Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Comic Book Review: Detective Comics #20 and Free Comic Books

Well, that's one way to end a storyline.

After taking over for Tony Daniel, John Layman started a very compelling storyline involving one of Penguin's top henchmen overthrowing his empire. That arc ended with last Wednesday's issue and... well, it had an ending.

Apparently Emperor Penguin combined the Man-Bat formula with Venom and other chemicals to create some type of meta-human formula, so now he's a blue guy with orange hair and piercing red eyes. This is a thing that is happening.

I really don't know what to say about this. It came completely out of nowhere and was a complete break from the last seven issues of build-up. The fight was good for what it was, and seeing Penguin get revenge on Ogilvy (Emperor Penguin), but the angle with the body transformation felt tacked on, and something this dramatic should NEVER feel like it's been shoehorned in.

The last third of this book (the epilogue and back-up where Ogilvy is in Blackgate prison) is where the books shines, as we see Penguin removing his mother's name from the hospital and apparently moving to lie low for some time. Cobblepot and Bruce's exchanges were solid throughout the book, but this one was the best in my view.

The backup is great, first of all, because it's refreshing to see these villains end up in Blackgate instead of Arkham every once in a while. More importantly, though, we see a compelling recollection of Ogilvy's life and why he wanted to create an empire. Also, he changes his name to Emperor Blackgate, which is a million times better than Emperor Penguin.

With Batman going into the Zero Year story for the next year, Detective is going to be telling the main stories on what is happening in Gotham, so it means a lot to me that Layman and Jason Fabok are in charge of this book. I feel like the next year should still be really solid for Bat-books if these two are spearheading the universe

Free Comic Book Day

I'm just going to touch on some of the FCBD books I picked up from a couple comic stores around the Las Vegas Valley.

DC's Superman book was a reprint of the start of Geoff Johns' "Last Son of Krypton" story, which isn't a terrible thing, except that the company advertised a preview of Scott Snyder/Jim Lee's Superman Unchained book. All there was was an interview with the two guys that I've seen many, many times on websites. At least give me the first four pages, DC! WTF?!

They did it also with Batman: Earth One, but at least with that story it was made clear from the beginning that it was just a reprint of the start of the graphic novel. Does DC just go out of their way to kiss Geoff Johns' ass? I mean, I like the guy's writing, but geez! Give someone else the damn spotlight.

DC's third and final book was a collection of two DC Nation stories: One of the new Beware the Batman series, and one of Teen Titans Go!

The Batman story wasn't bad, but I still can't get a feel for the tone of the show. It looks like it's aiming for a middle ground between Batman: The Animated Series and The Batman but I'm not really locked in yet.

The TTG story is actually not a TTG story but a story set during Season 2 of the original Teen Titans show. Robin has been made to only talk backwards by Mumbo, and it's up to the other Titans (with Terra) to fix the problem. This is a good story, but I'm once again left wondering why DC is bothering with a comedic Teen Titans Go! series if they could just as easily revive the Teen Titans series that actually maintained the tone in this story.

Seriously! Young Justice is off the air now. There is no reason you can't revive the original concept. I've long said Teen Titans is on par with Batman: TAS  as THE gold standard for DC animated shows, so why are we maintaining a weakened version of it? Ugh. Moving on.

Archie Comics did a 100-page anthology of Archie stories, Jughead stories, a Betty & Veronica story, and a Sabrina The Teenage Witch story. I really do like all these characters and if you can find this book, the stories were all solid. Not their best work, but worth your time.

The last book I'll talk about is the Avatar: The Last Airbender story in Dark Horse's FCBD anthology. This is a Mai story following her break-up with Zuko. She's been hanging out with her aunt at a flower shop (which in itself is pretty funny) and she gets asked out by a guy. The date turns out to have been a setup by Mai's dad, who pimped out the guy so that he could recruit Mai to help break Ozai out of prison and regain control of the Fire Nation.

The story isn't all that bad, and it portrays Mai in a really good light, showing she understands where Zuko was coming from and that she won't go back to an imperialist mindset just because she broke up with a man. Kudos! The biggest detractor is the art. I knew Giruhiru was going to be saved for a full-length story, but this artist kind of warps the faces and it's really distracting. Well, you get what you pay for.

I am still searching for the Marvel story that sold out by the time I got to the stores, but I did find a collection of "JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative" (1998/99) at the second store I visited. I'll share my thoughts on the story at a later date.

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