Thinking_Critical

The comic book community is abuzz after Bleeding Cool dropped a bombshell Tuesday evening. Tom King is being removed from Batman by DC Comics after issue 85. Tom King and DC Comics previously confirmed his Batman run will end around issue #105. Current speculation is his run ended prematurely due to pressure from Warner Bros. and AT&T after King proclaimed the finish of his run will change Batman for generations.

Tom King was signed to an exclusive deal at DC Comics in 2016 to follow Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s highly successful Batman run. King’s Batman started on fire with excellent sales, critical acclaim and reader enthusiasm. That all changed leading up to Batman #50, also known as “The Wedding.” Readers are souring on King and his take on Batman ever since. Batman #49 shipped 121 thousand issues to retailers in June 2018. That number reduced by over 33% to 89 thousand on issue 69 just 10 months later.

ComicBook.com published an interview with King on 22 May where he stated, “for 75 issues, that's all I've wanted to talk about. I've been wanting to talk about it forever. When the wedding busts open, I just wanted to be like, 'you got to see what's coming, you got to see this.' I feel relieved; this whole run was just building to this arc. I remember being at the DC retreat and literally drawing lines on the board, and I was like 'when you hit #50, this is going to be Batman's highest moment, this is going to be as happy as Batman gets. And when you hit #75 you'll be as low as Batman gets.' And I just knew those 25 issues would be painful for the audience.” He also states his current story wraps up around issue 90. What changed in such a short amount of time? Who fires their highest selling writer after he makes such claims?

CBR.com confirmed Tom King is leaving the Batman series by the end of 2019. They further clarified he has several new, unannounced projects with DC Comics moving forward. DC is releasing details on his new projects in the months ah..

Todd McFarlane’s record Spawn #300 is rapidly approaching. Spawn #300 features an all-star creative team. DC writer Scott Snyder, former Spawn artist Greg Capullo, cover artist extraordinaire J. Scott Campbell and current Spawn artists Shawn Alexander and Jerome Opena join the Toddfather on the landmark issue. McFarlane will ink Capullo’s pencils as well as pencil some pages of his own. Marking his first interior pencil work on Spawn since 1995. Capullo drew Spawn from issues 16 in 1993 until issue 100. DC co-publisher Jim Lee also contributes to the issue in an unidentified role.

Anticipation for Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's final Batman collaboration Last Knight on Earth hit a fever pitch. When Snyder conceived his Batman: Year Zero, his version of The Dark Knight’s origin, he also plotted his death. Snyder and Capullo reunite to tell this story in Batman: Last Knight on Earth. It presents the final days of the Dark Knight in a way readers likely never envisioned, wandering a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Accompanied by the detached head of his greatest enemy.

Marvel announced multiple tie-ins to August’s Absolute Carnage event. Frank Tieri, Saladin Ahmed, Cullen Bunn and others join event lead Donny Cates. Tie-ins include Deadpool and Miles Morales. Marvel also released the cover for Absolute Carnage #2. A horde of Carnage symbiotes chase venom, while appearing to catch Miles Morales Spider-Man.

Comic industry legend Warren Ellis relaunches WildCATs with Border Town castoff Ramon Villalobos in August. WildCATS is an important titles in comic book history. It was one of the original series to launch Image Comics. The new WildCATs miniseries is a spin-off of Elli’s recent The Wild Storm. A reboot of DC co-publisher and chief creative officer Jim Lee’s comic universe and former publishing line.

Neal Adams returns to the classic villain he first drew (Ra’s al Ghul) this summer. Adams will write and illustrate the Batman vs. Ra’s al Ghul, which returns Ra’s ..

Bruce Banner is trapped inside Shadow Base Site A — powerless and hunted by their top assassin. He can’t run forever. He can’t change form. He can’t survive...without THE IMMORTAL HULK. But not the one you think.

British writer Al Ewing is an unlikely creator to restore Hulk to comic book success. He’s written Judge Dredd, Mighty Avengers , Ultimates and other name properties but until now he’s never scribed anything most readers would call must read. His success on Immortal Hulk elevates his status and he’s the primary creative voice on the upcoming Marvel Comics #1000. Brazilian artist Joe Bennett has been in the industry much longer. He started publishing Brazilian horror comics back in the 90’s. Bennett cut his teeth in North American comics on titles Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, Fantastic Four and Incredible Hulk. His past work on horror comics serves Immortal Hulk well. Al Ewing and Joe Bennett are redefining the classic Hulk character.

The team take the first page to catch readers up on the current situation following Immortal Hulk #16. Bruce Banner and his therapist fell into a trap searching for Rick Jones’ body. They arrived at Shadow Base A and Agent Burbank killed his therapist. The trap was sprung when they fired up their UV emitters forcing Hulk to retreat. He only comes out at night and Bruce banner was shot. I love it when writers take the time to welcome new readers to a series and catch them up best they can.

Veteran horror artist Bennett uses multiple tricks to create a sense of urgency and dread. He orients panel angles and reader perspective to ratchet up tensions. His excellent details on facial expression are perfect for Ewing’s intense narrative style. Ruy Jose inks Bennett’s excellent line art and they create extremely dynamic, vicious action scenes. The pairing of Bennett and Jose push Immortal Hulk to the forefront of mainstream horror comics.

An overarching theme of the series is Bruce Banner’s dissociative identity disord..

Named one of the best books of the year by Paste Magazine, Comics Beat and others, the Unity Saga continues! The drama of the House of El tears the galaxy in half as Superman and his son are forced to confront his father about the secrets of Krypton in front of the gathered heads of the galaxy. Superman makes a bold choice that will forever change his relationship to the Earth, the Justice League and his family! Witness one of the most important chapters in Superman history!

Superman comic fans have been hurting ever since Brian Michael Bendis took over Superman and Action Comics and forced the cancellation of Super Sons. After cucking out Superman and destroying his family, Bendis settled into a fairly predictable pattern on both series. Plenty of continuity errors, exhaustive amounts of lame exposition, almost no action and minimal story cohesion or progression. Superman #11 finally delivers action and but suffers much the same otherwise.

Thus far Ivan Reis is delivering consistently great art in spite of the lackluster writing. But the graphics and layouts take a noticeable step back this issue. It feels like he’s rushed this issue and Brandon Peterson (credited for some art the past few issues) is noticeably absent. Alex Sinclair’s color work is still really good but it’s hard to standout when the line art is noticeably lacking.

Bendis has had nearly 30 issues to do something, anything interesting with Superman. Even Action Comics, the good series (and I use that term very loosely), features little to no story progression each issue. Superman continues to be a hot garbage and even the normally stellar art is pedestrian this issue. I can’t recommend this to anyone, including readers enjoying this series. Please find better comics and increase your expectations for Superman. You don’t have to suffer through this terrible writing. There are 80 years of back issues and hundreds of Superman stories that are worth your time. This ain’t it and the sooner Bendis ..

The first two issues of Marvel Comics Spider-Man Life Story are nearly perfect and 5 star books in my opinion. Issue three isn’t quite as good as it predecessors but it’s still excellent and continues to cement Zdarsky as one of comics brightest stars.

Zdarsky is the hottest writer in comics today. His Spider-Man Life Story is phenomenal and his two other current Marvel series, Daredevil and Invaders, are equally impressive. Unfortunately Invaders hasn’t found an audience despite its very high quality. His Daredevil pairing with Marco Checchetto is great as expected and is Marvel’s best current ongoing series.

Marvel couldn’t pair Chip with a better artistic collaborator on Life Story. Mark Bagley is an industry veteran discovered by former Marvel EiC Jim Shooter’s Marvel Try-Out Book contest. Bagley and writer David Michelini introduced Carnage to the Marvel universe in 1991. His version of Venom is one of the most popular of all-times and he was an artist on “Maximum Carnage” and “Clone Saga.” His Spidey credentials are legit and his Venom work elevates issue 3.

If you’re new to the concept this is Spider-Man’s story being told through each decade. The twist is he ages in real-time. Peter Parker is 16 in issue 1 and is in his mid-30s this issue. It’s an ambitious concept that Zdarksy and Bagley are executing to near perfection. In the previous issue Peter was married to Gwen Stacey. Peter discovered Professor Miles Warren (The Jackal) cloned Norman Osborn, Gwen and himself. Harry Osborn burned his lab to the ground and Peter only saved his own clone. Warren then revealed Peter’s wife was actually a clone and the real Gwen Stacy, Peter’s first love, was lost.

Despite his love for the character Chips Zdarsky is putting Peter, his friends and family through the wringer. If you’re new to Spider-Man, Life Story is a must read. I really like Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Spider-Man: Blue as a character introduction. I think when Life Story is complete it will suppl..

“The Fall and the Fallen” continues! Will it be father and son working together, or tearing each other apart? When it comes to the Waynes, expect a little of both. In the quest to get Bruce Wayne to hang up the cape and cowl, Thomas Wayne is going to have to use a little tough love. Only, not all the muscle behind it will be his own.

Tom King is pseudo-recreating the events of Knightfall but on a much darker scale, if that’s possible. In Knightfall Bane didn’t break Batman. He orchestrated events and Batman broke himself trying to do what was right and save the citizens of Gotham. After Batman broke himself Bane took the husk of what was left and broke his back. Batman destroying himself trying to save people is heroic. In King’s take on the story, Batman is being destroyed mentally because he was left at the altar. Bruce can’t accept Selina left him and believes Bane orchestrated the event. Nothing about Bane’s plan has been about using Batman’s heroic nature against him. It’s Bruce creating a fake villain because he can’t accept she left him and he’s breaking mentally more and more each issue.

Recently King said his story will alter Batman for generations. My theory is when this is over Batman will be schizophrenic, suffer dissociative identity disorder or some other severe mental health malady. This is my take on the direction of the series and the hallucinations Batman is frequently suffering. This is a terrible direction for any heroic archetype and I hope I’m reading this all wrong.

One of the reasons I’ve come to this conclusion is the amount of continuity errors each issue now. This issue Batman uses the Bat-Signal to shoot a red beam in the sky. The signal was destroyed by Gordon back in issue 60. There are also many characters who shouldn’t be where they are depicted such as Hush and Man-Bat in Arkham Asylum in issue 70. The volume of errors has to be intentional and part of Batman’s mental breakdown.

Batman #71 tells two concurrent stories. One in ..

Most writers today would serve themselves well to revisit Claremont’s seminal Unanny X-Men run at Marvel Comics. The series features a small rag-tag group of heroes from across the globe. They all had very distinct voices, strength and weakness. Cyclops, Jean Grey, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Sunfire, Storm and Banshee learn to work together while confronting a who’s who of X-Verse villains. The series addresses social issues from time to time but the central focus is always on fun adventure and team dynamics. Claremont is also a master at catching new readers up as the series moves along.

There are other good and even great X-Men runs but none come close to Claremont’s achievement. It’s also been years since any of the X-Men books have been fun. Claremont’s X-Men is a great action comic that features social commentary when it suits a character or story. For far too long X-Men books are about social issues like discrimination and persecution in society that feature exciting adventures if writers have time for it. Marvel has a terrible track record finding creators who love and understand the X-Men of late. Far too many creators see the X-Men as a vessel to deliver their views on racism, gender discrimination, the environment and even their personal displeasure with President Trump.

Marvel Comics actively sandbagged X-Men series for years because they were butt hurt 20th Century Fox owned the movie rights to the X-Men. Marvel legend and the man most responsible for the success of the X-Men Chris Claremont explained in 2016.

The final issue plaguing X-Men titles is Marvel’s insistence on creating the next generation of mutants. Most readers don’t want new X-Men, they want to read about their favorite mutant heroes and their adventures. Every attempt at creating the next generation has failed miserably except Generation-X, which was mildly successful. Marvel readers simply do not care for the new characters introduced in Young X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Me..

This week’s Marvel Comics releases contained teasers images featuring creators for an upcoming event in August 2019. Speculation began almost immediately. Many believing they were associated with the upcoming Absolute Carnage event or Marvel’s 80th anniversary celebration. Everyone knew this was Marvel EIC C.B. Cebulski’s baby. Some thought he was finally getting free rein to manage Marvel Comics for a change. There was a chance Marvel was returning to its roots by bringing back a core of great creators. Ushering in a renewed focused on quality and customer satisfaction. I was highly skeptical Marvel would drop their SJW focus and course correct their comic’s lineup.

Turns out, C.B. Cebulski’s baby is nothing more than a manufactured one-off cash grab. Marvel Comics #1000 commemorates the 80th anniversary of Marvel Comics #1, released in 1939. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled after only 159 issues in 1959. And even if the series continued the past 60 years it still wouldn’t be close to reaching issue 1000 now. Customers have been expressing frustration at Marvel Comics for far left ideological content, constant series reboots and an endless string of events for years. Now Marvel Comic’s genius leadership team are falsely manufacturing an issue 1000 they never earned to bilk readers and retailers out of even more money.

On the surface, sales numbers look great for Marvel. Powered by four issue 1’s in the top 10, Marvel moved over 50% of all comics shipped and held 45% of the dollar market share in April 2019. If you dig a bit deeper things look much worse for Marvel and the comic book industry in general.

Dollars sold are down 11% compared to March 2019. Comic book dollar sales dropped a whopping 14.6% in comparison to April 2018. Overall, comic book and graphic novel dollars sales in April were down 17.65% compared to April 2018, though down a slightly lesser 15.24% in total units shipped. Thanks to the overwhelming success of last month’s Detective Com..

A WAR OF THE REALMS TIE-IN! As Sindr, Immortal Queen of Muspelheim, and her legions of Fire Demons march on Asia, it’s time for a new band of heroes to unite to protect the Pacific Rim. Having brought together a ragtag team of heroes to defend the Earth from an alien invasion in the past, can Amadeus Cho reassemble his “protectors” -- Shang-Chi, Silk and Jimmy Woo to save the world from incineration? And where is Kamala Khan? And just who are Crescent, Io and Luna Snow??? Featuring Marvel’s newest heroes from China, AERO and SWORD MASTER, and a mysterious new Filipino heroine named WAVE!

#waroftherealms #newagentsofatlas #marvelcomics

Contact Thinking Critical:
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Several years ago Batman personally put the Barrera family into hiding after they suffered through terrible experiments at the hands of an organization called the Ark. Now all but one of them has turned up dead...and Batman needs to locate Sofia Barrera before the wrong people get their hands on her—and her surprising power! But it wouldn’t be Batman without a hidden agenda, would it? And when Black Lightning, Katana, the Signal and Orphan find out what Batman is really up to, their every loyalty will be called into question!

The greatest superhero team in Gotham City history is gone...this time, for good. How will the Dark Knight pick up the pieces knowing that his squad of vigilantes is gone? Find out in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 8!

In the aftermath of the last stand of the Gotham Knights, Batman, Batwoman, Red Robin, Orphan, Azrael, Batwing and company took down a monster they helped create. How will they deal with the physical and psychological ramifications of this epic battle? And who will hang up their capes?

Duke Thomas. Cassandra Cain. They and other young heroes don't intend to stand down, no matter what Batman thinks is best. Who can Batman trust to guide them? They need a teacher...and Black Lightning fits the bill!

The epilogue chapter to writer James Tynion IV's acclaimed run on the series is here in BATMAN: DETECTIVE COMICS VOL. 8! Collects issues #982-986.

The biggest thing holding Bryan Hill’s work back in comics so far has been his artistic collaborators. Fortunately, this go-around he’s received an extremely talented visual stylist, Dexter Soy. Dexter Soy is one of the great visual storytellers in the industry today and doesn’t receive the proper recognition in my opinion. His action scenes are extremely impactful and always easy to follow. I also need to shout out color artist Veronica Gandini. She makes all the heroes look great during their moments.

Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy are a match made in comic book heaven and Veronica Gandin..

THE RETURN OF THE MOST ACCLAIMED CRIME COMIC OF THE 21ST CENTURY! Hot off their bestselling series KILL OR BE KILLED and their original graphic novel MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, crime comic masters ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS finally return to their most-demanded title -- as a new MONTHLY SERIES! A perfect introduction to CRIMINAL and its dark, exciting world, this series will also include back page art and articles to bring readers more fully into the noir experience.

Contact Thinking Critical:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Wes_from_TC
Email [email protected]

Graphics and layouts provided by Chalpha:
Portfolio: https://chalphagraph.carbonmade.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Chalphabet
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chalphagraph/

DC’s “Year of the Villain” starts this month. Lex Luthor begins visiting various series offering villains a way to defeat heroes once and for all. Writer Scott Snyder says the event culminates “in a battle between good and evil in November when one side will win, and that will propel the biggest story we’ve told, at least in my time in DC, from December through spring of 2020.”

The previously announced six-issue Batman Who Laughs is expanding to seven issues. This alternate reality version of Batman was first introduced in the successful comic book miniseries Dark Nights: Metal as a Batman who has become transformed into an immoral villain through exposure to Joker toxin. Batman Who Laughs #7 segue into the upcoming new Batman/Superman series featuring Batman Who Laughs and an all-new Secret Six.

The all-new Year of the Villain related Batman/Superman ongoing launches in August to battle a new Secret Six led by the Batman Who Laughs. "We discover, through the Batman Who Laughs series that the Batman Who Laughs have been working on this massive plan since Metal.

DC Comics (led by Detective Comics 1000, Grim Knight 1 and Doomsday Clock 9) dominated the top 10 comics sold for March. In all DC help 6 of the top 10 slots. Despite producing 33% less titles DC also led the dollar share of the market on the back of Detective Comics 1000’s $10 cover price. DC’s performance also led a 13% dollars sold increase over March 2018 but units shipped are down just under 2%.

DC Comics announced Doomsday Clock 10 releases May 29, a full nine weeks past its original solicitation. Issue 11 is now scheduled for August 14, 12 weeks later than its original release date. Johns and Frank’s had trouble meeting the original release schedule and the series became bi-monthly in January. Geoff Johns other DC Comic’s title, Shazam!, is also being delayed. Shazam! #6 releases 5 June, three weeks later than the original solicitations. Previously issues two and five experienced delays.

#DCC..

In the year 4002, a cyborg samurai named Rai struggles to find his morality, while the nanite-filled supersoldier Bloodshot is on a mission to save the citizens of Earth. Will they work together for the greater good? All signs point to no. Oh, and did we mention there are also dinosaurs on the loose and powerful animal-human hybrid mutants? Good luck with that, Rai. Love smart sci-fi and engrossing world-building? Dan Abnett (Aquaman) and Adam Pollina’s (X-Force) FALLEN WORLD has you covered.”

When I learned Valiant Comics was releasing a new five part sequel to Rai and 4001 AD I couldn’t have been more excited. Dan Abnett writing the series furthered my belief that this would be a worthy sequel. When I saw this cover from Jonboy Meyers, I was even more eager for the series. But there was always a bit of doubt in my mind.

Clayton Crain set the bar in the stratosphere for whoever followed him and Adam Polina, expectedly, falls short. The opening page gives an excellent recap of Rai and 4001 AD. Polina has a much different style than Crain and it suits the book…sometimes. In fact, Polina uses multiple art styles that make the book feel a bit schizophrenic at times. Overall the art is pretty good but uneven. Making Rai appear more human is a mistake in my opinion.

While I have some issues with the art the real failure of Fallen World is the characterization or mischaracterization by writer Dan Abnett. When we meet Rai he’s become the default leader of the surviving humans and their former positronic slaves. On New Japan Rai never interacts with anyone until just before the fall. Most people don’t even believe he exists because they never see him. He’s never been a leader in his existence. Why would he be one now?

Lula, the human who helped Rai see the light and lead the revolution on New Earth, approaches him. She takes him to the Life Labs to show him her work. She’s constructed all kind of smart machines based on technology of New Japan. Lula was a teen who j..

“The Fall and the Fallen” begins! This is the one you’ve been waiting for! Now that Batman has escaped the “Knightmares,” he’s starting to see the forces rallying against him-and that his father from another universe has joined the other side. The Caped Crusader finally digs into the mystery of how Thomas Wayne, a.k.a. the Flashpoint Batman, escaped the collapse of his dimension and ended up in this part of the Multiverse. Get all the answers in this new five-part story paving the way for the next big BATMAN event!

Batman issue 70 is the first since the Knightmare story arc that ground the series to a halt. Saying I’m excited moving on, undersells just how much I loathed Knightmares and its array of terrible characterization and pointless plots. The good news is, Batman 70 is orders of magnitude better than 68, the low point of the series post-Wedding. The bad news is, that’s an extremely low bar and issue 70 still isn’t very good. The art is terrific, if uneven. The writing is filled with many of Tom King’s worst tendencies and the plot moves the story forward about 250 feet.

Might as well start with the good and talk about the art, which is split between Mikel Janin and Jorge Fornes. . Mikel Janin has such a smooth line style; its seamless and undeniably him. This kind of causes a problem with this issue. His style and Fornes’ style aren’t exactly similar and give the art a very uneven feel. Not that Jorge Fornes’ art doesn’t belong here. His heavy line art and shadowing are very moody and fit Batman to a T. Jordie Bellaire’s colors look great with both artists and he does his best to make it consistent.

This week in pretentious Tom King features William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. I get it, Tom really wants me to know how deep he is. So he fills his comic books with classic literature and prose. This issue is basically a very over-powered Batman walking through a who’s who of his rogue’s gallery with shocking ease. Bane has driven him to compl..

THE STAR-CROSSED LOVER! DARTH VADER, a name that strikes fear in the hearts of countless across the galaxy...but there is one lonely heart that beats just for him. What is it like to be in love with LORD VADER? And what fate will befall one who is infatuated with the tall, dark mystery behind the mask?

Star Wars: Vader: Dark Visions #3 is an absolutely delightful mess of a comic book. I’m not a fan of this particular Vader series. The first 2 Vader series under Marvel Comics by Kieron Gillen and Charles Soule expanded the mythos surrounding Vader. This Star Wars: Vader: Dark Vision's series takes a new approach. It’s explores how people view Vader. I already saw the original trilogy, so I don’t really need confirmation Vader is a powerful force wielder and truly villainous character. Star Wars: Vader: Dark Visions Issue one was good fan fiction with great art but did nothing for Vader the character. Issue two was a terrible story with bad art and not really worth anyone’s time. Issue three on the other hand is still pointless and the art isn’t great but man is it entertaining. I only read this issue because I saw the cover in the solicitations. I couldn’t imagine a Vader romance story working. Thankfully neither did writer Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum and this story is very far from romantic. It’s much more a tragedy in the mold of Eminem’s Stan. If you like bad comics that are really fun, Dark Visions is the book for you. If you’re looking for a serious Star Wars story you’re gonna want to pass on this one.

I don’t need a miniseries depicting how people in the galaxy view Vader. It’s completely unnecessary territory to explore. In this critics humble opinion. If you are going to do it, you might as well have fun with it. Like Hallum did with issue 3. If you’re a serious Star Wars comic reader you don’t need to read this issue. It’s not a serious story and does nothing to expand our understanding of Vader or the Empire. It is very entertaining and fun. If you’re lo..

Matt Kindt’s run on Valiant Comics flagship X-O Manowar limped to the finish line this week. The Kindt led series started excellent but lost momentum halfway through the run, coinciding with the Harbinger Wars 2 event. Artist Tomas Giorello recently joined the creative team for the Hero story arc and appeared to rejuvenate the title. In the end it was just window dressing. Aric of Dacia and Valiant readers deserve so much more than what the series and publisher devolved in to.

Matt Kindt followed Robert Venditti’s masterful X-O run in exciting fashion. His first three story arcs; Soldier, General and Emperor are as good as anything Venditti produced outside his first 3 story arcs and the Armor Hunters event. Aric of Dacia ascending the ranks during the civil wars on Gorin were first rate. Changing the setting from Earth to a foreign planet invigorated the series and character. Kindt was poised to challenge Venditti for title of best run in modern Valiant Comics.

After the disaster of Acclaim’s acquisition and destruction of Valiant Comics in the 90’s the characters lied dormant. Valiant and its character lineup were later purchased by a group led by Dinesh Shamdasani and Jason Kothari. Shamdasani served as chief-executive officer and chief-creative officer. Warren Simmons came aboard as executive editor after a seven year run at Marvel Comics. He ascended to Editor-in-Chief in 2014 and under their leadership Valiant sported the best connected universe in all of comics. They have a great eye for talent and Robert Venditti, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Clayton Crain, Cary Nord, Tomas Giorello and Stephen Segovia all elevated Valiant Comics.

X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Ninja-K, Shadowman and Unity were all consistently great. They led amazing crossover events Harbinger Wars, Armor Hunters, Book of Death and 4001 A.D. (my personal favorite led by the underrated Rai character). If comic publishers were rated by expected future quality, Valiant Comics would have been trip..

THE WORLD AT WAR! AS THE BATTLE FOR NEW YORK CITY CONTINUES, A HERO FALLS! All the heroes of the Marvel Universe have assembled, yet this still might not be enough to stop Malekith’s endless war. And the one hero who could turn the tide…is stranded where no one can reach him. With Thor trapped in the land of the Frost Giants and the forces of Earth overwhelmed, Black Panther, Jane Foster and Doctor Strange make a desperate gamble. Valhalla awaits…

Issue one was fine for what it was, mindless popcorn fun, but nothing to write home about. Unfortunately, issue two is a step back and there isn’t much hope War of the Realms will be remembered for anything of substance in future years. Issue 2 is held back by a cast that’s far too large and lame toddler humor and dialogue that doesn’t fit the tone or scope of the book. Curiously enough Thor, who should be the main protagonist of the story, isn’t seen in one panel of this book.

An event of this magnitude should look and feel epic. As much as I like the panel layouts and detail work Dauterman puts into the visuals, it only looks and feels larger-than-life once or twice. Russel Dauterman and color artist Matthew Wilson once again have their hands full with a cast of 28 characters and multiple different creatures in the battle for New York City. Dauterman and Wilson do a good job on art, but it doesn’t feel epic often and doesn’t fit an event of this scale.

What's really holding The War of the Realms back is Jason Aaron’s lackluster dialogue and over-reliance on toddler humor. I get the feeling Jason Aaron thinks he’s trying out for a MCU movie screenplay gig. I hate to break it to Aaron and most of the writers at Marvel Comics, the MCU doesn’t want or need you. Marvel Comics have lost readers for multiple years despite having the biggest movie franchise in the world propping it up. Aaron and the rest of Marvel’s writers and editors have squandered the single biggest opportunity to grow the industry of all-times.

War of..

The Dark Knight is breaking through the bad dreams and coming out the other side. But is he ready for the culprit waiting through the veil of terror? And what lasting effects might this whole ordeal have on Bruce Wayne’s psyche? With artist Yanick Paquette (WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE) jumping on board to tackle the art, “Knightmares” comes to a shocking close. This will be the strangest issue yet—a no-holds-barred journey through Bat-man’s psyche via the inner workings of Arkham Asylum, setting up the next big chapter of Tom King’s epic BATMAN tale. Batman’s future starts now!

Another week, another self-impressed Batman comic to piss off the readers from Tom King. Issue 68 was rock bottom for Tom King's Batman so the good news is there’s only one way to go..up! Yanick Paquette’s art is a huge step-up from Amanda Conner. It’s honestly beautiful but pretty pin-up pages don’t fit Batman and it’s completely out of place. In that respect this issue is a beautiful waste of time. Issue 69 still isn’t a real Batman book so zero stars once again. I’ll start reviewing this series seriously when they start trying to make real Batman stories again.

Tom King and DC Comics are making a terrible mistake by continuing to remind readers of their bait-and-switch not wedding issue. Tom King lying to readers about whether the wedding would happen and DC spoiling it days before release were indefensible decisions that burnt fans and retailers. Shops all over America planned midnight release parties and invested sweat and money into making The Wedding a huge success. DC and Tom King burnt so many bridges with that issue, they would be much wiser to let it go and try to move on. Every one of these issues is a reminder to readers and retailers that Tom King and DC Comics are not to be trusted. These issues also keep cucking Batman harder and harder and it’s shedding readers.

Some good came of this issue. The stupid ass Knightmare holding pattern Batman’s been in, is finally over. Bruce ..

A new terror has risen on the fringes of the Marvel Universe, stirring in the depths of space. But evil is also rising on Earth, claiming one victim at a time in the name of the killer called CARNAGE

Web of Venom: Cult of Carnage. This is final issue in the Web of Venom one-shot series that’s laying the groundwork for Marvel Comics upcoming Absolute Carnage event. There’s tremendous excitement in the comic reading community for the villainous symbiote’s return to the Marvel Universe. New readers unfamiliar with Carnage are going to enjoy this issue. It provides plenty of character history and introduction.

Cult of Carnage ties directly to the events in 2011’s Carnage USA five-part miniseries. Carnage USA saw Carnage take over the town of Doverton, Colorado and battle the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man and Wolverine. It’s a very interesting series that appears to lead directly to Donny Cates’ upcoming Absolute Carnage event. It’s worth a read for nothing else than Clayton Crain’s art, which is spectacular. Unfortunately, Cult of Carnage’s artwork doesn’t remotely approach the quality of Carnage USA.

Danilo Beyruth’s choice to illustrate the book as a mystery thriller rather than horror comic is puzzling to say the least. The art looks half-baked throughout and characters John and Eric look identical at points. Colorist artist Andres Mossa’s muted color pallet does a severe disservice to the book. The line art already looks flat and the colors only accentuates the feeling. Ultimately, most of the issues art feels lifeless and stagnant. Danilo Beyruth’s art in Cult of Carnage is a big disappointment but writer Frank Tieri is much more successful.

This issue feels like a table setter for Absolute Carnage and there’s a tremendous amount of characterization. The town of Doverton, Colorado and events of Carnage USA weigh heavily. The events of Carnage USA occur months prior to this story and readers learn Cletus Cassidy took control of the town and most of it..

Comics Alliance’s favorite currency was hate based on far left progressivism and identity politics. Even after the site has long shuttered its doors, former Comics Alliance staff continue to destroy the industry. They’ve infiltrated every major North American comic publisher and even Manga. Comics Alliance writers are directly responsible for multiple years of market contraction, the destruction of Vertigo and several organized harassment campaigns. One of which led to a murder attempt.

During its time in operation Comics alliance was led by Laura Hudson, Joe Hughes, Andy Khouri and Andrew Wheeler. Under their leadership the site became patient zero in an industry wide culture epidemic. They unleashed countless activists like David Brothers, Chris Sims, Kate Leth, Jenifer de Guzman, and Keiran Shaich on the industry and its readers. Comics Alliance took a hard anti-consumer stance based on far left progressivism and identity politics. Writers and editors championed many changes that left the industry in a steady decline and on the brink of collapse.

Comics Alliance was patient zero in an industry wide epidemic of brand activism aimed to promote far left propaganda and identity politics over entertainment. It’s hard to fully quantify the full extent of damage Comics Alliance levied on the industry, but Comics Alliance left it in far worse shape than when it arrived. Unfortunately, Comics Alliance continues to damage the industry long after its demise. Comics Alliance’s ultimate legacy are the far left activists who used the site as a stepping stone to positions of influence within the industry to infect and kill it.

WELCOME TO COMICS ALLIANCE!
https://web.archive.org/web/20160918075300/http://comicsalliance.com/welcome-to-comics-alliance/

History of Comicsalliance
https://comicsalliance.com/comicsalliance-returns-townsquare-comics-everybody-lets-be-friends-again/

Geek Masculinity and the Myth of the Fake Geek Girl
https://comicsalliance.com/geek-masculinity-a..

Batman is making his way to the end of his Knightmares, but his unseen enemy has a few more tricks up his sleeve. It’s time once again to stick a knife into the Caped Crusader’s broken heart, letting the groom-that-could-have-been peer in on the bachelorette (or should that be “Catchelorette”?) party that never was. Artist Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn) rejoins the Bat-family for this month’s special story—because who else you gonna invite to a shindig like this?

Batman #68 is an affront to every batman and comic reader in general who expects quality for their money. This book blows in ways I didn’t think imaginable. The art, writing and overall characterizations are abject failures in this issue. Whoever thought putting Archie style artist Amanda Conner on DC Comics flagship book Batman, needs to be made an example of soon. This issue furthers the divide between DC Comics and their readers and will cost the publisher many readers.

Lois Lane, Salina Kyle, Kara Zor-El, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent are all characterized terribly throughout the book and there is not one appearance of Batman in his own title. Batman dropped below 90 thousand issues shipped in February. If you compare that to the 120 thousand shipped for issue 49, its a 25% drop in 8 short months. Batman has no chance at shipping over 100 thousand issues until it removes Tom King or hits issue 100.

The industry is in trouble and seeing DC release an issue of its flagship product like this is downright depressing. It’s clear Dan Didio, Jim Lee and Tom King give could care less about putting out a quality Batman product or trying to retain their audience. Batman has shed a ton of fans under Tom King and after reading this why would readers come back? DC Comics needs to be doubling down on quality now more than ever, yet this is what a Batman comic looks like in current year.

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Superman and Superboy venture forth into the cosmos to stop Jor-El before he tips the galaxy into utter chaos. Also, Superman would like to have a word with his father about what happened to his son. All this and the fate of General Zod. “The Unity Saga” continues in the pages of SUPERMAN, named one of the best superhero comics of 2018 by Paste magazine!

Writer Brian Michael Bendis almost pulled a fast one on me this week with Superman #10. When I finished reading the book I was satisfied I read a pretty OK Superman issue, a step-up from recent quality. As I prepared to write this review, I reflected on the story and realized the overall story hardly progressed and payoffs to lingering issues are major letdowns.
Bendis is extraordinarily blessed to have first-rate artists on Superman, they mask many of his deficient writing efforts.

Ivan Reis is the primary artist with help from Brandon Peterson. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the art appears to take a step backward this week. It is still good and easily the best feature in the series. Alex Sinclair is the color artists and his work is excellent, as readers have come to expect. Superman #10 features multiple extensive set pieces, impeccable detail work and the return of Jor El. Jor El is aged and weather considerably since his last appearance, which plays heavily in to the story.

Reis and Peterson are at their best when the action is hot and heavy, which is unfortunate as Superman does next to nothing the entire issue. The team do their best to elevate multiple static pages of conversation but this issue, and the series as a whole, are a huge waste of their time and talents. Bendis’ take on Superman is severely lacking and Reis, Peterson and Sinclair deserve to move to better titles to showcase their abilities.
Despite the best efforts of Ivan Reis and the art team they can’t fully mask the deficiencies in Bendis’ writing.

This issue, like issue 9, is Jon explaining to his parents what happened during ..

Effective character introductions are severly laking in todays comic book industry. Every single comic issue published is a potential jumping-on point for new lifelong readers or an obstacle preventing them from investing in a character.

I read a handful of Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men series every week and I’m always impressed how he keeps readers appraised of previous events in every book. You can jump into his series on virtually any issue and enjoy it, confusion free. He always keyed the reader in on events and character history. Current creators or editors rarely value each issue as an opportunity to attract new readers. Current day comics are mostly presented as the next chapter in the trade they were written to fill in the first place.

DC Comics has been doing a lot of series crossovers of late, such as Sink Atlantis, The Witching Hour and Drowned Earth. These mini events are supposed to help prop both series up by putting new eyes on the titles and hooking new readers. Unfortunately, most of the time it feels like the writers and editors expect new comers to do homework before reading their book. Rather than showing readers what great characters they’ve missed out on and need to stick around for, these crossovers are used as opportunities to bump sales.

I’m not advocating for multiple pages of character introduction every issue but issue 1s and the first issue of crossovers warrant extra effort. Writers should treat every issue as a jumping on point and provide some character introduction. New readers can’t immediately catch up on 40 or more years of backstory, depending on the character. After three or four issues a new reader should have a firm grasp on the character and know enough to talk to long-time fans. It’s time to stop writing for the trades and start writing to attract and maintain new readers. Chris Claremont already laid out the blueprint in nearly 200 issues of the perfect comic book, Uncanny X-Men.

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Alterna Comics’ BLOOD REALM: SHADOWED KINGDOM PART 1. This is the follow-up to writer artist Robert Geronimo’s fan favorite miniseries from 2018. BLOOD REALM is a unique book that doesn’t conform to typical narratives or artwork in the industry.

The art is very stylized and unique to the series. BLOOD REALM creator Robert Geronimo use a contrast of white, red and black that create an eerie atmosphere for the book. Robert Geronimo revisits some of the great creatures from the original series like the Saytrian warriors but he also introduces a great new monster in part 1. He has a talent for creating terrifying creatures and his style fits the Tolkein inspired setting to a T. I do have a small critique with his use of black on red. Sometimes he uses too much of the red color and it has a tendency to drown out some of the outstanding detail he created with his line art.

If you enjoyed the art in the original series you’ll be very happy with SHADOWED KINGDOM PART 1 as it stays to true form. While the terrific art remains steady, Robert has grown immensely from BLOOD REALM volume 1 to 2 with his characterization.

Robert Geronimo introduces us to several of the warriors on this new quest and our narrator, Olek, very early. He’s a Mage Knight assigned to the Saytrian battalion. The Saytrian warriors believe Mages are possessed by demons and don’t trust them.

My personal favorite character in the new BLOOD REALM book is Captain Grennix. He leads from the front and gained his position with his military acumen and the skill of his blade. He’s shown to be a fearless leader with a sense of honor and it’s very easy to root for him, despite the Saytrain’s being the villains in the first book. It’s a cool narrative twist that separates it from the original miniseries.

Robert also does a great job building an aura around the Hollow Fortress. Grennix encounters one of his lieutenants who explains that a darkness from the bowels of the fortress called to him and eventually d..

WHO IS MAJOR X? A mysterious new player enters the Marvel Universe and the X-Men are in his crosshairs! What is his mission and how can the man known as Cable hope to stop him? Writer/artist Rob Liefeld introduces a new wrinkle in the saga of Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants!

This week readers welcomed 90's superstar Rob Liefeld back to Marvel Comics with his newly created MAJOR X character and series of the same name. There’s a tremendous amount of reader excitement and I’ve seen a lot of praise for MAJOR X online. Many 90’s fans that will love this comic but if you’re into fleshed out characters and well-crafted plot this issue falls flat.

There are many things to like about the book including fun action, a cool cast of established characters and did I mention all the action? Despite not loving the issue I am happy to see Rob return to Marvel Comics and the franchise that he made famous and I hope the series picks up in the next issue.

Rob Liefeld’s art has long been a lightning rod among comic readers due to his penchant for making everything from physiques, to guns to action much bigger than his contemporaries. Liefeld’s action is frenetic throughout, which is good fun for the reader. The issue is a calback to 90's era comics and color artist Romulo Fajardo Jr. does a great job creating a nostalgic feel to the book.

Rob Liefeld’s wild action and odd panel sequencing make some of the mayhem hard to follow and some of it doesn’t make any sense. My assumption is Rob wanted to create a chaotic feel for the reader and this was mostly intentional. Another issue I noticed is there are multiple inkers on the book, so the line art can be inconsistent from page to page.

Rob Liefeld’s artwork has changed a bit over time but overall MAJOR X #1 delivers the nostalgic feel he’s looking for and fans buying the book for his name value will come away satisfied.

Liefeld is more of a visual storyteller but has created numerous classic characters throughout his career but I’m s..

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Former Air Force member who is dedicated to bringing an objective, unbiased viewpoint of pop culture, with an emphasis on comic books and movies. Thinking Critical is dedicated to delivering daily comic book and movie reviews. The channel will endeavor to provide an open forum for discussion of pop culture and other topical subjects. Finally, Thinking Critical will be a go-to source for in-depth analytic studies of pop culture and other topical subjects.