Saturday, 17 October 2015

Nightwing Vol. 2: Rough Justice (Pre-52) Review

Are the 90s... when everything- and I
mean everything bulged.
Nightwing Volume 2: Rough Justice

Writers: Chuck Dixon and Devin Grayson

Artists: Scott McDaniel, Karl Story, Greg Land and Bob McLoed.

Collects: Nightwing 9-18, Nightwing Annual #1

Background Information:

When bodies washed up in Gotham's harbour, Nightwing moved down to Bludhaven to find out how those bodies got there. He found out that the whole thing was connected to a man known as the Blockbuster. He also developed a shaky alliance with corrupt detective Dudley Soames.

So, he lives in Bludhaven now. It's a thing.


Nighwing's second volume, Rough Justice, is the comic equivalent of eating pizza for every meal; you can only take so much of it before it gets bad for you. Rough Justice stops just before that happens, but damn if it doesn't cut it fine.

So now that Nightwing knows who's responsible for all the problems in Bludhaven. Of course, now that Blockbuster knows that Nightwing's there, the battle between them is heating up. In the midst of all this, who should show up but Batman to remind us that Nightwing is a
Batman character and since Batman is a Batman character who happens to also be Batman, this book has to have an appearance by Batman.

Okay, so there's an actual context given to Batman's appearance and his insistence that he be Batman. Turns out Bruce is there to check on Nightwing and that makes Dick think that he doesn't trust him to do anything right. A large amount of the this volume ends up being given to Dick simultaneously saying "I hope you approve" and "Go the hell away!" It's a good look into the character and helps the whole series feel that little bit more "coming-of-age-y".

Writer Chuck Dixon should be congratulated also for the way he continually makes sure that Nightwing is different in every way to Batman. There's hints early on in the volume that Nightwing will be geting a sidekick that gets totally dashed the very next panel, he gets himself a car that is nothing like a Batmobile and his lair is his apartment. It's these differences that really help to set Dick apart from the rest of the Bat-Family.

The book ends with Dick chasing down the Man-Bat before Deathstroke can capture him for a filmmaker. I had expected the appearance of Deathstroke to be a big deal; a high-stakes fight between a hero and best-known adversary.

Contrary to the look on his face, he's actually a pretty jovial
It wasn't. And it wasn't for a number of reasons- not the least of which being Deathstroke's ridiculous 90s costume. Firstly, the story around Man-Bat gave me no reason to care for what happens to anyone- the stakes aren't high in the least and Deathstroke's talents seem wasted on what is really more appropriate for an issue of Batman '66. Then there's the ending; it's WAY too abrupt and fails to cash in on what should have been the emotional core of the story. It's a disappointing pair of filler issues, but that's not the worst part of this volume.

That awards goes to the Annual issue. It's written by Devin Greyson and is about Dick faking a wedding to catch a killer. It's boring as hell, ugly to look at, and completely pointless in the grand scheme of things. I shudder to think of what future volumes are under Devin Greyson's pen, because the current evidence suggests that things will be truly atrocious.

Rough Justice is a book for Nightwing fans... and just about nobody else. It gets a three out of five Batmen being Batmen because Nightwing is a Batman character.


+ Effective as "coming-of-age" story.
+ Continues to differentiate Nightwing from Batman.
- Deathstroke/Man-Bat story falls flat.
- That Annual...

Alternate Option: Nightwing: Bludhaven

The better of the two Pre-52 Nightwing books.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman (Marvel NOW!) Review

Hawkeye Volume 3: L.A. Woman

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artists: Annie Wu and Javier Pulido

Collects: Hawkeye #14, #16, #18, #20 and Annual #1

Background Information:

For the past two volumes, Clint Barton (AKA Hawkeye), has been defending his aparment complex from a gang of Russians dressed in tracksuits. At the end of the last volume, however, Clint decided he was going to "bail" as young Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, puts it. Kate didn't like that, so she up and left to L.A, taking the pizza dog Lucky with her.


You hear a lot of calls for female-led books in the comic industry. You hear a lot of calls for more light-hearted fun in comics. If there was ever a solid argument for both, though, it's L.A. Woman.

Hawk-not-guy on computers!
So upon entering L.A., Kate is promplty robbed and left broke. Only having her skills as an archer/superhero at hand, she sets herself up as a hero for hire. All the while, Madam Masque lurks in every mission she takes. I think what I love about this particular format of storytelling is that it tells a complete story like the previous volume, without sacrificing the done-in-one episodic format that made me love the first Hawkeye volume. Each mission feels like it's own thing, but somehow it links back to Madam Masque. It allows for a light-hearted comic where the stakes feel high. That's a difficult thing to accomplish, and massive kudos goes to Matt Fraction for pulling it off.

Kate's character has always been well-written by Fraction, but gving her a chance to shine in what could easily classify as her own solo book is golden. Kate's got a very different voice to Clint. She feels younger and more energetic. Fraction even gives Kate her own slang; with liberal use of the word "futzing" and he catchprase "Momma like" being the standouts.

It's actually amazing how "un-Clint" this book feels withot feeling like a seperate series altogether. The basic elements of the Hawkeye comic up til now are retained; a gang of bellboys suitably replaces the tracksuit draculas, a scruffy-looking man with a dark past fills the void left by the redhead in previous volumes better than she initially filled it, and the ground-level, almost trivial threats are basically retained. Unlike other series that have made major changes (here's looking at you, Batgirl), this change feels natural. It's masterful.

This is the first time I've had to talk about art using two paragraphs, but here goes. Most issues here
are drawn by Annie Wu and while I miss the rough pencils of David Aja, Wu  makes a decent, albeit not equal substitute. She captures Kate's body language brilliantly. With the costume that Kate wears for most of the book, it would also be tempting for writers to draw the character so that the holes in her costume were emphasised. Thankfully, that's not a temptation that Wu succombs to. The holes at her waist, rather than being the focus, seem to just be there to break up the solid purple that otherwise dominates her costume. That's appreciated, and it's something that I want to see more of in the next volume.

Hawk-not-guy in a comic... somewhere...
Javier Pulido's art is another matter. Puido draws the art in the Annual and for a large chunk of the book, it feels like the guy wasn't all that interested in actually drawing anything. Black silouettes take up places where characters shold be in many panels and while this would be clever and nice-looking in small doses, Pulido spams pages with it. Eventually you just want to shake the book and yell "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! ACTUALLY DRAW SOMETHING, WILL YA?". He partially makes up for it, though, by putting Kate's facial expression in text boxes. That was a nice touch and something I was sad to see absent in other issues.

L.A. Woman is a near-perfect book. It gets a four and a half out of five silloute costume holes.

**** 1/2

Friday, 18 September 2015

The Caped Crusader Update: Ha, Ho, Ha Ha..

As some of you know, I've been working on a Batman fangame called The Caped Crusader, a Zelda-meets-Arkham game based primarily on the Court of Owls story arc.

Yes, there is still a stuff going on with the game. Never, of course, as much as I'd like (damn day job), but there is stuff happening. I'm adding a picture of an area, today. ACE Chemical, where Batman encounters... the Joker?

I wasn't particularly fond of this area until I added the graffiti. I think it adds something and makes the game feel more "Batman".

Anywho, enjoy. And check out the game's official blog for more.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Top 10 DC/Marvel Characters That I Hate, But Everyone Loves

I've been wanting to do this post for a while but here's the honest truth: my least favourite characters are ones that every keeps telling me are so awesome. I can better handle DC trying to push Joker's Daughter down my throat than a fanboy wailing about how terrible it is that the MCU Spider-Man isn't Miles Morales.

So what follows is my list of characters that so many people seem to love, but I can't stand. This is gonna be interesting...
Nope, that ain't even Damien... or Jason.

10: Tim Drake

Like most of these characters, my problem isn't so much the personality of Tim; it's the pedestal he's put on. Fans constantly insist that Tim is the best Robin. He's the genius, apparently- ignoring the fact that Dick, Damien and Jason have plenty of intellectual props. This one is a soft "hate," but I'm sick of the idea that Tim is godlike.

9: The Hulk

The Hulk is angry. And that's about his whole character. I know, his stories are generally about the conflict between man and monster, but neither the man nor the monster is parituclarly interesting. You say the Hulk is a great fighter? I say he generally has two poses. One is squatting while slamming the ground with both fists, the other is clapping his hands to make sonic booms. It's not fun to see and it's bland to read.

I admit, I was excited when I heard rumours that Iron Fist was going to become the new Hulk, because how awesome would Hulk with kung fu be? But, no, post Secret Wars, we're getting Ammadeus Cho. So we're going to see the same two poses for the next year, at least. *Sigh*

8: John Stewart
Yep, that's John in a nutshell.

You thought Man of Steel Superman was mopey? Get a load of John Stewart. Yeah, that Green Lantern that you have fond memories of from the Justice League cartoon had one real storyline- and that's all about how sad he is. Boo hoo, he killed a Green Lantern before the New 52. Boo Hoo, he killed a Green Lantern during the New 52. One guess what his major story arc is going to be about in DCYou...

John's entire character is based around him feeling guilty and sad. Seriously the DCCU needs Hal Jordan to balance out the morose Superman, which plenty have voiced their hatred for; yet everyone seems intent on dropping even more sad John into the franchise... the what?

Something to never happen in a comic... ever.
7: Star Lord

I know, Guardians of the Galaxy is a sacred cow in the MCU; a franchise nobody cared about until Chris Pratt played Star Lord. But here's the thing. That movie, from what I can tell, did not have Star Lord. It had Chris Pratt in space. The real Star Lord is considerably less funny.

And now we all need to think he is. Star Lord's writers don't have to make him funny at all (please note; funny and pathetic are not the same thing) and we have to claim he's funny as hell because he was in a movie.

This is one of the reasons I'm annoyed at Marvel.

Such noble! So hero!

6: Captan America

Yep, looking through this list, it should be pretty clear that I'm not impressed with the MCU. It's heavily influenced the Marvel Comic Universe and that is all kinds of wrong (Avengers beat up the X-Men, Wolverine can die "permanently", but Steve Rogers can hang around and sure, cancel the Fantastic Four but Guardians of the Galaxy should not only keep going but spin off into a billion titles!).

But Captain America gets me annoyed because he's consistently viewed as the "leader" of the Marvel Universe when I'm not sure he should be. He's a "goody-two-shoes" character that for some reason, doesn't get dismissed the way Superman does, even though he probably should be.

Seriously, what is her
5: Batwoman

Hey! This character is a lesbian. That's all we kn-- DID YOU KNOW SHE'S A LESBIAN? Yeah, but that's all there is to h-- SHE'S TOTALLY A LESBIAN! But there needs to be more to her chara-- BATWOMAN- LESBIAN... IS ONE!

Take note, DC; "lesbian" isn't a character. And that's all I've heard about her. When that's what's advertised over personality, it couldn't have been a surprise when her comic was cancelled.

Sorry, who are you and why should I care?

4: Thor

His movies were horrible. His comics, at least these days, are average. WHY IS HE A STAPLE OF
THE MARVEL UNIVERSE? I'm not even going to go further on that. Thor can go to hell (or whatever hell's called in Norse mythology... I really couldn't care less).

There are two types of people:
people who hate Guy and liars.

3: Guy Gardner

You know those people you want to punch in the face just by seeing them?  That's Guy Gardner for me. His brand of arrogance is irritating beyond belief and the result of some fist prints in my three volumes of Green Lantern Corps. His insistence on being the best is entirely unfounded and I can't for the life of me, figure out what makes him so endearing. Every time I read an issue of Green Lantern Corps or whatever he's involved in, I just hope that Hal, Kyle, hell, even John or Simon use their rings to close his mouth for good. He's not an Alpha male, he's a child.

2: Wally West

Wally fails at his A Streetcar named Desire audition
Yes, fine, my two most hated DC characters are gingers, but I swear it's got nothing to do with their
hair colour. No, the reason I hate Wally is different. It's not his personality, or his looks, or even that he isn't "my Flash".

It's his fans.

If I have to hear Wally West fans complain about Wally not being the Flash  anymore - if one more person refers to the current and longest-serving Flash as "boring Barry" one more time, I'm not going to be held accountable for who dies tonight. Wally West has a cult- and it's more spiteful than any other cult on earth. I can't bring myself to like this cult's leader- fictional or no.

That said, I've read nothing about Wally, so he may be okay despite his insane fandom. There is one character from the big two, though, that takes the cake for people to hate. And that character is...

1: Iron Man

Admittedly, I've only really been reading much in the way of comics since 2013. But here's what I've learned about Iron Man.

He's alcohlic.

He's a womaniser.

He only has one story, and it's primarily about extremis, because Disney want to sell Iron Man 3 blu-rays and they sure aren't gonna do that based on the merit of the film.

Every fight he's in involves his armour being better than whatever else is around.

His comics in the past few years have been boring the comic community to death. Nobody has praised Iron Man at least since 2013 (and I'm counting Superior Iron Man in this as well). By all accounts, this comic should be cancelled. Every comic fan should decide that his drivel isn't worth buying.

But they don't, because MCU.

I don't care how well Robert Downey Jr plays Tony Stark. I'm paraphrasing, but the saying goes that fecal matter cannot be effectively polished. Robert Downer Jr is doing a good job at playig a terrible character, but that doesn't make him a good character. If there was one overrated character in comics, it's this guy. His personality is cringeworthy, his stories are bland and he has no place in a universe that is supposed to be about heroics and wonder.

So... that was fun. What are your least favourites?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth (The New 52) Review

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth (The New 52)

She's almost dressed...
Writer: Adam Glass

Artists: Federico Dallocchio, Clayton Henry, Ransom Getty, Andrei Bressan and Cliff Richards

Background Information:

Who are the Suicide Squad?

Long story short, they're B-list DC villains who have been co-opted by the government to work near-hopeless missions for them. If they try to run away, then a small bomb goes off in the back of their neck.

That's all there is to it.


Okay, so I've been defending the New 52 to my dying breath. And I'm not ashamed of that. I've liked a lot of New 52 books and hated many that came before. I've been tempted to see the New 52 as infallible.

I'd like to apologise for that.

After reading Kicked in the Teeth, I now fully understand why people don't like the reboot. This is a volume that is poorly written, badly drawn and utterly boring. Indeed Kicked in the Teeth is not a description of the book's title; it's a description of how Suicide Squad fans must feel after reading this trash.

So when the Squad conduct a gone-awry mission, they desperately try to return to their boss, Amanda Waller. Leader Deadshot finds himself having to deal with a mismatched team comprising of King Shark, El Diablo Black Spider and Harley Quinn.

Oh, Harley Quinn...

Another day in high school.
Shockingly, she's a large part of what's wrong with this book. When written right, Harley's a funny, flirty, yet deep character. Adam Glass writes her as attempting-but-failing at being funny, aggressively sexual and shallow. I cannot think of one line that was actually funny from Harley in this volume. Her flirtatious attitude is replaced by her aggressively jumping Deadshot for sex (along with a bizarre and kinda gross joke about clown cars). Although there is a two-issue arc in this volume showing her cut up over Joker's apparent "death", this isn't really character development and just puts her back in the villain role that we see everywhere else - and considering that Suicide Squad is supposed to be about following villains as though they were heroes, that's a problem.

It's not like the other characters are well written; Deadshot is a typical "tough as nails" dudebro, and the rest are instantly forgettable. All the same, when the New 52 launched, Suicide Squad was treated as a book where Harley was the meant to be the drawcard- for evidence, see how nearly every cover features her prominently- and it's not done successfully.

The plot itself is also uninteresting. The squad complete one mission after another in succession. If you're going to do a story about a suicide mission, you'd better raise tension like it was going out of fashion. Glass doesn't do that. He jumps from one mission to another without letting us savour the intensity of missions that should, really, be all about looking hopeless.

Sure Harley. The unzipped coat is definitely going to keep
you warm.
There's been a lot of criticism that DC went "too dark" with the New 52. The strange part about Kicked in the Teeth is that, really, the book doesn't dark enough. We're talking about a group of killers and yet, there's not much of a sense of moral ambiguity. No morally questionable actions. Even Superman in the New 52 has made some not-so-heroic choices. Why the hell are the bad guys being so... good?

The art in this book is unspecial in some places, awful in others. There is literally nothing interesting to say about it. The one, and I mean, one good thing about the art is the flashback scenes into Harley Quinn's origins. We see Joker in the early days of the New 52 and... he looks a lot like Edward Cullen from Twilight and that is somewhat perfect, since Harley has a Twi-hard attitude toward the Joker.

But that isn't enough to save what is good reason to hate the New 52. Kicked in the Teeth gets only half a sparkly Joker out of five.


+ Joker looks like Edward Cullen... yep, that's a plus.
- Everything else.

Alternate Option: Anything Else.

Seriously, pick a comic and read it instead. It will likely be more entertaining.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Angela (Marvel NOW!) Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Angela (Marvel NOW!)
Look at all of these characters... That
are totally boring.

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artists: Sara Pichelli and Francesco Francavilla

Collects: Guardians of the Galaxy #4-10

Background Information:

The Guardians of the Galaxy... is a group of heroes who defend... earth... not the galaxy. At the moment their big concern is earth and to hell with everything else!

Not really a big surprise; when a team called "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" consists of an American playboy, an American soldier, an American archer, an American scientist, the most American russian woman I have ever seen on film and a guy who is from an entirely fictional location it's no surprise that the Guardians are only concerned with earth because there is no way characters can be relatable unless the nationalities and locations are our own, right?




If there's evidence that Marvel will keep publishing any old shlock so long as there is a MCU franchise alongside it, it's Marvel NOW!'s Guardians of the Galaxy. Two volumes in and there is nothing particularly good about it. This is the same company that cancelled the rather enjoyable New Warriors and the at-least-coherent Fantastic Four because there are no MCU movies attached to the title. Angela is a bland, pointless book that fails to hold readers' attention.

It's okay; it's not like her universe was using her.
So, Angela, a woman from heaven has wound up in the Earth realm and is getting into fights. That'
s it- that's the whole story. If that sounds totally boring and pointless, it's becasue it is. Nobody in this book seems to know their reason for fighting- and to be honest, I couldn't remember if there was. Either way, these battles are anti-climatic and bland. There's no reason to care about the victor in these fights because Bendis fails to ramp up the tension in any meaningful way. Nothing hinges on anything in this volume and if you want to see an example of that; a battle with the forces of Thanos for the fate of Earth portrays no sense of urgency whatsoever.

The introduction of Angela also fails to be a significant as Bendis clearly pretends it is. Even though the entire book is based around her, her presence doesn't seem to pose a threat. She is there to see if Earth actually exists. Nobody is chasing her, her presence hasn't upset the natural order and she isn't out to kill anyone. Yet Bendis devotes five issues to this non-story.

I like Bendis, I really do, but I like him for his character development. He's not great at action books and Angela is living proof of that. All-New X-Men, Ultimate Spider-Man; for all of the flaws of these books, they've got great character moments. I haven't seen any of that in Guardians of the Galaxy, and it's grating.

I could colour thins properly, buuuuut....
I will give Bendis this though, It's the one thing this book does right. I don't think it justifies the cost of the book. But Bendis gives us a Tony Stark that is totally out of his depth. On Earth, Tony gets too sweet a deal. His role as the face of the MCU means that everyone thinks he's a genius-supersoldier-immortal-stallion on Earth. In space, his intelligence is dwarfed by a talking racoon- which is not the least of the halariously awkward situations he finds himself in. As someone who HATES Tony Stark (I'm definitely team Steve for Civil War), it was a joy to behold. Unfortunately, these moments are few and far between and don't save this series from bombing hard.

Art here is a mixed bag of mediocre and mistaking-terrible-for-unique. There is one issue where the colourist seemed to be in the last thirty minutes of his friday shift and decided to colour each panel in one or two colours. It's not as interesting as I think the artist hoped it would be.

I never understood why people criticise Bendis until this Angela. Now? I think "oh, THAT'S why people think he can't write." This gets a one out of five minutes before the end of a friday shift.


+ Tony Stark looking like a fool.
- Dull story.
- Mediocre to awful art.

Alternate Option: All-New X-Men: Yesterday's X-Men

This is why Bendis still has a job with Marvel. Read it.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Tom Talks: Grayson #1 (with spoilers)

So, this is another post that I'll be making, where I regularly go through each issue of a comic series and mock it. And what better way to start it than with Dick Grayson's Backside Grayson: the one comic that I'll never forgive for not being Nightwing.

Wait, is this a gritty reboot of Guy Smiley?
Greyson #1: Remember how Things Used to be Better?
Open book on four panels that remind us that Dick Grayson used to be an acrobat, Robin, Nightwing and dead (but not Batman, because shut up); all of which would have made for a vastly better comic. Cut to Dick Grayson with a blond wig jumping onto a train and beating up a random because EXCITEMENT! And just in case you didn't think it was cool, a guy in a black cowl (again, not Batman) tells you it was- so start thinking it was cool, underlings!
Look everyone; better versions of the title character!
But that's all the cool you get for now, because cut to boring scene of Dick on said train in Russia flirting with a conductor. How do we know it's in Russia? Well, Dick compliments a girl in horrible Russian- hint, Dick; "Dyevushka" is Russian for "Girl", not "Jevochka".
If you're still not convinced, there are two ACTUAL RUSSIANS on the train as well; y'know, the kind we see on TV all the time; a woman who looks like every blonde supermodel ever and an overweight man- just like the ones on Anastasia. In the meantime, she is being watched by someone that I'm going to call Frizzyhairlady until this issue reveals her name. Frizzyhair lady tells Dick that she drugged the fat Russian's drink, but it's not working for some reason.
So Dick jumps in, flirting with blonde supermodel. In the process, he purposefully spills his red wine all over her white dress, and she has to leave to clean up.
Guy Smiley Dick Grayson in his blonde wig.
STOP RIGHT THERE! Blonde supermodel starts talking to someone. Not just anyone, but the random who Dick knocked out earlier; who's still clinging to the train. She can't have a full conversation, though, because Frizzyhairlady uses weird hypnotic powers to knock her out.
Meanwhile, Dick has taken the fat person from Anastasia and flippy-jumped off the train before people starts shooting at them. Wait- so, either Dick decided to jump off the train knowing that there were shooty people there, or the shooty people knew Dick was going to jump off right there. Seriously, the only other option is to have shooty people en masse along the entire train track and that would seem very un-spy-like. It's okay though, Dick and fat guy can take cover in a nuclear silo. When they're being shot at. With bullets. In a place that could cause a nuclear explosion. Who exactly thought Dick would make a good spy?
Well, not surprisingly, the silo turns out to be a bad idea. Not because the place is explody, and the last place you would want someone shooting guns, but because black-trenchcoat-not-Batman is there and he wants to fight. Cue fightscene with unrealistic amounts of talking. He discovers that Dick works for Spyral. Then BOOM! Turns out the fat character from Anastasia is covered in purple energy and has blasted not-Batman out of the silo (again, they realise this a nuclear facility, right?). Dick again uses all the logic at his disposal to call the guy covered in purple energy who can shoot people inside a nuclear silo a loser.
Spinny kicks are the best kicks.
This should surprise no one, but that annoys the fatty and he blasts at Dick. Dick dodges, fatty has powered down, and Dick can apprehend him before the silo falls down.
Back at Spy headquarters. Dick's boss, a guy with a swirly face (and even though it sounds like a kid who got bullied in high school, I'm calling him Swirlyface) compliments them a job well done (aside from the very-conspicuous explosion of a nuclear silo) and- HOLD UP; FRIZZYHAIRLADY HAS A NAME. She's Helena Bertinelli- no, not Huntress, don't call her that.
Night time, and Dick is working out in his underwear. Cue total silence from people who would be up in arms if this was a female. He then interrupts the giddy screams of women who thought they picked up a Magic Mike comic to use a hotwired radio to talk to Bruce Wayne (it's okay though, he's still in his underwear). He's interrupted when Helena interrupts him where they discuss using hypnos- source of the weird hypnotic powers. She flirts with Dick, and then reveals that she doesn't need to use hypnos, because she's hot enough to make Dick go ga-ga. That'll only happen once, right? I mean, they're not going to make Dick's sexuality the only thing driving this book, right?
For everyone to marvel at Dick's... personality.
Cut to a Spyral lab, where a scientist is examining the fat Russian from Anastasia's newly-removed stomach, which seems to be the source of his powers. Swirlyface looks at pictures of superheroes, declaring that all must be unmasked.