April 10, 2015

The Pull List: 1 April 2015, Part II

After a full year of plot twists, red herrings and general attempts at stalling, Batman Eternal finally reveals the villain behind the entire ongoing story. It was pretty easy to guess it was going to be Lincoln March, the villain behind Scott Snyder's earlier "Court of Owls" storyline. What I didn't guess was just how good this final issue was going to be.

This is a no-holds-barred explosive climax, given a few extra pages (and an extra dollar cover price) to drop in a bunch of excellent epilogues for good measure. It does what any comic book of this type should do: it pulls everything together into a tight, stunning finale and sets up its broad cast of characters for the future.

Visually the issue is a deliberate artist's jam, with seven separate artists contributing to the book, in addition to four colourists. Even consulting writers Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes get in on the act, providing two pages each to the proceedings. Often when a book uses multiple artists it feels like a rushed act. Here it feels like a celebration.

This wasn't the greatest Batman comic ever written, and it regularly slipped into being downright irritating at times, but it ends on a wonderful high. I'd be interested in seeing this team collaborate on a Batman weekly again - and perhaps creating something that's as tightly developed and as entertaining to read as Eternal's final issue. (5/5)

DC Comics Written by James Tynion IV. Story by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Consulting writers: Ray Fawkes, Tim Seeley and Kyle Higgins. Art by Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortega, David LaFuente, Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes. Colours by Allen Passalaqua, Gabe Eltaeb, John Kalisz and John Rauch.

Under the cut: reviews of Batman and Robin, Batwoman, HaloGen and The Woods.

Batman and Robin Annual #3
DC Comics. Written by Peter J. Tomasi. Art by Juan Jose Ryp, Jordi Tarragona and Juan Albarran. Colours by Sonia Oback.
There I was thinking that Peter J. Tomasi's Batman and Robin was done and dusted; it turns out there was one more issue to go. This is a simply wonderful self-contained story, in which Batman and Robin go to the moon and fight an alien invasion aimed at the Earth. It's the sort of "dynamic duo" adventure readers got in the late 1950s, and what's outstanding here is just how effectively this sort of "out there" science fiction story still works within the context of Batman and Robin's current incarnation. Ryp, Tarragona and Albarran provide absolutely beautiful artwork: of all the books in this group, this is by far the prettiest. If March's final regular issue marked the end of Batman and Robin, then this was surely some kind of victory lap. (5/5)

Batwoman Annual #2
DC Comics. Written by Marc Andreyko. Art by Yishan Li, Georges Jeanty, Roberto Viacava, Ronan Cliquet, Karl Story and Dexter Vines. Colours by Guy Major.
Marc Andreyko's weird, somewhat muddled final storyline reaches its climax. For once it doesn't feel oddly truncated, which happens a lot with cancelled series, and so if nothing else I'm grateful to DC for winding up Kate Kane's three-year run on her own title in a respectful manner. The story itself is okay-ish, neither outright awful nor particularly good. It's not helped by its enormous art team either, which gives the book an inconsistent look. There's the seed of a decent team book here, similar to DC's wonderful 2000s series Shadowpact, but it's a shame it never really got a decent enough chance to be properly showcased. (2/5)

HaloGen #2
Boom/Archaia. Written by Josh Tierney. Art by Afu Chan. Created by Josh Tierney, Afu Chan and Giannis Milonogiannis.
Rival teams head out from a space city to recover the body of a dead god - only to find a young girl waiting for them instead. This is a wonderfully odd science fiction adventure, written with a fast pace and illustrated in an almost gestural manner than really suits the material. Fans of Aeon Flux or Ghost in the Shell will likely see a lot they recognise here. This is a comic that isn't afraid to work as a sort of pastiche, and if each issue improves over the last as issue #2 has, this could finish as a genuinely outstanding work. (4/5)

The Woods #12
Boom Studios. Written by James Tynion IV. Art by Michael Dialynas. Colours by Josan Gonzalez.
The Wood's first year ends in a pretty apocalyptic fashion as Adrian's powers begin to grow to catastrophic heights, and the situation back at the school threatens to spill over completely. I have to be honest: I still can't quite put my finger on this series. On an issue to issue basis it's generally very enjoyable: Tynion is writing a solid, particularly well characterised, script, and Dialynas has a wonderfully distinctive art style. When I think back over this first 12 issues, however, it seems all rather strange and unfocused. I'm enjoying it, but it does seem to need better clarity. (3/5)

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