Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire

batman-deathblow-after-the-fire

I really thought I was going to like this a lot more than I did. Batman/Deathblow: After The Fire is a collaboration of sorts between Batman and Deathblow in Gotham City. There is a caveat: the two characters never encounter each other and writer Brian Azzarello did an awesome job with that plot twist.

The premise is fairly simple. Ten years ago, Deathblow and another government black ops soldier named Scott Floyd failed to stop a crime syndicate that employed a pyrotechnic hitman. At the current time, Floyd becomes a friend of Bruce Wayne and is murdered by this fiery villain. Bruce/Batman are off to avenge his death and bringing this criminal to justice. The story goes back and forth between Batman’s present and Floyd’s past as they both race to stop this new mysterious villain.

Batman/Deathblow never delivers that big Batman and Deathblow encounter that I assumed would happen, so in that sense the book doesn’t deliver. Instead, there is a slow burning mystery, which you would expect from an Azzarello written Batman. It is certainly not the most exciting or well written story in Azzarello’s bibliography, but if you are a fan of his you will enjoy this.

Art in this was by Lee Bermejo, who later went on to collaborate with Azzarello on the Luthor and Joker books. It’s dark and moody, thanks to Tim Bradstreet’s inking and an extremely muted color palette.

Advertisements

Stormwatch #2

stormwatch-2

Are you ready for some Stormwatch? This issue features a lot of Jim Lee goodness. Well, technically not too much other than the cover and his co-scripting duties. But the late Scott Clark did a great job illustrating the issue in Lee’s style.

The original Stormwatch was a super human team sponsored by the United Nations. I’m not sure if there are one or two teams of Stormwatchers, but this issue focuses on the group that is attempting to rescue their field leader Battalion’s younger brother from a group of super-powered mercenaries. In order to save Malcolm, they activate his latent super powers. After the rescue is completed, the team go back to their satellite headquarters.

Battalion is debating whether he wants to continue as a member of this group, as his involvement has led to his brother being attacked and in a coma. Eventually he agrees to join the other Stormwatch unit that is in Chernobyl. Also of note, this whole time Battalion is walking around in his underwear. Clearly he doesn’t have any body issues.

The other notable thing about Stormwatch #2 is that it technically has the first appearance of Gen 13, who are shown in a series of pinups/advertisements towards the end of the issue. The new series was advertised as Gen X, but I would assume that the name was changed to avoid confusion with Marvel’s Generation X that came out around the same time.

This book is typical of most of the early Image/Wildstorm books of the time: they have amazing art but light on story. But it’s still fun to look at, as it’s a bit of early 1990s nostalgia.

Stormwatch Volume1: The Dark Side

Stormwatch: Volume 1 is one of those reboots that just works perfectly. It takes the core concept of the original Wildstorm series (a group of super powered beings appointed to deal with problems before they happened), but changes it just enough to make it different.

Writer Paul Cornell takes a core group of Wildstorm characters ( Jack Hawksmoor, Midnighter, Apollo, The Engineer and Jenny Quantum), and teams them up with DCU mainstay Martian Manhunter plus a bunch of new characters. Stormwatch has been a clandestine organization protecting the planet since the dark ages.

The first six issues are used to set up the groups’ status quo, with them fighting off an alien invasion that looks to be seen again in later issues. At the same time, new character Harry Tanner bonds with an alien parasite who warns him of an oncoming  cataclysmic event that he has to prepare for.

If Tanner going rogue wasn’t difficult enough, he’s also a master swordsman who also happens to have a mutant power that makes him a master liar. The main theme of the story is set; there is definitely something horrible about to happen, and Tanner is going to bring it about much quicker than expected.

Cornell wrote this with a lot of science fiction/mystery elements, which is what you would expect from someone who is best known as a writer for the Doctor Who television series. Art on the series is handled by Miguel Sepulveda adequately.

I think one of the reasons why i was able to get on board with this so well is due to my lack of long-term connection with the characters. Don’t get me wrong; I’m familiar with all the primaries, but it felt like I was reading something fresh and different.

The one thing I wonder about is if Midnighter and Apollo are married (or at least romantically involved) in this continuity. I guess we’ll find that out at some point.

Captain Atom: Armageddon

Captain Atom is one of the misused characters in the DC Universe. He’s the freaking nuclear man. Captain Atom: Armageddon is his time to shine, as he gets sucked into the Wildstorm Universe. It’s actually one of the best universe/crossover mega series I’ve ever read.

Captain Atom gets sucked into the Wildstorm-verse, which is a whole lot darker than the good old DCU. Super heroes aren’t that well liked in these parts. To make matters worse, the longer he stays the more likely he is to destroy their universe. Eep. The Wildstorm heroes really aren’t sure what to do with him, other than kill him. The plot is simple; Captain Atom has to figure out how to get home, all the while running from the WildC.A.T.s, the Authority and Mr. Majestic, who are all willing to kill him if it means the universe will be safe.

The only person who trusts Captain Atom is a paramedic named Nikola Hanssen, who seems to have an important destiny of her own.

Armageddon is the perfect title for this. Will Pfeifer’s writing makes this really suspenseful, with Captain Atom being hunted as well as the looming apocalypse. The Nikola subplot is very interesting, as well as the subtle love story between the Captain and the Engineer,the  nanotech woman from the Authority. Artist Giuseppe Camuncoli deserves a lot of credit as well, as his art looks awesome.

Since Captain Atom got sucked into a new reality, he gets a new look. Camuncoli modified his appearance from the Kingdom Come mini series, adding some design elements from the Steve Ditko/Charlton costume. I really like it a lot. It combines the same basic designs of his proper silver costume, but a color scheme and pattern that just pop out. Now he doesn’t look like a naked silver guy like in the old JLI books. This look got immortalized in one of the DC Universe figures that was a must buy for me. Maybe I should take some pictures to share in the next week.