This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Bankshot #1, Batman #25, Aquaman #25, Conan the Slayer #10, Robyn Hood: Tarot One-Shot, and WWE #6… be warned, there may be spoilers…
Normally I hate cold beginnings, not knowing anything about the characters or the situations, so yeah, origin stories are not my favorites. It’s nice knowing how it all started, yeah, but just tell me, and get to the real story, ya know? Bankshot got me however by being very cinematic in its vibe and storytelling. I didn’t feel like I was being set up, I felt like I was watching a movie or a TV show. The flow pulled me in, but the action and developing plot kept me.
Bankshot is the story of Marcus King, a man who might be a lot of things – a deserter, a mercenary, a billionaire, a terrorist, a modern day Robin Hood – but in the end, he’s a guy who likes to punch people and blow shit up. And like Wolverine or Liam Neeson, he’s very good at what he does. This creator-owned Dark Horse project from Alex de Campi and ChrisCross with colors by Snakebite is sharp, vivid, and compelling – it does not hold back. Recommended.
While it was pretty much a given that we would not get an answer to ‘the big proposal,’ what we did get in Batman #25 was damned impressive. Tom King not only writes a good Batman, he’s a damned fine writer as well. Any doubters should look at his late Vision series over at Marvel, and especially his novel, A Once Crowded Sky, which I loved, and did not realize until recently he’d written. He is a master of the craft, and of this genre of the craft.
I should admit up front, that Frank Gorshin is my Riddler. I have never seen a comic book version (or animated or film or TV) that lives up to his performance, his deviousness, his dangerousness, and I have never been fond of the idea of turning him into a sociopath either. He is a very smart criminal, whose obsession for riddle clues are his downfall. I guess with the new renaissance the character has been getting for the Gotham TV series, it was time to put a new attempt and spin on the comics counterpart.
King does this wonderfully in this issue. I still don’t like the idea of the Riddler as a killer, indirect or in threat, but I like this Riddler a lot. Though jailed, the police use him to help solve the puzzles of Gotham’s myriad psychopaths, including the Joker, which initiates the story’s thrust. The Riddler gets out and confronts the homicidal harlequin, and the confrontation is one of the best villain exchanges I’ve seen in years and perfectly within character. I loved it.
As the first chapter of “The War of Jokes and Riddles” and a tale told in flashback, don’t hold your breath on that proposal, but I’m looking forward to more of this super-villain war and Tom King as well. Highly recommended.
Aquaman celebrates his twenty-fifth issue of his DC Rebirth series with a new direction, always a bad idea. If something works, don’t mess with it, and worse yet, don’t muck with it to match some upcoming movie version. Aquaman shouldn’t look like Jason Momoa, Jason Momoa should look like Aquaman! Enough, with Aquaman, we fans must be loyal and take what we get, hopefully things will turn around soon and we’ll get our hero back again.
Here, Aquaman is dead, or at least believed dead and hiding in lower slower Atlantis. There is a new king, Corum Rath, and if that’s not the name for a bad guy, I can’t think of a better one at the moment. His role as a political leader and the noted syllables in his name might intend a real life parallel as Rath begins to round up undesirables. In the lower depths, Aquaman is taking a tip from his friend Batman and terrorizing a crime lord named Krush down there, and thwarting Rath’s round ups… as The Aquaman. I find this curious, do the people of Atlantic not know his superhero name? I could be wrong here, this is DC, and continuity changes like the wind these days.
I’m not fond of another new beginning or reboot, or reset, or however one might interpret this, and I’m not sure where the story is going other than a Trump analogy, but I will say I do like the art of Stjepan Sejic. The art has a mood, a royalty to it, reminding me more of a mix of The Atlantis Chronicles mixed with Game of Thrones. It’s all cool, and perhaps fitting, but I’m more of a superhero Aquaman guy than a royal soap opera Aquaman guy. Worth reading, and a good starting point for new readers.
Next from Dark Horse we have the latest comics iteration of Robert E. Howard’s Conan, this time as the title implies, he’s a slayer, rather than a barbarian or king, or I guess technically he’s all three, but semantics aside, this is a good comic. Not for the first time since I’ve been doing this column, writer Cullen Bunn surprises me with his storytelling ability. He rocks almost every genre he attempts. His narrative prose mixed with dialogue and breathtaking action make this Conan comic one of the best I’ve seen in years, recommended.
The more books by Zenescope I read, the more books by Zenescope I want to read. They’re a little like Archie Comics. Everyone thinks they know what Archie is all about, but once they start sampling what they have to offer, they learn there’s a lot they don’t know and have dismissed. And so it goes with Zenescope – they rock, and they’re not just cheesecake and fairy tales. Entrenched in the continuity of the Grimm Fairy Tales universe, but not too complex to understand or catch on, this one-shot follows Robyn Hood, a young vigilante who out-Arrows Green Arrow, in her battle with the ancient Order of the Tarot, along with Mystere. Yes, it’s to be continued, but it’s a nice introduction to the characters and mythos, get on board.
This comic surprised me last time, as writer Dennis Hopeless pulled me into a story about wrestlers in the wrestling world, two things I really could care less about, and got me to like the comic. Here in WWE #6, we get more of the same, and this time, some of it is even in the ring. When it all comes down to it, this is a noir story, and the characters just happen to be wrestlers. I feel a bit like a non-comic reader seeing Marvel movies and still enjoying them. Bottom line, this is a great comic, recommended for everyone, wrestling fans or not.