Reviewed! Every Issue of Villains Month – the final issues

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There are no new issues of Villain’s Month left from DC, and business goes back to business this week. But there were six issues which slipped through my new previously, and I’ve now gone back to review them all. It’s over! Villains Month has been conquered! Here are the final reviews, which include facial mutilation, hospital bombings, and mass electrocutions.

yaaaaayy

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Joker’s Daughter

Ann Nocenti (w), Georges Jeanty (a), Dexter Vines (i), Michelle Madsen (c), Dezi Sienty (l), Darren Shan, Rachel Gluckstern (e)

This is an embarrassment. The artistic team from the Buffy comics, essentially, step in for a one-shot DC storyline – but are hindered by a woefully inept and pathetic script. Georges Jeanty is an artist I rather like, especially when working alongside Dexter Vines and Michelle Madsen, with whom he’s developed a close, cohesive, thoroughly enjoyable and individual style. But here he’s given a terrible, inane story to tell, and he flounders under the burden.

Ann Nocenti’s work in the New 52 has been uniformly terrible, for reasons I just can’t understand. Her runs on books such as Daredevil were fantastic, clever things, but the past year has been filled with stupid storylines and plotting, laughably simplistic dialogue and weak character work. And Joker’s Daughter may well be the worst thing she’s presented to readers yet. At every stage of the writing process, something goes terribly wrong. Every stage.

The idea of the ‘story’ is that a madwoman, living in the sewers, finds Joker’s severed face floating by. So she picks it up, sticks it to her face, and every other character in the issue suddenly thinks that she is Joker. She then sets about burning the mouths of every man she can find underground with a hot piece of metal, branding a smile on their faces. This doesn’t affect their ability to speak, and they all seem to be immediately grateful to her for grossly injuring them.

Throughout the issue, characters react in incoherent ways to the things they’re doing, or the things which are done to them. And at the heart of everything? There’s this incredible non-entity of a protagonist.

We have no idea how smart or insane Joker’s Daughter is, by the end of the issue. She’s done crazy things, but there’s no motivation behind them and no sense that anything she’s done is actually having a lingering effect. Everybody reacting to her acts like a scolded puppy rather than scalded victims. It’s a ridiculous piece of utter garbage, and the absolute worst DC issue I’ve ever read.

 

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Creeper

Ann Nocenti, Dan DiDio (w), ChrisCross, Fabrizio Fiorentino, Tom Derenick (a), Wayne Faucher, Andy Owens (i), Ulises Arreola, Kyle Ritter, Pete Pantazis (c), Travis Lanham (l), Harvey Richards, Brian Cunningham (e)

This also barely functions as a story. Flanked by an army of colourists, inkers and artists – usually a sign of problems during production of a comic – Ann Nocenti’s dialogue reads like some kind of fever dream, babbling nonsense which doesn’t appear to relate to either the characters or the scenes they are in. I don’t generally do this, but I want to quote a panel from the issue. This is a scene where the Creeper demon flies into a warehouse, where coffins are being stored (why are coffins being stored in a warehouse in the docks? I DON’T KNOW) and steals the body of Jack Ryder.

WAREHOUSE GUARD: Leave those coffins alone, buddy! You can’t do that! That’s Jack Ryder’s body.

WAREHOUSE GUARD: He’s the guy from TV.

Agh! Such blunt and mindless exposition litters this comic, but none of it ever gives a concise view of what’s actually going on. The prologue of the issue – which is the best drawn section, I believe by ChrisCross – sets up some connection between the Creeper, tornadoes, Katana and ghosts, none of which are explained. There’s narration, but it doesn’t explain why Katana shows up for a panel, or why somebody just got killed from riding their horse into a tornado.

It’s not just a case of errors being strewn through a comic – the errors ARE the comic. A key part of the story is that everybody is aware Jack Ryder died, and that his reappearance is extremely shifty and dangerous. His co-workers state this, as does every citizen he speaks to. And yet nothing comes of it, even after the final fight scene sees him shift into a demon and kill about ten people, right in the middle of a street.

It’s not as out-and-out patronising and stupid as Joker’s Daughter, but at the same time it also doesn’t feature a solid, single artistic team. Both Creeper and Joker’s Daughter are toxic comics. Don’t buy either. 

 

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Deathstroke

Corey May, Dorna Wendschuh (w), Angel Unzueta, Robson Rocha (a), Moritat (a, i), Art Thibert (i), Travis Lanham (l), Pete Pantazis (c), Anthony Marques, Mike Cotton (e)

I think the continuing theme amongst these last few comics is going to be “lots of artists”, which explains why they weren’t available in time for review. Deathstroke features three artists; one of whom, Moritat, inks his own work; alongside second inker Art Thibert.

Now, this is a comic which is generally fine, although the artwork does look rushed quite consistently. The opening and closing fight sequences in particular zoom right in on the two combatants for a series of very small panels which don’t quite manage to convey the idea of the battle. The artist – and I *believe* the opening section is by Moritat – has a nice idea in the layout, but the execution feels just that little bit off.

A lack of page-space extends to the flashbacks and the current-day sequences both. Neither of the two storyline feel as satisfyingly filled-out as would be wanted, and instead we’re given two half-tales, either of which could probably have made for a full and interesting storyline on their own. As it is, we don’t spend enough time with Deathstroke’s family, nor with his opponent Deathblow, to get a sense of either, or how they relate to him. It’s a decent-enough comic, but it could’ve done with one single storyline, rather than two unsatisfying ones.

 

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Deadshot

Matt Kindt (w), Sami Basri, Keith Champagne (a), Matt Milla (c), Sal Cipriano (l), Carmen Carnero, Bit (a), Jeremy Cox (c), Dezi Sienty (l), Harvey Richards, Wil Moss (e)

The big artistic teams on this book are balanced into two sections – flashback and present-day. For that, though, the issue still also suffered from looking rushed, with a number of pages having essentially blank backgrounds with nothing in them. This is most noticeable in the first splash of the issue, which the colourist appears to have done their utmost to rectify. They even shaded in the shape of a plane in the background, because Deadshot just jumped out of it and so it should probably appear in the panel.

It’s also strange to see that there’s a different letterer for each of the two parts of the story.

All that aside, I liked this issue. Matt Kindt hones in on a single idea for Deadshot’s personality (that he regards everything as important, and never wastes anything needlessly) and hammers it into a number of different interesting directions. This isn’t a familiar Floyd Lawton for fans of the character before the New 52, as he has no sense of humour or moustache. But this new character is at least that – a fully formed, realised character. He’s interestingly developed and entertaining to read about, and Kindt throws in some very clever moments to show off why he should be feared.

It’s hard to review artwork when several people are drawing, but the past sequence is far more detailed than the present-day sequence, however doesn’t have the same expression and range. That noticable rush in the art, for both parts of the issue, is the central flaw of the comic.

 

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Lex Luthor

Charles Soule (w), Raymund Bermudez (a), Dan Green (i), Ulises Arreola (c), Dezi Sienty (l), Anthony Marques, Eddie Berganza (e)

A genuinely enjoyable storyline which manages to unite the disparate threads of Lex Luthor which have been scattered across three-four Superman comics into one cohesive and entertaining strand. Luthor is an important character for Forever Evil, it seems, and this issue leads directly into the first issue of that event. It does so with a sure step, following a day in the life of Lex Luthor as he exerts his power, money, and superiority complex over the various people in his life.

The artistic team do a great job of bringing this world to life, and in particular in establishing a gloss daze in Luthor’s eyes which disconnect him from every other character. There’s a noticeable boredom affected in Luthor’s facial expressions, due to the fact he’s confident he knows how every moment of his day is going to go. He’s so confident that he’s right about everything that his life is spent waiting for a surprise – like Superman – to show up. Both script and art lean on this idea heavily, creating a nice streak of dark humour which runs through each page.

Despite the idea that Luthor knows everything that’s going to happen, Soule is careful to make sure that the reader doesn’t – or that if they do, it’s part of a joke. I really enjoyed the issue. It tells a single story, complete by the end, which defines and sets up the character for future use. It’s good work.

 

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The Rogues

Brian Buccellato (w), Patrick Zircher (a), Nick Filardi (c), Taylor Esposito (l), Harvey Richards, Wil Moss (e)

I continue to enjoy almost everything to do with The Flash. Although this is setting up another miniseries for later this month called ‘Rogues Rebellion’ – and does do through a thoroughly clunky last page – this issue featuring the Rogues team is great fun. The main focus is on Captain Cold, although Buccellato spreads a little characterisation through to most of the team.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of the comic is how low-level the team’s ambitions are. They have super-powers which are essentially unlimited, but each time they seem to be more focused on robbing banks than anything else. There’s an inherent silliness to the team, which Buccellato plays up to here rather nicely. His run has also established solid character arcs for several of the characters, some of which get heightened here even further.

For this issue, and the upcoming miniseries, Patrick Zircher joins as artist. Establishing himself immediately with some detailed and careful scenework, his characters and settings are wonderfully rendered by colourist Nick Filardi. The artistic team seem to be keen on distancing themselves from the art style of Francis Manapul, and their work together here is expressive, empathetic, and a massive asset to the issue as a whole. Filardi in particular handles the various power sets of the team in some lovely ways, especially in his use of light effects on Mirror Master.

If you’re reading The Flash, this is as solid and reliable as the main series. I enjoyed it – perhaps mainly because it’s nice to see villains who have a moral code of SOME sort, and a script which never once attempts to trade shock value for character development.

Comments

  1. I hope the idiots who paid $100+ for JOKER’S DAUGHTER on ebay enjoy it more than you did.

    (not really)

  2. Al™ says:

    Speaking of EBay, how are these lenticular comics selling/reselling? Are there riots at comic shops and catburglars making off with them from comic vaults?

  3. Agree, agree, agree. Joker’s Daughter and Creeper were certainly the most disappointing of the entire Villains Month releases. I enjoyed Deadshot and The Rogues but was disappointed with Deathstroke. Loved the Lex Luthor story which made my Top 10 Titles of DC’s Supervillains Month list:

    http://josephmallozzi.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/october-2-2013-the-top-10-titles-of-dcs-supervillains-month/.

  4. I just want to say how disappointed I’ve been at Ann Nocenti’s DC work. And I’m sad that I’m disappointed by it. As noted by Steve she did amazing work on DD back in the day, and has created some other really great comics and characters. However, even at Marvel her work definetly had a particular flare and wasn’t always easy to ingest. In the here and now, with the control being put on creators, and her obvious lack of investment in the stories she is telling, all the weaknesses are adding up to the product we’re seeing in Joker’s Daughter.
    For the record, I would say JD is much better than her writing on Green Arrow. Nocenti work is best read as discussions of Ideas, as opposed to ‘only’ characters. Read with that in mind the JD story isn’t too bad, but it still isn’t what it could be from such a pro, with her history in the industry.

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