Posted in reviews

Weekly Comic Book Roundup #14

Hawkman, Vol. 1: Awakening

(Hawkman (2018) #1)

by Robert Venditti (Goodreads Author), Bryan Hitch (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

Carter Hall is Hawkman, the resurrected winged warrior who’s lived a thousand lifetimes. But what happens when one of his past lives comes knocking on his door?

Spinning out of the events of Dark Nights: Metal, Carter Hall returns to the DC Universe! An explorer of the ancient and unknown, Hawkman finds himself embroiled in a long-standing mission to discover the true purpose of his many reincarnations. Carter will race around the globe trying to piece together an ancient prophecy, but will he be able to face down his own past lives lurking around every corner?

Fan favorite writer Robert Venditti (Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, The Flash) is joined by industry superstar Bryan Hitch (Justice League, The Ultimates) to redefine DC’s winged wonder for a new era!

Collects Hawkman #1-6

The Verdict

An amazing deep-dive into the vast history of the DC Universe, readers will thoroughly enjoy learning just how much history Hawkman, aka Carter Hall, has lived through. The character becomes so much more complex and expands what everyone thought they knew of the DC Universe as a whole that this comic book shines a light into the vast darkness that has been plaguing the heroes in recent years. It’s a must-read for any long-time Hawkman fans. 

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Young Justice, Vol. 1: Gemworld

(Young Justice (2019) #1)

by Brian Michael BendisPatrick Gleason (Illustrator), John Timms (Illustrator), Emanuela Lupacchino (Illustrator), Kris Anka (Illustrator), Viktor Bogdanovic (Illustrator), Doc Shaner (Illustrator), Ray McCarthy (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator), Alejandro Sanchez (Colorist), Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Alex Sinclair (Colorist), Chris Sotomayor (Colorist), Hi-Fi (Colorist) 

The Synopsis

Superboy! Wonder Girl! Robin! Impulse! Amethyst! All united in Young Justice! The hottest new super-team, written by award winning author Brian Michael Bendis for his new imprint Wonder Comics!

When the nightmare dimension known as Gemworld invades Metropolis, teen heroes will unite to deal with the situation–but they’re quickly shocked to discover the battle may be the key to the return of Conner Kent, a.k.a. Superboy!

This mix of fan favorites and new legacy heroes will be the center point for some of the biggest goings-on at DC! As if that weren’t enough, Brian Michael Bendis (Superman, Action Comics, Pearl) reunites with all-star artist Patrick Gleason (Superman, Action Comics, Green Lantern Corps) to bring the new heroes of DC’s Wonder Comics to life!

Aimed at providing readers with honest and innovative reading experiences, Brian Michael Bendis’ Wonder Comics is a celebration of the moments of in life when discoveries are made – when purpose and meaning are revealed and destinies are defined. Featuring the young heroes of the DC Universe as penned by all-star creative teams in exciting new adventures that will celebrate the wonders of life, love and comics.

Collects issues #1-6

The Verdict

What a bright, fun new chapter for the DC Universe. While so much of the DC Comics world has become filled with darkness as Doom threatens to consume everything, the Young Justice team showcases a connectivity and humor that few comics are capturing at the moment. The return of heroes like Bart Allen and Superboy, aka Connor Kent, was amazing to see unfold, and seeing Tim Drake take on a leadership role was amazing to see as well. Incredibly written, this is a must-read for longtime DC Comics fans. 

The Green Lantern, Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman

(The Green Lantern (Collected Editions) #1)

by Grant MorrisonLiam Sharp (Illustrator)

The Synopsis

Legendary writer Grant Morrison is taking Green Lantern back to his roots, exploring the popular hero’s role as the universe’s best space cop. It’s Law and Order in space as Hal Jordan encounters a mysterious alien hiding in plain sight, setting off a chain of events that will bring the Green Lantern Corps to its knees!

When Green Lantern Hal Jordan encounters an alien hiding in plain sight, it sets off a chain of events that rocks the Green Lantern Corps to its foundations. There’s an intergalactic conspiracy afoot, and a traitor within the Corps might be pulling the strings… Then, the Earth itself has vanished and been put up for auction to a buyer whose claim may be impossible to break without Hal violating the Lanterns’ most cherished rule!

With vivid new takes on the Controllers, the Darkstars, the Guardians of the Universe and many more Green Lantern enemies and allies drawn from decades of DC Comics, Morrison and Sharp spin an epic tale that ranges from Earth to the farthest reaches of space, starting in The Green Lantern: Intergalactic Lawman, collecting issues #1-6 of the new hit series!

Collects The Green Lantern #1-6.

The Verdict

A visceral, cosmic adventure that puts Hal Jordan into the role of hero and undercover cop all at once, the latest Green Lantern series focuses on one of DC’s most prolific heroes to fill out the role of Green Lantern. Highlighting Hal Jordan’s unique willpower in the face of frightening, horrifying cosmic threats, the new iterations or viewpoints of the Darkstars and the Controllers puts Hal in a truly new position within the DC Universe. 

Doomsday Clock

(Doomsday Clock #1-12)

by Geoff Johns

The Synopsis

The critically acclaimed sequel to the best-selling Watchmen written by master storytellers Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. As the Doomsday Clock ticks toward midnight the final fate of the DC Universe lies in a confrontation between Superman and Dr. Manhattan that will result in the end of everything!

The world of Watchmen collides with the DC Universe in the most shocking story in DC history! Something is amiss in the DC Universe. Following the events of DC Universe: Rebirth and Batman/The Flash: The Button, Geoff Johns (Flashpoint, Justice League, DC Universe: Rebirth) and Gary Frank (Batman: Earth One, Shazam!, DC Universe: Rebirth) reuinite to rewrite the past and future of the DC Universe in a story hailed as a masterpiece!

Seven years after the events of Watchmen, Adrian Veidt has been exposed as the murderer of millions. Now a fugitive, he has come up with a new plan to save his once-adoring world: find Dr. Manhattan. Alongside a new Rorschach and the deadly Mime and Marionette he arrives in the DC Universe and finds it on the brink of collapse. International tensions are running rampant with The Supermen Theory implicating the U.S. government in creating superhumans to maintain global dominance! But what is Dr. Manhattan doing in the DC Universe? And how is he related to the events of DC Universe: Rebirth and The Button? Our heroes will discover these answers all point to one thing. The end.

Collects issues #1-12 of the groundbreaking series

The Verdict

One of the best graphic novels of the Rebirth era, Doomsday Clock brings together the worlds of Watchmen and DC Comics in a truly brutal, gritty yet thought-provoking way. Examining the state of the world as a whole and a hero’s place within it, the story looks into how violence and mistrust can lead to downward spirals within any society, while the larger story of Dr. Manhattan showcases how the DC Universe has evolved and grown over the years and how the simplest change can have dire consequences on the future. The showdown that leads to Superman facing Dr. Manhattan is amazing to see unfold. This is a graphic novel you do not want to miss. 

Superman, Volume 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth

(Superman (2018) #1)

by Brian Michael BendisIvan Reis (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

Iconic creator Brian Michael Bendis finally lands writing the first superhero ever, as Clark Kent battles the alien that blew up Krypton–Rogol Zaar–in this great entry-point graphic novel, Superman Vol. 1!

The fallout from the Man of Steel graphic novel has Clark looking at the world through new eyes…with new ideas about what Superman could and should do for the city of Metropolis and the planet Earth. His first job? Getting the planet back out of the Phantom Zone!

A bold new chapter for the greatest superhero of all time and one of the greatest creators of his generation begins here, as Bendis and artist Ivan Reis begin their run on the all-new SUPERMAN! This graphic novel also serves as a sister series to Bendis’ new run beginning in Action Comics Vol. 1! Collects issues #1-6.

The Verdict

A brand new age of Superman comics, the latest chapter of Clark Kent’s life is an interesting one. Not only is he faced with protecting his adoptive home as it begins to be pulled into the terrifying Phantom Zone and facing a powerful foe in Rogol Zaar, the being responsible for Krypton’s destruction, but he must also contend with his personal life as his wife Lois finds herself in the spotlight and people begin speculating about their relationship, and his son finds himself on his own cosmic journey with a shocking ally. The artwork is incredible and the story really highlights how Superman’s world and stories really connect with the larger DC Universe often. 

Catwoman, Vol. 1: Copycats

(Catwoman (2018) #1)

by Joëlle JonesFernando Blanco (Illustrations), Laura Allred (Colorist)

The Synopsis

Coming off of the wedding of the century to Batman, Selina Kyle stars in an all-new solo series written and illustrated by Eisner Award nominee Joëlle Jones!

The wedding night’s barely over, but Catwoman’s back on the streets, this time to expose a copycat who’s pulling heists around Gotham City. As Selina cracks the whip on her former criminal cohorts, she’s attracting unwanted attention from one of Gotham’s most dangerous groups. The mob? Nope. Try the GCPD. And as if the Bat-Bride didn’t have enough problems, don’t miss the debut of an all-new villain determined to make trouble for all nine of Selina’s lives.

Fresh off of her run on Batman with superstar writer Tom King, creator Joëlle Jones writes and illustrates this dynamic new series. Collects issues #1-6.

The Verdict 

An engaging new chapter in the life of Selina Kyle, fans will be enthralled with Catwoman’s solo comic series. Seeing the character put on appearances within a new city in an effort to hide her pain at being forced to leave the man she loves behind in Gotham, Selina is confronted by a powerful criminal leader who challenges Selina’s power and assurance in any situation. Examining her skills as a master thief and a would-be hero, the comic highlights the complexity of the character and looks at her life away from the life of Batman. 

The Punisher, Vol. 1: World War Frank

(The Punisher (2018) #1)

by Matthew RosenbergSzymon Kudranski (Illustrator)

The Synopsis 

You can take the Punisher out of the War Machine… Frank Castle may no longer have the Stark-designed armor, but he has retained his newly acquired taste for “big game” criminal targets – and he’s hungry for more. But the paths to such perilous pursuits are fraught with dangers bigger than any Frank has faced before, and this lone wolf could use powerful help on his way up to the world stage. A delicate situation gets more complicated when Daredevil enters the fray – and he wants to put the Punisher down even more than Frank’s newest foes! Where can the Punisher go from here…but down? Matthew Rosenberg continues pushing the boundaries of the Punisher, now joined by acclaimed artist Riccardo Burchielli for the book that Frank-ophiles will be talking about for years to come!

COLLECTING: THE PUNISHER (2018) 1-5

The Verdict

An exciting, visceral and gritty new chapter in the life of the Punisher, Frank Castle is a man on a mission once more. Seeking redemption of his own making after being tricked into working for HYDRA, Frank finds himself hunting down not mobsters or drug dealers, but Baron Zemo and all those who work for HYDRA. Seeing the Punisher bring his own violent brand of justice to an organization like HYDRA really elevates Frank’s heroics and vigilantism as a whole. Seeing the various heroes of the Marvel universe try to bring Frank in as he causes mayhem and takes out iconic villains will engage fans greatly as the series unfolds. 

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West Coast Avengers, Vol. 1: Best Coast

(West Coast Avengers (2018) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Kelly Thompson (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Stefano Caselli (Illustrations), Daniele Di Nicuolo (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

The Avengers go West once again – but these ain’t your daddy’s Whackos! A bold new era begins for the mightiest heroes to ever live on the Pacifi c Coast. That means Hawkeye (your favorite one, Kate Bishop)! Hawkeye (the other one, Clint Barton)! America Chavez! Kid Omega! Gwenpool! And a guy named Fuse! Wait, what? That’s right, these are the new West Coast Avengers. And you better hope they can figure out how to save the world, and fast -because big things are headed for their part of the planet! Including the attack of the 50-foot werewoman – better known as original WCA member Tigra! The West Coast Avengers are back, and you’re going to love what comes next!

COLLECTING: WEST COAST AVENGERS 1-4, YOUNG AVENGERS PRESENTS #6, THE UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL #1 

The Verdict

A fun, hilarious, and action-packed new chapter in the lives of Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) and her allies, fans are going to love this limited series. The humor of characters who fans never would have imagined being on a team together, especially Quentin Quire and Gwenpool, is felt on every page of this series, and the exploration of crime and misadventures from villains on the West Coast is a unique change of pace for the Marvel heroes. The brief revival of the West Coast Avengers is a fun read that is not to be missed. 

Uncanny X-Men: X-Men Disassembled

(Uncanny X-Men (2018) #1)

by Matthew Rosenberg (Text), Ed BrissonKelly Thompson (Goodreads Author), Mahmud Asrar (Illustrator)

The Synopsis

The flagship X-Men title that started it all is back — bigger and better than ever! Why is the X-Men’s newest crisis shaping up to be…their final adventure?! It all starts with a mysterious and tragic disappearance, but their investigation draws the X-Men into a much larger — and deadlier — situation! Who or what are the Four Horsemen of Salvation, and what is their connection to Nate Grey, the incredibly powerful mutant known as X-Man? Will Nate’s home dimension, the Age of Apocalypse, make its horrifying return? Or does the dawn of the Age of X-Man mean the end of the Uncanny X-Men?! It’s a statusquo- smashing story that just might leave all of mutantkind in tatters, and it will take three fan-favorite writers to deliver the mutant madness!

COLLECTING: Uncanny X-Men (2018) 1-10

The Verdict

A powerful first chapter in the latest “final stand” for the X-Men, as they face an all-powerful Nate Grey as he gets set to reshape the planet into his own image, bringing about his own brand of “peace”. As the X-Men face not only their end but all of Earth’s end as well, they will have to come together to show the world why mutants deserve equality, not hate. Yet Nate’s attacks make this mission more challenging than ever, and fans are able to see how the frustration and pain being alienated is starting to affect the X-Men. A great way to look at how the X-Men team has evolved and grown over the years. 

Mr. and Mrs. X, Vol. 1: Love and Marriage

(Mr. & Mrs. X #1)

by Kelly Thompson (Goodreads Author), Oscar Bazaldua (Illustrator), Terry Dodson (Illustrator), David López (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

To the surprise of everyone, the Marvel Universe’s hottest couple has tied the knot! But there’s no time to enjoy wedded bliss when ROGUE and GAMBIT find themselves tasked with protecting a mysterious package that just about everyone in the galaxy is trying to steal. What secrets does this package hold that everyone from the Imperial Guard and the Starjammers to Technet and Deathbird (with an entire Shi’ar rebellion in tow!) will risk everything for?! Perhaps more importantly, is there anything worse than DEADPOOL crashing your honeymoon?

COLLECTING: MR. AND MRS. X 1-6 

The Verdict

Hilarious, action-packed, and romantic, this incredible X-Men read focuses on two of the most beloved and complicated heroes within the mutant community, Rogue and Gambit. Their on and off relationship takes new heights as they finally tie the knot, but marriage doesn’t end the complications of their life. From Deadpool making his way onto their honeymoon in space to secret X-Men missions nearly ending the marriage before it starts, this series does a fantastic job of exploring the complex nature of these two hero’s lives as well as how amazing they function as a unit together. 

Fantastic Four by Dan Slott, Vol. 1: Fourever

(Fantastic Four (2018) #1)

by Dan SlottSara Pichelli (Illustrations), Stefano Caselli (Illustrations), Nico Leon (Illustrations), Simone Bianchi (Illustrations), Skottie Young (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

The wait is over! The Thing, the Human Torch, the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic – the fi rst four heroes of the Marvel Age of Comics -are about to be reunited! Nothing is impossible anymore. Anything can happen. It’s time. Jump in and be part of the grand return of the greatest family in the Marvel Universe! As an event occurs that will forever change the Fantastic Four, the next chapter begins in the life of Victor Von Doom. Meanwhile, Alicia Masters adopts two kittens. And no, they’re not Skrulls. They’re two normal, everyday kittens! FANTASTIC FOUR is a book about the grand, cosmic wonder of the Marvel Universe. It’s also about family and real life. And people get pets. Stop obsessing about Alicia’s kittens.

COLLECTING: FANTASTIC FOUR 1-4

The Verdict

After being apart for years after the events of Secret Wars, the Fantastic Four are back together again. As Johnny and Ben miss their friends and family, Reed and Sue are traversing the new multiverse as their son Franklin Richards helps create these new universes, while Valeria and the Future Foundation record and analyze the inhabitants of these universes. Soon the Fantastic Four are pulled back together by a powerful, multiversal threat, while Ben takes a giant step to take his relationship with Alicia to all new levels. The rebirth of the Fantastic Four’s world and their adventures throughout time and space are a welcome treat as Marvel witnesses the return of the world’s first superhero family. 

Death of the Inhumans

(Inhumans in Chronological Order #38)

by Donny CatesAriel Olivetti (Illustrations)

The Synopsis

The alien Kree are on a killing spree, leaving behind a message: Join or die. Thousands of Inhumans have already made their choice – the evidence floats bleeding in space. Attilan died screaming without its king. Now Black Bolt, monarch of the Inhumans, sets out for vengeance – and leads the last of his people to their deaths. For the Kree have a weapon of their own…one that will teach the Silent King what it truly means to be voiceless. It’s an Inhuman massacre as rising star Donny Cates and sensational artist Ariel Olivetti bring the Inhumans to the lowest point in their long and storied history – and quite possibly their last!

COLLECTING: DEATH OF INHUMANS 1-5

The Verdict

Facing their own extinction, the Inhuman survivors, including members of the Royal Family, must avenge their people as the Kree set out to destroy their long lost creations. Black Bolt is pushed to his limits and has his willpower and power set tested in more ways than one. The brutality and shocking discovery of a new enemy makes this series stand out and gives a whole new context to the mythology of the Inhumans. A must-read. 

Captain America by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Vol. 1: Winter in America

(Captain America (2018) #1)

by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Writer), Leinil Francis Yu (Illustrations), Gerry Alanguilan (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator)

The Synopsis

It’s winter in America! For over 70 years, Captain America has stood in stalwart defense of our country and its people. But in the aftermath of Hydra’s takeover of the nation, Cap is a figure of controversy, carrying a tarnished shield…and a new enemy is rising! Who are they? And how do they intend to co-opt and corrupt the symbol that is Captain America? Distrusted by a nation that seems to have lost faith in him, Steve Rogers is a man out of time – and out of options! Where can a now-unsanctioned Captain America turn for aid and assistance in order to stem the rise of the cabal of influence brokers known as the Power Elite? Join acclaimed BLACK PANTHER scribe Ta-Nehisi Coates for the next chapter of Captain America’s life!

COLLECTING: CAPTAIN AMERICA 1-6, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2018 (AVENGERS/CAPTAIN AMERICA) 1 (CAPTAIN AMERICA STORY)

The Verdict

Readers will be enthralled and engaged with this all-new chapter in the story of Captain America. Getting to see Steve Rodgers face a world now that distrusts him and his heroism after a HYDRA copy of himself tarnished his reputation by nearly destroying the world gives this new series an added element of drama that balances out the action. It is definitely a series that plays upon the state of our world as it stands now, and is a great read overall. 

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Doctor Strange by Mark Waid, Vol. 1: Across The Universe

(Doctor Strange (2018) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Mark WaidJesus Saiz (Illustrations), Javier Pina (Illustrator)

The Synopsis

The Eye of Agamotto is closed! Doctor Stephen Strange has lost his connection to the Earth’s arcane power, and he can’t wait to recover while nightmares press against the seams of our reality. Tony Stark offers a 21st-century solution: when astral travel fails, try astronautical travel. Enter Doctor Strange: Space-Explorer Supreme! New spells, allies and enemies–new and old–await Strange beyond the stars, along with corners and secrets of the Marvel Universe, seen here for the first time! Space is endless, but time is short. After years of threats, Stephen’s bill for magic use is coming due–who will come to collect?!

COLLECTING: DOCTOR STRANGE 1-5

The Verdict

Stephen Strange has been a master of mysticism for years, but now the Sorcerer Supreme is put into a whole new position as he must find magic throughout the cosmos. Seeing Stephen’s journey of discovery and the various new magical elements within the universe of Marvel Comics is a creative twist on the Doctor Strange mythos and welcome addition to the Marvel Universe. 

Posted in reviews, Weekly Comic Book Roundup

Weekly Comic Book Roundup #3

DC Comics: Bombshells, Vol. 1: Enlisted

(DC Comics: Bombshells #1)

by Marguerite BennettMarguerite Sauvage (Illustrator), Ming Doyle (Illustrator), Laura Braga (Illustrator), Maria Laura Sanapo (Illustrator), Marc Deering (Illustrator), Stephen Mooney (Illustrator), Ted Naifeh (Goodreads Author) (Illustrator) , Garry Brown (Illustrator), Mirka Andolfo (Illustrator), Bilquis Evely (Illustrator), Sandy Jarrell (Illustrator)

Synopsis

In these stories from issues #1-6 of the hit series, learn the story behind this alternate reality where the Second World War is fought by superpowered women on the front lines and behind the scenes! It all begins with the stories of Batwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl.

Verdict

One of the strongest alternate reality worlds of the DC Universe. Getting to see the women of the DC Universe not only shine and showcase their heroism in their own series but to do so in a setting that was not known for recognizing strong women made this a wonderful read. In an age where feminism and equality are being fought for so strongly and women are more recognized now than ever before, it is important not to give up and relent in the face of adversity, and that is what this comic proves as it delves into the alternate lives of some of DC’s greatest heroes, from Mera and Batwoman to Zatanna and Wonder Woman herself. This is a must read for anyone who loves seeing empowered female characters take charge and fight against injustice and hatred with love, compassion and heroics like no other, and is the perfect introduction into this alternate world. 

Harley Quinn, Volume 1: Die Laughing (Harley Quinn (2016) #1)

by Amanda Conner (Writer, Artist), Jimmy Palmiotti (Writer)

Synopsis

Harley Quinn is back in this new jumping-on point Vol. 1 graphic novel from DC Rebirth!

Her name is Dr. Harleen Quinzel, better known to her friends and enemies as playful-but-deadly Harley Quinn. Her ex-boyfriend, the Joker, may be the Clown Prince of Crime, but Harley’s the Queen of Coney Island! So when a zombie apocalypse threatens her li’l seaside stretch of paradise, who else would ya call to save your butt?

In these action-packed pages, the baddest bad girl in the entire DC Universe joins forces with everyone from her gal-pal Poison Ivy to the leading lights of the New York City punk scene to take down anyone who stands between her and a good time–living, dead or undead.

The Harley Quinn powerhouse team of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti joins forces with artists John Timms and Chad Hardin and draft a new beginning for DC’s craziest anti-hero in HARLEY QUINN VOL. 1: DIE LAUGHING. Collects HARLEY QUINN #1-7.

Verdict: 

It’s easy to see why Harley Quinn has quickly become DC’s most popular anti-hero, brandishing her own unique sense of whacky shenanigans and never give up attitude. With a humor and wit that definitely harkens to another comic book anti-hero (Deadpool people!), the comic book does a great job of not only providing outrageous comic book action and hilarious moments between the cast of characters, but subtly hints at the core strength of Harley Quinn being the family she has created for herself in the wake of her evil ex’s hold on her finally letting her go. It’s a great way to introduce the character into the Rebirth era and a fantastic book to jump into if you are just starting to read Harley’s stories. 

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New Avengers, Volume 1: Everything Dies

(New Avengers (2013) (Collected Editions) #1)

by Jonathan Hickman (Writer), Steve Epting (Illustrations), Rick Magyar (Illustrator), Jock (Cover Artist), Frank D’Armata (Illustrator)

Synopsis:

To prevent the collision of our universe with another, the Illuminati must reassemble…NOW!

It’s the most powerful and brilliant team in the Marvel Universe: the Black Panther, Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Black Bolt, Mister Fantastic, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Beast against an infinite legion of parallel realities. Armed with the six Infinity Gems, the Illuminati gather to plan for the death of everything…but their task is complicated by old wounds, lies and secret agendas. But when the Illuminati experience their first dimensional incursion, can this loose brotherhood of end times trust each other enough to use the Infinity Gems in unison? And what new member will join the group? Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting revamp The New Avengers in a multiverse-spanning saga!

CollectingNew Avengers 1-6

Verdict

A fantastic introduction into the Illuminati’s return in the Marvel Universe, and the road that leads to the inevitable Secret Wars story. The story of this group of individuals who are not only collectively the most intelligent people on Earth, but are willing to go to dark places that the other heroes aren’t in order to save their universe from utter destruction, is such an engaging and phenomenal character study of the Marvel Universe as a whole. Where do heroes draw the line and fight the impossible, and where do heroes cross the line for the betterment of their world as a whole? That is the amazingly complex question posed by this series, and combined with some gritty and intense artwork, this collection showcases a heavily mythology based storyline that will take the Illuminati members to the farthest reaches of the Marvel multiverse. A must read for any Marvel fan!

All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy 

Written by: Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author) (Writer), 

Art by: John Romita Jr. (Penciler), Danny Miki (Inker), Dean White (Colourist), Steve Wands (Goodreads Author) (Letterer), Declan Shalvey (Artist), Jordie Bellaire (Colourist)

Synopsis:

A part of DC Universe: Rebirth!

The #1 New York Times best-selling author of Batman returns to the Dark Knight in All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy! But he’s not alone. Critically acclaimed, legendary illustrator John Romita, Jr. joins him on this epic new series!

In this new graphic novel, Batman finds himself trying to help old friend Harvey Dent…now known as the villainous Two-Face! The Dark Knight accompanies his foe on a cross-country trip to fix his scarred face and hopefully end the Two-Face identity forever. But when the former Gotham City D.A. sets his plan into motion to free himself, what deadly secrets from the past will bubble to the surface?

One of the biggest creative pairings in DC Comics history share their take on one of the greatest heroes ever in All-Star Batman, Volume 1: My Own Worst Enemy!

Verdict:

This is a Batman pushed to the very edge and into the darkness like we’ve never seen him pushed before. The gritty nature of the artwork punctuates the dark nature of Batman’s battle to save the man behind the monster, Harvey Dent, as Two-Face threatens to tear Gotham apart. It’s also Batman at his lowest, as both villains and allies turn against the Dark Knight when Two-Face threatens to reveal the darkest secrets the city has to offer. When the world seems to be gunning for you, how does the Dark Knight remain vigilant in his quest? By sheer determination. The action and heart-pounding drama of the first volume in the All-Star Batman series sets the tone for the mature storytelling the caped crusader is facing going forward, and introduces a new terrifying foe that is sure to give Batman a true test of will and strength in the comics going forward. 

Shazam! Volume 1: 

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by: Gary Frank (Illustrator)

Synopsis

Young orphan Billy Batson has bounced from foster home to foster home, but he’s far from the ideal child. Brash and rude, Billy is a troubled teen that just can’t seem to find a calling. But after a fateful night on a subway car, that all will change.  

Brought to the feet of the magical wizard Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, Billy is imbued with powers beyond any mortal man. By shouting the wizard’s name–Shazam!–the young teen is mystically transformed into the powerhouse known as Captain Marvel! Now given abilities that make him Earth’s Mightiest Mortal at the utterance of a simple phrase, will Billy make the right choices and do what it takes to become a hero? Or will he succumb to the poor choices of youth–and the villainous Black Adam!

Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the team behind the New York Times #1 best-selling graphic novel BATMAN: EARTH ONE, unite to re-invent Captain Marvel as a part of DC Comics–The New 52.  Collected here for the first time ever is the series of back-ups that ran in the pages of Johns’ critically acclaimed JUSTICE LEAGUE.

Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #0, 21 and stories from JUSTICE LEAGUE #7-11, 14-16, 18-20.

Verdict

A fantastic companion graphic novel to the recently released film Shazam!, the comics bring the new story of Billy Bastion to life perfectly. The heartwarming and emotional story of a young foster kid who doesn’t trust anyone must learn to trust in the power of friendship and family as a new evil emerges from the depths and Billy is gifted with a fantastic power. The action is fantastic, as is the artwork. The inclusion of Black Adam gives fans a tease for where the series could go in the DCEU, and gives readers a chance to see the evolution of the character before the film was released. This is a must read DC graphic novel. 

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Dark Nights: Metal

Written by Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author)

Art by: Greg Capullo (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator)

Synopsis

The New York Times bestselling BATMAN writer and artist team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo re-unite in the epic event graphic novel DARK NIGHTS: METAL!

 The Dark Knight has uncovered one of the lost mysteries of the universe…one that could destroy the very fabric of the DC Universe! The dark corners of reality that have never been seen till now! The Dark Multiverse is revealed in all its devastating danger–a team of twisted, evil versions of Batman hellbent on destroying the DC Universe! 

 With appearances from heroes, villains and faces long forgotten, DARK NIGHTS: METAL will examine every choice a hero doesn’t take and every path they don’t walk, and open up worlds that are forged by nightmares. 

  Together on a single title for an outstanding fifty issues, Snyder and Capullo’s award-winning stories BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS, BATMAN VOL. 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY and BATMAN VOL. 7: ENDGAME turned generations of Batman fans into a global horde of Batman superfans. With DARK NIGHTS: METAL, Scott and Greg will build on this strong foundation and broaden the scope of their storytelling to encompass the full expanse of the DC Universe.

 Collects DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1-6.

Verdict

The mythology of the DC Universe gets a horror based, terrifying new twist as the dark multiverse is introduced. The exploration of a multiverse made up of the fears and dark thoughts that creep through the minds of others within the normal multiverse was a genius idea, especially when focused on one of the most selfless heroes in the DC Universe: Batman. A hero who normally always has a plan, the concept of having to battle several evil versions of Batman who conquered their dark universes and have trapped Batman in the dark multiverse, it was chilling and fascinating to see the DC Heroes have to face their darkest fears and witness the near destruction of everything they held dear. From these pages one of the most terrifying new DC villains has emerged, the Batman Who Laughs. A twisted, “Jokerized” version of the Caped Crusader is a chilling thought, and sets up one of the most dangerous threats the DC universe has ever created. This is a must read for any diehard DC Comics fan, as it creates a truly memorable multiversal tale that lines up with tales such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Final Crisis. 

Posted in Interviews

Interview with Travis Smith

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

I got into writing about superheroes and philosophy after reading an article by Adam Barkman published in Comment magazine. I could give that a try, I thought. Why not? Barkman looked at superheroes from a “mythological” point of view; I would prefer to look at them from a somewhat more human perspective. When I discovered an article by Jonathan V. Last in The Weekly Standard that I disagreed with I took it as an opportunity to respond. Last argued for the timeliness of the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman films; I argued that Spider-Man was a better hero for our times, in commemoration of what was then the fiftieth anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance. Little did I know that this one article would lead to an entire book on the subject.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

University professors are asked to find ways to engage in the public dissemination of knowledge. Most of our research is written for an academic audience. How does someone like myself take what I study and teach in the history of political philosophy and make it relevant for a wider audience? Well, if Plato can discuss the popular heroes of his time, whose adventures are depicted in the epic poems of Homer, then why can’t I look into superheroes, whose stories have become popularized lately in so many feature films? I look at them to find out what they might teach us about ourselves and our ideals—who we imagine ourselves to be at our best, or who we would become if only we could be better than we are?

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I’d point to the value of thinking critically about the things we happen to enjoy, and the possibility of thinking critically about ourselves in the process. This is something we can do even with respect to our amusements—the music we like, the TV shows we binge on, the athletes we admire, the vloggers we subscribe to. Focusing on questions of ethics when doing so leads us to wonder: How does thinking about the character of this or that person, whether real or fictional, help me to better understand the worldview and motivations of people similar to them—whether that’s someone I’ve encountered in my private life, or public figures like politicians, leading professionals, or outspoken celebrities? What answers to life’s problems do they represent, and should we heed them? What does whether I like or dislike some particular person or character tell me about myself?

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

In the classroom, I draw on a lot of examples from popular culture in order to make old ideas and arguments seem relevant and familiar to my students. With respect to superhero stories in particular, I’ve read plenty of comic books over the years and re-watched the movies based on them more than enough. I put that hobby to use in Superhero Ethics.

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

I would like to know why Tony Stark doesn’t share his most advanced technologies with everyone—whether they want him to or not. Why not save people from ever needing saving again through upgrades and alterations to the human condition? Not that I would want him to—but I don’t really understand why he doesn’t. That said, I’d be concerned that by pushing him on it I might inadvertently convince him to give it a try, or else stop playing the hero entirely. Either way, better to keep my mouth shut, really. The most interesting line of dialogue to me in Avengers: Infinity War occurs when Thanos tells Iron Man, “You are not the only one cursed with knowledge.” In Superhero Ethics I argue that Tony Stark willfully refrains from drawing the furthermost consequences of his views regarding human nature and our place in the cosmos—including, ultimately, that he himself is insignificant. He struggles with a nagging suspicion that his pride—which is substantial—is vanity, and all of his efforts and sacrifices are offered in vain.

I’d also like to hear Wolverine explain his fascination with Japan. I think it’s because culturally, feudal Japan is practically the exact opposite of present-day Canada. We can be glad that imperial Japan at its worst was ended non-fictionally and still romanticize traditional Japanese society in fiction as representing honor-based society at its best. Still, I’d like to hear Logan’s perspective on it over a few bottles of beer, hoping he’ll call me “bub” at least once—and that I’ll be able to sneak out the back door of the dive bar before the inevitable brawl gets underway.

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Personally, I avoid using social media. I worry that it’s an engine of incivility.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Read. A lot. Read a lot of good books. Even books you imagine you’ll dislike by authors you expect to disagree with. For starters, read about Achilles sulking in his tent in the Iliad if you haven’t already. Also, learn to take criticism well, and be your own harshest critic. Reread everything you write, out loud, and ask yourself if it actually says what you want it to say in the best possible way. Always be revising but recognize that your words will never be perfect. Nothing that you decide today is good enough for now will seem good enough later in retrospect—and that’s okay.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Some people have asked me whether I’ll write about Superheroine Ethics next. Or perhaps Supervillain Ethics. What about something fandom-adjacent, like Pro Wrestling Ethics? Within this genre, I haven’t decided yet. As a professor of political theory, I intend to publish more on the philosophy of Thomas Hobbes, including pieces informed by my analyses of superhero stories, on subjects such as bravery, magic, and the imagination. I’m convinced that Thomas Hobbes himself thinks he’s like a superhero or something.

Bonus/Fun Questions:

Who was your favorite superhero growing up?

On Saturday morning cartoons, I liked Green Lantern best, mainly because of Sinestro. As a teen, I connected most with Rogue. For over a dozen years now though, Ms./Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) has been my favorite. I await her feature film debut in 2019 with great anticipation.

Do you prefer Marvel or DC? Or do you find them to be on equal footing overall?

When I wrote Superhero Ethics, I didn’t just focus on my favorite characters. I wanted the book to be accessible to casual fans and a general readership. I didn’t want it to be accessible only to those of us who have read a hundred thousand comic books. My book might give the impression that I prefer Marvel, but my analyses weren’t decided by my subjective preferences. I tried to give more generous readings to characters who interest me less and be tougher on characters I like most. Speaking personally, I am a fan of both universe’s characters. I started reading comic books as a pre-teen at the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and DC successfully persuaded me to disregard the pre-Crisis multiverse as no longer relevant and too confusing and supposedly unsophisticated. As I have gotten older, however, I have discovered how fantastic Silver Age Superman, Flash, Legion, and Earth-Two stories are. I have also enjoyed exploring DC’s western and war genre comics, too, such as Jonah Hex and Haunted Tank.

Which non-Marvel or -DC hero do you think would fit into the ethical discussion of superheroes? 

Sailor Moon and The Tick were favorites of mine when I was young. Captain Planet probably deserves some critical analysis, too, but I don’t think I could sit through enough episodes to assess the character fully.

If you were to create your own hero based on the ethical discussions raised in your book, what would that hero’s name be, what powers would they have (if any), and what villain/threat would they face to mirror the challenges of our world?

I already have a hero in my wife. [Awwww!] Putting up with me and my hobbies has got to be challenge enough. And who knows what kind of villainy I’d be up to if she wasn’t always asking me, “What are you doing?!?” I try to keep in mind how Aristotle would have told Ajax to listen to Tecmessa.

Thank you, Anthony, for the opportunity to discuss Superhero Ethics with you. I’m glad that you enjoyed the book!

About the Author:
Smith_Travis
Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine. For more information, please visit https://www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero-ethics

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Posted in reviews

Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? By Travis Smith | REVIEW

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Superheroes are one of the biggest money grabbers of the twenty-first century. Fans around the world love flocking to the world’s of Marvel, DC and other comic book publishers who make the most popular comic books, films, television programs and more. Yet there has been one question that has always been on fans minds since the comic book industry began: who is the best of all the heroes? While this has always been a matter of popularity, but author Travis Smith has done something truly spectacular by focusing not on their popularity, but the ethics of each character and comparing it to our society today and what we truly need in a hero. That’s what makes Superhero Ethics: 10 Comic Book Heroes; 10 Ways to Save The World; Which One Do We Need Most Now? such an incredible read. Here’s the synopsis:

Whether in comic books or on movie screens, superhero stories are where many people first encounter questions about how they should conduct their lives.

Although these outlandish figures—in their capes, masks, and tights, with their unbelievable origins and preternatural powers—are often dismissed as juvenile amusements, they really are profound metaphors for different approaches to shaping one’s character and facing the challenges of life.

But, given the choice, which superhero should we follow today? Who is most worthy of our admiration? Whose goals are most noble? Whose ethics should we strive to emulate?

To decide, Travis Smith takes ten top superheroes and pits them one against another, chapter by chapter. The hero who better exemplifies how we ought to live advances to the final round. By the end of the book, a single superhero emerges victorious and is crowned most exemplary for our times.

How, then, shall we live?

How can we overcome our beastly nature and preserve our humanity? (The Hulk vs. Wolverine)

How far can we rely on our willpower and imagination to improve the human condition? (Iron Man vs. Green Lantern)

What limits must we observe when protecting our neighborhood from crime and corruption? (Batman vs. Spider-Man)

Will the pursuit of an active life or a contemplative life bring us true fulfillment? (Captain America vs. Mr. Fantastic)

Should we put our faith in proven tradition or in modern progress to achieve a harmonious society? (Thor vs. Superman)

Using superheroes to bring into focus these timeless themes of the human condition, Smith takes us on an adventure as fantastic as any you’ll find on a splash page or the silver screen—an intellectual adventure filled with surprising insights, unexpected twists and turns, and a daring climax you’ll be thinking about long after it’s over. 

This is truly one of the most unique books I’ve read this year. The deep analysis of each of these well known heroes and the complexities of each character’s heroic actions and their motivations is something that’s always fascinated me. Yet never before has someone so articulately brought these issues to the forefront of the comic book industry and given audiences a deeper connection to these heroes as Travis Smith has done.

The book allows audiences to really analyze the motivations these characters have for taking on the mantle of hero, and whether or not their actions are completely selfless or not. It also compares these heroes and their ethics to our current political climate and gives historical context to these hero’s actions as well. It’s a really interesting and wonderfully different perspective that allows a wider audience as well as die hard comic book fans an opportunity to really understand the heroes they love in a whole new way.

Overall I loved this book. It was entertaining yet educational all at once, delving into political, intellectual, philosophical and of course ethical questions no one usually bothers to ask about the superhero community. Yet the author does a superb job of bringing these issues to light and giving us a chance to look deep within ourselves and determine which hero represents our best, brightest and most ethical hero in the twenty-first century. If you haven’t yet be sure to pick up your copy of Superhero Ethics by Travis Smith today!

Rating: 10/10

About the Author:

Smith_Travis

Travis Smith is the author of Superhero Ethics (Templeton Press). He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of political science at Concordia University. He has been collecting comic books since he bought Uncanny X-Men #207 with his allowance in 1986. His writing has appeared in the Weekly Standard and Convivium Magazine. For more information, please visit https://www.templetonpress.org/books/superhero-ethics

Posted in Movie Reviews, reviews

Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War Review (SPOILER FREE)

It’s all lead to this. Ten years in the making, Earth’s mightiest heroes have finally gathered together to face the MCU’s greatest villain, Thanos. The ultimate architect of the threats faced by the Avengers, the Mad Titan goes on a bloody warpath of destruction across the MCU in the recently released film, Avengers: Infinity War. Here’s the synopsis:

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Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos. On a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones, Thanos plans to use the artifacts to inflict his twisted will on reality. The fate of the planet and existence itself has never been more uncertain as everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment.

To say this film both amazed and stunned me would be a gross understatement. My first reaction of course was this:

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After my initial shock wore off, I realized I had just seen the best MCU film to date. While films like Black Panther, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.2, Captain America Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming all have blown me away with incredible storytelling over the years, this film did something truly unique, and that’s bring a huge, cosmic and company wide comic book event to the big screen. We’ve seen individual stories emerge beautifully over the years in the superhero film realm, but Infinity War took a massive story like Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity and combined both big events into the stuff comic books are made of.

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I have to tread carefully, as I promised not to spoil anything for you guys. I highly recommend you see this film, and if you guys want me to make a separate post talking about the film’s shocking moments and what my theories for the future of the MCU are, then leave a comment down below letting me know. However for the context of this review, I can say that the film was beautifully made. The visual effects of course were brilliant, and getting to see so many heroes and characters interact for the first time was amazing to see. The best scenes featured interactions between the likes of Dr. Strange and Iron Man, Thor and Rocket Raccon, and Scarlett Witch and Vision. These characters stole the show as far as I’m concerned, as did Gamora, who had the biggest connection to Thanos throughout this entire film.

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The performances given by these actors was incredible. Not only did we get the amazing humor we’ve come to expect from these films, but the MCU finally delved into darker storytelling and showed a very visceral, real comic book war unfold. The emotions were running high throughout the entire film, from the movie’s opening scene to the closing credits. Joe and Anthony Russo did a brilliant job directing and bringing this story together, proving they have a profound command on the MCU and it’s overall direction. The film did a great job of connecting to big Marvel Comics moments, left plenty of Easter eggs and theories running to keep fans guessing until the next film, and provided one of the biggest shocks in superhero film history. With only Ant Man & The Wasp and Captain Marvel set to premiere before the big Avengers 4 film, fans will be eagerly anticipating the untitled Avengers movie in hopes of seeing how the first book of the MCU franchise ends.

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I loved this movie. I look back at my time watching this movie, and I can’t find one flaw in it. The villain was fully flushed out, and Josh Brolin did an amazing job of providing an incredible performance as the MCU’s greatest villain to date. The acting and directing was superb, and the overall story was able to do something very few superhero films can do, and that’s shock the audience. If you guys haven’t yet, be sure to see Avengers: Infinity War today!

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