Thank you for joining us in another of Kabooooom’s weekly comic review round-ups! On the docket today are three great reads: Batman ’66 #11, The Walking Dead #114, and Mighty Avenges #1. What are you waiting for? Jump in!
BATMAN ’66 #11 / Written by JEFF PARKER / Art & Colors by JONATHAN CASE / Letters by WES ABBOT / Cover by MICHAEL & LAURA ALLRED / Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
What’s THIS?!?! High-Flying Homburgs Hover Harmfully Over London?! Fedora-Festooned Flunkies Filch The Queen’s Finery?! Yes, the malevolent Mad Hatter wants The Queen of England’s crown (along with the rest of The Crown Jewels) for his collection and only a vacationing Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, in their alter egos of Batman and Robin, can hope to stop the Capped Criminal!
Writer Jeff Parker perfectly captures the essence of the classic Batman television series. One can hear Adam West’s voice as they read the dialogue and the people of London smile as they quickly identify “the American Batman” as he’s dragged through the streets of London by his Bat-Rope.
Questions as to whether there is a British Batman in this universe will have to wait for another day, but the humor of the show remains intact. The comedic highlight involves a helpful bus driver calmly explaining to a pinned Batman that while he’ll gladly let a crime-fighter ride for free, Batman simply MUST do so inside the double-decker bus!
Jonathan Case’s cartoonish style proves a perfect fit for Parker’s script. The actors of the original series are well caricatured and the action flows smoothly and naturally from panel to panel. This is particularly true in the digital edition of Batman ’66, where each click of the mouse reveals a dialogue balloon or sound effect, such as PING PING PING or (perhaps as a nod to the American Batman in England) YANK! Good show, letterer Wes Abbot! Good show, indeed!
Batman ’66 #11 may prove a welcome antidote for those sickened by the parade of abusive childhood tales that seem to have made up the brunt of DC Comics’ offerings during Villains Month. There is no angst or torment to be found here, save perhaps Robin’s nervousness as he attempts to drive the Batmobile through the streets of London and forgets that one drives on the left side of the road in Britain. This book is a fun read, plain and simple.
THE WALKING DEAD #114/ Written by ROBERT KIRKMAN/ Art by CHARLIE ADLARD/ Colors by CLIFF RATHBURN/ Letters by RUS WOOTON/ Published by IMAGE COMICS
Since The Walking Dead began the survivors have been searching for civilization. Initially they hoped to simply stumble upon it, but now it’s become apparent they need to recreate it. And in recreating civilization they have to restart it.
This latest issue, probably more so than any other, firmly establishes a feudal society existing within The Walking Dead. There are encampments of survivors which function like kingdoms, with commerce occurring between them. Each have their leaders and subjects, and now, conflicts. This conflict that’s been brewing between Rick’s group of survivors and Negan’s sadistic “Saviors” is about to become a full scale war. Rick even has allies in two of the neighboring communities, beginning something of a coalition against Negan. It’s fascinating how Robert Kirkman has set this up so seamlessly; perfectly mirroring humanity’s initial attempts at a structured society in this zombie-filled, post apocalyptic wasteland.
And while this is very much Jesus’ issue – not only does he save Rick’s ass, again, but he gives him one hell of a pep talk – Kirkman, though Jesus, makes it quite clear why Rick is such a potent leader. He’s inspiring. And where Negan, like a tyrant, rules through fear, Rick has led survivors with his determination, guile, guts, and when most needed, honesty. Rick is a figure folks will rally behind because he gives them what they need most: Hope.
As for Negan, it’s captivating how Kirkman is able to keep him such an interesting, exhilarating villain. It’s never obvious exactly what Negan will do next, and as what will likely be Negan’s final stand approaches, it’s impossible to know what evil will be done before he’s through. The fact a series barreling passed its 100th issue can still keep readers on the edge of their seats is impressive to say the least.
For the art, it’s flawless as usual. The visual style of The Walking Dead has long been cemented, meaning by now you either love it or hate it. Charlie Adlard gets to do a little bit of everything this issue: brutal fight scenes, intense emotions, and even a little humor; all of which he handles expertly. Again, in classic Walking Dead fashion, the reveals are done so smartly. They always keep big surprises for the left page, ensuring things aren’t accidentally spoiled by glancing at the right while reading. In this issue it’s one well-timed tiger attack, and it is brilliant.
If you’ve left The Walking Dead recently, maybe right before or after its milestone issue, now would be a great time to get back on board. What’s coming next looks to be a real step towards not only civilization, but hopefully, a peaceful one (for the time being, anyhow).
MIGHTY AVENGERS #1/ Written by AL EWING/ Art by GREG LAND/ Inks by JAY LEISTEN/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA/ Letters by CORY PETIT/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Luke Cage and his Heroes for Hire are back at last in Mighty Avengers #1, and it is so good. Al Ewing has set up a good story, balancing out real fun with a question on responsibility, and does so with a well-assembled cast on his hands.
Luke is the headliner, of course, but his team also includes White Tiger, the new Power Man, Monica Rambeau, and the Doc Ock-as-Spider-Man. Ewing sets up natural tensions between the quick-tempered Power Man and Ock, the latter of which remains the worst and more than a little racist. Monica Rambeau is a welcomed addition since she’s lacked a steady gig since NextWave ended. Ewing has her trying to rebrand herself as a nicer hero, moving away from her image as “scary lead coffin lady,” but that no-nonsense, “impress me” attitude is one of the things that makes Monica.
The story puts its focus on Luke, back in business as the leader of Heroes for Hire. He does it all to provide for his wife and daughter, but wonders if acting like a glorified mercenary is all he can do. The ultimate answer seems to be the traditionally heroic one. That while the paycheck is practical, what he really needs to do is ensure that the crazy world he and his family live in is as safe as it can be. For Luke, that means once again leading the Avengers.
In terms of the art there is something of an elephant in the room, and it’s not just the banana-suit Deadpool variant cover. (Really, Marvel? You’re gonna put Deadpool in a banana suit with maracas on the cover of your book headlined by black and Latino characters? You’re gonna go ahead with that? Really? Don’t buy that cover.)
The penciller for Mighty Avengers is none other than Greg Land. For some readers, knowledge of his involvement is enough to make a decision between buying and not buying. Land’s art is as it always is; it’s obvious when he has traced and where exactly he traced from. Monica Rambeau gets the worst of it, of course, being stuck with generic Magazine Woman Grins, but she’s by no means the only victim of Land-ization. His art is a disgusting and wildly uncomfortable distraction, and a shame because Al Ewing’s script really is great fun. With any luck, Land will be off this book before Monica and White Tiger start to laugh alone with salads. Until then, the reader will have to suffer through him. For some, that’s not worth it. For others, he’s a regrettable nuisance on a good book.