Graphically Awesome Weekly: Court of Owls, Harley Quinn, Riddler and more.

I read a good amount of comic books and most of them are on the DC side.  In this series, I will be reviewing books from my pull list.  The next few weeks will be overcrowded with books due to the fact that it is Villains Month at DC and they are putting out two or three of their main titles out every week focusing on different villains.  I will be reviewing books that have villains from my current pull list, or just villains that I love so much I had to pick it up.  Let’s begin, shall we?

Batman and Robin #23.2   Court of Owls #1

Written by James T. Tynion IV

Art by Jorge Lucas

court of owls 1

This book was fantastic.  I have loved the Court of Owls since they were introduced in the Batman reboot for the New 52.  They were created by Scott Snyder and are a secret society that controls everything going on in Gotham City.  They have been around for hundreds of years and will do whatever is possible to keep the city the way they like it.  Now that the heroes are dead, Gotham City has fallen into an even worse state of disrepair, and the Court are forced to bring out the big guns.   The story follows one member of the Court talking with his daughter about the Court’s history and how they have always controlled things.  We also get flashbacks to different time periods where the Court have intervened to make sure they are never revealed and only remain a children’s myth.  I won’t give away the ending, but it is fantastic and makes you want more of them.

10 hoots out of 10

Batman: The Dark Knight 23.1 The Ventriloquist

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Derlis Santacruz

ventriloquist 1

Probably one of my favorite books in Villains Month so far.  The Ventriloquist was originally a very goofy villain who was a meek ventriloquist who had gone crazy and started committing crimes using his dummy whom he named Scarface (based on the old Howard Hughes movie, not the Al Pacino one).  He was a tough talking gangster who bullied the ventriloquist and committed crimes with a tiny Tommy gun.  However, Gail Simone has created a darker, and arguably better, female Ventriloquist.    Simone created this Ventriloquist in the pages of her Batgirl series.  Babs had quite a time fighting her, but what was her origin?  Shauna Belzer tells her origin to the owner of the theatre she plans on performing at (even though the manager is dead) at the same time a group of people trying to seek shelter from the riots in Gotham and find delicious catering in the hallway and find their way to the theatre.  What is great is that Shauna tells her version of the origin story but the panels show us something completely different.  It can be inferred that the panels are the truth.  The best part of this issue has to be Ferdie (Shauna’s dummy).  He is sick and twisted  and has a very dark and perverted sense of humor.  But it’s Gail Simone, what else did you expect?  This was a great episode with a dark ending and Simone’s strong suit is writing female characters and writing villains, and this hits the mark on both of them.

10 dummies out of 10

Batman: The Dark Knight 23.2   Mr. Freeze #1

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti

Art by Jason Masters

mr freeze 1

Mr. Freeze has always been an interesting villain.  Well, he was just another kooky character with a kooky gimmick up until the 90’s animated series revamped him and made him into a tragic figure.  This issue chronicles some of Victor Freis’ childhood explaining how his father left him and his mother suffered a tragic accident.  I think the way she died was a little too on the nose to be realistic considering who Victor is now, but it kind of works for the story being told.  After the heroes are gone Victor escapes Arkham and goes in search of his father’s new family. Little bits of his childhood and origin are sprinkled in throughout the issue. There was one notable change to the origin I thought was interesting, but some people may find a bit disappointing.   However with the way his childhood played out it kind of worked considering the type of psychosis he suffers.  It is deliciously violent and the ending is incredibly disturbing, but what would you expect from Mr. Freeze?

8.5 ice beams out of 10

Batman 23.2  Riddler #1

Written by Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes

Art by Jeremy Haun

riddler 1

“It’s true I don’t own many suits, and those are hardly rare.  But when I show my noble face, my lessers can’t compare. What Am I?”  Wow. Just Wow.  This has to be the best issue dealing with the Riddler I have ever read.  It was incredibly fun and smart and I felt Snyder characterized the Riddler perfectly.  He was a little goofy without being over the top and he was incredibly charismatic and jokey without being Joker level psychotic.   This was one of the few books this week that did not explore the origin of the villain, but what it did do was quite interesting.  It was more or less a revenge type of issue.  Riddler is getting revenge on the guard who bullied him at Arkham while simultaneously getting revenge on Bruce Wayne.  This has a small tie to Zero Year as we know that Nygma figures a bit more heavily in the Dark Knight’s origin than we assumed.   Scott Snyder obviously has a great grasp on the character and this, I believe, is the first time he is writing Nygma in the costume and persona of the Riddler and he is doing a great job.

10 riddles out 10

Batman: Detective Comics #23.2 Harley Quinn #1

Written By Matt Kindt

Art by Neil Googe

harley quinn 1

Harley Quinn is one of those villains that you never expect to see solo.  She is either with the Joker or on a team like the Gotham City Sirens or the Suicide Squad.  So it is always interesting to see her go solo once and while.  With both Batman and the Joker gone and presumed dead Harley goes back to Gotham and reflects on her life.  It wasn’t that great for her at home, her family did not appreciate her love of criminology and always tried to make her do things she did not want to do.  This is a part of the larger theme of the issue.  Harley hates it when she is put into a box.  Whether it is her career her personality or order.  She craves chaos.  She has never been able to truly do what she has wanted to do.  Every time she does she is told it is wrong or bad for her.  Her origin is expanded.  Rather than just falling in love with the Joker, she disguises herself as an inmate to try and get closer to patients.  She feels that the box she is being put in at her job is not getting results.  The doctors are not treating the inmates like people.  They are treating them like patients, or non-humans. By being one of them maybe she can help.  When she meets the Joker though everything changes.  It also explains her New 52 costume which people have described as “too slutty” or “just eye candy for dudes”  and while it is very appealing to look at, the costume is used as a way for her to express herself the way she wants too.  By choosing to look the way she does she isn’t put into a box like she has been her whole life.  I like that this story chose to explain that.  it also explained that she isn’t this ditzy little girl we think she is.  She is a genius.  She was a doctor of psychology after all.  She puts on this persona because it doesn’t fit into society’s box of the way she is supposed to be.  It was a very intelligent and captivating read.  I loved it.

10 giant hammers out 10

Flash #23.2 Reverse-Flash #1

Written by Francis Manipul and Brian Buccellato

Art by Scott Hepburn

reverse flash 1

In the last issue of Flash (not inluding Grodd #1) We found out that it was none other than Daniel West, brother of Iris West, who was the New 52 Reverse Flash.  This issue was ok.  I really enjoyed Daniel’s reasoning for becoming a villain and it felt like a classic villain back story, but maybe too classic.  He lampshades it in the beginning of the issue, but it doesn’t feel enough for me to consider it being original.  I think is origin is incredibly epic and it will be interesting to see what the Flash does to stop him and whether or not he will be a one and done kinda villain and they will bring back Professor Zoom or if he will retain his hatred for Flash and fight him often.  I also want to know if he is Wally Wests father, because that seems like the only way he could be.  But the way they did the origin it seems unlikely. *sigh*  Well one day we may see the return of Wally West, but for now we wait.  Scott Hepburn’s art is okay and it really reminds me of Francis Manipul’s art, but then I remember that it isn’t and it makes me sad.  Francis and Brian do a great job writing, I just wish Francis would hand over the writing to Brian so we can get back to the awesomeness that is Manipul’s artwork.

8 crickets out of 10

Aquaman #23.1 Black Manta #1

Written by Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard

Art by Claude St. Aubin

black manta 1

This one of the other titles that does not mainly focus on the origin story for the villain since we already got it in a previous issue of Aquaman.  This issue shows the events of Forever Evil #1 through the eyes of Black Manta.  He has to answer some big questions, mainly “What drives him.”  Up until now it has been the death of Aquaman for revenge.  But now Aquaman is dead and he has no reason to be a criminal anymore.  It was his sole reason for committing crimes. Amanda Waller asks him to join her “Suicide Squad,” saying he will have more to live for than just revenge. I also love that King Shark has a cameo in this issue because, well, it’s King Shark.  You can’t not love him.  The issue ends with him making a crucial life choice that could effect the entire DC universe.  Overall a well written issue if not a bit of a retread with seeing certian events from Forever Evil (which feel more like panel filler)  However it does answer a few questions from the first issue of Forever Evil.

9 sharks out of 10

-Coty Keziah

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