Thursday, January 30, 2014

Comic Book Reviews: Batman & Robin Annual #2 and "Arrow" Catch-up

If you can't tell, I didn't get the Catwoman tie-in to Gothtopia. Believe me, that book will be on the shelves for some time, so if I hear something good about it, I'll track it down.

Also, the audio here is catching me up on the TV show "Arrow." Season 2 has been amazing and I highly recommend listening to hear why this show is so epic.

For now, however, I have one book to talk about: Batman & Robin Annual #2.

Ok. THIS is the Issue of the Month.
For those who don't remember the first Annual this title had, it was my Issue of the Year... or it would have been if I had done such an award last year. I still laugh and get misty-eyed at moments in that book and think it holds up nicely. Still a 10/10.

So yeah, this one had a BIG shadow to escape from, and considering that this title has moved so far away from Robin at this point that I'm flat-out dropping the book (I have two solo Batman books already. I don't need a third.), I wasn't inclined to spend $5 on an individual issue.

Boy, am I glad I did.

While this one isn't as brilliant as the first annual, this issue manages to have real heart and humor to it and it's legitimately worth the larger price tag.

I may complain about the premise of this book not being Robin anymore, but Peter J. Tomasi is still a brilliant writer. He tells a well-crafted story about the first mission Dick Grayson ever officially worked as Robin.

I will admit that I prefer Dick Grayson in the pre-Flashpoint universe. I like that he started younger and grew into his role. This version feels like he started WAY too close to Bruce's skill level. Nonetheless, both characters' voices were down pat and I like the initial tension Bruce had with taking on a partner.

Alfred doing awesome Alfred things.
This story is framed in such a way that Dick was telling Damian about this story, and that led to Damian leaving a gift to Dick in his secret Robin cave (a small area above the ceiling). I thought this was a nice way to show the impact Damian had on both Bruce and Dick, and I really enjoyed it.

Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason split art duties here. They are both solid artists and do a nice job here, though there were some panels that just didn't work. I'm reminded of a weird smile on Damian's face in one scene as an example.

Nonetheless, outside of a couple panels, the art is great and the coloring was executed perfectly. I really loved the design of the Robin costume and got a kick out of seeing Dick design one that resembled his pre-Flashpoint Nightwing suit.

Again, seriously, listen to my audio and watch "Arrow."
The conflict itself was great, although it used the tired trope where the villain waits to finish the heroes for no actual reason. However, the scene that followed was a great display of Dick's skills, so it's only a small knock.

Overall, it's a done-in-one story that isn't as new-reader friendly as the first annual, but for those who remember Damian Wayne, this is a great story to pick up. Heck, even if you don't know who he is, by the end, it made me want to go back a read old Damian Wayne stuff.

I think this is the book of the month, and I will give it a 9.25/10. It lacked that moment that really clicked emotionally for me, and there were some small hiccups, but it's a must-buy regardless.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Comic Book Reviews: January Catch-up

So you're probably wondering where all the reviews have been. Well I can tell you, they're here!

Yeah, I was dealing with some stuff for a while there, but it's time to get back into the groove. As promised, I have a new ratings scale when it comes to reviewing comics. It is quality based, but more on how much a reader needs to pick up the book.

Only the second book titled Detective Comics #27 published.
Here's a rough idea of what the numbers mean:

0- A completely failed issue. Nothing was accomplished the way it was meant to be.
1- Terrible issue. Maybe one sequence worked and it's really only worth purchasing if you REALLY want the full collection
2- Same as a 1 except it provides some plot worth noting for future issues, or has something that redeems it.
3- Bad issue. No one would defend the issue, but fans of the character may enjoy it simply because it's their character.
This Miller-esque panel was a nice touch by Greg Capullo.
4- Sub-par issue. Certain tastes may find it enjoyable, but it's not a book anyone can just pick up and enjoy.
5- Average issue. Some will like, some won't. I'd advise reading it in the store before purchasing.
6- Decent issue. Fans of the character will rate it as good while casual readers would probably be turned off.
7- Solid issue. Skim in the store to see if it's worth the money, but at the very least it's worth keeping up with what happened.
8- Worth buying. Customers won't feel short-changed, it should be read, but it's not necessary to buy it.
9- Must-buy. Absolutely worth the price of admission. A satisfying read all-around.
10- Must-own. At this point the book should probably be considered for Issue of the Year.

I just reviewed 10 books in the audio, but here is a rundown of the numbers.
Book of the month so far

Detective Comics #27: 9/10
Green Arrow #27: 9.1/10
Action Comics #27: 8.25/10
Batwing #27: 7.5/10
Batgirl #27: 5/10
Nightwing #27: 5.5/10
Batman '66 #7: 8.75/10
Samurai Jack #4: 8.25/10
Birds of Prey #27: 7/10
Batman #27: 9/10

I'm looking at the schedule for this week's books, and I don't see a Green Hornet book scheduled. The only books I may pick up are the Catwoman Gothtopia tie-in (though I'm genuinely concerned about giving that title readership before I see a different review) and the Batman & Robin Annual #2.

If I wind up picking one or both up, there will be a review this week. If not, there will still be another review blog this week, but it will be a catch-up on Blue Beetle issues (I'd be reviewing #14-17.) And yes, I will start giving rating numbers to the Blue Beetle books if you're curious.

I am on Twitter and Facebook. Stay tuned for a catch-up blog of the recent Arrow episodes this week as well!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Comic Book Reviews: Superman Unchained #5 and Blue Beetle #13

My last review of a 2013 comic book is Superman Unchained #5! Blue Beetle is also on the audio for those who have been following my look at the exploits of Ted Kord in the late 1980s.

I will be adding scores to my comic reviews starting with the books coming out tomorrow (Detective, Action, Green Arrow and the Batwing tie-in to 'Gothtopia'), so that's something to look forward to. Until then, enjoy the last reviews of 2013.

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