Lyric: “I cock arm, pass the bomb, like Troy Aikman/Play the basement like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.”
Welcome back DTCers! Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July. Over at Hush headquarters, we celebrated the great Red, White, and Nerd! Let’s keep it going, shall we? This week’s DTC features a repeat rapper, the one, the only, the RZA. This track comes off of his 3rd solo studio album and brings with it not only a powerful message, but some supreme nerdiness as well. Like all rap artists, RZA strives for success (he already found it if y’all didn’t know), and in order to be successful you have to make it happen. If you are to become one of the greats and have little boys and girls listening to your hits when you are long past, you have to do one thing. Work. If you don’t put in the work, and have no dedication to your craft, then no one will respect it. That is exactly what RZA expressed in this so skillfully executed nerdy comic reference.
Since 1989, or even before, RZA has been dedicated to his craft. He has put in the work from day one and look at all it has gotten him: multiple albums, countless soundtrack features, tons of features on albums and has been named one of the top music producers according to Vibe, NME, and The Source. RZA has also showed us his acting and directing chops in various films. If you people out there don’t think RZA is neither a star nor a nerd, just Google “RZA” and “Afro Samurai” together, and let all your doubts fade way with your embarrassment for being so foolish. It’s easy to see that RZA is a nerd simply based on this lyric. He doesn’t say “Batman and Robin;” he uses their secret identities. If you know secret identities, then you may be a nerd – congratulations.
RZA understands the importance of having a solid work ethic. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t do it with conviction and dedication, someone who is putting in the work will pass you any day now. Regardless if you are writing the next big comic book, or starting to write your first rhyme, you should strive to be hall of fame quality. You need to be Troy Aikman in a sense, and put everything you have into that one pass. Give your heart and soul into your work, and the work will speak for itself. As you all know RZA goes hard in the paint and truly shows off his craft by using a skillful comic book reference. Most rappers starting out, or even today find their basement to be the base of operations. With eggshell cartons lining the wall, and pantyhose over the microphone, the basement becomes a true recording studio. For aspiring artists on the come up, that basement is the Batcave. In Gotham, if there was no Batcave, would there be a Batman and Robin? If the answer is yes, would they be as effective as they are? Every person, despite the craft, needs a place to make the greatness happen. Batman and Robin have the Batcave, Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, Iron Man has the Stark Tower, and RZA has the recording studio. Similar to the Batcave, the infamous basement recording studio is both out of sight, and underground… I see what you did there RZA, I see it. If you aren’t working hard when you are out of sight and out of mind, then dedication isn’t part of your skill set. Because if you do work hard, who knows, you could be the next RZA, you could be the next Bruce Wayne, you could be the next Dick Grayson. Work hard, do what you do, and make the basement proud!
In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
Click on the link to take you to all of our Denver Comic Con 2014 “Respect My Craft” articles
Name: Peter Tomasi
NotableWork: Batman and Robin (2011-present), The Mighty (2009-2010), The Light Brigade (2006)
“It’s crazy to think that Damian first hit the books over 7 years ago when I was still an editor of the Bat-line. I can still remember that day when Grant [Morrison] said he wanted to bring this wacko kid into the picture and make him a real pain in the ass for Bruce.” – Peter Tomasi
Peter Tomasi is a name that should ring in a lot of fan-boys ears for being the writer to The New52 Batman and Robin, who along with penciller Patrick Gleason have created one of the few comic books out of the relaunch to keep the same creative team – which is amazing considering that Robin has been dead in the DCU for almost half of the series. The death of Damian would not have carried nearly as much weight if it weren’t for the development in Batman and Robin that both Damian and Bruce went through together. The murder of Damian was capped off with issue #18, called Requiem (a title Tomasi also gave to a tribute issue to a certain character after his death in Final Crisis), which was his first silent issue. The emotionally charged issue was a great send-off for the character that Tomasi had sort of adopted through his run as an editor, and then writer, of the Bat-books. There was a deeper connection than just the creative side; this had been the result of years of grooming.
As a kid, Tomasi’s father introduced him to comic books. Growing up watching Adam West scaling walls on the Batman television show, and reading the exploits of Batman through the legendary comic book tag team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, Tomasi was a Batman lifer. It eventually led him to start his career at DC Comics as an Assistant Editor at DC Comics over 20 years ago, where he has since remained. Ten years later, he earned a promotion to become Senior Editor at DC Comics, while moonlighting as a writer for random books that likely needed help keeping deadlines. Along the way, he also created The Light Brigade – which Tomasi described as one part Saving Private Ryan, one part Paradise Lost – in 2004. The series has quite the following, and was recently re-released in hardcover edition a few months ago. Wanting more writing responsibilities, Tomasi left his fifteen-year long position to take on Black Adam: The Dark Age in 2007.
Black Adam had been thrown into the DC spotlight after kicking everybody’s butt in 52, a weekly installment set in one year of DC without the Trinity (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman), so it seemed only natural that he should be given his own mini-series. Tomasi’s run was fascinating, blurring the lines of hero and villain, making me root for Adam throughout the story. Being Egyptian, I was naturally drawn to identity with Black Adam – although I’d like to think I’m not nearly the evil bastard that this guy is. After receiving a lot of acclaim for The Dark Age, Vice President and current co-Publisher Dan DiDio asked Tomasi to jump on to his first full-time book, Nightwing. The train didn’t stop there, though. Tomasi wrote for The Outsiders, Green Lantern Corps, and even co-wrote Brightest Day with Geoff Johns. He also worked on side projects, like writing screenplay for the video-game, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, a game that I wore out to the point of breaking it in high school, and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, a compilation of stories about the Green Lanterns (Tomasi’s writing was for Kilowog’s short).
Writing books with an ensemble is something that naturally fits for Tomasi, whose experience as an editor has made him an Amazo of a writer, able to channel different personalities without sounding like a single writer’s voice. This was most impressively portrayed on the recent mini-series, Forever Evil: Arkham War. What I initially took for a cash grab, capitalizing off the Crime Syndicate story that Geoff Johns was writing, I ended up falling in love with. The story picks up with the Justice League absent in a world now controlled by the rime Syndicate, Gotham City left with nothing but Batman’s rogues gallery to fight over the empire of dirt left behind. The two front-runners in the battle are Scarecrow and Bane; Scarecrow thinks he can outsmart Bane, but Bane proves to be more cunning than Scarecrow thinks, and definitely the stronger-willed. Once again, I find myself cheering for the “bad guy” in one of Tomasi’s books.
The complex relationships that Tomasi builds in his books are a cornerstone of his writing. When he came on to writing the Bat-books, it was right before The New52 relaunch, when things had gotten quite complicated in Gotham City. We had been introduced to Damian Wayne and Stephanie Brown, Batman had freaking died and now Dick Grayson had become the new Batman. It was a very confusing time for me, but the understanding that these were people underneath the masks helped me dissociate the standard roles each of them played. While Bruce had a sternly parent role with Damian and Tim, Dick was more of a big brother – which was evidenced by his difficulty in getting Robin to follow in suit.
Damian has earned his place in the Bat family legacy. From when he started out in Batman and Son to when he was killed in Batman Inc #8, the character had grown from intolerable shit to prodigal son. A lot of the interactions in Batman and Robin were influenced by Peter’s own son, and how he thinks a wily, spitfire of a boy would act. And while the other Bat-books featured Damian’s progression, it was really Tomasi that raised him. Tomasi has been the cool step-dad that never gets the credit for raising a child that was, in essence, left on his front porch. The first volume of the New52 Batman and Robin, Born to Kill, is a prime example of why Damian really belongs to Peter Tomasi. Through rage and instinct, Damian decides to defeat crime by taking it out permanently, crossing the line that Batman holds dear when a third-party, named Nobody, convinces him to take a life. The heart-wrenching arc is one of the best in the New52 and really showcases the internal struggle Damian goes through – things are really messed up when your mom is the son of the Demon’s Head and leader of the League of Assassins. With so many Batman-led titles, the interpersonal take on Bruce and Damian’s relationship with each other set Tomasi’s book apart from the others. This must have been especially hard when you realize that, as Senior Editor, Tomasi knew Damian’s fate from his very inception.
Since Damian’s death over a year ago, the series has been following Batman’s quest for closure, culminating in a battle with Ra’s Al Ghul, who has defiled Damian’s grave and using him to create more super-soldiers – featured in a disturbing Batman and Aquaman #29. You can feel the feels slide off the page, as we’re not sure where Batman’s mental state is – that’s not only scary, but a testament to the earnestness of Tomasi’s writing. The news has broken that Batman will indeed be getting a new Robin when Robin Rises: Omega comes out on Batman Day (July 23rd). Speculation remains as to whether or not this is a new Robin, or the return of Damian, but one thing is sure: Batman needs a Robin just as much as he needs a writer like Peter Tomasi.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (DC Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con as we put on our spandex and onomatopoeic fighting words with the classic Batman, Adam West.
The money in our bank account is limited, so how unfair is it that there are endless gadgets, collectibles and toys out there that demand to be purchased? Let us help you sift through the crap, so you don’t can save that hard-earned cash for the things that deserve it. In other words, we give you the power to go to the counter and say, “Shut Up and Take My Money!”
Item: Batman Arkham City Nightwing Arsenal
What it is: If you ever wanted to have an amazing replica of Nightwings sticks to help you fight crime with, then look no further. The replica creators at Triforce have managed to meticulously create the arsenal that Nightwing uses in the Arkham City game. It comes complete with a full-scale replica of Nightwings escrima sticks that actually light up to simulate the electricity running through them. The collection also comes with a collection of darts, posters and gimmicks and a really nice stand to display everything. The sticks and darts are hand- finished and hand painted out of polystone that has a solid feel and weight to it. Polystone is a very high quality material that allows for the sculptor to be very detailed in the design of replicas. This replica spares no expense to be the most accurate replica on the market.
How Much it Costs: This item is only for the serious collectors and will set you back around a thousand dollars. On the plus side however, the shipping is free so you have that to look forward to. There isn’t anywhere that seems to be offering any discounts, but it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye for possible price drops if you are seriously considering purchasing.
Is It Worth It?: With a price tag over a thousand dollars, this is really only going to be considered worth it to people who are serious Nightwing fans or collectors with some money burning a hole in their pockets. There is no doubt that this is an amazing replica and for the money, you can’t get something of higher quality. With high-end materials and the meticulous hand crafted nature of this replica, you really can’t go wrong if you did decide to spend the money.
Bottom Line: This is definitely not for your average collector. Big money and an affinity for Nightwing are prerequisites for purchase here. If both of those requirements are met though, I would have to highly recommend getting this. It is almost too awesome to pass up.
The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebookand The Joy of Cooking.
A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters
B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.
C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.
D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.
F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.
Pick of the Week:
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #1 – A
Oh, Whedonverse, be-still my heart. It’s always a good day when I can get a dose of anything Firefly or Serenity and today was one of those days. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind is the first new content in about a year from the ‘verse (an oft used term in the book itself, too). Written by Joss’ little brother, Zack Whedon, and penciled by Georges Jeanty of Buffy fame, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind takes places shortly after where the film ended. We get a good taste of what different media outlets feel about the discovery of Miranda and the Reavers. We also get a small glimpse at a group of bounty hunters looking to take out River, a small group of Browncoats looking to find Mal and follow his direction, Jayne is back on his planet, and then is what is left of our crew. Kaylee and Simon are finally together, River is the new pilot, Zoe is very pregnant, and Mal and Inara…well. They finally are doing what fans vied for (and its NSFW). It was great to see so many different story lines going on in one small book; enough for a true fan to want to continue to find out what comes of it all. Because this is the first issue of 6, it gets a little leniency for not being as thorough with any one person’s storyline. It also gets slack for not having the full arsenal of dialogue the series is known for. But because I have missed my crew so much and now we are finally reunited, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind gets our Pick of the Week. – A
Dark Horse Comics
Furious #1 – B-
If you like strong women, relatable superheroes, and crazy twists the Furious #1 may be the comic for you this week! A fairly interesting theme is introduced in this new Dark Horse series. As the story starts we learn that the very first superhero (ever) has made an appearance. She calls herself “The Beacon,” but due to a most brutal rescue of a few college students in distress in the presence of the paparazzi, the locals have taken to calling her “Furious.” The issue is somewhat bland in the beginning. I was expecting a dazzling, super powered spectacle when I picked up this comic. It wasn’t until the last few pages that I realized this series will be focused on internal struggle and overcoming self-imposed challenges. The ending twist is especially alluring and holds massive potential to make this seemingly run of the mill superhero series a cerebral thriller. – T
Batman and Robin Annual #2 – A-
The Batman and Robin series has been spinning its tires in the mud for the better part of a year since Damian met his demise in Batman, Incorporated #8. As Annuel #2 shows, trying to find the perfect partner to complement the Batman isn’t as hard as it sounds. Dick Grayson’s Robin was where it all began. This issue beautifully illustrates the relationship between the two as Dick was just beginning to put on the cape. They even manage to fit in a sentimental moment for Damian. I wouldn’t expect the same level of writing on sub-sequent issues, but this one can still be enjoyed while it lasts. – S
Earth 2 Annual #2 – B+
For those who haven’t had quite enough of the origin story/year one tales of Bruce Wayne, look no further. This is a little after Earth-2 Batman has begun his career, but in an odd twist; it isn’t an origin for the original Earth-2 Batman – it’s an origin for his Earth-2 successor. There are multiple points in time spanning from before Bruce’s birth to after his Earth-2 death. The main takeaway from this book is that Earth-2 Jarvis Pennyworth, Alfred’s father, is a major badass. There unfortunately isn’t more that I can say about this book without spoiling the plot but for anyone that is a fan of Batman, you owe it to yourself to check this annual out. The art is really good and with the fresh take on an old concept that has gotten a lot of mileage, particularly recently, it has somehow managed to keep things feeling new. Read this book!! – R
Batman: The Dark Knight #1 – C
Just like the issue before it, Dark Knight continues the Voiceless story arc by putting out an issue with absolutely no dialogue. We join our hero as he is escaping a trap set by the Penguin. The use of gadgets is pretty cool, and there is some fine visual work from the artist, but save for a heart-felt reunion at the end, this arc is almost looking like a holiday special and not the new arc I had been expecting. As Batman tries to dismantle Penguin’s ring of slave labor, I can’t help but think that maybe some dialog wouldn’t be a bad thing. I’ll play along for now, but I’m thinking this silent thing may be more gimmicky than I can handle. – S
Damian: Son of Batman #4 – D+
Damian: Son of Batman has been a mini-series that attempted to delve deeper into the set piece of Andy Kubert’s Batman #666, but unfortunately failed to do so because of it’s abrupt ending in issue #4. From issue #3, we know that the man who wears The Joker’s face is just an impostor, and that could have been an amazing side story within itself. The mini-series also gave us Alfred-Cat, and really, who wouldn’t want more of that? But this series introduced not only a murderous non-impostor Joker, but a murderous Damian Wayne, a reformed and not-so-murderous Damian Wayne, an impostor Joker, and of course Alfred-Cat, and then ended it all with no real moral, much less rhyme or reason. If you have made it this far in Damian, then you owe it to yourself to finish it out with this issue; however, don’t be too surprised if that ending leaves you with an empty feeling. – R
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles#30 – A-
This issue was one big, collective hug in paper format. The past few issues have been really difficult on the turtles, and on readers. The whole gang is out in the Northampton farm that belongs to April’s parents, trying to recover from the events of City Fall. Starting issue #29 and going through #32, we get the pleasure of some of the series most beautiful art. Russ Campbell and his beautiful color work make this a beauty. Alopex and Raph finally have an exchange of words, and Donnie gives some reassurance to Leonardo. All seems right in the world; that is, until a new villain is revealed at the end of the issue. The honeymoon is almost over, and danger is looming. How could TMNT get any better?? – S
Saga #18 – A
This issue was not amazing. Lyyinggg. Saga is like reading a romance novel wrapped in bacon – in a good way. It’s still a romance book about two love birds trying to find a safe haven for their inter-species child, but there are layers upon layers of sophisticated context. The fallout from Prince Robot IV’s arrival in Quietus has resulted in quite the mess, with everybody strewn in different directions, Prince Robot IV quite literally. We also finally get a satisfying confrontation between Marko and Gwendolyn. All these side-stories are collectively keeping Saga one of the best books in the industry. Do yourself a favor and pick up this once-in-a-generation title. – S
Black Science #3 – B+
What a ride Black Science has been! We’ve been spoon-fed the story inch by inch for three issues now, and I’m just now beginning to put the pieces together. Our main character, Grant, has discovered unlimited parallel universe – and it seems that he’s going to explore every one, whether he wants to or not. While the group battles high-tech Native Americans and what seems to be Nazis, some spicy details come to the surface about Grant’s life. There are so many aspects that make reading Black Science so enjoyable. Inner monologues and thoughts are so well written and placed in panel context and transitions from backstory to real time are flawless. Best of all – the images and artwork are glorious. My hat goes off to Matteo Scalera, Dean White and all the other contributing artists involved in this series. The only criticism I have for Black Science #3 is that the story was slightly slower in pace and plot development was light. Still, the story continues to intrigue me and I can’t wait for next month to find out what’s next for the Dimensionaughts! – T
Superior Spider-Man #26 – B+
Spider-Man is finally becoming cool again. Doc Ock’s welcome has definitely worm out, and everybody is catching wind of it. With the re-release of Amazing Spider-Man in April, I can only assume that Octavius’ tenure as the un-friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is coming to an end. While Spidey deals with a suspicious Avengers team, New York is at war to decide who will become the Goblin King. Things are going to get much worse before they get better, but I’m finally enthusiastic enough about this book to say you should jump on board now! – S
Night of the Living Deadpool #2 – C+
The apocalypse is here, and the only one that can stop the hoards of the undead is the Merc With the Mouth. Playing out somewhat like Shaun of the Dead – eighty percent parody and twenty perfect vague plot. Fans of the Walking Dead can appreciate the scene in which Deadpool and friends search for a place to set up camp. The fact that the zombies are semi-conscious is also interesting, and kind of creepy, a clear nod to George Romero’s recent books. Artistically, it’s really cool to see Deadpool as the only thing that is colored throughout the book. It’s a sad nod to the idea that he will always be the center of attention, yet he will always be alone. This is good material to get you through the week, but it’s nothing to really write home about. – S
GPA by Publisher:
DC Comics: 1 A, 1 B, 1 C and 1 D, averaging out to a 2.25
Marvel Comics: 1 B and 1 C, averaging out to a 2.50
Independents: 3 A’s and 2 B’s averaging out to a 3.60
Funniest Panel of the Week:
Epic Panel of the Week:
Cover Art of the Week:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, Boom! Studios, Dynamite Entertainment, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.
And that, my friends, is how you wrap up the greatest horror series in comic book history. This was a Locke for pick of the week before it was even announced. Kudos to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for an amazing run of almost six years. I won’t judge you if you haven’t read this book, as it’s been critically acclaimed but still very rarely marketed. There are no cliffhangers, monsters or murderers – just closure. It’s a welcome finale when writers are far more concerned with the integrity of the story rather than a spin-off or a mini-series event. As the son of the great Stephen King, Joe Hill has plenty else to look forward to. The only disclaimer I have for this issue is that you must have read the story to understand the gravity or the events of what transpire in the series finale. I know it’s a bummer but you can get started by reading our review of the first volume here.
Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics) – B+
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn issue #1 made quite the entrance into her own comic series. Picking up where we left off in issue #0, Harley has packed up all her belongings, at least the ones that were in decent condition after Mr. J blew her stuff up. On her very own Harley, our heroine (to be debated later) is on her way to Coney Island where she has suddenly come into her own property. On her way there, she talks to her beaver (woah, inappropriate) that only she can hear, and rescues an abused dachshund. A girl who likes animals more than people is my kind of girl. The artwork is really amazing. Illustrated by Chad Hardin and colored by Alex Sinclair (Jim Lee’s right-hand man), One of the best panels features Harley pulling up to her new pad. We see all the people of her new hood, including a beggar on the street corner wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a sign that reads “Please help me pay off my student loans. Thanks-V” It’s a nice little nod to the Occupy Movement. The art allows Harley to have a bit of a sexy look to her, but in certain panels we still realize that she is a creepy, crazy clown. She even makes a jab at herself when trying to recreate her Harleen Quinzel look, “That’s what I get for getting an all over bleach job.” Her crazy wit is cute and funny throughout the comic, and we get to see how extreme she can be, especially during roller derby. It looks like this series will be following Harley in her adventures in the big city ala Sex and the City. But we all know Harley is a little less Carrie Bradshaw and a little more Lorena Bobbitt. The only gripe I have with this issue is seeing Harley as such a BA, yet at the end, a dude saves her life. When is Harley gonna be her own woman? Hopefully at some point in this series, Harley will realize how great she is without anyone to save her.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #26 (DC Comics) – C
This issue leads up to the conclusion of the current story arc and while it doesn’t offer anything crazy as far as advancing the plot forward, it does have some incredible artwork throughout. This series has been very hit or miss for me. While I love how awesome Red Hood can be, I personally can’t stand Arsenal as character, and Starfire seems like she should be too powerful for a group such as this. Nothing in 26 issues has changed my opinion of this. I continue to read because of the potential it has to intertwine with Batman; however, since the disassociation with Batman after death of the family, I have been left with a longing for Jason to return to Gotham to dispense his brand of vigilante justice. Only time will tell if this is a book I will continue to read in the future. It definitely has the potential to shine but it will depend entirely on the writers to be able to make it genuinely interesting to read. Perhaps changing the team around wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Supergirl #26 (DC Comics) – B+
If there was a good point to drop into the middle of this series, issue 26 would be the perfect one to do it. Kara does a little souls searching and while in the middle of that, the issue gives a great summary of the events of the last 25 issues. Sure there are some small things that someone just getting into the series would have to catch up on, but none of it is anything major that can’t be read later. What really makes this issue shine how is the introduction of the most badass bounty hunter in the galaxy. Lobo! While he isn’t given a large amount of time, what time he is given is well utilized and promises to make this current arc one of the best so far. My only complaint with this series thus far is that it requires you to stay current with Superman and Superboy, otherwise you risk missing out on key plot points due to the way the stories intertwine
Teen Titans Go! #1 (DC Comics) – B+
Teen Titans Go! Issue #1 was a pleasant surprise for me. It was clearly intended for the younger audiences, but was packed with witty humor. I found myself laughing out loud at several panels throughout. This issue was broken up into two parts. Part one is the mystery of who is eating Cyborg’s sandwich. The mystery aspect of the story was very cute with Robin taking it upon himself to interrogate the group. Using black and white panels for this section and giving Robin old-timey detective lines worked perfectly. Part two focuses on a bet between Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy on the mini-golf course. Meanwhile, Raven and Starfire go to the arcade. Raven cleverly uses her levitation powers to get a stuffed toy out of the claw machine. Starfire asks, “But where does the claw come in?” “Beats me.” Raven replies dryly. The wittiness of this issue is what carries it. The dialogue is quick and pokes fun at itself a little. The outcomes of each episode are a little silly, but what else is expected for the teens? Teen Titans Go! is a good read for new and seasoned comic readers.
Wonder Woman #26 (DC Comics) – C
Wonder Womanhas pretty much carried the torch for women in DC Comics for the past few years. Protector, warrior, princess of Olympus – Wonder Woman is by all means a powerhouse. Thanks to some great writing by Brian Azzarello, Wonder Womanhas undergone quite the transition into the fight for Olympus. After a godly issue #23, though, things have quite slowed down. It feels like they’re trying to do too much. There are several different story-lines playing out, and over the span of months, I’m beginning to forget what the big picture actually is. While I’m sure this would read better in a graphic novel format, it’s just too complex of a story to be able to pick up every month. However, don’t let that discount the great character dynamics and fantastic use of Greek mythology; this is still a highly enjoyable book.
All New X-Men #20 (Marvel Comics) – B
Laura Kinney (X-23) is back! She’s popping blades and not taking any lip from anyone! She awakens in the old Weapon X factory, (it’s since been converted to the New Xavier School For the Gifted). Scott and Laura have a heart to Adamantium talk about why the X-Men have time traveled. She explains that she has been tortured for a year and is now being hunted by an anti-mutant group called, The Purifiers. This anti-mutant group is led by William Stryker’s son. Can we say daddy issues? The X-Men gear up and prepare to raid this new threats’ hideout when…
Amazing Spiderman #700.4 (Marvel Comics) – C
Bravo to Pasqual Ferry and Andres Mossa for the cover art. The issue is worth the pick up for that alone. Peter Parker is still in the Kaiser Permanente from hell. He has been admitted to a hospital for criminals. Joe Casey writes some harsh lines about our do-gooder, “Consider his reputation, an anti-hero at best…not exactly Captain America. He would not be missed.” Peter’s identity as Spider-Man has been compromised by the staff and now he is in a fight to get out of there.
Amazing Spiderman #700.5 (Marvel Comics) – D
No rest for the weary. Spider-Man tries to enjoy a nap after a day of crime fighting, and who should come flying through his window? Johnny Storm! Brian Reed writes this issue, Spider-Man and The Human Torch. This issue is a throw-away. The story is rushed, poorly planned and boring. Johnny steals some kind of machine from the Baxter Building that came from future Ben. It will destroy the universe and old flame-boy tries to enlist Spidey to help him get rid of it. The Fantastic Four track him down to retrieve the device. Skip this one and give Superior Spider-Man #24 a shot.
Daredevil #34 (Marvel Comics) – B-
After an odd stint in Stone Hills, Kentucky, Daredevil is back in New York City and back to the main storyline; the Sons of the Serpent, a white supremecy group, have corrupted the justice system and look to be taking the whole city from the inside. This story has been building for about ten issues now, and it finally would seem that Daredevil is gaining momentum against the Serpents. After an empowering speech over the airwaves, Daredevil has gone on the offensive against the Serpents. On display are very run-of-the-mill pages from Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez. The series has lost a bit of the appeal it had in earlier issues, but it’s still fun to read. With the story, and the series’ run wrapping up in two issues, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
Deadpool #21 (Marvel Comics) – B
So I’ll admit, I got a bit carried away with Deadpool #20, the ridiculous story about battling inter-galactic monsters in Wakanda. I’m not perfect and neither is Deadpool. This issue has us follow our favorite hero as he continues his journey to separate himself from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Preston, who is sharing space aside the multiple personalities of Wade Wilson. It doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read the whole way through, but having read all the issues, it still doesn’t make sense. As he tries to satisfy Preston by watching Madea he is hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D. mercenaries, an irony that is not lost on me. The issue was thoroughly entertaining and full of hilarity. This is the start of the Deadpool vs. S.H.I.E.L.D arc, so it’s a great time to jump on to watch the Merc With A Mouth take down the system. … at least for a few episodes until they put out another stupid filler issue.
Scarlet Spider #25 (Marvel Comics) – C-
This final issue in the series really brings this particular story arc full circle. What I find the most dissatisfying is that you could have almost replaced this issue with the first one and ended the entire series right there. It basically felt like a carbon copy of the first issue, only Kaine has the chops to go through with actually leaving Houston the first time. The artwork wasn’t anything particularly special but it was not bad by any means. This ending felt a little sloppy but after reading the afterword, I am assured that this isn’t the end for Kaine. This character has great potential if explored properly. I really like the idea of a Peter Parker that is tainted and willing to go places and do things that Peter Parker would never do. It is the perfect opportunity to explore that dark side and while this ending may have been a little disappointing, I am looking forward to the future of Scarlet Spider when he returns in NEW WARRIORS #1.
Superior Spiderman #24 (Marvel Comics) – C+
Oh great, as if Spiderman wasn’t arrogant enough. With the great narcissistic Otto Octavius at the helm of the Venom symbiote, things are not looking so great for those close to him. Really, enough is enough. You can make him an asshole, you can make him break up with MJ, you can even make him dance around like an idiot in Spiderman 3… but you do not get to disrespect sweet ol’ Aunt May; that is off-limits. As Spidey’s ego goes to his head, there are a lot of things set in motion by the police, the Golbin gang and The Avengers. I like where this is going, as it’s obviously time for Peter Parker to come back from oblivion and return to the spotlight. The weekly splurge of Amazing Spiderman hints that a Parker return isn’t far off.
Samurai Jack #3 (IDW Comics) – B
This month’s issue of Samurai Jack was a nice change from there the series could have gone. With the first two issues requiring Jack to defeat an unbeatable foe, I was worried every issue would follow the same script. So far, Issue #3 is my favorite. Jack, still following the magical Threads of Time to rewind history from his enemy Aku, lands in what seems to be Ancient Greece. He meets the warrior of the town, Gloer the Great of Grantus. The alliterative character shows Jack around town. But instead of having to fight Gloer, as was expected, he sees that Gloer’s town has already been demolished by Aku’s terribleness. The series is already a little Mr. Peabody-esque. This issue is Mr. Peabody meets Stepford Wives meets Disney’s Hercules. It’s very cute, but still a great use of medium to provoke some pretty deep thoughts for the intended elementary level reader. I highly recommend picking up this issue for your new little comic book reader.
We join our turtles after the fallout of City Fall as they drive to a Northampton countryside home where April O’Neil’s parents live. The family is in shambles and I can feel Splinter pain as he tries to repair the damage that Shredder and the Foot have wrought upon his family. The issue is divided between the turtles and their family issues and the O’Neils meeting Casey Jones for the first time. Ah, but the plot thickens! Our heroes had an unwelcome guest follow them to Northampton (Although not unwelcome to me, as this is secretly my favorite character in the book). Meanwhile, April finds out that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the mutagen, and her parents are the one to tell the secret. Ross Campbell has picked up art duties for the main story after doing a couple of the Micro-Series (Leonardo, Alopex) books. Although I was initially sad to see Mateus Santolouco’s grimy style end with City Fall, Campbell’s art is intrinsically beautiful and fitting of the subject matter. As we build towards another storyline, I was thoroughly pleased with TMNT #29, as it serves as a great jumping-on point for fans new to the series while still reflecting on the events of City Fall.
Black Science #2 (image Comics) – A
The second issue of this deep space thriller, Black Science, opened up the story and explained a lot of character dynamic without giving too much away for what’s to come. It’s a captivating sci-fi tale that mixes a little bit of Mass Effect with an 80’s space thriller twist. What Black Science succeeds at so well is its ability to draw in a reader with it’s amazing character dynamics and between-the-lines story-telling. Two issues in and you already know who you are supposed to like and who you are supposed to loathe. Throw in a well-placed flashback scene and now you’re part of the family. First, mutant frog people and now futuristic Native Americans killing Nazis; this is shaping up to be one special series, and it’s not limited to cliches and superheroes.
Saga #17 (image Comics) – A
“The only journalists that deserve killing are sports writers.” Saga is written too well for me to fully appreciate. It’s filled with literary quips. I feel like it’s written only for English majors or burnt-out authors. Needless to say, it’s brilliant. Issue 17 masks its social and political dogma behind vibrant panels and fashionable sarcasm. We find our two journalists greeted by yet another Freelancer named, The Brand. He enchants them with an Anti-snitching potion (Embargon) to impede them from continuing their story about inter-species love. When Upsher and Doff ask The Brand why their writing is so threatening the response is, “It’s the stories with no sides that worry them.” Saga engages everything is our current social spectrum. Nothing is taboo. Homosexuality, popular media, inter-racial relationships, and child-rearing are all on the table. As readers we are also unclear to Vaughn’s stance on these issues. This is what makes Saga so intriguing.
The Will is still bleeding out after being attacked by a possessed Sophie (slave-girl). Gwendolyn is desperate to find help. She makes her way to D. Oswald Heist’s lighthouse. She arrives after Klara’s attempt to save his life from Prince Robot IV. This week’s issue submerges us deeper into this space-opera and will give you a good giggle and gasp (See Prince Robot’s erotic revelation).
Sex #9 (image Comics) – B
Now we’re talking! There’s been a lot of foreplay leading up to Sex, but it seems that the buttons are finally coming undone. What we are shown is a genuine origin story starring our hero Simon as The Armored Saint and his techie sidekick, Keenan. It really brings the story together and explains a lot in the first eight episodes that didn’t make a whole lot of sense the first time through. Guest artist Morgan Jeske’s art has a very distinct appearance from the rest of the series, and gives the issue a very raw, Dark Knight Returns vibe. And, of course, there is raunchy, gratuitous sex – as is expected when your crime-fighting secret hideout is a whore-house. Here’s to hoping that we get more exciting issues like this and less build-up.
Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B
Enter Clone Trooper CT5539, after the Clone Wars and after Order 66. One of Jango’s copies has settled down working and living quite unremarkably on what appears to be a desert planet (perhaps Tatooine – some of the best Star Wars stories star there!). By way of true “events,” Cry of Shadows #1 really has none. The pages are filled with narration and storytelling. Flashbacks and imagination dominate. This isn’t a bad thing though! On the contrary, I was able to connect with CT5539 almost immediately because I was reading his inner thoughts. It’s critical to note that the flesh and blood Vader (or should I say, metal and lube-oil) makes no appearance besides what’s being imagined by CT derived from stories told by drunk cantina-goers. Vader remains a fantasy and a symbol in CT’s eyes. The ferocious tales are vividly and beautifully illustrated by Guzan and Atiyeh. It could be my bias, but Vader remains as imposing and awesome as ever. After meandering through post-war life, CT finds a spark and journeys out to see if the stories about Vader are true. What better way to obtain answers than ask the guy yourself?! The build-up is well done in Cry of Shadows #1 and I’m already anxious to see how the real life Vader measures up to the Vader of CT’s dreams and aspirations.
Ghost #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B-
The series is a continuation of the original 1990’s Ghost series where Elisa, a journalist, uncovers a crazy secret; the Mayor of Chicago is actual a demon in disguise. The possessed mayor banishes Elisa to hell only to have her brought back to the living world in ghost form by two paranormal investigators, Vaughn and Tommy, after which she proceeds to pull the demon from the mayor. That same demon, however, is able to escape and possess a new host – Doctor October. This is essentially where we pick up in Ghost #1. Elisa is still hunting for Doctor October as well as other possessed persons of power in Chi-town. Issue #1 starts out pretty intensely with Elisa kicking serious demon behind on the monorail. There’s lots of plot development in the first issue (as expected) and it makes for a somewhat slow read. Authors Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chris Sebela appear to be working depth into the story and I enjoy the direction its heading. In Elisa’s return for the demon realm, she only partially recovered her memory; this aspect does much to move the story along and kept me engaged. Demon sketch lack originality, but are beautifully grotesque in detail (props to Ryan Sook). Ghost herself is also pretty B.A. She stunts some really cool tricks and maintains a fearless and confident attitude throughout. I’m looking forward to Elisa’s pursuits to purify her city, recover her memory and take on Doctor October!
Funniest Panels of the Week:
Adrian’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Teen Titans Go! #1.
Panama’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Amazing Spiderman #700.5.
Robert’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Supergirl #26.
Sherif’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Deadpool #21.
Taylors’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Ghost #1.
Epic Panels of the Week:
Adrian’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Harley Quinn #1.
Panama’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Saga #17.
Robert’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Supergirl #26.
Sherif’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29.
Taylor’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1.
Cover Art of the Week:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.
Album: The Awakening (2003), a mixtape that preluded his second studio album (Desire). Free download here.
Before we begin, let’s just start out by introducing a lot of you to Pharoahe Monch, as not many I’ve spoken with have had the pleasure of listening to this hidden star of Hip-Hop. While not achieving a lot of commercial success, anything that comes out of Pharoahe’s mouth is lyrical gold. Starting out as half of the group Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe quickly gained the reputation of being a cerebral and entertaining emcee. Since his solo debut in 1999, Internal Affairs, Pharoahe has blown up the independent scene, tackling social and political topics with such clarity and hilarity.
Lyric: “It’s not a Game Boy, X-Box or PlayStation/It’s Resident Evil when every President’s a mason/ Robbin’ y’all fools like Dick Grayson”
Holy “Agent Orange,” Pharoahe Monch! That sure sounds scary and intense. In the mixtape leading to his second album, Desire, he reminds listeners that he is not only a wordsmith but is quite comic savvy, as well. “Agent Orange” is a song portraying the horrid war-time nature the United States government has been proved to display, referencing the US’ use of herbicidal warfare in the Vietnam War that left hundreds of thousands civilians starving and/or permanently physically deformed. When Pharoahe Monch starts listing off the game systems of our past, present, and future, he is basically throwing a brick through Congress windows with a note attached saying, “NOT TODAY, GOVERNMENT! DO I LOOK LIKE A BRAND NEW MORTAL KOMBAT VS. DC UNIVERSE GAME? BECAUSE I AM NOT TO BE PLAYED WITH” – sassy finger snapping ensues. Gloriously, Pharoahe Monch reaches out to the comic book world and pays homage to a superhero that only seek one thing – justice. Don’t lie; you said justice in your best Batman voice, didn’t you? What he is saying is that the system is robbin’ knowledge, power, and all that other good stuff from We, the People. For those of you out there who are wondering who Dick Grayson is, he is the only dude who can look badass in a red speedo, green gloves and a yellow cape, ROBIN! Boom, there is that AHA moment! Pharoahe Monch is similar to Robin because they are both underrated and underestimated. If Dick Grayson can evolve from Robin into Nightwing, then maybe, just maybe, Pharoahe Monch can turn into Ra…sure, let’s go with that.
Fun Fact: In Eminem’s “Rap God,” which we featured on last week’s “Diggin’ Through the Crates” piece, actually references Pharoahe Monch, a heralded Hip-Hop artist in the underground community. As a lifetime fan of both, it’s refreshing to hear that even a pop legend like Eminem knows who the real artists are: “I know there was a time where once I/Was king of the underground, but I still rap like I’m on my Pharoahe Monch grind.”
That does it for this week guys! Check back next week for more nerd-infused Hip-Hop. Also, if you’re interested at all in learning more about the artist or the subject matter in our posts, don’t hesitate to ask. Pharoahe Monch’s fourth solo album, entitled P.T.S.D., is slated for a release January 2014. Be sure to check us out for a comprehensive review on that! Til next time, nerds…
Artist(s): Jim Lee (X-Men, Superman: Unchained, WildC.A.T.S.), Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair (inker and colorist, respectively, that work with Lee)
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):
Storyline – 10
Art – 10
Captivity and Length – 10
Identity – 10
Use of Medium – 9
Depth – 10
Fluidity – 8
Intrigue/Originality – 10
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 10
DISCLAIMER: I will start this by saying that Batman: Hush is hands-down my favorite graphic novel ever. It’s the second graphic novel I ever read and, ultimately, what inspired me to delve deeply into the world of comics. I have two tattoos dedicated to what this book means to me and it’s part of the inspiration behind our name, Hush Comics. That being said, I will try not to blow too much smoke up your butts, because if you haven’t read it for yourself, I don’t want to ruin the experience.
Batman: Hush uses the entire spectrum of the Batverse to tell a sophisticated story about the emergence of a new cerebral villain into the Rogues Gallery and explores the quasi-romantic relationship between Batman and Catwoman. Hushalso marks the return of one of Bruce Wayne’s wards, whose previous death marked his greatest failure as the Batman. It spans the length of twelve issues to tell its story, twice as long as traditional six-issue story arcs; with a plot as involved as this one, this allows Loeb space to create a non-formulaic, dynamic graphic novel. This is also a book that both seasoned comic nerds and people new to comics can be receptive to. Hush does a great job of not making you feel like an idiot because every scene portrays the adequate background information to understand what is going on – something that is the exception more than the rule in comics nowadays.
I always feel that writers of Batman books have an automatic leg up because the Batman of the last twenty years always has the answers, always knows what to do, and the writer usually coasts on it. Jeph Loeb takes the task one step further and helps you identify with the man behind the mask. You realize that Batman has been through a lot of trauma and stress, and although he’s the most badass superhero on the planet on the outside, he still struggles with the same things we do: who to love, who to trust, etc. This vulnerability is accomplished by a steady flow of personal monologue that narrates each panel with Bruce’s (sorry, spoiler?) inner thoughts. Each character, and there are a lot of them, has a distinct voice and personality. Long-time fans will also take note that the cast is scripted quite well. Nothing seems out of place or character in the writing and there is enough suspense to keep the reader from knowing what will happen next. The new villain is cunning and knows just where to hit Batman to make it hurt. This type of strategical villain with a large cast hasn’t been portrayed this well since Bane in Batman: Knightfall.
The artwork from the legendary Jim Lee is what really won me over here. Jim Lee, now co-publisher of DC Comics, constructs vividly detailed panels that range from small transitional fight scenes to full-page beauties like the one below (Kissing the Knight). Lee’s team, Alex Sinclair, color, and Scott Williams, ink, add to the already beautiful pencilwork. The team switches up colors and even mediums throughout the book when it suits the mood, helping the reader transition between scenes. All of Lee’s drawings are crisp and have an edgy yet realistic appearance. With so much detail spent on each panel, Jim Lee and his team guide the reader through a completely immersive environment.
Batman: Hush can be viewed as a stand-alone story, but fits in the old Batman continuity pretty nicely. Since launching The New 52 in 2011, DC has pretty much abandoned any continuation of the Batman-Catwoman romance (except for two awful smut-filled issues of The New 52 Catwoman) and there hasn’t been an appearance of Hush in any titles yet. Don’t let this discourage you from reading though, as there is tons of dialogue and events that coincide with other milestones in past Batman publications. There are a few different books written with Hush as the main villain, most notably Hush Returns and Heart of Hush, but these do not boast the big time writers or artists that this book does, and the story feels a little forced in the romance department, but it’s still a decent read. Overall I’d say that while it reads best as a stand-alone story, there are enough bat-nuances to make you want to get deeper into the Batman lore.
General Reception: You will find Batman: Hush on DC Entertainment’s Essential Graphic Novels list and it’s for good reason. An all-encompassing story that spans all of your favorite Batman villains, sidekicks and introduces enough new elements to tell a tale that both seasoned veterans and comic book rookies can all the same. The characters’ dialogue and actions seem familiar without giving away any of the plot twists throughout the book. There are a ton of different transitions in Hush, giving each scene a distinct ambiance by Jim Lee and his brilliant art team.
Related Books: Hush Returns, Heart of Hush, Faces of Evil/Hush Money and Batman Beyond: Hush Beyond (kinda).Hush also makes appearances in videogames LEGO Batman 2 and Arkham City. Batman: Hush has recently been repackaged in Batman: Hush Unwrapped, featuring the sketch-work of Jim Lee. I wouldn’t recommend buying this version first, but if you read Hush the first time through and fall in love with Jim Lee’s art like I did, it’s a sensible purchase. Published in 2011, Absolute Batman: Hush is a completely over-sized version of the original with all its glory. It’s loaded with extras but it’s pretty pricey, so I wouldn’t recommend this unless you are a big-time collector or really love the story.
More by the writer: In terms of Batman books, Loeb has written acclaimed mystery crime graphic novels Batman: The Long Halloweenand its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory. Loeb has also written Marvel books in the color-themed Daredevil: Yellow, Spiderman: Blue, Hulk: Greyand Captain America: White. He’s also worked on Superman/Batman, Hulk and Cable series.
More by the artist: If you’re looking for more recent Jim Lee work, look to the first two New 52 Justice League story arc and the ongoing Superman: Unchained. His most distinguished works are X-Men: Mutant Genesis, Alpha Flight and WildC.A.T.S., the latter being a series that he created when he left Marvel to help create Image Comics with the likes of Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and others.