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Graphic Breakdown: John Ridley’s ‘The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1’ Rises to The Top

Welcome back to Graphic Breakdown!

It’s the middle of summer and things are going well over at DC!

Here’s this week’s reviews!

 

Dark Days: The Casting
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, and John Romita Jr.

This comic book is incredibly fascinating. It’s well written and well drawn. Snyder and Tynion have written a hell of a prelude to what looks like a hell of an event. It’s fast paced and lives up to its title: its dark. And it’s dark as hell.

Hawkman sends out a warning to the heroes.

That warning? The forces of darkness are coming!

These forces of darkness are horrifying, too.

Only one hero had a plan to stop them: Batman. The problem is the Joker laid waste to these plans.

Now, the heroes don’t trust Batman. Can he regain their trust in time? Or is everything going to hell in a hand basket?

I can tell you from the previews, that everything is going to hell in a hand basket. Snyder and Tynion have a great time here. The art of pretty good as well. It’s a tense, fast paced thrill ride. You need this book. What are you waiting for? Buy it.

RATING: A

 

The Flash #26
Written by Joshua Williamson 
Illustrated by Howard Porter

This was a damn fine issue. Williamson has been on fire on this title and it’s been great. This is a tense issue and he writes with passion.

So this is part two of the “Running Scared” storyline.

The Reverse-Flash shows Barry and Iris what will happen in the future if they remain in love.

The Vision? It’s absolute hell on earth. So Barry and Iris are left with a choice to love each other or be alone forever.

The writing is great. The art by Porter is phenomenal as well.

It’s a great package and the writing and the art work incredibly well together.

Let’s keep this up!

RATING: A-

 

Suicide Squad #21
Written by Rob Williams
Illustrated by Gus Vasquez

This title has been off the wall bananas lately.

That’s why reading this issue, which is just boring, is so sad. I don’t mind nuts but being dull is upsetting. I tried to get into it three times and finally trudged through. Oh boy. Here we go.

In this issue, Amanda Waller tries to make moves against the threat known as the People. She makes some covert moves that aren’t very exciting.

Meanwhile, Harley Quinn and Boomerang try to unearth the traitor in Task Force X. The reader tries to keep awake.

The writing is dull. The art is lackluster. I wish I could say something better about it. I hope it picks up next issue.

Lets see it get bananas again.

RATING: C-

 

The American Way: Those Above and Those Below #1
Written by John Ridley
Illustrated by Georges Jeanty

I read the original series about ten years back and recently reread it to prepare for this. The original series is quite excellent.

This first issue of the new series is quite excellent too. Okay, let me restate that: the first issue is awesome.

The events in this series take place a decade after the original story. The Civil Defense Corps were exposed as a bunch of frauds. Most of the heroes have retired or disappeared.

All except the New American. He’s trying to keep the neighborhoods safe amidst all of the social turmoil of the 1970s.

Ridley writes a relevant, pointed tale here. I give him credit for coming back to comics after both successful television and movie careers. The art is great.

This is a great start to a great sequel. Pick it up. As I said before, it’s awesome.

RATING: A

 

Detective Comics #960
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Alvaro Martinez

Man, Tynion has made Azrael cool.

I really enjoy his take on the character. He went from being lame to being something I can stomach. He has many levels now and it’s a testament to Tynion’s writing how involved I got.

Azarel may be losing his mind. Batman and his new teammate Zatanna are on the hunt for him.

Can they defeat him? Or will Azrael take them down?

The art is pretty damn good in this issue. The last page is a stunner. Martinez does better than usual work here and it shows.

Pick this up. It’s a good, smaller storyline that will involve you.

RATING: B

 

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #3
Written by Lee Allred
Illustrated by Mike Allred

The Allred family is doing a hell of a job on this title. It’s silly, tongue in cheek, and just wacky. It feels like a book that you would have read in the 1970s.

The title of this issue is called “Atlas Bugged.”

The Forager goes across time and space and lands in a wilderness. There he meets Atlas, who is a muscleman who had also run afoul of Chagra.

Chagra is the one who put Forager through this ordeal. Together they get into more wacky trouble.

The writing is goofy fun as is the art. There is an Allred sensibility throughout the entire issue. Lee is coming into his own as a writer and Mike is a master at illustrating.

Pick this up. It’s a fun, ginchy all-Allred affair!

RATING: B+

 

Red Hood and the Outlaws #12
Written by Scott Lobdell
Illustrated by Dexter Soy

I really am loving this title. Each issue is well crafted, has a great set up, and is just enjoyable.
Take the opening sequence of this issue. In just one page, Lobdell and Soy ask a ton of questions and set up the issue with an ominous feeling. It’s good comic book storytelling.

This issue starts off “The Life of Bizarro” storyline. Bizarro is dying. Red Hood and the Outlaws are in a race to save his life!

Meanwhile, Solomon Grundy is on a rampage. Can they stop him? Who let him loose? And can they save Bizarro before he kicks the bucket?

Lobdell is a solid writer who keeps you on your toes. Soy keeps right up with him and makes the story sing with his art. Pick this up. It’s a solid series and this is yet another solid issue.

RATING: B+

 

New Super-Man #13
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrated by Billy Tan

I’m quite enjoying this title.

Yang and Tan have more than justified its existence, they’ve made it a necessary read. I’ve been enjoying this monthly. It’s been a nice surprise this past year.

This is the start of the “Shanghai Under Siege” storyline.

Shanghai is under siege (duh) and only one man can save it.

Yes, You guessed it!

Yang keeps the story fun and fast. He’s very creative and you can’t help but enjoy it.

The art by Tan has given this title a brand new energy. Pick this up. It’s a solid book with diversity that you may not be reading at the moment.

RATING: B+

 

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #12
Written by Julie and Shawna Benson
Illustrated by Roge Antonio

This is a decent title and has been since it’s debut. Yet, it never feels spectacular. It could be.

The Benson’s have had enough time at this point to make it thrilling. They just haven’t. It’s just standard comic book fare. It isn’t bad but it’s not memorable.

This is part two of the “Source Code” storyline. The Birds of Prey are up against a foe that is supposed to be extremely dangerous.

For me, the foe barely registers as a threat. I wasn’t scared or even worried about Batgirl or any of the Birds of Prey. I should be. I just wasn’t.

The art by Antonio is pretty lackluster. There’s still time to make this title better. Let’s turn this around!

RATING: B-

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