THE FLASH #49, BATGIRL #24 & MORE [Mini-Reviews]

Batgirl #24 Cover

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BATGIRL #24/ Story by SHAWN ALDRIDGE/ Art by SCOTT GODLEWSKI/ Colors by JOHN RAUCH/ Letters by DERON BENNETT/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

When an old friend asks for help in making sure a classmate isn’t getting involved in shady business, Barbara Gordon is all too happy to help. What she discovers as Batgirl involves a bit more than “shady business”, however, as she uncovers a plot by Two-Face and a sinister revenge scheme. But who is double-crossing who?

This is a rather odd comic, all things considered. The artwork by Scott Godlewski is oddly intricate when it comes to depicting a gang of hipster drug-dealers and their ornate beards early on, yet the artwork involving Batgirl herself seems to lose detail in several panels. Shawn Aldridge’s script delivers a thrilling story, but something seems off about Barbara’s internal monologue. That said, the color and lettering are good and consistent. In the end, Batgirl #24 is a serviceable one-shot, but little more than that.

 

Detective Comics #983 Cover

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DETECTIVE COMICS #983/ Story by BRYAN HILL/ Pencils by MIGUEL MENDONCA/ Inks by DIANA EGEA/ Colors by ADRIANO LUCAS/ Letters by SAL CIPRIANO / Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

Batman seeks out Jefferson Pierce (a.k.a. Black Lightning) as part of an effort to form a new team of superheroes that can operate quietly outside of the sorts of adventures The Justice League handles. At the same time, a new villain begins targeting Batman’s sidekicks, in the belief that Batman has grown weaker as he’s come to work with other people.

Bryan Hill tells two fantastic stories here, capturing the essence of Jefferson Pierce in one story while crafting an interesting new villain in the other. There’s a brilliant metatextual conceit at play here, with the new villain sounding like every old-school, gate-keeping Batman fan who misses the “good old days” from the late 1980s when Batman was a dour Dark Knight who worked alone and decries the current state of affairs with a revived Bat Family.

Miguel Mendonca works some nice visual irony into the art, with Batman listening to the villain’s pre-recorded ranting about him needing to become a creature of the night once more, as Batman is chasing a robber’s getaway car in full view of several dozen witnesses. Naturally, all of them are snapping pictures of Batman on their phone. Ignoring that, the artwork looks excellent throughout.

The only sour note is a continuity glitch, with Black Lightning being described as a Metropolis native when the recent DC Rebirth revival of the character showed him being based in Cleveland.  Despite this, this is a solid start for the new creative team.

 

The Flash #49 Cover

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THE FLASH #49/ Story by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON/ Art by HOWARD PORTER/ Colors by HI-FI/ Letters by STEVE WANDS/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The great chase between Barry Allen and Wally West has attracted the attention of ARGUS, The Justice League and The Titans, as the shockwaves through The Speed Force threaten all reality!  The real danger is yet to come, however, as Wally West seeks to break The Speed Force open to save his children, who are lost in time according to the villain Zoom… but can Zoom be trusted? And if not, what is his game?

There’s quite a lot to unpack in this issue regarding the nature of The Speed Force – particularly in the wake of the recent issues of Justice League and the No Justice mini-series. I can’t say too much for fear of spoiling the story, but fans of those series would do well to check this issue out to compare/contrast the information on the changing DC Universe cosmology. Ignoring that, Joshua Williamson spins one heck of a ripping yarn, though one wonders how Wally West could ever believe anything Zoom tells him, no matter how impatient he is for a solution.

Howard Porter’s art isn’t quite as strong as the story. Porter is a fine artist and the action sequences look fantastic. Ironically, it is in the scenes of characters talking and standing still where Porter falters, with a few forced poses that just look odd – including one scene of Nightwing jumping downward into action despite being on the side of a road in Smallville, Kansas, with no high buildings or even a high hill in sight! The colors by Hi-Fi and Steve Wands’ letters are excellent, however.

The strange thing about this issue is that despite being the third chapter of Flash War, it’s surprisingly accessible to new readers. Moreso than the earlier issues, in fact, which required knowing a fair about the recent history of The Flash. While I’d still suggesting starting with the first TP. Lightning Strikes Twice, this is not a bad place to start reading The Flash.

 

Man of Steel #5 Cover

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MAN OF STEEL #5/ Story by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS/ Art by ADAM HUGHES & JASON FABOK/ Colors by ADAM HUGHES & ALEX SINCLAIR/ Letters by JOSH REED/ Published by DC COMICS

Review by MATT MORRISON

The battle with Rogol Zaar continues, as Superman’s allies in The Justice League come to the rescue. Will the Man of Steel break? And where are Lois Lane and Jonathan Kent?

I didn’t think this book could get any worse after last week, when it made me somehow dislike Kevin Maguire’s artwork. This week, it managed it, by making me do a double-take and make sure that the artwork was indeed done by Adam Hughes. Yes, THAT Adam Hughes.

Based on the interiors of this book, I can see why Hughes has spent the last few years focusing on doing pin-up style covers rather than drawing whole books. Hughes can draw a beautiful woman like nobody else but his color and shading choices for the battle between Superman and Rogol Zaar are just odd, being so dark and misshapen I have to wonder if he was doing a riff on modern Frank Miller art. There are some pages that look like rough sketches with outlines added and many pages just look odd, with thick outlines around the characters and no inks defining their interiors.

As for the story, it has become clear that Bendis is stretching out the subplots to hide the fact that nothing really happens in this issue. Given that, I have nothing to add beyond what I said last week.

“The on-going subplot regarding what happened to Lois and Jonathan continues to drag on in the typical Bendis fashion, with no resolution in sight, though the artwork by Jason Fabok is fantastic. If this is what we are to expect from Superman comics from now on, the future is looking bleak for The Man of Tomorrow.”

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About Matt Morrison

Matt "Starman" Morrison is The Grand Exalted High Macha of Raspur - a non-existent but real-sounding country. He has been writing about comics since before the word "blogging" was coined. He enjoys acting, role-playing, movie-riffing and sarcasm. You can follow his adventures on Twitter, @GeekyGeekyWays.

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