Comics Round Up: World’s Greatest

(Editor’s Note:  We postponed this edition of Comics Round Up to give me an opportuinity to actually read the latest Batman and first issue of Metal.  As I said to Chris, I ration my books so that I have something to read the entire week.  I could have moved the books up by a couple of days, but what are we if we aren’t true to ourselves?)

Aquaman

The Good:  This is a well written and engaging story.  I’ve never heard of the writer or the artist, but they work well together to bring this story to life.

The Bad:  While the story is good, the narrative style is a bit dense.  I’ve complained about Batman being a “talkie” recently and this book has action, but there are just so many words on some of the pages.  It’s distracting.

The Ugly:  Well, I’ve added another book to the monthly pull that I initially said that I was only going to experience in trades.  DC knew exactly what they were doing with this Rebirth event.  There are so many new jumping on points and all of the books are great.  My wallet is going to suffer badly.

The Verdict:  I had virtually no experience with Aquaman previous to his introduction in Batman vs. Superman.  I’m sure that I watched the old Justice League cartoon and he might have even had cameos in others like Scooby Doo (?), but I was one of those guys who always derided him as the dude who can swim fast and talk to fish.  This book has changed my tune completely.  I like the “King is Dead, Long Live the King” story and they’ve done it in a way that makes it feel not quite so much of a retread.  I might have to shelve it again after the conclusion of this story, but that’s only because my monthly comic budget is pushing 200 at this point.

Justice League

The Good:  Another perfect jumping on point to get started with another comic book that I haven’t read before.  This one even has an interesting premise.

The Bad:  That premise doesn’t quite live up to my initial ideal.  I know this next statement might seems strange as this is the “bad” section of this review.  However, the story isn’t bad.  It just seems very slow.  The whole book is the set up for a story that honestly isn’t as interesting as I had hoped.

The Ugly:  I don’t think that I want to keep reading this story.  However, I’m not a quitter, either.  I’ve started the arc and now I might just have to keep going, but I won’t be happy about it.  Hopefully, it gets better.  Otherwise, I’m going to be out about 20 bucks and it’s going to get ugly in here.

The Verdict:  I was very excited to meet the “future children” of the Justice League.  I also thought it was cool to see that future.  However, the overall arc of the story and narrative was just too uneven.  I will give it one more issue.  After all, the Venomverse intro event had a similar feel and I got some enjoyment from sticking with it.

Mr. Miracle

The Good:  Tom King is one of the best writers in comics today.  His Batman has been as good as (and, blasphemy!, maybe even better than) Scott Snyder’s, but I can’t say that with confidence.  I only know Snyder’s Batman from The New 52 and that was good, but it didn’t have me on the verge of applause as Tom King often does.  This book was no different.

The Bad:  As is rapidly becoming a theme, I arrived way too late at the Tom King party.  Chris was much more versed in his work than I am, meaning that when we were discussing this book, he said that he liked both King’s Batman and his work with Vision, a book that I haven’t read.  Still, art is supposed to be his thing and writing my thing, so it was a bit embarrassing.

The Ugly:  That opening scene.  My goodness!  I know that it’s often good to go for shock value, but I’m becoming much more aware of these types of things since there are kids in the house.  Aiden had a friend sleep over the other night and he grabbed a stack of comics.  I had to stop him and he asked, “Oh, they’re not appropriate.”  I had to admit that I hadn’t read them and I didn’t know if they were or not.

The Verdict:  Initially, I didn’t care all that much about this title.  It seemed interesting, but it wasn’t really something that ultimately grabbed my attention enough to buy it.  For some reason that changed when I saw an ad in one of the DC books that connected it to Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday.  I’m always a sucker for the origins of comics and the old guys.  I’m glad that I followed Jack Kirby on this one.  They steered me in the right direction.  I’m hooked after only one issue and can’t wait to see what happens next.  I might have to go back and read some Vision now.

Wonder Woman

The Good:  This story has been decent and has continued the theme of Diana trying to balance the expectations of Wonder Woman with the fact that she is living with humans who can’t possibly understand her burden.

The Bad:  The writing is not nearly as good as it was with Greg Rucka.  I’m still interested in the story, but I’m not as engaged by the characters or the story.  Maybe it will get better, but this might be one that gets cut for later reading as trades.

The Ugly:  I’m majorly upset that it has come to this.  I’m almost positive that my current comic budget is not sustainable, even if I am teaching 5 classes next semester, but this is one of the books that I was sure would survive the cut.

The Verdict:  When we last left DC, Wonder Woman was one of my favorite comic books.  Now that we’re back, things have changed a bit.  The book is still decent, but it isn’t the same.  Since I don’t have the same connection to the character, writer, or artist as some other books that I might give more of a chance, this might actually be the first book to go if I decide that my budget is getting out of control.

Batman

The Good:  I’ve already fawned over Tom King in the Mr. Miracle review, so I won’t repeat myself here.  However, this book is a prime example why he is such a great writer.  He wrote an entire comic book around the premise that Bruce Wayne invited the two sides of the war to dinner and created a story that I couldn’t put down.  Both the set up and the execution were perfect.  Great book.

The Bad:  I struggle to find anything wrong with this book.  In the past, I said if I had to find a flaw, it would be that it was too much of a “talkie” and not enough action.  I can’t even say that anymore.  This book was just so well executed, even though there was absolutely no action, that I just don’t care.

The Ugly:  I have no idea if this is the plan or not, but for a war between the Riddler and Joker, there has been surprisingly little action.  If they are going to blow it out with one huge blowout finale, that’s exactly what it’s going to be.  The streets of Gotham will run red with the blood of both armies.  It’s going to be brutal.

The Verdict:  Batman is still the best monthly book right now.  I might be enjoying some of the event books just as much and maybe more, but this book is the best thing to happen to me every month when it comes to comics.  The writing is fantastic.  The art is amazing.  The stories are engaging and entertaining.  If, as I suspect is possible, we are in fact going through another golden age of comics, people will point to this book as one of the primary reasons why.  Superman might get the headlines and Wonder Woman might grab the lady readers, but Batman is DC’s flagship title and they are absolutely doing right by it.  Superb.

Dark Nights:  Metal

The Good:  Snyder and Capullo.  Capullo and Snyder.  The introductory books contained art from Jim Lee and JR JR, too, but this one is back to basics.  While it was fun to see the influence of the other artists, less is definitely more here.  Just two guys who are amazing at working together to make great comics doing just that.  It’s still early to tell if the combination will continue to work, but previous experience and the pacing of this book suggest that it will.

The Bad:  Scott Snyder is one of these “talkie” guys that are so prevalent in comics these days.  I have no idea if he is one of the first, as I remember the push for the current state of comics coming in the 1990s with Brian Michael Bendis and his tendency to push narrative and dialogue over the usual super hero shenanigans of punching and kicking their way through a book.  However, he fits in very well with that crowd and his books can get a bit tedious at times.

The Ugly:  There are a ton of open threads in this story right now.  Scott Snyder said himself in an interview that some of the references and stories come from his earlier Batman books and that he’s been dropping hints for years.  This book does some to tie up a few of those threads, but it adds even more.  I’d like to think that he can bring everything all together in a coherent and satisfying fashion, but I worry when stories get this spread out.

The Verdict:  When I first saw the announcement of this series, I texted Chris with a picture of the talent and the simple message, “I’m going to end up going broke.”  That was before:  (a) I had even read an issue.  Now that I have, I realize the size and scope of this event and realize that it is possibly on par with Secret Empire, if not bigger and (b) I saw that it was a cross over event.  If Secret Empire has taught me anything, it’s that I buy every stupid book in the event.  Given that the first issue already has me looking forward to what comes next and wondering how many books this might hook me into eventually buying on a weekly basis.  Well played, DC.  Well played, indeed.

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