicieza (X-Force, Deadpool) and acclaimed artist Ron Garney (Captain America, Daredevil).

Done with letting other people pick up the pieces Cain Marko is getting his life back on track by working for Damage Control and putting his destructive talents as the Juggernaut to  good use. With the assured hand of writer Fabian Nicieza at the helm Juggernaut #1 quickly sets the stage for the tone of this series right rom the outset. Nicieza presents a far more sympathetic take on the character of Cain Marko, which is immediately refreshing as Juggernaut has often been portrayed somewhat one dimensionally in the past (having suffered years of abuse by his father, been rendered powerless, or hurt, familiar tropes usually see him written as just a raging, unstoppable powerhouse), and the end result is as solid character piece that elevates Juggernaut   to a whole new level.

The story itself is straightforward enough. While on a demolition job in a run down neighbourhood Juggernaut encounters a group of homeless teens, but when one of them exhibits super-powers and gets injured he decided to help out and become something of a mentor to her while she recovers in hospital. Fabian Nicieza cleverly weaves the core narrative of this series through the conversations between Juggernaut and D-Cell in the hospital, with pacy, wry dialogue highlighting just how lost both of them are in the difficult junctures of their lives, and it is here that Juggernaut finds the sense of purpose he’s been looking for to become a more positive force in the world.

Juggernaut #1 features some great artwork by Ron Garney that perfectly captures the soul-searching mood of the issue. Garney balances the raw, overwhelming power of Juggernaut with the moving sincerity of Marko’s wish to help D-Cell, and the bold, heavier, shades and tones employed by color artist Matt Milla works in perfect conjunction with Garney’s expressive, yet understated artwork. Highlights include Juggernaut cutting loose on the demolition site, the flashback to his torturous journey across Limbo and his ultimate sacrifice at The Crossroads, but it is the heartwarming scenes with Marko at D-Cell’s hospital bedside that really make this issue a compelling read.

Nothing can stop the Juggernaut, except himself of course, and the first issue of this new mini-series brings that fact home with all the crystal clarity of a mystic gem. For that is exactly what Juggernaut #1 — with its thought-provoking story by Fabian Nicieza and terrific art by Ron Garney – is, an unexpected little gem in the veritable sea of comic book events dominating the landscape at the moment, and with a startling cliffhanger that isn’t kidding around in the slightest I’ve high expectations for the rest of this mini-series!

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Fabian Nicieza /Artist Ron Garney / Color Artist: Matt Milla

Letterer VC’s Joe Sabino / Cover: Geoff Shaw

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

 

Iron Man #1 Review

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Iron Man #1

Review by Paul Bowler.

Tony Stark decides to get back to basics in Iron Man #1 as Marvel Comics launches a brand new ongoing series from the all-new-creative team of writer Christopher Cantwell, artist Cafu and color artist Frank D’Armata.

Right from the outset its clear writer Christopher Cantwell is aiming for a more refined and contemporary take on the character. While the opening slugfest with Terrax provides us with the necessary prerequisite of Iron Man action, the real nuts and bolts of the issue follows Tony Stark’s attempt to get his life back on track. Reinvesting his billion dollar exit package from Stark Unlimited, along with all the high-tech toys and equally high-profile image is the easy part, recalibrating his life with a 1978 Dodge Aspen, a new pad, and street racing while every CEO, financier and entrepreneur worth their salt has something to pitch to him proves to be a more challenging balancing act for him. Fortunately Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat, arrives to keep Tony grounded. 

Cantwell ensures the pace of the issue flows smoothly while significant refinements to Tony’s life unfold along the way, one could almost say it reads a bit like superhero mid-life-crisis, and the parallel narrative of social media posts peppered throughout brings the scrutiny on Stark’s world into sharper context than ever before. Patsy Walker is another unexpected surprise, one that that totally blindsides Tony during his most soul-searching moments, and she proves t a perfect foil for Stark’s ego as well. Throw in a D-list villain and a threat with biblical connotations and Christopher Cantwell sets up this new Iron Man series in fine style indeed.

The art by Cafu is a real treat as well, rich with detail, expression, and dynamic viewpoints   it makes this issue a veritable feast on the senses. Full framed, overlapping panel layouts allow scenes to shift seamlessly from one to the next, with media interviews, street racing, encounters with old friends and old enemies are all rendered in Cafu’s distinctly lavish visuals and beautifully complemented by color artist Frank D’Armata’s exquisite use of muted pallets, rich tones, and deep shadows. The new Iron Man armor design by Alex Ross is a glorious reinvention of the characters classic look, it even gets showcased with a good old-fashioned suit-up scene, and the overall aesthetic is pleasingly nostalgic yet sufficiently updated enough to make this relaunch feel all the more special as a result.

Much like Tony Stark, this new series suits-up with an upgraded sense of reflection and confidence, quickly finds it feet, and embarks on a bold new era filled with potential. With its excellent and witty storyline by Christopher Cantwell, great art by Cafu, and superb cover by Alex Ross, Iron Man #1 feels like a much needed breath of fresh air for the character, and I’m really excited to see what this new creative team have in store for old Shell-Head in the months to come.

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Christopher Cantwell / Artist: Cafu

Color Artist: Frank D’Armata / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna 

Cover: Alex Ross

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