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Peter Tomasi’s Run on Batman & Robin – Blackest Night: Batman (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

Okay, so it’s not technically a Batman & Robin book, only featuring Batman in the title, and it doesn’t feature Peter Tomasi’s Batman & Robin collaborator Patrick Gleason on the artwork. Still, Blackest Night: Batman feels very much like a trial run for the hand-picked successor to Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Batman & Robin run. (Arguably much like Blackest Night: Flash led into Geoff Johns’ second on-going Flash series.) While it’s hardly an exceptional three-issue tie-in to Geoff Johns’ massive Blackest Night event, it does show some hint of promise for the author’s forthcoming run on the main title.

Freeze, mofo!

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Flash – Blackest Night: Flash (Review/Retrospective)

I have to admit that I quite like DC’s approach to event tie-ins. Whenever a massive series like Infinite Crisis or Final Crisis or Blackest Night emerges, it doesn’t disrupt the on-going narratives being told in the books. Instead, the crossovers are shrewdly isolated to tie-in miniseries, so as to minimise interference. This means that a reader of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin doesn’t need to concern themselves with the zombie apocalypse in Blackest Night, as Peter Tomasi is handling a separate miniseries. Blackest Night: Flash, however, is something of a different beast, as there was no on-going Flash series at the time, with Blackest Night: Flash serving as a bridge between Flash: Rebirth and Geoff Johns’ on-going Flash series. The fact that the miniseries was written by the main architect of the event also makes the tie-in seem that little bit more essential, putting Blackest Night: Flash in quite a strange place.

Static eyes...

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Geoff Johns Hawkman Omnibus: Volume 1 (Review/Retrospective)

I’m always glad to see a nice, big and thick DC comics omnibus. Marvel have cornered the market in putting out over-sized gigantic collections of modern and classic runs on iconic characters, and I’m disappointed that it has taken DC so long to follow suit. After all, they have any number of long runs on iconic characters by acclaimed creators deserving some nice love. Geoff Johns’ Hawkman run is perhaps the writer’s run that I was least excited about, but it’s still nice to get the majority of Geoff Johns’ character-defining and continuity-clarifying run on the character handily collected in one gigantic package.

Hawkin' his wares...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Booster Gold – 52 Pickup & Blue and Gold

I guess when you’re as popular as Geoff Johns you can pretty much pick your own projects. He’s pretty much the driving force at the company, having helmed two of the bigger more recent “event” crossovers (Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night) as well as managing the return of Hal Jordan to the pages of Green Lantern and Barry Allen to The Flash. He has always skilfully walked the line between a hardcore nerd who knows everything there is to know about DC’s incredibly complicated history and the source of some of the company’s most accessible output. His runs on the “big” name characters (such as Superman) are some of the easiest to read comic books currently published, however it’s clear he has a somewhat deeper level of knowledge and understanding of the way that the DC universe works, and is read to dive into the nooks and crannies of obscure characters and half-remembered trivia with the fervour of a pure geek. Booster Gold is perhaps the best example of this sort of work.

That logo is so money...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Brightest Day (Review)

It must be difficult to follow an absolutely huge event like Blackest Night, which cemented Green Lantern as one of DC’s largest franchises (perhaps second only to the Batman books under Grant Morrison). After all, the gigantic crossover was the culmination of over five years of work by architect Geoff Johns, and it might have been easy for the writer to pack it all in and call it a day. However, he didn’t. This collection, covering the entire New Guardians story arc, is very clearly a bridge between two big Green Lantern events – Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns. It also works a launching pad for a whole host of other titles, from Brightest Day to Emerald Warriors to Green Lantern Corps. However, the collection works at its very best when it is smaller in scope, and more intimate – when it pauses to wonder what happens to a world-saving superhero when the heat of the great big galactic threat has passed.

Hal's still got really poor self-image...

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Brightest Day (Hardcover Vol. 1-3) (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” This one’s not so much an “event” as a bi-weekly miniseries, but let’s count it anyway…

Balancing the internal storylines is a tough task for any anthology, especially one running over the course of an entire year. In this respect, 52 feels like the exception rather than the rule. It’s a fairly fundamental problem with Brightest Day that not all of the plotlines are interesting (and certainly not all of the time). It’s a rather strange phenomenon: the early issues try to balance the characters somewhat evenly across the issues, and feels somewhat awkward in trying to devote an equal amount of space to stories that aren’t equally compelling; on the other hand, the second and final thirds seems more comfortable devoting large stretches of single issues to certain characters (and to have other members of the ensemble go unheard from for issues at a time), which has the bizarre effect of meaning that a cliffhanger or two isn’t picked up for two or three chapters. It’s a tough balance to get right, and I’m sad to say that Brightest Day doesn’t acquit itself particularly admirably. It’s a shame, because there are some interesting ideas here.

Everything burns...

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Flashpoint (Review)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” I’ll be starting with the most recent one, Flashpoint, following a week full of Flash stories.

Our world is in a violent transition of great change.

– President Obama tells us how it is

I really liked Flashpoint. I liked Flashpoint almost as much as I enjoyed Blackest Night, and far more than I enjoyed most big blockbuster “event” comic books. I think that Flashpoint buckles under the weight of the relaunch that followed – I find it quite sad that so many fans initially ignored the event only to jump on at the last minute because it was “suddenly important.” Does Flashpoint offer a fitting send-off to a version of the DC shared universe that dates back to Crisis on Infinite Earths? It doesn’t really, even if it offers some compelling arguments in favour of the relaunch that followed. Still, it’s a fascinating story about the icons who populate this shared universe, and what makes these enduring characters such heroic figures. Or, rather, what doesn’t make them heroic figures.

Flash sideways…

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