Coffee & Heroes | Belfast Comic Store and online shop https://www.coffeeandheroes.com Belfast based Comic Store in Northern Ireland Wed, 08 Jun 2022 21:00:22 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.9 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/cropped-heroes-large-32x32.jpg Coffee & Heroes | Belfast Comic Store and online shop https://www.coffeeandheroes.com 32 32 Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance #1 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/flashpoint-batman-knight-of-vengeance-1 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/flashpoint-batman-knight-of-vengeance-1#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 20:56:57 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=112123 (W) Brian Azzarello (A) Eduardo Risso I’ve spoken before that I was more of a trade guy for a number of years, but it was the DC event Flashpoint that cleared the decks (for better or worse depending on your point of view) and made it accessible for new readers to jump in feet first. […]

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(W) Brian Azzarello (A) Eduardo Risso

I’ve spoken before that I was more of a trade guy for a number of years, but it was the DC event Flashpoint that cleared the decks (for better or worse depending on your point of view) and made it accessible for new readers to jump in feet first. Flashpoint was centred around the idea of Barry Allen going back in time to save him mother. However, the butterfly effect of that one action led to massive changes in the DC Universe. Suddenly it was Bruce Wayne who was shot and killed by Joe Chill, and his father Thomas Wayne became Batman and his mother, Martha, was driven mad with grief over losing her son and became The Joker.

That is where this titles comes in. It was originally published as a three issue tie-in miniseries to the main Flashpoint title, but has been collected into one edition here, as we prepare for the return of the Flashpoint Universe in Geoff John’s Flashpoint Beyond. It’s great to see that we’re returning to that world as it’s such a rich and epic re-interpretation of the Batman mythos.

In this oversized issue we take a look back at that origin story of Thomas Wayne’s alternate universe Batman in time for Flashpoint Beyond. In a different twist in the story to what we are usually told we follow a weathered Jim Gordon and Thomas Wayne as they take the battle to Gotham’s underworld.

The story takes a dark twist as the Joker kidnaps the District Attorney’ twin children so begins a race against time for the cowled hero, but it’s not the hero we know behind the cowl and that’s where it’s possibly even more tragic than the original Batman origin. It takes the pain of losing a child to extremes, and shows how that grief can manifest in different ways, whether it be anger and rage, or sorrow and madness. The DC universe (especially when dealing with Batman and Gotham) can often be accused to being dark. Well, this tale takes it up to 11.

The writing of Brian Azzarello is phenomenal, once you open the book you are taken on that dark journey and events from the book stick with you (especially from the third issue involving Gordon) and there’s tons of world building that you keep going over. His version of Batman is exceptional, and multi-layered.

Many of the traditional Batman trappings are completely absent from this story. When we visit Thomas’ “Batcave”, it’s almost empty, uncomfortably so. This is the complete opposite of the notion of ‘All of those wonderful toys.’ There’s no Batmobiles, no trophies from past cases, no hint of nostalgia. There’s just a giant computer. There is the silhouette of the iconic giant dinosaur, but it’s presence here is not a playful one I would venture. Probably just a symbol that is actually representative of Thomas Wayne as Batman – a lumbering old beast, that shouldn’t exist in this world. undoubtedly of more mundane origins than the one in Bruce’s possession.

It’s only in a stripped back story like this that we come to realise how many toys our traditional Bruce Wayne Batman really has. There is a wonderful confrontation with Killer Croc in this book. Perfect opportunity to use stealth or agility, mixed in with some Bat-a-rangs, knock out gas or his grappling hook to move around Croc right? Not this Batman I’m afraid. He likes to get up close and personal, so stabs a blade into Croc’s head instead.

On another occasion, when he comes across a victim of the Joker’s toxin, Thomas doesn’t attempt to cure him or take samples to better understand what has happened. He simply snaps the victims neck, and brushes it off as mercy. This version of Batman has much more in common with Miller’s take in the Dark Knight Returns as opposed to any traditional canon Batman.

Again, this has been re-released and presented as an origin story so it can remind you of the groundwork already laid for that upcoming miniseries, so I can’t wait to see what the creators build in this world.

The artwork is astonishing. I’ve always been a fan of Risso, particularly when it is in tandem with Azzarello, as in their crime epic 100 Bullets. His work is all long, terrifying shadows, vibrant, almost sleazy colours (the book is coloured by his long time colourist Patricia Mulvihill, who really does bring the best out of his work) and this of course suits this version of Gotham, which is all casinos, streetwalkers, bars and nightclubs. His characters are expressive and alluring, and his work is so rich and detailed.

As a three issue miniseries (as it was originally), this more than stands on its own. It achieves a heck of a lot in those three issues, in terms of characterisation and world building, and even manages to tell a three act story with a definitive ending. But it has always seemed a shame to leave it there. It may have taken over a decade but I am so looking forward to diving into this world again. Bring on Flashpoint Beyond!

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Dark Ages #6 Review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/dark-ages-6-review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/dark-ages-6-review#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 11:02:26 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=112119 (W) Tom Taylor (A) Iban Coello This was a seriously tough week to narrow down to one pick of the week. The 30th March saw the return of Something is Killing the Children, the return of Ram V’s Swamp Thing, Issue 2 of Jock’s One Dark Knight, the best issue yet of DC vs Vampires, […]

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(W) Tom Taylor (A) Iban Coello

This was a seriously tough week to narrow down to one pick of the week. The 30th March saw the return of Something is Killing the Children, the return of Ram V’s Swamp Thing, Issue 2 of Jock’s One Dark Knight, the best issue yet of DC vs Vampires, and the excellent opening chapter of Shadow War Alpha. In other words, a ton of DC goodness, yet it was a Marvel title that just edged it for me, and it was Tom Taylor’s swan song to Marvel.

We’ve spoken about it before, but it is a bit of a shame that Tom Taylor has signed exclusively with DC. Of course, I have a preference for DC, so more titles from him playing in that sandbox are of course welcomed. However, his Marvel work has been nothing short of stellar from All New Wolverine, to his War of the Realms one shots, to Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man and now Dark Ages.

And Dark Ages has so many moving parts that it easily could have been a 12 issue maxi-series. So if there’s one tiny criticism for this issue, it’s that some parts are maybe a little rushed, but you’ll barely notice to be honest because of how many brilliant, genuinely jaw-dropping moments there are in this final issue.

#6 picks up after Peter Parker was able to save Miles Morales from the twin threats of Venom and Carnage (and what a great issue that was as well), Peter Parker and the rest of the heroes learn of Apocalypse’s plans to project his consciousness into the Unmaker, and take over the entire universe. They must also deal with Purple Man (what an adversary he has been in recent Marvel titles by the way), who has exerted his will over their friends! Will the world be saved, or will Darkness prevail?

This being a Tom Taylor, outside of canon book, the great thing is you know that no-one is safe. Heroes will be sacrificed and lost along the way, stakes will be raised, and the heroes may not necessarily win in the end.

As well as weaving an entertaining and tense narrative though, there are also interesting themes at work here. At its core Dark Ages goes against the grain of the usual “dark future” trope that often populates alternate-universe comics. And that has remained true through the series; it’s very interesting that the ultimate goal is for the heroes of the Marvel Universe to make a better world despite the loss of technology. “Who says a post-apocalyptic world has to be a bad thing?” Parker says in one of the series’ most emotive moments.

Taylor also is able to display the perfect balance between the grimness of the situation and injecting humour into the tale. He even achieved the impossible throughout this book in my eyes, as he was able to make Deadpoool both hilarious and an integral part of the heroes plan. Too bad we’ll never see a Tom Taylor scripted solo Deadpool anytime soon, as I would have been all over that!

The writing is of course on point, but the book succeeds just as much because of the wonderful art, and issue 6 is Coello’s best work in the series. He delivers some jaw-dropping action sequences. There’s a brilliant sequence involving Wolverine going up against a mind-controlled Cyclops (though he is still cognitive and knows what he is doing. He tries to keep his eyes closed for as long as possible), with the X-Men leader’s optic blasts shredding his teammates’ flesh and bone off in a series of horrific panels (this book is not one for Wolverine fans who don’t want to see their hero bettered. This was one of those jaw-dropping moments I mentioned before).

There is an absolutely amazing two-page spread which depicts the Purple Man’s mind-controlled heroes against their counterparts; Colossus and She-Hulk wrestle, Doctor Doom engages in battle with Dracula, and Spider-Man darts around Captain America. It’s pure wish fulfilment from when you were a kid and you wanted to see these heroes do battle to find out who is the toughest and best. We even get a great moment involving Blade, which is few and far between in modern Marvel titles (side note, can we please get a Rodney Barnes scripted, Jason Shawn Alexander drawn Blade book sometime soon…)

This was a brilliant series and when it hits trade I cannot recommend it enough. It delivers a fitting swan song to Tom Taylor’s time at Marvel and Coello’s art was a more than worthy companion to this bittersweet, goodbye tale.

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Rogues #1 Review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/rogues-1-review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/rogues-1-review#respond Wed, 08 Jun 2022 10:57:06 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=112116 (W) Joshua Williamson (A) Leomacs An Oversized Black Label series focusing on the villains from The Flash. It’s not the easiest sell for a book. After all, the Premium Plus Black Label books have a divisive size and format, are more expensive than regular comics, and for once Batman/Joker are nowhere to be seen! But […]

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(W) Joshua Williamson (A) Leomacs

An Oversized Black Label series focusing on the villains from The Flash. It’s not the easiest sell for a book. After all, the Premium Plus Black Label books have a divisive size and format, are more expensive than regular comics, and for once Batman/Joker are nowhere to be seen! But then you factor in Joshua Williamson, a man who knows the Flash Universe inside and out, after a legendary Rebirth run. And then you have Leomacs on art, an Italian artist I greatly liked on Basketful of Heads, and has a style all of his own, and you have the ingredients for a great book.

And this is a brilliant book.

Rogues #1 opens up with a flashback, setting the scene. We have a bar fight involving loads of villains and anti-heroes who feel hard done by. They didn’t make enough money, didn’t cause enough chaos, didn’t get credit when they actually did something good because they were seen as villains, never heroes. It’s a fun way to open the book, is visually fantastic and a great way of incorporating loads of characters who have maybe been overlooked over the years.

Flash forward ten years and Captain Cold (Leonard Snart, our main character for the series) and his cohorts are well past their prime. Snart is now working a soul crushing factory job in his twilight years and he even keeps up with his parole officer. He seems reformed, for better or worse, and has left that life of crime before, his exploits confined to the annals of time and sharing stories over a drink about the ‘good ol’ days’. Some people do still recognize him as the villain and previous mastermind but to most people he’s just plain and non-description. You wouldn’t even give a second look to old Leonard Snart.

But does any criminal every truly reform? Do they ever leave that life behind? After all, they were able to plan and execute some of the most daring and dangerous heists in the history of Central City. Maybe they have life in the old legs yet? Maybe it’s time for one final score and then the ride off into the sunset. But Snart cannot pull off such a thing on his own, he’s going to need to get the band back together. However, they are all at very different places in their lives, and not sure they want to get mixed up with Snart again.

Snart is collecting his colleagues from all walks of life and from different parts of his colourful past. Lisa Snart, also known as the Golden Glider, is now a social worker, and her life is devoid of any excitement or joy. James Jesse, better known as the Trickster, is now a self-parodying showman under the purple and red lights of a run down, second rate casino showroom. And let’s not forget Mick Rory, Heat Wave, who hasn’t fully given up his arsonist past and remains committed to the role of super villain. Clearly some of them are going to be easier to convince than others.

The writing and set up is fantastic as you would expect, but for me, Leomacs steals the show with his expressive, detailed and versatile art. He does an absolutely fantastic job working each character’s complicated past into their look. Each of the Rogues are world weary and victims of aging. There are bags under the eyes, scars that have not healed, and they are no longer fit and able 20 somethings able to cause havoc at a moments notice, but because of the brilliant character design, they are all instantly recognisable. Similarly, Central City is both familiar and unrecognisable, certainly to Snart. It has the look and feel of a place leaving these old timers behind, and they really don’t want to change to keep up with the times.

This is like Ocean’s 11 mixed with the Flash Universe. Even though these characters are by all definition, villains, there is a likability to a lot of them, and you find yourself rooting for Snart. Well, you will for most of the book anyway. The first issue does end on a dark note, and does remind you just how vicious and violent these villains can be when pushed. They reach a point of no return, and Snart is definitely not going back to his day to day work at the factory.

This title was a joyful surprise, and I knew it would be pick of the week as soon as I read it. Cannot recommend enough, and even if you;’re put off the size of Premium Black Label titles for single issues, make sure to pick up the collected edition when it comes around.

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Best Comics of the Week – 29th December 2021 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/best-comics-of-the-week-29th-december-2021 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/best-comics-of-the-week-29th-december-2021#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2022 20:18:22 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111620 HONOURABLE MENTIONS Blood on Sunset #1(W) Mark D’Anna (A) Arjuna Susini BLOOD ON SUNSET #1, from Source Point Press, imagines an alternate, mid-Century Los Angeles where gangsters rubbed elbows with celebrities and supernatural monsters.  It’s set post World War 2 and given it’s detective hard boiled noir mixed with Supernatural elements, it’s right up my […]

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HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Blood on Sunset #1(W) Mark D’Anna (A) Arjuna Susini

BLOOD ON SUNSET #1, from Source Point Press, imagines an alternate, mid-Century Los Angeles where gangsters rubbed elbows with celebrities and supernatural monsters.  It’s set post World War 2 and given it’s detective hard boiled noir mixed with Supernatural elements, it’s right up my street.All the tropes you know and love are here.  The hard boiled detective with a case from his past that will always haunt him.  The femme fatale.  The dark alleyways and long shadows.  Except here you throw in the supernatural twist and that adds an extra dimension.Said Detective, in this tale known as Braddock, is in a bar drinking his troubles away when he receives a call from an ex-girlfriend who is now Bugsy Siegel’s side squeeze.  The only problem?  Bugsy has been killed, in a bloody and gruesome manner and she’s at the scene, with no clue what to do next.There are lots of moving parts here, from the supernatural elements, to turf wars from crime families getting ready to make their move, to the noir elements, and it all gels brilliantly.Great art as well, with atmosphere dripping off of every page.  Highly recommended.Task Force Z #3(W) Matthew Rosenberg (A) Eddy Barrows

With issue 3 we jump straight into the aftermath of the big reveal from issue 2, Deadshot is back and he is joining the team.  Only problem is, his first impression is shooting Jason Todd in the chest!So we kick things off with Jason being saved and then having to integrate Deadshot into the team, while attempting to hold no grudges.This was another fantastic issue for the series.  The general concept is excellent, and the execution is even better.  There are horror moments, comedic moments, and tons of great character interactions.  We have a decent amount of people in store with this on their pull lists but I can’t help but feel it deserves an even bigger audience.And Rosenberg is becoming skilled at revelations, as we learn who is really behind putting this team together, and to be honest, you’ll never guess who it is if I gave you 100 chances…Stray Dogs: Dog Days #1(W) Tony M. Fleecs (A) Trish Forstner

A follow up to the surprise horror hit of last year arrives, and it’s not actually a sequel, but a prequel, filling in the blanks of how all the characters introduced in the series ended up at their new home.  So strap in, and get ready for some heartbreak, as we all know the endings for each of these individual tales are going to be bittersweet.I use the term bittersweet because of course there is the tension of knowing where all the pups are going to end up, but you also have the joy of seeing them happy with their original owners.Overall there are six short stories in here, all perfectly drawn by Trish Forstner in that they are cute and colourful one minute, but the move into horror and peril is seamlessly executed.  Sometimes all it takes is one panel to completely turn the story on its head.Issue 2 will cover the rest of the characters, and you just know that’s gonna be another emotional rollercoaster of an issue!Devil’s Reign #2(W) Chip Zdarsky (A) Marco Checchetto

Devil’s Reign #2 continues to build off of the great foundation laid by #1.

It can be hard to shake the feeling that this is uncomfortably close to Civil War, but having read that recently, I have to say this is actually gripping me more.

#2 is a series of small moments as there is a huge cast to check in with here. We see Iron Fist being arrested, even though he is not indulging in any vigilante activities. Reed and Sue are in prison and not immune to attacks from other prisoners. Ben Reilly Spider-Man is arrested. And Elektra pays a visit to Fisk where he reveals he knows a secret of hers.

Fisk is in full confident mood and preparing for his end game. Controlling the Purple Man’s powers, he plans to coerce people to vote for him. Doctor Octopus, under Fisk’s employ, is still in the Baxter building and has access to all of Reed’s experiments and is bringing back the Superior Four.

This series is building nicely and I’m all in for it.  It’s a rare Marvel event where I’ve been reading and enjoying the tie-in issues as well, as I’m sure we’ll discuss over the next few weeks.

PICK OF THE WEEK

Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1(W) Jeff Lemire (A) Doug Mahnke

What a first issue.Humanity has reached it’s extinction point.  What’s left of humanity is not confined to small encampments.  It’s even reached the point where the Rot has nothing left to feed upon.  In their wisdom, the elemental Parliaments have decided that this slow death of humanity should be sped up and they are going to create a new Swamp Thing to finish wiping out humanity completely.The humans that remain are determined to continue their existence.  They have built settlements where they can, and are fortified as much as possible to protect themselves.  But of course, all humanity cannot get along, even when faced with the extinction of the species, with barder systems set up between settlements, and bullies running around threatening people if they don’t pay up.It asks the question is humanity worth saving, when even being faced with their own mortality, they still can’t get along.But can they even save the world when it’s reached this point?  What lengths should they go to, and is it worth letting in the devil to save the world as we know it?  There is a reveal late in this issue that just shows the confidence the creators have in this story, and it is a genuine ‘hell yeah’ moment.The art is phenomenal in this issue.  Doug Mahnke is able to balance the quaint and detailed settlements, with heavy horror imagery and full on bloody action sequences.  These are seriously some of the most brutal sequences we’ve seen in recent DC issues, and the title is more than worthy of it’s Black Label status.  The characters here, especially main character Donald, who is always there to reassure his daughter that everything is going to be okay, feel fully formed already, and this powerhouse creative team is clearly at the top of their game.Jeff Lemire spun one of my favourite ever Animal Man runs during the New 52 era, and there are plenty of links to that run here so long time readers are rewarded here as well.Overall, just an absolutely essential title, and a perfect bedfellow for Ram V and Mike Perkin’s excellent run, given the tonal differences and different set of characters at play.  The two titles will never step on each other’s toes, but are of the same quality.

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Best Comics of the Week – 22nd December 2021 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/best-comics-of-the-week-22nd-december-2022 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/best-comics-of-the-week-22nd-december-2022#respond Wed, 23 Mar 2022 19:58:56 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111614 HONORABLE MENTIONS Eat the Rich #5(W) Sarah Gailey (A) Pius Bak So we reach the end of this original Horror title from Boom Studios, and we are treated to a grisly, but wholly satisfying conclusion to the series. The crux of the story had Joey going to meet her boyfriend Astors family, who all come […]

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HONORABLE MENTIONS

Eat the Rich #5(W) Sarah Gailey (A) Pius Bak

So we reach the end of this original Horror title from Boom Studios, and we are treated to a grisly, but wholly satisfying conclusion to the series.

The crux of the story had Joey going to meet her boyfriend Astors family, who all come from privilege, in Crestfall Bluffs.  What she has learned over the course of the story is that wealth and social standing can hide any personal horrors and indulgences from public view.  And also that rich people really get up to some sick and perverted things, and enjoy testing the limits of both the law and basic humanity.The art and writing for this series has been extremely consistent and of a high standard the whole way through.  When this hits trade, make sure to pick it up.  And also keep an eye on what the creators Sarah Gailey and Pius Bak come up with next.

Catwoman #38(W) Ram V (A) Caspar Wijngaard

And so the Ram V era on Catwoman comes to an end.  And boy, does he wrap it up in style!

The final issue here takes on mainly a flashback style narrative, as many loose ends from the series are tied up, motivations and actions are explained and accounted for, and it leaves Selina in an interesting way where new writer Tini Howard can pick up the reins and pretty much go off in any direction they’d like.I’d happily have had Ram stay on Catwoman as he has elevated the title massively, focusing on utilising Selina’s smarts when it comes to planning and executing heists, while making sure she never falls back into a life of crime.  She is portrayed here more as a Robin Hood-esque figure who takes from the Haves and helps the Have Nots.A fitting end to the run, and I would highly recommend picking up the trades.

Batman: One Dark Knight #1(W/A) Jock

It’s a sign of just how strong so many titles were this week, that this Black Label #1 from Jock is not my pick of the week.  This was an absolutely blistering first issue, filled with dynamic action, phenomenal art and a streamlined Batman story that can be summed up as Batman trying to aid the GCPD in transporting a criminal from one side of Gotham to the other.  This is Jock’s debut as a writer on a Batman title, and his writing is every bit as good as his artwork.  The tension drips off of every page.  We have a supervillain, EMP, being transferred, but of course gangs have found out about the transfer route and are determined to attack.  EMP is able to escape, and as I’m sure you can work out from his name, that spells trouble for Gotham as the city is plunged into a complete blackout.It’s no surprise that this title is absolutely gorgeous.  It’s no secret I’m a long time fan of Jock’s work and he knocks it out of the park here.  It’s a title that suits the prestige plus format, as it is very cinematic with lots of double page spreads, high intensity action, hero shots for Batman and glorious city wide vistas.Cannot wait for issue 2.

Nightwing #87(W) Tom Taylor (A) Bruno Redondo

So after a few issues tying into Fear State, we are back to Nightwing’s own narrative and what an issue to return to it.  #87 has been hyped for quite some time and billed as the ‘one long continuous panel’ issue.

It could have been something of a gimmick and an idea that worked better in the planning than the execution.  I should really know not to doubt this creative team over anything at this point….Nightwing #87 is a perfect issue for new readers.  It is a perfect issue for fans of unique ideas.  It is a perfect issue for long time readers.  It’s just a pretty perfect issue.  It’s a self contained one shot issue where some bad people kidnap ‘Haley’, Nightwing’s dog.  And Nightwing sets out to save them, aided along the way by Batgirl.If you ever wanted to hand someone an issue of Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s run, to sum up their style of storytelling then this is it.  It’s fun, visually spectacular, with quipped dialogue and fast paced action.Essential.

PICK OF THE WEEK

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #6(W) Tom King (A) Bilquis Evely

So from one beautifully drawn DC title written by a Tom to another.  And given this issue was able to keep both One Dark Knight and Nightwing off of the top spot this week, it gives you a clue as to just how good it is, and how great this series has been in general.

We’ve highlighted nearly every issue so far on the podcast (if not every issue) and this is a series that hit the ground running but somehow still managed to raise the bar with every new instalment.Every issue of this title has been its own journey, almost a confined one shot, but it is all part of a brilliant connecting narrative, much akin to Tom King’s brilliant Superman miniseries – Up in the Sky.This issue doesn’t actually push the main story forward much, as a majority of the issue is spent in flashbacks and origin stories. Kara and Ruthye have finally encountered Krem and his cohorts, but the villain is prepared for their arrival. He aims another Mordu globe at Kara, having had previous harrowing success in the issue prior by sending her across the universe. But Kara is also prepared (clearly she’s given Batman a call in between issues), and this time she has her own secret weapon—the super-horse Comet, who can move even faster than even a Kryptonian and might possibly be the only thing in the universe that can outrun magic itself. So we have a ticking clock device, a race against time in one of the best action scenes of the series (in itself no small feat given how great every issue has looked)—but it’s also utilised here for King to reinvent Supergirl’s origin as only he can, in a really cool flashback to the last days of Krypton—and beyond.This is an issue that actually had me cheering while reading it, almost to the point it was an interactive comic.  You can feel yourself willing Comet and Kara on, and hoping they can foil the dastardly plan.  The set up is so deceptively simple but just brilliantly executed by the creative team all round.We’ve said it so many times before but it really can’t be overstated just how beautiful this series is.  Whatever Bilquis Evely moves onto next will be straight onto my pull list.Overall, Supergirl might seem like an odd character for this type of story from King, but in many ways it feels like she’s always been waiting for this story—to let her voice be truly heard much louder than her more famous cousins.

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Stray Dogs #1 (of 2) https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/stray-dogs-1-of-2 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/stray-dogs-1-of-2#respond Wed, 16 Feb 2022 16:22:06 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111358 (W) Tony M. Fleecs (A) Trish Forstner A follow up to the surprise horror hit of last year arrives, and it’s not actually a sequel, but a prequel, filling in the blanks of how all the characters introduced in the series ended up at their new home.  So strap in, and get ready for some […]

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(W) Tony M. Fleecs (A) Trish Forstner

A follow up to the surprise horror hit of last year arrives, and it’s not actually a sequel, but a prequel, filling in the blanks of how all the characters introduced in the series ended up at their new home.  So strap in, and get ready for some heartbreak, as we all know the endings for each of these individual tales are going to be bittersweet.

I use the term bittersweet because of course there is the tension of knowing where all the pups are going to end up, but you also have the joy of seeing them happy with their original owners.

Overall there are six short stories in here, all perfectly drawn by Trish Forstner in that they are cute and colourful one minute, but the move into horror and peril is seamlessly executed.  Sometimes all it takes is one panel to completely turn the story on its head.

Issue 2 will cover the rest of the characters, and you just know that’s gonna be another emotional rollercoaster of an issue!

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Dark Knights of Steel #1 (of 12) https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/dark-knights-of-steel-1-of-12 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/dark-knights-of-steel-1-of-12#respond Mon, 24 Jan 2022 20:54:31 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111251 (W) Tom Taylor (A) Yasmine Putri Welcome to the latest edition of the Tom Taylor corner, who we have recently learned has signed exclusively to write for DC.  And as a DC fan, this is certainly excited, though I had always secretly hoped for another volume of Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man…. But anyway, back to the […]

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(W) Tom Taylor (A) Yasmine Putri

Welcome to the latest edition of the Tom Taylor corner, who we have recently learned has signed exclusively to write for DC.  And as a DC fan, this is certainly excited, though I had always secretly hoped for another volume of Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man….

But anyway, back to the DC Universe meets Game of Thrones.  This was an exceptionally fun opening issue.  We see the familiar beats of Krypton exploding, and Jor-El and Lara talking about needing to send their son away from here and start a new life.  Thew twist this time?  The parents actually flee their dying planet with their son this time.  They crash land in a strange place, where Jor-El instantly uses his powers to defend his family.  At the same time, a seer named John Constantine is having visions of strangers arriving and how they will spell humanities end.

Flash forward 19 years and Kal-El is all grown up and the lands are now known as the Kingdom of El.  Bruce Wayne’s parents used to rule the lands but are now deceased and have entrusted the ruling of the land to Jor-El, relying on their abilities and moral fibre to rule over the kingdom, and usher in peace.  Batman acts as a Knight for the El Family, and is dark and brooding as we’ve always come to know him to be.  He has a fleet of Robins under him to utilise.  And Harley Quinn is present as the King’s Jester and provides most of the comic relief for the issue.

The main hook that they story ends on is to do with Bruce Wayne’s heritage.  He was subject to an attack from this worlds Black Canary, whose scream should have torn Bruce to pieces.  However, he survived and is not sure why any mortal would have.  He believes himself to be cursed.  But maybe in this world, Bruce Wayne is more than a mere mortal…

This was an awesome first issue.  As ever, Taylor’s strength is in his world building and his trust in his audience that they will recognise characters from the DC Universe, and enjoy his twists on those characters.  In the first issue here we are introduced to Batman, Superman, Constantine, Black Lightning, Black Canary, Harley Quinn, Stephanie Brown, Dick Grayson, Green Arrow and more.  Batman and Superman are almost warring brothers, unsure of each other’s motives and practices.  It’s a relationship that has been explored in so many ways in previous comic series, yet Taylor may have just found a fresh take here given revelations that are unearthed towards the last few pages.

Yasmine Putri’s art is fantastic.  It is by turns bright and heroic, but also dark and foreboding.  It is a perfect fit for this kind of material.  The designs of the character’s suits all include subtle hints to classic looks meaning you know who is who, but they also feel new and interesting.  She also does the colouring work for the series and it elevates the art even further.

A supremely confident, entertaining and beautiful start to DC’s latest maxiseries, and once again Tom Taylor remains a writer you know will deliver.

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Newburn #1 Review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/newburn-1-review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/newburn-1-review#respond Sat, 08 Jan 2022 19:39:07 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111118 (W) Chip Zdarsky (A) Jacob Philips Another case of following creators leads to another quality title.  We talk enough about Chip and Jacob at this point for you to recognise their names, though this is the first time they have worked together.  And they have kicked off with another strong title. Newburn follows Easton Newburn, […]

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(W) Chip Zdarsky (A) Jacob Philips

Another case of following creators leads to another quality title.  We talk enough about Chip and Jacob at this point for you to recognise their names, though this is the first time they have worked together.  And they have kicked off with another strong title.

Newburn follows Easton Newburn, a retired cop. He now works as an investigator and problem solver for all of New York’s organized crime families while using their information to hand low-hanging fruit over to the NYPD.  It’s quite the tightrope for any character to walk, but it comes across as second nature to Easton.

In the first issue, Carmine Albano has been murdered in his apartment after stealing ten kilograms of cocaine from his own family. The evidence doesn’t clearly indicate anyone obvious, and a gang war and desperate grab for power may ensue if the murderer is not found. Before that can happen, Newburn is brought in to provide impartial clarity.  He is an investigator in the classic mould.  Sees details other may miss.  Won’t resort to violence quickly but not afraid to indulge when called upon.  He doesn’t have a horse in the game so doesn’t have any personal feelings towards any victims or suspects.

This is a police procedural, played straight and with interesting characters.  As we’d come to expect from the artist and co-creator of That Texas Blood, this is right in Jacob Phillips wheelhouse, and the art fits the store perfectly.

Another great title from Zdarsky as well, and a bit different from his normal work.  Another genre conquered by Chip?  Keep this up for the following issues and it may just be.

 

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The Magic Order 2 #1 Review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/the-magic-order-2-1 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/the-magic-order-2-1#respond Mon, 03 Jan 2022 23:15:43 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111099 (W) Mark Millar (A) Stuart Immonen The Magic Order was a cracking series that lived up to its premise of Goodfellas meets Harry Potter, with some great storytelling, brutal, beautiful art and great world building.  Coming from the team of Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel, I was always hoping for a sequel.  It has now […]

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(W) Mark Millar (A) Stuart Immonen

The Magic Order was a cracking series that lived up to its premise of Goodfellas meets Harry Potter, with some great storytelling, brutal, beautiful art and great world building.  Coming from the team of Mark Millar and Olivier Coipel, I was always hoping for a sequel.  It has now arrived, and although there was a little disappointment that Coipel is no longer on art, the series barely misses a step with Stuart Immonen.

A new threat is rising against Cordelia and her family, the established top family in the world of magic.  It’s almost as if they’ve gotten a little too comfortable, an early scene at a children’s birthday party, and a one night stand establishing that things are all a little too under control in their world.  Or so they think.

Before too long we are introduced to the Korne family, from Bucharest, who are powerful magicians, and they are not afraid to show that power or to wield it in despicable ways.

This is an excellent first issue setting the tone for another great magic romp from the mind of Mr Millar.

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Batman: The Long Halloween Special #1 Review https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/batman-the-long-halloween-special-1 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/batman-the-long-halloween-special-1#respond Mon, 03 Jan 2022 14:23:58 +0000 https://www.coffeeandheroes.com/?p=111096 (W) Jeph Loeb (A) Tim Sale Just as I’d mentioned the pairings of Brubaker/Phillips and Condon/Phillips as being a mark of quality, you can certainly have Loeb/Sale in that list. The Long Halloween was one of the first Batman maxiseries I ever read, and since that time, has remained firmly in my top 5 Batman […]

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(W) Jeph Loeb (A) Tim Sale

Just as I’d mentioned the pairings of Brubaker/Phillips and Condon/Phillips as being a mark of quality, you can certainly have Loeb/Sale in that list.

The Long Halloween was one of the first Batman maxiseries I ever read, and since that time, has remained firmly in my top 5 Batman stories of all time.  A series that managed to incorporate everyone in Batman’s rogues gallery effortlessly into the story, while exploring the dynamic between Batman, Harvey Dent & Commisioner Gordon, it also manages to focus on the crime families in Gotham as well as introduce a new villain.  It was all absolutely effortless, brilliant writing weaving the tale and career best art from Sale as he presented a noir tinged, stylised version of Gotham.  It’s no surprise that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight was so heravily influenced by the book.

So when I see we’re returning to this world, with the original creators, to tell a one shot tale, I approached it with massive excitement but also with a tinge of trepidation.  Could it possibly match up to the original masterpiece?  Would it add anything new?  Was there any point?

I’m glad to say it was a big fat yes on all counts, as this was one of my favourite single issues of 2021.  The set up alone was brilliant.

In The Long Halloween, Batman was chasing a killer who always committed the acts on holidays.  So a murder takes place on Halloween, on Thanksgiving, on Christmas etc.  In Batman lore, the obvious suspect was Calendar Man. However, it was not him, but someone who would take on the moniker of The Holiday Killer.  I won’t reveal who that killer was, as trying to work it out is one of the big pleasures of a first read through.  However, it has always grated on Calendar Man that someone essentially stole his gimmick so to speak, so this special starts out with him essentially trying to reclaim his name, by committing criminal acts in the lead up to Halloween.

Harvey Dent/Two Face has also resurfaced, Robin is kicking around, and the relationship between Gordon and Batman is as strong as ever.

Considering this is only a 48 page special, there is so much great storytelling here.  It feels longer.  Jeph Loeb has slid brilliantly back into this world and it’s like he’s never missed a beat.  There’s a brilliant central mystery and noir sensibility driving the story, but there’s also some levity and humour.  Barbara Gordon wanting to go trick or treating with Robin (who of course is much younger here than Batman), and she dresses up as Batgirl right in front of her father to do so?  Fantastic stuff.

Sale’s art, while not quite as sharp and detailed as the original tale (though to be fair, not many people could reach that standard in their prime let alone 25 years later), still connects to this world, and his character design remains fantastic.  The colours from Brennan Wagner perfectly conveys the film noir feel Loeb and Sale are going for and letterer Richard Starkings shines, using different fonts from when Harvey speaks or Two Face speaks, adds a subtle touch that just adds to the overall atmosphere of the book.

The ending is both definitive but also open ended.  If it all came to an end her then this was a perfect, unexpected send off.  Though a thread or two remains, so if Loeb and Sale ever wanted to revisit this world, they would have my money.  A thoroughly brilliant one shot title.

And if you haven’t read the original The Long Halloween, stop reading this right now and go do yourself a favour and grab it right away.  In fact, talking about it, I may just indulge in a re-read myself over the weekend…

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