Comic Book Reviews (Week September 2, 2020): Empyre Issue 6, Batman Issue 98 and More!

Batman Issue 98 review
Batman Issue 98 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome! In this week’s comic book review round-up (September 2, 2020), I will be covering Batman Issue 98, Empyre Issue 6, New Mutants Issue 12, and more!

Okay. I’ll say it. Batman issue 98 from writer James Tynion IV was one of the better issues in his “The Joker War” storyline. I liked how he used the current issue to develop Bruce. He also gave us some cool moments between Harley Quinn and Punching Bag… I meant, Punchline.

Nah! You know what? I’ll call her Punching Bag because that’s what Harley called her and it’s also what Joker’s new girl ended up becoming. After getting punched around by Harley, Bruce swooped in to knock her out. Yes!

I couldn’t help but roll my eyes reading how the poor young woman thought she was actually Joker’s partner. Punching Bag refused to listen to Harley about how the Joker didn’t care about anyone. The Joker’s eyes will always be set on taking down Batman and everyone else is for him to manipulate (or kill) to get closer to the Bat.

I liked how Tynion handled Bruce’s relationship with Alfred’s death. It was time for Bruce to move on and stop blaming himself. His guilt had made him lash out at Damian, Nightwing, and even Selina because they reminded him of how he couldn’t help Alfred. 

With how Batman issue 98 ended, I can’t wait for Bruce to reunite with his Batfamily to defeat the Joker and take back Gotham (with Harley’s help). On the other side of things, Selina’s bringing the Riddler and the Penguin along. So, I’m interested in seeing what she’s got planned.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

DCeased Dead Planet Issue 3 review
DCeased: Dead Planet Issue 3 (Image: DC Comics)

DCeased: Dead Planet Issue 3

While I’m still enjoying Tom Taylor’s story, I have to say I was a bit disappointed by how certain events played out in DCeased: Dead Planet issue 3. I didn’t like Taylor reversing certain deaths. Turns out, Zatanna’s still alive even though it looked like she had died in the previous issue. Jon’s healed, too. I mean, could this story deliver a satisfying conclusion if someone important doesn’t actually die?

Having said that, I appreciated Taylor mentioning Trigon. I’ve been wondering where he was ever since the DCeased storyline began. With Trigon, apparently, planning to come to Earth, I guess Raven will make an appearance soon? Let’s see.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Hellblazer rise and fall Issue 1 review
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall Issue 1 (Image: DC Comics)

Hellblazer: Rise and Fall Issue 1

I decided to pick up this new comic book story because I have been enjoying Tom Taylor’s writing. The debut installment gave us John Constantine’s backstory and of course, something he did as a kid decided to come back to haunt him as an adult. The story’s quite dark and bloody. And I can’t wait to see how John and one of his childhood friends will put a stop to something quite evil.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters: Yes.

Empyre Issue 6 review
Empyre Issue 6 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Empyre Issue 6

Marvel’s Empyre event, from Al Ewing and Dan Slott, finally came to a close with Empyre issue 6 and I’m quite glad that it did. While I do appreciate Marvel Comics allowing Hulkling and Wiccan to be part of the main roster of characters for a big event, the overall narrative was quite boring. Frankly, I couldn’t make myself care about the Cotati.

At least, Empyre gave us a couple of developments to look forward to. Hulkling’s evil grandmother is still alive. The alliance between the Kree and the Skrulls will open doors to several political problems. Also, look at the amazing panel featuring Hulkling (the King of Space) standing with his husband Wiccan (the Demiurge). As far as queer representation in comic books goes, this is a powerful image. Marvel will be celebrating their marriage in an upcoming issue.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

New Mutants Issue 12 review
New Mutants Issue 12 (Image: Marvel Comics)

New Mutants Issue 12

The X-Men comics don’t tend to shy away from depicting real-world problems, especially regarding racism and discrimination. New Mutants issue 12, from writer Ed Brisson, showed Magik, Dani, and Glob confronting the guy who ran the website called DOX.

For those who don’t know, said website’s responsible for doxxing numerous mutants and putting their lives in danger. Seeing the owner using the “right-to-freedom-of-speech-and-press” card made me roll my eyes. Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences. I liked how, through Trinary’s help, Magik and her team were able to even the playing field. Due to the changes the X-Men made, the next time DOX publishes something to expose a mutant’s privacy, the people running DOX would be doxxed back.

Other than that, this issue also gave us some backstory for Glob. He was raised by a father who hated mutants. And when Glob’s mutation kicked in, his father targeted him. Glob’s mother left him at Xavier’s school for safety. Even then, due to his upbringing, it took time for Glob to address his internalized hatred. His story resembled the ones involving queer people and internalized homophobia.

The entire thing might come across as a bit preachy to some readers. However, I think it was something important to be shared considering the world we’re living in. Many bigots are quick to back away from any accountability when they post hateful stuff online. As Magik put it, such people might not have pulled the gun, but they are always willing to provide the bullets.

Other than that, (yes, there’s more!), Nova Roma got attacked in a very brutal fashion. I would have liked the panels showcasing Nova Roma to be placed near the end of the comic book. Having them be sprinkled throughout the issue kind of took me away from the doxxing storyline. 

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 6 review
Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 6 (Image: Marvel Comics)

Guardians of the Galaxy Issue 6

I’ll be truthful. I only picked up this issue because it showed Hercules hooking up with Marvel Boy. Ha!

Recommendation: Perhaps pick it up to support the queers?

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Funny Creek Issue 5
Funny Creek Issue 5 (Image: comiXology)

Funny Creek Issue 5

The five-part miniseries, Funny Creek, concluded its very emotional narrative this week. I enjoyed the debut issue from Rafael Scavone and Rafael Albuquerque. While Lilly going into the world of the “The Funny Creek Show” TV series offered lots of color and a sense of adventure for the main lead, a layer of something far serious could still be felt.

The final issue had Lilly confront what happened to her friend Andy in the real world. We know that Lilly blamed herself for forcing Andy to enter a very dangerous situation. And while it wasn’t her fault, it was understandable that moving on was going to be very tough for Lilly.

If you’re considering letting kids read this five-part limited series, I would urge you to read it with them to help kids understand all of the nuance featured in the narrative. While it’s definitely an emotional story, I think it can lend a hand when talking to kids about being honest, addressing mistakes, facing guilt, and a lot more.

Recommendation: Pick it up.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

You can read our review of Teen Titans: Beast Boy graphic novel here.

Which comic books did you pick up this week? Did you enjoy Batman Issue 98?

Let us know. 

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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