Review: Batman 92

Art by Yasmine Putri (DC Comics)

After a long hiatus, Batman 92 hit the shelves on June 9th and it seems like all the pieces are coming together as Batman prepares to face off with the Designer. Writer James Tynion IV comes out of the gate swinging in from the get-go with this suspenseful issue. Artist Guillem March continues to pencil this arc using his hyper-detailed art style. This issue is also the first appearance of Punchline, Joker’s new partner.

Without getting too into the respective stories, James Tynion IV’s storytelling seems to stagnate with this issue. That being said, two stories are told throughout the issue, the first being Batman and Deathstroke hunting down the riddler as he terrorizes Gotham City and the other being Harley Quinn and Catwoman facing off against Punchline.

A majority of Batman’s story is rushed and loses the sense of urgency that it should have. When written well, the Riddler alone is a captivating foe for both Batman and readers. Add in an unlikely alliance with Deathstroke and you’d think this issue would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, Riddler’s riddlers seem too easy to solve, and his importance is diminished due to his cowardly actions. Additionally, Deatthstoke doesn’t do much of anything except make snarky comments to Batman. Perhaps Tynion intended for this issue to be more powerful in theory, but it comes off as trivial and filler.

With the impending Joker-War, much of this issue feels unimportant and poor utilization of time that could be dedicated to a new exciting Batman villain. To preview this new story, the entire other half of the story featuring Selina and Harley prepares readers for the war while also introducing Punchline. In spite of the drab writing in the prior story, Tynion does a solid job writing Harley Quinn. She’s every bit as jumpy and chaotic as one would expect, while also reminding readers she’s not an easy foe to take down.

Between these two stories, March rotates between two different art styles. During the Batman and Deathstroke, he uses a rather unappealing yet highly detail-oriented style. Although rough on the eyes, March ensures every inch of each panel is vivid in style. During Catwoman and Harley’s story, however, March uses a very cartoony and bright art style that hyper-sexualized Harley and Selina. It’s very disappointing because the two are reduced down to busty clueless women in some panels, rather than the fierce anti-heroes they truly are. Moreover, much of the art in the story is either very dark and wrinkly or bubbly and sexualized.

Overall, Batman 92 is a weak story with such a mixed style of art that it becomes hard to remember what the plot is. Hopefully, Joker-War is the payoff it appears to be, because sacrificing the importance of a new powerful villain like The Designer for another Joker story is a gamble.

Rating: 4/10

Review: Batman The Adventures Continue #1

Art by Dave Johnson (DC Comics)

Batman The Adventures Continue might just be what the doctor ordered this week. Despite the despair and turmoil in the world around us, comic fans can find some enjoyment in a story continuing the adventures of the timeless Batman: The Animated Series TV show from the 1990’s. Writers Alan Burnett and Paul Dini reunite with artist Ty Templeton and easily create a comic that is nothing short of delightful.

The story itself is meant to take place somewhere after The New Batman Adventures ended and before Batman Beyond takes place, giving these writers a lot of stories to tell. The point of this was to give Dini and Burnett the opportunity to introduce new characters and answer the questions that were left hanging. The story opens with Batman taking down Bane, thinking the night cant get any worse. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, whee a giant robot starts causing disruption, creating the perfect opportunity to re-immerse readers in the wacky universe of fantastical enemies who shoot lasers and rob banks rather than murdering millions.

Not only are fans reminded what kind of foes Batman fights, but also what a day in the life for Bruce Wayne is like. Batting away women who want to give Wayne Manor a “mother’s touch” isn’t the only thing on Bruce’s mind. It’s also why Lex Luthor decided to pop into Gotham City so unexpectedly. Writing a story that depicts both Bruce Wayne and Batman allows Dini and Burnett to characterize both sides of Bruce, reminding fans how skillful of writers they are. Not to mention, in this world, Bruce Wayne is just as important as the Batman when it comes to storytelling.

Through all this, artist Ty Templeton is unsurprisingly able to keep up with the fast-paced writing and illustrate everything as it would be if it were on screen. Although the story isn’t animated, Templeton draws each panel as if it were a small segment from the show, giving it the backbone for readers tot visualize the story as one fluid motion. Templeton ‘s art is almost identical to that of the animated show, which will always be referred to as the gold standard when a story is in continuity with BTAS.

Overall, the story itself is very fun, action-packed, and a perfect way to dive back into an old friend.

Rating: 10/10

Review: Robin 80th Anniversary Falters More Than it Flourishes

Art by Lee Weeks (DC Comics)

When DC Comics announced a 100-page giant celebrating the character Robin, and the many people who have donned the mask, fans rejoiced. Armed with a plethora of writers who have either made an impact on the character or have a strong love for them. Topple that with a combined thirteen artists and inkers and this book seems like a home run. So why isn’t it?

The first story, “A Little Nudge,” by Marvel Wolfman (Wrier), Tom Grummett (Pencils), and Scott Hanna (Inks) can only be described as ‘home sweet home’. No writer has had a bigger impact on Dick Grayson than Marv Wolfman. Creating the New Teen Titans, evolving Robin into Nightwing, and having a memorable tenure on the character’s solo series, Marv not only reminds readers who Dick Grayson is but why he moved out of Batman’s shadow. Additionally, the combined work of Grummett and Hanna creates a colorful world that helps boost the story to another level. Overall, this story outsold from the first panel to the last.

Following that trend was the longest-tenured writer for Nightwing, Chuck Dixon. With pencils by Scott McDaniel and inker Rob Hunter on the story “Aftershocks.” Dealing with the effects of the Cataclysm, the story itself was riddled with life and suspense. Unfortunately, it was so suspenseful that it became rushed and hard to follow. However, the boxing and artwork provide a nostalgic 90’s aura to it, which ends up carrying the story. Overall, this issue was packed with high expectations and simply fell short.

The third story focusing on Dick Grayson, titled “Team Building” was written by Devin Grayson and matched with Dan Jurgens (Layouts), Norm Rapmund (Finishes) and Hi-Fi (Colors). Featuring the Titans and H.I.V.E as a supporting cast, “Team Building” emphasizes Dick’s leadership ability and the importance of how he runs the Titans. The artwork is nothing short of spectacular. Every detail is so glamorously depicted within the framework that creates a nostalgic story filled with compassion and intensity.

The final story focusing on Dick Grayson, “The Lesson Plan,” written by Tim Seeley and Tom King with Mikel Janín as the artist, falls short in almost every way. For a story focusing on what Dick Grayson learned from his time with Batman, there isn’t a single thing done right. Known as a tactician and skilled detective his whole life, Dick is suddenly a “follow your gut”-improviser. Although the goal of this story was most likely meant to showcase how Dick had adapted from Bruce and become his own man, it falls short on what kind of man he is.

Although Jason Todd only had one story, it was a grand-slam in every fashion. This should come as no surprise considering Judd Winick may very well be the best writer the character has ever had. Similarly, with Dustin Nguyen as the artist and John Kalisz on colors, “More Time” is a story illuminated with life. Nguyen depicts the characters in a cute, defined, welcoming fashion that holds the readers’ interest from the beginning to the end. Additionally, Kalisz uses a contrast of cool-blue and warm-orange on almost every page, separating the past and present. Overall, “More Time” reminds readers to look past Jason’s angry stereotype and remember that connection he shared with Bruce.

Tim Drake is perhaps the most successful Robin. He’s perceptive beyond his years, a skilled crimefighter, and one of the world’s greatest detectives. Both Writer Adam Beechen and artist Freddie E. Williams II have a history with Tim Drake, both on his Robin Solo, Teen Titans, and Red Robin. With a dynamic duo like this, it’s no wonder “extra credit” is a phenomenal story showcasing how the many layers to Tim make him so spectacular. Freddie E. Williams is accompanied by Jeremy Colwell on colors, and the two of them create a detail-oriented story that uses line-work and shading to create a lifelike environment. Furthermore, this story reinforces the importance of Tim Drake as well as provides hope for his future.

Current Batman writer James Tynion IV reunited with his former Detective Comics artist Javier Fernandez for the story “Boy Wonders.” Set as a prelude to Tynion’s Detective Comics run, the story’s main theme is identity. Primarily, who is Tim Drake? And who should he become? Although James Tynion IV has a powerful love for Tim Drake, the story seems to fall short of its predecessor. Additionally, Fernandez’s art once again seems too shaded, making the characters look too sharp with faces that seem incomplete. With readers already feeling confident Tim knows who he is and what path his life should follow, the purpose of “Boy Wonders” is questionable at best.

Although Stephanie Brown had a short tenure as Robin, her time marked the first mainstream female to done the “R.” Not only was she the first female Robin, but Tim Drake left some big boots for her to fill. With that said, writer Amy Wolfram focuses on that obstacle in her story “Fitting In.” With former Batgirl artist Damion Scott at her side, Wolfram is able to turn back the clock and create a heartwarming story for fans to enjoy. Scott’s over-emphasis on shapes and line-work furthers the playfulness within the story reinforces the fun of the story. Overall, “Fitting In” is just as enjoyable as one can imagine, while not losing focus on the impact of Stephanie’s career as Robin.

The reunion of the Super Sons creative team was nothing short of super itself. Writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez come back in their heartwarming story “My Best Friend.” It’s no secret Peter J. Tomasi knows the importance of Damian Wayne. Whether it’s his relationship with his father or his best friend, Tomasi once again writes a well-rounded story that is further elevated by Jorge Jimenez. Jimenez, known for his soft line-work and ability to separate the characters from the background, doesn’t disappoint. In a story where Damian isn’t up to no good and Jon Kent hasn’t been aged up, “My Best Friend” emphasizes that these two heroes are just kids. More importantly, kids who couldn’t be happier to have each other by their side.

The final story, “Bat and Mouse” follows the trend line of every other anniversary story as it prepares readers for a future storyline. Writer Robbie Thompson and artist Ramon Villalobos attempt to close the books in a suspenseful fashion. However, the story itself isn’t new. Not only have fans been aware of Damian’s shady handling of prisoners in Teen Titans, but Bruce has been suspicious for months. With art that seems too defined and incomplete, the story fails to carry much of any weight.

There are some stories in the Robin 80th Anniversary that warm hearts and remind readers of the core of these characters. But it’s not enough. Maybe it’s the nagging reminder not much of this matters; seeing as the current state of many of these characters weighs over the heads of many fans. Dick Grayson is a shell of himself, Tim Drake isn’t Robin anymore (or Red Robin), and Damian Wayne seems to be the furthest thing from what Robin should represent. Not to mention the very canon itself of some of these stories remain questionable. In conclusion, the delivery of Robin’s 80th Anniversary 100-page giant falls short and leaves an empty feeling when all’s said and done.

Rating: 6.5/10

Review: The Oracle Code Flies High Above The Rest

Art by Manuel Preitano (DC Comics)

When Marieke Nijkamp, the #1 New York Times bestselling author was announced to be writing a graphic novel with up and coming illustrator Manuel Preitano about Barbara Gordon’s time as Oracle, fans rejoiced. Barbara Gordon’s tenure as Oracle is treasured among almost every DC Comics fan. The announcement of a new take on this character that would be mystery focused was the icing on the cake. Consistently recognized as a member of the Bat-Family, it can be easy to forget Barbara, or “Babs”, has a plethora of talents and skills she developed on her own. Of these many talents, Barbara has a knack for hacking. To add to that, her gut has never led her astray from justice. Put this all together, and readers everywhere have a socially relevant, moving, and empowering book in The Oracle Code.

After a gunshot wound, Barbara finds herself at a rehabilitation center. Alone, scared, and hurting, Barbara finds herself in a building holding more secrets than long hallways. People are disappearing left and right. And maybe it’s time for the world’s greatest hacker to come out of retirement and solve this puzzle. Or maybe the trauma of her past is causing her to make a mountain out of molehills? The only way to crack that code is to crack open the book.

Throughout the novel, it becomes apparent that not only is the mystery a puzzle but so are the pages themself. Thanks to illustrator Manuel Preitano and colorist Jordie Bellaire, the story is a splash of vibrant colors that bring to life every aspect of the pages. Shapes, or to be more specific puzzle pieces, are seen within panels and pages of the book. This is furthered by the defining line work that sharpens the details of the characters, scenery, and shading. When combined, it creates an inviting environment for readers of all ages.

Marieke Nijkamp may have never worked for DC Comics; however, her first work was a home run. The characterization of Barbara Gordon was not only picture-perfect, showcasing her many strengths and weaknesses in a newfound way, but her relationship with her father was also correspondent to what the mainstream comics have depicted it as. James Gordon, father of Barbara Gordon would do anything to protect his little girl. But sometimes that means being ignorant of her impeccable ability to find the cracks in the walls. Yet at the end of the day, not only do they come through, but better off.

There are many qualities of Barbara Gordon’s life that Nijkamp was able to translate through The Oracle Code, however, the most important characteristic of her that was perfectly relayed over from mainstream comics was her ability to find strength through hardship. Throughout the novel, there is little focus on Barbara’s actual physical therapy. Rather, her battle against fear. Toppled with the mystery about the disappearing children, Barbara is riddled with fear. Fear that she will have to fight against, not to become who she used to be, but to evolve into someone new. Whether or not she can is something only to be uncovered in the pages of the book.

Final Thoughts: The Oracle Code is a phenomenal story of perseverance against hardship, ableism, and fear. It is thanks to the trio of Nijkamp, Preitano, and Bellaire this novel can sink its teeth into readers, almost making it impossible to not turn the pages. Putting this book down for even a second seems inconceivable at times. Despite some brief moments of filler storytelling, the overarching story is so compelling that it should become an instant classic.

Rating: 9/10

Daredevil 19 Review: War Comes to Hell’s Kitchen (Spoilers)

Art by Julian Totino Tedesco (Marvel Comics)

Chip Zdarsky starts Daredevil 19 going in swinging with a good old fashioned car explosion. And as it turns out, each page that follows will be as explosive as the last, whether physically or dramatically. With Marco Checchetto at the realms of another Daredevil issue, the art is once again elevated to another level. With that being said, Hell’s Kitchen is about to become hell on earth for any unarmed civilian.

This issue opens with Stromwyn sending in the troops to destroy Hell’s Kitchen. Luckily, Matt and Detective North are on the way, along with some of New York’s Finest… citizens? That’s right, the Daredevil’s are back and ready to kick some ass. However, they’re not the only people back in town. The Punisher is too, and as he said “I’m Daredevils’ top baddy!” Turns out, he never specified which Daredevil he meant.

However, that isn’t the only bombshell in the issue. It turns out Punisher isn’t the only one back, he brought some friends with. With destruction all around and new blood spilled, Matt decides to take matters into his own hands. The devil is back. But what about the Kingpin of crime? Only time will tell.

The story itself is jam-packed with 22 pages of intensity, fisticuffs, and fear. What makes the issue so engaging is that the fear felt throughout the issue itself isn’t just seen in the whites of the eyes of New Yorkers but also in the reader’s hearts and minds. Each page is twice as jaw-dropping as the last. This is furthered by the glorious colors, linework, and attention to detail by Checchetto. Through his definition and lifework, Checchetto depicts every finite detail in the most realistic manner conceivable. Furthermore, the story itself seems to hold the weight of the world as a result of their combined efforts continue to both go above and beyond their previous work.

Overall, Zdarsky delivers another action packed issue that keeps the punches rolling from the beginning until the end. Having Checchetto on arts has also risen the stakes. Essentially, their teamwork reinforces this the importance of not just this issue but the entire arc. The war in against Stromwyn won’t be won easily, but it seems safe to say the devil of Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t plan to go down without a fight.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Batman 90 Explores the Sins Past of Gotham’s Rogues

Art by Jorge Jimenez (DC Comics)

Writer James Tynion IV has written many Batman stories in his career. Whether under the flagship title itself or another series, the writer has built a reputation for writing a traditional Batman/Bruce Wayne. But it’s this issue that shows his knack for understanding Gotham’s people doesn’t stop with the heroes, it extends to the villains too. That’s why having the primal focus in this issue on Catwoman, Joker, Penguin, and Riddler makes Batman 90 stick out from the rest.

Although the issue opens with the present day, it isn’t long before the readers are taken down memory lane. However, unlike prior flashbacks, this one is through the eyes of Selina Kyle. Fans are reminded of a simpler time in Gotham. One where villains themself feared the Falcone crime family, wore colorful costumes, and eagerly expected to run into the dynamic duo. Unfortunately, things were changing right before Batman’s eyes. The Designer had come for Gotham.

More specifically, The Designer had come for the city’s rogues. After sorting through the bunch, it seems these four villains had stood out the most to him. Once united, an offer is made. The perfect crime, with his full endorsement. Unfortunately, things seem to go haywire when one of them decides to clown around with The Designer. Why does all this matter? Well, what if The Designer never moved on? What if he also kept their plans for the perfect crime? More importantly, what is the perfect crime and why does it involve Catwoman so much? All these questions and more are answered within the pages of Batman 90.

“Their Dark Designs” has been one of the most consistently good, intriguing, and nostalgic stories Batman has had in a while. Make no mistake, this was by design (pun intended). Both writer James Tynion IV and numerous artists who have contributed to the arc have been noted eager Batman and DC fans since the beginning. However, with the introduction of Jorge Jimenez on art, the stakes themselves seem higher. His attention to detail, body proportions, and perfect medium between lifelike and cartoon bring the story to a new level.

In addition to the picture-perfect artwork, the storytelling itself has been spectacular. Tynion seems to put his all into this story, making one of the most classic Batman stories. With the upcoming Joker War story ahead, one begins to wonder if he’s been holding back, or just gearing up for the final battle between the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince of Crime. Make no mistake, the writing itself is superb, with each page leaving fans wanting more.

Final thoughts: Altogether, Batman 90 is one of the most suspense focused issues written in a while. Up until now, Tynion has relied on Batman’s detective work and sleek technology to spearhead the stories. Unlike the prior issues, however, this one is nothing like that. As a result of Selina narrating the story, its very groundwork is based on fear, nostalgia, and guilt. This is all elevated by the impeccable artwork, highlighting both the simplicity of the past and the impending present threat that lies ahead.

Rating: 9.5/10

Strange Adventures Review: Adam Strange: War Hero or Monster?

Art by Mitch Gerads (DC Comics)

Writer Tom King is looking for another home-run in Strange Adventures, and he might just get it. Luckily, Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads have a knack for taking shelved characters and bringing them into the limelight. However, this time they’re accompanied by the classic Golden Age style of Evan Shaner. With these superstar artists by his side, King is able to relay a refreshing take on Adam Strange, a character who hasn’t been explored enough as of late. Following the trend explored in the Eisner winning series Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures begs the question: “Is everything what it seems to be?”

Strange Adventures is a classic “who done it”, yet with many layers that provide depth to the story. Clearly, the primary focus of the plot will be understanding the truth, it seems that many truths will be uncovered, both in the past and in the present. This will be done in a back-and-forth mode of storytelling, with each issue alternating between the two stories.

As such, the issue itself is split into two separate stories, one that details Adam’s time on Rain fighting a war, and one that conveys the present-time for readers. Doc Shane’s art is focused on the past, using his definition and colors to encapsulate one of the most gorgeous planets in the multi-verse. Meanwhile, Mitch Gerads is focused on the present-day, using his raw and sketchy work to showcase how tumultuous of times Adam is currently facing.

During his time on Rann, Adam Strange spent his time defending the planet from the Pykkts. This interplanetary war is just the perfect kind of space adventure Strange is used to. It’s a modern take on the classic storytelling used for any fantastical adventure. However, the stakes seem higher this time, and the toll feels steeper as we transition back and forth between then and now.

Meanwhile, the present day hasn’t been so kind to Adam either. While hosting a book signing, a ferociously disgusted individual seems to think not everything was what it seemed in the memoirs of his recent battle on Rann. And after another series of unfortunate events, things seem to be turning to the worse. Not to worry though one of the world’s greatest detective’s is on the case (no not Batman). Maybe all isn’t lost after all?

Final Thoughts: Although Tom King had one of the longest and most successful runs on Batman anyone has ever seen, his true strength seems to be 12 issue maxi-series’. Just like Vision, Omega Men, Sheriff of Babylon, and Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures opens up with more questions than answers. Luckily, it’s these questions that draw readers in for more time and time again.

Rating: 10/10

Review: The Flash 750 Carries More Than Two Surprises

Art by Howard Porter (DC Comics)

The Flash 750 holds a plethora of writers and artists per story that make for one of the most spectacular issues for the series. Writers Joshua Williamson, Geoff Johns, Frances Manpaul, Brian Buccellato, Marv Wolfman, and Scott Lobdell and artists Rafa Sandoval, Stephen Segovia, Jordi Tarragona Scott Kolins, Frances Manpaul, Riley Rossmo, David Marquez, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund (whew that’s a mouthful) all deliver one of the most important Flash issues in years.

Through each story, it becomes more clear that the theme of the issue is showing appreciation for The Flash. Although the primal focus is Barry Allen, both Wally West and Jay Garrick are recognized for their impact and legacies. What makes the issue even more impactful is that each story isn’t just about the character it’s centered on but their influence as Flash. Furthermore, the legacy of The Flash is much bigger than the man behind the mantle.

The stories within the issue can be broken down by whoever is the Flash at that point. The opening story “The Flash Age, Pt. 1” gears fans up for the upcoming arc “The Flash Age” by Joshua Williamson.” Similarly, “Why You?” by Frances Manpaul and “Flash of All Worlds” both detail times The Flash has saved the day, specifically as. Barry Allen. “Why You” follows the trend of expressing the impact The Flash has had, while “Flash of All Worlds” physicality has him saving the day once more. Moreover, these three stories each are able to convey the importance that Barry Allen has had through his tenure as the scarlet speedster.

Similarly, The Flash 750 also depicts the importance that Wally West and Jay Garrick have had on the world as the Flash. While the story “Beer Run” by Geoff Johns barely features Wally, it does an excellent job of detailing how his morals have affected those around him; whether they’re both friend or foe. Now the story “At the Starting Line” (also by Williamson), follows the same blueprint of Scott Snyder’s story in Wonder Woman 750. DC has been setting up the groundwork for a streamlined timeline for months, and “At the Starting Line” is another step in that direction. However, it also seems to be setting up the groundwork for another Flash story in the near future, possibly featuring the whole Flash Family.

Lastly, Scott Lobdell is setting up fans for Generation Zero in”Flash Forward: Epilogue.” The story follows after the events of Flash Forward 6, which ended with Wally West sitting on the Mobius Chair and blending with Dr. Manhattan. It seems that Wally’s got a bone to pick with the timeline of DC Comics, an event that will be further explored in Generation Zero and beyond.

The overall writing of The Flash 750 is seamless, with each segment gracefully relaying the same message to readers: The Flash is a (living) legend. While Barry Allen has since resumed his role as the main Flash for almost a decade, this issue makes sure to remind fans that Barry hasn’t been the only person to own the role. Additionally, each artist is able to bring the characters and story to life through their respective styles.

Final Thoughts:

Although it seems like troubled times are ahead for Flash, fans can slow down and enjoy this issue that’s jam-packed with action, emotion, and possibility.

Rating: 9/10

Review: Batman Curse of the White Knight Book 7: The Fall of The Batman

Art by Sean Gordon Murphy (DC Comics)

Batman Curse of the White Knight Book 7 is the penultimate issue of the sequel to Sean Gordon Murphy’s hit series Batman White Knight. After learning the shocking truth about the Wayne family’s wealth, Bruce is rethinking everything. The consuming melancholy tone throughout the issue is further pushed by the stellar writing and art by Sean Gordon Murphy. Murphy’s ability to transition between chapters within the story provides fans with almost everything they want: drama, action, and even romance?

The budding new relationship between Bruce and Harley may be the only thing grounding Bruce at this point. Utterly disgusted in his own family, Bruce seems to recognize a need for change. (A big spoiler-ey can’t say yet change). Luckily, Harley is there to remind Bruce that when he makes his decision “You’ll still have me.” It’s a touching moment that takes place right after an opening sequence featuring a young Bruce and living Alfred.

After a touching conversation with Barbara, who is thankfully recovering from her fight with Azrael, it becomes apparent to readers Bruce might be breaking a few rules we’ve gotten used to. Without going into detail, it ends with Bruce asking Gotham for permission to be Batman “One Last Time.” After rallying the troops at the GCPD, Batman decides to get nuts. It’s at this point where a GCPD-sanctioned Nightwing asks Batman what happens when he catches Azrael. Although, it seems like Batman is dead. So, what does that mean?

Batman Curse of the White Knight continues to be an outstanding use of DC Black Label so that writer/artist Sean Gordon Murphy doesn’t have to pull any punches. Each page builds off the last both in excitement and uncertainty. Additionally, the colors by Matt Hollingsworth perfectly complement Murphy’s art to create a world built on shadows.

Final thoughts:
Batman Curse of the White Knight Book 7 uses every panel it can to draw the reader in both in story and visuals. If a page doesn’t hold the reader’s attention through its striking artwork, it’s through the masterful storytelling that more than surpasses any expectations as it prepares to close the curtain on the series as a whole.

Rating: 10/10

Review: Batman 89 showcases the brewing storm in Gotham

Art by Tony S Daniel (DC Comics)

Last week’s issue of Batman by James Tynion IV was a nonstop thriller. With Gulliem March and Danny Miki on art, the issue has a very ‘classic’ Batman feel to it. To be Moree specific, an early 2000’s Batman story. This is further enforced by the striking colors by Gulliem March and Carlo Pagulayan who work is nothing short of excellent in this issue.

Picking up where the last issue left off, the story starts with Penguin recovering from the attack on his life, and he isn’t happy about it. However, for a change of pace, Penguin is trusting Batman to, well, Batman things out. Which he is, and his work is about to lead him to the doorstep of Harley Quinn and Selina Kyle. But first, he needs to find the Riddler.

While Batman is out battling with the Mr. Teeth, Harley and Selina are going toe-to-toe with Cheshire and Malcolm Merlyn. However, in the bushes, readers get our first sneak-peak at Punchline, Joker’s new girlfriend. Although Punchline appears to be studying Harley and notes that she “doesn’t look so tough…”, Harley reminds readers she is a force to be reckoned with as she and Selina can apprehend both assassins.
Checking back in with Batman, wee find out when Nygma was taken by The Designer, he left one last Riddle for Bruce. This leads him to the doorstep of Riddler’s base. Lucky for Batman, Harley and Catwoman are also there! Pulling Bruce aside, the story ends with Selina saying “I’m sorry…”

Although the main story may be over, there is a one-page backup featuring Joker and Punchline (or part of her). After informing Joker on Harley and Selina’s investigative progress, Joker inflicts. fear into the audience, ending the issue by saying “There are a few people I need to talk to first before the big game starts.” Behind him is a pinboard with every Bat-Family member and their identity.

This issue’s usage of paneling on slanted angles provides a more fluid story while also making a more visually pleasing story. Many have labeled James Tynion IV’s Batman as “safe” but it is much more than that. The Designer has been a refreshing new villain for both Batman and readers. Additionally, the utilization of the rogue’s Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman, and Joker in new roles is a reminder to the audience how much history these characters have.

Speaking of Joker, the subtle buildup to Joker war should not be lost. Whatever’s coming, it sure isn’t going to be good for Batman.

Final Thoughts: Batman 89 is a gorgeous issue that brings each panel to life all while building off the last page to remain as suspenseful as possible.

Rating: 8/10

Review: Daredevil #18 showcases the importance of small victories

Credit: Julian Tottino Tedesco (Marvel Comics)

What happens when a deranged crime lord kidnaps the granddaughter of a rivaling mob family? Writer Chip Zdarsky and skilled artist Jorge Fornés ask this very question in Daredevil 18. The issue opens with The Owl kidnapping Libris’, the very same head of the Libris crime family Izzy Libris, granddaughter. Chip Zdarsky once again envelopes readers in a high-stakes story that is beautifully complemented by the masterful team of Jorge Fornés and colorist Nolan Woodard.

Daredevil has been quietly escalating the stakes for Matthew Murdock in the last few months. Although one of the many themes of Daredevil has been rising from the ashes, this seems different than before. Different than having his identity exposed, losing Karen, or even being possessed. Matthew Murdock killed someone. And has been an adulterer. To say Matt has been going through the wringer is an understatement. His emotional, mental, and moral limits have been tested ever since.
Unlike recent times, it hasn’t been Foggy Nelson who’s helped bring Matt back to the land of the living. The reintroduction of Elektra has reminded Matt of who he once was. However, the true penance he’s received has been in the unlikely ally of Detective Cole North. How very DC of Marvel to have a self-loathing vigilante cooperate with a begrudging police officer. Now, Matt and Cole are no Batman and Gordon, but everyone needs a hero on the inside, right?

This issue truly highlights what Matt and Cole can accomplish when they work together. The police may have been ordered to stay away from Hell’s Kitchen, so after a rallying cry at the station, Cole and his comrades go Owl hunting without their badges. Knowing they’ll only get so far, Matt uses his radar sense to listen in on a phone call to find out where the missing girl is.

Now, if all this wasn’t enough, why not through in a high-speed chase and a heightened hostage situation? Despite the staggering odds, Matt remains unwavering and realizes one overlooked fact. “This man is no killer of children.”

Just as the issue wraps up, Zdarsky reminds the readers of a few loose ends that still need to be tied up. At the beginning of the issue, Tommy Libris, the son of Izzy Libris, sets out to seek out evidence of the Owl’s involvement in the girl’s kidnapping. Unfortunately, the consequences very well might be the cataclysmic moment to set off a mob war within the city. And, within the final pages of the issue, Quinn Stromwyn makes a decision that will undoubtedly make things no easier for Matt or anyone who wants peace in Hell’s Kitchen.

As masterful as this story might be, it wouldn’t be as critical of an issue if it weren’t for Jorge Fornés. Furthermore, the visuals are further complimented by Nolan Woodard’s colors. The two work phenomenally together that it gives Daredevil a classic feel that helps convey the humanity of the issue. It’s a welcoming return to the traditional cartooney feel Marvel Comics is so prone to using.

Final Thoughts: Thie issue of Daredevil may seem like filler before Matt reclaims his title as the “Devil of Hell’s Kitchen” this May, but it’s quite the opposite. Daredevil 18 not only reaffirms the suspicions of an alliance brewing between former rivals Detective Cole North and Matt Murdock, but it also sets up what might be the biggest mob war New York City has ever faced.

Rating: 10/10

Review: “To Alfred”: Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P.

Credit: Lee Weeks (DC Comics)

When Former Batman writer Tom King killed Alfred Pennyworth last August (Batman #77) everyone knew that the repercussions would ripple though the threads of of the Bat-Family. Now, about six months after publication, we all get to grieve. Writers Peter Tomasi and James Tynion IV team up with artists Eddy Barrows, Chris Burnham, Sumit Kumar, David Lafuente, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takeral, and Eber Ferreira for DC’s sendoff to the butler.

The story itself opens at a public grieving event for Alfred, setting the tone for reader as one that’s going to be a roller coaster of emotions. Throughout the opening sequence, we begin to see just how fractured the “family” has become. Panel by panel, it becomes apparent that Alfred was the glue that held the family together. One might begin to wonder: “So then what now?”

Soon after, Barbara, Jason, Tim, Damian, and Dick (Ric) are meeting up in a bar rented out for them to mourn privately. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for everyone to start turning on each other. Pointing fingers and accusations are halted once Bruce enters the bar, stating “This isn’t what Alfred would have wanted.” Through and through, there seems to be a common trend of guilt for their actions not because they recognize their own faults, but when reminded what Alfred would think of it.

Throughout the story each family member recalls their fondest memories with Alfred. This is done through the progression of the resentment between everyone in the family being intercut with respective flashbacks of times Alfred was there to help them. Each story features another example of how Alfred’s empathy, sincerity, and thoughtfulness made him the architect of the bat-family. Moreover, the familial theme of this issue is never lost on the reader through both the past strength it once had and the fractured dysfunction that it’s become.

Unfortunately, each person’s tipping point seems to come soon after, as they file out one by one. As the issue nears its end, only Bruce and Dick (Ric) remain in the abandoned pub. That’s when things get gut-wrenching. Because Ric can’t remember a memory with Alfred, Bruce depicts one for us. Afterward, just as Ric is walking out, he leaves Bruce with a resonating parting thought for Bruce. “You have a lot of hard work to do to fix everything that man built for you. To honor him right.”

Overall, Batman: Pennyworth R.I. P. relies on the reader’s personal connection to either Alfred or at least one of the primary Bat-Family characters. However, there are a few glaring flaws within the issue. Primarily, each character is written as their New-52 self, contradicting previous writing showcasing a blend of their past and current forms. Also, the negation of Selina Kyle, Kate Kate, Cassandra Cain, and Duke Thomas as members of the family worthy of attending their private assembly seems inconsistent with recent writing for these characters.

Final Thoughts: Each artist helps bring to life their respective segments within the story while the writing attempts to pull the same emotional weight. However, the issue’s utilization of flashbacks is its true strength. Through each memory, it becomes more and more evident just how fractured everyone has become without Alfred to unite each other. It also poses the question: “What now?”

Rating: 7.5/10