Comic Books

Batman/Superman #1: Recap and Review

Batman/Superman #1

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: David Marquez

Letters: John J. Hill

Colors: Alejandro Sanchez


Batman and Superman join forces again

Batman and Superman are the two most iconic superheroes in comics. So putting them together in one comic series seems to make sense. I’m personally not familiar with the work of Joshua Williamson and David Marquez, but from what I’ve read they’re both great creators. The familiarity with Superman and Batman allows Williamson to jump right in. Batman/Superman #1, starts off with Clark Kent working on a story at the Daily Planet. Batman calls Clark in a panic. It’s quickly apparent that somethings wrong with Batman. His “voice sounds different,” as Superman notes. He seems petty, as he compares the tragic events that costed them their parents. He believes that “there is nothing that should make them allies.” Confusing Superman.

Batman and Superman in Gotham. Who are the secret six?
Superman arrives to meet Batman

Enter the Batman Who Laughs

When Superman arrives at the Justice League satellite, he witnesses the carnage that the Batman who laughs created. He poisons the air with “kryptonite-infused gas,” as Superman asks why? We return to current time on Earth-O, in Gotham City. Batman is explaining the Batman who laughs to Superman, while Commissioner Gordon waits. He explains that a thirteen year old boy named Danny Mills was kidnapped. According to the boys brother a “laughing Superman” kidnapped him. Batman and Superman leave to search for the boy. Batman asks Superman, “how would he stop an out of control Batman.” Superman crashes through the ground in Crime Alley (where Batman’s parent died) to enter a secret passage below.

Superman being choked by the Shazam who laughs.
Who will win?

Enter the Shazam Who Laughs

Batman and Superman encounter Batdrones in the Batcave of the Batman Who Laughs. They investigate the cave, learning that he has infected his batarangs with the serum that created him. As they question the motives of the other Batman, they notice a “message” on the chess board. When Superman moves a piece, they see an image of the Justice League, the Titans and Teen Titans with x’s on their eyes and lipstick on their mouths. Batman deduces that this is all part of his plan. They can’t know who’s infected, so they would suspect everyone. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by one of the Batman who laughs, Robins. He begins to talk about being “taken from his family and hit with a batarang.” This boy isn’t Danny. It’s Billy Batson. He says Shazam, transforming into the Shazam who laughs.


Conclusion

Batman/Superman #1 was spectacular. There can be a sense of inevitability to the outcome when both Batman and Superman are working together. Who can best them. If they encounter several members of the Justice League that have been infected with the laughing serum, they may not have a easy time. The Batman Who Laughs is a villain that can contend with these to. The writing from Joshua Williamson is magnificent. We get some insight into the relationship between Superman and Batman, while the mystery of what the Batman Who Laughs is up to is intriguing. The art of Marquez is perfect. His detailed art style matches well with the tone of this series. These two together have created a series that is worth reading. I highly recommend it.

Comic Books

Powers of X #5: Recap and Review

Power of X #5, begins with an explanation of who created the new Cerebro. Professor X and Forge discuss improving Cerebro so that it can copy and store minds of mutants. We discovered that Forge is successful in the last issue of House of X. The biggest hurdle is the power source. Xavier states that the storage space and energy supply limits can be solved with Shi’ar technology. Magneto and Xavier contact Emma Frost, hoping for her aid. She dismisses the idea of putting mutants in one place, so they can be easy targets. They manage to convince her that Krakoa is a good idea, but they need her help with the distributing of the miracle drugs. Using her Hellfire Corporation, she will be given an exclusive 50 year contract and two seats on the twelve person council.

Finally, they ask her to recruit Sebastian Shaw. While Emma conducts official trade and negotiations with Krakoa allies, Shaw will work with the countries that reject Krakoa. Sneaking in drugs and sneaking mutants out. Emma agrees with the terms except that she wants three seats not two. Xavier telepathically sends messages to all the Earth’s mutants offering a home on Krakoa. When Namor is offered a place he rejects it. He doesn’t trust that Xavier truly believes that mutants are superior to humans. He tells him to return when he does.

In my least favorite part of this series the future, the Phalanx agree with Man-Machine Ascendancy. They kill the Elder. Nimrod the Greater, says that the Phalanx serve “even greater masters.” These masters are a collective of machine-minds that are “so massive and dense that they have collapsed into black holes, and whose collective intellect and power is indistinguishable from that of what human stories describe as God.” Having been accepted, the Phalanx will absorb the collective intellect on Earth and consume the entire planet.

Powers of X has always been a satisfying as it fills all the holes left by House of X. That seems to have always been the purpose of the series. The best part of this issue has to be Emma Frost and Namor. They both have an arrogance about them that I find fun. I have a hard time believing that Namor would actually leave for Krakoa though. Unless, they can move his entire Kingdom to Krakoa it’s unlikely he would want to leave to become just another mutant, rather than a mutant King. Like Wakanda, I think Atlantis will remain on Earth, but will be an ally of Krakoa. While I find the future section of the story uninteresting, I’m guessing that Hickman is telling us how life on Earth eventually ends. Everything becomes part of the Phalanx hive mind. I’m think that’s a good end.


Comic Books

House of X #5: Recap and Review

The X-Men are resurrected

In House of X #5, Hickman once again changes the status quo for X-Men. There are three major shifts this issue introduces. In the first issue of House of X, we see the X-Men being “born” from orange pods, being welcomed by Charles Xavier. Magneto explains to his daughter, Polaris, how the mutants are resurrected. First, Goldballs uses his power to create biological eggs. Then they’re made “viable” by Proteus’ ability to warp reality. Elixir then uses his abilities to “kick-start cellular replication.” With a fully viable egg, Tempus uses her time-acceleration abilities to mature the mutants inside. Hope Summers uses her powers to boost the other four and create unison. Finally, to restore the minds of the mutants, Xavier, is able to transfer a copy of the mutant mind.

Krakoa becomes a nation

At the United Nations, the vote recognizing Krakoa as an independent nation was held. Emma Frost telepathically manipulates the voters and Krakoa is granted it’s nation status. Charles Xavier telepathically acknowledges that he knows that Emma did this. She plays the fool, having no idea of what he’s referring to. Regardless, he tells her that he’s “grateful for her sacrifice.” We get another explainer informing us of how mutant diplomacy is working. 100 nations have accepted a trade deal with Krakoa, with several rejecting it. These nations consisting of Iran, North Korea, Brazil and Wakanda are automatically considered “adversarial.”

Apocalypse and the other mutant villains arrive

Wolverine is preparing to meet the villains that Xavier has invited to Krakoa. Logan isn’t happy, believing that some are “beyond saving.” Magneto suggest that if that were true, neither one of them would be in Krakoa. The villains finally arrive, with Mister Sinister, Lady Mastermind, Selene Gallio, Callisto, Daken and finally Apocalypse being present. Krakoa greets Apocalypse (referring to the fact that Krakoa was saved by him, shown in Powers of X #4). Wolverine asks is there “gonna be a problem,” Apocalypse responds “why would it be.” Apocalypse is actually proud of them, as this is his dream. Prompted by Magneto, Apocalypse states that he and the incoming villains will submit to the laws of Krakoa, and serve it’s higher purpose.


Conclusion

I’ve said this before, but it bare repeating this series is amazing. House of X #5, continues to change X-Men for the better. Some may find that the resurrection of mutants, particularity the team that died in issue four, cheapens their death. That’s not an unreasonable feeling, but we all probably figured that they would come back we just didn’t know how. The process is more complicated than the process describe above. If you read those explainers the resurrection process does come with cost and effort. I think that’s appropriate considering how convenient resurrection is. That said I feel that it won’t remain so easy. If you think about there’s a lot to be concerned with. First, Xavier is back to acting strangely.

He was never as moral as he claimed but now he’s openly supporting Emma Frost undermining democracy. Now that Krakoa is a nation state it feels like there will be some issues with nationalism, although that may not be a bad thing. The scene were Storm is basically acting like a religious zealot and of course the arrival of villains who may not hate mutants but surely still hate humans. I predict that this will end badly. As I’ve stated before mutants like Magneto and Apocalypse, have largely come into conflict with the X-Men not because they wanted mutants to prosper, but because of how they went about reaching that goal. If they’re on the same page, conflict shouldn’t arise. However, we know that humanity will not let Krakoa stand.

Comic Books

Spider-Man #1:Recap and Review: Ben Parker becomes Spider-Man

I feel like Spider-man has been over exposed recently. Maybe it’s the Marvel, Fox deal falling apart and the conversations that followed. Regardless, I’m a little fatigued with Spider-man. This miniseries (5 issues) focuses on the father-son relationship between Peter and Ben, while being written by father-son duo J.J. Abrams and Henry Abrams. The art is by Sara Pichelli and Dave Stewart, with lettering by Joe Caramagna. We join Spider-man in the middle of a disaster area. It’s unclear what happened but Peter is injured. Mary Jane runs up to him (with his severely injured arm) and hey laugh at his corny jokes. An unfamiliar villain (to me at least) arrives and attacks with an group of xenomorph looking machines. The leader asks for Spider-man’s help.

MJ runs, as Peter is overtaken by machines. The villain called Cadaverous, kills Mary Jane. At her funeral we see that Peter lost that arm and his son, Ben Parker is present as well. The issue moves forward 12 years, Ben has become a troubled teen, getting in fights at school. According to his Principal (Orleen), Ben is a consistent presence in his office. Peter, now with a hook for an arm, arrives to pick his son up. They argue in the car, but it’s clear that Peter has given up on being a good father. He spends most of his time traveling the world as a photojournalist, leaving the parenting to Aunt May. She brings him to her attic, where he sees his father’s old Spider-man costume. Meanwhile, Cadaverous is still a threat. He’s searching for a cure for a mysterious woman.

So far this series is just okay. Considered the fact that this is a miniseries with only 5 issues, this one feels wasted. If you only have 5 issues to tell your story it needs to start with a bag. MJ dying in the beginning was surprising because of expectation, but not because of history. Mary Jane has died a lot in comics, so it doesn’t feel revolutionary. I feel like I know how Ben’s story is going to end. He becomes Spider-man and then takes over the mantle from his father. I love the art of Sara Pichelli but I don’t feel like this is her best work. I think it’s not her penciling but maybe the muted colors from Dave Stewart. I don’t care who the mystery woman is or have much interest in Cadaverous. Still with only four issues left, I see this miniseries to the end.

Comic Books

Powers of X #4: Recap and Review

The cover of Powers of X #4, art by RB Silva.

In the fourth issue of Powers of X, titled “Something Sinister,” we get some humor to go with a often dark story. Some of the gaps in the timeline are filled, as we get to see what Charles Xavier planned before the current time. During Year One, Magneto and Xavier head to Bar Sinister. Hickman present Mister Sinister a little differently from normal. Sinister is more ridiculous and flamboyant, or as he puts it “being absolutely fabulous.” Sinister has many clones, so it’s unclear which one is “in charge.” When Magneto and Xavier meet with the one they assume is in charge, he tells Magneto how much he loves his cape. He’s thinks he would look good with a cape. When his butler clone says that he “always thought he should wear one,” he has him executed for not mentioning it sooner.

Xavier offers the DNA of mutants to complete a “safe, secure and redundant,” database. This Sinister refuses to help but is killed by the Sinister with the mutant gene. He agrees and Xavier wipes his mind, making him forget why he’s doing it in the first place. Months before the current timeline, Xavier and Cypher land on Krakoa. Xavier wants to introduce Cypher to Krakoa. Cypher learns that Krakoa use to be called Okkara. The land of Okkara was torn in two, resulting in a land named Arakko and of course Krakoa. Cypher is able to build a “translation program” to allow mutants to interact with Krakoa without Cypher’s aid.

Finally, in Year One Thousand, the first of the elders are hoping for ascension. This section of this series is the most difficult to grasp. It’s has to much ambiguity and I don’t care what happens to anyone. Hickman needs to do a better job explaining why the Year 1000 timeline matters. As usual the art of RB Silva is magnificent. Despite the funny Mister Sinister moments, Powers of X #4 is the most underwhelming issue so far. The most interesting part of the issue was the fact that Apocalypse and his four horsemen came to save Krakoa. I feel like that’s the most we are going to get on that story.