Thursday, February 16, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Batman #6, Nightwing #6, and Red Hood & The Outlaws #6

This has been an excellent week for me so far.

I haven't been at work past 2 a.m. any day this week and don't plan to. I am completing my radio training, which means I'll be on the air at KUNV HD-2 Las Vegas before the month ends.

And the three titles that I follow on the third Wednesday of the month each hit absolute home runs with their issues this week.

Batman #6

I almost feel like I shouldn't waste anyone's time and just say, BUY THIS!!! But you all come for the reviewing, so let's talk about Batman's showdown with Talon.

Where last issue was drawn at various angles so as to disorient the reader like Batman was, this one captured the emotion of the fight by showing the impact of every blow in full detail.

Readers are still in Bruce's head in this one, as when he finally snaps and comes back at Talon, he takes on a quasi-beast form in the book.

I absolutely loved the way Bruce's emotion is shown in this book. If the cover on the right doesn't make you want to pick this book up, I don't know what will.

The art carries over inside the book, as the left eye of the Bat cowl is torn off and Bruce's eye is visibly reddening and appearing more and more panicked. It becomes clear just how important not seeing the eyes is to the mythos of Batman through this because seeing his eye really humanizes him here.

The ending of this book legitimately will be unsettling in multiple ways, but I won't spoil it here. Needless to say, the "Night of the Owls" crossover in three issues is going to be an epic one.

Nightwing #6

This book is getting close to ending its first arc, and I for one can't wait for the conclusion (and subsequent transition to the crossover).

Dick Grayson has been traveling with the circus trying to find this killer named Saiko. What was revealed in the issue before was that Saiko is his circus-mate Raymond, and he is being helped by Raya, another friend (with benefits) of Grayson's from the circus who is also returning for the first time in a long time.

The story in this book revolves around the creation of a Flying Graysons tribute show, where Saiko plans to confront Grayson.

Sadly, this book does not bring anything to a conclusion, but it's clear that it will be happening at the end of the next issue. (This is supported by the fact that a Night of the Owls set-up story is going to be Issue #8.)

Since the last issue was basically filler, this is the issue to start picking up this title. Besides the fact that the art is spectacular (two artists drew it, but you'd never tell with how smoothly the whole thing flowed), the conclusion of this story is now in Gotham, so these next two issues will lead right into Issue #8.

Nightwing is a big part of the crossover, so I'd highly recommend this one.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #6

For the first time in the six-issue run, we finally know how Starfire and Jason Todd met each other, and we know that the Grayson-Starfire romance is still in the canon.

I was impressed by the flashback issue, but it did lead me to ask one question: WHY WAS THIS NOT ISSUE #1? This was the background I cared most about, had an amazing Dick-Jason exchange and set up the actual first issue perfectly.

Nonetheless, it's a better-late-than-never kind of deal and I'm glad this issue exists. Roy was seen briefly in a flashback as Arsenal, but that was the extent of his time in the book.

Actually, I'm ok with that, as it seems like it's tough getting these three to mesh in a book at the same time.

The emotion in the faces was drawn brilliantly, and it makes sense to hearken back to Jason's background in the Bat-verse before he and Red Robin have their run-in at the Night of the Owls.

Overall, all of the Bat-books involved in the crossover are putting their best feet forward and this could very well be something amazing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Batman & Robin #6, Batgirl #6, and Detective Comics #6

My first of my two favorite Wednesdays of the month has passed, and that means it's time to review comics. (Oh if only the second Wednesday of each month wasn't surrounded by so much work crap. Oh well, moving on...)

Batman and Robin #6

I have had nothing but positive things to say about this book for the first five issues, but I was a little disappointed in this one. Specifically, the bait-and-switch that Robin pulled on NoBody seemed to be too predictable.

I got the feeling that they wrote themselves into a tough spot, and rather than open up an overarching theme of rebuilding trust between Bruce and Damian that could have fueled the book for possibly a couple of years, they chose to bypass that and give us the payoff now.

Granted, I can understand why they would do this. This book is supposed to be Batman and Robin adventures, so the quicker the two are on the same page, the better. 

That said, I think with a commitment to long-term booking this book could have been milked for two or three films when Warner Bros. reboots the Batman movie series again.

Even so, despite the bait-and-switch, the writing was solid. We got the finish to Bruce's flashback and the emotion Damian showed was consistent with what we saw from him at the end of Batman #5. Artwork for this book has been consistently good as well, and I'm glad that we finally got a cover that isn't red.

Overall, this is setting up nicely for the first major arc to wrap up either in issue 7 or 8. And I'm serious about this becoming a film one day. This has been a fun dynamic (duo haha).

Batgirl #6

A brief, two-issue arc concluded here, as Gretel and Barbara had their showdown quicker than I expected.

Of course, this book will be remembered for Barb's fight with Bruce early on. I'm not sure what to make of it other than the fact that this was a way to get Barbara over as the permanent Batgirl.

Sadly, though, what it did for me is make me wonder what in the world happened to Stephanie Brown. Seriously, after Leviathan Strikes we've gotten no indication of what has happened.

I sincerely hope that this issue is resolved soon. When Stephanie donned the femme-cowl, we got a flashback in the first issue showing Cassandra passing her suit on to her. I still don't know if Spoiler exists in this new universe six months in!

Anyway, the mother-daughter dynamic is moving at a pace too slow for me to care about and the cops in this book need to take a chill pill.

As a whole, I'd say this is a passable issue, but definitely one of the weaker ones of the new series.

Wild Card: Detective Comics #6

As I said before, each month I'll be looking over another book and reviewing it. I figure I'll start with the Bat-books and then expand through the rest of the DC Universe.

This month is Detective Comics' turn. Most of you know this as the flagship, "A" book of the entire company.

When DC chose to reset the book to #1, it drew the eyes of many for immediately using the Joker and concluding the book with the Clown Prince's most deranged act of mutilation yet.

This led to the Dollmaker arc, and that in turn has moved into a storyline with Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penguin.

In this issue, Cobblepot has opened a new Iceberg Lounge and is working with a group of criminals, who are apparently going to join forces to stop the Bat from getting to them again.

Meanwhile, Bruce's new girlfriend now has a sister in the crime business, and this twisted sister (:D) proceeds to put her in danger. The cliffhanger as to her survival is chilling (if you cared for the romance, that is).

I will say that I enjoy this book as a more cut-and-dry brand of Batman. While Batman has been slowly expanding the villainy with the intent of causing a multi-title climax, Detective seems to be doing the 4-issue, 'wrap it up nicely' style of story-telling.

I like the episodic format, especially since issue #1 sets up one hell of an arc whenever it is revisited.

As for this issue, I felt it was pretty weak, and Batman doesn't seem as crafty as he usually is. I am looking forward to a Batman-Penguin showdown, as I love the villain, but it's still too early in the main feud to be interesting just yet.

If I were you, I'd skim this one in the store and buy next month's, as Cobblepot should be getting a crack at the Bat soon.

See you next week!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

UNLV Suggestion Box (Get on this crap so future students don't kick your ass)

So I've come across a few things over my four years in college that I feel should be addressed because they're complete crap.

They're not expensive suggestions. They're not a lot of extra work. Heck, they're so easy to fix, the bureaucratic nightmare that is the student government could do them without cutting into their budget at all.

I go on this rant because I feel like steps could be taken to improve student life and campus unity and it doesn't have to involve spending thousands of dollars on an indoor rave party, or a motivational speaking little person event that draws a couple dozen students AT BEST.

Here are my ideas:

Intramural sports

So going into this final semester, I wanted to do some intramural sports, specifically basketball and sports trivia.

I grabbed the little sign-up sheet and had a $20 in my wallet to pay for my entry, but then I read the sheet and only team rates were available.

When I asked what the cost was for individuals, the girl behind the desk gave me a blank stare like she left her brain in her workout locker and said I needed enough members to form a team myself.

What the heck?

While I am a sexy athletic man who runs, swims and is nearly a black belt, many of my friends generally keep to one sport or are girly girls who don't want to look dumb in public competition.

I ran into the same problem with Oozeball this year. Most of the people I was around at the time (mostly from my job) took issue with either the mud, the volleyball or the day, so I couldn't compete.

I'm sorry, but this is exactly why we're a commuter campus with an apathetic student base. Freshman, transfers and people with busy/non-athletic friends can't fill teams with people they know.

This means they either have to be "that person," randomly asking people in the gym to "be their new buddy" and play with them, or they're completely shunned from competition.

Part of me thinks this is a ploy by Greek organizations (the only organizations capable of consistently fielding teams) to hold these games hostage.

Why not allow for an individual entry and then throw the competitors onto teams at random? It would allow new students a chance to get to know new people, and it would give those who want to play the chance to compete without having the be a creepy talent scout in the weight room.

It wouldn't cost anything. Heck, it would make money because you could gain another $10-$15 per individual. And people could still enter as teams. They might even get a new recruit to their circle by having people added onto their squad.

It just upsets me that there's a real chance to bring some campus camaraderie and yet the choice being made is to be isolationist. But then what else is new on campus?

Rebellion seating

While I'm on the subject, I got to the UNLV-New Mexico game a few weeks ago. Two. Hours. Early.

My hope was to get into the front rows so that my painted face would intimidate the Lobos by, you know, actually being visible to them.

I was one of the first into the arena, literally getting in seconds after the gates opened at 6 p.m. And yet when I got there, all the rows were filled.

As you can imagine, I was not happy. Chet Buchanan (of the Morning Zoo) said that they had been in the building over an hour and a half before game time.


So apparently, being in a super-neato club of friends now warrants people getting in LONG before anyone else can.

This genuinely upsets me, as I intend to be painted up in full Ultimate Warrior-esque paint on Saturday for the San Diego State game. But I apparently can't get seated in the GOOD seats because these Rebellion folk are monopolizing the front-rows' seating.

I can live with the first two rows being reserved by cheerleader parents even though they never fill it. I don't like (but won't start a fight over) people who think that their solo presence can reserve AN ENTIRE FREAKING ROW OF SEATS. But I cannot stand people who cheat the system because they believe they are so superior of fans that no one else can be in the spotlight.

Crazy Alabama radio lady, do you have anything to say about this?

I request that the T&M's management disallow this crap from happening, and I request that the so-called "super-fans" get in line and compete for the front seats like everybody else!

It's all our team, not just yours.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New 52's second wave: Why you should be PUMPED

DC Comics has decided the time has come for the first shake-up of the New 52 titles since the semi-universal reboot this past September.

Six titles will be eliminated after they complete their arcs with Issue #8 in April, and then in May, six new titles will replace them.

OK, I am a HUGE fan of this idea. To start with, if DC is serious about not overwhelming their already complicated universe, they can't go bigger than 52 titles. Moreover, it makes sense to kill the titles that are not selling (why you'd give SO MANY titles to Batman is beyond me. Seriously, I can't buy all of these! Do we really need Batwing and TDK?)

Anyway, this has been talked about quite a bit. Here is a good piece regarding it and whether it was planned or whether the poor sales of the six slated for termination was the impetus.

The six going away will be: O.M.A.C., Hawk and Dove, Static Shock, Mister Terrific, Men of War, and Blackhawks. That should not be too bad for the fan base. As these are six of the lowest-selling franchises, they're characters can be placed in other books.

Now, as to the six new titles: The Ravagers should be an interesting title for those who follow the Teen Titans, as this will be a direct spin-off from their crossover with Superboy.

GI Combat will be taking readers back to the old The War that Time Forgot storylines, and along with some other side stories, should be a good way to combine a few GI-based titles.

Dial H was a cult classic in its time, and will provide another string of storylines about regular humans being given random powers for a short time. It should be a fun read, especially for the hardcore fan base.

World's Finest will be one of the titles I think I'll have to at least keep tabs on. Huntress and Power Girl, as will be revealed at the end of the latest Huntress mini-series, are actually from Earth-2 and the two are working to get back. This book will be one of two actively using the multiverse, and I have to say I am excited.

Earth-2 is the other one and is the title I'm actually most excited for. This book will focus mainly on the Justice Society of America, and I personally can't wait to see how Earth-2 has changed since the last glimpse of the world.

Batman Inc. concludes the preview, and I am interested in this one simply to see the exploits of the other international Batmen. Batwing was kind of a hard sell for me when it came to getting his own book (mainly because Cassandra Cain's exploits in Asia as Black Bat would be far more interesting to me), but this is where the international presence shines, and so I'm willing to see how this international war with Talia al Ghul turns out.

I will say that because all these titles will be building the parameters of the new multiverse, new fans may struggle with these titles unless the opening arcs are done properly. That said, there's so much out there in DC at the moment that there should be something for everyone now.