Michael Escalante's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Batman-News Reviews: 52
6.4Avg. Review Rating

8
Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular: Catwoman 80th Anniversary #1

Jun 2, 2020

Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 is a must-read for fans of the character. There isn't an outright bad story in the bunch and the art teams alone make up for any of the lesser scripted stories. Even then, the main flaw of the weaker stories is that they sometimes bite off more than they can chew which at least gives readers something to ponder over.

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7
Batman Beyond (2016) #35

Aug 28, 2019

Batman Beyond #35 is another solid chapter in Jurgens' run that is unfortunately marred by inconsistent art. Despite the feeling that this arc should have been shortened to a two-parter, Jurgens has the advantage of having built a solid cast of likable characters who I don't mind simply spending more time with. Additionally, The Splitt has turned from a rather uninteresting villain of the week, to a sympathetic child victim who has found himself in the middle of a dire situation. With a special guest appearance in the final pages, Jurgens has set himself up well for what I hope is a satisfying finale next issue.

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5
Batman Beyond (2016) #36

Sep 25, 2019

Batman Beyond #36 is an adequate comic that does very little to satisfy any reader that isn't already invested in its characters and universe.

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5.5
Batman Beyond (2016) #37

Oct 23, 2019

Batman Beyond #37 has a lot on its plate but doesn't do much with the bevy of plotlines it has to follow. Jurgens' plot structure feels like the equivalent of spinning plates as he bounces around from subplot to subplot without advancing any of them very far.

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5.5
Batman Beyond (2016) #38

Nov 27, 2019

If the book treads any more water, Batman Beyond #38 will find itself existing as just another cog in the slow set up of the new Batwoman.

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7
Batman Beyond (2016) #39

Jan 1, 2020

Batman Beyond #39 is by far the best issue of the arc so far. With a heavy dose of action and character development, Jurgens proves that he is more than capable of scripting a well-balanced issue.

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6
Batman Beyond (2016) #40

Jan 23, 2020

Batman Beyond #40 falls into the same bag of tricks that Jurgens used in previous issues. Despite its repetitive structure, there is a lot of forward progression in the plot that gives the series a sense of momentum and its reveal of Batwoman's identity is satisfying, if somewhat unremarkable. Jurgens spins a lot of plates here, but it seems like our ensemble cast will reunite sooner rather than later.

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7
Batman Beyond (2016) #41

Feb 26, 2020

Batman Beyond #41 is a great penultimate issue and sets the stage well for what aims to be an explosive climax. Batwoman has become a good character over the past few issues, but I can't deny that I'm more excited to see our longstanding ensemble cast finally reunite after a couple arcs of them being splintered. Terry is now ready to take a more hands on approach to the plot, but Jurgens and Chen have made a strong case for Batwoman to take the lead one more time. With some of Chen's strongest art on the book to date, Batman Beyond #41 course corrects the series with promises of even better things to come.

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5
Batman Beyond (2016) #42

Mar 25, 2020

Batman Beyond #42 is an adequate ending for what should've been a much better issue. Seeing Terry back in the cowl is great, but Jurgens doesn't deliver an interesting enough action sequence for the big return. Last issue seemed to imply a much more targeted and personal showdown between Blight and Bruce, but Jurgens deflects that goldmine of drama for generic comic book action theatrics courtesy of Terry and Elainna's team-up. Luckily, a return to status quo is welcome and Jurgens has all his pieces back in place for the book to return to its strengths.

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6.5
Batman Beyond (2016) #43

May 26, 2020

Batman Beyond #43 does just enough to return things mostly back to status quo and set the stage for the next storyline. Chen's pencils remain as strong as ever, but his page layouts take a step down and undercut some of the more intense argument scenes. It's a bit of a reset issue, but there's enough quality action and an interesting character turn in the form of a more violent Terry to make this chapter worth seeking out, especially for newcomers to the series.

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7
Batman Beyond (2016) #44

Jun 23, 2020

Batman Beyond #44 is a step up from an already solid previous issue and cements this arc as the most promising in recent memory. The stakes are clear, the characters are not keeping secrets from each other, and the action never lets up. There's a lack of true character development here, but the great art and fast pace makes up for the issue's simplicity. Damian's presence introduces a welcome wild card element to the ensemble and hopefully the next issue takes advantage of his and Terry's complicated relationship.

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7.5
Batman Beyond (2016) #45

Jul 21, 2020

Batman Beyond #45 features a gripping first half that suffers only because readers already know the end result and a second half that loses itself a little in the resulting chaos. However, the stakes are at an all time high and I legitimately don't know exactly how our heroes will save the world from Zeh-ro's man-made ice age. With mindful art from Pelletier and sharp dialogue from Jurgens, Batman Beyond #45 overcomes its structural issues and delivers a piece of high stakes action with a surplus of character development for the series' side characters.

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8
Batman Beyond (2016) #46

Aug 25, 2020

Batman Beyond #46 is a prime example of how to balance a high stakes plot with a focus on character interactions within an ensemble. Any hints of the series' shortcomings in recent arcs have fully evaporated and I feel confident saying this is one of DC's better books currently on the stands. Sean Chen's art is a true standout and some of his strongest work on the series yet. Dan Jurgens' script is quick paced, funny, and ends on an ominous cliffhanger that demands readers to return next month.

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7
Batman Beyond (2016) #47

Sep 22, 2020

Batman Beyond #47 is a solid ending to one of the better arcs of the series. Even outside of its usual Neo-Gotham setting, Jurgens' ensemble cast keeps the book grounded in its strength of strong characterization and fun banter. While the action does dominate this issue, Sean Chen's fantastic art makes up for this larger emphasis on spectacle. With only four more issues to go, Jurgens' Batman Beyond is primed to end strong and I have high hopes this series will be looked on as one of the better DC series in recent memory.

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8.5
Batman: Curse of the White Knight: Von Freeze #1

Nov 20, 2019

Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze is a heavy hitting book that doesn't shy away from the gritty reality of Nazi Germany.

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7
Catwoman (2018) #14

Aug 14, 2019

Catwoman #14 is a mostly successful attempt to inject energy into a somewhat aimless series. Ram V's script manages to pack a fair amount of characterization into a small amount of pages with the aid of Andolfo's expressive facial work. While the action sequences themselves are a tad stiff, the book keeps a fast pace and changes its stakes often enough to remain engaging. The Catwoman title has been plagued by a lack of consistency and relevance in the greater scheme of the DC Universe (the title itself spun out of Batman #50), but Catwoman #14 shows a potential path forward.

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5
Catwoman (2018) #15

Sep 11, 2019

Catwoman #15 is Ram V's weakest issue in his tenure on the series. His previous issues have been inventive crime capers that lean more into Catwoman's unique strengths as a character. However, this issue relegates itself to a series of fight sequences that lead up to a dull climax. Nothing seems to have really been accomplished in this two-part story. The plotting has twisted in upon itself in too many directions and styles that the ultimate result feels like a zero sum. There are worse comics on the stands, but Catwoman #15 struggles to both engage the reader with its story or sow the seeds for better things to come.

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7
Catwoman (2018) #16

Oct 9, 2019

Catwoman #16 is an artistic tour de force that is hamstringed by a slow moving narrative that doesn't have a clear sense of purpose.

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5.5
Catwoman (2018) #17

Nov 13, 2019

Once again, Jones has created a visually stunning single issue that lacks narrative progression. While previous issues had great sequences that were entertaining despite the slow pace, Catwoman #17 indulges in Jones' greatest flaws as a writer. Her reliance on non-linear structure drains any tension from each sequence and Jones' attempts to bring her themes full circle don't fully work due to Selina's lack of emotional progress. Jones' Catwoman #17 is a beautiful distraction as it finds itself wrapped up in on itself, with only glimpses of forward thinking in sight.

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6
Catwoman (2018) #18

Dec 19, 2019

Jones' Catwoman is a gorgeous book each and every time Jones herself is on art duties. Fortunately, Blanco's art compliments Jones' well enough to not totally derail the issue on an art level and his two-page spreads are a joy to pour over. Unfortunately, Jones' plotting leaves much to be desired. The dialogue and characterization remain solid, but Jones's overarching narrative has lost focus between the recent non-linear storytelling and inconsistent tone that has emerged.

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3.5
Catwoman (2018) #19

Jan 8, 2020

Catwoman #19 shows why having a consistent art team is paramount to a successful book. With three different styles fighting against, rather than enriching, each other, Jones' script needed to provide a solid base to weather the storm. Unfortunately, Jones' script loses its grip between balancing the nuanced character work she brings to Selina and the sudden shift in stakes and tone that accompanies a zombie invasion subplot.

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5
Catwoman (2018) #20

Feb 12, 2020

Catwoman #20 does its best to entertain as a horror tinged pulp adventure, but struggles to reconcile itself with the strong characterization from the series' earlier arcs.

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5.5
Catwoman (2018) #21

Mar 11, 2020

Catwoman #21 is a strong artistic showcase for Fernando Blanco and FCO Plascencia that serves as an adequate conclusion for Jones' Creel storyline.

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5.5
Catwoman (2018) #22

Jun 2, 2020

Catwoman #22 is a fun, if almost immediately forgettable jaunt that relies on titillating art and a simplistic narrative to carry your attention. It's always fun to get a one-shot tale of Selina performing a heist or stopping some sort of wrong, but the moral vagueness here never adds up to anything compelling. This has all been done before, but watching Catwoman battle skimpily dressed maids will find a willing audience due to the sheer kitsch of it all.

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6.5
Catwoman (2018) #23

Jul 14, 2020

Catwoman #23 features exceptional art from Ciran Tormey and FCO Plascencia which greatly elevates an uneven plot and script by Sean Gordon Murphy and Blake Northcott. Tormey's work features such thoughtful detail and finesse throughout that it only exposes the uneven nature of Northcott's script. Murphy helped plot the story but he perhaps gave Northcott too much to deal with here. With only another issue left in this mini-arc, I fear there are too many moving parts and themes to cover with only twenty more pages.

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7
Catwoman (2018) #24

Aug 18, 2020

Catwoman #24 is by no means a bad comic book, but there's untapped potential within Northcott's scripting. Northcott has a good eye for theatrics, but she can afford to take more time in the quieter scenes to make her over the top plot lines feel more grounded and fledged out. Tormey's art isn't quite up to par from the standard set last month, but there's just enough energy in his pencils to carry the book through its stilted finale.

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8
Catwoman (2018) #25

Sep 15, 2020

Catwoman #25 marks the first time I've truly been excited for a run in a while. Writer Ram V has already established himself as a solid Catwoman writer with a few fill in issues, but I can't wait to see how he handles a longer run with Selina. Main artist Fernando Blanco ups his game considerably, even beyond his normally great art, and V's script keeps the pace light and fun without losing sight of Selina's more complex inner self. With two equally entertaining short stories as a bonus, Catwoman #25 is a must read for any fan of the character.

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8.5
Catwoman (2018) #26

Oct 20, 2020

Catwoman #26 is one of the best single issues of the series in a very long time. The self loathing Selina characterization ran out of steam months, if not years ago, so it's a joy to see a more proactive Selina try to take down local mobsters and retain her dominance in the underworld. V's script is a great example of how to balance great action, necessary exposition, and gentler character moments without overwhelming the reader. Simply put, there's a lot to like here and very little I can see being held against it, especially when Blanco makes everything so nice to look at.

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5.5
DC's Crimes of Passion #1

Feb 5, 2020

Despite a couple truly great short stories, Crimes of Passion #1 lacks consistency to fully recommend. Most of the stories lack any true suspense or high quality art to overcome being generic. Additionally, there is a distinct lack of happy, romantic endings here with even the better stories being somber, which damages its appeal as a holiday treat. With a ten dollar price tag, I only think two of the stories are really worth the money, but for fans of the characters who make appearances, there might be just enough for a purchase.

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8
Gotham City Monsters #1

Sep 11, 2019

Gotham City Monsters is a book about outsiders regaining their sense of worth in a world uprooted by chaos. I only hope Orlando digs deep into those themes and doesn't lose himself in upping the stakes of Melmoth's plot too much.

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7
Gotham City Monsters #2

Oct 9, 2019

Gotham City Monsters #2 takes a slight step back from its surprisingly effective debut issue as it finds itself shackled to a rushed "gather the team" structure.

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7.5
Gotham City Monsters #3

Nov 13, 2019

Gotham City Monsters #3 is a step in the right direction primarily since Orlando nails down his villain's personality and motivation.

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7.5
Gotham City Monsters #4

Dec 11, 2019

Gotham City Monsters #4 proves that a book can provide entertainment within the comforts of its own simplistic plotline. While I wish Orlando's narrative will fully commit to either being a small scale Gothic adventure or a large scale multiverse extravaganza, watching this fun cast of characters interact with each other is worth the read. Nahuelpan's art is strong as ever with multiple exciting action sequences that don't rely on overdone panel layouts and instead put the focus on his strong pencils. Melmoth threatens to take the spotlight from the true leads of the book, but with the series edging closer to its finale, Gotham City Monsters finds itself in a great position to end strong.

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8
Gotham City Monsters #5

Jan 8, 2020

For those who like a little bit of horror mixed into their super hero books, Gotham City Monsters #5 is a great chapter in an overall very solid series. Now is the time to catch up before next month's finale.

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8
Gotham City Monsters #6

Feb 12, 2020

Gotham City Monsters #6 is a rock solid conclusion to a great miniseries. It doesn't take any major chances in terms of the plot, but Orlando and Nahuelpan have done more than enough to earn themselves a traditional, but satisfying final issue.

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7.5
Harley Quinn (2016) #71

Mar 4, 2020

Harley Quinn #71 is a very good comic even for those not entirely privy to the character or the series. As a newcomer, I found Humphries' script incredibly tight and easy to follow along with. Sami Basri's art perfectly fits Harley's larger than life (and oftentimes self-aware) nature, but also does well to imbue her with a strong degree of agency. While the plot concerning a rigged wrestling match and faked suicide is nothing new, Humphries' character work with Harley and the supporting cast is strong enough to overlook the familiarity in the narrative.

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7.5
Leviathan Dawn #1

Feb 26, 2020

Leviathan Dawn does its job of setting up the next miniseries to come with great art and a solid, well paced script. While I think Bendis has a tendency to get lost whenever he has a group of characters talking over each other, there's enough truly spot on character moments within the issue to show he has a grasp on them. Leviathan has the makings of being a memorable villain, but it's time for his speeches to stop and for his organization to truly put his make the world a better place plan into motion. Bendis has used more than enough arcs over several different series to set the stage for Leviathan's big play. Only time will tell if issues like Leviathan Dawn will be paid off in full, but for now, I'm game to stay aboard.

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4
Nightwing (2016) #66

Nov 20, 2019

Nightwing #66 establishes the stakes for the Ric saga's endgame without much nuance. Bluntly redefining Dick Grayson via a memory implanting set of goggles is about as trite a plot device as you can get. With Dick even further removed from who he once was, Nightwing must rely on its supporting cast to carry reader interest. Unfortunately, none of the new Nightwings has done enough to carry the torch. Jurgens has dug himself into a pit I fear he cannot escape from by removing Dick's agency and calling into question some of his core characteristics.

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4
Nightwing (2016) #67

Dec 19, 2019

Nightwing #67 fails to live up to the promise of last month's cliffhanger. For anyone who has been waiting to see the Nightwing team get taken down a notch, this book may not fully satisfy. For everyone else who has dismissed the "Ric" saga until now, this chapter does little to entice those readers back.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #68

Jan 15, 2020

Nightwing #68 is the series' first spark of life in a while. Even though it doesn't mark the complete end of the "Ric" saga, this chapter makes a significant step forward in returning Dick back to his proper place as Nightwing.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #69

Feb 19, 2020

Dan Jurgens' Nightwing needs a bit more flash in both its art and writing to truly break free of its recent history of mediocrity, but Nightwing #69 is a step in the right direction.

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6
Nightwing (2016) #70

Mar 18, 2020

Nightwing #70 doesn't completely derail the momentum Jurgens' series has carved out for itself lately, but Dick's lack of pro-activeness in the plot is worrisome. Previous issues have done a better job of balancing the recap of Dick's current mental state and giving him something to do in the plot. With a change in artist and a relatively shifted status quo, Nightwing #70 feels like a soft reset rather than the next issue in a previously fast moving plot. With the Joker now in the mix, Jurgens needs to retain focus on Dick and his own choices in the plot and not spread the series out too thin.

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4
Nightwing (2016) #71

Jun 9, 2020

Nightwing #71 does very little to justify Dick's continued inability to remember his true self. Joker's appearance does offer a slight burst of excitement, but quickly loses steam once his plan is revealed.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #72

Jul 14, 2020

Nightwing #72 may barely be an actual Nightwing issue, but as a story on its own terms it succeeds. Joker War has fully taken over this book and while it's unfortunate Nightwing's ultimate return will likely take place in a story not his own, I find his plight as a Joker henchman just a little more interesting than him as a Talon. Barbara's arrival is a welcome injection of freshness into the series, but hopefully Bea and the other Nightwings aren't entirely phased out of relevance in the coming months.

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7
Nightwing (2016) #73

Aug 18, 2020

Nightwing #73 stands for everything that bothers me in the modern superhero comic industry. It's a tie-in issue to a larger event that hijacked not only the series' plot, but also keeps the titular character from his rightful place as Nightwing. Despite this, I found myself impressed with Jurgens' fun script and Benjamin's solid pencils and storytelling. Most readers by this point know that we're basically in stalling mode, but for those still around Nightwing #73 overcomes the stacked deck against it.

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6.5
Nightwing (2016) #74

Sep 8, 2020

Nightwing #74 will be embraced by most readers due to its ending. I'm fully on board with the plot developments, but I do think they've come far too late to be truly exciting. Ultimately the issue amounts to a largely toothless fight scene between Bat Family members, which is something I don't ever need to see more of. While Jurgens' script definitely has some highlights in the form of his Joker and genuine empathy for Bea, there's not much to chew on here. Nonetheless, Nightwing #74 is a must read for anyone that's followed the series to this point and gets by on competence alone.

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7
Nightwing (2016) #75

Oct 20, 2020

Nightwing #75 is beset by a surprising amount of hesitancy to fully dive back into Dick being Nightwing. While his relationship with Bea is a believable reason for Dick to be scared to fully return to his old life, Jurgens' script definitely looks backward more than forward. Travis Moore's interior art is a sight to behold, though I wish he got more action scenes to draw, and Ronan Cliquet turns in quality pencils as per usual. It's only Jurgens' script that gives me pause due to its repetitive and wishy washy depiction of Dick Grayson. The sooner the series moves past the remnants of the "Ric saga' the better, but Bea's continued inclusion is more than welcomed.

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6
Nightwing (2016) Annual #2

Oct 31, 2019

Despite the troubling core premise of this chapter, Nightwing Annual #2 is technically well put together. 'Travis Moore's art is stellar and he's the rare artist who has great control over facial "acting" as well as dynamic page layouts. Moore was saddled with a series of conversations and he still made it exciting to look at. Jurgens does his best to layer a sense of dread through the issue with the Court of Owl threat looming, but it feels like too little too late. I want the series to move on sooner rather than later, and having this annual wring its hands in an attempt to further enrich a status quo doomed to change in the coming months makes it all come off"misguided.

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5
Nightwing (2016) Annual #3

Jun 16, 2020

Nightwing Annual #3 is worth purchasing only for die hard fans of the series. Getting to see Nightwing back in action is great, but the story itself doesn't match that excitement. The Condors have the opportunity to grow into a interesting ally/potential threat, but their current status as outside observers kneecaps any potential to grow as of now. For completionists, the book is worth the extra dollar, but overall this chapter feels like a deleted scene that no one needed to see and whose relevance is up to speculation.

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7.5
Secrets of Sinister House #1

Oct 10, 2019

Secrets of Sinister House #1 is one of the better horror anthologies DC has put out. Many of the stories feature more optimistic endings than the norm, but there are enough outright terrifying pages to satisfy those looking for some frights. There's only one outright dud in the anthology so when it comes to value, it's hard to beat what you get here. If anything else, almost every story features great art making this a feast for the eyes at the bare minimum.

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5
Year of the Villain: Black Mask #1

Aug 23, 2019

Black Mask: Year of the Villain is not a bad comic book, but it is one that I feel I'll forget soon after reading it. It manages to tick all of the boxes required of a one shot like this, but does little to add to the bigger story at play. There is good character work with Kate and Renee and the promise of more Black Mask villainy to come, but the issue has not done a good job of making me want more. If Year of the Villain is going to work, it needs to up the stakes monumentally. In my opinion, this event is failing to deliver the game-changing narratives it promised.

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5
Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen #4

Mar 19, 2020

Hell Arisen #4 features some great art from Steve Epting with fantastic colors by Nick Filardi. Unfortunately, James Tynion IV's script doesn't do enough outside of its action sequences to justify the lack of consequence the storyline ultimately entails. It's a common problem for most of DCs "event" style books and Hell Arisen #4 is no different. Taken on their own, there's a few good scenes in Tynion's script, but he is betrayed by the books' placement within the DC Universe as a whole. Tynion and Epting do what they can I suppose, but it's hard to get invested in a "world changing" book that can't afford to shake things up too much.

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