Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DETECTIVE COMICS #950 - League of Shadows, Prologue

DETECTIVE COMICS #950 - League of Shadows, Prologue

Published February 8, 2017 by DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Various artist

Ghosts. Are they real? What defines a ‘ghost’? Cassandra Cain feels ghosts. Ghost of the past. Ghosts of a life she wishes she had. To dance is her passion. But her circumstances keep it from being a reality.

She can’t explain the ghosts to her friends and she tries to avoid explaining them. Unfortunately some of the ghosts are not very pleasant. The violence she witnessed as a child and the wicked hopes her father had for her haunt her and cause her discomfort of the soul.
Mayor Hady has a change of heart about life after his heart nearly gave up on him. To make a better world he seeks out Gordon and our cowled hero for help. He offers Batman a hand in helping Gotham. A new beginning.

Orphan dreams of the ballet and dancing freely but those dreams quickly turn to the violent dans macrbe her life is. Instead of peaceful leaps and landings she performs fighting moves to subdue assailants. Her art has become disarming guns and knives and not graceful dance moves. This life has put her in turmoil and it takes all she has to keep score as to who is friend and foe. The violence and fighting are causing her to blur the lines of sanity and without hesitation she begins to see how to best defeat everyone even her closest allies.

Karlo Basil only wants his old self and life back but a new invention by Batwing may eliminate the need for a bulking device to return his DNA to normal he has physical consequences for the change. The longer he uses this new invention the more susceptible he is to causing himself more damage.
Orphan looks up to Batwoman and would like to learn as much as she can but she can’t communicate this very easily and must remain in the shadows. But she darts away and dances. She loses herself in the dance and the loneliness only to confide in herself she wants more. But has someone else heard her silent plea?

Jean-Paul Valley is called by a higher power. His heart seeks to overcome war and violence with the law of peace and love. His training partner marvels at his ability to stay focused in the heat of battle. Batwing would like the divine inspiration that drives Azrael in battle. Valley enlightens Batwing on things bigger than himself. Things that drive and shape the universe.  These things humble Jean Paul and focus his mind and heart to one good.

Before Tim’s supposed death he and Batman had a lengthly discussion on the change in Batman. Tim noticed a shift and a preparation being made for what Tim thought was war. He questioned the reasoning behind this preparation and pledged his loyalty to whatever end it all meant.

Detective #950 is obviously a set up for a larger story coming to the Bat-books. The many sub-plots coming should be good. I suspect Lady Shiva will test Orphan and her loyalties but the big picture I’m holding out for is this “war” that Tim mentions at the end. And after the events of Detective #949 I’m left guessing that Monster Venom is going to be the McGuffin everyone’s after. Dram-ah is coming…   

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DETECTIVE COMICS #949 - Batwoman Begins Pt. 2

DETECTIVE COMICS #949 - Batwoman Begins Pt. 2

Published January 17, 2017 by DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett  illustrated by Ben Oliver.

Beginning in the conclusion to Batwoman Begins Kate and her father are seen discussing footage of Batman in action. Kate is intrigued by his fighting style and the many forms apparent in it. She is not alone as the man himself arrives out of the shadows and begins a confrontation in which Kate draws a gun on the Caped Crusader only to have her 2nd Amendment rights revoked ala weapon disassembly.
Meanwhile at the Colony the Colonel and one of his soldiers debate whether Kate has the heart and discipline for the Colony.

Back in the present Batman squares off against the Colony’s thief who stole the Monster Venom and has overridden the Belfry to target the Dark Knight. Then Batwoman joins the melee and exposes Simon as the Colony agent. The arrogance and insecurities he has about Kate and her abilities only add to the humiliation she puts him through.

As Simon continues his quest to free Colonel Kane he has yet another confrontation with Batman or is it? Simon thinking he is about to free the Colonel is confronted yet again by the fearless Batwoman.  Batwoman unrelenting bests Simon once more only this time she reveals what’s really going on and how he has fallen prey to a cleverly designed trap. But in a last ditch effort to escape Batman and Batwoman Simon injects himself with the Monster Venom for a very dramatic escape.
After the escape of Simon Batwoman recalls a time in the past when she first realized that Batman was her cousin Bruce Wayne and she then fully understood what drove the World’s Greatest Detective. Her father feared that getting too close to his mission would destroy her but she didn’t share that fear.

Back at the Colonel’s cell Kate and her father discuss the changing world and what the impact Monster Venom will have on a coming war. He agrees to let her in on the many organizations that are seeking new bioweapons for this coming conflict.

I’m really starting to become a fan of Batwoman. First I like her edgy attitude and drive. The costume is great and in these last two issues I’ve really enjoyed Ben Oliver’s art. I’m further interested in these new organizations and this coming war they are preparing to fight. Could “The Many Arms of Death” be one on the way? 

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DETECTIVE COMICS #948 - Batwoman Begins Pt. 1

DETECTIVE COMICS #948 - Batwoman Begins Pt. 1

Published January 11, 2017 by DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV and Marguerite Bennett with art by Ben Oliver.

Who is Kate Kane? Why is she following in her cousin’s footsteps as a vigilante protecting Gotham? Starting off is a flashback sequence to sometime a couple of years ago her and her father, Colonel Kane, were training with a new gadget. Her version of the grapple gun used by Batman.

While testing this new toy she and her father are also shadowing the cowled sleuth through Gotham. However, he eventually catches her following and is able to evade. Later Kate and her dad recount the events and her frustration with Batman’s ability to escape her watchful eye.

Fastward to the present and Kate is now visiting her father in the prison cell at the Belfry. But duty calls and she leaves her father to begin a new case.

At the Argus excavation site where the remains of the beast they battled in the Night of the Monster Men they are attacked by a strange humanoid creature. The monster’s attack is stopped by Dr. Victoria October the lead scientist studying these strange phenomenon at what she terms, “Monster Town”. Apparently what is to blame for the strange mutation of the creature is Dr. Strange’s Monster Venom. This is some new form of bioweaponry highly sought after on the blackmarket. During a break-in at the Argus evacuation site someone stole a large amount of the Venom and that someone was with the Colony.

At the Belfry the Colonel is being paid a visit by the Argus thief from the Colony. And is there to extract the Colonel. However, the Colonel isn’t too keen on leaving his cell. But Batman and Batwoman arrive to ensure the Colonel stays put.

In this story arc DC is starting to give a little more depth to Kate Kane and her Batwoman persona. This story arc also takes the Monster Venom angle in a new direction with the Colony after this weapon. One question arises from this issue is why is Colonel Kane reluctant to rejoin the Colony? 

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DETECTIVE COMICS #947 – The Victim Syndicate Pt. 5

DETECTIVE COMICS #947 – The Victim Syndicate Pt. 5

Published December 14, 2016 by DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez.

In the dramatic conclusion to The Victim Syndicate and catty exchange with Batwoman. Spoiler and Batman have a clash in ideologies. Stephanie sees the world differently and how best to help it and her friends than Batman’s approach. She cast doubt on the good Batman does and identifies with the Syndicate to a point. Once they cross the line into hurting other she feels they are wrong. In a moment of regret and remorse the Caped Crusader apologizes to the Syndicate and offers to help them cope with their bitterness and anger from their own losses.

But is it enough for Spoiler? She threatens Batman with exposure if he doesn’t quit the crime fighting and dis-ban is new group. She recounts every member’s possibilities outside Batman’s influence in their lives and how they might be different. But is her vision necessarily better?
Spoiler still distraught and unchanged in her thinking flees as Batman and the group prepare to turn the Syndicate into Arkham.

Later at Arkham Clayface tries to comfort Glory and offer’s her a hand in friendship. While Batman and Batwoman remain puzzled about the identity of First Victim.

Spoiler still grieving over Tim vandalizes the Batsignal and Batman and Batwoman reconcile their feelings and thoughts on the troubled Stephanie.

In an epilogue Tim is seen working up a way to escape the confinement he’s in but once he’s free he discovers his captor to be the unexpected.

The great thing about this story arc is there’s plenty of directions to go in. The continuing saga of Red Robin and what’s really going on is intriguing and should keep audiences captivated.

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DETECTIVE COMICS #946 – The Victim Syndicate Pt. 4

DETECTIVE COMICS #946 – The Victim Syndicate Pt. 4

Published December 14, 2016 by DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira.

In a flashback sequence Tim and Bruce discuss the big picture in regards to the new team he’s putting together and what the Dark Knight has planned for the future of Gotham and his role in defending the city. Tim offered his un-wavering support for whatever Batman has planned.

In the present Batman arrives at the Thompkins Free Clinic to assist Azrael with dealing with the Victim Syndicate who have decided to try and draw Batman into a confrontation.

Still grappling with the supposed loss of Tim Stephanie tries to find solace in a hologram of Red Robin created by Tim. However, at the moment of truth she is drawn back to reality that this is not the real Tim and still needs closure from his loss.

The other members of the team confront the Victim Syndicate one on one with Clayface dealing with Glory and bringing her back to her normal self while Batwoman confronts Madame Crow but Mr. Noxious arrives and adds to her troubles. Batwing’s nano-tech defeats Noxious and his assault on Kate as Kate is gracious for the assist from Batwing.

As Harper is assisting an elderly woman to safety Mute makes an entrance only to be brought to his knees by Orphan playing his wife’s last message to him before she was killed by the Joker.
And in a prelude to the conclusion of the Victim Syndicates reign of terror on the Thompkins Clinic First Victim is still trying to draw the Dark Knight into causing him pain in sick, sadistic plot to try and attack Batman through his noble sense of justice. But before the action is over Spoiler arrives and sets the stage for the finale to the Victim Syndicate.

There’s a lot of group dynamics going on in this storyline by Tynion. I like the Victim Syndicate and this angle they have trying to attack Batman through his sense of justice and all around good he feels he is doing. However, each has a grief that they blame him for. The ending to this issue also portrays Spoiler as a victim of Batman and his crusade. There’s definitely an analogy at work with her loss of Tim and how she’s been blaming Batman for it. Maybe she is a metaphor for the “Last Victim”?

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

BLACK PANTHER #10 – A Nation Under Our Feet Pt.10

BLACK PANTHER #10 – A Nation Under Our Feet Pt.10

Published January 25, 2017 by Marvel Comics. Written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and drawn by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story.

Aneka and Ayo are confronted by the newly returned Shuri and Shuri is none too impressed with the Midnight Angels cause against her brother and the Wakanda throne. As well as her disdain for their alliance with Tetu and the People.

T’Challa, Hodari and Wakanda prepare for Tetu’s coming assault. They ready their stores for war and begin enlisting troops to defend against the coming war. But Tetu’s army may be more than they are prepared for as Zenzi’s magic has made them an army that doesn’t need sleep or food.

Back at the Jabari-lands the Midnight Angels begin to reconsider their alliance with Tetu. Shuri’s return has given them new hope for something better and her words have inspired them towards a new direction.

T’Challa seeks Changamire’s help in defeating Tetu. Not by force but by wisdom and the mind. Baba sheds light on the situation with Tetu and Wakanda by relating the rebellion to the American slave experience and it’s destruction it caused to both slave and slave owners.

The pack between Tetu and the Midnight Angels is broken and Tetu promises vengeance for the break while T’Challa and Shuri embark on the war.

I like the story however so far the action has been sparse but this is part of the build-up and with the coming war the pacing should increase and things in Wakanda should boil over soon…

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DOCTOR STRANGE #16 – Blood in the Aether Pt. 5

DOCTOR STRANGE #16 – Blood in the Aether Pt. 5

Published January 25, 2017 by Marvel Comics. Written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Chris Bachalo.

Flash back to a time when Stephen and the Ancient One were training. Stephen has his first encounter with Dormammu. The Ancient One prepares him in the event that Dormammu should possess the Ancient One.

Now in the present time Stephen encounters Dormammu once again and this time there’s very little magic to fight with. But he does have an enchanted dagger. But the dagger does very little against the magic of Dormammu.

Mr. Misery gains an admirer in the Orb and Wong seeks Misery’s assistance in helping Strange against Dormammu. It is to no avail.
Dormammu recounts how he delt with the Imperator and Empirikuls. Stephen then gets the better of him while Mordo seeks to be the one to end Dr. Strange. And what’s going on now with Wong?

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