Monday, 31 March 2014

Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits (Marvel NOW!) Review


Hawkeye Vol. 2: Little Hits (Marvel NOW!)
David Aja makes sure we know where
the title is.

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artists: David Aja, Francesco Francavilla, Jesse Hamm and Steve Lieber

Collects: Hawkeye #6-11

Background Information:

“Clint Barton, a.k.a Hawkeye, became the greatest sharpshooter known to man. He then joined the Avengers. This is what he does when he’s not being an Avenger.”

That’s actual text from the series, and that’s basically all the backstory you need for this character. In the last volume, Clint got in serious trouble with a gang known over the internet as the Tracksuit Draculas. They’re a small, Eastern European gang who use the word “bro” like you and I use commas. While Clint was annoying them, he also met a girl whose name was never mentioned and who also was on the bad side of the “bro”-sayers.

Review:

Hawkeye’s first volume, My Life as a Weapon, was one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve ever read. It’s light-hearted, episodic storytelling didn’t take itself too seriously and the whole thing was jam packed with humour and likable characterisation. What made it a real winner, though, was the art style; minimalist colouring and dirty lines gave it a retro feel and it really looked like nothing else on the market. While visually, Little Hits carries on the previous book’s tradition, it loses a lot in terms of story, and with that loss, goes a lot of the series’ charm.

Little Hits starts off with that same very episodic format in issue 7. We get a look at hurricane sandy through the eyes of Clint and Kate (the other Hawkeye). It’s a thoroughly entertaining issue that serves up the exact same feeling that we got from the first volume in the series, and that is something you end up thankful for.

Unfortunately, that feeling doesn’t really last, as the following six issues start to do something that really detracts from the great feeling of the series. Fraction decides that it’s time to give Hawkeye a proper story arc. Part of the awesomeness of the last volume was that reading each issue felt like watching an episode of a brilliant TV series and in losing that feeling, Little Hits becomes more like an average superhero book and less like the fun snippet into Hawkeyes life outside of superheroing.

That’s not to say the stories are bad though, there are some fantastic moments written by Fraction. One of which includes Clint standing outside his apartment, bow drawn in defiance of the Tracksuit Draculas. Fraction is also more willing to experiment with different storytelling techniques- a highlight of which is the final issue, which is told through the perspective of Hawkeye’s Pizza Dog. Nonetheless, the fact that the whole thing is still one story arc means that these different storytelling styles make reading Little Hits a practice in wading through mud.

The biggest problem here, though, is that Clint becomes less likable by the end of this volume, most of this has to do with the fact that despite his previous romantic liaison with the girl connected to the Tracksuit Draculas, Clint is still dating Spider-Woman Jessica. Call me old-fashioned, but it’s hard for me to barrack for a hero who I know is a cheater. I’m hoping this event causes him to make some life-decisions and ultimately become better, but I came out of Little Hits liking Clint less.

It sounds like I think Little Hits is a bad book, but I don’t. The art here continues to be amazing, and Fraction and Aja in particular have this perfect synergy when it comes to visual storytelling. Again, this comes to a climax in the final issue. Very little text is used here. Instead, the dogs thoughts are told through pictures in a sort of “mind-map” style. It’s brilliant to see a book where writer and artist really understand each other’s strengths and Little Hits doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

Another really great thing about this book is that it lets Kate stand out even more as great character. I ended up liking her more than Clint, which is big considering that Clint is really the title character here. She is shown to be more and more competent and her role as a moral compass for Clint is spot-on. The book also introduces Clint’s first real villain. Sure, there were the Draculas and Madam Masque in the first volume, but Little Hits’ The Clown looks like he could be causing some real trouble for Clint in the next volume- something Fraction really needs if he is going to start using long story arcs. And before you ask- no, the Clown is not just a repurposed Joker- I’ll leave it at that.

Little Hits is passable, but honestly represents a step backwards for Hawkeye. It gets a three and a half out of five “bros”.

*** ½

+ Art continues to be fantastic

+ Kate is fantastic here

+ Some clever storytelling techniques used

- Longer story arcs lessen Hawkeyes charm

- Clint becomes less likable here

Alternate Option: Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon

It’s the winner out of the two Hawkeye volumes out now- you don’t want to pass up on this one!

Friday, 28 March 2014

Soldier Zero Vol. 1: One Small Step For Man (BOOM! Studios) Review

Soldier Zero Vol. 1: One Small Step For Man (BOOM! Studios)

"I beleeive I can flyyyy..."
Writer: Paul Cornell

Artists: Javier Pina and Sergio Arino.

Collects: Soldier Zero #1-4

Background information:

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Starborn, a BOOM! comic about a character created by Marvel Legend Stan Lee. Well, turns out he made three of them. Soldier Zero is one of them.

That’s all you need to know.

Review:

So Stuart Trautmann was a captain during the war in Afghanistan. During that time, a land mine cost him the use of his legs. Coming back stateside, Stuart tries to deal with life from a wheelchair, averting the gaze of people who would pity him, and trying to date the girl of his dreams.
"Shut up, internal monologue!" No, YOU shut up!

That life is strongly interrupted when a living space suit, complete with weaponry and a mind of its own, falls from the sky and bonds itself with Stuart, taking his body over and allowing him to walk, run, fly and use all sorts of killy-things to hurt bad guys.

Like Starborn, Soldier Zero really benefits from its protagonist. Writer Paul Cornell avoids placing Stuart in any clich├ęs that we would normally associate with a disabled character. He’s used to the wheelchair these days, and doesn’t resent his situation. He doesn’t revel in the fact that the Soldier Zero suit can make him walk, and actually prefers to be free of it. Stuart is at peace with his situation, he just wishes that everyone else was. It’s a great way of giving us an original take on a character, as well as giving us a realistic look at the life of someone who is wheelchair-bound.

The Soldier Zero suit is also an interesting character, I won’t give too much away about him, since it’s a major spoiler, but he develops quite a bit throughout the story. The suit goes from talking like a machine, to using a speech pattern similar to Stuart; even cracking jokes. Between Stuart and the suit, what follows is a great dynamic between the two characters as they bicker, agree on something, and then bicker again.

At the same time, though, I can help but feel that we’ve seen a character who uses a special suit in combat before. Y’know... in another Stan Lee creation... okay, fine... it reminds me of Iron Man. In this way, the whole concept of Soldier Zero reminds you that Stan Lee is really kinda old. And that saying about old dogs and new tricks? It somewhat applies here.

Aliens don't understand the "time out"
rule.
One Small Step For Man, thankfully, compensates that with some really fine art work. It’s a more serious Starborn, with realistic, less-cartoony proportions and darker lighting. It’s nice to look at, however; especially when you look at Soldier Zero’s design. Simply put, Soldier Zero looks awesome. The red-on-white suit is fantastic, and combines human and alien-looking elements. While the human faces sometimes look like even the men are wearing a little too much make-up the great character designs here make up for that.
tone here than what we’ve seen in

One Small Step For Man has a brilliant story, there are a couple of flaws, though, that stop it from being perfect. It gets a four out of five Iron Men.

****

+ Stuart and his suit are excellent characters

+ That costume looks awesome

- Stan Lee’s age is showing here

- Human faces look wierd

Alternate Option: Starborn: Beyond the Stars


A lighter book, but thoroughly entertaining.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Culling: Rise of The Ravagers (The New 52) Review



The Culling: Rise of The Ravagers (The New 52)

This never happens- don't bother looking for it.

Writers: Scott Lobdell and Tom DeFalco

Artists: Aaron Kuder, Iban Coello, R.B. Silva, IG Guara, JP Mayer, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Sal Regla, Mario Alquiza, John Livesay, Pete Woods and Rob Lean (*pant*pant*pant*... okay, I can’t breathe now).

Collects: Legion Lost #8-9, Superboy #8-9, Teen Titans #8-9

Background information:
In the First volumes of Teen Titans and Superboy, we were introduced to N.O.W.H.E.R.E.
Don’t even ask me what that stands for.
But long story short; they’ve been capturing metahuman teens and holding them in their secret based in the Atlantic. They’ve controlled Superboy, captured the Teen Titans, and somehow pulled the Legion Lost into the whole thing.

Review:
May the odds be ever in your... I mean... what?
So here it is; the infamous event known as The Culling. Looking at the criticism levelled at it, I came into fairly certain it was responsible for the Great Depression, the Holocaust, the death of the dinosaurs and Big Brother getting back on Australian television (I was willing to forgive the Great Depression, but that was truly evil). While this book hasn’t made me a fan of Scott Lobdell in the least, The Culling is neither as bad as people say, nor as good as it was hyped up to be.
The Culling

Now that N.O.W.H.E.R.E has all of these teenage super-types locked up? What’s the best thing to do with them? I know, let’s put them in a big cave and make them fight! Because... you know... kids love Hunger Games, right?

The central problem with this book is that it absolutely reeks of Lobdell’s age. See, Lobdell has been writing a lot of fairly young characters in the new DC universe. Problem is, Lobdell’s style of writing doesn’t make these characters sound like 15-20 year-olds. They sound like 50 year olds trying to sound “hip” to connect with their children. You just want to shake this book, call it grandpa and tell it to stop trying to talk like you. Lobdell’s obviously heard that The Hunger Games was popular, so he tried to recreate it, not really understanding that what kids like is new ideas, not kids killing kids.

On top of that, neither Lobdell, nor Tom DeFalco give us Culling contestants that are really interesting. I honestly cannot recall the names of anyone the Teen Titans, Legion Lost or Superboy fought in this issue bar Harvest, and even he feels a little overdone (more on that later). Both writers seem to spend a lot of time introducing new people for the heroes to fight, but unfortunately, it never gets beyond “Hi, my name is X and I do Y.” You know you’re reading great dialogue when it doesn’t feel like somebody spent time writing it, and that’s an impression you never get here.

At its core, The Culling is a collection of fight scenes. It’s a saving grace for this book that the fight scenes are done quite well. Each one generally has its own flavour and that helps to make the book feel like it’s better done than it actually is. The last fight scene with Harvest has no reason to be as fun as it actually is, but for some reason, I found myself getting invested in it. It doesn’t make the book great, but saves it from being a total disaster.

Not many job opportunities for doughnuts...
The art... fluctuates. In some places, like the characters’ redesigned costumes for the Culling, it looks great,
in other places, not so much. Some of the character designs, for example, look awful. There’s a cyborg-looking character straight out of the nineties, a villain that looks too much like Teen Titans’ Bunker to tell apart easily, but worst of all, there’s Harvest- the leader or N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Harvest is designed to look like a cybernetic angel of death. That’s neither an original idea, nor one that works. It feels like the plethora of artists who worked on this volume simply came together and said “what’s really scary?” and weren’t too concerned with what kind of answers they gave.

Look, The Culling is not a total write-off, but saying its mediocre is the absolute best thing you could say about it without flat-out lying. Come in expecting the same quality that you would get out of DC events like The Night of Owls and The Third Army, and you’ll be very disappointed. Come in understanding that Lobdell isn’t the greatest of writers, and you may just enjoy it. It gets a two and a half out of five Big Brothers (evil, I tell ya!).

** ½

+ Action is well-done

+ Costume redesigns for main characters are right on the money

- Book reads like a mid-life crisis

- Some of the new characters look awful, and aren’t interesting

Alternate Option: Avengers Arena: Kill or Die
Same concept as The Culling, but much better in execution.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

5 Reasons not to love Batman



Firstly, can I say that this is a VERY hard list to make. See, I love Batman. He’s the trainer of Nightwing, who is my favourite DC character, so it’s hard for me to suggest he’s something other than phenomenal.

But let’s face it; there are plenty of pop-culture characters out there who we look at with rose-coloured glasses, and Batman is definitely one of them. We like to think there is nothing wrong with old bat; that everybody loves him; everybody with a brain, anyway.

Fact is nobody’s perfect; even in fiction, so I’m going to give you five reasons to like Batman a little less. 

Please note that these aren’t reasons to hate him, just to admit that he’s not the perfect character.

Reasons I won’t use

I’ll be making no references to movies, Batman and Robin is an awful film, but it is based on the character of Batman; it’s not Batman himself.

I also won’t be saying that you should love Batman less because another character is “better”- that’s way too subjective an answer.

Finally; don’t worry. I’ll be doing this sort of article on a bunch of characters, so don’t think I’m just hating on Batman or even DC Comics.

Let’s get into it.



1.       Inspires nobody
"Hey kid! Wanna be Robin?"

Look at characters like Superman, or Captain America. These guys hold a pretty high moral code, typically. They set a standard for the rest of us and actually inspire us to reach their level of character.
Batman... not so much.

Batman’s all about making people fear him. In essence, he fulfils a fairly adolescent alpha-male fantasy where teenage boys dream of being the most feared guy in the room simply because they’re angry at the world. 

Sure, Batman’s goals are noble on the surface, but deep down, they don’t bespeak a higher way of thinking, or a lofty ideal. He’s there to scare the spit out of bad guys.


But... But... Aw, nuts!

2.       Not a nice guy.

Batman has admitted this on more than one occasion. And he has a point; he recruits twelve-year-olds as
Robins, which he sends out dressed in bright red, green and yellow while he wears black and skulks in the shadows. And what’s the reward for this Bat-internship, two out of four times, it’s the horrific death of said Robins.

Batman’s goal seems to be to get into arguments with everybody. He keeps secrets from his closest allies and devises ways to kill them simply because he trusts nobody. Gee... sounds like a killer at parties...




3.       Overpowered

This is pretty much his answer for everything.
This is a criticism usually levelled at Superman, but Superman’s powers are directly proportionate to the enemies he faces. You wouldn’t want to take on Doomsday as Green Arrow.

Batman, on the other hand, is supposed to have no powers. Yet somehow, Batman is able to shrug off even the most devastating injuries. Take the Court of Owls story arc, for example; Batman gets stabbed through the chest, and later walks around like nothing ever happened.  Normal human beings with no powers don’t do that- they just fall on the ground, bleed out and die. And that’s probably more power than he needs to have, considering that half of his rogues gallery posses no powers at all. Does Batman really need a healing factor to defeat the Joker, Penguin or Two-Face?


4.       Too many books

The New 52 in three year's time.
In the New 52 alone, Batman has had six different books, soon to be seven. He’s in Batman, Batman Detective Comics, Batman the Dark Knight, Batman and Robin and Batman Incorporated. And that’s just books in the New 52. There’s still Batman ’66 and Batman Lil’ Gotham. On top of that, we’ll soon be seeing Batman Eternal hit shelves as a weekly series.

Put simply, it’s too much of a good thing. See, Batman is equal parts saving and destroying the New 52. Sure, Batman sells, and that give DC the money it needs. But for every Batman book, that’s one other book that can’t be written instead. Please, DC, get this through your head: WE DON’T NEED MORE BATMAN!!!

5.       Not that much of a planner, really

For a guy with a plan for everything, he makes this face a lot.
When it comes to the New 52, at least, most of Batman’s plans are really done on the fly. His best stories are when his plans fail to work, causing him to use his other skills. The idea that he is always well prepared hasn’t really had any basis in recent stories.

These aren’t reasons to hate Batman, and if you have started to after reading this, I haven’t done this right, but they are legitimate criticisms for the character. I feel that as consumers it is our job to know where things could be done better, even (indeed, especially) when it concerns the characters we love. We want them to achieve their fullest potential, and that can only happen when we know where improvements can be made.
In future, expect one of these for Iron Man.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Wolverine Vol. 1: Hunting Season (Marvel NOW!) Review


Wolverine Vol. 1: Hunting Season (Marvel NOW!)

Quick, Logan, catch that runaway logo!
Writer: Paul Cornell

Artists: Alan Davis and Mirco Pierfedrici

Collects: Wolverine #1-6

Background Information:

Seriously, you don’t know who Wolverine is? Well, you should know he’s the comic industry’s equivalent of a shoe with a hole in it. His problems have nothing to do with the quality of the character, rather, years of overuse have worn him out as someone that you’re likely to care about. Every Marvel series since the character’s debut in X-Men have seen him as a cameo. He has two ongoings currently and his flagship title has been renumbered to fit with the All-New Marvel NOW He’s on at least two teams of Avengers, leads a group of X-men and has appeared in every X-book that’s currently in print.

And because there has been so much Wolverine over the past few years, following the character has become difficult to say the least. His origin story for example, goes back many, many years and in its various iterations has seen him take part in every historical battle since the 1700s. I’m writing this to say, in the simplest terms that I can, that as a character, Wolverine’s a bit of a mess.

Review:

The fact that Wolverine’s character is so overused doesn’t change the fact that Wolveirne oozes awesomeness. He’s fun to watch in action and has a commanding presence on the page. Because of this, I really wanted to love Hunting Season. Unfortunately, though all the elements of an interesting story are there, Hunting Season lacks the impact of other Marvel NOW! titles.

No... not 90s weapons... my... one...
weakness!
Here, Wolverine is hunting down a race of microbes that are making people become obsessed with being assimilated by these tiny little borg. The microbes take the minds of all kinds of people- from small children (which actually forms the best part of the book) to members of SHIELD. Wolverine finds himself getting torn between his desire to go all stabby-stabby on bad guys and his desire to protect innocents. It’s a moment of character development that writer Paul Cornell could and should have taken advantage of, but instead, it just gets left hanging. Wolverine doesn’t seem particularly challenged by these competing desires, and as such, the story feels fairly hollow.

There’s some interesting status quo here, though. Wolverine apparently does his solo-work by gathering information from a group of quasi-experts. These aren’t professors or SHIELD agents, though. Wolverine’s informants are oddsmakers, profilers, and even a comic writer. It’s a fun little team and it’s nice to see this very ordinary team become very useful to a superhero. Unfortunately, Cornell again doesn’t utilise them nearly enough. The group gets an introduction and one moment where they actually do something.

The Emperor's New Superhero Costume
But the major problem with Cornell’s book is the structure of the story. Firstly, the best parts of the book occur right at the beginning, so reading the rest of the story feels pretty vanilla by comparison. But an even bigger problem is how intent Cornell seems to be on dragging what should have been a three-issue story arc out into six. Hunting Season is a quick read because there’s too little in it. Characters don’t develop, tension never really mounts and what makes it worse is that Cornell seems to jump ahead without actually giving us any backfill to the story he’s making.

Despite all of this though, it’s hard for me to say that this book is bad. When I was studying, my screenwriting professor told us that it was really hard to write a bad movie. What it was really easy to do was write one that was instantly forgettable. I think, if anything, Hunting Season proves that you can apply that thinking to comics. Hunting Season isn’t bad; it just leaves you feeling like you’ve read nothing. It gets a two and a half out of five stabby-stabbies.

+ Story is great early on

+ Good supporting cast

- Once the “early on” stage is over, story is pretty average

- A lot of missed opportunities.

Alternate Option: Any other Marvel book

Wolverine appears in so many other books, that you’re bound to see him sometime or another.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Talon Vol. 1: Scourge of The Owls (The New 52) Review


Talon Vol. 1: Scourge of The Owls (The New 52)

I thought Superman was the one who was
unchained
Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV

Artist: Guillem March

Collects: Talon #0-7

Background Information:

The final review in Scott Snyder week!

If you want to know more about this character, it’s best you read the Batman Vol. 1 and Vol.2. It deals with a group known as the Court of Owls who rule Gotham City from the shadows. Talon is the name they give to their main assassins who they lift directly out of Haly’s circus. In Snyder’s Batman, the court was handily defeated, but not destroyed, and that’s where we take our mark.

Review:

It’s hard to get people on board with a new superhero. It’s the reason there have been so few genuinely new names in comics for the last fourteen years. Unless the name was seen in the nineties, you can pretty much kiss a new character goodbye. Such has happened to Talon; which is a pity, because the book is really an amazing read.

Scourge of The Owls introduces us to Calvin Rose- an escape artist adopted by the Court of Owls to be the next Talon. It’s a mantle that his better nature wins out over, however, and he flees the court; hiding for years until he hears that Batman has dusted the clocks of various Court members. Coming back to Gotham, Calvin meets Sebastian Clark. Clark is a former member of the Court and he has a job for Calvin; become the Talon again, and use his skills to take down what remains of the Court of Owls. This means hitting places that hold a large amount of the Court’s wealth, and taking on a few of the sixteen remaining Talons.

Now, if you haven’t read any of the New 52 Batman firstly... what got you interested in this character in the first place? Secondly, and more importantly, you should know that most of the Court’s Talons have developed healing factors. Calvin, unfortunately has missed out on this upgrade and therefore has to fight a little harder for his life as he sneaks into various court strongholds. This has the potential to result in a no-holds-barred gorefest, or even worse, Wolverine-style violence. Thankfully, Calvin doesn’t fight like that. For him, fighter harder means fighting smarter; Calvin uses diversion tactics, his environment and basic physics to outwit his opponents and it makes for battles that are actually more satisfying than anything seen in Batman.

Equally admirable is the fact that Calvin is a good person at heart. Instead of trying to kill opponents, Calvin tries to negotiate with the remaining Talons; more interested in turning them to his side than killing them. It would have been so easy for Calvin to become a tough, grizzled soldier, but amazingly Snyder and Tynion move away from that and give Calvin a real human side; one that doesn’t want to take a life- something that actually formed the basis of his escape from the Court. The comic book industry has enough Wolverines, and it’s refreshing to see a nice guy who’s also really good at dishing out pain.

The only problem I have with Scourge of The Owls is where Calvin has his obligatory meet-up with Batman. Batman had a huge part to play in the fall of the Court, but I think more could have been done by having Nightwing meet Calvin instead. Both of them have pasts that are directly connected to the Court and Haly’s Circus, and both have worked hard to reject the heritage that they were “supposed” to embrace. I really think a great team-up book could have happened here (were both titles not cancelled or getting cancelled), and it feels like a missed opportunity.

The art by Guillem March is fantastic, using a lot of browns and greys. It looks different to any of the bat-books out there now. In most bat-books, grittiness is achieved through use of shadow and dark tones. It’s effective, but March’s approach is significantly more clever. March creates darkness and grittiness by making everywhere Calvin goes look dirty and unsavoury. It’s a nice touch and real helps Talon feel like its own series. The pity though, is Calvin’s costume design. It looks great from the toes up, until you hit that mask, which looks more than a little silly. Considering that this book has a lot of dialogue, and therefore focuses a lot on Calvin’s head- that’s a problem.

Overall though, Scourge of The Owls is a brilliant read that fans of Snyder’s Batman should definitely pick up. It’s sad that this series ends with the next volume, but don’t let that stop you from reading one of the best original characters to come out in a long time. It gets a four out of five nice guys.

****

+ A nice character who’s awesome because of it

+ Smart, satisfying fight scenes

+ Art is distinctive from all other Bat-books

- Batman scene feels unambitious

- Talon’s mask looks silly.

Alternate Option: Nightwing: Traps and Trapezes

A story about the Court of Owls and Haly’s Circus- if Scourge of The Owls sounds good to you, this one should, too.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Green Kingdom (The New 52) Review


Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Green Kingdom (The New 52)

"Okay, you go get 'em... you've got a
gun..."
Writers: Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire

Artist: Yanick Paquette

Collects: Animal Man 12,17 and Swamp Thing12-18

Background Information:

Number Four in  Scott Snyder Week!
Swamp Thing is the avatar of The Green, which give life to all plants. Animal Man is the avatar of The Red, which gives life to all animals. The main villain in Rotworld is Arcane; the avatar of The Rot which is the force behind death and decay.

That’s basically all you need to know for the set up- to this book, but you should also know that this volume contains only half the Rotworld event. The other half is contained in Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom. If you’ve just been reading the Swamp Thing stories, though, there isn’t a whole lot you need to know from Animal Man.

Review:

Rotworld marks the end of Scott Snyder’s run on Swamp Thing, and it’s an immensely satisfying end. I’ve rated Snyders work pretty highly in general, but this is a book I would prefer even over Snyder’s Batman. That’s right, DC, I would sooner see more of a creature from the black lagoon than stinkin’ Batman Eternal. In fact, even though this Swampt Thing volume isn’t perfect, it’s damn-near close.


In this volume, Swamp Thing and Animal Man follow Arcane into The Rot and become trapped in it. When they finally emerge, it’s one year later, and the world has gone to hell. I say that almost literally, as now The Rot has all but taken over the earth. It’s infected all humans who have no connection to The Red or The Green, turning them into zombie-like rage creatures. It falls on Swamp Thing and Animal Man to amass armies strong enough to take down Arcane, and stop The Rot’s stranglehold on the world, all the while saving people who are very dear to them.

In Swamp Things case, that person is Abigail Arcane, the girl voted most likely to become zombie queen in high school (okay, there’s some artistic licence there, but she is meant to be the next avatar of The Rot). I won’t go give away the ending, but when Swamp Thing and Animal Man finally meet their loved ones, it’s a crushing blow to both characters. I would argue that the moment probably damages Animal Man more than it does Swamp Thing, but the moment is still fraught with emotion.

If you’re writing for DC and you do a big, alternate-world story, you have to reference some of DCs bigger names, and Lemire and Snyder do a good job of that by presenting us with “rotified” versions of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and other more celebrated DC heroes. This isn’t a new idea- Geoff Johns did it a while ago in Blackest Night, but here it makes more sense here. Here, heroes joining The Rot is inevitable, so it’s natural that the Justice League would fall to it. Those characters who don’t join the rot mostly make sense- Poison Ivy is naturally connected to The Green and how could Beast Boy not be connected to The Red (like his new... skin tone[?]... didn’t give it away already)? It’s cool to see these b-list characters save the world.

The art here has been pretty consistent with the previous two volumes. There’s not much difference to notice between the Swamp Thing and Animal Man issues except the page design of Animal Man seems a little too neat in comparison to Swamp Thing. But that’s a small qualm when the art is just so damn enjoyable. The Rot are characteristically disgusting and there are plenty of awesome moments to look at.

Rotworld: The Green Kingdom finishes Snyder’s Swamp Thing run brilliantly. It gets my first perfect score of five out of five most-likely-to-become-zombie awards.

*****

+ Emotive story

+ Good use of A and B list characters



+ Art continues to be gorgeous


Alternate Option: Animal Man: Rotworld: The Red Kingdom

The same story from a different perspective.