DIANA: PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS (2020) review

Diana: Princess of the Amazons (DC Comics)

DIANA: PRINCESS OF THE AMAZONS (2020) review

Diana: Princess of the Amazons is available now where all good books are sold!

Eleven-year-old Diana leads an idyllic life on the island of Themyscira. Cut off from the rest of the world, she’s beginning to feel a little alone. Though she has a loving mother and many “aunties,” she is an only child. In fact, she’s the only child on the entire island!

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Nightwing (DC Comics)

NIGHTWING (2016-) #70 review

How many Nightwings does it take for one Joker to strike to get to the real one? Four Nightwings. And that’s not even the punchline-how will Ric interact with the Joker when he’s not quite sure which one of his two memories is the real one…and exactly how dangerous this clown standing before him is?

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Thor (Marvel)

THOR #4 review

Thor #4 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

THOR’S GREATEST ENEMY – AND THE UNIVERSE’S ONLY SAVIOR – REVEALED! The Black Winter is coming – the end of the entire vast universe – and only one entity can stop it. The only one who has survived it before, Galactus the World-Eater, has come to Midgard…in search of a herald for the end of everything.

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Batman (DC Comics)

BATMAN (2016- ) #89 review

Batman #90 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

The mysterious master criminal known only as the Designer once brought together Gotham City’s greatest criminals to plot the perfect crime, and now his plan has been unleashed upon the city in all its might. Batman will go to any length to uncover the grand design, but Catwoman is the one who holds the greatest secret. If Batman wins against the Designer, he will lose everything.

Review

There’s absolutely no denying that James Tynion IV has injected some fresh blood in to the Batman series. four issues in to his run and this feels like the polar opposite to Tom King’s “City of Bane”. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of mission statement and scope.

This latest issue of Tynion’s Batman still feels incredibly rooted in the recent continuity and I’m impressed at his reverence for the relationship between Bruce and Selina.

In fact, this latest issue brings the story full circle back to their relationship but also to the early days of their careers are vigilante and villain.

Leading up to this issue the Tynion run has focussed on setting up The Designer as an “off-screen” villain. Someone pulling the strings of Catwoman, Joker, Riddler and Penguin. But here he finally takes centre stage as the machinations behind his plans are revealed.

The issue plays out partly in the present day, but most in flashbacks as Selina narrates the story of how she and the other A-List villains became involved with The Designer with Tynion finally pulling back the curtain on his new, original character.

The present day scenes remain very much focussed on the emotional fallout of Selina’s involvement and portray some great emotional writing from Tynion as well as equally striking imagery from Jimenez and Morey.

The flashback story allows the creative team to bring the group of villains together and illustrate more of their interactions with each other. I don’t find this is an aspect which has been heavily focussed upon, particularly during the King run on Batman. Yet another example of how Tynion is already differentiating his time with The Dark Knight.

What’s particularly interesting in this issue is seeing versions of these characters in a very early stage of their careers. Catwoman in the purple costume is a great throwback to early appearances by the character and she is able to pull serious focus, even from Joker. The concept of Joker being at an early stage of his career also feels fresh for a character who has arguably been done to death.

With Todd Philips rejuvenating the character on the big screen this feels like a similar reinvention if only for a handful of scenes. Bringing in The Designer and making the focal point of the flashbacks be his plan to help each villain elevate their status gives the issue a great hook. It opens up plenty of new questions around the Joker. Could this be a brand new trigger point in his descent in to madness?

It certainly leaves the read with plenty of lingering questions. As we watch The Designer’s layer burning to the ground, Catwoman narrates “It was my first time seeing what kind of evil he was going to become.” It perfectly embodies the fear that the story harbours.

Outside of the flashbacks there’s still some great emotional impact to the story. Tynion has allowed Bruce and Selina to maintain a grown up relationship particularly as the two confront her involvement in The Designer’s plans.

Rather than break the couple or thrown particularly huge roadblocks to their happiness, Tynion is allowing the characters to confront their issues from an adult perspective. Whilst the issue does leave them on a cliffhanger, it seems that Bruce has learnt to accept her past even when it stands at odds with his ideals.

As always Jorge Jiminez and Tomeu Morey bring their A-game to the look of Batman. There colour palette is particularly striking in this issue as we see the colours of the villains classic costumes.

Verdict

Tynion continues his run on Batman by bringing things full circle back to the beginning. This is brilliantly fleshes out the concept of The Designer as well as adding more layers to the relationship between Bruce and Selina.

8/10

Batman #90 is written by James Tynion IV with pencils and inks by Jorge Jimenez, colours are by Tomeu Morey. Jimenez and Morey also provide cover artwork.

Batman #90 cover art by Jorge Jimenez & Tomeu Morey

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Dying Is Easy (IDW Publishing)

DYING IS EASY #3 review

Dying is Easy #3 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Syd Homes, having just Indiana Jones’d his way out of certain death, finds himself once again up the creek without a paddle. The Ross Brothers, suspects number one and two respectively in the death of joke stealer and general thief Carl Dixon, have just found themselves an alibi—which means Syd’s back on the Most Wanted list. Good thing he’s totally cool under pressure, because getting out of this jam may or may not involve posing as a stuntman… Well, as they say—life is short, comedy is hard, and dying is really f*cking easy!

Dying is Easy is written by Joe Hill, drawn by Martin Simmonds, coloured by Dee Cuniffe and lettered by Shawn Lee.

Review

Firstly, I have to state that I love Joe Hill’s comic book work. Locke and Key is nothing short of genius and is one of my favourite comic runs of all time. That being said, Dying is Easy is not your typical Joe Hill style of book. Dying is Easy follows Syd Homes, a disgraced former detective turned stand-up comedian, who is on the run from the police for the murder of a joke stealing comedian – a crime he didn’t commit. The Joe Hill hallmarks are there; a compelling story and interesting and layered characters, but this book is at its heart a comedy, underlined with a murder mystery plot – a contrast to Hill’s usual horror work.

The book is genuinely funny, from the first panel to the last. There is a running joke throughout the issue with the women all seeming to have an affection for Alan Rickman, a joke laid out in the first page by once character and paid off later by another. The laughs from the dialogue come thick and fast throughout the issue, a testament to Hill’s versatility as a writer. In this issue, Hill mixes the comedy with the plot to successfully move the story forward, something that the second issue lacked and suffered from.

There is a visual gag which begun in issue two and is continued here, where Syd continuously finds himself in ridiculous footwear. The first action sequence is of Syd hanging on to a speeding car wearing bright blue roller skates, which he uses to skate along the side of an oncoming speeding lorry. The chase ends and Syd is confronted by a gun wielding police man, who he speeds past and knocks over, skating away from the carnage. The visual is both ludicrous and hilarious, and Symmond’s rough, sketchy art style combined with Cunniffe’s surreal and bold colours work heighten the absurdity.

While the art and colours work well to highlight the tone of the book, the style can make it quite hard to follow visually. Once or twice I found myself lost in a sequence, and often characters can look completely different from one panel to the next. This isn’t a major fault of the art, and it could even have been done on purpose to mirror the chaos of the plot, but I found it jarring at times. That being said, there is an excellent sequence with each wide panel depicting the different levels of a building. The visual storytelling in this scene and the next are outstanding, and are a testament to the unique storytelling style that the comic book medium is capable of. And oh my, what a dazzling last page!

Verdict

This issue is a significant improvement on the previous, the plot is progressing and I’m fully on-board for the outrageous comedic ride! The questionable art choices do not take away from some really striking visuals and storytelling.


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SUICIDE SQUAD (2019) #3 Review

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Bruno Redondo
Color Artist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Wes Abbott

Review by Max Byrne

Crash, bang, wallop, what an issue! Suicide Squad #3 is a thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish, continuing the extremely high level set by Tom Taylor‘s preceding two issues. a perfect storm of wanton violence, character development and a great showcase for the skillsets of the new members of Task Force X.

Following on from the cliffhanger ending of issue #2, the mission is still very much in the balance, after the explosive actions of Osita put the team in jeopardy. I applaud Taylor’s choice regarding the decision made by Deadshot in this immediate aftermath. It shows the nice handle that he has on the character and his moral compass. Whilst a deeply flawed and at times ruthless killer, the arc that Lawton goes on here is very consistent with the rich history of the character, it feel authentic and right.

This issue is very much the territory of the new team members, with the old stalwarts Harley and Deadshot pushed slightly out of the spotlight. Again, this is the correct choice. Long time readers of the Squad’s exploits will already familiar with what their favourites bring to the table, so by giving the new breed a push, the process of getting to know them is made easier and quicker. Don’t get too attached though, as we all know that the Squad line up has always been somewhat…transient.

The aforementioned new characters are a real breath of fresh air, adding a fresh coat of paint to the proceedings. Powered up newbies such as Jog, Deadly Six and Fin are classics in the making, with so much scope for future missions and adventures heavily featuring them. So new and exciting are they, that in the words of Harley Quinn, “I’m feelin’ a little redundant”. Deadly Six is a favourite of mine, his ability to physically channel the seven deadly sins on to his enemies is really vivid. Whilst his refusal to channel lust due to it being “icky” is noble, one gets the feeling that it won’t be long before everybody is feeling the love!

The art on offer here is once again top notch. Bruno Redondo is doing a masterful job on this title, his work is so full of life and has a hugely kinetic quality to it. Action scenes really explode off the page and take on an almost 3D quality. Taylor certainly has a proven track record when it comes to writing blockbuster action, and he has found the perfect collaborator here in Redondo. I am a huge fan what they are doing here, and hope that the two consistently work together as a Snyder/Capullo style package.

Verdict

Another high quality issue, with plenty to sink your teeth into. A bigger picture is certainly being painted here, with the identity of Lok’s cruel superior destined to end up being a jaw dropping moment. As the issues roll on, it’s clear that along with the “mission of the week” style adventures, we are going to be taken along a journey to bigger things. With the promise of a certain Aussie character returning in issue 4, the team is shaping up very nicely indeed. For a veteran title, the re-invigoration here has been tangible and Suicide Squad is certainly worthy of a seat at the top table.

9/10


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Daredevil (Marvel Comics)

DAREDEVIL #18 review

Daredevil #18 is available now where all good comics are sold!

Synopsis

Matt must come to terms with what Daredevil truly means. And he better do it soon, as a new and deadly foe makes a decisive return…

Review

I have been a huge fan of Chip Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil so far, and the ‘Through Hell’ arc in particular has been thoroughly intriguing. The stakes are high as DAREDEVIL, Cole North and the Libris crime family all race to rescue the kidnapped Granddaughter of Izzy Libris, perpetrated by The Owl.

Chip Zdarsky weaves a wonderful and tense story, supported up by the fantastic art of Jorge Fornes who seems to be channelling his inner David Mazzucchelli. Zdarsky sets the stakes in the first 4 pages with emotional outbursts in the scene with the Libris Family and a calculated appeal from Detective Cole North – a character quickly becoming one of my favourites – to his peers. There is a child missing and we must find her.

The panel layouts work well to pace the scenes and build tension, as we zoom in closer and closer to Det. North’s face as he makes his speech, Fornes doing a stellar job with his acting work. A scene later Daredevil, in white shirt with white cloth mask, and Det. Cole speed off in to the rain to rescue the child. I am convinced that the officer Det. North leaves behind is a rendition of Chip Zdarsky!  

The tension continues to build during the chase – rain is pouring from the heavens, Daredevil is using his enhanced hearing to locate the whereabouts of the kidnappers, the colour palette has shifted where alarming reds now prominent. However the climax of the pursuit falls flat, failing to deliver a satisfying culmination of the tension which was so well laid, the situation being resolved in typical Daredevil fashion. I feel that the situation itself had no bearing on the story. That being said the art and the storytelling cannot be faulted and the last page reveal has left me yearning for the next issue.

What I have really enjoyed about this book is the character development. The Owl has been elevated from low lever gangster to a dreaded and dangerous mob boss. One powerful panel in this issue emphases this, wonderfully and harrowingly drawn by Fornes, and I will not spoil. Wilson Fisk has gone through a different journey. Once feared and respected as the Kingpin of Crime, he is now a broken, limp puppet to those above him, emphasised by the one page and two lines that that he is granted in this issue in which he is bed ridden, the reader and camera looking down on him. I am very excited to see what Zdarsky does with these two characters and the inevitable rise of the Kingpin once again.

Verdict

Overall great storytelling and genuinely tense, but an anti-climactic where it counted. The art from Fornes is stellar and is perfect for a Daredevil book. As a final issue to an arc it works well, upping the stakes and setting up future conflicts. I enjoyed the whole arc and great character development and final page reveal saved this issue for me.

7/10 (9/10 if that was a Zdarsky cameo!)


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