Mild Mannered Reviews – Elsewhere in the DCU

Welcome to another installment of our look into the wider DCU as we cover appearances by Superman and his supporting characters in other books.

I’d like to apologies firstly for an error on my part. I had originally written a review for Titans #7 months ago, but somehow I forgot to add it to the last installment of these reviews. It was bought to my attention by a well-known member from the Homepage. I have added it to this review, so without any further ado, let’s get into it.

Mild Mannered Reviews – Batman #18

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Batman #18

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 1, 2017

Cover date: May 2017

“I Am Bane”: Part 2 – “Day Two”

Writer: Tom King
Penciller: David Finch
Inker: Danny Miki

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Superman flies to the Fortress of Solitude. Batman is already inside. Batman asks Superman if he could leave Nightwing, Redhood and Robin in his care at the Fortress to keep them safe from Bane.

Back in Gotham, Alfred sneaks the Psycho Pirate into the holding cell of Gotham Girl, to undo the damage he did to her psyche.

Commissioner Gordon is attacked by Bane’s henchman, with Batwing arriving to help. Bane takes down the rest of Batman allies and calls him out.

3Story – 3: I like what Tom King has done with the title so far. It’s not perfect, but it’s been an entertaining read. With that said, there is NO WAY that Batman can get into the Fortress of Solitude without Superman… Ever! I know he is considered as the best on the planet at anything, but I’m sorry, batman can’t get into the Fortress undetected, let alone dragging three bodies in stasis chambers with him.

While we are on the subject of the Fortress, it seems that this Fortress is meant to have the same key as the one Superman had in All Star Superman. It worked in that story, I just don’t think it fits in too well with this universe. And if that key is meant to be as heavy as the one in All Star Superman, there is no way in hell that Batman is getting into the Fortress by himself!

The reason I didn’t score this lower than a 3 is, like I mentioned before, Tom King has done a decent job with the title so far, and even though I may not like some of the characterizations, it’s not a bad read.

5Art – 5: I had always liked Finch’s art. He has a really dark and moody style, with a lot of grittiness to boot. He had always seemed like a perfect fit for Batman. Though he has worked on the title on and off for a few years now, I’m glad to see him back on the character.

His Superman has always been a little hit or miss for me, as I find that Finch struggles with the face every so often. He did ok with him this issue, though he was mainly in shadow. I’m also not sure whether it was Tom King or Finch himself that added in the All Star Superman key to the Fortress, though it doesn’t really fit in this universe, Finch did a good rendition of it.

I’m really glad he has gone back to simply pencilling, as his work on Forever Evil wasn’t the best. With that, I must acknowledge Danny Miki’s awesome inks. He makes for a great team with Finch, and is one of my more preferred inkers for him.

Jordie Bellaire provided the colors. They have a muted feel to them, reminiscent of the live action films, but the one thing I loved the most, even though it was an error, was the fact Bellaire gave Superman his red boots back.

4Cover Art – 4: I like the main cover by Finch more than the variant by Tim Sale. I just don’t think Tim Sale’s style is a good fit for this new batman costume look. Though very similar to how he usually renders it, just doesn’t look right.
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Mild Mannered Reviews – Titans #7

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Titans #7

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 11, 2017

Cover date: March 2017

“Home Sweet Home”

Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Lee Weeks

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

The Titans (Wonder Girl, Flash and Arsenal) fight a threat in their new home city of New York. Through some good team work, they are able to bring the giant foe down. Flash and Arsenal argue over collateral damage, as Wonder Girl breaks it up. Just then they realize they have a visitor, as Superman floats above. He tells the Titans he heard about the trouble, and thought he’d come lend a helping hand, but since the Titans have taken care of it, he acknowledges the Titans, tells Flash “It’s good to see you again Wally” and flies off.

Flash startled, is taken aback by the fact that Superman remembers him, and chases him down to talk. Superman thinks Flash wants to race him, speeds up, and the two heroes head across country.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Titans at the new Titans Tower go over all the legalities of their new home with their appointed lawyer from the city.

Meanwhile in Iowa, Flash manages to get in front of Superman and asks him to stop, so they can talk. Flash asks how is it that Superman can remember him, when the world forgot about him as he fell in the time stream. Superman tells him that he remembers a different world, before the one now. Flash states that time had been “edited”. Both heroes acknowledge a tampering with reality. Superman asks Flash if he has lost his wife Linda Park to the “tampering,” Flash replies that she is still around, but remembers nothing of the life they had. Superman tells Flash that the potential for love is still there, and that if she is worth it, he could start a new life with her. He encourages him by telling him, that he can outrun Superman, so anything else shouldn’t be too difficult. He tells Flash that he is more than welcome anytime to just come and talk with him, he then shares his own secret, that he and Lois are still married and have a son together. He tells Flash that he doesn’t trust very many people with that knowledge, and that he has the utmost faith in him. He ends with asking Flash if he’s up for a rematch, as he had been taking it easy on him so far.

In a diner, Arsenal and Wonder Girl discuss the possible feelings that they may have for one another, and then head back to the Tower.

Finally at the end of the day, the Titans are gathered at the top of Titans Tower as Flash arrives and tells the team that he “went for a run with a friend”. As Superman floats down to the awestruck team and tells them that “This reminds me of the old days”.

5Story – 5: What a great issue. I have always enjoyed Abnett’s writing, but I feel he really outdid himself here. This really felt to me like an old Marv Wolfman and George Perez issue. So much heart and he was able to capture the voice of each character so well.

You may notice that I wrote a rather detailed synopsis, I did so, so that I may be able to do the issue justice. The main plot thread of this issue was obviously the conversation between Wally and Clark. They are both “refugee’s” of the pre Flashpoint DCU. So there is a definite kinship over this, but let’s not forget, Wally fought alongside Clark in the JL for a number of years, as well as being the only Flash of the DCU while Barry had perished in the Crisis. Years ago, I had read an interview that Grant Morrison had given to Wizard Magazine, as to how Wally sees the rest of his teammates in the JL. In it, Morrison claimed that Wally looks at Superman as a “favorite uncle”. That relationship is clearly evident here. Abnett manages to write Clark as the role model that he should always be portrayed as, someone that all the time in the world for his friends and family.

I cannot say enough good things about this issue, so I won’t lay it on too thick. It’s a great issue, and treats Superman with the proper respect that he is deserves. I loved the encouragement he gives Wally, by saying, “If you can beat me in a race, nothings too hard”. It’s made me want to see Wally pop up in the regular Superman books from time to time, just to chat!

Titans as a book has been a good read since its relaunch. The family dynamic is refreshing and nostalgic at the same time. I love that Tempest is frustrated with all the legalities of the team residing in New York, the possible budding romance between Roy and Donna and Dick and Lilith being the voices of reason. And that’s just this issue.

My favorite aspect of this book has to be that the Titans as a team are investigating “the missing 10 years,” and trying to find out what happened to the timeline. So it’s only appropriate that Superman turned up, seeing as how he and Wally are from the “old world”. I see that over in the Batman and Flash titles, they are establishing the fact that Batman and Flash (Barry) are also looking into these matters. If that is the case, then Wally and Clark really need to be involved also.

I absolutely loved this issue, and I really implore you, if you have been following Superman since Rebirth, pick up this book if you already haven’t.

5Art – 5: Lee Weeks has developed into one of my favorite artists as of late. He has a nice moody style with some 80s and 90s sensibilities. His figure work is grounded in reality, with the exception of some moments, but even then, it isn’t cartoonishly exaggerated. What I like most is the body language and facial expressions. As I said, he works to keep his characters looking real, and in it, he is able portray real emotion to them. I love the fact that at times, his Superman looks a little like Dan Jurgens. This may be because he drew Dan’s Lois and Clark series. But there definitely is a Jurgens feel to him.

Weeks also makes the costumes for every character work too. Though he did not color the book, his art makes the blue boots on Superman’s suit look pretty good, as he uses a lot of shading to disguise the fact that they are the same color in certain scenes.

The scene that introduces Superman to the story, as he floats arriving a little late as the Titans take care of the Giant adversary in the beginning evokes the scene From Man of Steel (film) but more so of Kingdom Come when Superman returns at the end of book one. I also loved the wide shot of the Titans looking up from Titans Tower as Superman floats down toward them. How you can show a sense of awe in multiple characters in a wide shot like that is truly a mastery of the art form.

I also really like the way he manages his panels per page, a really good flow that doesn’t trip up the narrative in any way.

I mentioned that Weeks has a moody style, this can probably be attested to his use of heavy inks in certain parts of the page. I feel it gives the world he renders a little more gravitas.

Lastly the coloring, Carlos M. Mangual’s palette is a little muted, but I think it gives the book a nice personal feel. The scenes between Clark and Wally in the fields of Iowa are very warm and soft, whereas Manhattan has a slightly colder and grittier feel. It’s expertly done.

5Cover Art – 5: The main cover of Wally and Clark racing is amazing. They both have smiles as they race. It gives you the feeling that these two have done this before. Also, look close, Superman is in the lead. I especially like that Wally doesn’t have all the unnecessary lightning all over his body like Barry seems to always sport these days. The variant by Nick Bradshaw sadly doesn’t hold up as well.

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Mild Mannered Reviews – Red Hood & The Outlaws #7

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Red Hood & The Outlaws #7

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 8, 2017

Cover date: April 2017

“How do you solve a problem like Bizarro?”

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art: Dexter Soy

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Redhood is shutting down all of Black Mask’s drug cartels in Gotham, with the help of Bizarro. During the battle with the drug pushers, Killer Croc appears and throws Redhood across the warehouse, only to be caught by Bizarro. To Redhood’s shock Bizarro freezes Crocs head, and then punches it clean off. Only then it is revealed that Croc was in fact a robot. Redhood asks Bizarro to be honest and tell him if he knew that Croc was indeed a robot, and that was why he used excessive force. Bizarro says, “Sure. Bizarro knew… Me Knew.”

Later in the Outlaw’s hideout, Jason asks Artemis what she thinks of the whole ordeal, she tells him that he is not crazy for being angry at Bizarro, and then shows him all the computer files they liberated from Black mask, which show the procedures that Lexcorp went through to try and clone Superman, giving birth to Bizarro instead. The video clips show how Bizarro’s previous to this one all got violent and killed the lab staff. Then show Lex Luthor ordering the destruction of all the rest of the Bizarro’s.

Jason feeling all the turmoil of what to do with Bizarro goes to the batcave to visit Alfred, who gives him a pep talk as only Alfred can. Jason asks Alfred not to tell Batman he visited, as he “borrows” something from the vault in the batcave.

Later Jason and Bizarro head over to a lake to chill. The two of them lie down and stare at the sky. Bizarro opens up to Jason and tells him what he feels and how he knows he’s a clone of Superman, but hopes to one day be something more. Jason during this talk contemplates shooting Bizarro in the head with a piece of Kryptonite he took from the batcave. After hearing Bizarro’s testimony, Jason decides against killing Bizarro, and the two stay and watch the sunset over the lake.

5Story – 5: I know that Lobdell is sort of the whipping boy amongst the fan community, but the man sure knows how to write characters with conflict. I’m sort of biased, as I was a fan of his 90s X-Men work. I think Lobdell is great with the secondary characters such as these. He has more freedom to experiment with certain themes than he would say with the primary characters such as Superman.

I loved the turmoil that Jason was going through this issue. Knowing that Bizarro is dangerous, and that he should act early, by removing him from the equation, rather than letting him live and risk him becoming a mindless savage bent on killing. We obviously knew that he wouldn’t actually kill him, seeing as he is an integral part of the dark trinity, but watching Jason ultimately decide against killing him, made me feel what an individual would feel that this decision will most likely come and bite him on the butt later in the near future.

Bizarro’s characterization was also handled quite well. He has always seemed childlike, here though, it’s as if he is a mentally handicapped individual knowing what he suffers from, yet smart enough to explain that he is different and that certain circumstances are out of his control. My apologies if this seems offensive to anyone, it was the best way I could describe the point I was trying to make.

I’m really enjoying this book, and looking forward to what Lobdell has in store for us next.

4Art – 4: We don’t have series regular Dexter Soy this issue, but Mirko Colak & Tom Derenik deliver a solid issue. I loved the way they framed certain scenes, gave it a cinematic look, almost like storyboards. This is evident with Jason’s introduction at the beginning, where Jason is sitting with his feet on the table, telling the drug lords to get out of town.

I did miss Dexter Soy’s crisp line work and stark shadows, but the soft approach to that Mirko Colak & Tom Derenik bought, was better suited to the more subtle side of the story, where Bizarro explains to Jason he doesn’t want to be like the Bizarro’s that came before him.

Veronica Gandini played a large role with her color palette this issue. Really set the mood, and complimented the washed art style.

4Cover Art – 4: I like the variant a lot more than the regular cover, only because it has a moodier style, especially in the body language of the trio. However the main cover really nails the subject of the issue.

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Mild Mannered Reviews – Green Lanterns #15

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Green Lanterns #15

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 18, 2017

Cover date: March 2017

“A Day In The Life”

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artists: Tom Derenick, Miguel Mendonca & Scott Hanna

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Simon and Jess have a morning coffee at a diner. Jess struggles with her anxiety a little, but soon enough get a call from the JL to help with a problem.

JL fight a “sea monster”, Jess is able to save a submarine that’s been thrown her way by the monster, long enough for Superman to lend a helping hand.

Later both Simon and Jess help around the country with some natural disasters. They get to Washington to stop a villain named The Gambler trying to rob a museum, again Jess struggles with her anxiety and inability to feel like she is worthy of being a Green Lantern. Jess freezes at the site of the Gamblers gun and is knocked down by the Gambler. Simon stops him. Later Simon unable to understand how Jess anxiety works and insensitively makes a comment that upsets Jess.

Jess continues to struggle with her condition for the rest of the day, until the following morning, Simon makes her breakfast in her home and apologizes for what he said to her. He tells her that he sees her struggling but fighting through it every day and winning.

We end with the two of them having a moment of mutual respect, just as they get an alert from their rings… Green Lantern business!

5Story – 5: This was a good issue, a nice little break from the story lines preceding it, with a close up of what it is like to be in Jessica Cruz shoes as a Lantern and someone that is dealing with severe anxiety.

This one hit home for me a little, as I have a really good friend that suffers from the same condition. Over nearly the last 10 years, I have watched him and his struggles to go through day to day activities that most take for granted. Sam Humphries really illustrated through the story just what it’s like for someone that struggles with something such as this.

As I have mentioned before, I came back to monthly comics because of Rebirth, and I started pretty much reading all the DC titles. So I wasn’t too familiar with Jess Cruz as a character, until I started reading this title. I must say, I know that both DC and Marvel are trying their hardest to make their characters as diverse as possible, and DC really hit a home run with Jess Cruz! Not only because she is a Latina, but the fact that she deals with a mental illness, that not only affects her super hero career, but also her day to day life!

I really wanted to cover this issue not just because of Superman’s small appearance, but I wanted to highlight just what a great character Jess Cruze is, for those that may not be too familiar with her. Now as for Superman, Sam Humphries really handled his small appearance well. Superman has always been a team player when it comes to the JL, but he’s also there to pick up the slack and help out a fellow teammate when they need it. Him helping Jess the way he did, is nothing short of classic Superman characterization.

5Art – 5: Tom Derenick, Miguel Mendonca & Scott Hanna made for a good team this issue. They managed to capture the big widescreen action that’s expected from JL, and the small quite moments between Jess and her thoughts of her struggles to finally the intimate moments between Jess and Simon, though not in a romantic way, but being best friends and partners.

There are not too many Superman shots, but the ones that are there, they are pretty awesome. The sea monster looked like a giant yellow version of the creature from the black lagoon. Still awesome though.

Finally the coloring, Blond does a fantastic job setting the tone and mood with the colors. I don’t think if you were to try and read this book without the colors, it would quite have the same gravitas as it did.

5Cover Art – 5: The covers were pretty good, both of them. Though this is a Jess Cruz centric issue, having the JL on the cover gave you a sense of what to expect.
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Kal L
Kal L

batman breaks in to the fortress… How stupid!