BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #7 (of 8)/ Story and Art by SEAN MURPHY/ Colors by MATT HOLLINGSWORTH/ Letters by TODD KLEIN/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
With his mind and body turning against him, Jack Napier is living on borrowed time. In order to save everything he has built before he becomes The Joker again, he must do the unthinkable to save Gotham City from The Neo-Joker, Marian Drews.
There is not much else I can say about this series to the uninitiated, as it goes into its penultimate chapter. Sean Murphy has crafted a story that, in a better world, would set the standard for every Batman comic to come. With an original concept that simultaneously builds upon the long history of its characters, a thrilling script and fantastic artwork, with amazing colors by Matt Hollingsworth and epic lettering by Todd Klein, this is the greatest Elseworlds story since The Dark Knight Returns.
DOCTOR STAR & THE KINGDOM OF LOST TOMORROWS #2 (of 5)/ Story by JEFF LEMIRE/ Art by MAX FIUMARA/ Colors by DAVE STEWART/ Letters by NATE PIEKOS of BLAMBOT/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
Visiting his dying son in the hospital, Dr. James Robinson reflects on his life as the superhero Dr. Star and the choice that forever ruined his family’s life.
Though science-fiction aficionados will likely see the twist of this issue long before it reveals itself, that does not diminish the power of Jeff Lemire’s story. Ably illustrated in a style the evokes the aura of the pulp comics which inspired it, Max Fiumara, Dave Stewart and Nate Piekos deliver a fantastic looking book. This is one trip to the stars that won’t burn you.
ROGUE & GAMBIT #4 (of 5)/ Written by KELLY THOMPSON/ Art by PERE PEREZ/ Colors by FRANK D’ARMATA/ Letters by VC’s JOE CARAMAGNA/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Review by SARAH MORAN
Rogue & Gambit is great. It’s great if you’ve been following these characters for decades and it’s great if this is the first comic series you’ve ever read. It’s so great and so accessible because Thompson has wholly captured what makes Rogue and Gambit such interesting characters. They’re X-Men, but they’re also outsiders; they’re heroes, but both have a past that’s less than heroic. They also share a sardonic attitude about themselves and their powers but never about each other – as Rogue & Gambit #3 makes abundantly clear.
This series has more or less been a therapy session for these two on-again, off-again mutants, and in this issue, they have their breakthrough. Sure, each issue has been leading towards this, but getting to experience each others’ memories – in addition to a little power-swapping – is the cathartic experience neither knew they needed. Now that they have literally seen their relationship through the other’s eyes, they can begin the work necessary to make it last. (Or, y’know, last until Marvel wants to pull them apart again. Ah, comics.)
As a series, Rogue & Gambit has it all – spectacular fight scenes, clever jabs at the past, and quieter, more intimate moments between its two leads. Last issue really went for it in the fights scenes, with Rogue and Gambit squaring off against a cavalcade of clones. In this issue, Perez and D’Armata still bring the action but it’s the moment in which Rogue and Gambit discuss their future that is just exceptional. The honesty Perez is able to convey really sells the scene and D’Armata’s coloring – especially with Remy’s eyes, which have returned to a natural green thanks to the power-swapping – brings the whole moment to life.
Rogue & Gambit #4 may be the best issue yet in an already spectacular series. The whole journey wraps up next issue, and honestly, I couldn’t be more excited to see how it ends.
THE SNAGGLEPUSS CHRONICLES #4/ Story by MARK RUSSELL & BRANDEE STILLWELL/ Pencils by MIKE FEEHAN & GUS VASQUEZ / Inks by SEAN PARSONS & GUS VASQUEZ/ Colors by PAUL MOUNTS & ROSS CAMPBELL/ Letters by DAVE SHARPE/ Published by DC COMICS
Review by ROY BUCKINGHAM
As we enter the fourth chapter of this mini-series, Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles takes a deeply serious and shocking turn, exploring The Stonewall Riots, the truth behind nuclear war and trying to live a normal American life in an era where your lifestyle is not seen as normal. A word of warning for anyone who is LGBTQ or has memories of how serious the Cold War panic was – this issue may hit you in the gut harder than the average reader. However, it is the unexpected twist involving Ms. Allen (the main antagonist of the series, who is fighting for decency and Anti-Communism in Hollywood on behalf of the American Government) that will leave you sucker-punched.
The Chronicles of Snagglepuss has managed to take a simple character who was part of The Yogi Bear Comedy Hour in the 1960s and turn it into one of the most important pieces of social commentary we’ve seen in any medium in years. With only two issues left to go in this series, do yourself a favor and pick it up. Just be emotionally ready for it.
XERXES: THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF DARIUS AND THE RISE OF ALEXANDER #1 (of 5)/ Story and Art by FRANK MILLER/ Colors by ALEX SINCLAIR/ Published by DARK HORSE COMICS
Review by MATT MORRISON
With the forces of Sparta sitting idle due to a holy festival, it falls to the citizens of Athens to save Greece from an invasion by the Persian emperor Darius. Can this rag-tag group of citizens turned soldier save democracy from the world’s largest empire?
This long awaited sequel to the Eisner Award winning 300 will please Frank Miller fans and nobody else. The text is thrilling enough and nobody lays out an action sequence quite like Miller. Unfortunately, there’s nothing really new here – just more of the same intense fighting coupled with lengthy monologues that are Frank Miller’s bread and butter. For some, that will be enough, but there’s little else to recommend it.
The one bright side to this issue is that Miller’s story highlights the accomplishments of the Athenians at The Battle of Marathon, after giving the soldiers of Athens short-shrift in 300. Unfortunately, Miller’s trademark homophobia rears its ugly head again, with the Athenian soldiers making jokes about the Spartans that, while more historically accurate than the lines about “Athenian boy lovers’ in 300, are wholly unnecessary.
The biggest problem with this book is the artwork. Miller’s best days as an artist are behind him and the cartoonish turns of several panels ill-suit the intense story. Alex Sinclair’s colors do little to help matters, brightly emphasizing what might have worked had it been cast in shadow like the original 300.