Tag Archives: Batman

The Romano Molenaar Interview Part 2. Fruitful collaborations, designing DC characters & career goals

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand here’s part two of my Romano Molenaar extravaganza. If you missed any of the earlier stuff, here’s part one and here’s the podcast of our talk.

Can you give an idea of collaborations that worked really well?
Let’s see… …I’m not really that great with names… When I worked at Top Cow, I worked with… …What was his name. I’m sorry, the name escapes me now…
Phil Hester?
Yes, exactly! Phil’s a very good writer, who can also draw particularly well, which is always an advantage. I must also say, that I… …Did I mention I’m not very good with names? [Both laugh] When you work at Top Cow, you often find out who inks your work, after the fact. And they’ve got inkers like Joe Weems who are really great. There are other names as well, but that’s a tricky subject for me as you can tell… Also, I must say that the team I’m working with now, Jonathan Glapeon and Chris Sotomayer, is a dream team. In fact, I used to do more freelance assignments, each six to seven issues and then on to the next thing… But now that I’ve had a year working for DC, those names stick in my head because I’m working with them for longer periods of time. I think that when you work together for so long, you’re going to appreciate their work better and your own work improves because of how great they are. As such, these guys are currently the names that pop up in my head when you ask about great collaborators. That makes it difficult for me to think of other less recent names.

Are there any names in the industry that you would like to work with in the future?
I’d really like to do something with Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee of course. If Jim Lee would like to draw layouts for a new Superman book for me to fill, I would not mind that at all… [laughs] Also, here’s the interesting thing: I’m now entering an area, where my contacts aren’t exclusively horizontal anymore, I may just end up working with someone higher up the chain in the comic industry! Though, overall I don’t tend to look over my shoulder too much, I’m much more interested in the future. Which is why I have to say: I’d like to work with anyone who knows what they’re doing and who can simply excite me with their story. I know, I know, that’s a very politically correct answer…. To me, the names are a little less important. But if you succeed in affecting me with you script, inks, or colours then I’d definitely like to work with you –whether it’s at Marvel, or Dark Horse, or wherever.

Art by Romano Molenaar

Art by Romano Molenaar

Did you ever receive any pro-feedback of big industry names that has been of particular value to you?
The other day I got some from Jim Lee! Jonathan [Glapion] had sent the cover ​​for issue 22 of Birds of Prey to Jim. Later Jonathan showed me Jim’s reply, along the lines of: “Very nice, it looks super good.” At that point you’re like: “Okay. We’re definitely getting closer to the fire.” You also see that a guy like Jim Lee is only human. Jim has obviously done a lot for the industry and achieved a lot. As an artist, that’s the guy you want to get feedback from, so you know you’re on the right track. And that’s something you have to do yourself, you need to strive to get the idea out of your head and onto the page as good as possible. But when a celebrity like Jim Lee says that, or Marc Silvestri ‘likes’ your art on Facebook, you think: “Okay, apparently I’m considered a good artist.” And it’s the same with big names like David Finch, sitting next to you at a convention, or Barry Kitson. When they see you drawing a Lara Croft commission and say: “Wow, that looks very good,” to hear it from their mouths is invaluable. Those are very nice experiences.

Have you done any design work for DC characters?

Yes, I designed a character named Condor for Birds of Prey. You get a description from the writer saying: “There will be a new character, that’s like this and this… …he only needs to be designed.” After that they basically tell you to go for it… Also, the cover of issue 22 shows a new team of villains I designed too. That is insanely cool to do. You get basic information, like one of them is a guy with electric powers, the other one is a big guy. Then you have to figure out how to visually fit these characters in the fictional world and make sure you’re actually designing something new… You have to give them your own twist. And that goes back to the experiences of my younger years, designing my own superheroes as a kid. You actually take some of that with you when you’re designing new characters. Like, when I was about twelve, I drew this guy… You know what; why not give this new character HIS coat? So sometimes you take a ride in the wayback machine, only this time it’s for real. That realisation is super cool.

Please, tell me more about what went into the design of Condor:
The suit was open, so to speak. I wasn’t told to do this or that. But he’s called Condor, so it should somehow have a bird motif. Designing the suit basically took a single sketch. The helmet however… I had given him a helmet that looked too much like Hawkman. Then Jim Lee made ​​a quick sketch of a Roman helmet, one of those things with an eye slit in it. After that, I finalized it in one or two sketches. I also created a number of colour variations in Photoshop and they chose the red, white and grey version.
Uh… I thought the helmet was purple and wanted to say he reminded me of Marvel villain The Wizard a bit:
Does he have a purple helmet? I think he has a red helmet. I often only see my pages back in black and white though. Let’s see… Yes, officially he should be red… It may be that the colourist put a layer of lighting on it, making it purplish… It’s supposed to be a little bit like burgundy.
Okay, never mind… What’s far more interesting, is that Condor is a visual co-creation of you and Jim Lee…
That’s right, I didn’t get to talk to him. But apparently he went around the office with the designs and received a lot of positive reactions… There was just the thing with the helmet, which makes you think: “Okay, that’s very cool. My design is going to my hero, my role model.” I’m actually creating characters that are for ever part of the DC legacy. That makes me think I’m doing something right.

U Decide: Condor's helmet: Purple or Burgundy??? Art by Romano Molenaar, from Birds of Prey #13 (DC comics).

U Decide: Condor’s helmet: Purple or Burgundy? Art by Romano Molenaar, from Birds of Prey #13 (DC comics).

Would you consider working for the Big Two to be your ultimate career goal in comics?
I’ve always been a big fan of Marc Silvestri and Image comics, so that’s where I initially leaned more to. But I’ve never thought: “Now it’s time for me to work for Marvel or DC.” I did say it’d be cool to work for them some time. But I think more along the line of: If it’s a cool character, or a cool story I don’t really care for which company I work. And now that I’m working for DC, I notice that –for me- there is no difference compared to working for Top Cow or Chaos Comics. To me, it’s all the same… Of course, with DC and Batman you have a slightly larger audience, which admittedly is an advantage. But if I stopped working for DC and started working for a smaller studio, I would do it with the same passion. I have to admit though: Working for DC doesn’t hurt your résumé.

And how does this relate to your European comic work?
You know, Storm is also something we have inherited from Don Lawrence. That will never be mine or Jorg’s. So I relate to Storm in the same way as my DC work. Fortunately, the fans are responding very well. We’re positively accepted as the new team at Storm. But it will never be our own thing. That’s the same with Birds of Prey. With Condor for example, it feels like that is actually my character, but it is –and always will be- the publishers’. So I can never say that Storm is closer to me than the comics, because in principle they exist at the same distance from me.

Besides working on Birds of Prey and Storm, Molenaar also runs the Art King studio, where he works on video game designs and other forms of audio-visual entertainment. I asked him if working for the Art King studio gave him more sense of fulfilment:
Yes, there are some projects in there that are our own initiative. When we design our own videogame characters we’re credited as the designers. That’s a big difference. The copyrights of those characters are also ours. Look, I will never get any rights on Condor. I can only say that I’m responsible for his visual design. And that’s okay, it’s good to know that I’ve contributed with my design. That’s more for myself, I won’t say: “Look, that is my character!” To me it’s just a milestone, and I take pride in it.

So, am I correct in assuming you have some creator owned ambitions in the comic field then?
Yes, I have. But because of my workload over the last 10-15 years, I haven’t had time to do a lot with that. But there are certainly a dozen ideas on the computer that I occasionally pick up again. These projects advance slowly, gradually, step by step… And if there’s ever time or an opportunity, these projects will certainly proceed. It’s just that my workload right now… …If I’d currently continue work on these projects I’d get in some serious deadline trouble. Because making your own production -creating and publishing it- that takes a lot of time and energy. But I’m always working with people, just throwing out lines. That’s also a precautionary strategy, for if DC calls it quits. I want to have some things standing by. In that respect, I’m always thinking ahead.

Come back soon for more Romano as we discuss his creative process, technological aids & making it as an unschooled artist

The Romano Molenaar Interview part 1: Current work, reflections on style & the differences between Euro comics and US comics

I was recently asked to write some interviews for the new Dutch comic & manga magazine Strips2Go. For this purpose I sat down with the guys of the Geekstijl Insider podcast as well as current Birds of Prey artist Romano Molenaar. The second one is published in the first edition of Strips2Go, which is currently sold in comic stores throughout the Netherlands. The magazine consists of two thirds of original comic & manga content, the rest being editorial content (columns, interviews and such) and having gone through the whole thing this weekend I must tell you it’s an excellent value purchase (only 1.95 for 71 pages!). The interview with Mr Molenaar was roughly one and a half hour of pure geekery (mostly from my side) and unique insights from a professional comic artist. Because of the length of the interview and the space I’m allowed in the magazine, I had lots of interesting material left which I will be presenting on my blog as a four part interview translated in English. Also, for those who don’t want to read and understand Dutch I edited my recording of our talk into the first instalment of my very own podcast: Open your geek mouth! (In which I open my geek mouth and other people talk back with their geek mouth… …Romano was a pro through and through, though. Little to no geek mouth on him…)

Romano Molenaar at Work

The Netherlands’ biggest export product -at least in the field of comics…

How would you describe your style?
I’m not really very conscious of my style, of course I grew up in the Image era… So there’s a lot of THAT in my style, but I try to add to this with my own sensibilities. Shading, cross hatching, that kind of stuff. At the base of my work is the art of Marc Silvestri. I’m a big fan of his work, there are definitely more than a couple of layers of him in my art. Then there’s also guys like Todd McFarlane, anyone can tell that I’m affected by his stuff. But as you progress, you’ll go and add things of yourself, leaving other stuff, defining camera angles… In doing so, you create a certain style of your own that is going to be recognized by the fans.

Looking back at the launch of the new 52 and the house style that harkens back to the nineties, you seem like a natural fit. Could you have guessed that this new editorial course from DC would lead to a steady stream of work for you?
I must admit that up to the point that I got in touch with Tony Daniel [writer of Molenaar’s first published DC work Detective Comics annual 2012], I didn’t read any comics anymore. I was actually more involved in game development. At that time I was just coming back at Top Cow, where I’ve done issues 95 to 100 of The Darkness. Top Cow’s is also my style, you know: The dynamic, flashy, sharp look. That really appeals to me with them. At that time, I had the intention of quietly trying to set myself up in the comic world again. That went a little further than I expected… And indeed looking at the New 52, that 90s era Image style was really what DC was looking for.

Art by Romano Molenaar, From Detective Comics Annual 2011

Art by Romano Molenaar, from Detective Comics Annual 2011

Looking at the different titles you have worked on in the past, it seems your visual style seems to change slightly on a project-to-project basis. How much of this is the result of working with different inkers and how much of this is you deliberately changing things up?
If I work for Top Cow, or for another studio, I look at the work of the studio and then I –apparently- take something of that style with me in my own work. And I often hear people go: “Hey, your work at Top Cow is much sharper!” Perhaps this is because Top Cow has those inkers, whose line work is very sharp. If you know that, you’re going to accentuate such a style in your pencils. My DC-work, in comparison, has much more of a narrative-driven focus. Also, the current house style of DC uses slightly quieter, rounder lines, with more shadows, more mass in the characters and backgrounds… Knowing myself, I probably picked up something from that. And I think that’s what people notice sometimes. But I don’t go like “let’s throw some DC into my art today”, or something… It goes quite unnoticed.

Can you elaborate on your different experiences with inkers?
Yeah, inkers are an important part of the team, as are colourists. They say the artist is the number one name on the book -although that is actually the author. Comics are foremost a graphic story, and I think that without a good inker and colourist –I’ve been there- the graphic part can go horribly wrong. In principle you work in a team of three and occasionally you have to hope that you are paired with people that you have a good click with, both artistically and personally. When you are tuned-in to each other, you can reinforce each other and learn to read each other’s work. When that happens, it strengthens the whole visual side of a book. This really raises the appreciation for your collaborators. That’s the point we have now reached with the creative team of Birds of Prey. We [Molenaar, inker Jonathan Glapion & colourist Chris Sotomayor] form a cluster of three with which we hope to raise the bar for Birds of Prey. I hope fans too will take notion of this, so we can get this title up and running again.
Yeah, reading the last couple of issues of Birds of Prey, I got the idea that this was a creative team that was perfectly in sync.
Yes, we’ve hit the point where we’re in the flow of delivering the next book, and then the next book, and happily continuing that cycle.

Is the collaboration for DC comics at all different from that on your Dutch title Storm?
I have pretty much a similar working relationship with Jorg [de Vos, colourist] and Dick [Matena, writer]. For Storm I also deliver pencilled pages. The only difference is that Jorg paints over my pencils. So I only have to deal with one person, that’s actually an advantage. Jorg is an extraordinary painter and also a very good penciller in his own right… Because of that, you can hand off something and know that it’ll work out fine. Look, if I ever miss a beat, you can see it through the painting, although I’m sure it will be picked up and handled adequately by Jorg. If you have a good wingman, you can start making speed. That knowledge is very soothing to me. To know that things will work out and look good, that’s the type of cooperation we’ve also got going currently with the Birds of Prey-team. …Just knowing that there are some really good people behind you, who know how to get things done…

Art by Romano Molenaar, from Storm #25 - Het rode spoor

Art by Romano Molenaar, from Storm #25 – Het rode spoor

Seeing as the two products look very different, is it true to assume there’s a big difference in production time?
The difference between the European and American comics is that in the US a book is required to come out on a monthly basis. Of course US comics are a lot thinner, averaging 20 pages. Add to that the fact that you’ve got a bigger creative team, which means that you can make more speed. But at the end of the month, the fact remains that you are expected to deliver 20 pages. Comics usually work with five panels per page, interspersed with splash pages and double splash pages. In European comics acting plays a much bigger role, as well as storytelling. You often see pages with the same face repeated five times to show a monologue in which something is explained. That something you don’t see in mainstream US comics very often. Because it’s a monthly medium, the US comic makes a lot of jumps in the storytelling which makes it sometimes go too quick in my opinion. When you have a European comic album creators really build up a balanced narrative. You get the album once a year and inside is the whole story. This is a longer process, especially for Storm, because Jorg spends at least a week working on a single page. That’s all done by hand, compared to the US comic which is digitally coloured. Nothing wrong with that, but you can still throw in a couple of changes faster than when it’s painted over. In that respect there’s a bit of real craftsmanship going into a Storm album, and that takes more time…

Do you take more time to produce pages for Storm?
Per page I take a bit longer, working on a typical page of Storm. That has to do with the fact that filling out a Euro-comic page works differently than filling a US comic page. In American comics you can play around with silhouettes and large blackened shadow areas, which is not possible on a Storm page. Because all of the backgrounds are fully painted, I also have to render them completely in pencils. So, there’s something of a difference.

That’t it for this part. Come back shortly for part two in which we discuss Romano’s collaborations, designing DC characters & his career goals…

Open Your Geek Mouth! Aflevering 1 – Romano Molenaar

geek mouth 500px

Voor wie op het Kamper Stripspektakel of in het nieuwe blad Strips2Go nog geen genoeg van Romano Molenaar kan krijgen, bied ik nu ook de optie om Romano in je oren te stoppen:

Of download de MP3

Gedeeltelijke Shownotes:

40:00 over het ontwerp van Condor in Birds of Prey
41:00 Paars of Bordeaux rood, wie is er kleuren blind? Gerard, Romano of de inkleurder?!?!
43:09 Werken voor the Big Two, het summum?
44:36 Ligt Storm dichter bij je?
47:00: Creator Owned plannen?
48:16: Verdient het Amerikaanse werk ook beter?
49:29: “Je kunt het zelf zo lucratief maken als je wilt”
51:07: Ontvang je ook royalties op basis van de verkoop van Birds of Prey?
53:14: Hard onderhandeld over het contract met DC?
55:15: Hoe ziet jouw werkproces eruit?
57:44: Werk je ook op digitale media?
60:00: Herken je de ontevredenheid van Paul Jenkins naar DC editorial toe?
62:02: Welk personage teken je het allerliefst?
65:00: Over de voorkeur voor de mannelijke anatomie en het stoeien met de vrouwelijke…
76:10: Favoriete voorwerp om te tekenen
77:00: Gotham City en spannende camera hoeken
1:08:54: Wat teken je liever niet?
1:09:28: Paarden tekenen
1:10:02: Tip voor aspirant tekenaars
1:10:31: Hoe heb je het jezelf allemaal eigen gemaakt?
1:12:22: En hoe heb je jezelf de sequential story telling eigen gemaakt?
1:14:24: Effect van jouw werkdruk op je gezinsleven?
1:18:47: Zijn er ook schrijfambities?
1:19:58: Wat doe je nog naast de comics?

Book of the week: Batman 1

Batman 1 variant cover by Ethan van Sciver

1. Batman #1 (DC comics)
Again with a Scott Snyder book? Yes, again with a Scott Snyder book. I understand how much it looks like I have turned into a mindless Snyder fanboy as of late (last week his Image book Severed was my book of the week for the second time in a row, and his first issue of Swamp Thing was my third favorite book of the week). But this man has some major story-telling props, he’s a fan of the medium and an accomplished novelist. Apparently, those things make for a deadly combination when writing comic books, whether they be of the horror kind or the superhero ones. But I digress…

I was honestly worried that the DC reboot would interfere with the quality of Scott Snyder’s magnificent run on Batman, which started back in Detective Comics. If this first issue is a good measure, my worries were uncalled for. Not only is this a perfect continuation of the noir-ish story he was already telling, it’s also a damned good first issue for entirely new readers (while small sayings and Easter eggs are there for readers of Snyder’s Detective Comics run to remind them, that this story is naturally progressing). The rebooting stays at a bare minimum in this title, aside from Jim Gordon not having grey hair anymore, I can´t see any changes in the continuity.

Jim Gordon by Greg Capullo

Look who got his hair dyed, it's Jim Gordon as drawn by Greg Capullo in Batman #1 (DC comics).

The story picks up with Bruce returning to Gotham and relieving Dick Greyson of his duty of playing Batman, after traveling the world in Batman Inc. Besides that we see Bruce, Dick, Tim and Damian visiting an elite party, where Bruce unveils his plans for the Gotham skyline. Later we see Batman meeting up with detective Harvey Bullock, to investigate a weird, sadistic, ritualistic murder which reveals a message for Bruce Wayne. The issue ends with a cliffhanger showing DNA traces of the culprit found at the scene of the crime pointing to someone very close to Batman.

Batman rogues by Greg Capullo

It's a couple of Batman's enemies as rendered by Greg Capullo in DC's Batman #1.

It is very smartly written, as a narrative we read a speech Bruce Wayne gives about Gotham, while the issue starts out with a small breakout at Arkham Asylum introducing (and showcasing artist Greg Capullo marvelous new renditions of) Batman’s rogues gallery. Later on in the story we learn about Bruce’s new contact lenses, which have incorporated facial recognition software. This allows for a couple of caption boxes to introduce all of the secondary characters. In an interview with Snyder over at War Rocket Ajax I heard him say that this story arc will build on all his previous Batman work (including the Gates of Gotham miniseries). This excited me to no end, because I really liked the villain that got introduced in Gates of Gotham. In this issue we are already seeing the seeds of how this all may connect to Gates of Gotham (Wayne enterprises is aggressively investing in Gotham’s future architecture).

Batman and the bats by Greg Capullo

This is how good Greg Capullo can make Batman look, art from Batman #1 by DC comics.

And, (oh boy) the art. I’m not very familiar with Greg Capullo, in my mind he was ‘another one of those Image’ artists. But oh my God is he good! He is the perfect successor of Jock and Francisco Francevilla. It’s dark, it’s dynamic, it’s detailed, highly stylized and a bit exaggerated. Capullo was born to draw the Caped Crusader and it looks like he’s having a good time doing so. Especially the scenes where Bruce is in costume look fantastic! In the plain clothes scenes I get the sense that Capullo’s style isn’t really my cup of tea. But notwithstanding my personal taste, this looks ravishing.
Art: 9.5                 Writing: 9           Overall: 9.2

Book(s) of the week 35: Flashpoint. Batman. Knight of Vengeance #2-3

I know that writing about a series, weeks after it’s been published, will not boost clicks to this website. But I have to give credit, where credit is due. Batman. Knight of Vengeance, in my onion, was the best Flashpoint tie-in of them all. But it’s not just a good tie-in, it’s an excellent elseworld tale that can stand on its own just fine if you don’t know anything about the world of Flashpoint.

Let me set it up for you: Issue one shows Batman, with some small visual tweaks to his costume, without his Batcave. Instead he operates from one of his Wayne skyscrapers. He’s the same brooding vigilante that we know and love, and we get so see him take Killer Croc down. But here’s the catch; this isn’t your daddy’s Batman, this is Batman’s daddy. Instead of Thomas and Martha Wayne getting shot by Joe Chill and Bruce donning the cowl to strike fear in the hearts of a ´cowardous and superstitious lot´, Bruce gets shot. He dies and it´s Thomas that sets out to stalk the dark alleys of Gotham city in a quest for revenge. As cool as a concept as it is, this much was given away in the first issue of the main Flashpoint series. So overall, back when I read the first issue I thought cool premise, good art, but otherwise nothing really special. Well, that changed in the last two issues of this series.

The first issue ends with the Joker kidnapping the children of district attorney Harvey Dent at Wayne manner. The second issue shows how James Gordon goes in before Batman and some horrible shit happens both to Gordon and one of the kids. The great, big and very unexpected reveal cliffhanger here is that the Joker is someone very, very familiar to Thomas.  Than the last issue, they fight, run around and ultimately forget about the kids.

That’s one of my (very minor) problems with this series. In the second issue, it looks like one of the kidnapped kids bites the dust, but in the last issue Batman finds out he can still save her. Sadly, he is so busy with the Joker that him saving the kids (I’d have guessed that that’d be the most important goal here) is not shown in this series. In my opinion, they should have spent a couple of caption boxes explaining how the kids ended up (or killed them off earlier).

I’m trying not to spoil anything, so take it from me that this has some solid, lean, atmospheric writing by Brian Azzarello. The art is outstanding too. Again, very atmospheric and while it’s Eduardo Rizzo’s unmistakable unique style, it is also remarkable cinematic. Great dramatic camera angles are used very effectively to enhance the tension. Also some visuals, especially the looks of the Joker and Jim Gordon, seems inspired by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

So, while this can be perfectly read without any knowledge of the Flashpoint series, the question whether or not Batman should pick a fight to change reality back to where Bruce lives instead of his parents, plays heavily in to this. Giving this series that extra bit of emotional punch, while also incorporating it into the events of Flashpoint. So for a good, short, standalone Batman series, look no further then Flashpoint. Batman. Knight of Vengeance.
Issue 2: Art: 9             Writing: 8.5    Overall: 8.7
Issue 3: Art: 9.2         Writing: 8.2    Overall: 8.7

Runner ups for week 35: Flashpoint 5, The Outsider and Gates of Gotham

3. Flashpoint #5 (DC comics)
Holy shit, was I giddy for this mini-series and this final issue in particular. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited by a mainstream superhero comic. Yeehah! Some background for the casual comic reader: This September publisher DC comics of Batman and Superman fame has stopped all of their series and will start out with 52 new ones, that all start from scratch. It looks like they are throwing away all the previous continuity and introducing the characters in new and exciting ways. In the previous months, it slowly became clear that their blockbuster summer event title Flashpoint would somehow be the catalyst for all the changes that were to come. And that is why I was so excited for this issue, this conclusion forms the creative explanation for what the hell DC is doing! In this issue we learn that one of the heroes is actually responsible for changing the time stream and causing a ripple effect that alters reality into that of Flashpoint. Because this reality is whack like crack he eventually undo’s his actions. However he is not capable of putting things back exactly as they were and that allows for all the stuff DC is doing in their 52 new number ones. I loved this very much, Kubert’s art was a little inconsistent but otherwise this book, in my opinion is the best event series since Marvel’s Civil War. Some quick remarks:
*There’s a great big fight in this issue, but sadly we don’t see much of it.
*There used to be 52 alternate realities in the DC mythology, why did only three get mixed into the new status quo? What about the other timelines?
* How do the time stream alternations make everyone in the new DC younger?
*Congratulations to DC for a very entertaining and hopefully successful transition!
Art: 7.5           Writing: 9       Overall: 8.2

4-5. Flashpoint. The Outsider #2 & #3 (DC comics)
If you just can’t get enough of the world of Flashpoint than the Outsider is a series you should really pick up. Strong writing by James Robinson and solid art by Javi Fernandez make for one hell of a read that will hold up even if you don’t care for Flashpoint at al. Basically it’s the story of an Indian anti-hero/villain/industrialist/millionaire who uses his superpowers to get what he wants. He’s pretty ruthless, is involved with the resistance against Aquaman and Wonder Woman out of business principles and is targeted by either one of those warring parties. This series mainly revolves around the Outsider figuring out who wants him dead and then trying to stay one step ahead of them. If you want cool visuals, this book’s got it: from a fantastic redesign of Martian Manhunter, to a 1970’s Calcutta ligthsaber gang war; newcomer Javi Fernandez makes this book look stellar. In the second issue the art took a small dip, but was still very good, the final issue rocked hard again. Also, this book makes a cool little nod to old DC continuity where there are 52 multiple alternate earths in different timelines, the Outsider has dimension hopping technology and weaponizes it in the third issue. Both issues got 8’s all around.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

6.  Batman. Gates of Gotham #5 (DC Comics)
Aaaaaaaand the awesome sauce that is Trevor McCarthy returns to grace the pages with his artwork once more. I love this guy’s art so freaking much: from the creases and folds in the cowls, to the architecture and the perfect usage of toner dots. I’m seriously looking at this guy’s earlier stuff. This final issue was a lot better than the last one, both on the writing (Scott Snyder is back on board with this one) and on the art. I can’t believe how many people have been involved with this miniseries, (story-wise three, art-wise, art and layouts four, I believe). This series wraps up pretty good (and much better than I had anticipated after last issue), and was successful in that it provided an entertaining story, introduced a great new villain, delved more into the relations between the different Bat family members and offered a little resolve concerning the changes that are coming with the DC line-wide reboot.
Art: 8              Writing: 8       Overall: 8

My pick of the week will be online tomorrow, if anybody cares.

Part one of my all DC extravaganza: Flashpoint tie-ins, Justice League 1 and random stuff

Holy shit, I read more books this week then I had planned. I was so excited for the finale of Flashpoint and the opening chapter of the new DC Universe I tried to get caught up on all my DC reading. I scoured every corner of the house for DC comics I hadn’t read and went through almost all of them. I almost succeeded, I just have a couple of the retroactive issues, two issues of Action Comics, one issue of Green Lantern and one JLA issue left that I’ll get to eventually. I did get around to reading all the Flashpoint tie-ins I follow. Since it’s such a big week I’ll only post the quick shot reviews today, tomorrow will be the rest consisting of (in no particular order): Flashpoint 5, Flashpoint. The Outsider 2 & 3, Batman. Gates of Gotham 5 and Flashpoint. Batman. Knight of Vengeance 2 & 3.

Quick shots for week 35:

Panel from Red Robin #25, published by DC comics. Red Robin no more?

Panel from Red Robin #25, published by DC comics. Red Robin no more?

7. Red Robin #25 (DC comics)                                                                                                8
This issue actually took me some time to read, which is good. It had interesting, action packed (while maybe a bit over the top) twists and turns (for instance Tim Drake, aka Red Robin, seemingly gets stabbed trough the heart by Cassandra Kane, aka the Black Bat. But later it gets revealed it was all a trick with a foldable katana, and a pack of blood). And after that the story continues for a while, depicting the break up with Tam Fox and Tim’s brand own Batcave. Plus, we get a set-up for some sweet revenge on Captain Boomerang in the next issue.
8. Red Robin #26 (DC comics)                                                                                                8
Okay so he didn’t have the stones to kill his father’s murderer, Captain Boomerang. Nothing unexpected there, but since it was the last issue before the relaunch I had that feeling that anything could happen. Sadly it didn’t, but we still got an entertaining story, though. Tim sets Boomerang up, so that his own choices will be his demise. But then he can’t go through with it, he wants to pull the trigger himself, but then he can’t go through with THAT either! The only minor irk about this one, was the dialogue of Dick-Batman, who felt a little too silver age Bruce-Batman for me. Bruce himself was spot on though… A good last issue.
9. Power Girl #25 (DC comics)                                                                                          7.9
First issue I read of this series, and it seems that all the raves about this book were deserved. Fun, quirky writing, telling an interesting story about a Muslim metahuman who gets wrongly detained at Guantanamo and escapes to visit his dying father. Power Girl literally fights up a storm, there are fun dialogues, smart, sharp references to real world politics and vibrant dynamic art. I will definitely be on the lookout for any Power Girl trades, and if they decide to give her a new series with the right creative team I will be very tempted to start picking it up.
10. Red Robin #24 (DC comics)                                                                                        7.8
Okay, I missed some issues since I last read this title and am pretty much lost now. Tim is involved in a murder tournament and he’s trying to protect someone. This gets him caught and he ends up prisoner of a hot chick who wants to mate with him before killing him… Good art, hot cliffhanger!
11. Flashpoint. Wonder Woman and the Furies #3 (DC comics)           7.7
It’s a good thing, to see the events of other tie-ins play out in this one (most notably the Atlantean-Amazonean war, which is also covered in Emperor Aquaman, and the deployment of the nuke on New Thymiscria from the Hall Jordan series). That creates the feeling of a much stronger shared universe, instead of this just being a couple of money grab books. Art is pretty good, I especially liked the sharp inks by Jose Aviles. This fills in a couple of holes that were left out of the culmination of the war in Emperor Aquaman, though overall it tells more or less the same story.
12. Justice League #1 (DC comics)                                                                                 7.7
I’m glad they dropped America from their name, seems fair. Now this was… …interesting. I liked the colors, which were really strong. I liked the opening sequence and the last splash of the new Superman (his new suit looks kinda regal and official, like he’s the emissary of Krypton), the rest of the art? Mehh… I initially didn’t like the cocky, reckless Hall Jordan, but as a caricature I understand that he makes interactions in a team interesting. I WAS excited though, to learn that Darkseid appears to be the first big villain. Overall, this feels more like a Brave and the Bold adventure, and not really like the first issue of the flagship team book of the new DC.
13. Batman. The Dark Knight #2 (DC comics)                                                     7.5
What can I say? I’m a sucker for David Finch art. Good art, okay story, not digging the subplots about the monster preying on the homeless though… Uhm… …is Bats driving another Batmobile in this series then in other books?
14. Batman. The Dark Knight #3 (DC comics)                                                     7.5
I like that Juno was stealing the Batmobile.  Other than that, this was just an okay issue. Great art once more. Read very fast though. Oh, and did I mention Etrigen the Demon? He’s in here too and he doesn’t speak in rhyme for once, which makes him just a bit more bearable than normal.
15. Flashpoint. Citizen Cold #3 (DC comics)                                                          7.4
Hmmm, this series didn’t feel very satisfying. Other than that it explains why we won’t see Citizen Cold show up in the Flashpoint finale it, just like Deadman and the Flying Greysons, this feels utterly pointless. Sorry for possible spoilers, but Cold goes back to finish the rogues after Iris West takes him in and figures out his real identity as well as his secret. Then he meets with her once more and wants to leave America with her, but is stopped by the Pied Piper, who told Iris that Cold killed Wally West. They fight, Cold gets killed, that’s it. I seriously doubt the potential of this series becoming an interesting collected edition. Still, the art was a little better than the previous issue.
16. Flashpoint Citizen Cold #2 (DC comics)                                                            7.2
The art quality varied a little here and there, as did the story. I like the concept of Cold as a hero, picking off everyone who may uncover his secret, but I feel Scott Kolins (both the writer and artist, although he is mostly known as an artist) has some more growth in him as a writer or storyteller. Especially in the action scenes where Cold is fighting the rest of the Rogues, I felt the action was very unclear.
17. Batman. The Dark Knight #4 (DC comics)                                                     7.2
The dialogues in this felt jarring and unnatural. Art was spot-on, especially the last splash-page reveal, where we see hordes of demons getting ready to attack batman, who can’t see them. This one went by to fast too. I’m starting to think that David Finch should just stick with pencils and turn away from the keyboard. I really believe in creative growth, but I think that’s a venture better undertaken in more independent or lower tier books.
19. Flashpoint. Project Superman #3 (DC comics)                                           6.7
Another one that actually ties into the main story, Kal El has grown some balls and it seems like he’ll join the fight in Flashpoint #5. The story of this series was okay, the art was pretty good, except for the design of villain Subject zero, which tainted the pages he appears on with the manga-esque.
18. Flashpoint. Hall Jordan #2
(DC comics)                                                           6.3
I always thought it silly that the reader could see Wonder Woman’s invisible plains, but if even Hall Jordan can see them from his jet fighter, then how about renaming them slightly transparent planes? Oh, but wait, two pages later he can’t see them, huh? This felt like a really fast issue, art was okay, nice layouts, but otherwise nothing special. The writing was very cliché and stiff. Basically Hall fights a kind of Amazonian Dragon monster that is attacking Ferris Industry. After that, he tells Carol everything is going to be okay and that he’s gonna pilot the atomic bomb during the invasion of New Thymiscria. Yeah, that’s EXACTLY what I would say…
20. Wonder Woman #614 (DC comics)                                                                      6.2
I wanted to check how they wrapped this train wreck up. I started on the J. Michael Strazinski issues, which I liked well enough, and stopped reading when editorial reared its ugly head and got Phil Hester involved with the writing (nothing against Hester, I just can’t stand it when stories are so obviously jumbled around). This issue, has not so great art. The first half of the story is action packed and kind of erases the weird world Diana had been living in the last 14 issues. The second half was a reunion on good old Thymiscria and involved some heavy-handed meta commentary about changes on the Horizon and Wonder Woman meeting such changes head-on.
21. Flashpoint. Hall Jordan #3 (DC comics)                                                           6.2
Carol to Hall: ‘ …have you thought of the repercussions—the thousands of deaths that will lie on your conscience? No father would wish that upon his son.’ That is SO weird to say, when you are not his father and you weren’t talking about anything even remotely related to his father… Well, the last page looked heart breakingly beautiful but the dialogues in this issue were very forced again. This had a great two page spread of jet fighters attacking New Themyscira, but I don’t recommend picking this up unless you really want everything out of Flashpoint or everything related to Green Lantern.
22. Static Shock special #1 (DC comics)                                                                    5.9
I had forgotten that this was DC’s Dwayne McDuffie memorial issues, that withstanding: What were they thinking? I have never read Static Shock before, so maybe I’m missing all kinds of things here. But to me this did not read like a good comic. Notwithstanding the art, this remained somewhat enjoyable, but the last page ups the heavy-handed writing infinitely: ’I will never let evil go standing. Taking it out wherever I find it. I am the legacy.’ The two page McDuffie tribute with John Paul Leone art, totally made up for the 21 pages prior.
23. Batman. The Dark Knight #5 (DC comics)                                                     5.7
Such a shame. I had really wanted this title to be a success. But it seems that the editorial ruckus at DC, combined with David Finch still finding his feet as a writer, have worked against this book. This feels like the conclusion of a story that was intended to be stretched over more issues. Both art (not by Finch) and writing took a bad dip. Critical things were left out of the story, like how Batman and Etrigen defeated demon mistress Blaze, how Etrigen got his rhyme back, or how Batman hooked up with the car thief from earlier in the series.

Quick Shots for week 34: My good taste? I left it in the nineties

5. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (IDW Publishing)                                       8
This kinda feels like an ultimate take on the Turtles, a new continuity with all kinds of references to what’s happened in the old books. Basically we see the Turtles sans Raphael and Splinter fight this new cat guy, we flashback to a part of their secret origin were we learn of April O’Neill an intern at Stock Gen Research who thinks she’s working on bio-engineering meat. but we soon learn a thing or two about a super-soldier mutagen, from a phone call between the revamped Baxter Stockman and the mysterious general Krang. And we see Ralph eating out of dumpsters and getting ready to open a can of whoop-ass to help another familiar face. Spot on characterization: Michelangelo, after kicking a thug in the crotch: ‘Sorry, no baby gangstas for you dude.’
6. Spontaneous #3 (Oni press)                                                                                              8
This series is taking very interesting twists and turns, although the writing was a little choppy in parts of this issue. Sometimes I didn’t get what the characters were referring to or what happened in a sequence. The reporter, Emily, shares her conspiracy theory with Melvin who’s obviously struck by why he hadn’t thought of it. To top it off we learn that both Melvin and his late father fit into the conspiracy. What really makes this interesting is the relationship triangle between Melvin, Emily and Melvin’s nerdy assistance buddy who is boiling with jealousy for the relationship between Melvin and Emily, while it’s also clear that Melvin is treating the poor guy really bad (in reaction to these things the nerd guy is looking to pay Melvin back) also great is the relation between Melvin and Emily, this weirdly upbeat reporter chick who might be into him a little and thinks that everything that’s happened is cool and fun, while Melvin might very well be too but he is too busy with his own thing and much too serious about it, to see or act upon what’s happening between them.
7. Flashpoint: The Outsider #1 (DC comics)                                                            7.8
It seems that Ifanboy is right. This issue was surprisingly good compared to the rest of the Flashpoint tie-ins (of which I’ve enjoyed a big part).
8. Batman Inc. #8 (DC comics)                                                                                        7.5
Hmmm…. That was weird. At first I was bummed that I saw no Chris Burnum art. After that I’m not sure what I felt. The digital art in this issue varies wildly from panel to panel, some are downright terrible, some are beautiful and some are unintelligible. I really didn’t like the panel that looks like the people were copied out of a computer game, especially those with the plain clothes investors… This issue finally addresses the long neglected idea of Barbara Gordon as a digital Batgirl in Bruce’s Internet 3.0. It’s interesting and could have many more good stories in them (hopefully it’ll stick after the reboot).
9. SHAM comics #1 (Zombie Marge Comix Group)                                                 7.5
A great satire series where golden age comics fallen into public domain are textually re-imagined into sometimes hilarious, sometimes a bit uninspired funnies. I really like the first story about BOZO (Binary Over-Zealous Obliterator) the retro robot. A dope fueled demented killer robot with a Frisbee bolted to his head, who apparently is not programmed to swing THAT way! After the first story the novelty wore off though, and not every story was a winner. Overall it was good for a couple of chuckles and just for reading something else entirely. This issue also contained a story by artist Basil Wolverton which was pretty to look at, which featured erect trees with condoms on them. I think one issue of this was enough for me though…
10. X-men #16 (Marvel comics)                                                                                         7.2
I really want to love this series, but it’s just not letting me. Ghisler writes a great Spider-man though, to Franklin Richards, about debunking the stories about the Bermuda Triangle: ´A good debunking puts hair on your chest.´
11. X-men Legacy #254 (Marvel comics)                                                                        7
They´re in space finally, I´m wishing this series was better.
12. Crossed. Psychopath #3 (Avatar Press)                                                                 7
Really great cover by Matt Martin. The Crossed (extremely sadistic zombie-esque creatures) in this series have a thing for wearing other people’s faces (ala Leatherface). There’s one Crossed woman here though, who wears a cock on her crotch, held together by barbwire… I’m just saying: That’s the kind of story we’re talking about. Story: Survivers picked up a psycho, who is a worse threat then the Crossed, in this one he divides the group. Kills his male companion, and rapes and mutilates the female, while they are sheltering from the Crossed, which he has lead to them. Talking about the deviant… Yep, this was revolting… Boy, this is actually hard to read, it’s so gruesome.
13. Caligula #3 (Avatar Press)                                                                                            6.9
Wow, just wow. Between this and Crossed. Psychopath I’m starting to question David Lapham’s sanity. This was, just so fucking weird. Caligula is portrayed as much more than a mad emperor. He’s immortal and the guy that wants to kill him for revenge, instead gets fucked in the ass by his talking demon horse Incitatus. However, this issue his luck seems to be turning (if only a little).
14. Crossed. Psychopath #2 (Avatar Press)                                                             6.7
Panels framed by the splashes of blood of a minivan driving children over. This makes me uncomfortable reading it next to my wife on the couch…
15. Crossed. Psychopath #4 (Avatar Press)                                                             6.7
Okay, that was it, I felt kinda sick after this although I have to admit it’s easier to take over the top scenes like Crossed swimming in a pool of blood filled by children thrown in a wood chipper, than the rape scene from last issue. I like weird and nasty just as much as the next guy, but this is just too much for me.
16. The Infinite #1 (Image comics)                                                                                  6.5
This one? Also not for me, it’s certainly geared at a certain audience and that’s not me. Impressive how Kirkman and Liefeld have made the most nineties comic ever, though.

For next week, I’m going to try two extra early reviews for Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1. Also, I’ll be digging out all the DC stuff I hadn’t got around to reading in a while, so expect a DC heavy week.

Quick shots for week 32: Chewing on some Detective comics while spontaneously shooting my Sixth Gun at some Marvel comics

5. Chew #11-15 (Just desserts) (Image comics)                                                   8.4
Slowly, but surely I’m getting up to date on this series. These five issues, were all very good, but I have some problems with the story format. This did not feel like a five issue story, more like a one issue story, followed by a three issue story and then another one and done issue. That’s why I was a bit disappointed by issue 15. I was hoping for plots to be resolved, but none were and only more questions arose. Really original story telling though, I don’t think there is anything like this on the stands.
6. Spontaneous #2 (Oni press)                                                                                       8.4
Line of the week? “Erin Brokovich didn’t just go after a book deal, Melvin. And she didn’t fight the power just to get Julia an Oscar. Sometimes we need to put the public good first.”   The story is moved in a different direction as the reporter girl starts piecing together the puzzle connecting so many people in the town of Bayville who have spontaneously combusted. The character of Melvin is also explored some more, and we get to learn a little more of what happened on the day his father died and what role he might have played in this tragic happening.
7. Marvel Universe vs. Wolverine #2 (Marvel comics)                                  8.3
This book is filled with things I didn’t ever expect to see: Magneto and Electro exploding into an EMP, the Punisher shooting the Beast’s head off, Willie Lumpkin’s head on a spike… Really very entertaining, the art has even improved since last issue, this really feels like it could be a big event book. Only problem is the Thing being a zombie pimp, didn’t we also see that in Marvel Zombies?
8. The Sixth Gun #13 (Oni Press)                                                                                      8
Shit, when I got the last page and discovered that this was the second issue of the current story arc I found out I’ve missed an issue, which may have left a mark on my reading experience (it sure does explain a lot!) Will be picking up issue 12 soon, I’ll reread this one then too, maybe it’s score higher next time? Becky and Sinclair fight of a hoard of monsters coming for the remains of general Hume, the good guys win at a great price…
9. Detective comics #881 (DC comics)                                                                          8
Seamless transformation from Francevilla to Jock. Very different styles, but I did not notice the change until al whole lot of pages had gone by already. Since this is the last issue before the reboot and it involves Barbara Gordon aka Oracle (aka soon to be Batgirl) being kidnapped and tortured by her stepbrother, the stakes were high. At one point I really thought they were gonna kill her. They didn’t and the story was neatly wrapped up. Nice ending, I wish this run could have lasted longer.
10 .New Avengers #15 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7.8
Great to see Squirrel Girl in action, kicking Logan’s ass, Bendis writes her really good and believable. I like Deodato, but the last pages really didn’t click with me… Oh, and is he capable of drawing woman that aren’t smoking hot? I mean Squirrel girl never looked particularly attractive right?
11. Ultimate Fallout #4 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.5
Solid art and stories, finally digging into the Ultimate Origins miniseries, interesting to find out Reed Richards is still alive and maybe not bad to the bone (or deranged?) and of course the black Spider-man who comes to the conclusion, that his costume is in bad taste. Better art then the last couple of issues and the stories have some more meat to them.
12. Fear Itself #5 (Marvel comics)                       only because of the great art: 7
What an odd coupling, this great, great art and this clumsy writing. I appreciate the way that this is going back to the old, wacky, silver age stories, and I give credit for the way the villain’s castle comes down over DC and stuff. That’s really reminiscent of the classic stuff by Stan and Jack, otherwise my disappointments in this series continue strongly. The character voices are mostly off, the story jumps around so much it becomes unclear what’s happening a lot of the time, furthermore there are plot elements introduced that aren’t explained. For instance you don’t get the significance of Cap yelling to the Avengers “Don’t let the hammers hit…” What: Each other? The ground? You? I don’t know, the turnaround page shows that whatever is hit, caused a big explosion. The panel before doesn’t make clear that the hammers are going to hit anything in particular. Oh, and the Thing is turned back to normal by Franklin Richards (who suddenly and conveniently appears on the scene), couldn’t he have thought of that earlier?
13. FF #7 (Marvel comics)                                                                                          6.9
Black Bolt gets his pimp on. I’m not digging the art. Story was just fine. (I know, sometimes ‘review’ is a very big word…)
14. X-men Legacy #252 (Marvel comics)                                                      6.7
Finally Magneto’s change of heart gets explored (if only a little…) It’s weird that Parisians are begging for their lives in English, yet Gambit keeps barfing out French one-liners… This wasn’t terribly exciting, the story of Legion’s escaped persona’s continues and feels very formulaic. This is certainly not the highpoint in Mike Carey’s X-men run.

Quick shots for week 31: Another bunch of number one issues

5. Rachel Rising #1 (Abstract Studio)                                                                            8.3
About a girl who wakes up from the dead without knowing that she’s deceased or remembering what happened. Very effective storytelling. The sparse use of dialogues show off Moore’s strengths. There’s a car sequence in here which didn’t look very good. The rest of the book is gorgeous, especially the opening sequence, which also introduces a mysterious female figure who looks on as Rachel rises. Which adds another mystifying layer to this story. Really curious as to what’s going on.
6. Flashpoint #4 (DC comics)                                                                                                 8
Nerdgasm! Cyborg, Flash and Batman’s dad stand around in the kitchen of the Marvel kids to get captain Thunder on board with their little invasion of the Amazonian occupied Brittain.  Kubert’s art is still improving and the writing is a marathon of kick-ass moments interwoven into a story that actually makes some sense. What more can you wish for? (Yeah, my ‘reviews’ are pretty much based on my personal taste instead of critical analysis…)
7. X-men Schism #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                                8
Great art. I have to wonder though, why Wolvie looks like an ogre? And later on Scott looks way too scrawny.  Plus on the writing side: Aaron makes Rogue sound even dumber than she’s normally portrayed, which is a shame for all the character development she has gone through under the pen of Mike Carey. “Selling organs to dire wraiths,” that’s classic!
8.  Zeke Deadwood, zombie lawman. With a hammer in my hand (SLG publishing)                                                                                                                                 8
A great little one-shot about a zombie lawman riding an undead horse, who enters a town where a mad judge has hung all citizens. Highpoint of this issue is the dramatic shootout between Zeke Deadwood and a robot sheriff in the Wild, Wild West. I picked this up on a whim, when it was recommended on the 11 O’clock Comics forum. I couldn’t be happier with it! Fun story and great looking art, check it out!
9. BPRD Hell on earth. Monsters #1 (Dark Horse comics)                                  8
Good stuff, I understood everything while this is the first BPRD issue I’ve ever read. Great art by Tyler Cook (on the cartoony side of things). First-rate story about Liz holing up in a trailer camp.
10.  Avengers #15 (Marvel comics)                                                                                     8
I’m really tired of the interview framing of the story, while it doesn’t fit a blockbuster event tie-in, it does allow for some great character development. And that is what we get this issue as Hawkeye, Miss Marvel and especially Spider-woman take center stage. Basically, this whole issue revolves around a kiss and it has some interesting quotes before and after to contextualize this development. Sounds dull? It really works very good, although I have to wonder if Bendis wouldn’t be better of writing this kind of stuff into a series like the Gillmore Girls instead of the Avengers.
11. Sweet tooth #27 (Vertigo)                                                                                                8
It looks like Gus bites the big one, though his journey is certainly interesting and looks very fascinating. Some time ago, I read a tweet by Jeff Lemire that he was painting some of his pages, well here’s the result. It looks wonderful, very dreamy and atmospheric and surreal; it shows a hint of Edvard Munch here and there. I can see that working on this got Lemire excited. But most of all, it’s exciting to see what happens next month, will the book be resolicited as Jepperd and co?
12. Ultimate fallout #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7.9
Perfect emotional beats, which feel a little cheap, but completely works. It made me choke up, while I’ve heard of people crying. Everyone is mourning for Peter and for Spider-man… Cliffhanger of Cap taking blame for the death of Peter before aunt May was a little lame. Great art by Bagley, which in some places looks more like his nineties style, which is not a bad thing to me.
13. Invincible #81 (Image comics)                                                                                   7.9
Art a little too loose for my taste, not bad but more Larsen-esk. Kirkman realistically writes how Invincible is dealing with the death of thousands in Las Vegas last issue, as well as a reformed (but mentally unstable) villain his obsession with Mark, especially this plot ends on a very strong note. This panel really invests in making Mark human, not just through his relations with normal people like William and his mother, but this time by digging into his mind and playing around with his guilt and insecurities.
14. Gates of Gotham #3 (DC comics)                                                                            7.8
An in-between issue, not a lot happens, the art a little worse than last time. Good squabbles between the different bat characters. The architect, the villain is becoming more interesting.
15. Punisher #1 (Marvel comics)                                                                                       7.5
Good new take on the Punisher which focuses more on the cops that are investigating the case which Frank is also looking into. If you like the movie Seven you’ll recognize the faces of detectives Somerset and Mills. I really liked Greg Rucka’s (the writer) work on Gotham Central, Detective Comics and Queen and Country. Somehow his Marvel stuff never capture’s my imagination the same way…
16.  Ultimate fallout #2 (Marvel comics)                                                                   7.4
Especially liked the Gabe Hartman pages, he changes his style to work better with the earlier ultimate Spider-man artists while staying true to his style. Liked the fallout of Pete’s death; the funeral and MJ’s uncovering of what happened. The Thor and ultimate X parts though, not so much…
17. Flashpoint: Canterbury Cricket #1 (DC comics)                                             7
Great cliché origin, some more insight into the British resistance, solid art, good writing. I hope we get to see more of this religion-based superhero. Maybe in Xombie? (-Oh, wait that great title will not be around after the DC reboot…)
18.  Ultimate Fallout #3 (Marvel comics)                                                                     7
Again the structure is really weird, I get that Marvel wants us to buy their comics. But promotional material should be free, this is very much a promo. Varying quality of art especially the Karen Grant and Kitty stories were good, it seems like Kitty, Bobby and Johnny are quitting the super-heroics, though I bet not for long…
19. Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #2 (DC comics)           6.9
The conflict between Aquaman and Wonder Woman escalates. And Wonder Woman gets a new helmet as a reminder of ‘what the war has cost all of us’. This has a lot of the moments you’ve wanted to see, if you’ve read the Flashpoint main title. Solid writing by Abnett and Lanning, the art begins good but peters out at the end.
20. Batman. Gates of Gotham #4 (DC comics)                                                    6.9
Both art and writing take a sudden dip as the creative team gets a shake-up. This issue is written by Kyle Higgens and Ryan Parrot while original scribe Scot Snyder is acknowledged with a mere story credit. Art duties are split between Dustin Nguyen and Derec Donovan (original series artist Trevor McCarthy is nowhere to be seen), despite having two pencillers the art still looks rushed. Let’s just hope (although it’s very unlikely) that everything will turn back to normal next issue.
21. Flashpoint: Project Superman #2 (DC comics)                                6.9
Art a little better than last time, no probs with writing. But the design on subject zero is very bad. He looks like a giant from Dragonball Z or something… Story: we get to see the lab rat life that Kal has grown up in, in the Flashpoint Universe. General Lane is the only one who tries to connect with him on a human level and ultimately saves his life at a great price…
22. Robocop Terminator. Kill human #1 (Dynamite!)                                   6.5
Nothing too special about this one. It shows how a first issue does not work all too great. While the final cliffhanger has me intrigued over what will happen during the rest of the series (and fearing that it will be only action), the rest of the issue doesn’t intrigued me a bit, it just sets up the story for Robocop awaking in the future where Skynet has taken over… Great covers though…
23. Flashpoint: Deadman and the flying Graysons #2 (DC comics)       6
This is one of THOSE JT Krull issues. While there is nothing wrong with the story told, the dialogue is crude and feels to be laid down haphazardly. Art took a wrong turn since last issue (like most of the Flashpoint tie-ins)…

Holy shit, that were a lot of comics. I’m dialing it down next week but expect a review of Red Skull Incarnate #2 and some more Chew…