September 11 Comic Week in Review
This week Pablo Gunner reviews the DC villain books of the week. Find out what he had to say about BRAINIAC, LOBO, SOLOMON GRUNDY, MR FREEZE, COURT OF OWLS, RIDDLER, BLACK MANTA, ZOD.
Writer: Greg Pak, Artist: Ken Lashley
This was purely an origin story of Zod from beginning to end, the end being when he becomes imprisoned in the phantom zone. It started with Zods narrative about him loving monsters. It was weird because it seemed like the Kryptonians are all scientists including his father. They decide to expand to another planet. Unfortunately this planet didn't exactly have the most friendly of creatures. Zod betrays his father just to survive. It could have been an important and pivotal part of the story better it didn't feel like it. Years later a search team is sent to find Zod and his family only to realize that Zod is not a teenaged, Lord of The Flies looking, hardened, survivor of this harsh planet. From that point forward he decided we wanted to return the Kryptonians to their former glory as warriors. He creates a monster hybrid of an alien race they use to be at war as the catalyst. Jor-El discovers this and Zod is imprisoned for his crimes. The art was rather impressive overall but the new look and design of both young and older Zod was not to my liking. To see how Zod became a hardened warrior and survivor would have been much more interesting than just seeing the end result. This origin story just felt rushed and underdeveloped.
Writer: Geoff Johns, Antony Bedard, Artist: Claude St Aubin
Essentially this issue was a tie-in into Forever Evil. It also served as a point from when we Aquaman readers last saw Black Manta. Amanda Waller tries to get Black Manta into the Suicide Squad and asks him what he's looking for in life. Later the Crime Syndicate breaks into the facility Manta is imprisoned in and releases all of the inmates to offer them allegiance in exchange for servitude. What it boiled down to was the question as to what you do once the person whom you live to get vengeance upon is fulfilled whether it be by your hand or another's. Honestly this read as just another Aquaman issue even if it was just filler. It looked as good as one too.
Verdict: weak BUY
Writer: Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, Artist: Jeremy Haun
Much like the Two-Face villain book this issue defines the character and shows us a side of the character that we rarely see through the why and how. Somehow the creative team managed to tell a story that tied into the ongoing title, Forever Evil, and tease the future of this character. What he does may not seem that big of a deal in the overall scheme of things but each moment has weight and consequences. The Riddler incites a riot to get into Wayne Enterprises all the while maniacally reciting multiple riddles over and over. When interrupted he lashes out quite violently. The ingenuity, tact, and ferocity of Edward Nigma is astounding. In the he sits with his card waiting to play his hand. The colors were strong and vibrant but the style if the art was dark and moody, perfect for this story and character.
Verdict: STRONG BUY
Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Jorge Lucas
Just like the Ambassador said in the Comicast this should be a Talon villain book not Batman & Robin. This villain book ties into Talon in so many ways its ridiculous that its not a .1 issue of that title. This book is creepy as hell and scary to think about. Here I was thinking about how badly Batman messed up the Court of Owls and he barely made a dent. It kind of reminds me when I was reading Secret Invasion and honestly thought that not only could any of the characters in the Marvel universe be Skrulls but anybody I meet in everyday life. That's how paranoid that and this book made me and that's a powerful thing to do. The art is what sent that idea home with how dark, gritty, seedy the world of the Court is. This is a tie-in into Forever Evil but mostly Talon. A storm is coming and this is the calm before it and I'm terrified.
Verdict: STRONG BUY
Writer: Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Artist: Jason Masters
Like many DC villains Mr Freeze has been revamped, as they say, to be much more realistic. Instead of being a scientist with a cryogenically frozen, ill wife he is a psychopath with an obsession much like that of those in real life. It began with a recap of Victor Fries, his mother, and how she died. Then it returns to Mr. Freeze in Arkham. Victor has recently discovered that the father that left him and his mother has a family of his own now which he eerily takes a strong interest in. As with most of the villain books that tie into Forever Evil there is a point at which the villains are broken out of their incarceration as with this book. Upon release Victor heads to his new family with some of the men he broke out with on a ship that randomly has an Arkham staff member. It's interesting to see Mr Freeze and his demented sense of morality as he protects this Arkham Asylum nurse. All in all it was a solid issue. The art was of different styles when doing flashbacks and present time.
Verdict: weak BUY
Writer: Matt Kindt, Artist: Aaron Lopresti
This is an odd one in the sense that it cannot be either a tie-in into Forever Evil or its own title since it doesn't take place in the same universe and he has already been dealt with in this ongoing title. So for this book it was an origin story of Solomon Grundy, how he became the rot, and his search for the avatar of the green. In most stories he was or is the spirit of dead gangster(s) come to life. In this he is just a guy in love with a woman that works for a butcher in the bayou. The butcher becomes abusive with his love so she kills herself. He takes his revenge on the butcher and then attempts to kill himself as well but instead becomes the rot known as Solomon Grundy in Earth 2. The other parts of the book just shown Grundy searching for the Green Lantern. The art wasn't bad. The color scheme and style was a little too lighthearted for the story but was otherwise well done.
Verdict: STRONG SKIM
Writer: Marguerite Bennett, Artist: Ben Oliver
Another origin story gone horribly wrong. I don’t even know if this can even be considered an origin story. The New 52 Lobo is shown a this petite, trim, fit, pale guy with slick backed hair that is a bounty hunter and smuggler. Now why you would change a character that didn’t need to be fixed makes no sense to me but whatever. Anyways this bounty hunter shows us one of his kills and cashes is it. Then he’s offered a transport job, no questions asked not that he cared to. There were some complications in the process as he gets attacked by some space pirates or something. He deals with them and finds out that his cargo are an endangered species whose bones are worth a lot of money. At first they thought he was freeing them only to find out that it was quite the opposite. This moments could have made more of an impact but didn’t because of the way it was handled. He seemed like a bad guy but not horrible and definitely not a true villain. He got paid and then found out that theres somebody out there that is an impostor version of himself, the Lobo we know and love. My only hopes is that when they meet the Lobo we know and Lobo obliterates the new one because he is lame. Once again a villain book with fantastic art and a weak story.
Writer: Antony Bedard, Artist: Pascal Alixe
Honestly I only picked this one up because of how much I enjoyed the DC animated film, Superman Unbound, which featured Brainiac as the main villain. Being that this was his origin story interested me because I wanted to see how he became the being that he is in Superman Unbound despite that character being from a pre New 52 story. I figured they wouldn’t be too different. Its another one of those why mess with what works type of things. In this book its shows Brainiac before and after he integrates himself with the technology he’s created. Interestingly enough he was a family man prior to his integration with a wife and child. He is a scientist coming up with the technology that we have seen him use time and again. According to this he created the technology in an attempt to save his family and people upon discovering that there his home planet is in grave danger. Unfortunately he took drastic measures to do so such as experimenting on his own son. Once his wife discovered this she left him and gave him up to the authorities. Brainiac explained himself while on trial but it did him no good. Being the genius that he is he planned for such things, escaped, augmented himself, but he was too late to save his people. From there on out he vowed to save all world from the same certain destruction as his own. After being questioned by a woman whose planet he was claiming under is protection he admits to himself that a part if him enjoys going what he does and it's not all for a noble cause. The art looks very similar to art in the ongoing title. The art is quite spectacular. It's bright, strong, and powerful. It's an interesting take on the character to say the least.