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411’s Comic Reviews: All-Star Batman #2, Aquaman #6, More

September 22, 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 asked, Does DC Comics Have the Momentum?

Now on with the show!

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All-Star Batman #2

Review by RobF

If you thought the first issue of ASB was a runaway train (pun intended) then hold on to your hats. Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr continue the Batman/Two-Face psychotic road trip that shows no sign of slowing down.

Issue 2 starts with Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock storming Wayne Manor with intent to arrest Bruce Wayne for being Batman. We quickly move to Batman still on the run with Two-Face but they are now joined by Killer Croc, King Shark and Amygdala on top of a train. It doesn’t look good for the Dark Knight and to top it off as he overcomes one obstacle another more deadly one takes its place. The way he dispatches the 3 heavyweights is both clever and humorous.

As we leave Batman and Two-Face poisoned and plunging into a river we find Penguin, Black Mask, and Great White approaching a mysterious hooded figure. Their goal: hire this person to take out the Batman. The dialogue is sharp and the reveal of the mystery assassin is a cool surprise.

The issue ends with a dual cliffhanger: The KGBeast has obliterated the truck carrying Batman and Two-Face and Gordon and Bullock have broken the entrance of the Batcave and are about to go exploring.

Up to this point the backup story featuring Batman’s new sidekick (?) Duke Thomas was not a highlight for me but this issue ramped up my interest. The ending is a shocker and you wonder what will happen next.

What else can be said about Romita Jr’s art? He is clearly enjoying himself playing in this sandbox and his over the top renditions of Croc and others works perfectly here.

I would have picked up this series for the artwork alone, but Scott Snyder is killing it here. The action, the villains: this one has it all.

Review: 8.0 out of 10

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Aquaman #6

Review by Jonathan Durden

When DC Rebirth first began in March, I didn’t expect to keep Aquaman on the pull list for very long. I was planning to read a few issues, see how I felt about it, then probably drop it. Since then, Aquaman has become one of my favorites in the cycle.

There are so many things I want to say about this comic book, specifically about this issue. Dan Abnett writes a fantastic Aquaman and he has removed all doubts in my mind about whether to keep this comic on my pull list. Alongside Abnett, we have a very capable penciller Brad Walker and equally capable teammates Andrew Hennessey on inks and Gabe Eltaeb on colors.

Aquaman is one of the rare titles in Rebirth that hasn’t had a change in its creative team since its beginnings which may offer some explanation as to why this particular title has been kicking butt in all of its possible butt-kicking areas. Between Walker’s awesome double-page spreads and Eltaeb’s great use of contrast, as well as Hennessey’s perfect shading, I can’t find much of anything to complain about with this issue.

Dan Abnett has been hitting the nail on the head when it comes to the stigma that surrounds Aquaman as a hero and member of the Justice League. His dialogue with Superman throughout this issue was a spot-on representation of where Aquaman stands as a hero, and also where Abnett is progressing the story from here. He has officially made it on my list of writers to keep an eye out for.

We have Superman, widely regarded as the leader of the Justice League, telling Aquaman, widely regarded as the lowest rank in the Justice League, to stand down. To give in to the demands of the government who are falsely accusing him of treason, and to surrender what little control he has over the situation. The way Aquaman handles this dilemma will make or break his standing in this world.

Aquaman subsequently handles it with great dignity, and without unnecessary violence. This issue shows us so much of who Aquaman is: an Atlantean AND an American. He never wanted things to escalate as far as they did, but he knew just what to do when they did. We also see how loyal Atlantis is to their King when it comes down to the eleventh hour. They were ready to go to war against the United States over a false accusation if it meant protecting their King. They were willing to stand down when Arthur told them to do so as well. We also get a glimpse of the value Aquaman offers to the Justice League.

When the Atlantean fleet made its appearance in Walker’s gorgeous double-page spread, showcasing the power of the underwater dwellers, it made two things clear:

1. Aquaman stands by his people and his word.

2. He is not to be underestimated.

The end of this issue and subsequently the conclusion of the arc leaves us with Aquaman and his fleet returning to Atlantis to track down who was responsible for the attack on the Navy’s battleship, and Superman left with uncertainty that Aquaman can fix it.

Meanwhile, we have Abnett setting up a future problem for Aquaman with Black Manta killing the leader of N.E.M.O. and claiming the title for himself. Where that will lead, maybe only Abnett knows. However, I like the Black Manta’s character and I am interested in finding out where it’s headed.

There are still a lot of things I could say about this issue alone, but I better end it here. I’m loving Aquaman, I’m loving Dan Abnett and the rest of the creative team, and I’m loving most of DC Rebirth so far. This issue just ticked all the boxes for me as far as ratings go so I’m going to give it a perfect score. Beautifully sets up the next arc. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Rating: 10 out of 10

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Civil War II #5

Review by Sankalp G.

The fifth issue is here after a long break and guess what? It didn’t click. This issue was hyped as a battle was brewing, alliances were broken, etc., but I am sad to say this issue felt average or rather below average.

There is not much of plot but I will first like to address the issues. First of all, we all know about Bendis’ style: Short sentences and snarky comments. It didn’t fit in this issue at all. This is not even the biggest issue. Match-ups and the strengths of people are very different that it should be and we see many powerful heroes defeated by lesser ones. Really? Storm and Iceman can defeat Dr.Strange? I understand Marvel’s decision to some extent that they want to put over there next torchbearers or next generation but having them defeat heroes powerful than them is not a way to do it. It will just alienate fans.

Second is the pacing as the issue jumps around a lot of battles and heroes. The main problem is all the characters and their reasons are cut off and before giving them a chance to say anything, Kapow! They are hit and the sentence remains incomplete. Guess we will never know why Blue Marvel joined the battle then. Another thing is inconsistency. Last week I reviewed Spider-Man #8 and there Luke Cage said himself that he is not going to be in the battle. Guess what? He changed his mind. This makes reading tie-ins meaningless.

After all this there is TWIST and it genuinely surprised me but really, it feels cheap to be honest, because a similar thing happened last time these heroes went to war.

On the bright side, Marquez’ art is really great and I am reviewing his art from The Invincible Iron-issues and his drawings have that serious but Marvel-like feel. Even he has some hiccups at some points but the whole art team have done good job for this series.

I really feel bad to say this as last week I praised Bendis. Civil War II had also had somewhat made its comeback in the last issue but now the momentum has stalled. This issue delivered what was promised: a big battle, though at the end, it left bad taste in my mouth. Believe me, I am generous with the ratings here.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10

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