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411’s Comic Reviews: Batman #26, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2, More

July 27, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson

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]!

Yesterday we asked, “Can DC Save the Comic Book Industry?”

Now on with the show!

Rom vs. Transformers: Shining Armor #1

Review by RobF

I am taking a break from my Marvel-centric world to review Rom vs Transformers: Shining Armor. The latest entry in the Hasbro universe tells the story of Stardrive, the first Cybertronian to become a knight in the Solstar Order. While raised as a knight she is still a Transformer at heart. Christos Gage and James Barber explore a classic case of nature vs. nurture with the universe at stake.

The story begins 200 years ago where we find the Autobots and Decepticons still warring over Cybertron. Because of the devastation they have caused the Transformers find themselves the most hated in the universe, even more despised then the Dire Wraiths. In other news, the Solstar Knights have destroyed The Dire Wraiths home planet, yet there is still no peace as the Wraiths have spread themselves throughout the universe. Amongst all the turmoil we are introduced to Stardive, a Transformer rescued by Rom and trained to be a Space Knight. She has no knowledge of her heritage, having never seen or met a Transformer, but finds herself shunned by her fellow Knights. When a chance for peace is ruined by a team of Starscream’s Decepticons and The Dire Wraiths where will Stardive’s loyalties lie?

This story starts out so strong it makes me want to seek out the other Hasbro/IDW crossovers. The issue is jam-packed with information but it flows so smoothly you really end up enjoying the journey. Writers Christos Gage and James Barber have done a fine job mixing history with action.

With all the robot and robot-like characters it could be a real challenge to make them look unique (at the very least so the reader can differentiate the characters). Artist Alex Milne is up to the task; his previous work on the Transformers serves him well here. Each character is easily identifiable and the emotions are there.

I enjoyed this issue much more than I thought. Rom and the Transformers on paper seem like a natural combination but in the hands of Gage, Barber and Miline you have a bonafide hit.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2

Review by Jonathan Durden

A little while ago I wrote a review on an issue of the now-ended series Spidey. It was a book targeted more toward new and younger readers of the medium. However, it served as a nice hit of nostalgia for older readers that wanted to see Peter Parker back in high school where his only troubles were money and keeping his secret from Aunt May. Spectacular Spider-Man written by Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) is a near perfect combination of the two. Pete is grown up but has returned to New York to be a “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man” again. For those of us who didn’t love Peter as a billionaire and wanted to see him more near his roots, this book is for us. It also serves as a companion to The Amazing Spider-Man so we still get that ongoing title for those of us who are invested in that.

Honestly, I’ve been waiting for a Spider-Man book like this. The perfect mix of humor, comradery, and serious events being set up in the background. Zdarsky is a great fit for this mixture, as exemplified in his series Sex Criminals, which is definitely not for younger readers, but very funny and interesting.

The art isn’t bombastic or particularly eye-grabbing; it gets the job done just fine. In a way, I think that makes this series even better. It doesn’t need flamboyant and huge set-pieces of art, it just needs the simple flair and subtlety that artist Adam Kubert and colorist Jordie Bellaire offer. I have a feeling that the art was done in such a way to compliment the story’s setting. That is no small task for any comic team. But man does the team behind this book pull it off.

If you are looking for a Spider-Man story that doesn’t take Peter back to the basics, but also doesn’t make him a millionaire with tons of unnecessary gadgets, please pick up this comic. It pulls off the combo of funny and serious really well, and the art matches the story in a way you don’t see often.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Batman #26: War Of Jokes & Riddles, Part 2

Reviewby Sankalp G.

War of Jokes and Riddles (WOJAR for short) has been a fascinating concept. The last issue was just prelude to the madness that is yet to come and this issue may show you why. Batman, essentially a side character in his own story here, shows how powerless he and the GCPD really are when two of the greatest rogues in DC collide. Another point to note is that this issue is a great starting point for those who haven’t yet picked it up.

The Joker unsuccessfully attempted to assassinate the Riddler in the last issue, which resulted in a battle that will see both trying to one-up each other. Gotham is nothing but the playground for these two; with both raising the stakes higher each time they clash. Batman himself states that he is ineffective to stop this but instead is just there to pick up the casualties and follow the trail of blood left behind. The Joker takes Carmine Falcone on his side (forcefully) and sends his goons to assassinate the Riddler, failing miserably because of the presence of Poison Ivy, who is on Nigma’s side of course. Batman is just in time to follow the trails and identify the victims and shows how badly this war is going to escalate and how powerless Batman will be.

One of the main things, which is carried on from last issue, is the seriousness of the Joker in this matter. He has lost his smile, which just enforces the fact that the Joker is in no mood to play and is all business. It also makes the Riddler look strong, menacing, and equal to the Joker. The way this war is waged, it is clear that just to survive in Gotham, every rogue, crime lord or villain needs to choose a side.

Janin’s art has been fantastic. He is using his regular dark and gritty tones he has used in the series so far. He has tried to introduce a gothic feel to the main characters and environment. His characterization of the Riddler and the Joker has been distinct and different in its own way. The double page spreads are very detailed, to say the least.

All in all, WOJAR is off to a great start and establishes a very strong foundation for what could be another classic Batman story. If you haven’t yet tried King’s Batman so far, this is an awesome opportunity to jump in for new readers.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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