Batman: White Knights issue #3 – Sean Murphy

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Batman: White Knight #3 by Sean Gordon Murphy cements the simple fact that this may be the best Batman story going right now. Definitely the best Joker story happening right now!

“…He’s a liar. Taking too many of those pills. Damn drug addict. Destroying the Joker legacy. And she’s enabling him. Anything for her desperate romance. She’s just another prison. Holding him back, thinking he won’t break loose. But the Joker’s more than just a man. He’s a riot…”

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Hell hath come to Gotham and the Joker’s in charge. Only it isn’t the Joker, not really, it’s Jack Napier and the original Harley Quinn, along with the mind control of the Mad Hatter and little pieces of Clayface, they have taken control of every criminal in Gotham. It is too much for the Batman and this time, Gotham is on the Joker’s side.

Dealing with a family tragedy, Batman, Nightwing and Batgirl are in no shape to take them all on. But help is coming, from a most unexpected source.

Seriously, if you have not picked this comic up yet than you are missing out. Sean Murphy has nailed this one. A broken Bat. A Joker with aspirations of being Lex Luthor. A Gotham torn asunder and a Bat Family falling apart. Plus every criminal there is and Harley times two.

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A great comic series not to be missed!

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Mother Panic by Jody Houser

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Mother Panic, Volume 1: Work in Progress by Jody Houser is a new addition to the Batman Universe. A violent vigilante whose tragic and traumatic past has shaped her into a jaded and bitter anti-hero. With the wealth at her disposal and science behind her, she is able to battle, not crime per-say, but her own agenda.

Violet Paige is an amoralistic celebrity with an entitled attitude and bad temper. She is fodder for the paparazzi and works hard at her bad reputation. But its all a sham. Its a distraction from who she really is; Mother Panic. Paige is a bored heiress by day and a violent vigilante by night. But she does not seek out crime on Gotham’s streets, instead she looks to take revenge on her own peers, whose appetites for perversion and greed have shaped her own life.

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Now Mother Panic is on the hunt for an art dealer who makes paintings from blood and uses discarded children to do her work. But in her search, will Mother Panic find something far worse?

I am on the fence over this character. She does seem in too many ways to be a mirror of Bruce Wayne if he had allowed his hurt to turn him into a vengeful vigilante with a personal agenda instead of adhering to his code of justice. Making Mother Panic a young woman is a nice twist but is not really explored very well. This book isn’t about justice, its about revenge and the justice that comes from it comes by accident. Perhaps this has to do with character growth but only time will tell.

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I cannot help but believe that it would have been much better served if it had been turned into a Vertigo comic instead of a DC book. It reminds me a little of Marvel’s MAX line, sex and violence and curse words that are not normally found in a Batman title, fill the pages. But not for shock value, they actually work within the framework of the comic. Again, perhaps this is a Vertigo comic in disguise.

Overall it was decent to good and worth following for a bit more. Hopefully the character will become something more than a distraction and short lived experiment.

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Batman: White Knight issue #2

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Batman: White Knight issue 2 continues the strange tale of a out of control Batman and a Joker changed into someone we don’t recognize or could never have been believed to have been possible. The transformation is complete and there is only Jack Napier.

The video of Batman’s violence has exploded all over social media and people and talking heads alike agree that the Caped Crusader has gone too far. On trial for his life, the Joker makes an impassioned plea and the world recognizes that the Joker is no more and the man left in place, Jack Napier becomes the voice of the middle class citizen whose biggest fear is not the criminals on the street; but the vigilante street justice.

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Batman has his own worries, mainly the illness that is taking from him his mentor and friend, Alfred Pennyworth.

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As Napier begins his crusade against the Batman, he discovers a secret about his past that he never realized. A secret that will both aid and hinder him. A secret about the woman he loved; Harley Quinn. Together, they begin to build an army of resistance against the GCPD and the Batman. Supervillians that will do whatever Napier commands and with the support of the people of Gotham, will this finally be the end of the Batman.

Issue two continues this original and entertaining comic and ties together some of the more interesting questions of the Batman Universe. The interaction between the Harley Quinns is priceless and quickly becomes a driving theme in this tale. Is the Joker really acting for the good of Gotham or is this even a greater ingenious plan to destroy the Batman.

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This comic is very much worth its following and those who miss it will be kicking themselves when this run is complete!

Archie, Vol.1 – The New Riverdale

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Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid is one of the sleeper hits of the past year and with good reason. Good stories and good artwork. Mark Waid brings Archie and the gang from Riverdale into the 2000s with modern day problems and challenges but still maintaining the feel of the comic that started its run back in 1941.

Archie Andrews, Jughead Jones and the whole high school crew of Riverdale have been America’s favorite teenagers for over half a century and for the later part of their reign, have been somewhat stale and unrelatable. But Waid brings Archie into this century and still keeps the characters true to their original nature.

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Riverdale is consumed with the rumors of the breakup of Archie and Betty. A couple who have been friends since they were children. They were friends and not really a couple in the romantic sense of the word but all of Riverdale High saw them as a couple. But that was before the lipstick incident and now Betty and Archie are not even talking to one another. The kids of Riverdale High had no choice but to devise a plan to get the duo back together. But to do so, they have to enlist the help of Archie’s best friend, Jughead Jones. All looked like it was going well until the arrival of the new girl in town; Veronica Lodge.

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When I began reading comics as a kid, I was mostly into horror and superhero books. Archie was my hidden joy. The hokey and cute tales of Riverdale, which I am sure don’t even remotely resemble the television show, were a relief from the life around me. They were Norman Rockwell paintings at a time when the world resembled a Jackson Pollack chaotic frenzy. In the sixties and seventies, Archie Comics reminded everyone of a time that seemed lost. Now, with the strong writing of Mark Waid, Archie brings a sense of innocence to Archie that was central to the character as a whole. An innocence that is its calling card. The time has changed. But the setting and the characters remain true to themselves and there is something very endearing about this.

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A good and fun read.

ARCHIE VOL. 1 collects ARCHIE #1-6.

Batman: White Knight – 1st Issue

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Batman: White Knight by Sean Murphy may be the sleeper comic of the end of 2017 and a great short series to bring 2018 in with. The artwork by Matt Hollingsworth is insanely good and though most of the Batman fandom is following and hunting down every Metal comic; and rightfully so, Batman White Knight may very well be the best Batman going today.

What happens when the Joker pushes the Batman too far? What happens when an emotionally unstable Batman cannot think clearly? Then it is up to the Joker to save Gotham City. In a violent an all out street fight, Batman forces a handful of pills down his throat in front of the entire city. A beat down that was captured on social media and quickly brings all out condemnation from the public. Has the caped crusader gone too far? Can the public continue to accept this violent vigilante?

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“…I see Gotham more clearly than any of you. But you won’t admit it. To you, I’m just a psycho in makeup. You left me no choice, but to come here tonight, to prove it to you…”

The pills have a side effect no one expected. They have cured the clown prince of crime of his madness and he is now just Jack Napier. And Jack owes a debt to Gotham. He is going to clean the streets and bring peace to the city. To do so, he must first take on Gotham’s greatest villain: The Batman.

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Sean Murphy is a great comic book writer and he does what, currently with this group of writers we have now, so few are willing. He takes established characters down a path that may endanger their legacy and does so with respect and daring. The hero going bad is not a new concept. We were teased with this in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and see it often in the Superman comics where Lex Luthor is seen by the public as a good guy. A benefactor, heck Luthor was even the President of the United States for a time.

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But in White Knight, Murphy does more than tease. He walks right in and takes the best table.

Creative, good writing and kick ass art. Batman: White Knight is one of the best comics of 2017 and is sure to make an impact in 2018.

Don’t miss it!

Gotham Academy: Second Semester – Welcome Back

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Gotham Academy: Second Semester, Vol.1: Welcome Back by Brendan Fletcher is a terrific and creative series that has one foot in the Batman Universe and for the rest, stands quite comfortably on its own. If there was a comic that was begging to be made into a television series, this one is it!

For Gotham Academy student Olive Silverlock, the winter holiday are the worst. As the school empties out, even her little detective club leaves, a new student arrives to help keep Olive company. The new girl is Amy and soon the duo find themselves up to no good as Amy convinces Olive to vandalize the Chapel.

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Soon the detective club returns from break and Olive quickly finds out that there is much more to Amy than meets the eye. The detective club soon finds itself battling against a new group who call themselves the witch club. The witch club begins to pull dangerous pranks on the other students and soon Olive’s good friend Maps goes missing. The detective club discovers that the witch club has taken her and that they are being controlled by circuit boards in their hats.

The detective club figures out who is leading the witch club and stop him but not before one of their own is expelled and an even greater mystery is unearthed. The Lost Book of Gotham.

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Gotham Academy is a book that you would not think to take seriously, but demands to be taken seriously. With its cast of characters, it is more suited for something aligned with Archie Comics than Batman but that is where you make your mistake. It is gritty and stylist and noire and at its core, a detective story. Its artwork cries out Scooby and the Gang or even Buffy but its story is pure Gotham.

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DC made the right choice continuing this series with the Rebirth line and hopefully more and more fans will find it!

Savage by B. Clay Moore

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Savage by B. Clay Moore is a terrifically written and drawn comic book that brings the tale of Tarzan of the Apes into modern day and drops him on what is basically Skull Island of King Kong fame.

It has been fifteen years since the world famous soccer star and his pregnant supermodel wife have gone missing. Lost during a jet plane flight and gone without a trace. But in reality what happened is that they crashed on a mysterious island no one has ever seen. An island lost to time, where prehistoric creatures roam and rule. To survive they and their child must become…Savage.

Okay this has been done before. Maybe not to minute detail, but yes its been done. The aforementioned Tarzan; there is also Ka-zar of Marvel lore and how about Turok the Dinosaur hunter? But the tale and the art keep this book moving right along and before long, establishes its own identity. Savage does need to expand on itself to garner a true following and separate its story from the obvious comparisons. If it can do that then perhaps it will have the success it deserves.

Batwoman Vol.1: The Many Arms of Death

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Batwoman Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death by Marguerite Bennett takes hold of the Batwoman – Kate Kane character and seeks to give us some background on how she came to don the cowl and persona of Batwoman.

Katherine Kane was thrown out of West Point for being a lesbian and then goes on to become a drunken socialite when fate lands her on an island where she finds both love and a purpose. She also find hate and an adversary she does not realize and now it may be too late.

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Now, as Batwoman, she must return to the island that is flooding Gotham with the bioweapon; Monster Venom. But the island where she became whole has changed and the woman she loved, who ruled this island is gone and left in her place is death and hate.

Can Katherine stop the supply of the drug and face off against someone who was trained by the same woman who trained her.

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Batwoman is a very interesting character in the DC Universe who, though she dons the cape and cowl, does not necessarily follow Batman’s lead. Her emergence as a leader in Detective Comics of the Bat team alongside Batman is giving this character a much needed boost. She is not Batgirl or Robin but something entirely different. Making her a lesbian is not a reason to read this book and nor is it a reason not to. It is simply a part of who she is. Take note Marvel, this is social commentary done right. Kate Kane did not just turn gay, she was always gay. It is as much a part of who she is as her red hair and her ass kicking abilities. It is not a focal point. Does she make out with girls? Sure, just like Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne. Also like Wonder Woman if they really want to get real. But she does it as a part of who she is, not because some social justice comic book writer wants to make a point and not because an editor wants to promote sells. Its because this is who she is.

Here’s hoping that DC figures out what to do with this character since they dropped the ball on her in the new 52 so badly. This Rebirth may be the rebirth that she needs.

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BATWOMAN VOL. 1 collects issues #1-6 and the one-shot special BATWOMAN: REBIRTH #1. (less)