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Graphic Breakdown: ‘Dark Knight III: The Master Race’ Ends on a High Note & More!

Welcome back to Graphic Breakdown!

Let’s waste no time and let’s get to talking about some comics!

 

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #9  
Written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Illustrated by Andy Kubert and Frank Miller

I loved this. When I originally read they were letting Frank Miller have one more go round with the Dark Knight franchise, I shuddered with fear.

The second part was a rough go and this one wasn’t looking promising.

Then I got to read it. It was bananas. Absolutely bananas.

I couldn’t get enough.

This title was plagued by delays. I didn’t care though. As long as the quality was high and the story was interesting, I’d wait for it as long as it took. It’s been about two years since this has started.

Damn, they did a good job.

Azzarello tempered some of the more wacky ideas Miller has  it seems, and he has grounded them. Miller raised the quality of Azzarello’s writing and made it have some bite. They work well together in that context.

The art is great.  It was obviously a passion project for Kubert and it shows. Thumbs up to this issue and thumbs up to this entire bizarrely nuts series. It’s top quality and if they made another chapter? I’m there.

RATING: A

 
Batman #24 
Written by Tom King
Illustrated by David Finch and Clay Mann

I want to like this title. I just can’t seem to grab onto it no matter how hard I try. Tom King is actually a good writer. Sheriff of Babylon? Excellent. Vision? Genius. Omega Men? Unbelievable.

So why can’t he get Batman right after 24 plus issues? It has to do with characterization.

King’s Batman is the most one-note Batman of all time. When he tries to give him dimension, it comes off as false.

This issue is just a bunch of talking heads. Batman is reeling after the “epic” Bane storyline. He talks with Gotham Girl, and then Catwoman. I wish I can say it goes beyond that, but not so much.

The surprise ending feels forced. I didn’t care much for it.

The good part of the issue is the Clay Mann art. It’s beautiful and I wish he would do more Batman now.

I’m pretty much done with Finch at this point, but Clay Mann on a Batman title? He’s fantastic.

RATING:B-

 
Deathstroke #20   
Written by Christopher Priest
Illustrated by Carlo Pagulayan

This is the epilogue for The Lazarus Contract. I liked this  crossover with the Titans books quite a bit. It was better than I thought it it was going to be.

Now we are back to our regularly scheduled program.

That means that this issue is spectacular, truly spectacular.

I loved it because it was a quieter issue than what we are used to. Priest knows how to keep our interest throughout. If it was a less capable writer, this issue would be full of talking heads.

Yet, Priest keeps the dialogue fun and the emotion high.

There is a scene where Deathstroke has come to another character’s door to apologize. It’s one of the most painfully funny scenes I’ve read in this title.

There is also a looming threat. The threat looks to be the antagonist in the coming issues. There is a sense of dread which I really enjoyed here.

The art by Pagulayan is great as always. I hope he and Priest stay on this title for many, many more issues. We are back to the comic I love (without pesky crossovers) and I can’t wait to read the upcoming issues. Good stuff.

Rating: A-

 
Shade The Changing Girl #9
Written by Cecil Castellucci
Illustrated by Marley Zarcone

This is one of the best new titles of the last year. I love the writing so much on this. It’s hip without being cute. It’s smart without talking down to the reader. And man, it is full of emotion.

This is some top quality comic book writing.

This is part two of Shade’s trip to Gotham City. The denizens of Shade’s home planet of Meta is tracking her down. Things are gettng wild! Shade is on the run! The coat is acting weird! What’s going to happen?

Castellucci makes the comic book sing. He’s not afraid to be weird or make his characters weird. He does it well. He makes them beautifully weird in fact. You love Shade in this and you quietly cheer her on.

It makes for some excellent comic book reading.

Zarcone is one of my favorite artists in the field right now. The storytelling is crisp and joyous. The book is deeply strange but Zarcone does it all with a straight face. Together, this creative team is making one of the best books currently on the stands and you are missing out if you are not reading it.

RATING: A

 
Bane: Conquest #2 
Written by Chuck Dixon
Illustrated by Graham Nolan

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if Bane had his own comic book limited series?

Well, neither have I, but DC comics is obsessed with Bane these days, so much so that he has been everywhere.

Bane has been captured by a cult leader Damocles.

Apparently, Damocles is as obsessed with Bane as everyone else over at DC is.  Bane then plots his escape. Dixon keeps things interesting on this front. His Bane is nutso, and this issue is pretty nutso at that. The tension is high throughout and that is to Dixon’s credit.

Nolan is an artist I love. He doesn’t do enough work. He’s a classy comic book artsit and keeps the storytelling crisp. He’s at the top of his game. In fact, his linework has never been better. I’m glad he’s still working.

Conquest may be an unnecessary title. Still, It’s a solid enough work, and I enjoy it enough to recommend.

RATING: B

 
Aquaman #24   
Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Scot Eaton and Phillipe Briones

Holy crap! Aquaman has been pretty awesome!

Dan Abnett is taking the character and turning him on his head and I am loving it! I’m excited about where this series is going.

The people of Atlantis are tired of Aquaman’s antics and they have stripped him of his crown!

Guess what? They even replaced the guy! Can you believe it? What a bunch of hooligans.

Then, they make things even worse and more hurtful.

They decide to make Corum Rath, someone Aquaman REALLY despises , their new king.

And then things get even worse.

Abnett takes Aquaman, who can come off as a joke, and turns him into a multi-layered, viable character.

He finally made Mera a fully developed character as well. The storylines have been more viable than they have been in years. It’s wonderful to pick this title up every month.

The art is the weak point here. It’s not consistent from issue to issue. The artists aren’t even close to each other half the time. If they can fix that bump, the rating would be higher. Still, this is a decent book. Pick it up. Well worth your time.

RATING: B+

 
Superman #24 
Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Illustrated by Doug Mahnke and Patrick Gleason

This is part five of the Black Dawn storyline. It’s a good one too. Superman faces the one adversary he wishes he didn’t have to.

Who is it?

Well, it’s Manchester Black. Superman and Manchester Black go toe to toe. It’s brutal. It’s exciting. It’s a great comic book.

The cool thing that Tomasi and Gleason have done is that they have taken Superman and they have turned him on his head.

Manchester Black screws with Superman and makes him crazy. He’s spending time beating him down, both physically and psychologically.

Tomasi and Gleason also use this opportunity to illustrate why Superman is necessary.

The art is awesome and vivid. Both Gleason and Mahnke are excellent and they bring this book to life well. It’s an exciting read from start to finish.

The best line of the book? “We need Superman.”

Yes, we do. Especially from this creative team.

RATING: A

 
Nightwing #22 
Written by Tim Seeley
Illustrated by Miguel Mendonca and Vicente Cifuentes

Well, Tim Seeley is back writing this title. I was secretly hoping for a creative team shakeup. No such like here. He’s back on this title with the writing duties, giving us yet another standard issue.

Blockbuster is back in Bluhaven to wreck some havoc.

This leads to a fight with Nightwing to stop him from creating that havoc. It’s not terribly exciting nor inventive. The whole thing is rather a bore and needs a little spicing up. The characters are even boring me a bit at this point.

I wish something crazy would happen.

The art is capable here. Again, it’s nothing new.  I am wishing each month  for a more passionate creative team. This is just  just okay.

RATING: C+

 
The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #6
Written by Greg Weisman and Cary Bates
Illustrated by Will Conrad

Man, Will Conrad is good. His art on this title far exceeded my expectations. This is one of the most unexpectedly great comic book series of the year. I hate Captain Atom but this creative team really did a great job on it.

This is the final chapter of the “Mission Creep” storyline. Past and present events collide here and it leads to a huge final battle for Captain Atom.

The big problem is he has no idea who is on his side and who isn’t. It makes for some excellent dramatic storytelling.

I was on the edge of my seat this entire issue and it did not disappoint. The only thing that made me a bit sad was it was the final issue.

I hope there’s more in the future. Maybe by this exact creative team?

Only time will tell.

RATING: B+

 

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