Batman: Tales of the Man-Bat

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This here was a library borrow on impulse. It’s a brand new release and I like Batman’s villains more than I like him so I thought this Man-Bat trade would be a good one. This just unfortunately did not live up to what I expected and was just a bad collection. For those who don’t know: Man-Bat is Kirk Langstrom, a scientist who injected himself with some bat DNA to cure his hearing but it had the side effect of turning him into a bat monster.

It begins in Showcase ’94 #11 but this is more of a prequel to the next three issues with the same creative team so I’ll talk about them together. The Showcase story is very short and light on plot; some guys hunt down Man-Bat out in a jungle and then he escapes back into Gotham to find Francine. At this point the character is more monster than man so all he can say is his wife’s name. The next series is Man-Bat Vol 2. #1-3 which continues in Gotham where a string of murders are committed by a flying man. Of course Man-Bat is the suspect but he’s just trying to find Francine. It’s only a three issue story and there’s not a lot happening but this still felt like a long read. This can be contributed by the completely terrible art. I don’t know what the artist was doing but everything just looks wet, like every character is going to melt away. For no reason at all in the final fight with this boring mystery villain, Francine’s clothes get ripped away for cheap fanservice but it doesn’t even look good because of the terrible art style. There’s only one good thing I can say about this part of the comic and that’s the Killer Croc moment. It’s a short scene but it shows a different side of that character where he actually cares for Man-Bat because “freaks stick together.”

After all of that we get into Man-Bat vol 3. #1-5¬†which is a lot better in the art department, but has its own problems in the writing and story. This story begins as well with a string of mystery killings straight out of a 90s horror movie (Teenagers messing around, nosey cops.) Here Kirk Langstrom is actually seen outside of being Man-Bat for most of this. He starts to have blackouts and when his own family is seemingly murdered he believes he was the cause. Batman, who hangs out in the Batcave completely out of costume for some reason, takes him in to try and help him. Then the story gets very confusing as after we’re introduced to our first two villains another one joins the story. There’s too much going on there and then we get to the climactic fight where Batman fights Man-Bat until they reach the true villain behind this. He has them both beaten and then in an ending that makes zero sense to me, lead powers up Man-Bat to take the guy down. Lead is mentioned to have been something Kirk used to try and keep Man-Bat away in the very last issue so it comes across as just pulled out of nowhere and I still don’t know the logic behind lead being a power up. So the art by Mike Huddleston is actually very good in this section and the horror elements at the start may have been clich√© but it was interesting at least. This just doesn’t save the rest of the book however.

Writers: Chuck Dixon and Bruce Jones

Artists: Flint Henry and Mike Huddleston

Rating: Rubbish

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All-Star Western #29

So I was walking around the local Wal-Mart and near the checkout I saw this comic just laying out in the open. I assume it was in one of those bagged “3 for $5” comic bags and was ripped out of it. I was intrigued by the Darwyn Cooke cover and decided I’d give it a read. Single issue stories like this aren’t usually reviewed here on this site but this comic turned out to be a standalone story so I thought I’d give my thoughts on it. For context, I’ve never read an issue of this series and my only exposure to Jonah Hex is from Booster Gold #3.

Cover

This comic is mostly a set up to get Jonah Hex and his girlfriend, Gina, sitting around a campfire so he can tell her a story from his past. After Gina is shot by Apaches, her and Jonah go and rest by a fire. She can’t sleep so Jonah tells her a Jonah Hex story. He tells her about the time he went after a man named McCabe who was hunting down and killing native Americans.

There’s not a lot to talk about without spoiling the events but this is a fun comic. Hex’s story is interesting and there’s a few good twists even in this short amount of time. It’s a good sign that Palmiotti and Gray can write a story this late into a series and have it still be accessible to new readers. Cliff Richards’s art here is very good. The action scenes are very dynamic and it just has a Western vibe. There’s good shadows and some interesting visuals during a hallucination sequence. Jonah is a cool character and he plays well off of Gina. They have a good banter back and forth and they make a cute couple.

I don’t know how good the rest of this series is but this was a fun little story and it was a fun way to spend five minutes in a store.

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray

Artist: Cliff Richards

Rating: Full Price

All-Star Western #29 P2

 

New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made In China

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New Super-Man is a comic series released in 2016 that is currently ongoing and will be renamed soon so I thought it was a good time to jump into the series and see how it is.

Our series begins by introducing us to our protagonist, Kong Kenan, a Shangai teenager who is currently bullying some kid named Luo Lixin. The two are attacked by Blue Condor, a supervillain from a group called the Freedom Fighters. Kenan throws a can at Condor and that scares him off. Kenan is quickly scouted out by a secret organization called the Ministry of Self-Reliance who imbue him with energy from the dead New 52 Superman. This gives Kenan the power of Superman for a brief moment until Wonder-Woman and Bat-Man of China arrive and take him down. Kenan’s powers are shorted out now and it’s bad timing as the Freedom Fighters of China start attacking people to try and take down the Ministry.

Coming into a new series like this there’s a lot that has to be done to build up interest in the reader. Fortunately, New Super-Man does this very well. There’s a lot going on in the background of this series as a lot of characters and groups are introduced. It handles this well by not continuously hinting at stuff but by just letting the story play out. Next volume we learn the histories of both Bat-Man and Wonder-Woman but here they’re just fun characters and that’s what we see first. We get a similar idea with Kenan as we see who he is and how he acts before we learn why. At first Kenan isn’t very likeable as he bullies this kid and Bat-Man for being overweight and is just rude mostly. Soon though he relaxes on these as he becomes friends with Bat-Man and Lixin.

Any good aspect of this series is the nice world building aspect of it. This story is set in China so it’s a lot more visually interesting than usual just because of the setting. All the new heroes and villains have nice visual designs. The Folding Paper Man stands out among the villains for having a weird power and using it in clever ways. The art overall is very good as there’s quite a bit of action and it’s all dynamic and bright. There’s a lot of interesting plot twists and there’s just something about the story that feels familiar in a good way. I highly recommend New Super-Man and I can’t wait to continue reading the series.

Writer: Gene Luen Yang

Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic

Rating: Vintage

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