Tag Archives: Zatanna

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This volume contains four mini-series tie-ins to the Flashpoint event wherein Wonder Woman and Aquaman wage genocidal warfare across Europe in a skewed alternate universe.

The first sequence, Batman: Knight of Vengeance, by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, is one of the best Batman stories I’ve read, deserving 5 stars. In this alternate universe, Joe Chill killed young Bruce Wayne, leaving his parents, Thomas and Martha Wayne, grieving parents. Thomas turned his anger into becoming the Batman. By day, Thomas Wayne runs casinos with the help of his business partner Oswald Cobblepot (in the normal universe, AKA Penguin). By night he rids Gotham City of vile menaces like Hush, Scarecrow, Ivy, and Killer Croc with extreme prejudice. When Judge Harvey Dent’s children are kidnapped by the Joker, Batman must face his greatest nemesis in a way we’ve never seen. This Joker has an origin that is utterly terrifying and completely consistent with this alternate reality. The artwork by Risso beautifully captures the dark insanity of Thomas Wayne’s world.

The second sequence, Deadman and the Flying Graysons, by J. T. Krul and a battery of artists, depicts a circus traveling through war-ravaged Europe, trying to evade the insane conflict all around them. Trapeze artists Boston Brand (AKA Deadman) and the Flying Graysons, featuring young daredevil Dick Grayson (known as Robin in the normal universe), become involved with the Resistance in a deadly way. A mystical artifact must be protected from Wonder Woman’s Amazonian army, which ultimately leads to transformations by Brand and Grayson. Unfortunately, the story ends before we see the full ramifications of these transformations. I give this 3 stars.

The third sequence, Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager, by Jimmy Palmiotti and a slew of artists, tells the story of the pirate Deathstroke who takes advantage of the chaos of war to plunder the high seas for his own gain. When rival pirate Warlord kidnaps his daughter, Deathstroke must face insurmountable odds to try to rescue her. Along the way they cross paths with Aquaman and his ally Ocean Master with disastrous results. This is a fast-paced adventure that really doesn’t have much to do with the main Flashpoint storyline, but is interesting for its depictions of familiar DC characters in unusual circumstances. This deserves about 3-1/2 stars.

The fourth sequence, Secret Seven, by Peter Milligan and a variety of artists, delves into the magical world of Shade the Changing Man and his one-time allies Black Orchid, Amethyst, Abra Kadabra, Raven, Zatanna, and Mindwarp as Shade tries to bring them together to help Cyborg end the metahuman war while trying to evade Sagan Maximus’s attempts to neutralize him and Enchantress’s attempts to kill him. In the end, though, the story is mostly a confusing mess that has no real conclusion. This is the weakest sequence in this compilation, earning no more than 2 stars.

The problem with most of these sequences is that they were only three-issue mini-series. I get the impression that they were originally intended to be much longer, perhaps six issues each, because in almost every case the story ends abruptly and often with the protagonists experiencing turning points that cry out for resolution. Overall, this anthology is well worth checking out for the Batman story, but the remainder is very inconsistent in quality.

The New 52: I, Vampire and Justice League Dark

The final two books in “The Dark” group of DC’s New 52:

I, Vampire

Aiming to cash in on the vampire craze, DC is resurrecting an obscure property from House of Mystery from thirty years ago and reimagining it as part of the mainstream DC Universe. I, Vampire is the story of Andrew Bennett’s quest to save humanity from the violent uprising of his fellow vampires, even if it means exterminating his own kind. It is also the story of the unrequited love between Bennett and Mary, Queen of Blood. Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov has created something vicious and brutal that fills a seldom seen niche in the DC Universe. It will accept occasional visits from the spandex-clad crowd, but should be a fairly self-contained horror thriller. Artist Andrea Sorrentino provides sexy, moody scenes that remind me a bit of Gene Colan’s work. With all the controversy surrounding some of the New-52 Batman titles, I haven’t heard any complaints about Sorrentino’s cover showing the nearly naked Mary, a testament to his ability to turn out something akin to fine art. I suspect this book will read better in the collected trade edition, but I am pleasantly surprised by how well it hooked me with its first issue.

Justice League Dark

Justice League Dark bridges the gap between the occult and superhero sides of the DC Universe. It brings together a mixture of DCU and Vertigo supernatural characters and throws them into a deadly battle with the evil Enchantress when the regular Justice League is defeated by her powerful magic. Zatanna, Madame Xanadu, Shade the Changing Man, John Constatine, and Deadman will defend the world from the province of spells, hocus pocus, and demons.

Writer Peter Milligan gives us a story that is dark but not grim. The action gets going right away, and although neither the character origins nor the extent of their powers are shown, it’s easy to keep up with what’s going on, with the sense that the details will be undoubtedly filled in later. Mikel Janin provides beautiful artwork that is unusually light for a supernatural title like this, and his character designs are flawless. A special mention should go to colorist Ulises Arreloa’s subtle enhancements. As with I, Vampire, I suspect this will read better as a collection, allowing the character development to move forward at a natural pace.