Tag Archive: detective comics

DC’s Issue #0’s started this week, but was there anything of any real note in them to check out? Couple this with a light week from Marvel and on the Indie front should make this an interesting Pullbox! Find out below!

Marvel – Venom #24 – Hellstrom has brought the demon inside Flash Thompson to the surface, but is he strong enough to force it back down? Or is the symbiote even stronger than both the possession and in his host combined? Agent Venom must find help as soon as possible before whatever it is inside him ends up destroying him though.

Seeing the Venom symbiote’s ferocity again like it was in this issue was a refreshing sight and seeing what Thompson’s desperation would push him to do again made this issue a fun read. The end reveal of what Hellstrom’s master plan felt a little cheesy and a little more oddball than I’d expect from the son of the devil, but could be entertaining if pulled off well in the next issue. As is though, I’ll be picking it up just to see what Venom does next as the demon inside him is ready for an interesting fight!

Marvel – Avengers Academy #36 – The Clean Slate nanotech meant to de-power the world of all its superheroes is ready to go and the Academy’s revolt against the plan has pushed up the timetable of its release by Jeremy Briggs! Half the team still has to reclaim their powers though if they have any hope of going after Briggs and his hired help in time to stop the missiles full of the nanotech.

I haven’t loved every issue, but most of Avengers Academy has been a fun and entertaining read and this 4-issue story arc has been no exception as you finally start to see many of the characters come into their own and mature. Much how real people might if there were in a real academy tailored to folks with super powers. The entire story does have a bit of a funny feel to it though as it’s also a bit too neat at certain points. It makes me feel that this is all just some Danger Room test or something and the last issue of the story will end with the kids coming out of stasis or the like. After all, how would you figure out if a bunch of super powered kids were ready to graduate to the big league? Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Either way, this book is only good at this point depending on how early you got into it, being the most rewarding for fans who’ve been there since Issue #1. As is, you might want to wait until after this story.

DC – Batman: Detective Comics #0 – Looking to go into the origin stories of every DC superhero, DC’s Issue #0 initiative for Detective Comics tells of one of Bruce Wayne’s last training exercises. In the Himalayas, he searches for a master of martial arts and body control called Shihan Matsuda. There, Bruce will learn some of his most valuable lessons of both mind and body, but they will come at a terrible cost.

I’ve been one of the biggest critics of the New 52 since it started a year ago. And this Issue #0 program is just another poor idea by DC to push comics as it delays current storylines of major characters by another month, forcing us to read stories we already know for most of our favorite heroes. At the very least though, this particular book, that could make sense as part of Batman’s back story, was a good read and helped us learn where Batman acquired some of the techniques that allow him to slow his breathing, control his body temperature, and increase his pain resistance. It also explains part of the reasons why he keeps most people at arm’s length in his never-ending crusade against crime in Gotham.

The worst thing about this book and the rest of the Issue #0 run though is DC blatantly ignoring the histories of some of their most celebrated characters. By claiming James Gordon and the Phantom Stranger (who is next in the Pullbox) just appeared in the DCU a few months ago literally throws away DECADES of history and sends the wrong message to new fans. Honestly, DC should be embarrassed by how they do things now and if I didn’t feel a responsibility to keep reading comics, I’d probably stop. Even with their relaunch of Spider-Man a few years ago, at least they didn’t suddenly change that Spider-Man’s first appearance wasn’t in Amazing Fantasy #15.

DC – The Phantom Stranger #0 – Judas Iscariot, one of history’s most infamous villains, has been brought forward to a council of wizards to pay for his crime against humanity. As part of the Trinity of Sin, Judas must now walk the earth for eternity until he atones for his crime, now as The Phantom Stranger!

The Phantom Stranger’s origin has always been in question, but the constant theme of dealing with heaven and hell has always been there, so making him Judas Iscariot and making his quest one for atonement isn’t a bad idea. And since he’s had so many origins over the years, banging an official one out and making it readily available for the public was a very good idea by DC. But completely ignoring his past 50 years of history though cannot be forgiven and on top of this slap in the face to long term fans, the book itself isn’t even that great a read once you get past the first few pages. Hopefully this can lead to some more interesting adventures featuring Phantom Stranger since he’s been eerily quiet (even for him) during the New 52, but DC better get their act together before long term fans stage a massive revolt.

Valiant – Archer & Armstrong #2 – After dispatching the lower level thugs of ‘The One Percent’, Archer is captured by some more imposing figures. Armstrong is there to help bust him out, but not before Archer has a vision and understands what he must do to save his friends. Now, in the vein of National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code, Archer and Armstrong are on a scavenger hunt around various holy locations in the hopes of finding the six pieces to The Boon, an item of immense power that everyone else is dying to get and only Armstrong has the clues to find!

This was an amazing read and is yet another feather in the cap of Valiant Comics and their triumphant return to Pullboxes and comic book stores everywhere. The dynamic between Archer and Armstrong is great to watch and this epic movie feel to what they’re doing makes it all the better. Not to mention, unlike many other comics out there, this still has a feeling of unpredictability while taking jabs at today’s more prominent organizations like the American government and the Catholic Church. Ninja nuns anyone? Fred Van Lente continues to show off as a tremendous writer in the industry and this is easily my favorite new indie of the year so far. Bravo on every front. Get on this book NOW folks.

The Death of a Batman

Originally Published: January 18, 2009, on 1050ESPN.com (now ESPNNewYork.com)

A sure fire way to sell comics is to hit readers with something they would not see coming. Even with the rumor mills swirling, most comic readers won’t believe it until they see it. Well, the unthinkable has happened. Almost 70 years after his first appearance in Detective Comics #27, in issue #6 (of 7) of the Final Crisis series, Batman has been killed off by DC Comics. Supposedly, this was well in the works, but Warner Bros., a major stock holder in DC Comics and publisher of all Batman related movies and television programs, had nixed his demise due to the summer blockbuster, The Dark Knight, pulling in over $500 million dollars and proving Batman was at the peak of his popularity.

Written by a master of comic book controversy, Grant Morrison, the final pages of this issue would be the possible final pages of the Caped Crusader. Here is how Morrison’s controversial vision unfolded. Gotham’s Guardian, after having foiled every plot by Darkseid to manipulate the Dark Knight into helping Darkseid create an army of mindless soldiers with Batman’s unique skill set, confronts Darkseid in his earthly stronghold. After exchanging words, the two stare each down in the style of a Wild West duel at high noon. Batman, going against every fiber of his character to never use a gun and to never kill, pulls out the weapon that murdered the New God, Orion. It was a gun that fires Radion bullets. Radion, of course, is the only substance that Darkseid and the other “New Gods” are weak against, much like Superman is weak against Kryptonite. In the battle between man and god, Batman’s trigger finger was faster than Darkseid’s Omega Beams (imagine Superman’s heat vision multiplied by 1000). Batman’s shot was pretty impressive for someone who never used a gun. Unfortunately, Darkseid also got his shot off and vaporized the Dark Knight. The issue ends with Superman carrying Batman’s charred carcass from the stronghold.

If there is anything that has been consistent with these major death/re-launch events is that they provide a temporary boost in sales before a sharp decline sets in as people usually respond unfavorable to the replacements to these heroic icons. There are three major ones from “The Big 2” that stick out in my mind as failures.

The first two were in 1993 when Superman died and Batman had his back broken by Bane and was replaced by Jean Paul Valley, better known as Azrael. The public outcry for Superman to return was immediate and led to one of the worst story arcs in his history as DC struggled to find a way to bring him back. When Batman was replaced, and DC worked to correct it, it at least led to some of the more memorable story arcs in his recent history with the Knightfall and KnightsEnd arcs where it detailed his rehab to come back and wrest the title of Batman back from Azrael who had gone mad with power.

The third is the very recent re-launch of Spider-Man where he sold his marriage with Mary Jane to Mephisto (the devil) to save Aunt May’s life. This was one of the worst implemented re-launches in comic history and Spidey’s sales have suffered greatly because of it. With a horribly written four issue story arc called One More Day, Marvel rewrote over 20 years and 250 issues worth of continuity. How do you think the conversation between Marvel executives go when this decision came down? I think it would go something along the lines of a Guinness beer commercial.

Marvel Exec. 1: How do we re-launch Spider-Man and save Aunt May?

Marvel Exec. 2: This is a tough one. We need something that will do the character justice and stay true to him while making sure our readers understand why we made our decision to do this.

Marvel Exec. 1: Let’s just have him sell his marriage to Mephisto and we’ll go from there.

Marvel Exec. 2: Brilliant!

Marvel Exec. 1: Brilliant!

Everything I knew about Spider-Man, that I had learned over my 23 years, was gone in a matter of four weeks. Since the re-launch, Marvel has been reduced to using gimmicks like Spider-Man meeting President-Elect Obama to try and push sales and save one of their most beloved heroes.

A major issue DC has, is now that Batman has passed on, how do they keep Batman, Detective Comics, and all other Batman related series going without the main character, or at least until they decide to bring Batman back. They have already announced the I AM BATMAN story arc beginning in March that will encompass all existing titles as Robin, Nightwing, Damian (Batman’s illegitimate son with Talia Al’ Guhl), the newly resurrected Jason Todd (card carrying member with the revolving door of death), Alfred, Batwoman, Batgirl, Catwoman, and everyone else who might have any claim to the cowl duke it out to see who will inherit the mantra of the Dark Knight. My money is on the current Robin, Tim Drake. He has the best detective skills of all the candidates and was closest to the dearly departed.

Another dilemma that could (and should) arise is that once DC realizes the error of their ways, how do they bring back someone they had vaporized? In the very same issue, Superman was in the future (read the rest of Final Crisis to understand why) and as he was about to return back to the present, Brainiac 8 of the Legion of Superheroes in the 31st century, revealed to Superman a device called the Miracle Machine. This device was created in the 29th century by the Guardians of the Universe, the same guardians who created the Central Power Battery for the Green Lantern Corps. With the experience of creating devices powered by one’s will, the Guardians created this device that was so powerful, that the simplest thought entered into the Miracle Machine, could be made into reality. Of course, such a powerful device is kept under constant watch by the Legion of Superheroes and only a select few even know of its existence. Here is your obvious fix to bring Batman back once DC sees their sales plummet. Send Superman to the future (since he seems to be there every year or two anyways), grab the machine, think Batman back into existence, and the problem is solved. I know it is ridiculous, but these are the kind of things that fit right into revolving door of death in comics.

The landscape of comics is always changing, but this might be the straw that breaks a lot of backs. This ranks up there with some of the worst storyline moves ever made in comics history and I am sure I am not the only one that is shaking their head in disbelief. I would not be surprised to see some of the worst backlash in comic history from this. Batman is at an all-time popularity high with the comics, movies, video games, merchandise, and anything else you can stick a Batman emblem on in the public domain, and DC has just sent their cash cow to the hamburger factory for no apparent reason. Keep looking here as this situation continues to unfold in the coming months.

-Ray Carsillo