The Kingdom ★☆☆☆☆

thekingdom (Custom)

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Kingdom
Series: Elseworlds
Author: Mark Wade
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 232
Words: 23K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

20 years after the events of Kingdom Come, a survivor of the Kansas disaster is granted power by four members of the Quintessence (Shazam, Ganthet, Zeus, and Izaya Highfather), who dub him Gog. The power drives him mad, and he takes out his anger on Superman, killing him and carving his “S” shield on the ground. He then travels a day backward in time and kills him again…and again. A shadowed figure vaguely resembling the Phantom Stranger, the fifth Quintessence member, opposes this action, as Gog now intends to accelerate the Kansas Holocaust, but the other four are prepared to let things unfold; Shazam hopes that Captain Marvel will no longer have to die, Ganthet hopes that Green Lantern will avert the catastrophe and become more renowned than Superman, Zeus hopes that the ancient gods may be ‘worshiped’ once more as Earth seeks something to believe in, and Highfather feels that a new war may fracture Earth in a manner similar to New Genesis and Apokolips.

As Gog travels closer to the modern DC Universe, the Linear Men panic when they see that their ordered index of time is unraveling; Superman is dead in the 21st century, yet alive in the 853rd, and their instruments register no error. When Rip Hunter, acting upon the orders of the shadowed figure, tries to stop Gog from killing Superman on the day his and Wonder Woman’s child is born (that being a day when ‘anything seemed possible’), Gog manages to steal the infant (named Jonathan), whom he plans to raise and name Magog (in issue #2, this was revealed to be a red herring. The child did not grow up to become Magog; instead, he became the shadowed figure, whose true identity is then revealed to be Hyperman, a Hypertime-traveling superhero wearing a costume based on the costumes of his parents and his godfather, Batman).

Although the other Linear Men object to the idea of the heroes of that time travelling back to defeat Gog, Rip Hunter recruits Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman from the Kingdom Come era to stop Gog in 1998, the heroes concluding that, since innocent people will die if they do or do not take action, they will take the heroic option and go back despite the apparent loss of their own reality by having them interfere in their own pasts in such a manner. Four young heroes-Kid Flash, Offspring, Nightstar, and Ibn al Xu’ffasch-come together to try stopping Gog on their own, and are recruited by Rip Hunter to assist in his plan. When Jonathan is seemingly erased from existence soon after being rescued, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman team up with their ‘past selves’ and battle Gog to a final confrontation in a “Planet Krypton” restaurant outside of reality, where they use various weapons gathered from across Hypertime against Gog. During the fight, the future Wonder Woman reveals to the Superman of the present why Gog is after him, and Superman vows that the timeline of Kingdom Come will never happen in his universe, as he strikes back at Gog, finishing the battle once and for all. As the heroes return to their proper places in time, Hyperman reveals himself, assuring the future heroes that his infant self actually hid himself within the stream of Hypertime upon being rescued from Gog, and Rip Hunter explains the existence of timelines, so the Kingdom Come reality still exists, but it will no longer be the future of the DC Universe.

My Thoughts:

Well, after my experience with Kingdom Come you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. I guess I’m either really stupid, a glutton for punishment, a Completist or A Genius the Likes of Which the World has Never Yet Seen. I’ll leave it up to you to pick the, ahem, correct interpretation.

While I had none of the problems from the previous comic, I had a whole new bunch to contend with. This was not an actual miniseries by one writer and artist. It was bookended by The Kingdom and then had a bunch of new DC titles that were all #1’s in the middle, and all were the children of other superheroes. Considering this was in ’98, that was at the tail end of the Comic Boom in the 90’s and it was easy to tell that DC was trying to get some more comics into circulation and grab what cash they could. I don’t think it was considered an Elseworlds story until after the fact. None of the titles took off, nor did they deserve to.

The art was also atrocious. Well, maybe not atrocious, but pretty sad. With each book being a different title, obviously the artists changed and hence the artwork, but it never improved,it was all uniformly junk. The only exception I noticed was the Kid Flash comic. That seemed pretty sleek.

The story could have been interesting. Gog, the main villain, looked just like Magog, the villain from Kingdom Come. He was trying to kill all the possible Supermen throughout all of time. Now doesn’t that sound like it has a ton of potential? Sadly, it was all wasted as the intervening comics were just as much about trying to introduce the new kids on the block as they were about advancing the storyline. Plus, it dealt with a multiverse and ever since the New52 I feel like DC over uses the reset/reboot button way too often. So my bitterness about the new direction of DC bled over into this older story. Surprise!

Kingdom Come I found abhorrent. The Kingdom was simply a bore.

★☆☆☆☆

Kingdom Come ★☆☆☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Kingdom Come
Series: Elseworlds
Author: Mark Wade
Artist: Alex Ross
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars
Genre: Graphic Novel
Pages: 232
Words: 23K

Synopsis:

From Wikipedia

In this Elseworlds story, Superman and the Justice League abandon their roles as superheroes after the rise and strong public support of a superhero named Magog, who has no qualms about killing—notably the Joker, on his way to trial for the mass murder of the Daily Planet staff, including Lois Lane. In the ensuing years, a newer generation of superpowered metahumans arise; they engage each other in destructive battles with little distinction between “heroes” and “villains.” The narrator, a minister named Norman McCay, receives apocalyptic visions of the future from a dying Wesley Dodds. The Spectre appears to McCay and recruits him to help pass judgment on the approaching superhuman apocalypse.

An attack on the Parasite, led by Magog, goes awry when Parasite tears open Captain Atom. As a result, much of the American Midwest is irradiated, killing millions and destroying a large portion of the United States’s food production. Coaxed back into action by Wonder Woman, Superman returns to Metropolis and re-forms the Justice League.

He recruits new heroes along with older ones. The most prominent exception is the Batman, who resents Superman for leaving the world 10 years ago. Batman warns Superman that his idealist notions are outdated and his interference will only exacerbate the world’s problems, insisting that strategy is required, not force. In response to Superman’s Justice League, Batman activates his network of agents called the “Outsiders”, made up largely of the younger second and third-generation heroes, while trusted veterans, such as Green Arrow and Blue Beetle, are chosen as lieutenants. Lex Luthor has organized the “Mankind Liberation Front”. The MLF is secretly a group of Golden Age villains, including Catwoman, the Riddler, and Vandal Savage, as well as third-generation villains like Ra’s al Ghul’s successor, Ibn al Xu’ffasch, who is Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul’s son. The MLF works to take control of the world from the heroes.

Superman’s Justice League gathers more captives than converts, and his prison (nicknamed “the Gulag”) is filled to capacity almost as soon as it is built. Superman works to persuade the inmates that their methods are wrong-headed and dangerous, but his entreaties fall upon deaf ears. With hostile heroes and villains locked up together, pressure builds. Meanwhile, Superman learns that Wonder Woman’s ardent militant stance may be influenced by her recent exile from Paradise Island: in the eyes of the Amazons, her mission to bring peace to the outside world has failed, and she has thus been stripped of her royalty. Batman and his Outsiders seem to enter into an alliance with the MLF as a united front against the Justice League. Luthor plans to exacerbate the conflict between the League and the inmates of the Gulag; the ensuing chaos will afford Luthor an opportunity to seize power. Batman uses the Martian Manhunter to discover that an adult Billy Batson is under Luthor’s control. Batson, as Captain Marvel, is the only metahuman capable of matching Superman’s power. When the Gulag’s inmates riot and kill Captain Comet, Luthor unwittingly reveals to Batman he intends to use the brainwashed Batson to break open the Gulag. Batman’s forces ambush Luthor and his conspirators, but they are unable to restrain Batson, who transforms into Marvel and flies off. While Wonder Woman leads the Justice League to the superhuman prison riot, Superman confronts Batman. Batman tries to justify inaction, saying the world would be better off if all the metahumans destroyed each other. Superman points out that if all human life is sacred, then logically that includes superhuman life. Superman knows that Batman will act, because his entire crimefighting life is based upon the desire to prevent the loss of human life.

Moved by Superman’s sentiments, Batman tells Superman that Captain Marvel is under Luthor’s control and is on the way to the Gulag. Superman races to the Gulag, but upon arrival is struck down by Captain Marvel. The Gulag is breached, freeing the population, and inciting war between Wonder Woman’s Justice League and the metahuman prisoners. The Spectre and Norman look on as Wonder Woman’s League engages with the prisoners and Superman is kept at bay by Captain Marvel. Batman’s army arrives on site as an intervening third party. Batman is unable to stop Wonder Woman from killing the supervillain Von Bach, which increases the fury of the riot.

As conditions worsen, United Nations Secretary General Wyrmwood authorizes the deployment of three tactical nuclear warheads, hardened against metahuman powers. In the middle of their fight, Batman and Wonder Woman see the incoming stealth bombers piloted by the Blackhawk Squadron. They break off fighting and manage to stop two bombs, but miss the third. Captain Marvel uses his magic lightning bolt as a weapon against Superman. Superman manages to grab Marvel and allow the bolt to transform him into Billy. Holding Batson’s mouth shut, Superman tells him he is going to stop the remaining bomb, and Batson must make a choice: either stop Superman and allow the warhead to kill all the metahumans, or let Superman stop the bomb and allow the metahumans’ war to engulf the world. Superman tells Batson he must be the one to make this decision, as he is the only one who lives in both worlds: a man (as Batson) and a god (as Marvel). Batson, his mind now clear of Luthor’s influence, turns back into Captain Marvel. He flings Superman to the ground and flies after the missile. Marvel intercepts the missile and shouts “Shazam!” three times in rapid succession, detonating the bomb prematurely, and killing Batson in the process.

Despite Marvel’s sacrifice, most of the metahumans are obliterated in the explosion. Superman is unharmed, but does not realize that there are any other survivors. Enraged at the tremendous loss of life, Superman flies to the U.N. Building and threatens to bring it down atop the delegates as punishment for the massacre. The surviving metahumans arrive, but McCay is the one who talks him down, pointing out how his appearance and behavior are exactly the sort of reasons that normal humans fear the superpowered. Superman immediately ceases his rampage. He is handed Captain Marvel’s cape, and tells the U.N. that he will use his wisdom to guide, rather than lead, humankind. Superman ties Captain Marvel’s cape to a flagpole and raises it among the flags of the member nations of the U.N., suggesting that this role of guidance will be more political and global in nature than the classic crime-busting vigilantism of the past.[6] In the epilogue, the heroes strive to become fully integrated members of the communities. Wonder Woman’s exile from Paradise Island ends, and she becomes an ambassador for super-humanity, taking the survivors of the Gulag to Paradise Island for rehabilitation. Batman abandons his crusade and becomes a healer, rebuilding his mansion as a hospital to care for those wounded by the destruction of the Gulag. He reconciles with both Dick Grayson/Red Robin and his son, Ibn al Xu’ffasch. Superman begins the task of restoring the Midwestern farmlands devastated in Magog’s attempt to capture the Parasite. He comes to terms with his past as Clark Kent by accepting a pair of glasses from Wonder Woman, and shares a kiss with her before she returns to Paradise Island. Norman McCay resumes pastorship of his congregation, preaching a message of hope for humanity. Among the congregation is Jim Corrigan, the Spectre’s human host.

My Thoughts:

Where do I start? I liked the idea and the presentation.

But the damnably perverted and shallow philosophy absolutely killed this for me. I knew this wasn’t going to go well right from the introduction by Elliot Maggin when he starts talking about us all being modern gods and how he takes inspiration from Gandhi saying he would be a Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian or Buddhist, the idea being that he would do anything to advance his generic ideals even to the profanation of the very religions he’s claiming to want to represent.

Then we get the main narrator, a Christian pastor. Unfortunately, this “pastor” is of the God is just a name and simply represents a higher power to help us become better” variety. He’s not a Christian, he’s a Unitarian. Not once was the name of Christ mentioned. Even during the many, many, MANY out of context quotes from the book of Revelation (which by the way is the Revelation of Jesus Christ) God as a Force was what was shoved down the readers’ throats. I am finding that the older I get, the less patience I have for misrepresentations of Christianity. I’m not talking about differences of opinion of a hard to interpret Scripture, but blatant misuses of Scripture to forward a storyline while claiming TO represent Christianity. Sadly, most of these misrepresentations come from real life people doing the misrepresentation. Can anyone say Jim Bakker or Joel Osteen?

Next, you have Superman, Batman and Wonderwoman. All are portrayed as having been broken by the events of a new world. One thing that really stuck out was the various stances shown on superheroes taking lives. Superman and Batman are known for their stance on not taking lives. It is one of the defining characteristics of who they are. The authors here use that and the new heroes willingness to take lives at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, killing, for any reason, even by the lawful authorities is show as something evil. One of the villains, Magog, killed the Joker in the past and that is portrayed on the same level as him killing Captain Atom and pretty much nuking the American midwest and killing MILLIONS of people. Things are just not that simplistic and I HATE when something serious is portrayed so unreasonably. This got into Message Territory instead of good story telling.

Then the ending. Everyone pretty much just agrees to get along. Pollyana much? I mean, the whole freaking story wouldn’t have happened if the characters had acted in the beginning like they did at the end. But there was no real mechanism to propel their changes.

Everything, from beginning to end, got my goat. This was an Elseworlds story that could have been great, could have been fantastic but completely failed in its execution and was completely bogged down by Message Politics.

You know what is really funny though? I read a review of this on another site where the person went off the rails because they were convinced this was all right wing politics, because it featured a “Christian” main character, had Superman, Batman and Wonderwomen as the good guys. They also claimed it was pro-gun, pro-life and pro-death sentence. Oh, oh, they also stated that from this they figured Wade was a Republican and thus this was a complete piece of garbage. Isn’t that awesome? I have no idea how they came to the conclusions they did but it made me do a little happy dance inside. Call me sick, but seeing someone else being miserable just made my day.

Just so you can get an alternate take, ie, a more positive one, feel free to visit’s Lashaan Review.

★☆☆☆☆

Path of Doom (Superman Action Comics #1) ★★★★☆

pathofdoom (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Path of Doom
Series: Superman Action Comics #1
Author: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patch Zircher, et al
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 144
Format: Paper Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Some dummkopfs are holding some people hostage and Lex Luther, wearing an armored suit emblazoned with an “S” comes to the rescue. He is then confronted by the real Superman, father of Jon and husband of Lois. The REAL Superman. They begin to duke it out when suddenly Doomsday appears from a container and begins his rampage from almost 30 years ago all over again. Lex and Superman team up and manage to get Doomsday out of Metropolis. Lex is left behind to help the citizenry in need and Wonder Woman shows up to help.

Superman has learned from his last fight to the death with Doomsday, at least so he says. But basically it turns into yet another slugfest. Jon is watching on tv and gives a super shout that alerts Doomsday to another Kryptonian and Doomsday sets off to hunt down Jon. Supes convinces Wonder Woman to take Lois and Jon to Watch Tower, the JLA space fortress while he has a plan to deal with Doomsday.

Before he can enact his plan though, a group of humans with some sort of super tech appear, open a gate and begin using energy weapons to push Doomsday through the gate. They almost succeed but then Doomsday simply rips through them all like tissue paper.

With some timely intervention by Wonder Woman, Supes manages to get Doomsday into the path of a Phantom Zone Projector and the world is safe. Or so everyone thinks.

During all of this, a mysterious narrator has been watching everything on screens and at the end, he intercepts the Phantom Zone Projector and captures Doomsday for himself. Who he is, what he wants and pretty much everything about him is a mystery.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, I’d like to first thank Bookwraiths for reviewing this book this last year. Gave me some hope that maybe DC hadn’t totally destroyed Superman. Superman: Doomed was truly an epic fail in the saga of Superman and left me reeling.

This was a return to the Superman who was and always should have been. This was the Superman who fought Doomsday to a standstill and gave his life for those he loved. This is the Superman who clawed his way back from death and kicked the ass of every single other Pretender. This was a Superman who was facing death again and yet would NOT turn away. I have to admit, I almost cried.

So while I loved this return to form for Superman and I had no problems whatsoever believing he and Lois now have a son, the rest of the DC comic world has moved on and made some huge changes and I just can’t accept those changes and enjoy them. This whole multiverse thing? That was supposed to have been dealt with back in the 80’s with Crisis on Infinite Earths. The fact that DC has hashed things up so badly that they have just as convoluted a multiverse AGAIN doesn’t tell me anything good about the state of the plan for storytelling.

The second thing is that I am used to getting a completed story arc in a graphic novel. If you can’t tell a complete story arc in one book, then you have no business telling that story at all. It’s DC’s new business model of selling a whole years worth of comics and all associated comics to get a complete story. I won’t buy into that practice.

I think this is going to be my last comic for the foreseeable future. It used to be that comics were in our world and if you knew the origin of the Hero you could pretty much slot into whereever you started reading. Not any more. With things like Flashpoint, New52, Rebirth, things are so complicated that you can’t just jump on board.

I enjoyed this particular set of comics a LOT and feel like it is an almost circle in regards to Superman and Doomsday. But with everything else I stated, I can’t and won’t be continuing.

Adios Kal. You’ve always been the example of True Manhood to me throughout the years and I’m glad to see you being returned to that state. The world nowadays needs real heroes and I hope you can survive our worlds current penchant for destroying heroes with a sneer and glib mockery.

★★★★☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Gattling’s Big Guns Part I & II (Silver Sable & the Wildpack #2 & 3) ★★★☆☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Gattling’s Big Guns Part I & II
Series: Silver Sable & the Wildpack #2 & 3
Author: Gregory Wright
Artist: Steven Butler
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 64
Format: Paper Edition

 

Synopsis:

Silver and Co are hired to protect a televangelist who has been targeted after publicly saying he was pro-choice. We are introduced to 2 new members of the Wildpack, Crippler and Battlestar. The Wildpack also get new uniforms (thank goodnes for that!!!).

Silver runs into the assassin, name of Gattling, who can turn invisible, fly with a jetpack and has 2 huge gattling guns. She also runs into her ex-husband, the mercenary/assassin The Foriegner and he reveals that the Evangelist is in cahoots with a druglord and that that is what eveything is about. The Foriegner kills off another televangelist who is also in the drug trade and Silver and the Wildpack take down Gattling. Silver then turns her client in to the FBI as he was the one who hired the Foriegner to kill off the other televangelist.

 

My Thoughts:

Ok, several things really stood out with this. First, comic book writers are as preachy, ham-handed and obvious as any social justice warrior today. Christianity, rascism and sexism, all dealt with in this book, with all the finesse of a lumberjack using a sledgehammer to knock a tree down. I don’t have a highly developed sense of tastefulness but this just hurt! Second was the ads. Targeted to the 12-16 age group for sure.

The only really good thing about these 2 comics was the expansion of the Wildpack (we see more besides just Sandman and Powell) and the uniform change.

SS02-12

We get the addition of Crippler, some badass hydra bounty-hunter to Battlestar, a black Captain America knockoff who is augmented in some way or another. We also see Chen (that is her name I believe) for the first time and we hear some other “names” that I’m sure will be part of the main team.

Silver is just an incredibly bitchy jackass. She is also drawn in some of the most outlandish dinnerware styles that are so revealing that I had to roll my eyes. Once again, subtly was not aimed for.

The artwork is pretty rough too, with Silver being more identified by her white hair and white/silver outfit (whether dinner dress or battle uniform) than in any uniformity of face or form. This was done quick and dirty and it shows.

Overall, this is the quintessential 90’s comic that shows every trope and stereotype possible in its effort to sell another magazine. And I can remember thinking how awesome this comic was. Awww, the sweet innocent naivete of youth 😉

★★★☆☆

bookstooge (Custom)

Silver Sable & the Wildpack (Silver Sable & the Wildpack #1) ★★★☆☆

silversable1 (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Silver Sable & the Wildpack
Series: Silver Sable & the Wildpack #1
Author: Gregory Wright
Artist: Steven Butler
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 32
Format: Paper Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Silver is testing out a bunch of recruits and only 1 makes the cut. That night she learns that the school where her niece Anna is attending has been taken over by Hydra.

Since it is not a paying mission, Silver goes on her own to rescue Anna. Sandman, now apparently a good guy (?) is concerned and puts together a Wildpack team and goes after her. Spiderman is also on the scene and between him, Silver and the Wildpack, Anna is rescued and the Hydra agents taken down.

Silver tells off Sandman and docks everyone’s pay and fines them as well.

 

My Thoughts:

Well, the Spiderman 2099 comics really weren’t working for me, so I decided to try something else. And after Oh My Goddess failed as well, I wanted something I could bail on easily. Silver Sable ran for 35 issues, approximately 3 years. She had one or two crossover events with other small time comic characters and like many of the small characters in the 90’s was eventually folded back into a big time character’s book as a side character.

I was 14 when I picked this up. I picked it up because it was a Number 1 and comic collecting was really starting to take off. It also didn’t hurt that I was beginning to work and had some money in my pocket. I figured with that shiny cover and being a number 1, that in a couple of years it would be worth so much money. I practically shook my own hand at just how clever I was being. Of course, since you can still buy it for less than the cover price over 25 years later, I guess I wasn’t as clever as I thought.

First off, let’s talk quality, eyes, colors etc. This is the very definition of pulp paper. I read one of the copies I own and my goodness, the paper is so rough and yet so thin. The whole book is so thin. It is really easy to forget that these were made as cheaply as possible. The second thing that struck me was just how hard it was to see things. My being 40 might have something to do with that, but the color schemes and the font types, it was meant for maximum wowey zowey’ness, not old eyes. The colors, oh my goodness. Hydra goons were dressed up in bright green and yellow hazmat suits with bug goggles and the Wildpack had purple jumpsuits with orange armor stuff. Garish doesn’t even begin to describe it!

SS1-17

Green & Yellow, Purple & Orange? My eyes, MY EYES!!!

This was meant to introduce Sable on her own, as previously she’d been a minor character in various Spiderman comics. You get a little about her history and what drives her and are introduced to 2 of the Wildpack, Sandman and the new recruit Powell.

For 32 pages, with maybe ¼ of that being ads, this does it’s job of introducing her very well. I don’t have high hopes for this, but really, it’s not meant for that kind of expectation. This was meant for a 14 year old boy.

★★★☆☆

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

 

Batman: Under the Red Hood (Batman/Robin #5) ★★★☆☆

undertheredhood (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Batman: Under the Red Hood
Series: Batman/Robin #5
Author: Judd Winick
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Rating: 3 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 384
Format: Paper Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

A vigilante, wearing a Red Hood, begins taking out various crime syndicates in Gotham. Unfortunately, he’s just as willing to kill as the badguys. This brings him to Batman’s attention but he’s able to outwit Batman. It is revealed, quite early on I might add, that the Red Hood is Jason Todd and he’s back for revenge against the Joker and to show Batman that his scruples against killing just won’t work anymore. That story ends with Batman, Red Hood and the Joker all facing off against each other and the Joker stabbing a huge block of c4 and blowing the building to kingdom come.

The book ends with a 2part storyline about how Todd came back to life. Apparantly some of the shenanigans pulled by DC with Superman allowed “time changes” and such baloney and so Todd was miraculously alive. He was then put in a Lazarus Pit by Talia Al’Ghul and sent on his way to revenge himself.

 

My Thoughts:

This book had some really deep moments, like where Todd’s philosophy of death is pitted against Batman’s and then some just plain stupid points, like the end story about how Todd came back to life.

This book explores why Batman is one of the good guys. It isn’t just that he doesn’t kill but the whole reasoning behind it. Batman still believes in the Justice System. He believes in the duly constituted authority of the police and the like. He apprehends the criminals because somebody needs to and provides evidence against them but he realizes that he is NOT judge, jury and executioner. He is not above the Law even while working outside the framework of the law. Ultimately, he serves the purposes of Law.

Todd, on the other hand, is just as much a piece of trash as he was back in “Death in the Family”. He’s an arrogant, pompous and now, truly dangerous psychopath. He doesn’t believe in the underpinnings of Law and Order and hence, has absolutely no regard for even trying to play by the rules. At times I found myself almost agreeing with his assessment of how Batman’s way doesn’t seem to work. His accusations against the Joker, about the thousands he has killed, the thousands that could have been saved if Batman had only killed the Joker, rang true in my ears. Until I stopped and thought. I do believe that the Joker should have been killed but not by Batman. He should have been executed by the Government for his crimes. And that is what is so seductive about these comics. They provide half truths as full truths. They purport to show that ANY killing is somehow bad. So only badguys do the killing and goodguys don’t kill, including the Government. Even though death is sometimes the only punishment that fits the crime.

However, that gets into the whole role of government and ethics and where you get your ideas from. That is a MUCH deeper and more complicated issue than can be adequately done justice to in a comic book. Plus, it doesn’t help that a lot of comic people are leftist commie pinkos who are as deluded as Hitler ever was so to ever expect something right and decent from them is like expecting me to start reading those bodice ripper books and think they’re great literature. It just isn’t going to happen.

The thing that really knocked this down for me was the whole explanation for how Todd came back. It had something to do with the Flashpoint storyline or the New52 or something. I got a 2page spread showing a Superman who looked like he was 18, breaking something or other and somehow that all mystically made it happen. I HATE SuperKid. The New52 Superkid needed his bottom paddled and told to grow up. He’s called phracking Super MAN for a reason so make him look like a man. And make him somebody kids want to emulate and look up to, not a teen displacement fantasy. There are enough superheroes who already do that * frowny face *

Also, there was zero mention of Tim Drake. Near the beginning there is a brief mention of some girl who also died who was close to being a fourth Robin, but nary hide nor hair of Tim Drake. I had to go to Wikipedia to see a history of Tim and found out he was branching out into the Red Robin character at this point. But Nightwing got facetime in this book and even had his city blown up, so why Drake wasn’t included is beyond me. Bunch of Jealous Haters is my guess.

Overall, I am pretty pleased with this Robinverse read. From the death of Jason Todd to his return, I think these 4 Robin related graphic novels are all worth owning. While they are a bit topsy turvy due to DC doing reboots every decade or less, you learn a lot about the Robin personna and get various takes on it. That being said, I will not be hunting down any of the Red Robin graphic novels or continuing any of the storylines left open in this book. I’ve got a Superman graphic novel still on tap but I think I’m going to wait a month or two before diving into it.

My rating of this book went all over the place from 2 stars to 4 star and even while writing this review I found myself going back and forth. So I settled on a 3star, as it means I was ok with the read but wasn’t wow’d.

★★★☆☆

bookstooge

 

 

Robin: Tragedy & Triumph (Batman/Robin #4) ★★★★☆

tragedyandtriumph (Custom).jpgThis review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Robin: Tragedy & Triumph
Series: Batman/Robin #4
Author: Chuck Dixon & Alan Grant
Artist: Norm Breyfogle & Tom Lyle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 192
Format: Paper Edition

 

Synopsis:

This graphic novels entails 2 different stories that aren’t related.

The first story, entitled Rite of Passage, is the backstory of the tragedy surrounding Tim Drake’s parents. How his mom died and his dad was totally incapacitated. They were multimillionaires, investors and their plane was hijacked. They were held for ransom by the Obea Man in Haiti but he had planned to kill them along no matter what. Batman rescues them but not before they drink poisoned water, which kills Mrs Drake and puts Mr Drake into a coma. While all of this is going on, Tim is back in Gotham tracking down a computer hacker who has been stealing from Gotham banks and depositing the funds into peasants accounts across the world.

The second story is the Robin II set of comics that introduces the new Robin as his own character. Batman is out of town, the Joker escapes and it is mid winter with a huge storm coming in. The Joker kidnaps a computer programmer and takes over the city and demands Batman deliver him a billion dollars. The Joker blows the truck up to kill Batman and in the ensuing confusion (As Robin has set things up) Robin takes down the Joker and puts him back in Arkham. Thus he puts to rest any doubts he has about being capable of being Batman’s partner.

 

My Thoughts:

I can understand why they put these 2 stories together, but they really didn’t mesh well. The tragedy surrounding Tim’s parents is only touched upon in Robin: A Hero Reborn so it is good to get the full story. It is amazing how the birth of a hero always seems catapulted by some sort of deep tragedy in their own lives. Nobody, as far as I can tell, just wakes up in Comic World and decides to fight crime for the fun of it. I obviously haven’t read every about superhero, nor do I have that desire, but Motivation seems to half the battle when it comes to creating a “hero”. Nothing beats a good old death of mum n dad to help someone along the path.

The Robin II storyline, with Tim facing off against the Joker, was your stereotypical comic book storyline. A whole city helpless, only one man, or boy in this case, can save the day. The Authorities completely stymied, every person in power panic’ing and their brains nullified. It is the dream of every teen. It also showcased how comics in the 90’s were still grounded in our world. None of this alternate reality, science fiction, fantasy kaka I see nowadays. Once a Superhero moves out from “our” world, they become just another character, no longer a Superhero.

This Robin book didn’t impress me as much as the previous book. It wasn’t as good but it also wasn’t as ridiculous. It was a comic book about a teenager (Drake’s only 14 for goodness sake!) for teenagers. I’ve been looking around at other Tim Drake/Robin books and I think I’ll be leaving them alone. Drake’s origin and first real mission, that’s a good place to stop.

I’ve got one more Batman/Robin graphic novel coming up, Under the Red Hood, which deals with the return of Jason Todd. I have no idea if Drake is involved or not, but either way, I’m ok with this little bit I already own and have no real desire to chase down more.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

 

Robin: A Hero Reborn (Batman/Robin #3) ★★★★☆

robinheroreborn (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title:
Robin: A Hero Reborn
Series: Batman/Robin #3
Author: Chuck Dixon & Alan Grant
Artist: Norm Breyfogle & Tom Lyle
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 192
Format: Paper Edition

 

 

Synopsis:

Tim Drake has been helping out Batman after the death of Tim’s mother and his father’s incapacitation by poison at the hand of the Obea Man. Batman refuses to allow Tim to don the Robin costume and tells Tim that disobediance in that regard will be where their partnership ends. Batman is dealing with with random people putting on skull masks and then committing crimes of whim. He tracks down the mastermind but is captured by the Scarecrow and subjected to several of his potions. Tim figures out what is going on and decides that he has to help Batman even if it means he can’t ever be Robin. Tim saves Batman and Vicki Vale and Batman realizes and acknowledges that Tim IS capable of being the next Robin. A new suit is revealed and Tim becomes the next Robin.

Though his detective skills are up to snuff, the physical side of things aren’t as well taken care off so Tim heads off to France to train under the last surviving Sensei of a martial art. While out one evening he sees a girl being harassed by a gang and tries to intervene. He gets his butt kicked, badly. He tracks them down and ends up rescuing Clyde Rawlins, a rogue DEA agent who is after the killers of his family. The gang leads back to Edmund Dorrance, aka the King Snake, the most dangerous man in the world, at least according to Lady Shiva.

Robin takes some street brawling lessons from Rawlins, finds out that Dorrance has gotten ahold of some manmade Bubonic Plague and plans to release it in Hong Kong so the mainland Chinese will get nothing when they take over Hong Kong in a few years. Lady Shiva is involved because she wants to pit herself against the King Snake. Robin takes some lessons from Shiva as well and eventually all 3 of them head to Hong Kong. They assault Dorrance’s HQ where the plague is stored and stop it from being released. Rawlins’ dies at the hands of the King Snake and Robin fights against him as well. Shiva has been playing a long game and tries to turn Robin into a killer and make him her protege, hence one-upping Batman. Robin refuses to murder Dorrance, so Shiva tosses Dorrance off of a 50story building.

Robin returns to Gotham and stops the gang that has transported all of Dorrance’s fortunes. He cleans house and Batman tells him he did a good job and that he’s truly ready to be Robin now.

 

My Thoughts:

Before I actually review anything. Buying books is dangerous. When I reviewed the 2 previous Batman/Robin books, I thought that I didn’t own them so I read them in digital format. Well, when I went to pick this volume off of my shelf, low and behold, I saw that I DID own them. Sigh. I didn’t buy it from Amazon, as it’s not in my order history, so I’m guessing I bought it some time with a Barnes&Noble giftcard some Christmas. I just can’t remember. So beware your bookshelves, they might have hidden surprises!!!

There is a quote from Clyde Rawlins that I feels sums this book up perfectly:

But this is getting too freaky. Killer bimbo’s, nazi plague bombs…

…I feel like I’m living out a National Enquirer headline.”

This was released soon after Jason Todd’s death, as it was felt that Batman really did need a sidekick. So this is chockful of the 90’s. The proto-EU is talked about, the ChiCom’s takeover of Hong Kong, the styles, it was all good! I’m not sure how a young person of today would view that, or if it would just be something they pass over. But for me, it was a good trip down memory lane.

Now, that being said, I was probably 14 or 15 when I originally bought this Robin graphic novel and the next. I can see why I liked it so much. However, since I’ve changed just a little bit since then (my 40th is coming up this year) my outlook has a bit more perspective to it now. The whole training thing? Packing 3 different styles in doesn’t take weeks, it would take years. In comics, that is how it works though, but it was pretty obviously a “flaw” to me this time around. The billionaire blind super martial artist schtick was also on the gimmicky side.

However, I still really liked this. Tim Drake is a careful, introspective teenager who thinks before he reacts and plans as much as he can for the unknown. He doesn’t allow himself to be overcome by his emotions and doesn’t allow vengeance to be his driving force. In short, he is everything that a sidekick of the Batman needs.

The whole coloring side of things worked for me as well. I’m a big fan of bright and splashy costumes and the yellow and greens and reds were outstanding in the new suit. And thankgoodness no more short pants for Robin! It was very much a complimentary suit to Batman’s in regards to what it was capable of.

This was a fun, fast paced adventure of the new Robin coming into his own. I’d highly recommend it to teens and recommend it to any fan of the Robins if they wanted a history lesson.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

A Lonely Place of Dying (Batman/Robin #2) ★★★★☆

alonelyplaceofdying (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Lonely Place of Dying
Series: Batman/Robin #2
Author: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Jim Aparo & Tom Grummett
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 116
Format: Digital Scan

 

 

Synopsis:

After the death of Jason Todd, aka Robin, Batman is starting to lose it. Instead of calculating and smart, he’s beginning to rely on violence and brute strength. This leads to him being wounded even by minor thugs, taking extremely risky actions and generally acting like he has a deathwish.

Tim Drake has been following the exploits of Batman & Robin for years now and has figured out that Dick Grayson was Robin, which led him to figure out Batman is Bruce Wayne and that Jason Todd was the new Robin. He also put together the fact of Todd’s death being the catalyst for Batman’s change in behavior. Drake tracks down Grayson, now known as Nightwing and convinces him to help Batman in his current fight against Two-Face. Nightwing agrees even while knowing he can never go back to being Robin.

When Batman and Nightwing are overcome by Two-Face, it is up to Drake to put on the uniform of Robin and to save them both. He does this successfully, even against Batman’s wishes to have nothing to do with another Robin, as the guilt of Todd’s death rests heavily upon him.

However, since Drake was successful in rescuing him and he knows that Batman is Bruce Wayne, Bruce must decide what he’ll do. Is it safer to avoid the potential for the death of another young man by cutting Drake off, which would lead to Drake running around out there knowing Batman’s alter ego and having no control over that? Or should Bruce take the chance, properly train Drake and retain control of his secret identity? This is how the book ends.

 

My Thoughts:

Page 5 and the America hating begins. Comics are still run by people who hate America, don’t forget it. Makes me sick. But then for the rest of the book, which was 5 or 6 comics, nothing. It was like Wolfman stuck a splinter in my big toe and then pretended that nothing had happened. It was rather surreal and just weird to me. I don’t care who the President is, you don’t call him unprintable names.

I thoroughly enjoyed this, as a sequel, not necessarily on its own. Batman’s struggle was very evident and I thought the writers/artists did a great job of portraying his descent. But holy toledo Batman, when Nightwing came on stage, it was “The 90’s Have Arrived!” with all hands on deck! It made me grin a lot because I remember those costumes, as that’s what I grew up seeing. Sometimes it’s just a shock though, you know?

Tim Drake was portrayed in a really good light. After Todd’s rebellious, angry and down right stupid behavior, Drake is shown to be intelligent, patient and willing to do what Batman’s says, even when he doesn’t want to. He was very raw material, but he was shown to be good material from which a really good Robin could be molded.

The overall plot wasn’t as dramatic as A Death in the Family but there were still some really comic’y parts. Dick Grayson investigating a circus murder and buying half the circus to keep it afloat? Not as silly as the Joker being a UN Ambassador but definitely fluff material. And the Teen Titans? Man, it just made me laugh.

Thoroughly enjoyed this read as a Robinread and am really looking forward to the Robin graphic novels next.

★★★★☆

bookstooge

 

A Death in the Family (Batman/Robin #1) ★★★★☆

adeathinthefamily (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: A Death in the Family
Series: Batman/Robin #1
Author: Jim Starlin
Artist: Jim Aparo & Mike Decarlo
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Comics
Pages: 144
Format: Digital Scan

 

 

Synopsis:

Batman has taken Jason Todd under his wing and trained him as his new Robin. Unfortunately, Jason lost his mother to illness and his father to crime and so he’s got a lot of anger and he lets it out while on the job.

Going through some papers of his parents one day he comes across his birth certificate where he finds out that his “mother” was actually only his step-mother and his birth mother is still alive and either in the Middle East or Africa. After “quitting”, in a note no less, Todd runs off to Israel to check on the first of three possible “Mom” candidates and then ends up in Lebanon.

At the same time the Joker has broken out of Arkham Asylum, again and with most of his secret funds being not so secret and impounded by the US Government, heads to Lebanon to sell off a nuclear cruise missile. Batman is tracking him down and runs into Todd. It turns out the people they each are looking for are connected. So they team up, foil a bunch of arab terrorists who want to launch a nuke into Tel Aviv and find out that the Israeli Secret Agent isn’t Jason Todd’s birth mother. The Joker is out a million dollars with no more missiles to sell and a large grudge.

While Batman and Robin go after Candidate Number 2, the Joker makes a run for Ethiopia and blackmails Candidate Number 3, who is in charge of large amounts of medical supplies from the UN. The Joker doesn’t know she’s Candidate Number 3 of course. Candidate Number 2 turns out to be Lady Shiva and she wants nothing more than an all out, one on one fight with Batman. After defeating her and doping her up with sodium pentathol, it is revealed that she too is not Todd’s mother.

The Joker not only blackmails Candidate Number 3 but drops off a load of his lethal laughing gas in the place of the supplies he takes. This will kill off whole camps of refugees. Bruce and Jason discover that CN3 IS Jason’s mother and there is a tearful reunion. At least until Jason discovers what the Joker is doing and informs Batman. Batman chases down the tainted supplies and Robin goes in to rescue his mom, against Batman’s express orders, only to discover that she’s been dipping into the medical funds and is as dirty as a sewer herself. She delivers him over to the Joker who beats him bloody with a crowbar and leaves him and his mother to die in a bomb blast.

Batman is devastated and returns home, vowing to never take on another apprentice. The Joker is caught by the Iranian Secret Police and given the job of UN Ambassador for Iran by the Ayatollah. As such he has immunity for all past crimes and Batman can’t touch him without setting off WWIII. Superman delivers the bad news to Batman and keeps him from going thermonuclear. The Joker has his time at the UN Assemblage, sets off a gas bomb and when that is foiled by Superman, a regular bomb. Batman chases him down and it ends in a fight in a helicopter, which crashes. Batman escapes but the Joker’s body is not recovered.

 

My Thoughts:

My first thought on starting this was “What a jerk Jason Todd is”. While he’s angry about his parents being dead, how does that excuse his going against Batman’s direct orders to wait on the police to break up a criminal ring? And then his actions in going after his birth mother? Leaving Gotham, stealing credit cards, breaking into secret bases, compromising secret agent identities? And then again ignoring Batman’s direct order to stay away from the Joker because he’s too dangerous? You would have thought that being taken out so easily by Lady Shiva would have shown him some of his limits, but no, Jason Todd was a selfish, arrogant jackass who brought his death upon himself. I have NO sympathy for him and was rather glad he died. He’s the kind of person that leads into the Watchman universe and the fear of Superheroes/Vigilantes. Jason Todd is a Taliban Fighter to Superman’s United States Marine.

My second real issue is the handling of the Joker as the Ambassador for Iran. I’m sorry but that is NOT how Ambassadorship works. It would be like saying that Osama Bin Laden could have become Afghanistan’s Representative and gotten off scot free. We still would have put a bullet in that bastard’s head. I realize this is a comic book and played up for drama, but come on!? My real issue is that I can see the kind of attitude that allowed this to happen in the comic book happening in real life. It makes me sick because it could happen for real.

Now I’ll talk about why I still liked this story and gave it 4 Stars.

Batman. With the recent movies, Batman has become just another vigilante. Willing to kill if it’s convenient. In this book Batman is back at his “I won’t use a gun and I won’t kill people” attitude. When he goes after someone, he drugs them, cuffs them and then lets the Authorities dole out the justice. That ethos is sorely tested here and I found that inner battle quite well displayed. It was fascinating to watch Batman realize that Law does not equal Justice and how that tore him apart. Batman is a Hero with strong internal ethics and not just doing whatever he wants because he can.

Superman. He played a very small part but it was interesting to see how he was portrayed in the late 80’s. I didn’t really get into Superman until the mid-90’s and by then some things had changed. Here he’s portrayed as acting upon the orders of the United States Government. Not quite what I’d call a government Stooge, but only one decision away from that status. His decision to side with the “Law is the Law and so it is Right” way of thinking was a bit disturbing. Yet at the same time how many people in the nation thought that way? Today, with the scads of laws promoting perversions, that are knee jerk reactions to special interest groups, that are passed with no intention of ever being enforced, I find myself being cynical. It simply wasn’t quite that way 30 years ago. It was eye opening to be reminded of how much of a sea change in attitude has gone on in our nation and in the whole world.

Lady Shiva. I simply liked seeing her because I recognized her from the Knight Fall/Quest/End storyline from later in time. Just one of those interesting tidbits.

Finally, I like the cover a lot. At a time when Superheroes did not die, but simply stopped having their stories told, seeing a Robin undeniably dead is shocking. It shows Batman being vulnerable, it shows just how murderous the Joker truly is and it gets at the pathos of the human factor in a Superhero story. Much like the iconic cover for the Death of Superman years later, this cover will always mean more to me than just the story.

On a side note, I read the original 1988 edition that JUST had the 4part “A Death in the Family” storyline. Later editions of A Death in the Family do include a A Lonely Place of Dying. I’ll be reading and reviewing that next.

★★★★☆

bookstooge