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411’s Comic Reviews: Spirits of Vengeance #1, Batman: White Knight #1, More

October 12, 2017 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Spirits of Vengeance 1

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 Scariest Comic Book Characters Of All-Time!

Now on with the show!

Fighting American #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

The Cold War superhero returns – originally launched in 1954 by the creators of Captain America, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby!

When the 1950s heroes find themselves trapped in the modern world, how will they handle what society has become, and what dangers will they face?

With new villains to contend with and enemies from their past pursuing them, what daring adventures could Fighting American and Speedboy find themselves in now?

Fighting American has a long and storied history in the industry. Created in 1954 by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the character was an anomaly for its time as the character was creator-owned. The similarities between Fighting American and Captain America are obvious but both were products of their time. Simon said in 1989 that he felt the anti-Communist fervor of the era would provide antagonists who would be “colorful, outrageous and perfect foils for our hero.” He said:

“The first stories were deadly serious. Fighting American was the first [C]ommie-basher in comics. We were all caught up in Senator McCarthy’s vendetta against the ‘red menace.’ But soon it became evident that McCarthy … had gone too far, damaging innocent Americans…. Then, the turnaround, [as] his side became talked of as the lunatic fringe…. Jack and I quickly became uncomfortable with Fighting American’s cold war. Instead, we relaxed and had fun with the characters.”

Looks like we need the Fighting American today, more than ever. The first issue from Titan Comics gives the reader everything they need to know what’s going on and where the comic is going. The tone set by Gordon Renni is perfect for a character created in the 50s who is being reintroduced to modern audiences. Same with the art by Duke Mighten. They’re a good pair and I’ll admit that I was pleasantly surprised that they managed to keep my attention the whole issue.

There’s certain baggage and a fine line when it comes to comic characters whose best days may be behind them. It takes a special creative team to find the right angle and Renni and Mighten have found it. Even better, they have me looking forward to the next issue, thanks to a fresh twist that’s best left for you to read for yourself.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Dan Dare #1

Review by Steve Gustafson

The iconic British hero returns for brand-new adventures, written by Peter Milligan with art by Alberto Fouche! featuring cover by superstar artist Christian Ward (ODY-C, Black Bolt)!

For the first time in human history, the Sol System is at peace and Dan Dare, pilot of the future, is bored out of his mind – and praying for something to break the monotony of peace.

When an unknown alien vessel of biblical proportions arrives in the solar system and obliterates a moon of Saturn in a show of strength, Dare finds himself thrust back into a new adventure that threatens not just earth – but all life in the entire universe!

I was a fan of Dan Dare growing up and a fan of Alberto Foche’s artwork. Fortunately Peter Milligan has a firm writing hand and it all comes together for a solid issue. Like Fighting American, a classic concept comes to the modern day and finds its voice.

Like any first issue, this sets up the characters and the future storylines. The artwork really grabs you and Foche’s style here feels right for the story.

Pretty much we are shown Dan Dare and the circumstances that he finds himself. Peace reigns and Dare is left bored and without purpose. What happens to the hero without a villain? A great concept and one Milligan is prepared to explore.

Dan Dare is another solid read from Titan Comics and gives you plenty to chew on while waiting for the second issue.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Rough Riders Vol. 2

Review by Steve Gustafson

Collecting all six issues of the Riders on the Storm arc!

Three years have passed since the Rough Riders last adventure, but when an assassins’ bullet takes President William McKinley’s life, Vice President, Theodore Roosevelt is thrust into the role of Commander in Chief. As a country mourns the loss of their leader, Roosevelt believes that the assassin is part of a bigger conspiracy, ones whose tentacles reach back to Europe and whose intentions are to destroy humanity through world-wide ANARCHY.

To stop them Roosevelt must convince Harry Houdini, Jack Johnson, Thomas Edison and a surprisingly very alive Annie Oakley to band together again. But time has strained the bonds that once united them and the ideologies of their enemies may have already seeped into one of their own.

Created and written by Adam Glass (executive producer of Supernatural and writer of Suicide Squad) with art by Patrick Olliffe (Untold Tales of Spider-Man).

Let’s see what we have. Great writing, great artwork, great characters, great story…I guess I can safely say Rough Riders Vol. 2 is great.

I’m a sucker for works that use real people in extraordinary circumstances. Any book that pairs Houdini, Johnson, Edison, and Oakley with Roosevelt is going to get my attention. That being said, it’s also going to be judged by a higher standard.

Adam Glass knows his stuff and balances real life nuances with just enough fiction to keep things interesting. Patrick Olliffe keeps both the quiet moments and action parts moving and engaging.

Rough Riders is one of those books that quietly does its thing and should garner more attention as its a welcome counter to massive crossovers and confusing continuity. Rough Riders Vol 2 is an easy recommendation and gives you everything you need to have a great time reading it.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Spirits of Vengeance #1

Review by RobF

Of all the stories spawned from Marvel Legacy, Spirit of Vengeance was near the bottom of my list. Ghost Rider. Hellstrom. Santana. Blade. Not exactly A-list superheroes but the Marvel U is severely lacking a supernatural element at the moment. Does this comic fill the void?

Unfortunately it doesn’t. The problem is the plot, it’s very generic and dull. The heroes have to get together to fight a common foe. I’m betting Blade will be a reluctant participant but will eventually join. There is really nothing interesting about watching this team assemble. I wish they would have cut to the action and sprinkled in the making-of as the story moves on.

The artwork supplied by David Baledon and Andres Mossa is what you would expect for a supernatual story. When Ghost Rider released his hellfire it literally bursts off the page. The colors are bright and vibrant and sets the tone for the series.

The one thing I can say about this series is that I am glad that the Ghost Rider is the Johnny Blaze version. He has always been the best version in my opinion. I like Blade as well. The generic nature of the story is it’s downfall, there just isn’t enough here to keep me reading.

Rating: 6.0 out of 10

Batman: White Knight #1

Review by Jonathan Durden

I’m liking the new Elseworlds-style stories that DC has been putting out recently. The main one of course being the Metal one-shots with Batman having different darker versions of himself take over the other members of the Justice League. However, I’ve been just as if not more impressed with Nightwing: The New Order and now this: Batman: White Knight.

The general premise here is that Batman, after years of obsessing over the Joker and stopping him, he finally goes too far and messes up beyond repair. The roles reverse and Joker, who now prefers to be called “Jack Napier”, is Gotham’s “White Knight” and Batman is incarcerated. There is a lot to this story and I don’t want to give it all away so that’s all I will say about it right now.

Sean Murphy is responsible for the story as well as the art, and Matt Hollingsworth does the colors. What a team they make. Murphy delivers all the things you would expect of an Elseworlds Batman story and Hollingsworth sets the tone perfectly for each situation. The story structure is such that it starts in the current time frame then flashes back to the events that set in motion everything that leads up to now. I think that pattern will continue throughout the eight-issue miniseries but it is too early to tell.

The big debate this story seems to deal with is the question of “Who created the Joker?” Was it Batman? Gotham? Was Joker just crazy the whole time until now? It also entertains the thought “Is Joker really the bad guy?” Who is worse? A lunatic or the man that allows him to live? Perhaps Batman gets as much excitement out of their engagements as Joker does.

In the Joker’s mind, he believes that if he really wanted to, he could end Batman and fix Gotham city. We see that hypothesis put to the test in this story and it is very intriguing and I think it will be a fun yet thought-provoking read for Batman fans. So pick up this book if you’re wondering if Joke- I mean Jack Napier can maintain sanity and help Gotham without the Batman.

Rating: 8.0 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! Youcan now find our reviews on!