So on top of all of the regular comics coming out in September, the flood of DC villains month books is making it really hard to keep up on the reviews. I reviewed some of the books in the last batch of comic reviews HERE. So over the weekend I played catchup with some of the rest of the villains books and so lets see how they stack up.
Darkseid #1 (Justice League #23.1)
DC Comics Written by Greg Pak, Art by Paulo Siqueira and Netho Diaz, Colorist HI-FI, Letterer Dezi Sienty
With week one of villains month DC brought out there big guns as far as villains goes. And it doesn’t get much bigger than Darkseid. Created by Jack “The King” Kirby in 1970 for DC Comics for his Fourth World books, Darkseid is probably the most powerful and evil villains in the DC Universe. DC plot for this issue is, For Darkseid, Lord of Apokolips, you conform or die. Now born into his realm is an anomaly who looks to challenge that. A trickster, who will go to any length to survive even if it means sacrificing worlds to do it—leading to an Earth shattering confrontation between The Man of Steel and a Dark Lord. So in the New 52 version they have done away with all of the great mythology that Kirby created for the character and have simplified it down to a power-hungry farmer who kills the gods and gains there powers. I don’t blame Pak for this one. I’m sure that was a decision made by someone above his pay grade for this plot line. So lets just say the new origin of Darkseid is not so epic anymore. So with that out-of-the-way how does the rest of the book? Well I guess the “good news” after that is that the rest of the issue feel like “classic” Darkseid but turn into an average story that leads into the next issues of Batman/Superman and Earth 2. The art by Siqueira and Diaz is very nice and nicely captures the scope of the gods quite well at the beginning of the story.
So is the book worth your time and money? I didn’t like the fact that his new origin is so weakly thought out and over simplified compared to the Kirby version. The story tends to tread familiar ground and while a fair read the book never really goes anywhere. The art is good compared to some of the villain book so far this month. For the $3.99 I’m on the fence about this one. If you know the real origin of Darkseid then you are going to probably feel the same way. If you are not familiar with the character then you might buy this so-so origin.
Creeper #1 (Justice League Dark #23.1)
DC Comics Writer Ann Nocenti with story by Dan Didio, Pencillers Chiscross, Fabrizio Fioentino, & Tom Derenick Inkers Wayne Faucher, Andy Owens, & Tom Derenick Colorist Ulises Arreola, Kyle Ritter, & Pete Pantazis Letterer Travis Lanham
Well we have found the winner of the bottom of the barrel so far of the villains month (It’s still early but it’s going to be hard to top this one). Lets clear the air before I tear into this train wreck. I am a huge Steve Ditko fan and love his DC work back in the late 60’s and 70’s. One of the characters that he created was The Creeper. Now his origin in a short nutshell was that TV reporter Jack Ryder was crashing a mobsters costume party to find a kidnapped scientist Dr. Yatz and Ryder showed up in a yellow and green Creeper outfit. He was discovered and shot but Dr. Yatz injected him with a serum and implant a device in his wounds. This allowed him to change back and forth between Ryder and the Creeper. DC plot for this mess is, Freed from his mystical prison, The Creeper walks a path littered with gore and misery—and there may be no way to stop him! Many will be caught in his web, including the Justice League of America’s Katana and Jack Ryder, The Creeper’s unwitting human host. Where will The Creeper strike next? WHO CARES I say! So basically DC has turned this great character into a mad kabuki spirit that inhabits Ryder then creates havoc then Ryder is there to film the story? Yea it’s even stupider than you can imagine. As you can see above it took a total of twelve people to make this mess. Nocenti’s story is all over the place and the dialog is atrocious and mystifying at the same time. It’s hard to say which scene was worse, the scene in the diner where all of the patrons watching the television are explaining the plot or the last scene where Ryder (possessed by kabuki Creeper) goes into this biker bar and pick a fight with them and then turns into kabuki Creeper and then chases them on a motorcycle. The art is all over the place. With three pencilers and three inkers it’s a real visual hot mess (and not the good kind of hot mess either). The book reminds me of a book back in the 1980’s from DC Comics called New Talent Showcase to which most people referred to as No Talent Showcase. It’s like a bad acid flashback on this one. The art a number of times borders on incompetent and lack of human anatomy. The only art that is halfway decent is the first six pages of the book that slides into oblivion after that.
So is this book worth your time and money? HELL NO! This book is embarrassing on so many levels it’s not funny. Bad story, incoherent script, awful art makes this the worst villains month book that I have read yet. My only advice is to step back and then run away from this steaming pile of a book.
Count Vertigo #1 (Green Arrow #23.1)
DC Comics Writer Jeff Lemire, Artist Andrea Sorrentino, Colorist Marcelo Maiolo, Letterer Rob Leigh
After the Creeper #1 I want to point out that Count Vertigo is so far one of the best stories of the villains month so far. They need to send a copy of this book to everyone who worked on Creeper and say this is how it’s done folks! DC plot synopsis is, Get set for the twisted origin of Count Vertigo! Why is the Count in Vancouver on the hunt for Green Arrow, and what could have happened to make him such a sadistic adversary? Lemire has been one of the brightest spot in the whole New 52 reboot. His run on Animal Man has been really good and his Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. was a real blast. He has recently taken over Green Arrow and has really been bringing the goods on the book. Lemire does something that is sorely missing from most of the other villains books this month. He embraces the original origin of Count Vertigo (created by Gerry Conway and Trevor Von Eeden) and keep the essence of the origin and tweaking it just slightly and adding a bit more back story. And surprise you get a really solid story that allows new readers to get to know Count Vertigo and not alienating the readers who know his story. You could say that this is pretty much a regular issue of Green Arrow and you really wouldn’t be wrong. But I say so what. I think the point of this should be to get people to buy the regular books after these novelty cover issue anyways. The art by Sorrentino who is the current artist on Green Arrow (and had previously worked on the sadly missed I, Vampire book) turns in some really great work. His style is gritty and fit the story so well. I must really point out the color work by Maiolo really complements Sorrentino’s art so well and add to the overall atmosphere of the story.
Is this book worth your time and money? Shut up and take my money! And while you are at it go and find the the first issue that this creative team joined the book (#17) and sit back and see why this book has been so good lately. This is the first villains month book that make you actually continue to read after this issue.
Grodd #1 (The Flash #23.1)
DC Comics Writer Brian Buccellato, Penciller Chris Batista, Inker Tom Nguyen, Colorist Wes Dzioba, Letterer Wes Abbott
Well this is one of the dropped into the middle of the story issues of villains month. DC plot synopsis is, Grodd believed he was destined to become the bearer of light—until The Flash raced onto the scene! What will Grodd do now that The Flash has disappeared with the rest of the world’s heroes? Conquest is on the horizon as the world becomes—Forever Evil! The good news, bad news of this issue is Buccellato drops the origin retelling that seems to be a lot of the villains months issues in favor of the ongoing continuity story of Forever Evil but looking back in the first issue of the book there is no direct mention of this storyline. So if you feel a little lost with it, so was I. Now I’m not knocking the story that is actually pretty decent but it ultimately feels like a side story that really is not necessary to the overall story line of Forever Evil. It might be following the current story line but if thats the case then one wonders what it the point of villains month. This is one of those books that comic publishers put out to cash in on the latest epic whole universe is a part of. For a new reader there is not much information of who Grodd is and for readers who do know like me it felt like a what if type story. I really did enjoy Batista’s artwork on the book. He has done a number of DC books over the years but has never seems to catch a break on a regular book. His style is nice and clean and very solid with nice backgrounds. The inks by Nguyen compliment the pencils very nicely.
Is this book worth your time and money? While not bad I just felt that after reading it didn’t seem to leave much impression on me. The story and art are good but in the end it felt like a side story that is not going to help new readers figure out who Grodd is beyond a crazed gorilla who hates humans. I’m guessing that if you are not currently reading The Flash then you are going to feel the same way as I did about this book.
Two Face #1 (Batman & Robin #23.1)
DC Comics Written by Peter J. Tomasi, Artist Guillem March, Colorist Tomeu Morey, Letterer Dezi Sienty
Two-Face is very well known Batman villain to most of the public thanks to Christopher Nolan and masterfully portrayed by Aaron Eckhart in the Dark Knight. So skipping the origin part of Two-Face was probably wise for this book. DC plot synopsis is, Two-Face is approached to join the Secret Society! Which side will his coin land on? The story by Tomasi is a neat play on the 50-50 chance of fate that looks at Two-Face’s way of saving Gotham. He uses the Dent’s past to navigate the Gotham without Batman story and shows that he knows his way around the courthouse. While the story is not earth shattering by any means it’s very solid none the less. Tomasi’s take on the way that Dent plays good is very matter a fact just as if the coin toss had gone the other way is the way. This is very much keeping in the singular path that the character follows. Artist Guillem really dose a great job on the art for this book. I really love his visual of Dent’s face throughout the book. I also love his use of differ angles that he uses throughout the book.
Is this book worth your time and money? I did enjoy reading this book. The take of using a villain as a good guy is nothing new this book has a solid story and really nice artwork. A good read for $3.99
Relic #1 (Green Lantern 23.1)
DC Comics Writer Robert Venditti, Penciller Rags Morales, Inkers Cam Smith with Rags Morales, Colorist Andrew Dahlhouse, Letterer Dave Sharpe
Relic is a new villain to the Green Lantern universe and this issue reveals his origin. DC plot synopsis is, Who is Relic, and why must he kill every being in the universe who might wield the light of the emotional spectrum? Relic’s power could be the most formidable force the Lanterns have ever seen! While I have not been reading the recent Green Lantern books this issue is self-contained enough because it is a stand alone origin story. The premiss is pretty simple and it also is interesting to find out that there were more “light powers” other than the Green Lantern Corps green rings. Venditti’s story is pretty straight forward power corrupts and the lone scientist is the one who is trying to stop it. It’s a bit like the Krypton story of Jor-El telling the council that the end of the planet is near. While not particularly original it’s serviceable. Morales art is nice but there are a lot of pin-up that make up the art.
Is this book worth your time and money? Overall it’s OK but pretty average type story. It’s nothing that you haven’t read before and you won’t walk away with much. The art is nice but, overall the book is just kind of average. If you read the Green Lantern books then I would say pick it up but if you do not you might want to skip it.
Ventriloquist #1 (Batman the Dark Knight #23.1)
DC Comics Writer Gail Simone, Pencils Derlis Santacruz, Inker Karl Kesel, Colorist Brett Smith, Letterer Dave Sarpe
Another story set in Gotham after the villains have taken over the city. DC plot synopsis is, The origin of the Ventriloquist is revealed! One of them has powerful telekinesis and the other is a cold-blooded murderer—but who’s the real dummy in this act? The Ventriloquist is pretty much two villains put together one is the classic Ventriloquist Arnold Wesker now a female named Shauna Belzer with telepathic abilities and a doll that is pretty much Chucky. While the new Ventriloquist is unrelated to the original the only real difference is that the are not directly tied to each other as in previous incarnations. Simone’s story is pretty straight forward where you know exactly what is going to happen by the end of the story. While I will say that Shauna’s flashbacks are quite good the overall story is flat and predictable. Santacruz’s art is OK but nothing special it services the story and that’s about it.
Is this book worth your time and money? As with a lot of the villains books this month this is another one that falls into the meh pile. While not terrible it’s just kind of lays there. You could spend your $3.99 in better places.
Joker #1 (Batman 23.1)
DC Comics Writer Andy Kubert, Artist Andy Clark, Colorist Blond, Letterer Jared K. Fletcher
This story is one of those like/hate at the same time problems. DC plot synopsis is, The Joker has FOREVER been the face of EVIL in the DC Universe…but what led him on this devious path of treachery? Andy Kubert pens this early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Crown Prince of Gotham—The JOKER! The overall story I really did like but the problem is that the new origin of how the Joker got is white clown face is kind of pointless and unnecessary. Taking that part out of the equation the story is one of the strongest so far. I really like Joker starting his own twisted family and raising a young ape to be a partner in crime is quite brilliant. I did like the mirroring of Joker’s childhood just not the bleaching of his skin. The art is really fantastic. It by far is the best of any of the villains books I have read so far. Clark’s art is amazingly detailed really does some great background work. The coloring and lettering make this an overall really solid read.
Is this book worth your time and money. I say if you ignore the bleaching part and just go with the rest then this is one of the best so far. Solid story with great art makes this well worth the $3.99 cover price even with the minor bump in the road.
Court of Owls (Batman and Robin 23.2)
DC Comics Writer James Tynion IV, Artist Jorge Lucas, Colorist Dave McCaig, Letterer Steve Wands
The Court of Owlels is Gotham’s secret society that have assassins (Talons) to go out and do their bidding. DC synopsis is, The Court of Owls takes stock of the new world order created in the wake of Forever Evil! What horrors will they unleash in order to maintain control! This is a very by the numbers “secret society” tale that has flashbacks over the years of how they keep their little club hidden from the public. There is nothing neither new nor beyond obvious that happens or will happen with the story. Tynion script tries to ramp up the “suspense” and “secrets” but you don’t really care by the end. The art by Lucas is very moody but somewhat inconsistent. While the overall art has great mood Lucas human characters are really so-so. I will give it that is definitely has one of the better looking artwork on the cover compared to a lot of the villains books.
Is this book worth your time and money? Well this is one of those that just sits there and after reading it you say to yourself what was the point of this? Not really bad but not very good. And overall the Court of Owls is a pretty boring group with this story. Save you $3.99 for something better.
Black Manta #1 (Aquaman #23.1)
DC Comics Plot Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard, Writer Tony Bedard, Artist Claud St. Aubin, Colorist Blond, Letterer Carlos M. Mangual and Taylor Esposito
This is one of the few villains books that really seems to spin out of Forever Evil #1 DC plot synopsis is, Set loose as the Secret Society’s plan unfolds, Black Manta is shocked to learn that Aquaman may be dead! Without the object of his hatred, how will Manta claim his final vengeance against the man who killed his father? Where will one of the most lethal villains alive turn his rage when he begins a new mission? The issue starts off before the events in Forever Evil #1 and then lead into it, then follows Black Manta’s story from there. Ultimately it’s an OK read but falls into the trap of being a side story type book. While there is nothing wrong with that there is nothing in the overall issue that couldn’t have been told in the next issue of Forever Evil. Bedard’s script makes it a nice read but ultimately you read it and go on your way. Aubin’s art on the book is quite nice. Nice visual pace and good layouts and character art.
Is this book worth your time and money? Not bad by any means and kind of worth reading it’s above a lot of the average villains books so far but doesn’t soar to any new heights.
Desaad #1 (Earth 2 15.1)
DC Comics Writer Paul Levitz, Artist Yiloiray Cinar, Colorist Jason Wright, Letterer Carlos M. Mangual
Well here is another Jack Kirby New Gods character that after reading it I wonder what the F*#K was Paul Levitz smoking when he wrote this book. DC plot synopsis is, As a member of Darkseid’s inner circle, Desaad is the Apokoliptian god of fear and pain. And since being stranded on Earth because of the events of EARTH 2 #1, Desaad has looked for a way home. He has the means, in the form of Boom Tube technology, but could not power it…until now! Well apparently Desaad is now a soul sucking demon. Originally Desaad is a sadist and a coward against Darkseid and pretty much second in command. Now Levitz has his as this demon that is trying to build a boom tube to allow Darseid to come to earth from Apokolips. The script is so bland it wallows in its own mediocrity. Oh look Desaad is torturing people, running around making people do evil things, sending minions to go and steal equipment. The story goes absolutely nowhere. While this book is pretty bad it slightly less incompetent than Creeper #1. The art by Cinar is serviceable but really doesn’t do much. The real insult of the book is when Desaad looking through his “crystal ball” at people, Levitz has the gall to have him looking at Jack Kirby drawing at his art table. Really Paul after you ruin one of his creations. It’s just sad at that point.
Is this book worth your time and money? No it’s pretty pointless and turning Desaad into a demon is pointless and stupid. The Creeper #1 is still the worst but this one come pretty close though.
Bizarro #1 (Superman #23.1)
DC Comics Writer Sholly Fisch, Penciler Jeff Johnson, Inker Andy Smith, Colorist Javier Mena and Jordie Bellaire, Letterer John J. Hill
I have to admit that this book kind of surprised me. DC plot synopsis is, Lex Luthors’ sinister plan to manipulate Superman’s genetic material to create a mindless soldier under his control results in the monster known as Bizarro: opposite of Superman in every way, with no compassion, no remorse and no mercy! While this is a sort of origin story it’s more of a backstory of how Lex Luthor got Superman’s DNA and tries to splice it with a human. While the experiment does work the subject turns out quite differently than planned. Fisch’s story is pretty solid here. While not the classic backwards Bizarro that we all know and love this is more of a fail experiment tale than a real Bizarro story. None the less the pacing of the story is very good and while the story doesn’t really break any new ground I did find myself really enjoying it. I must really applaud Johnson for his artwork. It’s really great and adds to the story greatly. He really captures the monster really well. This is definitely one of the better looking books so far. DC should really give him a book soon or someone is going to scoop him up on their book.
Is this book worth your time and money? I really enjoyed this story and while it’s not ground breaking I really had a fun time reading it. With gorgeous artwork this book is a solid and one of the better villains months books. I say it’s worth the $3.99 cover price.
So what are we learning from the first two weeks of villains month books. It’s the same thing that is really affecting DC Comics as a whole currently. The lack of editorial direction. A decision should have been made on either the books should be origin or self-contained stories to help new readers. Continuations of current story lines that if you pick up a book that you are not currently reading then as a new reader you will be totally lost or at the very least confused. Or should they have tied in better to the Forever Evil storyline. The overall feel that I am getting is that there were lots of post it notes on the wall and darts thrown at them to make decisions. While anytime that you do a universe wide event like this you are always going to have good and bad books in the mix but there needs to be a clear picture of what you want to accomplish with this. If DC Comics is trying to get new readers to into the fold I don’t think the overall picture is very clear. We still have two weeks to go but I’m guessing that it going to be more misses than hit.