Serials: Doomsday Clock #3, Daredevil #597

Daredevil #597
by Soule, Landini, Milla

This issue is in two parts: in part 1, Wilson Fisk makes the announcement of his Deputy Mayor, Matt Murdock, who gets adjusted to his new office (he has a stack of backload documents to review -- and he doesn't get them in Braille, he has a reader to , and in part 2, Daredevil (almost) gets taken in by the authorities.

The civilian scenes are woefully under-colored and under-drawn, and the story suffers for it. A street comic like Daredevil deals very well with the stark colors of night and shadows, but during the day, solid colors are used too often to portray the realistic lighting of Matt Murdock's day job. Foggy is jarringly referenced off of Daredevil's Elden Henson, and the occasional panel of Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock and D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk elicits an uncanny valley that jumps you out of the story.

All said and done, it's a solid serial script, a little decompressed, with enough meat for 20 pages, and a cliffhanger to keep you going. And let's say it's a good thing Ron Garney will be back in 598.

Doomsday Clock #3
by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson

This issue raises more questions then it answers. Where #2's back-matter focused on "The Supermen Theory," a theory that over 97% of metahumans are American because of government-sanctioned experiments, #3's back-matter focuses on the JSA, a team I'm not familiar with too much, so it goes mostly over my head.

Other different scenes play out, between Batman/Rorschach, the Mime/Marionette in a bar, and Comedian/Veidt. It's a setup issue built out of Easter Eggs for fans, so much so that is even doing an annotation for the series, if you want to get anything out of it.

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DC Universe: Rebirth

DC Universe: Rebirth #1
by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez

Geoff Johns became the chief creative officer at DC for a number at reasons. But if you just look at his bibliography, you can see why. He wrote a stable of Green Lantern and The Flash stories, reviving hidden meaning in the lore established in the past, and established a framework of stories in what were some of DC Comics' otherwise-mundane history. For example, in Green Lantern: Rebirth, he rewrote Parallax -- at the time, the evil alter-ego of Hal Jordan -- into a yellow energy creature that embodied fear, that had possessed Hal. The original story (Zero Hour: Crisis in Time) was still true; readers hadn't wasted their time with that miniseries. It was just a wrinkle to the story now, that allowed a whole new story to tell.

Johns does the same thing here. It seemed that, at the time of the New 52 reboot, superheroes were miraculously de-aged. It was the impetus to tell new stories with heroes who were otherwise old, as much as 3/4 of a century old! People didn't know which stories were true anymore, and which stories weren't. The general consensus was that they were still true, but that brought a furrow to readers' brows, when Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) was never crippled by the Joker in The Killing Joke, but continued to be Batgirl. Or when Wally West was actually black, instead of caucasian as in the pre-New 52. The New 52 just wasn't reconcilable with a number of past stories.

DC seems ready to address these contradictions now. The "New 52" Wally is actually another nephew of Barry's with the same name, and the "legacy" Wally, the one that eventually became the Flash when Barry died, is trapped in the Speed Force! This 80-page giant takes us on a five-part tour through the DC Universe as Wally tries to escape the Speed Force, and warn people that The New 52 didn't happen because of the events in Flashpoint. They happened because of someone's interference.

As if to say "Oops" DC (re-)introduces to us the vestiges of stories it had seemed to ignore. Ryan Choi, who had replaced Ryan Palmer as the Atom, and Jaime Reyes, who replaced Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle. Green Arrow and Black Canary, who were married pre-New 52, now barely know each other.

Wally jumps from person to person, each one failing to remember him, each one failing to save him from the Speed Force. Until Barry does. In a flash, Barry remembers the adventures they had together as Flash and Kid Flash, when Wally joined the Teen Titans, and those other stories. Not much else happens there. We're left to wonder exactly who tampered with the DC Universe timeline, as we're shown a clock reconstructed on Mars, presumably Dr. Manhattan of Watchmen fame.

DC Universe: Rebirth rebooted the full DC lineup, again, back to #1. Superman got a new #1, as did Batman, Wonder Woman, and so on. You name it, they rebooted it. But, it seems that it's still the same characters as we left them, from the New 52 numbering. They're just carrying on with new #1s, but some people (The Flash) are aware of their pre-new 52 lives. DC continues to rejigger their continuity, but did it really need any rejiggering? Do we need another universes-spanning event that rewrites past events? How many times are we going to (re-)hear our heroes' origins? Why do new stories need to re-tell old stories to work?

One could imagine this being a gateway comic for anyone, a great jumping-on point for someone new to comics. . . it certainly isn't. There's nods and flashbacks to a host of other DC stories, the visual vocabulary evoking stories like Barry's cry for help in Crisis on Infinite Earths, the 9-page grid of Watchmen, and the first issue cover to Flashpoint, to name a few. If you haven't read up on these, you're already three laps behind the readers who have.

For those obsessed with continuity, and with fitting in comic books year-by-year, this is the comic for you. In other words, for the super-fan, this is your comic. For everyone else, well, at least there are new #1's so you can jump on whenever you like. For me, I just want good stories.

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Daredevil: Back in Black Volume 1: Chinatown

Daredevil Back in Black Volume 1: Chinatown
by Charles Soule, Gorun Sudzuka, and Ron Garney 

Did Daredevil have a prior black costume? Ah, he did. There was the red-on-black costume of "Shadowland," and, even before that, the armored costume with red-panels-on-black-undersuit.

I haven't read any of those, so Soule's run marks my first "black costume" Daredevil read. After Mark Waid and Chris Samnee concluded their wonderful DD run, Soule took over from runs on She-Hulk and Death of Wolverine. Daredevil once again went "back in black," to fit in with the tone of the title. Gone was the day of Matt Murdock stopping to smell the unique scents of each strawberry. This Matt's all business, so he wore his business suit.
Soule introduces a couple of major changes to DD's world: Matt as Prosecutor (instead of Defense attorney) and the apprentice of "Blindspot," an (illegal) immigrant named Samuel Chung who wants to protect his neighborhood, Chinatown, in the same way that Daredevil protects Hell's Kitchen. In a bit of social commentary, Sam has created an invisibility suit and dubbed himself "Blindspot," similar to how his community is viewed in society (or not).

The five issues here involve the story of "Tenfingers," a man who escaped from the undead ninja cult, The Hand, and took some of their magic, gaining ten fingers on each hand. It's a neat visual. 

Tenfingers starts a cult in Chinatown, promising the residents answers to their numerous problems and even recruits Sam's mom as a Lieutenant, bestowing on her eight fingers per hand. The creative team places equal emphasis on both the man and the mask, when Matt is responsible for indicting Tenfingers, which eventually fails and requires the mask.

It's a straight super-story from there, with the occasional curveball. You can tell that Soule has places to take Matt to, and it'll be a stylish read with Garney's pencils. It's almost Sin City-esque with its focus on lights and shadows, and sheer color to represent a shape. Check out this page from one of the early issues:
The only way to tell where Matt's shoulder ends is using the color of his shoulder against the background. This man is nothing but black, white, and red all over! And in that second panel Old Man Steve Rogers is nothing but color, with just his boots popping out as red. Matt Milla does a superb job using color to tell a story, and it's great fun to see what he's putting in front.

Read More:

Serials: War Machine-off and Captain America's Rock-Fu

Captain America #697
by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Matthew Wilson

People talk about decompression in comics -- the act of stretching out a single storyline across multiple issues, but Captain America is doing the opposite: I guess the term would be. . .compression. Each issue since Waid/Samnee have taken over contains a stand-alone story, umbrella'd by the larger story of Captain America visiting an America that moved on without him. In today's issue, Captain America gets kidnapped by Kraven, the Hunter, and has to compete in a game against him. . . the prize: Captain America's life!

There's a nice twist near the end of the story with an unexpected cliffhanger. A very classic cape comic elevated by the cartooning from Samnee.


Question: There was one bit that I didn't understand. When Cap and the other captive David Cotter get caught in a mudslide, Cap looks behind him before diving to save David. Why does he look back?

New Super-Man #19
"Day in the Life of a Shanghai Reporter," by Mariko Tamaki and Brent Peeples

Conveniently, this takes place directly after New Super-Man Volume 1: Made in China, and I just finished that trade!

This story is about a day in the life of Laney Lan, the Chinese analogue to Lois Lane. She reports for Primetime Shanghai, nails an action scene between the JLC and an interview with the New Super-Man over noodles. There's a slew of family secrets in this issue, one having to do with New Super-Man's *true* mother (gasp!), and the affair that Laney's father is having, overseas in America.

Overall a quiet issue that serves as intrigue for a larger story.

Punisher #220
"Punisher: War Machine Part 3," by Matt Rosenberg and Guiu Vilanova

And you thought last issue had a high body count. Rosenberg and co. up the kill scenes from here, making issue 220 the action piece of the storyarc. Frank doesn't spare any second killing ne'er-do-wells who are part of General Petrov's military regime. There's a whole page of him killing the guys running four separate concentration camps. It ain't pretty.

Turns out, Petrov has his own men in War Machine Armor, resulting in a War Machine-off in the second half of the comic. The designs make it a little difficult to distinguish Frank from the rest of the War Machines, but serviceable. Frank's "banter" with the armor A.I. makes for a entertaining reading experience that'll keep me coming for the title.

Venom, Inc. Omega
by Dan Slott, Mike Costa, Ryan Stegman, and Gerardo Sandoval

If ever there was a video-game plot, this is it. It's an over-sized issue spent on making a big bad villain bigger (literally) and badder, and only through combined teamwork and other gimmicks do our heroes overcome him. The focus is on Flash Thompson, repeatedly told that he is a hero by Spider-Man: the goal seems to be writing him into a superhero role once more, as the Anti-Venom. I just don't see why it needed a crossover with two separate one-shots, and a Stay Puft Marshmallow Venom.

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Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth

or: Spider-Man and Doc Ock reenact 50 Shades of Grey
Collects Amazing Spider-Man #'s 682-687, Spider-Man: Ends of the Earth #1, and Avenging Spider-Man #8
by Dan Slott, Stefano Caselli, and more

Over the course of ten years, writer Dan Slott has shared an embarrassment of riches with Spider-Man summer blockbusters. There was Spider-Verse, a worlds-spanning tale about Spider-Men (and -women, -robots, -cats... you get the picture) from different universes and their natural predators, "The Inheritors." You had Spider-Island, an epic about what happens when Manhattan gained all the powers of a spider, without the lessons learned from an Uncle Ben.

Point being, he's got a lot of ideas, and Ends of the Earth is another one of them. It's about a dying Doctor Octopus, who in a bid to leave an honorable legacy, convinces the world's legislators to use his "Octavian Lens," a series of orbiting octahedral robots that could save the planet from global warming. All he asks for is help from every nation to complete his satellites, and a memorial to honor his contribution to society (and cash and exoneration for the people that helped him, the Sinister Six).
Otto's Octahedrals orbiting Earth

Issues are spent questioning Otto's true intentions, the will-he-won't-he of saving the world from global warming. But Spider-Man knows in his gut that Otto is up to something, recruiting the help of the Avengers and later Black Widow and Silver Sable, to run hits on Otto's global satellite factories. They go to the "ends of the Earth" destroying these things and getting into the occasional superhero fight. There are great action movie moments where Spider-Man introduces some new tech of his that helps him take down the Sinister Six -- innovative variations on old fights that we've seen before.

The dynamic between Spider-Man and Dr. Octopus in particular is taken to a whole new level for me. Dr. Octopus is a brilliant person, and there's a page with a Stefano Caselli-drawn Stephen Hawking -- Stephen Hawking -- confirming that the Octavian Lens (later called a shield) truly would repair the ozone layer and stave global warming. For several issues, Spider-Man seems like a bully, parading around the world with his entourage and blowing up Otto's factories. Just check out this scene of Spider-Man, "acidboarding" a captive Sandman.
Rest assured, Spider-Man tells us in a thought bubble that he wouldn't go so far as to kill. . .

There are so many brilliant moments in this comic, you'd be better off reading it yourself. Spidey yelling "Avengers Assemble" after a page of donning the various pieces of his new costume. The Sandman defeating Captain America by using an ice pellet. Here's one, where it's really Dan Slott and Stefano Caselli's riff on Amazing # 33's Spider-Man lifting the rubble. Doc Ock has Spider-Man trapped in his arms, while his robots will complete their lens sequencing in space. Out of his supplies and unable to get to Ock's Abort button, Spider-Man realizes that he can't gadget his way out of the situation, and that he doesn't need to:
The greatest gadet in his arsenal. . . was his heart ALL ALONG.

After six issues of seeing cool Spider-tech, it was refreshing to read this moment here. For the comic book event, it was rare to see Spider-Man unmasked, and the focus was far more on the Spider, rather than the man. Dan Slott has a fundamental understanding of Spider-Man, but at times I think it's too fundamental that it lacks emotional resonance. We get it -- Spider-Man is wracked with guilt over the death of people close to him because of Spider-Man. That doesn't mean he needs to go through a whole storyarc of how "no one dies" around him. We get it -- Spider-Man uses jokes to relieve the tension when he's fighting a supervillain. But it gets to the point of bullying when it comes to Doc Ock, a dying man who simply wants to save the world. It got to the point where I sympathized more with Otto, than with Spider-Man.

For the way it strings the reader along with exciting moments and the tension of Doc Ock's true intentions, this is a great comic event. There's this part of me that really does want to believe that Otto will save the world. It comes off as earnest, when he mentions that no amount of money would have worth to him, in the amount of time he could spend it. When he requests money for his comrades, but a university for himself, you really do believe him. But ultimately, we learn the truth (spoiler below):

Some people just want to watch the world burn. For Otto, he needed to leave a legacy -- to gain notoriety as a mass murderer worse than all of history's murderers combined. What a disappointment. I think there's room in a Spider-Man story for the upheaval of the superhero-beats-villain trope, and all the previous issues had primed me for it -- a Spider-bully, a villain seeking to reform in his final days of life. While it wasn't exactly how I wanted it to pan out, I can only say that it was intentional -- to tease the reader for an otherwise-typical, but now unexpected reveal, so my kudos go to Slott for going as far as he did with the tease.

There's a focus on Silver Sable, a longtime Spider-Man ally from the comics of the '70s ('80s?), but rarely visited otherwise. Avenging Spider-Man #8 is something of a postscript, honoring Silver by looking back at one of their first adventures together -- it's a solid character piece from the point of view of Spider-Man that builds an emotional investment, albeit retroactively.

Ends of the Earth left Otto in The Raft, a prison for super-villains, which teased the events of his takeover of Peter Parker's mind and body in the excellent, Superior Spider-Man saga. Check it out!

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The World of Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries, Frankenstein, Legion of Doom

Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries
by Pichetschote and team

Oliver Queen never learned about how his war profiteering affected other people -- so he went on doing it, and he made it worse. In the Flashpoint timeline, he imprisons supervillains in his floating prison, and then takes their weapons to sell them to the government. It's only when someone murders his entire island and his whole staff, and confronts him, that he begins to question that what he's doing is wrong.

There's an idea of the "super-corporation" that Oliver talks about, a corporation that could actually do good with all of the weapons that it harvests, but it never goes beyond an idea. There's certainly the seed for another story, but not much more. You want to see Oliver redeem himself -- which he does in the normal timeline -- but you don't get to see it here.

Flashpoint: Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown #'s 1-3
by Jeff Lemire and team

Of all the characters that DC could take, I never expected them to write about Frankenstein. Apparently, in this universe, Frankenstein was the one who killed Hitler, with his team of Fishlady, Wolfman, and Vampiric guy. It's a team book where you get to know each character and root for them, even the one that Frankenstein says "has great evil in his heart." 'cause now apparently Frankenstein can look at you and tell whether you're evil or not.

It's an untraditional, traditional cape-comic that sets out a fun tone with lots of drama. He captures the feeling of Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum's original Uncanny X-Men, with Frankenstein and pals living in a system that's targeted them.

It's a complete tangent from the main story in Flashpoiint, the war between Emperor Aquaman and Wonder Woman, and I don't mind that at all. Apparently, this spun off into a New 52 series, and I
wouldn't be surprised if Lemire simply used the Flashpoint miniseries as a jumping-on point.

EDIT: He did. This series spun off into the New 52 series Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. It lasted until 2013 (16 issues).

Flashpoint: Legion of Doom
by Adam Glass and Rodney Buscemi

There's such a plethora of characters in DC Comics, that these over-arching stories give the opportunity to shine a spotlight on them. In this one, Heatwave leads his own "Legion of Doom", but he assembles them from prison, in an attempt to get out and enact revenge on his archnemesis, Cyborg. There's a numerous amount of comic book ideas here, including the "Doom Prison," a hovering prison created by Green Arrow industries, Plastic Man's infiltration into the Doom Prison, for a couple. But at times they're at odds with the grim, hateful mission that Heatwave has against Cyborg and the sheer amount of violence in each issue. This miniseries is somewhat like the Captain Cold one in this sense, and while the execution is just fine, the comic seems to be at odds with itself about what it is.

Read more about Flashpoint in my reading guide!

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Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1

Jessica Jones: Alias Volume 1
by Brian Bendis and Michael Gaydos (covers by David Mack)

With a running title in Ultimate Spider-Man, Brian Bendis was a hot ticket item at Marvel, and he followed that up with starting the Marvel MAX Imprint in 2001. His was probably the first to utter the word "Fuck" in a Marvel comic, and there's a letter from Jeph Loeb introducing it as such.

Jessica Jones: Alias is very much the brainchild of Bendis and Gaydos, and it presents to you the intersection between crime noir that Bendis is so fond of, and the Marvel Universe. Jessica Jones is a private investigator who runs her business in Manhattan, running odd jobs and tracking people down that people hire her to.

There are two stories in this paperback: Issues 1-5 revolve around a tape that Jessica's recorded. . . of Captain America's affair! And Issues 6-9 collect a story about Rick Jones, and why he is missing.

There's the ever-present "Bendis-speak," fast back-and-forth lines of dialolgue that keep the pace moving, and the cliffhangers keep you turning the page, making it a great binge-read for a rainy day. While Gaydos rarely has dynamic action scenes to draw, he nails the gritty, dirty tone that you'd expect from a crime noir comic. It's as if you have this surface layer, where life is bright and happy, and when you lift it you see what's really going on. I do have qualms with Gaydos's cut-and-paste style, and the guy is awful at emotes -- just look at this panel on the very first page --

Does that look like a guy who's just learned that his wife is cheating on him? Certainly not to me, but it allowed Gaydos to keep up a monthly comic for 28 issues, so that comes appreciated. Varied layouts help you view different scenes in different ways, so you never do get tired of reading those word bubbles.

The first story turns out to be a wide-scale political conspiracy, more than you think, and then the second story is almost a non-story. I'm not sure how I would feel had I picked it up serially, but the more I think about it, the smarter I realize it is. Sometimes the easiest answer is there all along, and in this second story, that's exactly what Jessica finds out. And she moves on. Together these two work as a superb introduction to the life of Jessica Jones, and I'm excited to read more.

At the end of issue 5, Steve Rogers talks to her about why she didn't give up the tape:

And I find that to be the thesis statement of the comic book. In the Marvel Universe, there are good guys and there are bad guys. But in the Alias-verse, there are just people. Some of them do good things, some of them do bad things. Most of them do both. In this story, Steve Rogers had an affair. But he also defends the rights of Americans as the Sentinel of Liberty, Captain America.


Check out this "splash" page from issue 1 (2?):

Jess has just recorded the video, and is pondering what to do with it. She's got it in the microwave and is thinking about pressing the button. The thought boxes help you stretch out the moment, and the tension of will-she-won't-she, while the paneling makes you stop and pause between each thought, with the final silent panel lingering on the button. Smart!

Read more Alias:

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Serials: Wheelchair Spider-Man, Spider-bully, and more

Venom, Inc. Pts 4 & 5
Amazing Spider-Man #793 & Venom #160
by Dan Slott, Mike Costa and Ryan Stegman

The sooner you realize that this Spider-Man isn't sympathetic, the better. The "Spidey-as-bully" dynamic that's been introduced here takes on its own life, as Spidey performs the bidding of ??? Price, the villain of this Venom, Inc. crossover, robbing a truck and brutally beating on some regular people. I've already forgotten Price's first name, simply because he's just not that memorable. But his whole deal is that he's making a run for the five mob families of New York with a symbiote he's stolen from Maniac, a supporting character from Flash Thompson's Venom days.

There's enough continuity here that you'd be better off with this story if you were a Venom fan. I've been curious but have never dived into those myself. But if anything, Eddie Brock/Flash Thompson are the protagonists of this story, rather than Peter Parker, who plays nothing more than a henchman -- a henchman who still says "Yoiks."

After Spidey is cured in Amazing, the motley crew of Felicia, Eddie, Flash, Andi, and Peter take on Price's gang of Venoms. Venom #160 comprises of the battle, which is nice, because we don't have to contend with the weird depictions of pet Venom, or annoying Spider-snark. The action scenes are fun to read, and there's a bit of characterization with Flash and Eddie when they're pinned down in a firefight.

Spider-Man/Deadpool #'s 25 & 26, "Arms Race" Conclusion & "Oldies Pt 1"
by Robbie Thompson, Chris Bachalo & Scott Hepburn

Well, if you didn't get enough of Spider-Man, here's his team-up book with Deadpool! This title is a humor/buddy comic, with the absurd elements coming from Deadpool, and Spider-Man playing the part of the straight man. Easily, it works and, it's refreshing to see a Peter Parker that's not constantly cracking a joke. He's more than a comedian, after all.

I haven't been following this series at all -- but with Wheelchair Spidey gracing the cover of #26, I couldn't help myself. Wheelchair Spidey. Issue 25 is the conclusion to "Arms Race," while Issue 26 is the start of "Oldies". It's easy to get confused at the tail end of an arc, but I put some extra effort into it, and Chris Bachalo's pencils didn't make it seem like a chore. I'm of the opinion that any story works in media res, so the story worked for me. Also: laser sharks and Hellcow.

Hellcow was a creation of Steve Gerber and Frank Brunner's, in an old Howard the Duck comic. She was originally a prize-winning milk-producing cow, until Dracula feasted on her blood in the absence of human's, turning her into a vampire cow capable of flight and superbovine strength. Apparently, from her wiki page, she's been co-opted into Deadpool stories. Hellcow.

Issue 26 begins the "Oldies" storyarc, a story in which Peter and Wade are now among the elderly, and share the same senior home. There's some great inner monologuing from Peter, who's given up the webs as a paraplegic, paired with a ladykiller Wade who's shacking up with a different woman (cougar?) every day.

Issue 26 was all I needed to know that Robbie Thompson understands both of these characters and how to play them off of each other. Scott Hepburn's pencils capture the emotions of a man past his prime, but not his expiration date. There's a silent three-page sequence where Peter finds a thief, that's very powerful. Kudos to both the writer, for letting the art breath, and the artist for weaving together a strong set of scenes. His use of shading for action is an exciting break in otherwise static images, and he uses them well. Thompson doesn't take shortcuts, filling in the details of the backgrounds for set panels, and emphasizing emotions in background-less panels. Further kudos to the colorist, who establishes this tone of the senior home with dry, realistic colors -- and then splashing bright yellow to tie in with the superheroics. It's a blend of the mundane with the extraordinary, comic relief with pathos. This is a well-done comic book on all fronts, and I'm in for next month!

Here's the scene referenced, for your enjoyment:

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Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman and Wonder Woman and the Furies

Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #'s 1-3
by Tony Bedard, Ardian Syaf, and Vicente Cifuentes

At last, the story of "Emperor Aquaman," one half of the awful war that's consumed the Flashpoint timeline between the surface world (the Amazons of Themyscira) and Atlantis. Masterful narration combined with smart flashbacks makes this a very engaging miniseries that explains how Aquaman managed to sink all of Eastern Europe, while moving the plot forward to the conclusion of Flashpoint.

It's only a shame that the story is continued elsewhere. This one helps you understand the tragedy behind King Arthur Curry (Emperor Aquaman), and why he's more angry than the regular man we see. The narration has a "Sword in the Stone" tone that makes you feel like you're reading a story about royalty.
Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #'s 1-3
by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, and Scott Clark

Similar to the above, we get to see the history of Wonder Woman, Diana, Princess of Themyscira. Unlike her sisters, she grew curious about the outside world and met Arthur Curry at sea. There's a moment of discovery that parallels Diana's discovery of Man's world, but here's the difference: together she and Arthur realize that they could forge a world of diplomacy if they were to marry, combining both nations of Atlantis and Themyscira, to foster global, mutual growth.

There's a royal scheme that makes it all go South, explaining to you why it wasn't completely Barry's fault that Wonder Woman and Aquaman are at war. And you'll learn why, the world went to hell, when there was so much hope.

The fact that both of these tie directly into Flashpoint #5 tells you about the publishing schedule for the mega-event. It was a large change to DC's lineup of comics, and it took a significant amount of coordination just to be able to sync them all up together. It's the kind of risk that DC took with books like the weekly series 52, or Wednesday Comics, and it pays off here just as well, which is to say, pretty damn well.

Read more about Flashpoint!

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Wonder Woman: Flesh and Bones

Wonder Woman Volume 5: Flesh
by Azzarello, Chiang and Sudzuka

This volume focuses, at last, on the First Born's rise to power in Olympus. Or at least, his attempt to rise to power. There's some great action sequences with a huge twist at the end, although that defines this trade paperback for the most part.

Wonder Woman comes to grips with her (necessary) murder of War while Apollo continues to secure his throne on Olympus. The trade treads water for a bit, while the climax sets up an exciting battle for next volume (and Azzarello's final trade on Wondy!). Apollo commits some kind of supernova suicide which grants Hera her immortal status back, and she un-does the curse she laid on Themyscira in Volume 1, to form an Amazon army against the First Born!

I feel like Volume 4 and 5 could have been condensed into a single volume, but we'll take the wait-and-see approach for the final volume closing off Azzarello and team's Wondy run.

Wonder Woman Volume 6: Bones
Collects issues # 30-35 and a story from Secret Origins #6
by Azzarello, Chiang, and Sudzuka

All Hades breaks loose in this rousing finale for Azzarello's Wonder Woman.

The first few issues help set up side characters like Orion and Strife, while the last few issues involve Wonder Woman trying to fulfill the prophecy, by placing the baby (Zeke) on the throne and replace the First Born.

There's a huge plot twist regarding Zola, which I didn't see coming at all, and Cliff Chiang returns for the last three issues. Diana offers her version of "tough love" to the First Born, and the status quo is restored, somewhat. It's a satisfying conclusion to a 35-issue-long run.

BONUS PANEL: Azzarello dials up the puns particularly in this volume. Here's an example:

Catch up on New 52's Wonder Woman:
Volume 1: Blood
Volume 2: Guts
Volume 3: Iron
Volume 4: War
Volumes 5 and 6: Flesh and Bones

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More Wonder Woman Tomorrow

Suffering Sappho! Tomorrow we conclude Azzarello and team's pulse-pounding run on New 52 Wonder Woman! Be there!

A short directory for those looking to catch up:
Wonder Woman Volume 1: Blood
Wonder Woman Volume 2: Guts
Wonder Woman Volume 3: Iron
Wonder Woman Volume 4: War
Wonder Woman Volumes 5: Flesh, and 6: Bones

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Flashpoint: A Reading Guide

DC's 2011 crossover event Flashpoint ran from May to August 2011, with tie-in issues coming in between. Most of the tie-in issues were either 3-issue miniseries, generally telling the story from the perspective of another hero in the DCU, and others were one-shots. Some of the stories served as prequels, explaining how one part of the story came to be, while others expanded on one particular aspect of the story, directly leading up to it in the main story.

Now, the story can't really be told in its original serial format. Paperbacks, physical and digital, focus on particular worlds in Flashpoint so you're much better reading the main series first, then picking and choosing the assorted tie-ins that you like. Today we'll give an overview of (most) of those tie-ins, to help you decide what you want to read!
  • Flashpoint: The main five-issues series. Read this first to get the broad strokes of the story.
  • Lois Lane and the Resistance: This 3-issue mini tells the perspective of how Lois managed to "infiltrate" the enemy lines of an Amazon-occupied Paris and broadcast the truth out to the general public. It directly leads to Flashpoint #5, and is directly preceded by the Canterbury Cricket #1 one-shot. You can skip this.
  • World of Flashpoint: Included in this paperback are the Citizen Cold/Kid Flash Lost miniseries, and the Grodd of War/Reverse-Flash one-shots. All of them are well worth reading.
  • There was the occasional tie-in that had some legs, and had potential to carry its own ongoing. Green Arrow Industries and Deadman and the Flying Graysons were two of these, in my opinion. Green Arrow is a story of redemption, much in the way that Oliver Queen's origin story turned out to be. It's a compelling one-shot that made me interested in a second. Deadman and the Flying Graysons was an adventure comic that tried to shine a light of optimism over the shadow of pessimism -- and I think it succeeded.
  • I was whelmed with the Superman tie-in, Flashpoint: Project Superman, as well as the Legion of Doom. I didn't get much out of these stories for different reasons. Project Superman is about the government attempt to create a person capable of defending the world from the superheroes. It's almost like a spy thriller, but gets bogged down in uncompelling soap opera drama. Legion of Doom would be worth a read, but the tone of comedy and violent despair clashed very poorly for me.
  • Batman: Knight of Vengeance works as a straight Elseworld for Batman, and also a nifty introduction to the Azzarello/Risso house of crime noir comics. I recommend it.
  • Emperor Aquaman is a solid origin story for the Aquaman of Flashpoint, told in a dignified Arthurian style. The Wonder Woman and the Furies miniseries somewhat tries to do the same for Wonder Woman, but doesn't match the level of quality. The Wonder Woman one leads directly to the Flashpoint conclusion.
  • Then you have the mystical ones. I did not much care to read through these, but I did read Frankenstein's miniseries, Frankenstein and the Creatures of the Unknown. It somehow manages to tell a traditional superhero story with an extremely untraditional cast, and for that I give it my kudos.
In the end, I was impressed with the story as a whole. Editors at DC had a whole stable of characters that they had to manage and tightly synchronize for five months. It's fun to read how things tied in, in different stories, and it's a marvel that each series can stand alone, as well as contribute to the whole story. It must have been a feat to edit this whole thing, so, my hats off to DC Comics!

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The World of Flashpoint, featuring the Flash

Citizen Cold #'s 1-3
by Scott Kolins

The great thing about Flash's Rogues is that they're all unique, but have the same common theme -- they're thugs who've happened to find superpowers or super-powered weapons. People who just want to get rich quick, and occasionally some of them will have their own tragic backstory. Captain Cold tends to be the leader, but in this one, he's "Citizen Cold," hero of Central City -- but also a thief and a murderer. He uses his notoriety to get paid in sponsorships and spends his evenings with a different lady each time.

Since this is an alternate timeline, there's no holds barred with the head count, which is refreshing to see. Pretty much everyone dies here, including Flashpoint Wally West, and ALMOST ALL OF THE ROGUES WE MEET.

I'm not sure what it is, but I'm guessing that there's some Geoff Johns that's rubbed off on Scott Kolins. He knows how to write Cold as the thug-who-pulled-the-long-one, and it's an amusing read to see what happens when he loses his facade.

Highlight: Detach-a-head Spider-Freeze

Grodd of War #1
by Sean Ryan, Ig Guara and Ruy Jose

This quickie one-shot is a good overview of Gorilla Grodd. I haven't read him too much in comics, so if you haven't, he's the ultra-murder-y talking Gorilla with telepathic powers. Ah, I love comics.

In this issue he's the king of half of Africa, acquires the next half, and murders:
  1. A fellow warrior who just wanted to spar with his idol.
  2. Children who were paid to try to assassinate him
  3. The Catman by ripping out his spine. . . ouch.
And others. It's so mundane to him (but horrifying to us!) that he even spares a kid, and tells him to come back after he's grown up to try to murder him. The issue ends with Gorilla flying to Europe, in the "hope" that he'll either conquer it in the midst of Emperor Aquaman and Wonder Woman's war, or die trying.

This is the world without a Flash, and for the most part without superheroes, and so Gorilla Grodd ruled without opposition. He murdered who he wanted, when he wanted, and he got exactly what he wanted -- it was far too easy and oh so boring. This issue captures a striking day-in-the-life of one of the Flash's nemeses.

Highlight: The opening quote --
Aquaman sinks half of Europe, and he's considered to be the most dangerous being on the planet.
I slaughter half of Africa, and most people don't even know my name.
Location, location, location.
Kid Flash Lost #'s 1-3
by Sterling Gates, Oliver Nome, and Trevor Scott

The one Flash spin-off that ISN'T one of his rogues! This one is basically a direct sequel to Flash #'s 7-12 (collected in "The Road to Flashpoint"), except it's in Bart Allen's point of view.

There's so many comic book ideas here that make this miniseries interesting. It's 3011, in the Flashpoint timeline, and Brainiac has kidnapped time anomalies like Bart in order to understand what happened to the timeline. Bart is in a simulator, just like he was in the actual 31st century, reliving a nightmare where his grandpa Barry refuses to slow down and talk to him. There's a brand new Hot Pursuit -- but didn't he die in Flash #7? And why is he a girl now?!? And how will Bart re-connect to the Speed Force?

If you've been following the Flash, this is a great, juicy story with real narration that makes you feel like you're in Bart's head. He gets his own "Crisis on Infinite Earths" moment when he re-connects to the Speed Force, and it's a metaphor for how he at last reconnects with his grandpa.

Highlight: Callbacks to Crisis as we see what Bart has to do, in order to save the timeline from the Flashpoint.

Reverse Flash #1
by Scott Kolins and Joel Gomez

This one-shot functions as a primer for the Reverse-Flash -- how he got his powers, why he hates Barry, how he's studied Barry and how he gets his NEW powers. Not really needed to understand the story of Flashpoint, but a nice little add-on.

Highlight: Thawne getting Flash-punched in the face. I'm not hard to please.

Read more about Flashpoint!

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