Monday, 28 October 2013

Scarlet Spider Vol. 2: Lone Star

Scarlet Spider Volume 2: Lone Star
Featuring explosions, big hats, and anger

Writer: Christopher Yost

Artists: Khoi Pham, Paulo Siqueira and Niel Edwards
Owned as trade paperback.
Background info:
Scarlet Spider (or just Kain) is an anti-hero. Having failed at fleeing to Mexico, he now serves as Houston's Spiderman. He takes care of Aracely, an immigrant who has some kind of mystic power. That's really all you need to know.
Volume 1 of Scarlet Spider was enjoyable, but at the end of the day, it was mostly character development. Writer Christoper Yost hinted at more happening, but the first volume did little more than establish who exactly Kain Parker was.

Now, it seems, Yost can finally get into the good stuff.

Lone Star really follows two major stories. Both of which differ in mood and theme. The first story is light-hearted and genuinely funny. After saving the daughter of a corrupt CEO, Kain starts digging deeper into the actions of a company known a Roxxon; an oil drilling firm that cover their dodgy actions with the fact that they seem to employ half of Houston. This brings the attention of a group known as the Rangers. The Rangers, simply put, are redneck avengers. Sorry to the once independent nation of Texas, but when your team’s leader is called “Texas Twister”, it’s hard to take you seriously.

This is the side of Kain that Life After Death got us used to. A perpetually grumpy Parker clone has a personal grudge against everyone. He’s the kinda guy for whom handling a situation delicately means throwing a girl out of a skyscraper window. It’s laugh-out-loud funny to see this guy get continually frustrated at the notion of becoming a hero. Couple that with the psychic Aracely and her innocent-yet-odd comments, it becomes a great example of what Marvel are best at; light-hearted takes on superheroics that thoroughly entertain.

The second major story changes that tone completely, and that may be a by-product of skipping over a few issues so they can be included in the Minimum Carnage trade. Aracely, a girl who relies on Kain for protection is being chased by, wait for it... werewolves.

 Talking werewolves.

Talking werewolves from Mexico.

Although it doesn’t exactly scream dark, it’s amazing how dark this story ends up being. I’ve said before that Scarlet Spider is a Batman fan’s Spiderman. This story makes him so much more. There’s elements of the Hulk, Doctor Fate, and even genuine horror. This brings out the dark story that I was personally waiting for in Scarlet Spider. Even Kain’s inner dialogue changes theme in this one, whereas the first story is all about cursing everyone who ever made him a hero, this second story is all about Kain walking the fine line between hero and monster, and it’s a great read.

The tone shifts in both stories are accompanied by appropriate artwork. The first story looks much like the previous volume- it’s bright, it’s colourful, and it makes the funny scenes even funnier. The second story uses a darker tone and that, naturally, accentuates the psychological depth of Kain that Yost has been working so hard to establish.

The duality is entertaining, but it’s also the book’s inherent flaw. Although I recognised Kain the whole way through, reading two different tones forced me to reacquaint myself with the character halfway through the book. If you’re listening, Marvel, this is not a good thing. The Kain in the second story was totally different to that of the first. It’s disappointing, especially since I don’t know which Kain I prefer. Reading this trade therefore left me feeling conflicted about what I could expect from Volume 3.

All the same, though, Lone Star is a great book that takes advantage of some careful character planning and gets a four and a half out of five Mexican werewolves.

**** ½

+ Two great stories

+ Artwork matches

- Stories don’t really mesh that well together.
Alternate option: Scarlet Spider: Life After Death
As close to Kain's origin story as you're gonna get.

Nightwing Vol. 2: Night of the Owls

Only one can rule the winter-themed disco!
Nightwing Volume 2: Night of the Owls (The New 52)

Writer: Kyle Higgins

Artist: Eddy Barrows.

Owned as Trade Paperback

Background Information:

In case you’re not sure, Nightwing used to be Robin. The last volume revealed that Dick Grayson/Nightwing was meant to be an assassin for the Court of Owls. It also saw Greyson take leadership of Haly’s Circus, the circus that used to be his family until his parents died there in an ambush.


Nightwing’s first adventure in the New 52 saw Kyle Higgins establish a fairly solid Dick Grayson character, but Traps and Trapezes was by no means perfect. One of the issues in the last volume didn’t really live up to the rest of the story, and Saiko, while intriguing, wasn’t exactly the most endearing villain.

While it goes a bit far to say that Higgins fixes these problems perfectly, it’s clear that he’s taking steps to resolve those issues. Is this a better volume than the first? No, but it’s no worse, as for every mistake Night of Owls fixes, it add a new one.

The book is divided into three parts: a two issue Night of the Owls tie in, a three-issue story that sees Nightwing framed for the murder of two young men (as we first saw in the previous volume), and one issue devoted to Nightwing’s origin story as Robin.

The Night of the Owls tie-in is what attracted me to the book in the first place, and there’s no real disappointment there. We get a glimpse at the origin story of William Cobb, but these two issues are an elaborately prepared battle scene, in all honesty. It’s a scene that Higgins writes well; both Cobb and Nightwing are shown playing off each other perfectly as the latter desperately tries to find a way to immobilise the former (pretty hard, when the former has healing powers ala Wolverine). What’s more interesting here, though, is the way that Higgins plays on the nature vs. nurture theme. In both Cobb and Grayson’s case, nurture wins; but it’s the impact that nurture has on both these men that makes this battle so intense.

The problem is that this arc seems to have no impact on the other stories in the volume. The second story sees the introduction of the first real Nightwing villain to feel like a major player in the series; Paragon. A manipulative revolutionary, Paragon has all the makings of a great continuing villain; he controls a vast army of followers known as the Republic of Tomorrow, and exhibits this interesting philosophy about the damage that reliance on superheroes can cause. It’s an undeveloped philosophy that Higgins seems to take no time to explain, but it’s still a delicious mix of rationalism and insanity that really makes me want to see this guy come back (even though I haven’t heard of him doing so in the near future). What’s better is the way that this story ties into the previous volume. I won’t give it away, but details that you didn’t expect to crop up again do so in a big way.

Nightwing’s origin story seems to be the low point in this collection, but that’s saying very, little. When it was announced that Dick Grayson would be sixteen when he became Batman’s protégé instead of twelve, there were some concerns about how that could change the character into something that didn’t “make sense”. Rest easy; Dick Grayson’s new origin story perfectly fits into the New 52 universe, and it’s an entertaining story to boot, showing Grayson’s ability to read others and actually perform some fine detective work on his own. Some experienced readers may feel the loss of continuity with this story, but new readers shouldn’t worry- it’s entertaining enough.

Now I’ve mentioned very little about the art here. That’s because the art seems to take an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. It’s still just as good though, and improved writing from Higgins has allowed Barrows to really impress with huge action scenes. A great example is the beautiful two-page spread in the fifth chapter- the action looks brutal and is really easy to follow.

Night of the Owls improves on the effort made by Traps and Trapezes by cutting the awkwardness of certain issues and giving us a villain to watch. Unfortunately the story arcs don’t really combine well and that villain to watch may only be worth doing so because he’s currently underdeveloped. It gets a perfect four and a half out of five owls.

**** 1/2

+ A villain that hopefully crops up again.

+ Story makes you reference previous volume.

+ Art is consistently good.

- Villain is still underdeveloped.

- Story arcs don’t really mesh that well.

Alternate Pick: Batman: Court of Owls

A much scarier take on the character of William Cobb, this one shows just how dangerous the Court of Owls is, and just how vulnerable Gotham’s citizens are.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Batman Incorporated Vol. 1: Demon Star (The New 52)

Batman Incorporated Vol 1: Demon Star (The New 52)

Looking grouchy runs in the family
Writer: Grant Morrison

Artist: Chris Burnham

Read as hardcover trade.

Background Information:

If you think Batman Incorporated is going to be anything like the Dark Knight Trilogy, you’re gonna have a bad time. The book’s writer, Grant Morrison, is not famous for that “realistic” approach that recent films have taken to the caped crusader. Rather, Grant Morrison is all about delving into the supernatural and, sometimes, the bizarre. His work, as a matter of fact, more closely mirrors Tim Burton’s work on the franchise than Nolan’s- Morrison loves the weird and wonderful and it’s something that made him truly stand out as a Batman writer. Some fans have loved him for it, some wouldn’t be disappointed if he crawled into a hole and died.

What you need to know about Batman Incorporated is that it’s in every way Morrison’s book he began the series before the New 52, and decided to continue on the same story after the reboot. Sure, there’s plenty here that can steer new readers in the right direction, but you’ll still be plonked straight into the middle of a story that has been going on for a couple of years beforehand.

You also need to know that Demon Star focuses mostly on Talia Al’Ghul. She’s Ras Al’Ghul’s daughter and the mother of current Robin, Damien Wayne (who is also Bruce Wayne’s son). She’s every bit the warlord her father was and is this collection’s main villain.


I’ve mentioned in my Court of Owls review that I’m not quite sure what the point of Batman Incorporated is, and I stand by that. It used to be a series about Batman trotting the globe on adventures with Batmen (Batmans? Batpeople?) from around the world. For the New 52, though, Morrison has put Batman and his global allies back in Gotham. This makes it kinda’ difficult to understand why DC decided to include this book in the new continuity. Is this supposed to be a “Team Batman” book? No, the team doesn’t feature too prominently here. Is it a book about Batman as a symbol? No, there’s not much discussion here about the significance of Batman to Gotham. This book simply feels like it’s there so that DC can sell more Batman books.

One of the first things you’ll notice about Demon Star is that the plot is really hard to follow. This isn’t because the book plonks you in the middle of a story already in progress, though. It’s more got to do with how much the story flits back and forth between time periods. Basically, the story runs thus;

Batman and Robin have gathered their global allies into Gotham, where a criminal conspiracy called Leviathan is slowly growing, brainwashing children and generally raising hell. Talia Al’Ghul is the woman behind all of this, and she has her sights set on Damien Wayne/Robin. It’s not a nice, motherly feeling that drives her to this, but her hatred of Batman and desire to destroy him. It’s a story that sounds simple enough, but it’s made difficult to follow by multiple flashbacks and flash forwards that serve nothing but to disorientate the reader. The story is complicated further by a cliff-hanger non-ending that makes this volume feel incomplete.

There are some pluses to the story, however. Morrison writes Damien Wayne perfectly. See, this particular Robin is by far the vainest of the lot. He has way too much confidence in his own abilities and sees everyone as beneath him. That frustrates a lot of fans who prefer the more light-hearted Robin, but Morrison actually writes this character really well (which he should do, he introduced the character in Batman and Son). In Demon Star, we see Damien at his best: a frustrated child who doesn’t understand why he should be treated like one. The best moments in this book are when Morrison grounds Damien and you get to see him show that frustration. Even people who hate the Wayne child have to admit, seeing him annoyed at not being taken seriously is fun.

The art is spasmodic at best. Although that’s Burnhams name on the cover, responsibility for the art falls between multiple pencillers.  Frazer Irving and others share the burden for the visual side of Demon Star, which makes it rather disjointed. Sometimes the art is amazing, other times it’s barely adaquete. Add that to the all-over-the-place story and you have a book that feels everywhere at once and really goes nowhere.

Demon Star is not a bad book by any means, but it certainly does not belong in a universe that claims to be a reboot. It’s not a new story; it’s a continuation of an old one.  It gets two and a half out of five batmen.

** ½

+Damien is written perfectly.

-The story doesn’t flow well.

-The art doesn’t fit together.

Alternate option: Batman: Court of Owls

Currently the best Batman series out there, this is a book much better suited to new readers.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Flash, Volume 1: Move Foward (The New 52)

The Flash Vol.1: Move Forward (The New 52)
Hope you like this pose, you'll be seeing
it a lot.

Writer: Francis Manapul

Artist: Brian Buccalleto

Read as Trade Paperback

Background Information:

Before you pick up Move Forward, it’s important to know who this Flash is.

Most who are new to comics would probably know him from the Justice League cartoon of the early 2000s. That Flash was a quick-talking hero with a major funnybone. He was a little flirtatious, very self-confident and for most of the series, he was kinda’ the joke character. His highlight in the series was using his speed to beat the ever-loving snot out of the Lex Luthor/Brainiac hybrid in the final episode.

This isn’t that Flash.

In Move Forward, The Flash is Barry Allen. He’s actually the original. Barry’s been dead and brought back to life again, though some readers may see his personality as never being alive in the first place. See, Barry isn’t a joker like Wally, and he doesn’t share Wally’s self-confidence or his laid-back attitude. Barry is a little bit geekier. He’s as forensic scientist who is socially awkward around women. He is the original Flash, however; they guy who got covered by chemicals and struck by lightning. Somehow that resulted in super-speed instead of third-degree burns.

But this is comics. Realism be damned!


Move Forward, if anything, is about Barry’s relationship to the Speed Force, the energy that gives Flash his ability to run fast. The story is about Barry finding new abilities with this energy, but also its deadly side-effects. It’s an overarching story that ties the two story arcs of Move Forward together nicely.

It turns out the Speed Force does more than just make Barry run fast. It can vibrate the molecules in his body which allows him to phase himself (and even other objects) through solid walls. As Barry rotates his arms, the Speed Force creates vortexes. Most significantly, in this volume, Barry discovers that the Speed Force can help him to “think fast”. This means considering every possible outcome of a situation and acting accordingly. This ability needs a villain that can live up to it. Enter Mob Rule, an old friend of Barry’s that can clone himself multiple times.  It’s a decent set-up; a guy that can move and think faster than anything verses a guy who can be everywhere at once. The situation is complicated further by the fact that Mob Rule is actually an old friend of Barry’s whose clones have turned against him.

The story moves about as fast as you would expect from a book about the fastest man alive, which leads me to talk about one of the book’s major strengths; a lot happens in a single issue. It makes sense, as someone who can move quickly should be able to do more in less time. As a result, I found myself getting my “Flash-fill” before I even reached the middle of the book. That’s an advantage in my eyes, because it gives Move Forward an extended use-by date. This book was just as good to read in the second sitting as the first, which I appreciated.

Much of that sense of speed comes from the work of Brian Buccalleto as artist. Buccaletto is a master at panelling the flash, creating this ordered chaos in his panelling that makes each moment in The Flash feel both quick and incredibly graceful. Between him and writer Francis Manapul, the book has plenty of moments for huge page or double-page spreads. Nearly every moment in this book has you thinking about how great this would be in a movie; Flash vibrates an entire jumbo jet through a bridge. Boats are torn apart and suspended on pillars of ice. Time and space get disrupted something shocking. This is a spectacle book that plays perfectly on the skills of both writer and artist.

My only complaint about Move Forward is that it doesn’t quite end. This was a series that was clearly designed to be read as separate issues. Each issue in this collection ends on a cliff-hanger that really avoids any satisfying conclusion to the trade. It’s a small matter, but it does make the end of Move Forward somewhat abrupt and forced.

Move Forward is exactly what you should expect from a Flash story; it’s faced paced and heavy on action. It gets four and a half out of five third-degree burns.

**** ½

+ Fast moving story.

+ Artwork matches the pace of the story.

- Ending is too abrupt.

Alternate Option: Flashpoint

It’s another Flash book that deals with Barry’s use of the Speed Force. Damn that Speed Force.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Spider-Man Noir

Spider-Man Noir Vol.1

He swung into my office like a cool
breeze on a hot day...
Writers: David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky

Artist: Carmine Di Giandomencio

Owned digitally as separate issues.

Background Information:

One of the strengths that comic books have is that they are constantly being re-imagined. Rather than remain stagnant, comics constantly change their universes in order to keep the ideas fresh. It’s mostly the reason we still read Batman, or Iron Man (whose suit was originally all-gold and significantly uglier than current versions).

In this tradition, we have the “alternate universe” approach to renewing franchises. This is the kind of approach that continuously asks “What if...?” What if the X-Men lived in 2099? What if the Transformers came to earth in the late 1800s? What if Batman lived in a dystopian universe where everyone was made or recycled rubber ducks (okay, that one’s not actually a story, but you get the point)?

Which leads us to the Marvel Noir series- an attempt to re-brand certain Marvel characters in a film noir/pulp fiction style universe set in the 1930s. These have generally been hit-or-miss stories, with the universe’s version of X-Men garnering a lot more critical praise than the like of, say Daredevil.

Spider-man’s  Noir treatment though, has so far received the most mainstream media attention with the release of Spiderman: Shattered Dimensions. The game saw a black-suited, goggle-eyed Spidey use stealth tactics to take down gangster (not gangsta, there’s a difference) versions of the Green Goblin, Hammerhead, and the Vulture.


If you pick up Spider-Man Noir expecting it to remain faithful to its video game counterpart, you’re gonna have a bad time. It’s a good read, but don’t expect to see a whole lot of stealth action. Rather, the charm of the book lies in drawing you into this glamorous, yet edgy world that time forgot when your great-grandparents died.

For a good half of the book, Spider-Man Noir follows not Peter Parker, but Ben Ulrich as he struggles with his inner demons. The year is 1933 and things are bad in New York. It’s the height of the Great Depression, out of work families are setting up shanty towns all over the city, and people have generally lost hope. That spells money for the Daily Bugle, so Ulrich is sent in as a photographer to capture the suffering of Americans wherever he can find them. While doing so, he befriends Peter and May Parker; socialist revolutionaries who are campaigning for a better share for New York’s down-and-outers. Ben takes a liking to Peter and immediately takes him in as an assistant.

Don’t worry, the book is still about Spiderman, and the focus does shift eventually to Peter and his web-slinging exploits, but writers Hine and Sapolsky allow you to get to know him as Ben comes to know him. Peter’s an idealistic young man who is shocked and angered by the level of depravity all around him. The Goblin and his cronies rule most of New York, killing anyone who doesn’t dance to their tune and that angers Peter. It serves as a nice contrast to Ben Ulrich, who finds himself way too caught-up in this world and actually serves as the catalyst for Ulrich to finally fight the powers that be (however unsuccessfully).

Critics have been eager to point out that the elements of a “noir” story aren’t really in this book. And that’s been the book’s biggest criticism: it’s called noir, yet it’s not noir. Well, they’re right: there’s no femme fatales, no final, conflicted hero (Ben Ulrich dies, leaving Peter as the hero of the story) and no more urban modernity that you see in other comics.

In other news, Batman isn’t really a bat, Iron Man is actually pretty fleshy under that armour and the Transformers don’t convert electrical power. Okay, I’m ranting a bit now, but to judge a good story based solely on how it reflects its name seems a little silly to me. Let’s be clear: this book is called Spider-Man Noir because Spider-Man in the Great Depression Wearing Black and Fighting Gangsters is an awful title for a book.

And it doesn’t really matter that this isn’t a noir story, because the world absolutely sucks you in. You see classic villains re-imagined as gangsters, circus freaks, and even cannibals. You get hooked on the social order prevailing in New York. It all results in this great feeling of nostalgia for a time that for all its problems, was definitely very classy.

And the art helps drive that home. Di Giandomencio does a great job at bringing the streets and liquor houses of the early 1930s to life. And the characters themselves have a equal sense of class and roughness. The 1930s Spider-Man looks particularly impressive. He actually looks fearsome here; sporting black webs and even a pistol for a short time.

My only criticism of the book is really the half where the narration shifts to Parker’s point of view. For half of the book, we see him only as a support-character, yet when Hine and Sapolsky make him the narrator, they seem to expect that we’ve been listening to his internal monologue all along. We haven’t and when I read the second half I found myself thinking “who is this guy and why should I care?” He really was far more effective as a non-narrating character and it’s a pity that his effectiveness wares off once we start following him more closely.

Spider-Man Noir gives readers an intoxicating world to read about and a decent story of status quo and activism. It gets a four out of five recycled rubber ducks.


+ Immersive setting.

+ When Ben Ulrich narrates, the storytelling is fantastic.

- The shift to Peter Parker loses momentum.

Alternate Option: X-Men Noir

If the whole “not noir” thing bothers you, maybe this will calm you down a bit- it’s definitely “noir” enough.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Batman Issues 1-7 (Court of Owls)

Batman Issues 1-7 (The New 52)
Please Note: These issues were collected in paperback form as Batman Vol. 1: Court of Owls (The New 52).
Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

Read digitally as separate issues.

Background Information:

When DC rebooted their entire universe in a movement called The New 52, Batman emerged as somewhat the favourite child (although, Green Lantern comes a close second). Don’t believe me? Take it as evidence that, since the 2011 reboot, there has been no less than five canon series; Batman: The Dark Knight focuses on Batman’s villains, Batman: Detective Comics revels in the mystery aspect of the bat’s adventures, Batman and Robin puts the spotlight on the dynamic duo’s adventures (with Bruce Wayne’s son, Damien as Robin), and if anyone can tell me what the point of Batman Incorporated is, I’d be very grateful.

And that’s not even counting the New 52’s spin-off titles; Nightwing, Catwoman, Batgirl, Batwoman (yes, they’re two different characters), Red Hood and the Outlaws and Batwing all have connections to Batman.

The New 52 series that focuses on the Batman that most are more familiar with is simply titled Batman. This title focuses on the caped crusader as an action hero, which is pretty much the depiction we got from the Dark Knight trilogy.

Did I mention keeping track of Batman books is difficult? Well, it is.


The Court of Owls storyline really seems to have two major goals: prepare readers for the big Night of the Owls crossover event that is set to happen and, more interestingly, destabilise Batman as the man who essentially “owns” Gotham. The story follows Bruce Wayne as he investigates a murder that is connected to a group known as the Court of Owls- a group that until previously had been thought only to exist as old-wives tales. For centuries, writer Scott Snyder tells us, the Owls have been ruling Gotham in secret, acting as judge, jury and executioner for Gotham’s seediest.

Bruce doesn’t believe they exist- he investigated the group years ago and came up with nothing. However, as Bruce takes a fresh look into the Owls, he starts to realise that maybe he knows less about Gotham than he thought.

“But wait,” I hear you say, “this is a Batman story! Where is the Joker? Where’s Two-Face? Where’s Ras Al’Ghul, The Scarecrow, The Riddler, Bane, The Penguin or that angry chick from Dark Knight Rises? Hell, I’ll settle Mr. Freeze; Schwarzenegger puns and all!”

The answer to your question is: they’re in other books. Remember those five different series that I mentioned to you? Well, not all of them can use the Joker at the same time. Thankfully, what readers get instead isn’t a  “fill-in” villain, but a truly terrifying organisation that make the League of Shadows in Batman Begins look like a club for feather-duster wielding four-year-olds.

This, granted, is partially true because Snyder writes them wonderfully. See, the Owls aren’t just another group of ninjas waiting for Batman to kick their respective trashes. Snyder uses them to create real unrest in Batman; playing with his mind and driving him to near insanity. The result is a fairly intense story that breaks Batman both mentally and physically. Remember how much you thought the Joker controlled Gotham in The Dark Knight? The Court of Owls actually ramps it up a notch, and I felt like Batman was starting to believe that he was never winning the fight against crime. Which, when you’ve locked away multiple criminal masterminds, has gotta hurt your ego.

Capullo’s art is fantastic here. The guy draws a near-perfect Batman; giving both him and Gotham that sense of darkness that has now become the standard for a Bat-Story. Sure, some of the action scenes can be a little hard to follow, but I really found that I didn’t care. This wasn’t a story about action scenes (even though there is plenty of it), it was about tragic discoveries and desperate denial, and the artwork really hits home the tragedy that is Batman being blind to reality.

I have only one real gripe with this story. And really, it’s one I brought on myself. See, I read all seven of these issues on my smartphone. It was fine up until I got to issue #5. In that issue, Capullo tries to depict Batman on some sort of hallucinogen. To do so, he plays with the page orientation a bit. Pages are drawn upside-down and sideways as he tries to shake the effect of the drug off. On paper, I’ll bet it looks awesome. On a smart-device, it’s annoying. As you try to turn the device around to read the page, the device insists on making each panel “right way up”, which turns panels back upside-down and sideways again. It’s a small problem, considering the awesomeness of the story, but it’s one that seriously decreased my enjoyment of an otherwise perfect story.

The Court of Owls story-arc is a great beginning for Batman in the New 52, but I would recommend getting it in print. It gets 5 out of 5 feather-duster wielding four-year-olds.


Alternate Pick

Actually, any of the other four Batman series would probably do.  

Monday, 7 October 2013

Green Arrow Vol 1: The Midas Touch

Green Arrow Volume 1:The  Midas Touch (The New 52)

"Next person who calls me Hawkeye
gets an arrow in the jugular!"

Writers: Dan Jurgens, J.T. Krul and Keith Griffen

Artists: Dan Jurgens, Ignacio Calero, George Perez and Ray McCarthy

Read as trade paperback

Background Information:

You’ve watched Arrow, right? Yeah, this is that guy.

... What?!

Okay, I admit it; I haven’t actually watched that much of Arrow. I always get tired before airs. With that in mind, Green Arrow was first introduced to me in the Justice League cartoon of last decade. I was interested in this Batman-like archer (in the sense that he has no super powers), and appreciated the cartoon’s attempts at forging a relationship between both him and his bat-totemed other. It was cool to see two powerless heroes acknowledge each other in a “got your back, bro” kinda way.
Put simply, Green Arrow is what Oliver Queen calls himself when he goes vigilante at night. He carries a bow with all sorts of crazy, high-tech arrows (a classic is the arrow that contains a boxing glove- physics be damned). When he's not vigilante-ing, Queen runs Q-Core, a technology company that basically functions like Apple in the real world (right down to QPhones and QPads). Yep, he's Steve Jobs cross Hawkeye.
Does that make Bruce Wayne Microsoft?


So it’s with that knowledge that I sprung into The Midas Touch, the New 52s offering for Oliver Queen’s adventures. I borrowed this one from my local library, and I must admit, was a little wary of the title- wasn’t keen on Green Arrow’s look, for starters. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. The book isn’t rubbish. In fact, it is very much not rubbish.

The Midas Touch is divided into two stories- one of which is definitely stronger than the other. The First half of the book sees Queen take on a group of villains led by a man named Rush. That doesn’t sound to interesting at first, except when you consider the groups motives. In true Gen Y fashion, these guys aren’t interest in global domination (so 90s). No, they want to film Arrow getting clobbered and rake in the ill-deserved fame that comes from a viral video. It’s a fun look into just how twisted the social media trend can be, and delivers a story that really couldn’t have been done ten years ago- y’know, back when we had dial-up modems.

It’s a good thing the first half is so entertaining, because the second half of the trade is pretty bland. This one focus on two villains, the toxic, deformed monster known as Midas, and his lover, Blood Rose. Blood Rose, it seems, has some beef with Queen- beef enough to try and kill the man. It’s a pretty nonsensical story and if it wasn’t for the first half of the book, it would be enough to write Green Arrow off altogether.

The artwork in The Midas Touch is decent- it’s definitely not anything to write home about, but it captures the action and kookiness of Queen’s character and successfully manages to make Queen and Green Arrow look like completely different people; proving, in a way that secret identities can be done right. Somehow, I found myself not suspecting Queen of being Green Arrow- and this from a guy who had seen him actually change costume in the book. Imagine how well Queen would have the rest of Seattle fooled!

The Midas Touch is a fun romp at Green Arrow’s character. It would have been spectacular had it not been for the dry second-half. It gets a four out of five dial-up modems.


+ First story is awesome.

+ Artwork convinces us that the Green Arrow persona is actually a disguise.

- Dry, dry, dry second half.

Alternate Pick:... um...

I actually have no idea. Any suggestions, readers?