The school year has started again, which means I’m once again trying to take any opportunity outside those hours to remind myself of the things I love about my life. Which means getting some graphic novels into my eyeholes. So a couple of new purchases, a trip to the local library to snaffle anything new they might have picked up, and an old favourite hit this mini-review round up!
A DC staple since the early ’60s, consistently a JLA member, teamed-up with any vaguely supernatural/dark/creepy/weird character on a ludicrously regular basis… and somehow, Zatanna never really makes the A list. In short, she’s a character tailor-made for Paul Dini’s signature combination of wackiness, lightness, and humanisation. And it works, for the most part. This isn’t particularly ground-breaking stuff, but what it is is eminently readable. It’s fun and fluffy, but fluffy with a real sense of darkness and danger underneath, all handled with the lightness of touch that is a Dini specialty. There’s a solid cast of supporting characters, potential for a wide range of unique antagonists, and a sense of fun that’s often missing from the grim-and-gritty titles I lean towards. It’s fun, showcases the fact that Zatanna has an A-grade power set and deserves a wider audience, and while it won’t live forever in the memory, does exactly what comic books should do: make you happy.
Justice League International, Book One: Born Again
Believe it or not, but there was a time when nobody was interested in the Justice League: the long-maligned nadir of the ‘Detroit Years’ lingers on in the bile ducts of fans everywhere (They weren’t that bad: more on that issue to come). And believe it or not, there came a time when the Justice League was fun, and interesting, and not a beige cookie cutter assemblage of cardboard cutouts doing boring shit over and over again in an interminable sequence, like they do, oooooh, say, now. And this is those times: the ludicrous, hilarious, utterly absurd Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League International. Okay, some of the gags don’t hold up as well as they used to, and some of the sexual politics are, shall we say, somewhat basic. But this is still, for me, the gold standard of Justice League comics: a book that went where nobody else was even thinking about, that did things nobody thought should be done in a book of its type, and that just bloody well entertained as hard as it possibly could, at every possible moment. And if you don’t believe that I’m right, and that this is the best Justice League comic ever printed, I have two words for you:
Symbiote Spiderman: Alien Reality
What even is this? I mean, I’m as much a fan of Peter David as the next guy: his runs on Aquaman and The Incredible Hulk are iconic. But oh, so often do I pick up a PAD book to find a fan-service nostalgiafest with zero actual ideas or net worth, and damn but if this isn’t the bottom of the barrel. A by-the-numbers Spiderman revenge story with absolutely no logical basis, that doesn’t even involve Spiderman, but rather his symbiote suit who teams up with a Dr Strange who happily betrays every trust Peter Parker ever put in him, for no other reason than…… you know what, I hope David was well paid. I mean, this was published in 2019, for (pardon the pun) Pete’s sake: does anyone give a damn about a previously-untold pre-Venom Black suit story anymore? Seriously, you think I’d learn: Spiderman is a burned out narrative these days. There simply just does not seem to a story worth telling anymore. What a waste.
Checkmate Book 1
Now this is the shit! I’ve ranted before — more than once — about how much I love this title. And I’m right. Intrigue, dark shadows, politics and spandex intermingling, complex plots, complex characters, compromised characters compromising other compromised characters for compromised goals…. hey, it’s my version of comfort eating, and it’s frigging great.
Dark Knights Metal: Dark Knights Rising
What even is this?, part two. Batmans (Batmen?) from multiple alternative Universes, which are somehow below the reality line and whose destruction is use to fuel the multiple Universes we know and exist within (still with me) are recruited by a sort of dark God to destroy and occupy the ‘light’ multiple Universe Earths in order to stop the destruction of the ‘dark’ Earths. And just like that, we somehow have a quite literal anti-JLA of evil Batmen (Batmans?) — I mean, seriously, there’s a Flash Batman, an Aquaman one, a Wonder Woman one, and on and on — and something will undoubtedly happen, but as this is a series of origin stories designed to bring the, uh, ‘team’ together, you won’t know unless you shell out more cash on another volume. The stories themselves are, well, they’re okay in a cookie cutter Elseworlds kind of way, but given the talent involved, it’s surprising how similar they all feel in the end.