Curated: Uncommitted DC

This list is meant to appeal to casual fans, curious fans, or fans who just want a good tale, but do not want to get bogged down in continuity or have to wait for the next collection to see what happens. This is stuff you could easily gift for new fans, or use as an introduction to a new character for yourself.

Batman: White Knight

What you need to know: You do not have been reading any of the current titles. This is an alternate take on the Batman, one that often feels a bit like a video game in its pacing. There are sequels to this that are currently ongoing, but Batman: White Knight stands incredibly well on its own. This series feels familiar and fresh in equal measure.

Collects: Batman: White Knight 1-8

Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands

The first of a few year one/origin style tales on this list. This one is a bit unique in that the original creator has come back to do a modern retelling of his creation’s origin. It is fresh, both in story and in visuals as we follow the adventures of Jefferson Pierce, who is not exactly seen as a hero in the vein of Superman, Wonder Woman or others. Extremely satisfying storytelling.

Collects: Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands 1-6

JLA/JSA: Virtue & Vice Graphic Novel

Throughout the Silver Age and early Bronze Age, there was a tradition of yearly crossovers featuring the JLA/JSA. Now that both teams reside on the same earth, that tradition has largely been dropped. JLA/JSA Virtue & Vice takes a modern approach, giving us a big graphic novel with some fantastic storytelling. And then there are quiet moments featuring Superman and Alan Scott, the Golden Age Green Lantern that bookend this tale; comic book perfection.

Martian Manhunter: Identity TPB

Like Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, this a modern retelling of a classic character. This time the Martian Manhunter’s takes the spotlight with an origin tale possessing incredible depth and nuance, both narratively and visually. Truly one of the best stories DC has put out in recent readers, and it certainly leaves the reader wanting more, and wondering why they do not get more of these self-contained stories.

Collects: Martian Manhunter (Vol. 4) 1-12

Mister Miracle TPB

This one has been raved about by all corners of the internet, so if you are one of the few that has not read this recent epic, you should really just bow to peer pressure. In many ways, this series comes the closest to the original heart Jack Kirby’s, with some incredible modern flourishes.

Collects: Mister Miracle (Vol. 4)

Robin: Year One

Often referred to in other reviews and even on another Curated List (Dick Grayson by Chuck Dixon), but that is the instantly accessibility of this four issue Year One tale. Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty ad Javier Pulido have easily created on the best Dick Grayson as Robin stories you will ever read. When reviewers refer to art pieces that are love letters to previous interpretations, this easily fits that mould.

Collects: Robin: Year One 1-4

Superman Unchained

Scott Snyder’s take on the Man of Steel, with Jim Lee along for the pictures. This blockbuster is surprisingly contained to just nine issues, including back up features. Even people who are not fans of Superman need to check this one out; it is well worth the read. Action packed, big storytelling and high-octane adventure.

Collects: Superman Unchained 1-9

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis Review

For this animated movie we head to the seas and meet Arthur Curry who is down and out while mourning the loss of his Dad. This film should be used as a template for origin films. It was so much fun, so entertaining and what I appreciated the most is that as someone who hasn’t ever really been that interested in Aquaman as a character, it changed my perspective.

Throne of Atlantis takes place after the affects of Justice League: War and there’s commotion in the ocean as Prince Orm (Ocean Master) believes they have been attacked by land dwellers. He teams up with Black Manta to over throw Queen Atlantis but perhaps takes things a little too far. One thing I always appreciate about these DC animated films is how the animation, story telling and actors come together so well and once again there’s some perfect casting with Sam Witwer and Henry Lennix as Orm and Manta. The two of them together make a great double act.

As soon as Arthur meets Mera you can feel the spark. Their connection is instantaneous and this film does a brilliant job in conveying this really subtly. Matt Lanter and Sumalee Montano inject these characters with loads of personality and allow them to become people you connect with and care about. Arthur’s journey is pretty similar to Jason Mamoa’s live action version but the biggest difference is that both his parents are dead. The fact that he was minutes away from meeting his Mum properly for the first time really saddened me. Portraying just how strong and powerful he is and how awesome his trident is, makes you take him seriously which may not have always been the case and now I’m on a mission to read more about him.

As always, I love having the other Justice League members along for the ride. They’re just finding their feet as a team, avoiding bad team name choices and making connections with each other. Superman and Wonder Woman particularly make a strong connection which again follows on from what we saw at the end of Justice League: War. I loved the scene with Lois crashing their date and the under tones of jealousy both these women have towards each other. The other stand out character for me was Green Lantern and Nathan Fillion wonderfully breathes so much fun and humour into him.

Throne of Atlantis really is a superb DC film which brings Aquaman to the forefront and shows him off fabulously. I genuinely can’t think of a reason why anyone wouldn’t love this.

This Week in DCTV – 5/2/21

Batwoman continues….

Jim – This week Batwoman definitely picks up, the introduction of Victor Zsasz is great, feels like Ryan is getting her own villains which is awesome and her settling into the role really well. I’ll be honest I’d rather they continue this way and maybe lessen Alice some, she’s a great character but her story is very connected to Kate which is cool right now but I would like them to move away at some point. From what we learn in this episode it doesn’t look like they’re doing that any time soon!

We also got some hints at maybe a future villain with the mention of a man in a Black Mask, that’s very exciting!! And a mention of Jack Napier, they’re busting all the villains out this week and we finally got to meet the infamous Safiyah, it will interesting to see well this story goes.

Rob – “Have you seen the damn wig!!!!!”

New look, new Batwoman and this episode was more like it. It gave me what I wanted and we saw Ryan have a little more fun with her new role which brought a much more lighthearted tone. This also meant Mary was the Mary that I love watching too. The fun was brilliantly mixed in with a great villain. Alex Morf was pure joy as Victor Zsasz. Victor maybe wasn’t as threatening as other versions we’ve seen but he was great to watch in this episode.

Alan – Week 3, and we have the usual fixtures in place, Luke is still kidding himself that Kate is coming back and Ryan is just a stand in, and Alice up to all kinds mischief in the background. We also find Ryan trying to make the Batwoman her own and disposed of the red wig. I find this is a shame, I like the red wig and feel it is iconic of the character, but I understand the need and desire to differentiate Ryan from Kate.

Alice is still great, and probably the best character, although I really enjoyed the portrayal of Victor Zsasz. I always enjoy  Zsasz as a character , and often wish he was used (in any media) as one of the “bigger villains”. We find him captured by Batwoman by the end of the episode, I hope we get to see more of him at some point.

Referring to the bigger villains, this now brings me to the main issue I have with this episode. The reference to Jack Napier. Anyone who has seen Batman ’89 knows that Jack Napier is an alias of Joker, and with so many great villains in the DC Universe, do we really need another Joker portrayal? I love the Joker when he’s done well, but I hope they don’t go in that direction.

Kendra – In Season 2 Episode 3 of Batwoman, a contract killer runs amuck in Gotham and Ryan has to stop them.Victor Zsasz, the hitperson, is a wonderful dip into the villain lineup. While it seem Victor kills indiscriminately…there is a definite method to the madness. I love the balance that this episode provides both giving a short story and playing the long game. It isn’t easy to do and when it happens it is so enjoyable.

Also Kate is brought up again as evidence comes to light that she may yet live, and this raises questions on just what they are planning to do with Kate Kane when the airplane crash would have sufficed to close that story. Guess we will see how this one unfolds as the season comes out.

Justin – This was yet another great episode of Batwoman! Javicia Leslie is truly coming into her own as the lead of this series. Ryan Wilder is officially Batwoman as of this episode and it was great to watch. The new suit is fantastic! Alex Morf was simply brilliant as Victor Zsasz. Charming and terrifying, he was the perfect villain for Ryan’s first true outing as her own Batwoman. I found it fascinating that he also inspires Ryan to make Batwoman her own.

I also love the budding friendship between Mary and Ryan. Nicole Kang continues to be a fantastic part of this cast that always brings heart and humor to each episode. Camrus Johnson’s Luke Fox is finally warming up to Ryan which is a joy to watch. Johnson is truly a phenomenal talent. Shivani Ghai’s debut as Safiyah was fantastic as well. Her regal and powerful portrayal of the Queen of Coryana was definitely reminiscent of Matt Nable’s Ra’s Al-Ghul from Arrow. I can’t wait to see if she is telling the truth concerning Kate or if she is simply manipulating Alice.

I am looking forward to what’s next!

Nightwing: Year One Review

In his eighty years of existence, Dick Grayson has held many titles and roles; acrobat, Robin the Boy Wonder, Teen Titan, various undercover identities and even Batman sometimes, but it is his identity as Nightwing that he is perhaps now most recognized for; one that was adopted nearly forty years ago.

So it does come as a surprise when it is learned that there was a long period of time between Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing, and when he would finally graduate to a title of his own. Just over a decade in fact, and it especially becomes mind boggling to think that characters such as Tim Drake Robin, Catwoman and even Azrael all got solo titles before Dick did. For a character that has such a rich history, giving him a title seemed like an obvious thing to do, especially after he left the Titans in ’93/’94.

A miniseries in 1995 would be considered his first volume, but his solo adventures did not really kick off until Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel debuted the ongoing second volume the following year. Fans of that title and creative team will tell you the first three years were absolutely electric and very much what the fanbase longed for in a solo outing by Nightwing. Dixon’s tales were exciting, exploring new territory, while still keeping Dick Grayson just within the sphere of the other Bat-titles. And Scott McDaniel’s art… was and is, absolutely kinetic, with sequences that often felt like they would leap off the page at you. Their run would eventually end and they would move onto different projects.

Dixon and McDaniel would reunite to tell two more Nightwing tales after the fact. One of those reunions would be on the Nightwing title itself, and that story would be be Nightwing: Year One.

Fans of the Dick Grayson character are familiar with the broad strokes of Nightwing’s development, but most of that history still focussed on Grayson’s time as a sidekick, and as Robin. Even his Bronze Age tales were either back-up features in the Batman titles, or shunted over to Teen Titans, where Dick was just one of many heroes with which Marv Wolfman and George Perez had to plot out page space for each month.

There was also the issue that a definitive telling of that period has never truly been done, or better put, properly defined. We knew the basics, Robin was “fired”, and Dick taking it one step further would fuel his recent failures under Batman into a new costumed identity and a new desire to prove himself to the greater superhero community. Unfortunately those early days of him being Nightwing are largely covered in Titans’ related books, and, it did not really address the time period immediately leaving the Batcave and emerging as Nightwing, in any real depth.

In six issues, Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel not only fill in those gaps, but also address the larger part of Dick’s first year in his new identity, and for some, the fan favourite “disco suit”. Surprisingly, the retcon used to justify such a wardrobe choice was done with such brilliance it actually makes the suit itself a little less ridiculous looking. Breaking away from using Batman as much as possible, we see Dick interact with the greater DC universe, and the story told becomes more enriched as a result. One or two guest appearances should not come as a surprise to most fans, but one certainly does stand-out as an interesting, and effective inclusion to the narrative.

Detractors will say that this this is just another year one concept done by Chuck Dixon. While that is a fair assessment, it does not take into account the uniqueness that this story holds. While Robin: Year One and Batgirl: Year One felt like love letters to those characters, Nightwing: Year One takes it a step further; it feels like a love letter to Nightwing and Nightwing fans, alike. If this is not a perfect piece of comic book storytelling, it is damn close.

Collects: Nightwing (Volume 2) 101-106

Son Of Batman Review

There’s an extension to the bat family in this animated movie as Bruce Wayne meets his secret son. Damian has already lucked out in the gene pool and he follows quite the legacy. With Batman as his biological father, and Talia al Ghul his Mim and in turn, R’as al Ghul being his grandfather you’d be forgiven for assuming his life would go down a certain route.

Of all the DC animated movies I’ve watched this would probably rank as last place on my list. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible but I felt like it just didn’t reach its full potential. I enjoy The League of Assassins but they didn’t come across as the huge threat they pose to be. Talia was highly sexualised and while of course its completely plausible there’s more sides to her character than just being kick ass, seeing her go all Jessica Rabbit kind of took away from her character. I felt like there were issues with the dialogue which at times made the movie seem unpolished. Lastly, Damian just comes across as hugely unlikeable. A pompous brat in fact. We often like characters who are villainous and do bad things but with Damian there just didn’t seem to be any redeeming qualities. I couldn’t help but just feel annoyed every time he was on screen.

Having said all that there were also many good things about this. The bat suit and batmobile had a real classic look which drew me back to my childhood and a Batman I’m very familiar with. I think Jason O’Mara does an ace job in bringing Batman to life once again. Alfred was pure joy and delivered many one liners which were pretty funny. I’d have to actually say this would be one of my favourite appearances from Alfred. Nightwing featured in the movie and who doesn’t love seeing Dick Grayson!! I also really enjoyed Deathstroke and his part kind of served as an introduction to him without giving us a huge backstory.

While Son of Batman isn’t the strongest DC movie out there it’s still worth a watch and hopefully serves as a set up for greater stories to come.