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411’s Comic Reviews: Batman #31, Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #7, More

September 21, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Batman 31

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 gave our thoughts on the DC Dark Nights: Metal Event

Now on with the show!

Ben Reilly: The Scarlet Spider #7

Review by RobF

In his short existence Ben Reilly, the Scarlet Spider, has had to face many obstacles. But can he conquer death? At what price? Peter David and Will Sliney continue the Spider-clones arduous journey to redemption.

Last issue ended with Kane lying dead at the feet of Scarlet Spider, a victim of a finger snap from the returning Marlo Chandler. As it is revealed Marlo is just one of the personas Death uses to visit the mortal realm. Death is intrigued by the fact Ben Reilly has been killed and brought back more than anyone. She warns him that if he dies one more time he would become pure evil, but if he keeps the heroic path he could “heal” his soul. In the end he makes a devil’s bargain to save the lives of Kaine and Abigail, the little girl he has been treating. What he doesn’t know is what Death will want in return.

Will Sliney’s art is one of the reasons to read this book. His backgrounds are particularly strong and this issues cover (supplied by Mark Bagley, Scott Hanna, and Paul Counts) is so cool it is currently my laptop desktop’s display.

Peter David is trying hard to make us care about this ersatz Spider-Man, to make him different from the original. I’m not sure this series has long term potential but right now it deserves a little attention.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10

Critical Role: Vox Machina – Origins #1

Review by Jeremy Thomas

If you’re a D&D fan and haven’t heard of Critical Role, you’re missing out. Geek & Sundry’s live-streamed Dungeons & Dragons series is a treat for fans of role-playing games or just fantasy storytelling in general. Voice actor Matthew Mercer (McCree in Overwatch, Leon Kennedy in Resident Evil) runs a group of his fellow actors through epic adventures in his world of Tal-Dorei weekly on streaming service Project Alpha and Geek & Sundry’s Twitch channel on Thursday nights, a fun, funny and often dramatic campaign that has a dedicated fanbase.

Critical Role has been expanding over the past year-plus that it’s been a show, with an official campaign guide and now a comic book. Mercer and writer/game designer Matt Colville (Evolve) have teamed up to write the story of Vox Machina’s coming together in Critical Role: Vox Machina – Origins. The first issue of the series is a fun introduction to the characters that old fans and new can dive into, with art from Olivia Samson.

The first issue centers on the half-elven twins of Vex’halia and Vax’ildan as they investigate a curse in the town of Stillben. The curse comes out of the swamp and claims the lives of the infirm and young, but the siblings soon discover there’s more to things than they appear. Mercer and Colville nicely capture the essence of Vax and Vex in their early days. Vax is the more idealistic of the two and Vex is very much the cynic here, and their interplay feels both fun and authentic. Their first encounter with one of their future allies is also portrayed, a scene with a lot of humor and heart.

Samson’s art is quite nice, and complements Mercer and Colville’s storytelling well. The fantasy art brings to mind a cleaner, more defined tone than a book like Saga, differentiating itself nicely. The action scenes are well-done and hold little back in terms of the violence, something the story reflects in as well with some rather dark moments.

All in all, Vox Machina – Origins serves as an effective jumping-off point for people who want to learn what all the Critical Role fuss is about, but it also stands strong as its own thing too. There’s enough here for readers to want to keep progressing, and this “Critter,” as we Critical Role fans are known, has officially added it to his pull list.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Batman #31

Reviewby Sankalp G.

“Kiteman…hell yeah!”, was my reaction after reading this issue of Batman. Batman #31 or the 4th issue in the War of Jokes and Riddles (WOJAR) points to the finale in a spectacular fashion; where we are not just waiting for one but two cliffhangers.

The issue starts with a normal day in Gotham, the Joker is playing with his victim, except this time the Riddler and his army are alongside Batman and are waiting outside the Joker’s penthouse. This is where the fun begins and Catwoman’s role is also explained.

This is part of the reason why Tom King spent two issues for the whole “Ballad of the Kite Man”. A fun character development for sure, this is where it gets serious as Batman, the Joker and the Riddler finally face each other alone in a room.

King’s Riddler has been fantastic. This was the issue where we could compare both the Riddler and the Joker as characters and by far the Riddler comes out on top, for the first time, against the Joker. Thanks to Mike Janin’s distinct characterization for him, finally, the wit of Nigma feels menacing, pointing to the fact that King surely had fun writing him. This is also the reason why the Joker feels ineffective in this series. Sure, King has tried to portray a serious Joker but when the Riddler outshines him in most aspects, there is something which needs to be addressed.

Overall, WOJAR has been a fantastic read but the climax is what makes or breaks the story. With Catwoman’s reply to Batman’s marriage proposal depending upon what Batman tells her next, King needs a solid issue to top this superb event.

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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