Forever Evil

Hey everybody!
It’s been a few years since the Forever Evil crossover event shook up the DC world, but I’m still catching up with a lot of the New 52 stuff, most recently taking a look at some of the books in this storyline. Unfortunately, I read these books in entirely the wrong order, which probably didn’t help the flow of the story at all! But even so, I think the main meat of this story is actually pretty great, and for the epic feel that it has, I think it should definitely be on your to-read list!

Forever Evil

Forever Evil is the culmination of several threads that have been scattered throughout several New 52 storylines since the comics launched. The Trinity War crossover event from the Justice League story ended with a gate being opened between Earth-0 and Earth-3 by Alfred Pennyworth, to bring the Crime Syndicate into Earth-0. The Crime Syndicate is basically an evil version of the Justice League that we’ve been following for 20-odd issues now, led by Ultraman – an evil Superman who actually requires kryptonite in order to retain his strength. Reading this book, for a lot of the earlier issues I was enjoying seeing the comparisons, actually, while the main story was set up.

The book begins with the Justice League out of the picture, having been imprisoned within the Firestorm matrix. Crucially, Cyborg’s computer system rejects his human remains and forms The Grid. The main conceit behind the event, of course, was the fact that the villains become the heroes, and that is shown up on the front cover there, where Lex Luthor is heading up a rag-tag bunch of villains. The Crime Syndicate frees several mass villain groups from across North America, which form the foot soldiers of the Syndicate – the Secret Society. However, Captain Cold’s Rogues rebel from this notion, having their code and all, and Cold pairs up with Luthor, who has built something of a bodyguard from an incomplete clone of Superman, who is named Bizarro.

The wheels soon begin to come off the Crime Syndicate, as Superwoman and Owlman plot to break away from Ultraman’s control. Batman and Catwoman have managed to survive the capture of the Justice League, and bring Cyborg’s human remains back to STAR labs, where Victor’s father once again crafts a metal suit to help save his son. Luthor and Batman eventually team up, alongside Sinestro and Black Adam, and they all go after the Crime Syndicate, who appear to be using the crashed Watchtower as a base of operations.

It turns out that the Syndicate brought a prisoner with them, Alexander Luthor, who in Earth-3 has been killing superbeings and absorbing their powers. Alexander Luthor fights against some of the remaining Syndicate members, as well as the Batman/Luthor coalition, and is only defeated when Luthor himself manages to call down the power of some dark lightning that robs Alexander of his power. Batman is able to release the Justice League from the Firestorm matrix, and they round up the defeated Syndicate – though Owlman manages to elude capture.

The book ends with Superman guessing that Darkseid is chasing the Syndicate across universes, but the final page reveals it is actually the Anti-Monitor that is at the root of all these problems.

It was a really good read, with some very interesting twists and turns along the way. I’ve tried to gloss over several plot points, as there is actually a great deal of story going on here. I think more long-term fans of the comics will appreciate some of the more esoteric nods made along the way, and if you follow multiple books month by month, you’ll no doubt get a lot more out of this book than I was able to, coming at it primarily from a Justice League standpoint. But even so, it’s a pretty epic story that is quite pivotal to the DC universe at this point overall, and as I said at the beginning, it’s definitely worth picking up if you haven’t done so already!

Justice League: Forever Heroes

The next book I read was volume five in the Justice League ongoing series, Forever Heroes. I actually read this book before the main Forever Evil book, which didn’t really detract too much from the overall story, though I suppose I should point out that I’ve had some exposure to the storyline anyway through the DC Deck Building Game.

Forever Heroes feels like a succession of smaller stories that tie-in with the main plot of the crossover, starting with revolutionaries in Kahndaq reviving Black Adam, who subsequently has a confrontation with Ultraman that was referenced partway through the opening of the main book. We then move to an Owlman-centric story that shows his bizarre bond with Nightwing, the Earth-0 version having been captured by the Syndicate early in their invasion. We get a little bit of backstory on other members of the Crime Syndicate as well, which is unified through The Grid’s attempts to feel something. Meanwhile, we see Cyborg’s reconstruction, and follow him as he recruits the Metal Men as allies – I think Platinum already featured in the fourth volume (linked earlier) where the Justice League had an open-call for new members. Together with his new allies, Cyborg manages to take down The Grid, which is again referenced in the main event book.

It was a little episodic, and while I don’t think it detracted for me reading Forever Heroes before Forever Evil, in general I think you’re better off reading the main book first. Seeing these side-events afterwards will then allow that story to feel more fleshed-out and stuff, anyway!

There are three more books in the Forever Evil series – ARGUS, Arkham War, and Rogues Rebellion – though I only have the third in that series currently, so haven’t read anything more as yet. Need to wait until payday before I make the move there, I think! I get the impression that these books act much like Forever Heroes, and serve to further flesh-out the main story, which stands up perfectly well as it is, but we comic book nerds always like to have as epic a canvas as possible, right?!

Forever Evil led to the shake-up of the Suicide Squad (and eventual re-launch as New Suicide Squad), Justice League of America (relocated to Canada and re-launched as Justice League United), and the main Justice League, itself, which sees both Luthor and Cold join the ranks. The next main event for the DCU was, I believe, the Superman Doomed storyline, which was set up in volume one of Superman/Wonder Woman – a book that I really enjoyed!

I’m going to continue with my investigations of these various events over the coming months, anyway, so stay tuned for more awesome stuff!!

Catching Up with the Squad

Suicide Squad

Continuing DC week, it’s time to catch up with the Suicide Squad series that I started reading last summer (was it really so long ago?!) In case you missed the first two volumes, check out my blog here!

So if you were following along last time, Deadshot was killed while the Squad were on a mission to take out the anti-Metahuman organisation called Basilisk. Volume 3, Death is for Suckers, picks up the story with Deadshot’s military funeral, during which the Joker turns up to reclaim Harley Quinn as his own. Having missed the relevant Batman stories, I was a bit confused last time that the Joker was dead, but convinced he couldn’t be down for long. And lo, he wasn’t! We don’t get any of the details of how he came back here, but instead go through several pages exploring the abusive relationship between the two. I think this is the first time I’ve actually read a comic with Joker in it, so that was kinda cool, but overall, it didn’t seem to go anywhere for me.

The main meat of this story seems to be the Squad going after a “package”, that is held in Gotham City’s Chinatown by Red Orchid, the mutated sister of squad member Yo-Yo. Regulus, the leader of the Basilisk organisation from the previous book, turns out to be in cahoots with Red Orchid, and the “package” turns out to be Kurt Lance, a former teammate of Amanda Waller who can “shut off” metahuman powers. Waller turns up and shuts off the team’s neck bombs in a gesture of trust as she intends to pursue Regulus off the record, and the squad come along to help. They pursue him into the sewers, where they come across some weird guy who claims leadership of the Squad – the Unknown Soldier.

Volume 4, Discipline and Punish, kinda picks up the story, but also, weirdly, kinda doesn’t. We have a new writer for the series, which probably explains the disconnect, but it just feels a bit too far off the established trajectory of the last three books. James Gordon Jr comes on board and there’s a weird storyline where each member of the team is tested to control their loyalty or something. It really just felt like a filler issue, though, if I’m honest. This sense of filler then continues for the rest of the volume, where that sense of “just another adventure” that pervaded the earlier issues comes back to the fore. Cheetah is included for no apparent reason, and we get two one-shot issues to round out the collection, featuring Harley Quinn and Deadshot, respectively, which also feel like yet more filler.

There is a final volume to the series, Walled In, which takes place during the Forever Evil crossover event, and leads to the formation of a new Task Force X. I’ve not read it, and to be honest I don’t know when I will get round to it. Volume 4 really turned me off from reading the series, which had been getting better up to that point. Always sad when one goes sour…

Suicide Squad and more!

Hey everybody!
After something of a prolonged absence, I’ve been catching up with some DC Comics in the wake of SDCC and all the good stuff coming out of that. I want to do a separate blog on those things, but suffice it to say, I’m finally excited for Suicide Squad, and have started to read the comics!

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Getting in the mood… #DCComics #SuicideSquad

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The first volume, Kicked in the Teeth, is very much an introduction to the team, or at least, to the idea of Task Force X, as we see them go on a few missions that appear to be somewhat unrelated. But at least we get to see the dynamics of the group, which is made up of Deadshot, King Shark, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, and then a rotating cast of additional characters. The book ends with more of an actual storyline, as Harley’s bomb is taken out of her neck early, and she escapes from Belle Reve prison to find out what happened to Joker, having heard that he’s dead. Apparently this is a tie-in to a Batman storyline, but I’ve not read that one yet, so it was a bit of a shock, though I don’t actually believe they’ve killed off such an iconic character, even though we get to see the Gotham PD have his face in a glass frame…

Having known of the team for years, it was pretty good to finally sit down to a story with them and, while some reviews have criticised the book for essentially being a bunch of random missions for the team, it’s definitely worth sticking with it, as these random missions (and group additions) begin to pay off as early as the second book:

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Getting in the mood, part two… #DCComics #SuicideSquad

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Volume two, Basilisk Rising, sets up the main antagonist for the Squad, Basilisk. They’re basically H.Y.D.R.A for DC, having many of the mannerisms of the Marvel villains. Things like this used to annoy me, especially when I’d hear people refer to DC as ripping off Marvel stuff, but the fact is the two companies share a pool of writers, so to some extent we’re bound to see similar ideas crop up. Anyway, rant aside, Basilisk is determined to undermine their future enemies now, before the new world order is in place with metahumans ruling the globe. We’ve already encountered one Basilisk agent in volume one, but here we get more on them. I thought it was a really good book, though it does take a long time to get going, unfortunately, and we have one crossover story with Resurrection Man, a character I’d never heard of before, but was intrigued to find out that Dan Abnett was the writer for that comic! It being a crossover, there is a distinctive disconnect in the artwork as we get the one rogue issue before returning to the main Squad storyline.

Anyhow, volume two connects really strongly to several of the random elements from volume one, such as Captain Boomerang being captured by Basilisk, and King Shark eating Yo-Yo, so it’s worth sticking with volume one, even if you don’t know where it’s heading.

Overall, I really enjoyed my first foray into Suicide Squad, and have a couple more books on the shelf waiting for me to get round to them!

We’ll finish up for today with the first book in the Batwoman line. I thought the opening of this book was really hilarious, as it featured Batman and Nightwing trying to find out who Batwoman is – while I also struggled with the question! There are several members of the Bat-family, of course, and I’ve previously talked about Batwing on this blog, as well as the man himself, and while I was aware of a title called Batwoman (as distinct from Batgirl), I had no idea who she was. Anyway, turns out she’s Kate Kane, a former cadet from West Point academy, the daughter of a military family, but left the service when she came out as a lesbian. After an encounter with Batman that made her realise she too could fight crime in Gotham, she donned the persona of Batwoman.

There’s a lot going on in this book that I wasn’t all that familiar with, namely the Religion of Crime supervillain group and their connection with Kate’s dead sister (dealt with in the book Batwoman: Elegy, from what I can tell). This is somewhat symptomatic of the New 52 series as a whole, which was touted as a perfect jumping-on point for new fans, but still deals with a lot of the established story from back in the day. In this case, it’s not all that bad, as you pretty much get the story of the earlier book, but it does often leave you wanting more. But I digress.

I thought the storyline overall was pretty interesting, as we have Batwoman investigating a series of kidnappings that were perpetrated by a ghost, while she is herself investigated by the Department of Extranormal Operations, in the hope of learning Batman’s true identity. The fact that Kate is shown to be a lesbian superhero is extremely powerful stuff, as this is something I feel is distinctly under-represented in mainstream titles. The fact that Batwoman isn’t relegated to some sideline book but has a prominent place in the lore here is really good. But even leaving all of that aside, Batwoman is a sufficiently complex character to be interesting, and well worth investigating for that!

It’s Saturday!

Hey everybody!
I woke up in such a good mood this morning, and so far, the day has not let me down. It’s been rather wonderful, even if I say so myself, so let me share some of this awesome with you fine internet folk!

I went up to Chester this morning, which in itself is nothing really new as I tend to go there most Saturdays – it’s where my nearest Games Workshop store is, after all. I picked up some Ironjawz, after eyeing them up for a long while, so I’m hoping they can lift me out of the painting lapse I’ve been in for a while now.

This week is all about the Flesh-Eater Courts, the new zombies basically being repackaged. However, while there aren’t any new models coming, there is a new Battletome to accompany the release, something I found quite interesting. We’ve seen this with Seraphon/Lizardmen, of course, but still. There is something irresistibly creepy about the lore of these guys, and I find myself marveling at the way Games Workshop manages to seduce me so well – I was actually considering a pre-order!

Age of Sigmar Flesh Eater Courts

In case you missed it, there’s something afoot in the Mortal Realms, as it appears the rumours of an Age of Sigmar-themed boxed game appear to be true. Warhammer Quest: Silver Tower has had its teaser trailer up this morning, and it looks filled with Tzeentchy horror and some interesting barbarian-like folk – I’m particularly intrigued by that chap up in the top left corner wielding a warhammer, looks like a warrior priest to me…

While in Chester, I also picked up some books, including the new Bloodlines novel that purports to fill in many of the gaps in the lead-up to The Force Awakens, and another Justice League book, The Grid.

I haven’t mentioned some of the recent comics I’ve been reading, so I think I’ll do a bit of a catch-up here, anyway. Starting with The Grid, this appears to be one of the stories that leads into the Trinity War crossover event, and starts by swelling the ranks of the Justice League with all manner of extras, as seen during the previous arc, Throne of Atlantis. We have Firestorm, Atom, and Element Woman, among others, and if I’m honest, I feel a bit like we’re diluting the awesome team dynamic that hooked me into the Justice League in the first place.

The first part of the book, anyway, deals with the attack on the League by the villain Despero. He is given a Kryptonite ring and attacks the Watchtower, causing it to plummet to the earth and, when Superman flies up to prevent a catastrophic hit into the east coast, he is beaten back by the ring. It’s only by the intervention of Martian Manhunter that Despero is driven back, though he flees before any of the main Justice League show up on the scene, leaving everyone thinking Atom defeated him.

It was a cool story, though there are a lot of pages where nothing really happens – at least, nothing that feels like it interests me somehow. Which was a shame, if I’m honest.

The second part of the book is the Trinity War crossover, something I got really confused by when I tried to read the issues in Justice League of America. The Trinity War crossover arc deals with all three Justice Leagues – that of Superman et al, the JLA that includes Martian Manhunter, Hawkman et al, and Justice League Dark, which features Constantine and Deadman, among others.

JLA started off pretty interestingly, I thought. Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor set up a second Justice League, with the idea that it would stop any possible threat from the main Justice League of Superman etc. They investigate the Secret Society of Super Villains in what was a fairly confusing storyline, for me, though it was cool to see a new group of superheroes interact into a cohesive whole, something I really enjoyed about the first Justice League book. It was also great to read a story with Martian Manhunter, a character who had intrigued me since playing the DC deck-building game.

I’m not really a fan of Constantine, which has been putting me off buying the Trinity War storyline, but given that it seems to be a big part of this world, and I believe it leads into the Forever Evil stuff, I think I may have to invest at some point…

Almost completely off-topic now, I’ve also been reading the first Green Lantern book, Sinestro. I’ve never honestly been all that interested by this guy but, as happened with Aquaman, I was intrigued following the first Justice League book. I actually bought this one months ago and, after the success of Aquaman, I’d feared I might become enamoured of another superhero and throw loads of money at the various Lantern books. Well, it’s with something of a heavy heart that I say, I wasn’t as keen on this solo series as I was with Aquaman. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to see where this Hal Jordan came from and whatnot, but given the fact that he doesn’t actually have his powers during this book, and is essentially a pawn of Sinestro’s attempt to rescue the natives of his homeworld, I felt it was a bit odd, and I couldn’t really see where this fit with the Green Lantern of the Justice League book.

I’m prepared to give it the benefit of the doubt, however, and have ordered the second volume, which is on its way to me as I type, so my opinions may change soon, but yeah, I was feeling a bit meh about this. Plus, the art changed for the final story in this volume, which I really didn’t like!

At any rate, I’m sure I’ll be getting round to more of the comics on my shelf soon. Having read so much good stuff about it, I’m decided to move onto Star Wars: Bloodlines next, so I’ll be back soon with my thoughts on that!

Hope you’re all having as excellent a Saturday as me!

Catching up with comics!

It’s Sunday evening, so what better way to spend the time than to catch up with some comics? Having fallen in love with the TV series, I’ve been reading more Flash comics of late – I’m really enjoying the New 52 stuff, I have to say! But I also spent this afternoon with another incredible Aquaman tale! Let’s catch up…

Flash 4: Reverse picks up the story of the folks Flash saved from the Speed Force last time around. Turns out they’ve been dying, and Flash thinks it might have something to do with Kid Flash, prompting a mad dash across the globe as he tries to catch up with the teen. However, when the two eventually manage to talk, Flash realises his powers don’t come from the Speed Force. After further investigation, he thinks Dr Elias might be responsible. He puts Iris under police protection and goes to confront Elias, but finds out that it is in fact Reverse-Flash – none other than Daniel West! Daniel has been killing speedsters in an attempt to harvest their powers, so that he can travel back in time to kill his and Iris’ abusive father. Flash manages to save the day and Daniel is back in Iron Heights, where Iris tells him their father prompted her to become who she is today.

It’s a pretty involved story that sees a lot of character development that I really liked. Barry and Patty move in together, which was lovely, and Iris seems incredibly jealous. Speaking of Iris, Flash hides her connection to the Speed Force using a suit similar to his own, which made me convinced we’d be seeing her as Impulse, though nothing yet has happened along those lines. I actually really dislike the character of Iris West, much preferring Patty Spivot as the girl for Barry. Aw, yeah!

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Time for some more #Flash I think! #DCComics #New52

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Volume 5 was pretty great, I have to say! It starts with a story featuring Green Lantern, who is becoming another clear favourite character of mine! I’m actually holding off starting to read any of the Lantern stories for fear I’d need to buy a dozen other books. Anyway! The main story from this book, History Lessons, follows Flash as he thwarts a jewellery store robbery but stumbles onto a serial killer graveyard. Turns out to be that of the Broome Hill Butcher, who Flash believes may have been behind his mother’s murder. There are a few twists and turns as Flash delves into the past, both of the Gem Cities and also his own. Turns out the ghost of Ulysses Sutter, a prospector from the Midwest back in the day, has been murdering the descendants of his killer, Marshall Fletcher – the founder of the Gem Cities! And guess who’s a living descendant? Yep, Barry Allen. The book ends with the cryptic meeting between Barry’s father and Captain Frye, where Frye tells Henry that Barry can never find out who murdered Nora Allen…

This was a great story – while I loved the last book, which had a lot of inter-character development, this one deepened that somehow, particularly as we got to see some more of Barry’s relationship with his surrogate father, Captain Frye. The ghost/possession thing, which I’m not normally a fan of, was also really cool here, and seeing more of the history of the Gem Cities was also great. Generally, a great pair of books!

From my all-time favourite superhero to another favourite – Aquaman! Following the Throne of Atlantis crossover event (covered here!), Arthur is now fulfilling his duties as the King of Atlantis, though not all of his subjects are happy with this. Murk, still loyal to Orm, plots with Arthur’s half-sister Tula to help break Orm from Belle Reve, though the plot is only partially successful, as Atlantis is invaded by the Scavenger’s army of submarines just as the first king of Atlantis, Atlan, is revealed to be still alive (somewhat) and leads the penal colony of Xebel in an attack on the sunken city. Aquaman manages to lead an attack against Atlan, with the aid of Mera (so happy to see them reunited!) and resume the throne. The story The story ends with Nereus, the leader of Xebel, allying with Orm for an attack against Aquaman.

This book is tremendous! The story is so wide-ranging and intricate that I’m not even attempting to provide a summary, because I couldn’t possibly do it justice. You just have to read it and enjoy it for yourself – and trust me, you certainly will enjoy it! The artwork is incredible, with several double-page spreads of truly gorgeous art. We get a truly tremendous sense of history and scale here – this is the sort of comic book story that reminds me why I love the medium so damn much.

These three books have been really great, and I can’t wait to get round to reading more DC superhero comics. However, my blog turns 2 next week (can you believe?!) and I’ve got some research to do for that… it’s another theme week incoming, one that I hope you’ll all enjoy as much as me!

Stay tuned for awesome!!

The Throne of Atlantis

Hey everybody,
I read an awesome comic book crossover yesterday, and have been pretty much buzzing about it since. Back in 2012, the Justice League and Aquaman titles from DC’s fresh New 52 series crossed over in an epic five-part awesome storyline that featured Aquaman facing off against his bother Orm (Ocean Master) as the East Coast of the USA was almost submerged.

It was pretty incredible, let’s just say that from the off. both the Justice League and Aquaman books were written by Geoff Johns at this time, so I guess a crossover was pretty easy to facilitate. Both pick up directly from where they left off, with some hints being dropped in Aquaman especially around the Trench in the previous arc, The Others. In fact, having read the second volume of Aquaman beforehand really helps here, as we see the evolution of the character into a team player, while also showing us Black Manta on the lookout for relics of Atlantis that will become important. His story in The Others echoes the opening of Justice League volume three, where Wonder Woman almost begrudgingly accepts the help of the League in hunting down the Cheetah.

Anyhow!

The story begins with the US Navy on exercises in the mid-Atlantic, and a missile test goes awry, targeting the submerged city of Atlantis. This causes Orm to bring his Atlantean warriors to the East Coast in retaliation – Aquaman guesses his brother is using the first King of Atlantis’ sceptre to cause one of the cities on the coast to sink beneath the waves. Metropolis and Gotham both see heavy casualties in the storms, but Boston is Orm’s true target.

Aquaman and Orm face off, Aquaman trying to show dominance over his brother in order to force the warriors to heed his commands. When Batman tries to intervene, Orm captures most of the League, leaving only Cyborg in the Watchtower to help. Cyborg goes to STAR labs to ask his father to perform an enhancement that will make him able to operate under water, at the cost of a little more of his humanity. Once he’s ready, he activates the JL reserve list of superheroes, including Hawkman and Green Arrow, to defend Boston against the Atlantean forces. Cyborg then travels to the deep waters to rescue his companions, whereupon they discover the Trench has opened, and the demon fish-people from the first Aquaman arc have returned to terrorise the coast as well!

Turns out that Orm was manipulated by a former Atlantis royal adviser called Vulko, who had hoped to engineer to the conflict to restore Aquaman to the throne of Atlantis. Aquaman goes ballistic, imprisons Orm and beats the crap out of Vulko, but ultimately decides he needs to take his place as the King of Atlantis to prevent any further conflict.

The story is just awesome in its scope and execution, and is very definitely worthwhile taking the time to read! The danger for big team stories like these is that some people will inevitably fall short in the course, and while this is certainly an Aquaman story as much as it is a Justice League story, the other members of the League have a lot to do here as well. Chief among them, Cyborg – I’ve always been vaguely interested in this guy, but he’s becoming a really cool character in this series, and it’s really interesting to see his story develop. We also continue the burgeoning romance between Superman and Wonder Woman that began in volume two. In the midst of all this, we still have time to see Black Manta offered a place on the Suicide Squad, and the book ends with Steve Trevor and Green Arrow discussing another of the Darkseid “mother boxes”.

In a storyline as packed to the gills (ha!) as this one, some things are bound to be left out. Green Lantern had already left the team as a pariah in the last book, so it’s no real surprise he’s not here, but we also don’t see Flash, as he’s explained to be dealing with a “primal problem” of his own – presumably, the Grodd storyline from the third volume of his series. Shame, that, as he’s my favourite DC hero, but some things have got to give.

We’re left with Aquaman leaving the surface world, and the final pages are a bit heart-rending as we see him part ways with Mera, but more problematic (for me) is the enlarged team. Another thing I often dislike in big team stories like these is how the make-up will often change; I loved the first volume of Justice League because of the characters it used – since that book, we’ve now lost two of the principal seven players! I’m intrigued as to where we’ll see this go next, of course, but I’m also a little wary of having the team I came to love mixed up too much.

Anyway – Throne of Atlantis was an amazing read, and I think I may delve into the world of DC’s animated movies to see how the storyline fares there shortly! I can highly recommend this book – however, as an aside, both the Aquaman and Justice League collections have the same issues, so you don’t really need to get both books to get the story. I’d recommend getting the Aquaman collection if you had to only get one, because of the additional storyline from his book, but you won’t be totally lost if you pick up just the Justice League book instead!

Of Bats and Owls

Batman New 52

Continuing the theme of discovering new books and such, I’ve been investigating some of the comics from DC’s New 52 series and, since enjoying those involving The Flash, I’ve moved on to the caped crusader himself: Batman!

A little history. I’ve been a Batman fan for a very long time – I adored the Tim Burton films growing up, and will be getting around to featuring those on this blog soon, in fact. Indeed, I actually learnt to read from the book of the movie, my mum feeling I’d pay more attention to a book I was interested in. Growing up, Batman Returns was one of my all-time favourite films – however, over all these years, I never once thought to read an actual Batman comic…

Well that has changed!

I’ve been buying all my graphic novels from my local Waterstone’s, and had been eyeing up the Batman Court of Owls book as a potential for the list, as I love a story that features a secret society, and finally snapped it up a couple of weeks back.

Let me tell you, I was really impressed with this book. It took some time for me to get into – indeed, I actually read it in single-issues for a couple of nights. However, once I’d gotten into it, I really, really enjoyed it, and quickly snaffled the second book, also!

The New 52 was a soft-reboot from 2011, where DC wiped most of the slate clean, leaving the basic premises of their heroes in place but building new stories around them. So Batman is still Bruce Wayne (oh, spoiler alert…) and is still a billionaire industrialist orphan, etc. The first arc deals with the Court of Owls, a new enemy created for this story as a secret society that has effectively ruled Gotham City for decades through fear, helped by their cadre of assassins called Talons. We follow Batman as he discovers links with the Court and his own family, in the wake of an attack by a man dressed in an Owl suit (it’s actually better than it sounds!) The story is really good, and as the sense of intrigue builds, I got really involved and interested in how the story would develop. I had hoped to enjoy the story, of course, but I hadn’t considered the idea that I might actually become so invested!

The first book ends as Batman is captured by the Court, fights his way out of their labyrinth and escapes, and is pursued by the Court’s Talons. Volume 2 then picks up with the Night of the Owls, as the Talons are unleashed on the city. While most of them head to Wayne Manor, some are dispatched to other movers and shakers within the city’s civic life. Alfred calls in the help of the Bat-allies, from whence a series of tie-in comics were spun into a crossover event during 2012. Volume 2 continues with Batman overcoming the main Talon, before some odd issues added in at the end that explore some more of the history, such as the Court being responsible for Alfred’s father Jarvis’ death, as well as a tie-in with Mr Freeze.

Night of the Owls is a collection of the crossovers, so features a number of the issues that have already been collected in Volume 2, alongside issues from Nightwing, Batwing, Batgirl and Red Hood, among others. I mention these four specifically because they are the ones that stick out the most for me. The formula for each is quite similar – each superhero tangles with a Talon in defense of an important person – yet for folks like myself, who don’t read these other comics, crossover events like these give a handy sampler of the other books, and offer something of an easy-access point. While Nightwing has made multiple appearances in the first two volumes of Batman’s comic, I’m now super-interested in learning more about Batwing, and have ordered the first volume in that ongoing series to see what I’ve been missing! I’d also never heard of Red Hood before, but found myself really enjoying that story – though the placement within the book felt a little odd. Red Hood and his Outlaws get tangled up with a rampaging Mr Freeze before the story that shows his escape from Arkham Asylum. But anyway, it’s a small point.

While the storytelling is really great, the artwork can be a bit hit and miss – and not just in the crossover book. I really liked the aesthetic of the first volume of Batman, once I’d gotten into it, but found the various different looks of the issues collected in volume 2 to be quite jarring.

A great little collection there, anyway – highly recommended to people looking to get into the Batman line, or indeed looking to see what else is on offer in the Batman family of comics!