Comic Book Reviews — Frank’s Haul 9/18/2013

Action Comics #23.3

Up Up and Away!

Writer: Charles Soule
Art by: Raymund Bermudez (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Ulises Arreola (colors)

Superman is dead and the world belongs to Lex Luthor. Taking place prior to the events of Forever Evil #1, Lex Luthor has just been released from prison. Aside from creatively dealing with Lexcorp business, his first goal is determining the whereabouts of Superman. Charles Soule delivers a chilling story of the dangerous, callous and calculating Lex Luthor. This is the man who would be hero in Forever Evil.

Action Comics #23.3 was the first Villains Month book that I read this week. It set my expectations high for the rest of the books. Everything about what makes Lex Luthor so dangerous is in this book. His intelligence made him a wealthy man that doesn’t care about the well being of others when it comes to getting what he wants. He disposes of several people in this book without a moment’s hesitation. His experiment to determine what happened to Superman served also helped him rid himself of a hostile takeover of one of Lexcorps’ subsidiaries and his assistant. Evil as he may be, this is the man who is being set up to be the hero in Forever Evil.

There were only two issues I had with this book but they’re both fairly minor. Lex had his scarring taken care of so quickly that it was unbelievable; took me out of the book for a moment. I spent several minutes starring at the page trying to determine if I missed something. Apparently, all you need to heal scars is a scalpel and syringe. There also wasn’t any explanation offered about how Lex managed to get out of prison. If you didn’t read Justice League of America #7, then you’re left wondering. It’s a minor annoyance but I wish they would have included even a brief mention about it other than a blanket “lawyers” explanation.

Villains Month continues to surprise and delight with books like Action Comics #23.3. It’s a shame this book didn’t come out alongside Forever Evil #1 because it takes place before the events of that book. It would have made the story more enjoyable to not have to guess why Lex Luthor is suddenly out of prison and in a helicopter. Still, this was a great book that readers need to pick up especially if they are already enjoying Forever Evil.

Review Score: 6 (of 7)


The Flash #23.3

All For One

Writer: Brian Buccellato
Art by: Patrick Zircher (pencils), Nick Filardi (colors)

Nobody messes with The Rogues! After a failed bank robbery, The Rogues’ disappointment lead them to make decisions that have dangerous consequences for the team. They soon return to the Gem Cities to find them in ruin and begin searching for the source of destruction. Brian Buccellato successfully executes a book that feels like The Flash with characters who are more than just mindless, evil villains.

These are more than just great villains, they’re great characters. Buccellato and Manapul have done an amazing job developing them in the New 52. The back and forth between brother and sister Captain Cold and Glider feels genuine. I’ve enjoyed seeing them fight over the team leader position because it provided a method to delve into the characters. That continues to play out in this book as Glider feels the need to protect the team after Cold caused the accident that changed their DNA; giving them their powers. The way the other team members respond to this shows a strong familial bond between them. I also admire how they follow a “no killing” code. It shows that while they may be villains, they aren’t evil. DC has been drawing their villains with the same shade of grey and I find it refreshingly realistic.

This book wasn’t drawn or colored by Manapul or Buccellato but it looked and felt like a Flash book. The artists did a phenomenal job recreating the look of that title while keeping it uniquely them. I do wish the colors were a bit more vibrant in some of the scenes, but that’s a personal preference. It’s still a stunning book and I hope the upcoming Rogues Rebellion looks equally good. Grab this book if you haven’t already!

Review Score: 7 (of 7)


Detective Comics #23.3

City of Fear

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Szymon Kudranski (pencils) and John Kalisz (colors)

Never trust a man in a burlap mask. The Scarecrow makes his rounds around the newly Arkham-ruled Gotham to warn about an impending war with the Blackgate escapees. Along the way, a bit of Scarecrow’s origin is uncovered. Scarecrow has been an underused Batman villain, but Peter Tomasi made him scary, intelligent and deceptive.

I’ve been complaining that we haven’t seen Scarecrow have a real purpose in the New 52 but this book certainly addressed that. He appears to be stoking the flames of the war between the Arkham and Blackgate escapees in order to eliminate his competition for ruling Gotham. Unlike many of the other villains we’ve seen in other books, Scarecrow leans more towards being genuinely evil. There doesn’t appear to be any other motivation driving him other than domination. He’s callous and will discard someone when they are no longer useful to him. The Secret Society likely chose him as their ambassador because they recognize a kindred evil within him.

This book was delightfully dark! Not only did I get my wish for a more capable Scarecrow but I also got a frightening looking book. Not only that, but this book also had several other Batman villains. I couldn’t have been any more satisfied. Bravo to Tomasi, Syzmon Kudranski and John Kalisz on delivering an excellent book.

Just like The Flash #23.3, this book was an enjoyable set up for the upcoming Arkham War. Now that we’ve seen how Scarecrow fits into it all, I think it’s going to be exciting. Blackgate and Arkham house different super powered inmates and naturally they’d end up fighting each other in the absence of the Justice League. It’s mini events like this that make the larger event all the more enjoyable. Be sure to check out both this book and Arkham War #1!


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

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