Lestat’s Comic Book Review Round-Up - June Week 4, 2019

This week we look at 'The Flash', 'Detective Comics', 'Batman: Damned', and two Marvel comics

We end June with reviews of The Flash #73, Detective Comics #1006, the long-delayed Batman: Damned #3, War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3 and Star Wars: Age of Rebellion - Darth Vader #1.

The fourth chapter in The Flash: Year One story is all about Turtle. You thought Barry got rid of him, but you're wrong. The evil villain is back, and he's got a sad origin story to tell. It's not the most innovative origin we've ever read—it's a mix of Barry's and, weirdly, Spider-Man's the Lizard (they're both named after reptilian creatures, so there's a connection?)—but there's something really compelling about Turtle as a character. Maybe it's because he's used his weaknesses as his strength, or perhaps it’s because he’s a little different from all the other speed-based villains the Flash goes up against.

Whatever it is, the award for best cliff-hangers in an arc goes to this one, because each issue ends with a panel that will make you want to read the next one. I like a lot of this arc so far, though they need to write Iris West better. She's a great character, if they would stop making every part of her characterisation about Barry. She's much more than that, so hopefully Iris will come to the fore soon.

'Detective Comics #1006'

Detective Comics #1006 (Credit: DC Comics)

Detective Comics moves on to a brand new arc—this time Batman is up against the Spectre. While out on a nightly patrol, Batman is confronted by this ephemeral being. He needs the World’s Greatest Detective to find a potential murderer, but the Spectre’s ways are far too violent. Batman only agrees to help him if they steer away from bloodshed.

I haven’t met Spectre in comics before, but his character design in this issue makes him look like a magical version of the Green Arrow. He even says Arrow’s iconic line on the cover. The look and feel of this entire issue were very traditional; it felt like reading an old school Batman comic. I didn’t mind it actually, but once again the villains are a cult. We just concluded one cult-lite story in Detective Comics, and now there’s another one? Can’t Batman face any solo enemies who are just as interesting? Is this a lack of imagination on DC’s part, or is it that we definitely need fresh blood creating stories about the Dark Knight?

'Batman: Damned #3'

Batman: Damned #3 (Credit: DC Comics)

Remember the needlessly controversial series Batman: Damned? Well, it’s back with a third issue, and most of its meandering pages continue to make absolutely no sense. It’s all a set up for the denouement, which makes me want to pick up the next installment in the series. Assuming there is another one.

Batman wakes up in a coffin, and is rescued by another magical being, before Constantine shows up with his pedantic musings. His narration is only a little less annoying than usual in this issue, but honestly, most of these pages are simply an excuse for Lee Bermejo to flaunt his exquisite art. The details are phenomenal; the landscapes and characters pop off the page. My one criticism would be how inconsistent Constantine’s face is, but I’ll let it slide. The other problem is Zatanna’s costume—it’s very impractical and uncomfortable looking, especially when it appears in a book with such realistic art. It’s obvious Bermejo has never had to wear high-waisted smalls that dig into you.

This series should have been a one-shot graphic novel, because in its current state, it’s impossible to fathom the point of the many sub-plots. What’s Enchantress up to (is that even Enchantress?), why are the Waynes written as a destructive couple, what is Deadman’s role in this, and how does Zatanna fit in? So many questions.

'War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3'

War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3 (Credit: Marvel Comics)

As someone who hasn’t followed the entire War of the Realms arc, I can still understand the gravity of what the Marvel universe has felt.

In the conclusion of this arc, the X-Men win, but they lose so much. It doesn’t matter how many people the mutants save, they seem to lose more than they ever bargained for. Some of the characters still standing after this war are already dead in the main story arc. There’s something so melancholic about reading this series. It’s not action, it’s all emotion.

One thing I don’t understand about the author is his newfound insistence on writing his male villains as really skeevy. Not sure if that was his intent with Sabretooth in this issue, but it read as such. You just wouldn’t get a male villain claiming a male hero for himself, irrespective of what his intentions are. We need to move beyond this especially in X-Men comics.

Darth Vader is the last installment in the Age of Rebellion arc, and we follow the Sith Lord in his early days as a villain. He’s still struggling with his losses, and is being ground under the boot of the Emperor. As if we didn’t hate the Emperor enough, he tries to teach Vader a lesson in this issue by, essentially, humiliating him. I think now that us Star Wars fans have an emotional connection to who Vader used to be—Anakin Skywalker—it’s hard to stomach his treatment at the hands of Palpatine.

This issue lacked a bit of punch mostly because we kind of know that Darth is a ruthless killer. So what is this book trying to say exactly? As a teaching moment for Vader, the denouement is more contrived than anything else. Perhaps there needed to be more build up for the antagonist, or maybe the story is just lost on these characters because they’re all villains and a threat to the galaxy.

This segment of the series got better, but this final issue didn’t meet our expectations.

We’re back in July with reviews of new, old and ongoing comic titles.

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Lestat de Lioncourt

When not dreaming of a one-way trip to Coruscant, I'm usually staring at a blank page, hoping my articles write themselves. 

Website: lightspeedwriter.wordpress.com

Twitter: @EnsignLestat58

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