Quick Hits: Reviews of Batman: Knight of Vengeance #2 and more…

Knight of Vengeance 2

Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance #2: Though I haven’t read too many of the Flashpoint tie-ins, this seems to be the first one that really delivers on that series’ promise of showing us a totally different world. From the exploration of Thomas Wayne’s radical Batman techniques (how he stops villains, how he treats his inner circle) to the identity revelations of Oracle and the Joker in this new world, Knight of Vengeance #2 is packed full of surprises, some of them surprisingly emotional — the Oracle scene really got to me, mostly because of Eduardo Risso’s art. Both Risso and writer Brian Azzarello turn in strong work here; the script’s totally compelling and the art’s among the best you’re likely to get in a monthly Batman book. Some of the stuff that happens in Knight of Vengeance #2 seems like it’d be more fitting for a Vertigo crime title, which suits me just fine. This series has gone from promising to fascinating in the course of two issues. What will the third bring? A-

Batman Beyond #7: “Industrial Revolution” wraps up just as strongly as it began, or perhaps even a bit better. While Terry McGinnis figures out how to take down the monstrous Blight on an actual battlefield, Bruce Wayne and labor negotiator G. Gordon Godfrey take to the battlefield of the boardroom to settle the unrest that’s been brewing amongst Wayne’s employees. That last bit may not sound like exciting comic reading, but I actually love the focus on Bruce Wayne’s work life here; I think it presents a familiar hero in a relatively unexplored light (especially since, in the future, he’s free to focus more on his executive duties). Writer Adam Beechen also tantalizingly hints at a future menace with a darker seid, though whether or not Batman Beyond will continue in the new DCU remains to be seen. The biggest stumbling block with this book continues to be Ryan Benjamin’s art. While his command of static figures has, I think, improved significantly, the way he draws Batman’s cowl drives me crazy — look at that ever-fluctuating ear size. B+

iZombie #15: At its best, one of iZombie‘s greatest strengths is its ability to juggle a ton of characters, plots and concepts simultaneously. I get the feeling this book is finally starting to crack under all that weight. The sheer number of storylines up in the air from month to month mean that every issue brings only a little advancement (if any) to each, giving off a pacing vibe similar to Dragonball Z. Adding the “Dead Presidents” back-up tales to each issue only exacerbates that feeling; although at least their relevance to the main plot is beginning to become apparent, lately iZombie has just been spread too thin. Mike Allred’s artwork is still tops, and writer Chris Roberson’s got a really engrossing story bubbling here, if you could only piece it together. C+

Superboy #9: Though ostensibly a mainstream DC series, Jeff Lemire’s Superboy has taken us on a very strange journey. If anything, it’s channeling the far-out silver-age stories from Superboy’s Adventure Comics, though with a bit of a wink and a nod. This issue, Connor Kent and his friends explore a mysterious and sinister village hidden below Smallville, a village that spells doom for his town’s inhabitants. I’m really enjoying this series’ many off-the-wall twists and turns, and I get the sense Lemire is too, coming up with plot twists seemingly with abandon. On the art front, I feel Pier Gallo’s really grown into this book. His character designs are starting to resonate with me; I especially love his work on the villainous Parasite who pops up later in this issue. Overall, Superboy offers great sci-fi/fantasy action, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. A-

Sweet Tooth #23: The ongoing saga of Gus and Jepperd’s escape to Alaska continues in part four of “Endangered Species.” Here, the cracks in the group’s new lodging start to show themselves; meanwhile, a few of the traveling party begin to predict doom and gloom for the group if they don’t make it to Alaska, or, conversely, if they don’t stay where they’re at with Wally. This arc has seen Sweet Tooth venture into a place it hadn’t yet been able to go — a domestic environment. That’s allowed the interpersonal relationships of the group to really shine, which has produced some unexpected and emotional scenes. This arc’s also an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop — as readers who know our fiction, it’s a guarantee that something crazy is up with Wally, and we’re finally getting to glimpse that here. Sweet Tooth is never less than intriguing, well-crafted and beautifully drawn storytelling.  A

Transformers #21: Well, that was a disappointment. Transformers #21 serves to bridge the last story arc (“Space Opera”) with the giant Chaos crossover that’ll be taking over the title for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, it’s kind of a shoddy bridge. First, it’s divided into two prologues (or maybe one prologue and one epilogue) that have overlapping scenes, so the whole thing seems a little empty. Second, writer Mike Costa, usually excellent on this title, has adapted a strange narration device that makes it seem as though all the Transformers’ actions are being foretold by some ancient religious text. It’s totally awful and it absolutely does not fit with the sci-fi/action tone Transformers stories often need to sustain themselves. This isn’t Lord of the Rings; let’s not treat it as such. Though I’m certainly interested in the scenario being set up here, and as usual the character dialog and interactions were spot-on, the way in which this story was told really bothers me, and I hope Costa & IDW can correct the problem before Chaos kicks into gear next month. C

tags: batman, batman beyond, izombie, knight of vengeance, superboy, sweet tooth, transformers

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