Comic Book Reviews (Week December 2, 2020): King In Black Issue 1, Batman/Catwoman Issue 1, and More!

batman issue 104 review
Batman and Harley trying to find a reason for the current arc to exist – Batman Issue 104 (Image: DC Comics)

Welcome to my comic book reviews for this week (December 2, 2020). I will be covering King In Black issue 1, Batman issue 104, Far Sector issue 9, Batman/Catwoman issue 1, and more!

I’m going to open by talking about Batman issue 104 by writer James Tynion IV and share that I’ll be going on a break after this week’s installment. The main Batman comic book line is just not bringing me joy anymore. As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, Tynion’s current story feels like a rehash of old concepts featuring a new coat of paint. Ghostmaker just continues to make me go ‘meh!’ whenever he appears. We have gone through Bruce’s former friends and other people turning evil because they think they’re better than Batman. Sigh!

Batman issue 104 had Tynion trying to explain Ghostmaker’s existence in the overall lore. He even made Nightwing tell Barbara that he once saw Ghostmaker as a kid. Yeah, okay. (I’m just rolling my eyes here.) 

I did like two particular moments, though. Queen Ivy using the plant in Harley’s new apartment to tell the Batgirls about Quinn’s whereabouts was nice to see. Fingers crossed Harley and Ivy meet each other soon. I also liked the Batgirls telling Barbara that if Bruce can have a bunch of Robins running around, she can lead a team of Batgirls.

Anyway, I’ll be back to reading Batman if something interesting happens. Until then, I won’t be spending money on it.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Meh!

batman catwoman issue 1 review
Batman/Catwoman Issue 1 (Image: DC Comics)

Batman/Catwoman Issue 1

I understand that there are Batman readers who didn’t enjoy writer Tom King’s take on the main series (especially during his final issues). But in my opinion, King was doing something different with Bruce and his cast of characters. Unlike Tynion’s storytelling giving me deja vu, King is continuing his exploration of Bruce and Selina’s relationship in Batman/Catwoman issue 1. King’s doing something different with the Batman franchise, and I’m here for it. Superheroes, depending on if they want to, should be allowed to find love, begin a family, and lead (kind of) wholesome lives. 

The current narrative combined timelines to tell a story that’s set in the past, present, and future. As a fan of the Mask of the Phantasm, I liked how King brought back Andrea. King laid the groundwork for a lot of things in the debut issue (even if some of the choices felt odd). I can’t wait to see where his story will take me. Of course, Clay Mann’s delivered stunning art.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

DCeased Hope at World's End Issue 15 review
DCeased: Hope At World’s End Issue 15 (Image: DC Comics)

DCeased: Hope At World’s End Issue 15

Writer Tom Taylor’s DCeased tie-in finally concluded with issue 15. Even though we know what happens next in the main DCeased story, I’m glad this tie-in ended on a hopeful note. The queers lived, y’all. The queers lived!

Does it have obvious queer characters: Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

DCeased Dead Planet Issue 6 review
DCeased: Dead Planet Issue 6 (Image: DC Comics)

DCeased: Dead Planet Issue 6

I liked how writer Tom Taylor had our heroes come up with a cure to turn zombies back into normal people. While that’s going on, the surviving villains have decided to release an Amazo Army to kill the zombies. Not only that, Trigon’s killing zombies, too. And will John Constantine’s plan work? There’s just a lot happening and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together in the finale.

I have a feeling the DCeased franchise will continue because I don’t see all of the loose ends being addressed in the one issue that’s left. Also, Tom Taylor, if you’re reading this, where the heck is Raven?

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP! 

Far Sector Issue 9 review
Far Sector Issue 9 (Image: DC Comics)

Far Sector Issue 9

No matter how much you praise Far Sector by writer N.K. Jemisin, it’s just won’t be enough. In my opinion, comic book readers are missing out by not reading Far Sector. It’s not a great Green Lantern story, it’s a great story in general with amazing art by Jamal Campbell. I loved seeing Jo holding her own without using her ring. And the revelation at the end, just, wow!

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP! 

Justice League Endless Winter Issue 1 reveiw
Justice League: Endless Winter Issue 1 (Image: DC Comics)

Justice League: Endless Winter Issue 1

‘Endless Winter’ is DC Comic’s newest crossover event. Time will tell if it delivers something good. From writers Andy Lanning and Ron Marz, I liked how the current Frost Giant-esque villain seemed to connected to DC history involving Black Adam, Hippolyta, Viking Prince, and Swamp Thing.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: Up to you.

King in Black Issue 1 review
King in Black Issue 1 (Image: Marvel Comics)

King In Black Issue 1

From writer Donny Cates, King In Black issue 1 was the only Marvel comic book I picked up this week and I’m glad I did. The narrative is sure to follow your usual superhero storytelling journey with the big bad defeating the heroes, the survivors needing to regroup, and then the heroes winning in the grand finale. King In Black issue 1 was all about defeating the good guys.

With Knull, the God of Symbiotes, coming to Earth, things got worse for our heroes. With Thor not arriving on time, Earth’s mightiest heroes turned to Storm. As a fan of Ororo Munroe, I can’t thank Cates enough for how he handled her.

King in Black Issue 1 Storm
King in Black Issue 1 – Goddess Storm (Image: Marvel Comics)

Due to Knull’s weakness being lightning, cosmic power, and (potentially) magic, Storm does have it in her to harm him. However, even if Cates doesn’t go all out with Storm in this story, I’m just glad about what he gave us during the first issue.

King in Black Issue 1 review
King in Black Issue 1 – Knull notices Storm (Image: Marvel Comics)

Also, it’s kind of interesting that writers outside the X-Men books mention her Goddesshood, with Coates exploring it in his Black Panther run, while Storm’s yet to do something Goddess-like in the actual X-Men books.

I mean, what’s happening over at Marvel Comics? One would assume Storm should be getting better development in the main X-Men line without her fans needing to read other comic books to see her shine.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Dryad Issue 7 review
Dryad Issue 7 (Image: ONI Press)

Dryad Issue 7

Now that Rana and Griff know about their past, it made sense for them to figure out what to do next. Who really are they and how can they reconnect with their adoptive parents? I think writer Kurtis Wiebe did a good job conveying the hurt and confusion being felt by everyone in the main family. I’m looking forward to seeing where our leads go next and what dangers they’ll face together.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up. 

knock em dead issue 1 review
Knock Em Dead Issue 1 (Image: Aftershock Comics)

Knock Em Dead Issue 1

I have been enjoying the comic books from Aftershock Comics. That’s why I decided to read Knock Em Dead issue 1. From writer Eliot Rahal, the premise dealt with a young comedian striking a deal with a supernatural being who will help him write comedic material. However, we all know that deals with supernatural beings come with a lot of strings. 

The first issue helped introduce us to the lead character, Pryor Brice. He’s clearly struggling as a stand-up comedian. Artist Mattia Monaco didn’t shy away from showing how badly Pryor’s comedy was being received. At least, we know Pryor’s not the kind of person who gives up easily. The final panel offered a tease of the paranormal stuff to expect. So, let’s see what happens next.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up.  

happy hour issue 2 review
Happy Hour Issue 2 (Image: AHOY Comics)

Happy Hour Issue 2

I was provided a free copy of Happy Hour Issue 2 for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

From writer Peter Milligan, I continue to enjoy the Happy Hour series. I was glad the second issue had Jerry and Kim be able to run away from the facility. Their escape led to an amazing scene which also had me worried about the duo. Having fun is out of the question for them. The two letting themselves laugh and get carried away (even for just a bit) was an intense moment. I guess, kudos to Milligan for making me not want the main characters to be happy. That’s the kind of fictional world he’s created.

I guess the conversation Jerry had with his grandmother gave him what he wanted? Anyway, with the authorities after Jerry and Kim, I’m looking forward to seeing how they will fare in a very weird world.

I’m enjoying Milligan’s take on exploring human emotion and how people need to experience every emotion to live healthy lives. It’s not about always being happy or always being sad.

Does it have obvious queer characters? No.

Recommendation: Pick it up. 

Kill a Man review
Kill a Man (Image: Aftershock Comics)

Kill a Man (Graphic Novel)

I was provided a free copy of Kill a Man for review. The opinions I have shared are my own.

While fictional, Kill a Man by writers Steve Orlando and Phillip Kennedy Johnson brought forth very real issues. The overall story involves the MMA world and the homophobia that continues to be present in the world of sports. I mean, if you think there isn’t anyone queer present in the MMA scene, well, you need to look again. LGBTQIA+ people are everywhere (Gasp! I know, right?). It’s their environment that keeps them in the closet.

The current story’s about two queer MMA fighters. We have James Bellyi, a young fighter who is outed and experiences how quickly everyone around him stops supporting him. Being gay is a big no in James’s family, especially after his father died during a match with a gay fighter named Xavier Mayne.

Not having anyone else to turn to, James reaches out to Xavier. There’s so much baggage between the two. I have to applaud Orlando and Johnson for handling all of the emotional turmoil in an organic manner. Their journey of acceptance and forgiveness felt organic. I loved how the narrative focused on both. I understood why Xavier wouldn’t be willing to train the son of the man he hated.

So much good stuff!

kill a man review
Kill a Man (Image: Aftershock Comics)

The art and colors by Al Morgan might not be for everyone. The panels look rough. But, in my opinion, that was a deliberate choice because such an artistic style meshed well with the brutal (yet honest) story being told. I think many will relate to James’s journey of trying to succeed in a surrounding that isn’t welcoming.

You know how there are comic book stories that are considered important years after they have been published? I think Kill a Man is one such story.

Hopefully, one day, the world of sports (especially the ones considered more “masculine”) will be accepting of openly queer athletes.

Does it have obvious queer characters? Yes.

Recommendation: PICK IT UP!

Which comic books did you read this week?

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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