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411’s Comic Reviews: All-Star Batman #1, All-New All-Different Avengers #14, More

August 18, 2016 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review Roundtable! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.

Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!

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Yesterday we discussed Will Delays Hurt Marvel’s Civil War II?

Now on with the show!

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All-Star Batman #1

Review by RobF

Scott Snyder’s success with Batman has led DC to give him his own sandbox to play in. He is allowed to construct his own stories and choose his own All-Star roster of collaborators. This first issue sees Snyder team up with John Romita Jr and features Two-Face like you’ve never seen him before.

Usually Batman covers all the angles, knows all the answers. In this case Two-Face has turned the tables on the Dark Knight, making him the most wanted man in Gotham. He is caught unaware and his reaction to this new reality makes the story work. So not only does Batman have to worry about Two-Face but now he has to be concerned that every Tom, Dick and Mary are gunning for his hide (literally and figuratively).

If the Snyder/Romita Jr combination wasn’t enough, there is a backup story by Snyder and Declan Shalvey. It focuses on Duke Thomas, which in essence isn’t a bad thing. It’s decent, not on par with the main story but a solid effort nonetheless. Batman may be responsible for training someone who has now become a torture expert. And it is NOT Jason Todd.

John Romita Jr has been one of my favorite artists and his work here just adds to his legend. Great work here. Shalvey has the herculean task of appearing in the same issue with a legend. I can’t say I’m a fan.

To its credit All-Star Batman has nothing in common with its predecessor other than the name. Snyder and Romita Jr are off to a fast start with a great combination of story and art. I can strongly recommend this issue.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

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All-New All-Different Avengers #13

Review by Rob Bonnette

This issue is a tie-in with the Civil War II event miniseries. Like all the other crossovers and tie-ins, it tells the story of how the brewing dispute between Carol Danvers and Tony Stark is affecting other members of the Marvel Universe. So far most of the All-New Avengers team has sided with their fellow member Stark, but one member in particular is on Carol’s side: the Vision. This issue is about the Vision and his embrace of Carol’s philosophy to use the Inhuman Ulysses’ abilities to predict possible futures to preemptively fight evil. Vision is a logic based synthezoid who can feel human emotions, so in many ways his purely logical, ends justifies the means, way of operating is in conflict with the emotions he’s capable of feeling. And that’s on display throughout this issue. This is essentially a solo issue for the Vision as the other All-New Avengers team members only appear in flashback panels, as he embarks on a secret mission of his own that’s inspired by what Ulysses can do. It’s told in a third person narrative minus any of the unspoken first person thoughts that we usually get from the characters; outside the little bit of dialogue that takes place at the beginning it reads as if we are being told the story by an outside observer.

We start out with the narrator telling us how Vision takes in and stores human emotions and how he has to regularly offload them in order to keep his system from being overwhelmed. For this story, the offload was more voluntary as he needed to disengage any stored up empathy in order to complete the task has given himself – to stop Kang the Conqueror from ever becoming…Kang the Conqueror. We get a flashback to an earlier arc of the series, where Kang took over Vision and used him against his Avengers mates, almost succeeding in his plan to take over the world. Kang rules the world in the 41st century under a brutal iron hand, traveling through time to better set the stage for his eventual takeover and to stop him, Vision decides to travel through time himself to get to the right point where he can take action and eliminate the threat. He goes to visit Ulysses at the Ultimates’ facility and asks him about using his powers to find where the best point is to travel to and stop Kang before he gets far enough to make his future inevitable. Ulysses tells him he can’t do that because his powers don’t work that way (he has to be triggered in order to get a picture of a possible future and can’t just conjure it up on his own), which leaves Vision having to consider an alternative plan.

The rest of the story consists of Vision finding a way and traveling to different points in the past and future, when Kang is at different stages of his ascension to Conqueror status and being confronted by a shadowy, wraith like figure. Because he wants to avoid meeting Kang himself and altering the timeline that he already plans to, when the wraith confronts him, he has to retreat to his next stop. Ultimately he and wraith stop to talk and it’s revealed that the wraith has been confronting him not to save Kang but to save Vision from making a fatal mistake that may doom his own conscience. It is from there that Vision decides on a proper choice and takes the action he feel will both prevent Kang from conquering and preserving his own soul. The Civil War connection here was the conversation between Vision and Ulysses, and a brief look at how Ulysses power was tapped into, and to give us a view from someone in favor of using Ulysses since he’s available.

I liked the issue overall but felt a few things were missing. The story as it unfolded was pretty captivating and interesting, but was missing some details that were sorely needed. For one while we see Vision’s logical journey from recalling Kang using him against his teammates to wanting to eliminate him as a threat, we don’t get a real look at the emotional side of it. Why and how was he driven to want to eliminate Kang now, who has been around as a villain for a long time? The logical justification to stop him before he seizes power has always been there; why take preemptive action now as opposed to any other time? Whatever emotional trauma Vision was stricken with when Kang took him over was never outlined here even though it’s obvious that it’s the driving force behind it all. And then there’s the business of the wraith, who is never explained at any point in the story. He’s basically a dues et machina, introduced to slow Vision down and eventually point him a different direction, and he comes and goes exactly as he’s needed to move the story forward. The connection between this story and the Civil War event is pretty thin as well; Vision basically asks Ulysses to help him and when Ulysses can’t he moves on. If you bought this issue strictly for its connection to the big event, then you may be found wanting at the end. If you’ve been reading this series already then you’ll be fine on that front. Overall, it’s worth a read but if you’re not already buying the series I wouldn’t get it as a standalone.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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New Super-Man #2

Review by Jonathan Durden

After reading #1, I wasn’t sure about this new series brought to us by DC’s new onslaught of Rebirth titles. After reading this issue, however, I am all in for this book. The idea of China trying to “beat the West at their own game” by creating a “Justice League of China” is innovative and definitely brings something new to the table.

To me the biggest stand-outs of this issue are the Batman and Wonder Woman of China. They have a great rapport not only with each other but with Kong Kenan as well. I can’t wait to see more of their interactions. Making Kenan a selfish bully-type is a good decision on writer Gene Luen Yang’s part as it gives plenty of room for character development. Some of which we see toward the climax of this issue.

Overall, the plot of this issue was very clear cut, and raises the right questions that get readers coming back for #3. Questions like “Why is he being recruited out of nowhere when it seems that the others were trained specifically for this? Is it really just because Dr. Omen thinks he has a ‘hero’s heart’?” or “What role is Kenan’s father going to play in all this? Is he part of the reason Kong was recruited?” I’m certainly anticipating the next issue to hopefully find out some answers.

Good art not only looks great, but it helps the reader consume the story in the best way possible for the events happening in the comic. It is easy to see that Yang and artist Viktor Bogdanovic are working in tandem to create the best possible story they can make. I’ve seen art that not only makes me strain to see what is going on, it distracts from the captions and the letterer’s effort and makes it hard to read. However that can in part be the issue of the inker and/or the colorist. That said, the art flows elegantly with the story, and I found no instances of myself struggling to read the dialogue in this issue. Something I’ve unfortunately come to half expect from some titles.

I highly enjoyed this issue and eagerly await the next. The title and story feels fresh, and it delivers more and more throughout the book.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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Darth Vader #24

Review by Richard Bishop

When the ending of a series, be it TV, movie, book or comic book, approaches, there is usually a big build-up to the finale. The action ramps up, the stakes get higher, and the viewer/reader sits on the edge of their seat, breathlessly awaiting the next twist or turn that is leading up to an exciting close. Sadly, that is just the opposite with this book, as it limps to the finish line, having run out of energy.

At the end of last issue, Doctor Cylo had utilized his secret weapon against Darth Vader, that being a kill-switch that disabled the Sith Lord’s cybernetic suit. Having gained control over his enemy, Cylo turns his attention elsewhere, while the focus of the book turns inward to Vader’s thoughts. It takes a trip through his past, visiting his final moments as Anakin Skywalker on Mustafar. He argues with Obi-Wan Kenobi and then fights him after he emerges from the lava as Darth Vader before finally having a conversation with a pregnant Padme which ends with him force-choking her as the story shifts back to the present.

Doctor Cylo is shocked to see that Vader is active, believing his plan and weapon to be foolproof. Vader emerges from his reverie and kills his tormentor, at which point the scene shifts to a medical facility, where a clone of Doctor Cylo (referring to itself as Cylo-VI, and the now-dead doctor as Cylo-V) awakens and insists that it has to escape. The issue ends in the Emperor’s throne room, as he is surprised by a visit by Doctor Aphra, who indicates she has things he needs to know about their “mutual friend”.

Visually, the book is a delight, as Salvador Larroca nails the images of Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, and Natalie Portman, and while I applaud Kieron Gillen’s use of continuity (even from the abomination that is the prequel trilogy), this kind of issue is out of place in a soon-to-be-ending series. It ground the momentum to a halt by spending half the book in Vader’s memories and not moving things forward all that far, and while I hope there is a hell of an ending in store, my enthusiasm for reaching it has been greatly dulled by this issue.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10

Steve here! That’s all the time we have. Tell us what you’re reading below and see you back here next week! You can now find our reviews on ComicBookRoundUp.com!