Welcome to the Round-Up! It’s all DC this week as Marcus Hammond leads us through the beginning of the Trinity War, updates us on how Ales Kot is handling the Suicide Squad, and Sarah Moran brings in a blast from the past with Batman 66!
JUSTICE LEAGUE #22/Written by GEOFF JOHNS/Art by IVAN REIS/Inks by JOE PRADO, OCLAIR ALBERT/Colors by ROD REIS/Letters by DC LETTERING/Published by DC COMICS
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
DC Comics has teased the Trinity War event since the conclusion of Flashpoint over two years ago, building a massive amount of anticipation and expectation. Justice League #22 begins the event with a stunning and destructive opening chapter that manages to meet those lofty expectations.
This issue is so packed with story lines, intrigue, mystery, and destruction that it may feel overwhelming. Geoff Johns, however, is a master of plot design. Story threads come crashing into each other as Pandora finds Superman, Amanda Waller authorizes the JLA to neutralize the Justice League, and several new characters begin to reveal a larger threat to the tensions between superheroes.
The issue is full of dramatic reveals that builds mystery and intrigue, leaving the reader with a sense that John’s is showing his hand right from the start. However, he expertly weaves more and more uncertainty into each story thread as he introduces new participants or eliminates key characters. These story threads are developed quickly to convey the chaos that is unraveling from page to page.
While Johns’ story solidly stands on its own, Ivan Reis’s art complements the complexity of the story perfectly. It would seem that drawing so many members of the DC universe in one issue should be a daunting task, however, Reis accurately portrays the personalities and emotional temperaments of each character sublimely. One particular moment that stands out is a two-page splash that spirals out from Shazam to include every member of both Justice League factions. Everything from Shazam’s boyish wonder to Martian Manhunter’s stoicism is adeptly designed.
The overall concept of the Trinity War is complex as Johns and Reis deal with a massive cast of characters. Together they have created a stunningly explosive opening chapter to an event that readers won’t want to put down.
SUICIDE SQUAD #22/Written by ALES KOT/Art by PATRICK ZIRCHER/Colors by JASON KEITH/Letters by JARED K. FLETCHER/Published by DC COMICS
Review by MARCUS HAMMOND
In the previous issue of Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn had taken Amanda Waller hostage and was negotiating for a better deal for the team. Ales Kot completely sidelines that plot thread in this latest issue to focus attention on a mission that was teased in the last two pages of the previous issue. This somewhat abrupt transition leaves the reader with another mission-centric book that derails the overall momentum of Kot’s short run.
Since issue #20, Kot had begun developing the various characters that comprise the Suicide Squad with wit and intelligence that had been missing from the book. There are brief moments, sometimes just single frames, that exemplify this wit. A shining example of this is when King Shark drops into the middle of a meeting, squashing an adversary and exclaiming, “HELLO. MY NAME IS TRIXIE. I LIKE TO PARTY.” The off-putting remark brings a lighthearted feel to a rather bleak book. There is also a quick, yet fairly amazing frame where Harley Quinn shows of her unbalanced nature as she battles alongside Deadshot.
While these momentary glimpses of wit stand out, the fact that Kot has moved past the previous confrontation between Harley, Waller, and James Gordon Jr. to focus attention on another impossible mission shadows the overall plot. What deal did Harley and Waller make? How did they move from a fairly serious security breach to Las Vegas? All these questions swirl as the team battles a giant made up of dead corpses. Kot then moves back into a much more interesting plot strand as a major problem within the inner workings of the Suicide Squad is revealed. The choppiness of these transitions squash any chance for momentum to be maintained.
Zircher’s art is worthy of a more cohesive story. His gritty, shadowy figures fit perfectly with the violent foundations of the book. There is a perpetual darkness to all of his backgrounds which lends towards the black ops nature of the comic. Along with the well-established atmosphere, the muscle definition and size that Zircher captures when drawing King Shark and the intense detail used to portray Deadshot and the Unknown Soldier make this a visually stunning issue. There are several frames that rely solely on Zircher’s imagination and they help rescue a story that awkwardly moves from brilliant to mediocre at a turn of a page.
Ales Kot has improved Suicide Squad, however, this issue just falls short of being anything more than mediocre. Pick it up if you’ve been following it, but go in with low expectations.
BATMAN 66 #1 & #2 / Written by JEFF PARKER / Art by JONATHAN CASE / Letters by WES ABBOT / Published by DC COMICS
Review by SARAH MORAN
The 1960s Batman television series was responsible for cementing the character on the public’s consciousness. Adam West was Batman to the average, non-comic book hoarding American for 20 years! Four actors and countless comic book writers later, Batman has been reinvented so many times Bruce Wayne wouldn’t even recognize him. And it’s this drastic shift from the “Caped Crusader” to the “God #@!$*% Batman”, that makes Batman 66 so delightfully refreshing.
First off, as this book is a weekly, digital first release, there hasn’t been a book yet that better utilizes the digital format than this one. Panels, word balloons, those classic and instantly recognizable comic book onomatopoeia; they all fade in when needed giving the comic a really fluid feel. Responsible for the line work, colors and inks, Jonathan Case nails the stylistic elements of the show. With its amazingly vibrant colors combined with the masterful use of halftone, each page could be a lost work of pop artist, Roy Lichtenstein.
Batman, Robin, The Riddler, Catwoman; whomever appears bears a likeness to the original actor, but it’s a similar not striking resemblance. The true similarities come out in the characters’ dialogue, which thanks to Jeff Parker is pitch perfect for the classic series, and the plot progression. In both the first and second issue, Batman and Robin confront a classic foe, there’s a fight or action sequence, then a cliffhanger with the dynamic duo either stumped as what to do next, or in peril. It’s the same formula the television series used, right down to a narrator daring you to tune in next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel– er, comic.
These adventures are light-hearted, but never inane. The fun is in Batman fighting Riddler atop a biplane or bantering with Catwoman, Robin’s exclamations or Alfred’s humourous little asides. Batman 66 is charming in the same way as classic Scooby-Doo or original Star Trek; it’s so much a product of its time it’s surpassed feeling dated.
Parker and Case have managed to encapsulate this and build on it in this modern, digital presentation. From a scaling the building gag or Batusi callback, to the colors, design, and POW!’s; Batman 66 is a tribute that never strays into parody. Everything from the series translates effortlessly into the comics, and that isn’t so surprising considering how much the comics influenced the series. Batman 66 is a must buy for Bat-fans of any generation, young and old.