Comic Book Reviews – Frank’s Haul 7/24/13

Constantine #5

Stealing Thunder

Writer: Ray Fawkes

Art by: Renato Guedes & Marcelo Maiolo (Colors)

Constantine risks his life to prevent the Justice League from finding and opening Pandora’s box. This story begins in Justice League Dark #22 when Constantine talks Shazam into following him to find out about his real family. It’s a ruse to get him alone and depowered. Billy Batson isn’t the only one surprised when the Cold Flame attacks Constantine, forcing him to use Shazam’s power. This is a fun story that ties into Trinity War while still moving its own plots forward.

Constantine remains one of the most consistently written characters across the DC universe. He’s a liar, cheater and can’t be trusted. Renato Guedes even warns readers by drawing him with a dubious face at select points of his dialogue. But, underneath it all he’s a good person. He ostensibly stole Shazam’s powers for himself but only to prevent Billy Batson from changing into Shazam because he believed it would “save the world”. This resulted in serious injury to himself which isn’t something that would be acceptable to him if his intentions weren’t well placed. Ray Fawkes had some minor dialogue transition problems in the last issue, but they were nonexistent here. Instead, readers were treated to a well written story that organically ties into Trinity War while still pushing forward the series’ own plots. A character previously thought to be part of Papa Midnite’s gang has a connection to the Cold Flame. Undoubtably, these may play into the conclusion of the series’ first major story arc.

Guedes’ art remains appropriate to the series but with a few minor complaints. Firstly, facial expressions sometimes look a bit odd. In this book, Billy Batson looks like a mewing cat on page five. Lastly, the staging of characters in the panels can be unnatural at times; they’re bodies are in awkward poses. Other than these minor complaints, the art is part of what makes this an enjoyable book. Seeing Constantine in Shazam’s costume is one of the best moments in the book. Coloring the costume a desaturated grey and orange even reflects the morality of the character.

Readers who only pick up this book for the Trinity War tie-in won’t be disappointed. Constantine believes Shazam is important and it’s hinted towards the end that it may be because he thinks he’ll be able to open Pandora’s box. In Justice League #22, a premonition that Madame Xanadu had suggests that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are trapped somewhere and must escape to save “him”. Were they referring to Shazam? Will he be the only hero to escape what the Secret Society has in store for the Justice Leagues? Readers will need to check out The Phantom Stranger #11 and Justice League of America #7 to find out.

Review Score: 5 (of 7)

The Flash #22

Reverse, part 3

Writer: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

Art by: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato

The Flash finally comes face-to-face with “Backwards” Flash as his search for the Speed Force Killer comes to an end. With Iris West as the only other remaining target for the killer, the Flash gives her a special suit that will protect her. After finding a piece of metal in the Utah Salt Flats, the Flash traces it back to Dr. Elias. Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato produced another phenomenal book that is exciting to read and looks beautiful.

After The Flash leaves Iris West with Patty Spivot, there is some subtle jealousy between the two. First, Patty comments how well the armored suit fits Iris’ body. Then, the uncomfortable conversation about Patty and Barry living together affects Iris more than Patty. Conversely, Iris had a “date” with The Flash that she seemed to enjoy. Whether or not you want The Flash to end up with Iris or Patty, there’s something for both readers in this book.

Just like all the previous issues, Manapul & Buccellato continue to prove why they are the best creative team at DC. The art is the best example of the cohesive nature of the duo’s work. Manapul’s pencils shape and detail the story while Buccellato’s coloring adds depth, mood and brings to life the “magical” look of the DC universe. Their work blends together to form a single beautiful whole but they don’t drown each other out. The two page spreads with The Flash/Iris and the short battle with “Backwards” Flash at the end are the best looking panels in the book; as is the case with all their two page spreads. On the outside, the cover is absolutely gorgeous and easily wins best looking cover of any comic book released this month. It’s simplistic, but impressive nonetheless.

The Flash is one of those books that does an exceptional job at building excitement for the next book, paying it off and then repeating the process. Readers that were excited about #20 were probably excited about #21 and equally so about #22. Manapul and Buccellato also do an excellent job keeping readers guessing. Even over midway through this arc it’s difficult to predict the identity of the Reverse Flash and his motives. However, readers know they can trust the creators won’t disappoint. The Flash #23 begins the long awaited battle with Reverse Flash!

Review Score: 7 (of 7)

 

Frank Fuentes

Frank is a self admitted DC fanboy living in Seattle, WA. He's currently a Computer Science student with aspirations of working in the game industry one day. When he's not writing reviews for the site, he spends his free time absorbed in all kinds of geekery: video games, comic books & technology. For more of his geekery, follow him on Twitter (@cizco) or visit his site at Francizco.com.

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