Mild Mannered Reviews – Elsewhere in the DCU

Well, it would appear that I spoke too soon. Last review I mentioned that General Zod is back in the Phantom Zone, and we were done with Suicide Squad… Well it appears that Amanda Waller wasn’t quite done with Zod just yet. Meaning, neither are we…

I’d just like to add, that since I am really enjoying what DC is doing right now, I don’t read upcoming attractions and try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, to really enjoy my comic reading experience, hence the reason I assumed that Zod would not be returning anytime soon.

Now Superman has popped up in a couple of other books this last month. I’ll cover those appearances here in this review. Also be sure to keep an eye out for the Justice League vs Suicide Squad mini series coming soon, which I’ll also be reviewing for the Homepage. And be sure to keep an eye out for Titans #7 down the line, in which Superman is also set to appear.

Now, on to our reviews!

Mild Mannered Reviews – Red Hood & The Outlaws #4

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Red Hood & The Outlaws #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 9, 2016

Cover date: January 2017

“Dark Trinity” – Part 4

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Art: Dexter Soy

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Jason attempts to bond with Bizarro, and Bizarro starts to “play rough” with him. Being simple minded, Bizarro doesn’t trust Jason at first, until Jason finds a way to gain it by using the soft toy he brought to his cell earlier, a stuffed Superman plush toy. Artemis looks on, at the ready, in case she needs to step in, and rescue Jason, from her own holding cell.

Black Mask observes the ordeal from afar, pleased with how Jason was able to diffuse a possible difficult situation without the use of any weapon.

Later Black Mask talks with Jason over dinner, and takes him to his own hidden treasure room/armory. Artemis follows in the shadows, and listens as Black Mask explains that he did indeed posses the Bow of Ra that Artemis is looking for, but had sold it back to the country of Qurac for a profit. Artemis hears this news and leaves. Jason anticipates as much.

Black Mask goes on to explain, that he and Red Hood/Jason are kindred spirits, and that he knows that Gotham would be so much better, if the Jokers and the Two Faces, etc., weren’t in it. He reveals that he has known all along, that Jason secretly plans to take him down. Black Mask reveals the techno-organic virus that he had used to control the Mayor, a control that he lost due to Jason’s “assassination” attempt, which was really a cover to save the mayor’s life.

In the final scene, Black Mask reveals that he now posses the ultimate weapon to bring about his rule, as Bizarro crashes into the room, under obvious control of Black Mask through the techno-organic virus.

5Story – 5: What can I say about this book, that I haven’t said already? It is one of my absolute favorites, that DC has offered since Rebirth! Lobdell is doing such a fantastic job with it. I really enjoy the “slow burn” storytelling technique he uses on this book. I love the way in which he introduces elements early on, that come into play as the story progresses. Now you may say that all writers pretty much do that, but we are only 5 issues into this series, and already there have been so many call backs to elements set up in the Rebirth special as well as issue #1.

The best moment this issue wasn’t Bizarro’s child like nature, and rough housing with Jason, nor was it the flashbacks to Artemis’ quest for the Bow of Ra. No, it was Black Mask’s monologue to Jason about his upbringing. He shows Jason a family portrait of he and his parents. He explains that his parents didn’t pay any attention to him, or showed love. Hence why he does what he does now! Now it is easy to say that he being a neglected child, turned to a life of crime and killed his parents (similar to Lex Luthor Post COIE). Or you could look at in a way that Black Mask is an “Anti-Bruce Wayne”. I know as fans, we like to harp on about how Batman loves to cry over his dead parents. Here we see, just exactly what path Bruce could have gone down, had the Waynes not been so loving toward Bruce. Something Batman shares with Superman, loving parents that raised him right. I thought this was an excellent way to showcase why the good guys are good and the bad guys are not.

Another aspect I loved was the subtle undertone of how Jason is standing on a fine line of good and evil. He shares Black Mask’s views of a better Gotham without the “freaks”, but keeps to the code that Batman has set (barely at times).

Obviously Jason takes center stage in each issue, but we are slowly getting more and more on Artemis and Bizarro. And now with this issue, Black Mask.

Lastly I just want to mention that I love that Lobdell straight out swiped the name Techno-Organic virus straight from the X-Men.
5Art – 5: Dexter Soy… One of the best artists at DC right now! Soy has shades of Joe Maduriera in his art. And as I’ve always said, he has a really good grasp on how to use shadows to their best advantage.

The scene I mention in the story part of the review, where Black Mask shows Jason a family portrait, emulates the Wayne’s in so many ways. I love the point of view from the ceiling, looking down, gave that small scene such gravitas.

Soy’s character models remain on point. He never seems to deviate from it too far, even when he uses a more Manga influence in a particular scene. And he seems to be making the hulk like Bizarro work in the context of the story so far. I loved the final splash page. Really left me wanting more.

Veronica Gandini’s colors are as much a part of the art as Soy’s pencil and inks. She manages to really capture the mood of the scenes as well as extenuate the figure work Soy does with the art. They make an excellent art team!
5Cover Art – 5: The main cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Cam Smith is an interesting composition. Each character appears to show their strengths against a giant Black Mask head trying to swallow up our heroes.

The variant cover by Matteo Scaler and Moreno Dinisio however is absolutely brilliant! A great piece of art showing the dark nature of Bizzaro who always sits in Superman’s shadow!

Mild Mannered Reviews – Suicide Squad #5

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Suicide Squad #5

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 26, 2016

Cover date: December 2016

“Going Sane” – Part One: “Shock Treatment”

Writer: Rob William
Penciller: Jim lee
Inker: Scott Williams, Jonathan Glapion, Sandra Hope

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

The Suicide Squad go over their recent mission with Amanda Waller. While a team of scientists study the sphere which is another doorway to the Phantom Zone, currently holding General Zod.

Harley Quinn mesmerized by the sphere almost makes physical contact with it, only to be stopped by Deadshot.

In her cell, June Moon paints a picture, only to realize that the Enchantress influences her everyday life. She talks to Killer Croc, and it’s clear that there’s an unseen bond between them.

Agent Harcourt, General Flag and Katana observe as the scientist extract Zod from the Sphere. They explain that he has been mutated by it, hence his giant size. Flag expresses his disapproval of what’s going on, only to have Amanda Waller tell him that Zod is the ultimate weapon, she intends to control. Flag pulls a gun on Waller and fires…

To be continued…

4Story – 4: So I made a big deal last review that they seemingly wasted General Zod… I spoke to soon, and I apologize. I fell into the same trap that I at times criticize others for, and didn’t wait for the pay off.

This issue tied up some loose ends and went over a lot about the fist story arc of this series. The explanation that Zod has been mutated by the zone, hence his giant hulking appearance, to the cataloged Phantom Zone access points currently on Earth.

I like the budding friendship between June Moon and Killer Croc, even though I hate that Croc is now almost a mindless mutated animal. I really miss the old, Killer Croc…

Finally I’d like to mention the tone of this book. It wasn’t until this issue that I was able to put my finger on it. This book really feels like a 1990s Wildstorm series. Not just because Jim Lee is pencilling it. There are some shades of WildC.A.T.S as well as Team 7. I still like this book a lot, and am looking forward to the Justice League vs Suicide Squad mini series that’s coming soon. I am excited to see how Superman will react to Waller having Zod on her “team”. Definitely exciting times ahead.
5Art – 5: The art is still top notch. But what else do you expect from a Jim Lee book? I love the opening page, and the destruction that Zod is capable of bringing to Earth!

I also loved that Lee has adopted more elements of the movie costumes in the book. Deadshot just looks so much better than the garish chrome metal suit he had been sporting. Now if only he would redesign that helmet/mask.

As I mentioned before, this feels like a Wildstorm book from the 90s. Which is why Jim Lee seems to fit it like a glove. I really can’t wait for the trade of this book. I’m still old school. I prefer the tangible copy over the digital any day of the week.

Jonathan Glapion and Sandra Hope help with the inks this time out. But the change in inking styles is not at all distracting from the art.

Alex Sinclair is great as usual with his color palette.
5Cover Art – 5: This is a typical Jim Lee cover, of Jim Lee doing what he does best. Issue #4’s cover was the cheesecake to this one’s beefcake. Other than Hack, all the male characters take the stage, with a heavily shadowed general Zod in the back. I love it!

The Lee Bermejo variant of Killer Croc is good. But a tad misleading.

Mild Mannered Reviews – Cyrborg #3 and Cyborg #4

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Cyrborg #3 and Cyborg #4

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 2, 2016

Cover date: January 2017

“The Imitation of Life” Part 4 and Part 5

Writer: : John Semper Jr
Penciller: Will Conrad/Timothy Green II
Inker: Joseph Silver

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

The story so far… The lives of Vic Stone and the S.T.A.R. Labs crew are thrown into chaos following an assault by someone or something else that thinks it’s Cyborg’s true father!

4Story – 4: So far this book has been a pretty decent read. It is not at the level of what Redhood & The Outlaws is for me, but still one I enjoy reading.

The reason I’m covering this is because Superman makes an appearance in a dream sequence at the beginning of issue #3 along with the rest of the New 52 Justice League. This is also at the end of the issue, again in another dream sequence in Cyborgs mind, which leads into issue #4, where he has to take on the entire Justice League, be it in his subconscious.

The one aspect I really loved was that John Semper Jr treated Superman with the proper respect, and not just as a plot device. He wrote it as, Cyborg knew and reminded Superman that he is not a killer, and which lead him to realize that if Superman is indeed trying to fatally wound him, that it cant be real! Good series so far.
4Art – 4: The will Conrad issue, in which he takes on both pencils and inks is absolutely gorgeous to look at! Conrad is a great up and coming talent at DC, and hope he gets a high profile regular gig soon. Even though he renders a New 52 suited Superman, he completely captures the look Jim Lee gave it in his renditions!

Issue #4 is penciled by Timothy Green II. Though more cartoonish and not as slick and sharp as Conrad’s art from the previous issue, his storytelling technique shines through.
5Cover Art – 5: Some pretty awesome covers from series regular Paul Pelletier, but the most relevant for us is the Carlos Dánda cover for #3.

Mild Mannered Reviews – Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1

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Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 26, 2016

Cover date: December 2016

Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Colleen Doran

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

This was an anthology book of sorts, that showcased different artists and writers, telling various Wonder Woman tales. The story we focus on is the one that features Superman fighting a Kryptonite powered Titano. Titano beats on Superman, though it doesn’t phase the Man of Steel too much, and Wonder Woman comes along to handle the situation. Another teen character with powers comes along by the name of Star Blossom. She gets in Wonder Woman’s way a little, but later they both take down Titano, form a friendship and Wonder Woman explains that all things come in time.

3Story – 3: I like Gail Simone’s writing, but this little tale felt like it belonged in a children’s book. Maybe that’s who it was geared toward, maybe I’m just cynical. The whole friendship and Wonder Woman’s good nature seemed very heavy handed. I chose to think that Superman could have handled Titano, but stepped aside to let Diana help. Not the best use of Superman, I hate when a writer uses the character, and makes him seem weak and in distress. But this is a Wonder Woman book, I suppose she needed to shine in the story.
3Art – 3: I’m not all too familiar with Colleen Doran’s work. It was simply ok, didn’t feel too dynamic or anything. I don’t like to seem harsh on other artists styles or work, but this didn’t “wow” me in any way. Same as the story, it felt and looked rather cheesy!
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November 14, 2016 11:05 am

I enjoy this glimpse into the larger DCU and hope these reviews keep happening!

Kal L
Kal L
November 15, 2016 6:30 am
Reply to  edphlash

If you keep reading them, then I’m sure that Keith will keep writing them 🙂