Reviews for books shipping Feb. 15, 2017.

Sadly, I was assigned much overtime this week, so I don't have time for capital-R reviews -- I didn't even have time to read very much. But we can still be friends, right? We can talk. It's not like I'm just going to throw some extemporaneous comments out there in a single sitting. What's that? Oh, I'm told that's exactly what I'm doing. So, uh, here's what I'm gonna blither about:

AQUAMAN #17

ARCHIE #17

BATMAN #17

BATWOMAN REBIRTH #1

THE FOREVER WAR #1

JUSTICE LEAGUE #15

SUPER SONS #1

THE WILD STORM #1

Some  photo spoiler-1.gif involved. You are warned!

AQUAMAN #17

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by DAN ABNETT

Art by BRAD WALKER and ANDREW HENNESSY

Cover by BRAD WALKER and ANDREW HENNESSY

Variant cover by JOSHUA MIDDLETON

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“WARHEAD” part two! An ambassadorial visit to New York City is cut short when Aquaman senses a malevolent telepathic signal coming from deep within the city. An investigation pushes Arthur into the clutches of Warhead, a ferocious monster awakened during Atlantis’s war with the surface.

As I may have mentioned last issue, I'm not terribly impressed with the villain of this story, "Warhead." While I can't put my finger on exactly why he feels so familiar, I do feel as if I've read all this before.

Aside from that, I'm very pleased overall with this series. The art is strong, mainstream DC work. Abnett is taking serious time to develop a supporting cast. Some are kinda cliche (looking at you, "Murk"), but at least they exist, they're getting panel time and they haven't been killed off as soon we learn their names for cheap melodrama. (Looking at you, Sub-Mariner comics.) And Aquaman is believably tough in a fight, not a guy who uses fish for his weapons. ("Go over there and die, whales and dolphins. Thanks.") Oh, and Aquaman's ongoing battle to win the hearts and minds of the surface people is far more interesting than whoever the villain of the month is. (Still looking at you, Warhead.) 

Pretty cool.

ARCHIE #17

Publisher: ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS

Writer: MARK WAID

Art/Cover: JOE EISMA

32 pg • $3.99

Cheryl Blossom's unleashed on Riverdale, creating chaos and tumult at her whim! Only Veronica can stop her - but how will she get back from her Swiss boarding school in time to save her friends?

This is Cheryl's revenge, and I won't spoil a minute of it for you. This is a good book, and you should read it.

I do have one complaint, in that artist Eisma likes to outline a highlight on noses, a distracting focus which should be left to the colorist. It bugs me, but not enough to ruin anything.

BATMAN #17

Published by DC Comics

Written by TOM KING

Art and covers by DAVID FINCH

Variant covers by TIM SALE

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“I Am Bane” part two! Barricading himself within the walls of Arkham Asylum still might not keep Batman and his allies safe from Bane’s assault. Which one of Bruce’s loved ones will be torn from him next?

OK, I am not at all cool with some of the things Batman does in this issue. In one scene (SPOILER!), he puts some innocent people into suspended animation against their will -- that qualifies as aggravated assault, I'm sure -- and Superman, of all people, goes along with it. That's just waaaaay too Bat-psycho for my taste.

On the other hand, I love that they're building Bane up into a Big Bad again. And I like how they're doing it, with a tense, lengthy build-up. Good show. I have never liked Bane, who was just too Lucha libre for me to take seriously. And I liked him less when he became something of a secondary villain. Tom King may make me appreciate him for the first time.

And what can I say about David Finch? Awesome work on buildings, Gordon, rooftops, expressions, everything -- and especially where it's needful, on the Big Bat himself. Just epic blocking and rendering.

So: Big picture, yay! This issue's specifics? Um ... there's always next issue.

BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1

Publisher: DC Comics

Written by MARGUERITE BENNETT and JAMES TYNION IV

Art by BEN OLIVER and STEVE EPTING

Cover by STEVE EPTING

Variant cover by JAE LEE

One-shot • 32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T+

This issue will ship with two covers.

The newest chapter of Batwoman’s life begins here! Monster Venom is the hottest new bioweapon on the market…and to break up the syndicate spreading it around the world, Batwoman’s going to have to return to the place where she spent some of her darkest hours! Learn where Batwoman comes from, and where she’s going, in this one-shot prologue to the first big Batwoman epic, “The Many Arms Of Death”!

I was really looking forward to this, because James Tynion IV has been doing such a terrific job over in Detective making me love Kate Kane.

For one thing, he eliminated her idiotic competition with/antagonism toward Batman. That's stupid. I mean, come on, look how she dresses! She obviously admires him! And in Detective, she doesn't kowtow to him, but she clearly respects him, and that's the way it ought to be. They make a good team, and all that with zero sexual tension -- again, the way it ought to be, without the script constantly reminding us about Batwoman's sexuality.

I have never given a flip who people choose to sleep with (unless it's me), so when the spotlight is on Batwoman being all "I'm GAAAAAAAAAY," as it sometimes has been in the past, I just lose interest. That's just one aspect of her character, and from the perspective of a heterosexual male, the least interesting aspect. So yeah, don't ignore her sexuality, but don't make it the raison d'etre of the character, either.

But I wasn't very far into this book before I realized I was wanting it to be something it wasn't. This isn't the New Adventures of Batwoman -- that starts next month, with Batwoman (volume 2) #1. This is just a summary of what's gone before, for the benefit of those unfamiliar with the character or who have forgotten the particulars. If you need it, here it is.

Nice art, though. Steve Epting is top notch.

THE FOREVER WAR #1

Publisher: TITAN COMICS

Writer: JOE HALDEMAN

Artist: MARVANO

Cover A: MARVANO

Cover B: STEVE KURTH

Cover C: MARC LAMING   

Cover D: NICK PERCIVAL

Cover E: ADAM GORHAM 

FC • 32pp • £3.99 

Marvano & Joe Haldeman are available for interview on this exciting new project. Please send me an email stating your interest on this title.

NEW SERIES!

The visionary Hugo and Nebula Award-winning SF tale by Joe Haldeman is beautifully realised in full color by the legendary artist Marvano. An epic SF war story spanning space and time, The Forever War explores one soldier's experience caught up in the brutal machinery of a war that reaches across the stars.

I could tell this book had been first published a long time ago, because the vibe was "late '70s science fiction." For those who weren't alive then, the trend in those days was very depressing -- even when mankind managed to survive in SF stories, which it usually didn't, the future was a dismal time of pollution, corporate fascism, dehumanization and constant war. I guess after Vietnam, Three-Mile Island, Watergate and leisure suits, Americans just weren't feeling very upbeat. Then my suspicions were confirmed when I spotted a portable phone the size of a shoebox! And sure enough, Mr. Google informed me that Forever War was first published in prose form in 1974, and in comics form in 1988 (in Belgium).

None of which is a complaint. Sure, the story is a bit downbeat, but it was refreshing and/or nostalgic to read something from a time before Neuromancer changed science fiction into something I had little interest in reading. And the art, a variation on the Franco-Belgian style, is perfect. Even with gigantic portable phones.

FUTURE QUEST VOL. 1 (TPB)

Publisher: DC COMICS

Written by JEFF PARKER

Art by EVAN “DOC” SHANER, STEVE RUDE, RON RANDALL and CRAIG ROUSSEAU

Cover by EVAN “DOC” SHANER

176 pg • FC • $16.99 U.S.

When worlds collide, it’s up to Hanna-Barbera’s best-known action heroes to save the day!

Johnny Quest, Space Ghost, the Herculoids and more are reimagined in this new collection! When Jonny Quest and his adoptive brother Hadji make a startling discovery in the swamplands of Florida, they are pulled into an epic struggle between the Space Rangers and a dangerous villain who threatens the galaxy. Now, it’s up to the combined forces of Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, the Herculoids, Birdman, Frankenstein Jr., the Impossibles, the Galaxy Trio and Mightor to stop him and save their universe! Collects FUTURE QUEST #1-6!

Hey, I'm going to interview Jeff Parker about this book. Isn't that awesome? I feel like a fanboy again! So y'all let me know what sort of things you want answers to.

GREEN LANTERNS #17

Written by SAM HUMPHRIES

Art by EDUARDO PANSICA and JULIO FERREIRA

Cover by JAMES HARREN

Variant cover by EMANUELA LUPACCHINO

Each 32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“DARKEST KNIGHT” part two! The finale of the Dark Knight/Emerald Knights team up! Scarecrow’s mastery over fear shakes Simon to his core. Can Jessica rally her own will to save her partner and stop the fear mongering maniac? Will Batman save the people of Gotham City from a new fear toxin more insidious than ever before?worked so hard to forge?

Let's face it, neither of these new Green Lanterns are interesting enough to carry this title solo. Even together, sometimes it's a bit, ah, amateur hour.

But combine them with Batman, Scarecrow with a Sinestro ring, and some terrific Jim Lee-style art by Pansica and Ferreira? Plus a surprise twist at the end that elevates Simon Baz beyond anything I expected? That's a minor masterpiece, my friend.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #15

Written by BRYAN HITCH

Art and cover by FERNANDO PASARIN and MATT RYAN

Variant cover by YANICK PAQUETTE

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“TIMELESS” part one! A new epic begins when a mysterious young woman implores the Justice League join the fight against the Timeless, a cosmic threat they’ve never faced before—because it exists at different points throughout Earth’s history! Now, the Justice League must travel to both the past and the future in a literal race against time! 

Going back to when I a sprout, reading Justice League of America in the Silver Age, what I wanted from this book was Big Stuff.

I didn't want to read about Gypsy and Atom. I wanted the Big Guns, I wanted the Magnificent Seven, I wanted to see Earth's Greatest Heroes.

And I wanted to see them stretch their muscles a bit. Heck, I wanted them to be over-matched -- to fight things that didn't fall over when Superman punched them. Where we see him actually need some help, while the others try different solutions, using their powers to the utmost in new and creative ways, and then in the end we see why Batman belongs with these demi-gods, because he's the only one who can figure out where Superman needs to punch and why. And then they'd all combine their powers for a big, flashy finish full of primary colors and heroism.

I got that sometimes in the '60s, even though some of those Gardner Fox stories didn't make a lick of sense if you thought about them longer than a millisecond. But later JLA seemed to lose its way, getting weaker and glummer and more pathetic and even ending up in Detroit.

But then Grant Morrison wrote JLA, which was MY Justice League, just as I wanted to see them. There have been ups and downs since, but I think DC understands what I want in a Justice League book at last.

Because this issue, first in a multi-parter, gives me everything I want: Big, crazy threat plus over-matched team plus heroic friendships plus "what the heck is going on here?" Play ball!

SUPER SONS #1

Written by PETER J. TOMASI

Art and cover by JORGE JIMENEZ

Variant cover by DUSTIN NGUYEN

32 pg • FC • $2.99 U.S. • RATED T

This issue will ship with two covers.

“When I grow up” part one! The sons of Batman and Superman have graduated to their own monthly comic—but if they want to survive, they’re going to have to share it! Writer Peter J. Tomasi (BATMAN & ROBIN, SUPERMAN) teams with rising-star artist Jorge Jimenez (EARTH 2) to bring you the adventures of the World’s Smallest. This debut issue looks at the lives of Robin and Superboy and their destiny to follow in their fathers’ footsteps, while we meet a new villain whose ascension parallels the boys’ own understanding of their powers—except that he believes it’s his right to rule over every being on the planet!

Did I ever mention I've done a 180 on Damian Wayne? I have? Well, I'm mentioning it again.

Hated the little brat early on. But now I see the insecurity beneath the arrogance, and his too-cool-for-school attitude is more amusing than alarming. Oh, he's pretty deadly if he wants to be. All kinds of super-competent. But he's still a kid, and kids are unarmed in a world that demands experience.

Jonathan is also insecure, but a little more open about it. In fact, he isn't that interesting -- so much a kid that you want to wait until he's old enough to be interesting.

Except in this book. Paired with Damian, he more than pulls his weight by offsetting Damian's aggressiveness and maybe taking him down a peg or two now and then. Of course, the opposite happens as well, making this is a match made in comic book heaven.

Which is amazing. This book could be awful -- remember Bob Haney's Super-Sons? But instead it just sings. These kids are even more interesting than their fathers. And better friends too -- or, at least, they will be. Half the fun is getting there.

THE WILD STORM #1

Written by WARREN ELLIS

Art and cover by JON DAVIS-HUNT

Variant cover by TULA LOTAY

1:50 variant by JIM LEE and SCOTT WILLIAMS

1:100 pencils-only variant by JIM LEE

32 pg, FC • $3.99 U.S. • RATED T+

This issue will ship with four covers.

A troubled woman, barred by her employer from continuing her research, walks miserably through New York City. It takes her a moment to notice that everybody else is looking up. A man has been thrown from the upper floor of the Halo skyscraper.

And that woman—Angela Spica, sick from the transhuman implants she’s buried in her own body—is the only person who can save him.

What she doesn’t know is that the act of saving that one man will tip over a vast and secret house of cards that encloses the entire world, if not the inner solar system. This is how the Wild Storm begins, and it may destroy covert power structures, secret space programs and even all of human history.

New York Times best-selling writer Warren Ellis (TRANSMETROPOLITAN, RED, THE AUTHORITY) returns to DC to curate Jim Lee’s WildStorm world, with this debut issue resetting the WildStorm universe with new iterations of Grifter, Voodoo, the Engineer, Jenny Sparks and others.

“I couldn’t be more excited to see these characters that are so near and dear to me reintroduced under the guiding hand of Warren Ellis. WildStorm represents an incredibly fun and exciting period in my career, and I can’t wait to see what Warren and Jon have in store for fans in February.”—Jim Lee, DC Comics Co-Publisher

This book seems to have zero connection with any previous version of WIldStorm books -- which is a good thing, since I haven't liked most of them.

Oh, this book uses familiar situations -- the Halo battery company, for example, and I.O. as an untrustworthy black ops organization -- but I think you could read this without having read any other WildStorm books and catch on to what's happening. There are a lot of familiar names, most of which I only vaguely remember. But apparently I don't need to remember them, so that's good.

Really, the only WildStorm books I remember being enthusiastic about were the ones written by Warren Ellis. If only -- hey, look who's writing this!

OK, I'm cautiously optimistic. Sell me, Mr. Ellis.

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Super Sons #1 - Jon and Damien decide to investigate recent break-ins at Lexcorp.

The concept of this book is sound. However, writing Damien can be really difficult. It's very easy to make him a smug, unlikable jerk, and much harder to make him sympathetic.  Sadly here he comes across as the former.  Otherwise, this isn't bad.

Captain America - Sam Wilson #19 - Rage has his day in court.

While this is interesting, I don't feel like this issue was as well handled as the prior one. The previous issue wasn't as one-sided in tone as this one is--which is understandable, but still a little disappointing.

Daredevil #17 - Matt begins to tell the tale of how he got his secret identity back.

This was pretty good. It's a nice, and reasonable explanation of why Matt wants his secret back, and how it's not as easy as one might think.

Doctor Strange #1.mu - Dr. Strange and Googam, son of Goom, fight a monster int he arctic.

Fun stuff. It's especially fun to see Strange having to fight without his normal magic. My favorite line was the one about Pym Particles, mainly because I was thinking about them just before it was said.

Doctor Strange #17 - Dr. Strange is dealing with the slow return of magic and the threats that come with it, plus looking for his missing manservant Wong.

Pretty good. I like how Strange is treating the threats as primarily being annoyances, while burning through his address book trying to find Wong. Also, Misery makes a good addition to his Rogues gallery--nice to see someone besides Mordo, Nightmare or Dormammu.

Monsters Unleashed #3 - Earth's monsters fight off the monsters from outer space, and we begin to unravel the mystery.

It's hard to figure out how to make a story like this bad (well, maybe if Bendis was writing it). It's really hard to go wrong with heroes fighting monsters and monsters fighting monsters. It doesn't have to be great, just good enough, and this is.  Maybe a tad heavy on cameos, but otherwise it's quite fun.

Patsy Walker A.K.A. Hellcat #15 - Patsy gets a cold, and as a side effect, every time she sneezes, reality warps.

Silly and fun.  Not a whole lot else to say. If grim and gritty came knocking on this comic's door, it would get turned into cute and perky in a trice.

The Mighty Thor #16 - Thor has been kidnapped by Shi'ar gods to prove who's best at being gods.

This should be tedious and boring, but it's actually quite fun. It's the sort of grandeur you expect from the adventures of Thor, and this comic delivers. It'll be interesting to see if this storyline maintains it's momentum.

U.S. Avengers #3 - The Avengers squad fights it's way out of the Golden Skull's trap.

Sheer fun. Ewing's doing a pretty good job of writing the team members, not to mention discovering new uses for their powers and gadgets. The only thing I'd fault here is the ending, where Captain America (Danielle Cage) makes a speech--it just feels out of place.

Ultimates 2 #4 - The Ultimates fight the Troubleshooters.

This isn't for me. I'm not enjoying it. I usually love Ewing's writing, but this is just leaving me cold for the most part. Also, I think it's highly absurd that the team the NSA has put together to battle the Ultimates may be just as powerful if not moreso than the Ultimates themselves.

I've done a similar 180 on Damien Wayne, Cap. Hate him at first, but now he's one of my favorite characters in the Bat universe. Did you catch his appearance in Deathstroke 5? He's *brilliant* there.

I don't usually read Deathstroke, but I'll make an exception. I hope he irritates the stew out of that smug, self-satisfied jerk Slade Wilson.



Captain Comics said:

I don't usually read Deathstroke, but I'll make an exception. I hope he irritates the stew out of that smug, self-satisfied jerk Slade Wilson.


Oh my god, he's relentless. He's chained up to a wall, and he never gives an inch.

Of the three new books that came out from DC this week, Super Sons is the one I'll be continuing with. The Batwoman Rebirth issue didn't give me enough new story to make me want to follow it further, and The Wild Storm was intriguing, but I feel like it's something I'd be happy catching up with later, or not at all. (Especially considering there'll soon be 4 books to follow; better to cut it off at the root.) If I want my Warren Ellis fix, I'll just have to hope he continues with Injection, which I was enjoying. I hope Batwoman continues to appear in Detective Comics, since I've been enjoying her there.

Were there money enough, and time enough, I'd buy 'em all. 

Snarky, sarcastic, contrary, disrespectful -- Damian is just a teenager before his time!

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