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Published on May 1st, 2014 | by Brad

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My Week in Comics – 30/04/14

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My week in comics this week was mostly fuelled by the digital revolution. All media is going digital as we stride forth into the 21st century, and with the rise of tablet computers and e-readers, comic books have made the transition very well. DC have been much the stronger adopters of digital comics, with their range of digital-first titles meaning that five days a week, they post 10-page chapters of new series that you can buy for about 60p a time. I think digital is the way future fans are going to be introduced to comics, and, though I believe nothing beats having the magazine in your hands, I can but applaud DC for identifying this market early and cornering it.

Central to the rise of digital comics have been Comixology, with their guided reader making digital comics easy to read, and in-app instant purchasing allowing for immediate, easy access to a multitude of great comics. Recently, Comixology was bought out by Amazon. This is bringing about some changes, most of which are only really causing problems for Apple device owners (simple solution there!). As the owner of a Kindle Fire and an Android phone, I’m happy to report that it remains very easy for me to buy my digital comics. Though the two digital-first series I get, I get in print…

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Batman ’66 #10

Written by Jeff Parker. Drawn by David Williams and Joelle Jones.

Wholly deserved appreciation, Batman! After years of being laughed off, the Adam West Batman series has, over the last few years, gained the appreciation it deserves. And, after years of legal wrangling, the series is finally coming to home media this winter. In the meantime, plenty of merchandise has been released, the pinnacle of which has been Jeff Parker’s Batman ’66 comic. Perfectly capturing the series in tone and in spirit, this comic is just an easy read, every month.

This month, the villain of the main feature is Mr Freeze, whose nefarious machinations have covered Gotham in a summer snowstorm. It’s a goofy story, with an entertainingly silly resolution. David Williams’ art is pretty good, though some of the facial expressions are a little odd. The second story sees Bruce Wayne laid up in hospital with a snake-bite, leaving mild-mannered librarian Barbara Gordon, otherwise known as the dazzling dare-doll Batgirl (I love the narrator in this comic) to save the day. The story isn’t as much fun, but Joelle Jones’ art is superb, well worth the price.

Like the TV show that inspired it, you could dive into Batman ’66 at any point and wouldn’t be lost. It’s a self-contained comic with a lot of laughs, and a spirit of joy and fun that’s unusual in comics with the name Batman in their title. Never going to set the world alight, but always a joy to read.

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Batman Beyond Universe #9

Written by Kyle Higgins and Christos Gage. Drawn by Dexter Troy and Thony Silas.

Another one based on a TV show, Batman Beyond Universe is an anthology comic, collecting tales from both the Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond bi-weekly digital comics. Sometimes, that can be a bit of a problem, as you’re required to remember two ongoing, separate storylines and their nuances, within the same book, both of which feature Batman Beyond. This month, however, the two comics are beginning a crossover that’s going to carry us for the next four months, and it’s a doozy – Justice Lords Beyond is its name, and any fan of the Justice League cartoons of the 1990s should be very excited by that. For those who don’t know, the Justice Lords are an alternate-universe version of the Justice League who have become corrupted by power, and turned their world into a police state. They serve as a warning to our regular League, as rather than starting out evil, the Justice Lords represent what would happen if the Justice League lost their way.

The two concurrent storylines feature Batman Beyond travelling to the universe of the Justice Lords to seek the aid of Lord Batman, whilst on our regular Earth, Superman attempts to discern if the recently returned Wonder Woman is from their universe, or that of the Justice Lords. The comic is a little slow, and heavy on exposition, but it’s a great-looking book, and sets up the intrigue nicely. Good jumping on point for the Beyond universe.

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Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs Bane

Written by Peter Tomasi. Drawn by Scott Eaton.

And now to flip the pattern, a print comic that I bought digitally. I’ve been picking up all of the Forever Evil tie-ins that way, and for the most part they’ve been enjoyable. This particular one-shot is essentially the conclusion to the Forever Evil: Arkham War miniseries, though it’s perfectly enjoyable as a straight-up, “I want to see Batman and Bane fight in the streets of Gotham” one-off. Its placement here is a touch awkward, mind, as it’s a Forever Evil Aftermath book released three weeks before the Forever Evil finale, due to that book’s delays.

Story so far, Bane has, using an army of Talons (undead assassins for shadowy secret society The Court of Owls, from the first storyline of the New 52 Batman series. Read it, you won’t be disappointed), suppressed the Arkham inmates and taken over the streets of Gotham. This comic follows the Dark Knight’s return to Gotham post-Forever Evil, and his battle to take down Bane and his army. Tomasi and Eaton also wrote and drew Arkham War, and it’s been a very enjoyable series. Eaton does great work, particularly on the main fight sequence, which is long and brutal. Tomasi writes Bane superbly, taking the classic character and imbuing him with more than a little Tom Hardy. Reading the character with Hardy’s voice in my head makes me happy, so well done for that.

Forever Evil Aftermath: Batman vs Bane is a good comic, albeit the #1 on its cover (and Bane in his makeshift batsuit) is misleading. It’s accessible enough by itself, for sure, but really it’s the 7th issue of a miniseries, and if you’ve not read the rest of Arkham War, you may find yourself a little lost.

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Batman Eternal #4

Story by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Script by John Layman. Consulting writers Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley. Drawn by Dustin Nguyen.

The first big change-up comes for Batman Eternal, as Jason Fabok is replaced on art duties by Dustin Nguyen. Their arts styles are extremely different, and it comes off a little jarring at first. This isn’t a bad thing, per se – Nguyen’s far too good an artist for that. This is one of the pitfalls a weekly series can fall into, though, and that’s a lack of tonal consistency. Where Fabok’s art is shadowy, dark and largely realistic, Nguyen has a much more cartoonish look to his comics. He is a fantastic artist, though, and he gets some showpiece moments here – a sequence where Batman smashes through a skylight standing out as a particular highlight.

The story slows down a touch here, seemingly moving pieces into place in preparation for an oncoming storm. Larger things are to come, but for now, Batman Eternal remains an enjoyable weekly read.

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American Vampire: Second Cycle #2

Written by Scott Snyder. Drawn by Rafael Albuquerque.

It’s here! Cor, that’s been a long two weeks. After the tantalising conclusion to the First Cycle, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s epic saga continues the ominous build-up of new villain The Gray Trader, and the implications his arrival shall have. Where #1 focussed largely on Skinner Sweet, the original American Vampire, #2 follows his first progeny, Pearl Jones. After her devastating loss at the end of the First Cycle, Pearl has set up a halfway house where she protects young vampires and gets them into hiding. One of her young charges has some worrying-looking sores on her shoulder, which lead to horrifying results.

Snyder and Albuquerque slip back into their legendary creation like they’ve never been away, and it’s a superb comic. Crafting a mystery that goes back further and runs deeper than our heroes dare imagine is Snyder in his element, and Albuquerque’s scratchy, sketchy style creates a nightmarish look for the truly horrifying creatures which inhabit this world. If you’ve not read American Vampire before, Second Cycle #1 is designed as a jumping-on point for new readers. Get on it. This is one of the best comics on the market.

Brad

Brad

Consumer. Scribbler. Occasional drunkard. Nice beard, though...
Brad

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