Comic Review – Doomsday Clock #1

The world stands poised on the brink of another World War.

God is not dead but he is absent.

The smartest man in the world is Public Enemy Number One.

The black and white man who died rather than compromise his code of honor lives again.

It is November 22nd, 1992.

Or maybe it’s the 23rd.

Either way, this is the day the world ends.

 

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Those who come to Doomsday Clock #1 expecting immediate resolution regarding anything in any on-going DC Comics story line will be sorely disappointed. There are no stunning revelations regarding the Machiavellian schemes of Mr. Oz and his plans for Superman. There is no new data regarding the odd button which Bruce Wayne found embedded in the wall of The Bat Cave. There are no clues as to what force was responsible for trapping Wally West outside of time. And there’s certainly no explanation for that giant light-blue hand that created The DC Universe and whose hand it might have been.

What Doomsday Clock #1 is thus far is the first chapter in a straight-forward sequel to Watchmen – the classic graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons. The sheer audacity of such a thing has already turned many readers against this book and this is completely understandable. Writer Geoff Johns has been accused of strip-mining the works of Alan Moore for his projects before, the most famous example being Moore’s Green Lantern story Tygers providing the seed of the ideas which informed Johns’ run on Green Lantern and his redevelopment of the DC Universe’s cosmology.

It is far too early to draw comparisons between Watchmen and Doomsday Clock textually. Taken on its own merits, unfortunately, there’s not much to Doomsday Clock so far. Anyone who hasn’t read Watchmen will be rendered hopelessly lost by the story and Johns’ dialogue reads like a parody of Moore’s textual style rather than a pastiche of it. There’s far more comedy at play in this issue than its original source material and most of it falls flat. When the jokes work, however, they work incredibly well.

Gary Frank’s efforts to emulate Dave Gibbons are far more successful. Ignoring that Doomsday Clock #1 utilizes the same three-by-three, nine-panel grid structure as Watchmen, Frank’s detail-driven aesthetic is a good match for Gibbons’ visually. It’s truly stunning how much Frank depicts in each panel of this comic and eagle-eyed readers will no doubt reread this book several times trying to winkle out every last Easter egg. Brad Anderson’s colors provide the perfect finishes and Rob Leigh’s font selections deliver a little extra punch every time Rorschach speaks.

It remains to be seen precisely what manner of beast Doomsday Clock will be in the end. This first issue gives readers enough reasons to be optimistic, with amazing artwork and a story that is gripping so long as you’ve read the original Watchmen. Hopefully the series will continue to build momentum in the coming year.

7/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

New Comics for November 22, 2017

This is it, kids. The moment that DC’s Rebirth has been leading up to. DOOMSDAY CLOCK #1 comes out tomorrow, but the first 20 people to come out to The Multiverse at 11:57pm TONIGHT can score an AMAZING variant cover!

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TP Review – Batgirl: Son Of The Penguin

Batgirl: Son Of The Penguin Cover

Newly returned from an extended vacation that proved anything but relaxing as she made her way across east Asia tracking down a cabal of criminal martial artists, Barbara Gordon is happy to be back home in Burnside – the Gotham City borough that houses most of the city’s tech-savvy and trendy.

Unfortunately, while Babs was out of town, the neighborhood became a whole lot trendier. Her favorite coffee shop was turned into a pet supermarket specializing in fat-free, gluten-free, all-organic dog food. Her roommate and business partner just elected to move in with her girlfriend, leaving Barbara paying all of the recently doubled rent. Throw in the fact that Barbara is going back to school to start work on a Masters Degree in Information Science and its a lot to cope with at once, even ignoring her getting back into the swing of things as Batgirl at night!

Thankfully, Barbara seems to have found a sympathetic soul in Ethan – a fellow tech-genius and entrepreneur who seems more interested in what Barbara has to say than in how well she fills out her swimsuit when the two meet at a charity pool party. Ethan is smart, kind-hearted and, well, let’s be honest, really cute. In fact, there’s only one thing that gives Barbara any reservations about Ethan apart from her rules about mixing business with pleasure – the fact that Ethan’s last name is Cobblepot. As in Oswald Chesterfield Copplepot – the crime boss known as The Penguin.

When questioned about his name, Ethan admits that he is The Penguin’s illegitimate son. He’s quick to add, however, that his infamous father wants nothing to do with him and the feeling is mutual. So why does Barbara still get a bad vibe from Ethan? And why is it that all of the apps funded by his company that are meant to fuel community outreach and help people seem to keep finding ways to be exploited by Gotham’s super-criminals?

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Despite being the second volume of Batgirl following DC Comics Rebirth revamp, Son Of The Penguin is a perfect entry point into the world of Barbara Gordon. Author Hope Larson does a fantastic job of establishing the new status quo of Barbara’s life, as she tries to balance work, school and being a superhero. The overall effect is reminiscent of the classic Stan Lee-penned Amazing Spider-Man comics where Peter Parker faced the same struggles. Larson’s stories feature the same smooth balance of comedy, action, romance and drama.

Larson’s story is brought to life by an equally skilled art-team. Chris Wildgoose boasts an animated aesthetic that proves a perfect partner to Larson’s script. His inks are largely thin, barely outlining the original pencils – a choice that gives the artwork a light, airy aura. The color art by Mat Lopes is wonderfully varied, with a plethora of vivid palettes breathing life into the finished artwork.

10/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 Cover

With a TV series based upon him in the works on The CW, Black Lightning’s star has never been higher. Yet despite being one of the most prominent Heroes of Color in American Comics, few fans know much about him and his complicated history.

It all began in 1977 when writer Tony Isabella – who had written Luke Cage for Marvel Comics – was brought in to create an African American hero to headline his own series for DC Comics. Enter gold-medal athlete turned inner-city teacher Jefferson Pierce. Born with the power to generate and control electricity around him, Jefferson repressed his powers until the day one of his students was killed by gang violence the police were reluctant to address. Inspired by a quote which said “Justice, like lightning, should ever appear to some men hope, to other men fear,”, Jefferson created his Black Lightning persona and began fighting the one-man war on crime his neighborhood needed to survive.

Tony Isabella’s relationship with DC Comics would wane and wax over the years, due to problems stemming from the rights to the character and Isabella’s belief that he was being treated unfairly due to his contract granting him a cut of any merchandise or licensing that came from the character. As a result, despite being used as a frequent guest star in other comics, Jefferson Pierce has only had his own comic twice and then never for longer than a year!

Isabella was also vocal in his disapproval when writer Judd Winick decided to create two super-powered daughters of Black Lightning for his own book, Outsiders. This occurred despite Jefferson Pierce having never been depicted as having children. Indeed, he once directly said that he would he’d give up his heroic life if kids entered the picture because it wouldn’t be responsible for him to risk leaving behind orphans.

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Thankfully, DC Comics CCO Geoff Johns approached Isabella about his past mistreatment and made amends. Not only did Isabella agree to write a character guide for the upcoming TV series but he agreed to come back and write a new Black Lightning mini-series that would reintroduce the character for modern audiences – a task which Cold Dead Hands accomplishes with style.

This first issue comfortably establishes Black Lightning’s status in the world of DC Rebirth. Fans of the classic character may wonder at changes like Jefferson Pierce now being based in Cleveland rather than the Suicide Slum neighborhood of Metropolis, but such modifications are merely cosmetic. The core of Jefferson’s character – an uncompromisingly moral man who believes in Power and Responsibility as immutable forces just as strongly as Peter Parker – remains untouched.

Even in this first chapter Isabella’s script is not afraid to tackle big issues like racism and police brutality but it does so without getting preachy about them. This issue also takes care in establishing Jefferson’s supporting cast, his arch-enemy Tobias Whale and Jefferson’s status as a peer of The Justice League, who has gotten personal training in being a better crime-fighter from Cyborg and Batman.

The artwork by Clayton Henry isn’t quite as strong as Isabella’s writing.  There’s something oddly flat about Henry’s characters, who don’t seem quite as animated or vividly detailed as his backgrounds. It seems that in trying to streamline the appearances of his people, Henry may have gone too far in the other direction, crafting figures that look unnaturally smooth and undefined. Colorist Pete Pantazis deserves credit, however, for his use of a varied palette that utilizes a variety of colors and little details like the night sky in the inner city being a defused blue rather than pitch black.

Despite the minor imperfections in the art, those who are unfamiliar with Black Lightning will find this first issue of Cold Dead Hands to be a wonderful introduction to one of comics most underrated heroes. Fans of Isabella’s original comics will find it to be a welcome homecoming.

7/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Flash #33

The Justice League has faced many strange threats in their time together, but the so-called Dark Knights may be the greatest threat yet. Seven alternate-universe versions of Batman with all of his training and none of his morals, each one empowered in the same manner as another member of The Justice League!

In the case of Barry Allen, The Fastest Man Alive, he is countered by The Red Death – a version of Bruce Wayne who, as part of a desperate attempt to save his Earth, killed his world’s version of The Flash in order to steal his powers. However, this action corrupted The Speed Force within him and now The Red Death drains the life energy from the bodies of those around him as he runs.

With The Red Death laying waste to Central City, The Flash is desperate to head home and face his dark doppelganger. But The Justice League needs his help to save the world at large. Specifically, they need him to help Superman breach the barrier between realities so that he can find their Batman while the rest of The League seek out more of the strange metals that are the only thing that can hurt the Batmen of the Dark Multiverse. Thankfully, Barry Allen is good at multitasking and making up for lost time. Unfortunately, The Dark Knights are on the move and two of them are sent to make Barry Allen The Fastest Man Dead!

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This Dark Nights Metal tie-in comes at a rather odd time for The Flash. The last issue, #32, started a new story-line with several on-going subplots moving forward. Among these were Barry Allen’s difficulties in controlling his powers following the latest attack by The Reverse Flash, Iris West pushing him away in the wake of her killing The Reverse Flash to save him and his starting a new job as a staff CSI at Iron Heights Prison.

None of this is addressed in this issue, with the exception of Barry talking to Iris for the first time in a long while. It’s a minor point and part and parcel of comic-book crossovers. Still, it does raise questions about just when Bats Out Of Hell takes place relative to the stories in the books tying in to Dark Nights Metal. It also takes the wind out of the sails regarding the current story in The Flash and right after a great jumping-on issue for new readers!

The Flash #33 works somewhat better as a Dark Nights Metal tie-in. Joshua Williamson’s script does a great job of explaining the story to date and catching-up those Flash fans who might not have been reading the crossover. Unfortunately, despite a sense of urgency to the story and Barry running himself ragged for most of the issue, there’s little in the way of actual action. The story here is primarily concerned with exposition and setting up the next big challenge and it manages that task well.

Thankfully, Howard Porter does a fantastic job of depicting what action there is. Porter’s run on JLA with Grant Morrison twenty years ago is still fondly remembered and Porter’s work has only grown stronger since then. The colors by Hi-Fi are brilliantly applied, with a variety of palettes in play as the settings shift. The only real artistic weak-spot lies in the lettering, with the dialogue of The Batman Who Laughs nearly unreadable, rendered as it is with dark red text on a black background.

The Flash #33 is a fantastic continuation of Dark Nights Metal but isn’t a good representation of what the series is usually like. Despite featuring the same great writing and artwork as the usual bi-monthly book, most of the story elements that make The Flash unique are missing here. Those who are curious about what Barry Allen’s comic adventures are usually like would do well to check out The Flash #32 or wait two weeks for The Flash #34.

9/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Dark Nights: Metal #3

There is nothing Batman hates more than a mystery. He became a master detective, not because he relishes solving a puzzle, but because he cannot bear to be ignorant. That was to be his downfall and the downfall of the multiverse.

Because Batman could not leave well enough alone, his efforts to solve a mystery tied into the ancient Court of Owls who had manipulated him all of his life and Gotham City for generations led to Bruce Wayne becoming the gateway to somewhere dark… a multiverse made up of all the worlds where the heroes were a second too late. Where the good guys became greater monsters than the villains they fought. Where evil triumphed in the end and the world fell into oblivion.

Seven Dark Knights came forth. Seven versions of Bruce Wayne that fell to the darkness. Seven versions of Bruce Wayne who had been denied the light and were determined to see it destroyed…

 

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Building off the mythology established in their now legendary run on Batman, it should be no surprise that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have delivered a story as epic as any we could have imagined with Dark Nights: Metal. The most truly miraculous aspect of this third issue, however, is how accessible it is to any reader who failed to pick up the first two issues. Every aspect of the story so far is explained, from how Batman’s actions have caused the current crisis to the events of the related Gotham Resistance story line that ran through the Teen Titans, Nightwing, Suicide Squad and Green Arrow series. It’s a novel touch and one more mini-series should indulge in for the benefit of those readers who were late to the party but don’t want to wait for the trade paperback collection.

Scott Snyder’s script for this issue is a masterwork, easily introducing obscure new characters such as The Nightmaster and Detective Chimp into the narrative with no fuss, muss or confusion at all. While much of the issue is concerned with exposition and setting up the next series of action events, the dialogue masks that fact very well and it’s amusing to read all the characters playing off of one another.

Greg Capullo is also at the top of his game here. Capullo has altered his usual penciling style somewhat, forging a new aesthetic inspired by the works of Frank Frazetta. Despite the generally dark coloration and heavy inks (courtesy of FCO Plascencia and Jonathan Glapion respectively), the general appearance of the book is surprisingly uncluttered. The artwork is detailed yet the line work is largely light and breezy. The colors stand out all the more vividly despite the general muted tone of the finished artwork. One particularly noteworthy aspect is the effects used to create the illusion of flickering firelight on a still page.

Bottom Line – if you haven’t been reading Dark Knights Metal, it isn’t too late to jump in on what will likely be the best event comic of 2017.

10/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Batman: White Knight #1

“This is an Imaginary Story… Aren’t they all?”

With those words, Alan Moore opened one story and ended an era at DC Comics. Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow was written to given the story of Superman an official ending of sorts before DC Comics rebooted their continuity with Crisis On Infinite Earths and formed what became known as the Post-Crisis Universe. Before then, any story that took place outside of the established canon (i.e. every wacky story involving Lois Lane marrying Superman) was dubbed an Imaginary Story.

Following Crisis On Infinite Earths, these non-canon stories were published under the Elseworlds imprint. The name may have changed but the base idea was still the same, allowing writers a chance to tell stories set in other realities and timelines. The first of these – Gotham By Gaslight – was set in a world where Bruce Wayne became Batman in Victorian era Gotham City and stalked a clownish Jack The Ripper.

Many of these Elseworld stories – such as Hawkworld and The Killing Joke – were absorbed into the canon due to positive fan reaction. Others, like the western-themed Justice Riders and the alternate-future Kingdom Come, became part of the canon Multiverse formed after Flashpoint.  The Elseworld imprint is used sparingly these days but DC Comics still tells tales set in other realities.

Batman: White Knight is the latest of these stories. Set in a reality where The Joker has been cured of his madness, the early previews promised a story where the newly-sane Jack Napier would find himself reluctantly thrust into the role of savior when it becomes apparent that The Batman has gone over the edge in his efforts to fight crime in Gotham City.

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Surprisingly, the early synopses buried the lead on Batman: White Knight. After a three page introduction depicts a gentlemanly Joker confronting a clearly crazed Batman in Arkham Aslyum, the rest of the issue depicts a flashback to One Year Earlier. It is here we see the final battle between The Joker as we know him and a Batman who has begun to prioritize catching criminals over saving lives, much to the sorrow of Batgirl, Nightwing and The GCPD. The end result is a Joker who literally had the sense beaten into him and is determined to deliver justice to the corrupt and incompetent administration that allows a Batman to run riot.

Countless other stories have examined the idea that Batman is just as crazy and dangerous as the villains he fights and the concept of The Joker going sane or becoming a hero. Despite this, writer and artist Sean Murphy has managed to put a unique spin on both ideas with White Knight. Fans will no doubt draw comparisons to The Dark Knight Returns – both because of a similar sequence where reporters argue over the morality of Batman’s actions and The Joker’s monologues regarding the abusive relationship that he and Batman share. Murphy builds beyond these themes, however, and manages some subtle and relevant commentary on the issue of police brutality.

Murphy’s artwork proves the equal of his writing. Rich and atmospheric, with thick inks settling to form deep shadows around the original pencils, Batman: White Knight looks somber even for a Batman title! Ironically, given the title, there is no pure white to be seen anywhere in this world. Even in the brightest moments, colorist Matt Hollingsworth allows no off-whites into the artwork – only muted shades of grey which make the dark night seem all the darker. The final effect is fantastic, making this book a must-read for all Bat-fans!

10/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Detective Comics #965

Detective Comics #965 CoverTim Drake was something of an anomaly among the many people who came to work alongside The Batman in protecting Gotham City. Unlike Dick Grayson and Duke Thomas, he was not chosen as a protege because of a tragedy. Unlike Barbara Gordon and Stephanie Brown, he did not choose to don a costume because of some desperate desire to help while rebelling against a parent. He had not been trained from birth to be a living weapon like Jean-Paul Valley or Cassandra Cain. In the end, Tim became a superhero because he realized the truth that no one else had – that Batman needs a Robin to keep from giving into the darkness completely – and in the absence of any other candidates, Tim had to become Red Robin to save his city and The Batman’s soul.

Had it not been for that fact, Tim would never have chosen the vigilante’s life. Indeed, he planned to leave it, thinking he could do more to help the world by going to college. Yet when a madman’s plan to kill millions of people almost came to pass, Tim Drake chose to make the ultimate sacrifice without complaint. Unable to shut down the killer’s lethal drones, Tim hacked them and sent them after a single target – himself!

That should have been the end of Tim Drake. Everyone, even Batman, thought it was. The truth was far more shocking. Tim had been pulled from reality just seconds before his certain death, imprisoned by Mr. Oz – a mysterious figure with an interest in Superman, who had been interfering with the lives of The Man of Steel and everyone around him. Mr. Oz explained that Tim was far too close to connecting threads that must remain severed and had to be taken off the board.

Who is Mr. Oz? What secret was Tim Drake about to uncover that Mr. Oz had to act to cover up? Why did Mr. Oz bother to save Tim Drake at all, when Tim’s death should have ensured his silence? All these questions and more will be addressed, as the tale is told of a boy who solved the mystery that defied Gotham City’s greatest criminal minds and became the hero his city deserved in the bargain.

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When DC Comics rebooted their universe in 2011, creating what became known as The New 52 Reality, there were several oddities as various creators began to pick and choose which parts of the old universe would remain as a new five-year timeline was created. One of the bigger incongruities was the fact that Batman had acquired four Robins in this five-year span. It was unclear, given the origin stories unique to each Robin, how this was possible. As a result, the story of just how Tim Drake had become Robin in the new reality was completely ignored… until now.

James Tynion IV’s script for Detective Comics #965 draws deeply on the original Tim Drake origin story by Chuck Dixon, updating the details sparingly while keeping the focus firmly on Tim’s character and unique personality. Those unfamiliar with Tim’s backstory can relax, however, as this story is as friendly to new readers as it is conscientious in acknowledging what came before. The details of the events leading to Tim’s “death” are also explained with a minimum of exposition, so those who haven’t been reading Detective Comics can easily jump into the action with this issue. Like, say, those Action Comics readers anxious to learn the identity of Mr. Oz?

Regarding that mystery; the reveal is well-handled and a bit of a stunner that truly will change things in the Superman books. The revelation is largely meaningless within the context of the on-going story of Detective Comics, however, but does hint at big things to come regarding the DC Rebirth story-line as a whole.

Detective Comics has some of the best artists in the business working on it and the team of Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira and Adriano Lucas continue to impress with every passing issue. Barrows’ pencil-work is crisp and clean. Ferreira goes beyond merely outlining Barrow’s pencils, crafting stunning shadows around the original art without drowning the page in ink. Lucas’ colors showing amazing variety, using different tints to subtly note the switch between flashbacks and the present.

8/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – Wonder Woman/Conan #1

It all began in 1940 in All-Star Comics #3, when All-Star Publishing joined their most popular superheroes together as The Justice Society of America. The logic was that kids would be more likely to spend their shiny dimes on a story featuring all their favorite characters working together than a book focused on a single hero or an anthology with multiple, unrelated stories. Logic won out in this case and thus was born both the first superhero team and a long tradition of comic book team-ups.

Hither now comes Wonder Woman/Conan #1, which on the surface might seem the most unlikely pairing in comics’ long history. The popular wisdom is that these two characters could not be more different. Most imagine Conan as an illiterate berserker – a man of few words and swift action. Wonder Woman, comics’ most famous feminist icon, is seen as a calmer presence, given to long thoughts and preaching peace. The truth is quite different in the case of both characters.

While frequently portrayed as dumb muscle in the wake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Conan movies, the original character was quite different. Described as “strong and supple” in the original pulp fictions by Robert E. Howard, Conan was frequent compared to a panther or a wolf in battle. While he found little use in “the arguments of theologians and scholars”, Conan did understand them, having “squatted for hours in the courtyards of the philosophers.” Conan was also a surprisingly egalitarian character, respecting any who could prove their worth in war, man or woman. And everyone who has seen this summer’s Wonder Woman movie can vouch that The Amazing Amazon is hardly some hippie harridan who shies away from a fight!

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Gail Simone proves the perfect writer to pen this tale. Simone has extensive experience crafting sword-and-sorcery tales, having written a 12-issue arc on Red Sonja that fan-demand expanded to 18 issues. Her Conan/Red Sonja mini-series with Jim Zub – the first team-up between the characters since Marvel Comics held the license for both – was loved by Conan purists as well as fans of The She-Devil With A Sword. Simone is also one of the most respected Wonder Woman writers in the business, having co-written the 2009 animated Wonder Woman movie and a beloved run on the monthly Wonder Woman comic.

Simone’s former partner on the comic, Aaron Lopresti, provides the pencils for this issue. The entirety of this book showcases why Simone and Lopresti’s partnership drew frequent comparison to that of Marv Wolfman and George Perez in terms of the writing and the artwork being of equal eloquence.

10/10


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.

Comic Review – The Flash #30

The Flash #30 Cover

Barry Allen’s life is a shambles – romantically, professionally and in his secret life as The Fastest Man Alive… The Flash!

Barry’s girlfriend, Iris West, might not be his girlfriend anymore. She hasn’t spoken to him since his secret identity was revealed to her by his arch-enemy, Eobard Thawne. The battle with The Reverse Flash which followed this revelation ended with Barry just barely escaping the trap that Thawne had set for him with The Speed Force – the otherworldly realm of pure energy that empowers them both.

That freedom came with a price, however, and Barry is now drawing off of the negative pole of The Speed Force. Barely able to control his speed now, Barry’s every quickened step releases destructive vibrations that shake the ground under his feet. Worse yet, using his powers now leaves Barry feeling drained, both physically and mentally, making the usually upbeat and hopeful Barry Allen feel constantly depressed.

This attitude hasn’t helped Barry at work, where Barry was assigned to a secret taskforce charged with finding a dirty cop tampering with evidence. Now officially on the Captain’s last nerve for his continuing absence and refusal to work with his partners, only Barry’s years of good service are preventing him from being fired!

Somehow, things are about to get worse. A new Rogue called Bloodwork has revealed himself and a horrifying power unlike any The Flash has ever encountered before. How can The Flash overcome an enemy who can turn Barry’s own body against him, armed with powers that Barry can’t fully trust?!

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This first chapter of Bloodwork is written in the same vein (pun very much intended) as the classic Flash comics of The Silver Age, with a new villain smack-dab in the middle of the cover and alliterative text urging the prospective buyer to pick up the book. This seems ironic, given that Bloodwork, from his name to his costume to his concept, seems to be born of the Dark Age aesthetic. Of course the phrase “macabre murderer” seems quite appropriate to both eras.

Joshua Williamson’s script balances these contrasts well enough. He also does a fantastic job of subtly portraying Barry’s newfound depression, depicting Barry as increasingly secretive and paranoid. Given that depressives in comics are usually only portrayed as being miserable jerks or suicidal loners, it’s refreshing to see the condition being shown in a more accurate light in addition to it creating a new, relatable angle in regards to The Flash’s altered powers.

Neil Googe’s artwork isn’t quite up to the same standard. There is little consistency between individual panels, with Barry going from looking like John Wesley Shipp with blonde hair in one close-up to suddenly having a thin, elongated face with a pointed chin in the next. Many of Googe’s character expressions just look odd, with a shouting Barry Allen looking look he is about to unhinge his jaw to swallow a live pig, as his eyeballs attempt to escape his head.

The artwork isn’t bad enough to distract from the story completely, but it does render some scenes looking goofier than was intended. Despite this, The Flash #30 is a fine jumping-on issue for new readers and those fans of The Flash TV series looking for a good place to start reading the source material.

7/10.


Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.