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. 

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It’s Good to Be Bad:

Why Suicide Squad Excels and Why the Criticism Is Unfounded

*SPOILER Warning* (This review contains some spoilers, in an effort to explain my personal opinion towards this film)

DC’s most anticipated film has finally arrived! Suicide Squad is in theaters, and despite critic reviews panning the film, the blockbuster is set to light up the box office. Better yet, the reviews from general audiences are much more favorable and showcase the excellent power of the star-studded cast.

In the film, Amanda Waller creates a task force made up of the most dangerous criminals in the world to combat threats from the growing metahuman community. Things quickly spiral out of control and the task force must find a way to work together to stop a world shattering evil.

First, I have to say, I love this film. The music, the comic book lore and the incredible cast are all the driving force behind the fantastic film. David Ayer did a marvelous job of bringing his signature gritty filmmaking and the fun, adventure quality of the comic books. So much of this film felt like it was lifted from the pages of the comics themselves, and the performances from Will Smith’s Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Jared Leto’s Joker and Jay Hernandez El Diablo all were fantastic. Perhaps the most frightening character in the film was the cold hearted Amanda Waller, brought to life beautifully by Viola Davis. Her cool demeanor and tough exterior made her the most dangerous villain in the film, which is saying something.

Now in order to dive into my opinions on the film, some spoilers will be discussed. Turn away now if you don’t want to know….

Still here? Ok, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Now the problems I saw “critics” complaining about were the plot, main villain and amount of backstory per character. I had no issues with any of these things, and I’m going to explain why.

The plot was not a wholly original one, yet it worked. The film was not intended to be about the plot, but rather a character study. It was about the characters and their ability (or inability) to work together. The villain of the film turns out to be The Enchantress, an ancient evil witch that possesses June Moon, whom team leader Rick Flagg falls in love with. The Enchantress releases her brother, Incubus, and together they begin building a machine to destroy the human race and take over the world. I love that they added the romance between Flagg and Moon, bc it gave a new depth and motivation to two characters that otherwise may have come across as cold or simple, not complex.

The biggest complaint is that this is an overplayed plot device. To that I have two points. 1, it’s a villain team up comic book movie, so of course the threat is going to be on a global scale. 2, the villain isn’t an overcomplicated one. It’s an evil that wants world domination, and that’s a good thing. While I love Marvel films, they have only had one or two villains I actually like (Loki and Red Skull). The hit Marvel film this summer, Civil War, had no villain to write home about. He was a revenge seeking ex soldier who used old Hydra files to tear the heroes apart, but he didn’t exude a clear and present danger in the film.

The Enchantress is finally a true villain that lives up to her comic book namesake. She’s feral, ruthless and even gets physically involved in the final battle. She was a fantastic first villain in this series, and Cara Delevingne did a wonderful job of bringing her to life.

What I appreciate about DC comics films is the gritty, dark world the films create. I like variety in my films, and while I’m a huge Marvel fan, DC has always been a darker toned comic company, and I like seeing a difference between the two companies playing out on film. The dark, often funny yet emotional tone of this film really kept me entertained.

Finally, the backstory for each character was perfect. It was just enough to keep the audience interested and leave us wanting more from them in future films. If each character was given a 15-20 backstory, the film would be five hours long. Plus, the inclusion of Batman, The Flash and The Joker as background characters was a great call. They added just enough to the film to keep the audience interested and eager to see them more in the future. The Joker was a part of Harley’s character growth, and Leto’s performance has left me excited for more of him in the larger DC universe.

Overall, Suicide Squad was an A+ film. The critics seem to not understand comic book movies, and seem to not have the ability to just enjoy a film for what it is anymore. This isn’t an “Oscar” worthy film, but it’s fantastic nonetheless. I loved the blend of science fiction, real world grit and magic, because that’s what DC Comics has always been about. This is a work of art that I will see over and over again, and I’m so excited for the future of DC films. Be sure to see the film for yourself now if you haven’t yet, and if you did let me know what you thought in the comments below!

@suicidesquadsource
@rockonrequest

Check out my review of Suicide Squad on my official blog over on On Request Magazine!