Hey y’all! As you might have noticed, Skill Floor content has been a little lighter than usual. Our fearless leader editing bitch Getch came to our humble coast for a wedding that tied up myself, Rosa, and him. We’re in the process of getting back into the flow, and what better way to do that than to try and jam like a thousand fucking comics into one review? We’ve got all kinds of stuff, from the launch of an all new Justice League, to the continuation of my beloved Moonstruck, and the merciful last issue of Astonishing X-Men that I personally will have to suffer through.
Detective Comics #981
The “Batmen Eternal” storyline actually ended up having a really excellent final issue! The threat of Brother Eye and brainwashed Tim is resolved fairly quickly, if in a slightly anticlimactic way. However, that left a lot of room for resolving the moral and ethical problems facing the many Bat-family members. This was a really strong follow up to the way some of the moralizing was posed earlier in the story. It’s not quite a magical happily ever after, but everyone sort of talks out their issues and at least manages to get to a point where they know they can count each other even if they aren’t always close. I’m curious which members of the family the story will follow going forward. Tim and Steph are following one path, Batwoman is off on her own (and has a solo book), Batwing is taking a break, Azazel has a role in one of the new Justice League books, and Batman has the whole marriage thing coming up. Regardless, we’ll see soon what happens.
Doomsday Clock #5
Sweet fucking Christmas this comic sure is dense. The world of the DCU/Watchmen crossover universe is taking shape, and it’s pretty fucked. Which I guess is to be expected, given how horrifying things were in Watchmen. As much as I like this book, it’s getting pretty tough to reflect on. I know parts of it are canon and will affect what the DCU looks like a year from now, which is really crazy given some of what is happening. The parallels to the original work are getting really cool too. There are still some unexplained characters running around that I’m decently confused by, but I’m sure it’ll get explained. Between the density of the work and the many delays, reading this issue by issue is a bit tricky but I will of course continue with it. It’s a super enjoyable and worthwhile story after all. I’ll be interested in what happens to it with Geoff Johns leaving DC soon. I assume DC wouldn’t let it be unfinished or abandoned, and as far as I can tell he will still be writing and just won’t be lead editor of DC anymore.
Justice League #1
Justice League has relaunched, written by Scott Snyder, which was enough to get my attention. The series appears to be going back to the form I’m most comfortable with, a team and group of villains close to the ones from the Justice League TV show. The core League team fighting the Legion of Doom is fucking cool, which is what really got me into it. Jumping in was pretty rough, having not read Justice League, Dark Nights Metal, or No Justice. A lot of weird shit has happened, I guess there are multiple multiverses, some sort of giant energy is hurtling toward Earth, but the team is back together. I dig the setup even though there’s a lot of stuff it feels like I’m being dumped head first into. Seeing the Legion of Doom assembled together in a cool evil lair makes me really excited to see what they do. I’m interested in the Joker being part of a team, especially since Snyder is writing and I can trust him not to fuck it up. It seems like the stakes are being set excessively high right off the bat, but maybe I’m wrong. There’s some extreme threat that might destroy all the multiverses but it isn’t the big weird titan things from No Justice and is just sort of a vague energy thing. No idea what the shit is happening there but I’m hoping the book ends up being more fun than dark and self-serious.
Things continue to heat up. Raven and her mother have been captured, and those responsible begin to explain parts of their evil plan. There are a lot of moving pieces in this book, so the reveals here are only a little satisfying. There’s still a lot of stuff up in the air, especially regarding the weird house and magic jaguar. I’m curious though, even with as many threads as there are floating around the series doesn’t feel like it’s less than half way over. Maybe it’s just the time a villain spent monologuing this issue, but it feels like the endgame should be approaching. We’ll see what twists and turns are in store.
Astonishing X-Men #12
The last issue of “A Man Called X”, and the last issue for me. This book has been something of a let down. The whole thing focused around X, who I didn’t and still don’t like. In fact, this book concludes the entire story that has been running. The next issue will have a new team of X-Men, which makes it even easier to sever ties with this book. This one wrapped everything up in an annoying little bow, with a whole lot of over dramatic writing that came off as pretty forced. X speaks a little bit like emo song lyrics sometimes. I also feel like a lot of it was inconsistent with the characters on the team, just to create moments of drama. Each character is forced to face despair, and none of them respond to it reasonably. Ah well, the book is done as far as I’m concerned.
Black Panther #1
I decided to jump in on this Black Panther issue because I was pretty curious. The book seems to take place in the future, and although many of the characters share the names of important Black Panther characters it is unclear if they’re actually the same. Regardless, the book is separate enough that it makes it a good jumping on point for me. I also really like the idea of the story, “The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda”. Due to the vibranium tech, at least in modern comics, Black Panther has always had a sort of afropunk lean to it. Seeing it move fully out into sci-fi is pretty rad. It’s also interesting to see the idea that this Wakandan empire is sort of inherently evil. It plays with a similar idea to what was brought up in the recent movie. In the comic’s opening page it describes the founding of the Empire by Wakandans who left earth: “…these Wakandans pushed their country’s traditional notion of self-defense to radical ends — true self-defense meant the conquest of all potential foes.” The idea of self preservation taken too far has come up before, and I like seeing some of the themes and ideas that revolve around in Black Panther being taken all the way to the extreme. It should be a cool experiment, but maybe there’s more to it than I see.
Moon Knight #195
I didn’t want to fully delete this comic from the review, but honestly this issue got so weird I put it down. There’s some weird fusion of people that Moon Knight has to deal with, and it just didn’t grab me at all. The “Crazy Runs in the Family” arc was such a strong start, it’s quite a let down with this start but it goes that way from time to time.
Old Man Logan #40
The short and weird filler arc about Glob getting a date ends as quickly as it began. The whole thing was a setup by an anti-mutant group to try and destroy the mansion while the “real X-men” were away. This issue was pretty much just action since the last one set the stage. It worked for what it is, but the arc was clearly just something thrown together as filler. None of the characters in the book had ever shown up in Old Man Logan before which made it feel out of place. Sure Logan appears in plenty of other books, but it’s jarring to just drop stuff from a different story into this one. The next arc is going to be Kraven the Hunter v Logan though, so I’ll stick around for that.
In true Bloodborne fashion, the first series ends in a weird way. The Hunter and the child make it to the fishing hamlet from the Old Hunters DLC, seeking a way out of the nightmare. This issue doesn’t add as much to the lore as others, although a note from Gehrman has some tidbits of mostly-known information. The cover was a bit misleading, which I guess I should be used to with comics. I was excited at seeing the Moon Presence in the book though, so it’s a bit sad that didn’t happen. Still, the issue concluded things nicely. Most of all it served the important purpose of the comics, which is to tell a story the games can’t. The format of the Soulsborne series prohibits things like heavy dialogue, long stretches without fights, etc. Moving to other mediums to tell connected stories is great, and I think the story of “The Death of Sleep” worked better as a comic than anything else. The next Bloodborne comic is called “The Healing Thirst”, and we’ll see if it continues this story at all.
Dark Souls: The Age of Fire #1
Oh boy, two Soulsborne comics running at the same time! Age of Fire grabbed my attention by appearing to feature Gwyn and his knights. That makes sense, since Gwyn ruled during the Age of Fire. The story focuses on a Silver Knight named Arkon, at what appears to be near to the end of the Age of Fire. Things are beginning to go wrong, and the world is starting to look like it does during the first Dark Souls game. However it’s not there yet. Gwyn still rules, Artorias remains whole, and there are still politics and alliances in place. I skipped the other Dark Souls comics after hearing a ton of bad stuff about them, but this one is mostly fine. The opening narration is done in super super forced old English that’s really frustrating and awkward to read. Once it transitions into the actual story though, it’s fine. The art is beautiful, if a bit inconsistent. Detail is given in weird places and then not in others, but the overall appearance is really excellent. Like most people, the Knights (especially Artorias) are some of my favorite aspects of the lore so the idea of getting some backstory to them appeals to me quite a lot.
With our characters, Rook the soldier and the queen who is a tiger, separated the story splits a bit as well. Rook is surrounded by a group of bandits or soldiers or something who recognize her and have some idea of what’s going on. They seek to find the queen to prevent the conflict that is brewing over her disappearance. Meanwhile the strange old (magical?) hermit is leading Queen Olwyn the tiger to some village of his people. The plot moves forward fairly little, which is a little surprising. However we do find out more about the backstories of both characters, small details that are starting to really come together into something. The end of the comic gets super weird, it might be a vision or a dream or some combination thereof, and I really want to know what is going on. The magic aspect is definitely revealing itself more and more, and the mysteries just keep building. I absolutely love it so far and continue to look forward to each issue pretty intently.
This book continues to be delightful as the second volume begins. Our wonderful collection of magical creatures gets an invite to a big party at a frat house and all go together. Naturally before and during there’s plenty of drama all around. Chet is still completely absurd, Julie and Selena are working on their utterly adorable relationship, fairies and dragons can be jerks – this book has everything! I really like the way the humor has developed as well. Since so many of the characters fall somewhere on LGBTQ+ as well as being magical beings, the blend of playful jokes about different subjects adds a lot of personality. To give an example, one character ‘boos’ the band on stage and a ghost nearby mutters “Appropriative…” It’s a way of having fun with the way conversations about being politically correct and respectful go without turning it into bashing one side or another. It’s just cute reflections of real life but with monsters. I love it. I love this book. I love every character even the mean medusa who is garbage. I love them all everyone. Read this book. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk.
That’s it for this MASSIVE FUCKING WEEK OF BOOKS. With that, I’m caught up again! Due to the staggering amount of stuff here, there won’t be a post-credit this week. I do have a cute OGN to review next week after the cut, so make sure to check that out!