IRON FIST / UNDERWINTER / BATMAN BEYOND / TEEN TITANS [Reviews]: Back to Back (to Back)!
Happy Sunday Stash, fellow geeks! Where does the time go over the weekend? Never mind that; now it’s time to talk about what matters most: beer! I mean, comics! And we’ve got a quick back-to-back face-off up next, featuring a character who’s been getting a bit of a thrashing as of late (hint: his name rhymes with “Pliron Plist”).
This has been a roller coaster of a week for Danny Rand, the Immortal Iron Fist. After all of the criticism the Netflix series deservedly received, Ed Brisson (Comeback, The Violent, Batman & Robin Eternal) and Mike Perkins (Amazing Spider-Man, Thor) gave us the Iron Fist story that the Netflix show should have been.
This issue has Danny at a low point and unable to summon his iron fist, getting involved with underground fight clubs (as seen on the show, except via Colleen Wing), and ends with him getting invited to a secret fighting tournament on a remote island. All of these elements are familiar to longtime Iron Fist readers, yet distinct enough to not feel like a rehash, and retain a sense of freshness that is welcoming for such a storied character. Perkins’ art style is also somewhat reminiscent of David Aja’s work on Immortal Iron Fist. All of this combines to give us an exciting jumping on point for both longtime fans, and readers who are new to the character. 4/5 Iron Fists.
Holy hell! This is what I’m talking about! Iron Fist #1 by Brisson and Perkins is everything that I had wished the Netflix show would have been. Down and out of his luck, Rand is globetrotting, fighting in underground fight clubs just so he can feel the spark of the iron fist return. Without it he feels lost and directionless; this is not an obnoxious man-boy with kung-fu skills, better yet it’s a man on the ropes and searching for what he’s lost.
This Danny Rand doesn’t spend his time spouting out nonsensical bullshit: he’d rather drink a bottle of whisky and be left alone until he’s challenged to a fight by Choshin, whom hails from the island of Liu-Shi and invites Rand to a tournament. Brisson has single-handedly made Iron Fist better in one issue than Netflix could with 13-hours. And erkins’ artwork reminds me that of The Ultimates Bryan Hitch: clean and fluid artwork that make you wince at every WHUMP, KRAK, KATHOOM, and KRNCH! 4/5 Bibles.
When our esteemed editor assigned me to review Underwinter #1, I said “Sure, no problem.” But as I began, the back of my mind started to feel a quizzical itch…”This title sounds familiar.” I open the file and saw a tortured soul floating behind a pentagram, and above, a string quartet, before seeing the name Ray Fawkes (The People Inside, Superman). Ah ha! This was the new series that Ray told me about as we passed time between CBCS signings in Seattle during Emerald City Comicon.
I won’t reveal the main concept of the book; that is for you, the reader, to discover with his first story arc called “Symphony.” But, the clue to the concept is in the title “Underwinter.” As a Canadian, Ray is no stranger to snowy winters. He’s also well accustomed to what often follows the melting of the snow — the disgusting debris that was hidden underneath the snow all winter. “Underwinter” is a beautiful term to describe such ugliness: “What is hidden will emerge.” And like the slow process of melting, Underwinter is going to take its time to reveal itself. But, the journey and outcome are going to be well worth the wait. The detailed watercolor art leaves you in a strange, pensive mood; it is both scary and erotic, like committing a sin specifically to savor the arousing risk and danger. It is agony and ecstasy. You will especially feel this as you follow the string quartet, our protagonists, as they are ushered blindfolded into a room full of strangers to play. 4.5/5 Bibles.
Before digging into the review for Batman Beyond #6, I have a bit of a confession to make: outside of the cartoon–and the brief stint of Tim Drake as Batman Beyond spinning from Future’s End–I have rarely been interested in the character’s stories enough to keep up with him. I know, I can feel the seething deep-rooted hatred of the Terry fanboys now. While I’m totally vested into DC’s cosmology, I don’t often take part in future timelines that may or may not exist and aren’t directly connected to current events or Legion of Superheroes — my favorite team this side of JLA and Avengers.
Digging into the issue, we’re immediately introduced to who I assume is a new character for this storyarc, Curaré (as the cover says “The Coming of Curaré!”), though the issue is actually titled “Rise of the Demon, Part 1”, which gives us a good idea of where this story is headed through the next few issues; any League of Assassin’s stories are also awesome because it means there will no shortage of ninjas, and ninjas kick ass. Curaré — though we haven’t seen the character’s past yet — seems to be running from the League of Assassins. Possibly a defector? Through the book they keep narrowly escaping capture while trying to find Gotham City’s hero. This issue also features the return of Bruce Wayne. I didn’t read the previous arc, but they mentioned him being saved previously, and here he is being more formally introduced to the characters and to the reader.
When Dan Jurgens (Action Comics) is on the writing credits, you know you’re going to get a fun action packed superhero story for as long as he’s on the book, and this is no different. Veteran artist Bernard Chang (Green Lantern) and his colorist Marcelo Maiolo (I, Vampire) fill the pages with great looking characters and sequences and utilize many different page layouts (I really wish we could have had one big action splash page though. Maybe next issue?). With this creative team, its’ a good of a time as any to dive in to the stories of Batman Beyond. Even as someone who was never a fan, I feel compelled to see this story through already, and I think you would too. 3.5/5 Bibles.
DC has been killing it with the new Rebirth titles. And–although I’m reading most of their heavy hitter books–sadly I’m still missing out on good reads, including that of Teen Titans. Yet! With the new story arc and the reintroduction to Aqualad (introduced nearly a year ago in the DC Rebirth special, but unseen previous to him not being apart of the New 52), this seemed like a good time to catch up on DC’s youngest heroes. From what I’ve read, 2017 Jackson Hyde controls water, has tattoos and is consistent in recalling the pre-2011 version of Jackson, except he has blond hair and a boyfriend, Kenny.
In “The Rise of Aqualad”, writer Ben Percy (Green Arrow) has the team adjusting to their new lives at Titans Tower. While Damian investigates mysterious occurrences involving people going missing in the waters of San Francisco Bay, Hyde heads west and finds himself in the company of the Teens — ever so penned by Percy with diverse interactions that come across incredibly natural and unforced. And, thus in the new arc, Jackson’s journey of self-discovery and embracing what makes him “different” begins. Percy and artist Pham make a terrific team, with loads of cohesive storytelling oozing from the pages. Pham nails the comedy emphasis as much as the drama. Veteran inker Wade Von Grawbadger keeps things looking sharp with colorist Charalampidis complementing along the way. Also, huge kudos to the great image homages of George Perez’s New Teen Titans #1 cover. 4.5/5 Aquabibles.