Monday, September 25, 2017

Longbox Junk - Batman: Cacophony


I'm not sure exactly when or where I got these 3 comic books.  I have no recollection of ever seeing them before I pulled them out of the depths of the "B" section of my collection.  But what caught my eye and made me want to crack the tape on the plastic was that Walt Flanagan did the artwork.

I like Kevin Smith.  Some of his movies are good. . .some are bad.  I (mostly) liked his Green Arrow and Green Hornet comic work.  But what I like MOST about Kevin Smith is his "Comic Book Men" series on AMC, where Walt Flanagan is the tight-fisted ubernerd manager of Smith's comic book store "Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash".  I never knew he was known as a comic book artist.

Did I like what I saw?  READ ON!


Let's start out with the best thing about this issue. . .the outstanding Adam Kubert cover! Now THERE'S some classic badass Batman. Definitely frame-worthy.

The interior art is. . .okay. It's pretty uneven, going from pretty good to pretty bad randomly throughout the issue. The Joker is heavily derivative of Jim Aparo and the artist seems to have a hard time with Batman's face and hands in general.

Storywise, it's really more of a Joker story than a Batman story. Actually, more of a villain-based story in general, with Mr. Zsasz, Maxie Zeus, Deadshot, Joker, and probably the worst-named villain ever, Onomatopoeia making up the bulk of the story here, revolving around Joker being broken out of Arkham and starting a gang war with Maxie Zeus over his turning Joker Venom into a party drug.

Overall, I found this issue to be a pretty average villain-centric Batman story with some back and forth art and above average dialogue. There was an extremely strange moment where Joker showed that he was perfectly willing to have some gay sex in exchange for money that made me go WTF? but all in all this was a decent issue.


In this issue, Batman figures out who the true villain is (Onomatopoeia. . .who had some run-ins with Green Arrow) and that Joker being released was just bait to draw Batman out. Batman turns the tables and uses the Joker to draw out Onomatopoeia.

This second issue doesn't really have much going for it. The gang war between Joker and Maxie Zeus just seems like padding, and Onomatopoeia has to be one of the lamest villains I've seen in a while. . .and in a book featuring Maxie Zeus, that's not a good thing.

The art takes a sharp downward turn in this issue as well, with some really bad panels of Batman's face in particular, as well as constantly making his torso WAY too beefy. And then there's an attempted homage to the cover of Detective #27 (with Maxie Zeus taking the place of Joker) that fails miserably due to some very strange arm/hand positioning.

All in all, I found this issue disappointing. Even the cover wasn't that great.


After a disappointing second issue, the third brings this mini to an end in a pretty good way. The art is still extremely hit or miss, and Joker's bushy hobo beard was a bit of a WTF moment, but most of this issue focused on a conversation between Batman and Joker while he recovers in the hospital from almost being killed during the battle between Batman and Onomatopoeia. . .where we got a cliche "Save the dying person or chase the villain? YOUR CHOICE, BATMAN!" end to the confrontation.

I liked the idea of Batman wanting to talk to Joker while he was somewhat sane in the hospital, loaded up with anti-psychotic drugs, and that he doesn't get a bit of resolution. Joker hates him and wants to kill him. And like I said above, Onomatopoeia escapes, leaving Batman 0 for 2 in this story. It's a nice change to see Batman at a loss when a story ends.

All in all, despite the iffy artwork, this issue closed out the series nicely.
 I won't say it was great. . .but it was pretty good.

Overall, I found Batman: Cacophony to be okay.  The main villain was weak, the art was extremely hit and miss, and there were some strange WTF character moments.  On the other hand, the dialogue was pretty sharp, it had some good insights into the Batman/Joker conflict, and the Adam Kubert cover on the first issue was almost worth the price of admission alone.

Good taken with bad, I'd suggest this. . .but be warned if you're the sensitive snowflake type: There's no "Mature Reader" warning on this, but there probably should be.  There's a few pretty crude moments in here.

Up Next. . .

One shots! I love one shots!
More randomly-pulled single issue stories from my collection:
Red Sonja, Azrael, G.I. Combat, Scarecrow, Lone Gunmen, Bruce Wayne, and Conan.

Be there or be square!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Longbox Junk - Flashpoint: Project Superman


I feel I might be in the minority here, but (for the most part) I really enjoyed DC's Flashpoint event.  

Once they rebooted everything into the New 52 I thought that it was sort of a shame that they didn't continue a few of the titles as a sort of anthology title in a side universe remnant of the cataclysmic events that led to the formation of DC's "new" universe. . .but hey, I don't make the comic books.  I just read them.  Just saying I really liked the whole "Elseworlds" feel of the Flashpoint books and it feels like DC sort of wasted an opportunity.

Here's one of the many little tie in miniseries that were a part of Flashpoint.  Let's do this!


This first issue flashes back and forth in time, starting 30 years before the "present" (The present being the Flashpoint timeline) when Lt. Neil Sinclair volunteers to be Subject Zero in a top secret project to build a superhero by splicing alien DNA into his own.

As Sinclair's powers increase through the years, his sanity begins to fray, leading to a bloody debacle during his first real mission, where he kills everyone, including his own team.

At the end of the issue, Metropolis is hit with a meteor storm and we see the familiar Kryptonian super-baby in his ship.

I really liked this issue. It read less like a Superman story and more like a Captain America gone wrong tale of a good man slowly being driven mad. The art was also really good. All in all, an outstanding introduction.


In this second issue, most of the story takes place between 10 and 20 years before the "present", and is once again narrated by Subject Zero - Lt. Neil SInclair, the government's failed first attempt at building a "superman".

Kal-El, who we only saw as a baby at the end of the first issue, is now also a captive in the same Project Superman laboratory where Subject Zero is being held. What their captors don't know is that Subject Zero can communicate by telepathic means with Kal-El and he manipulates him into helping him escape.

Kal is willing to help until Subject Zero starts killing, and finally stands up to his "friend" when he tries to kill a young Lois Lane. Using the distraction, her father (Gen. Sam Lane) uses a device that sends both himself and Subject Zero to the Phantom Zone.

At the end, Kal is recaptured and the project comes under the control of a cold scientist determined to draw every secret he can from the alien boy.

I didn't like this issue as much as the first one. That's not to say it's bad at all. It's good. I just liked the "What if Captain America had gone bad?" tone in the first one better. I DO like how Kal-El in this timeline is a timid, scrawny wretch instead of the robust Kansas farmboy we all know and love.

All in all, even though I liked the first issue better, this was still a pretty damn good story. I really like the darker sci-fi take on this familiar character.


A lot of what is going on in this issue is tied in with other Flashpoint mini's as well as the main series, so it feels a bit disjointed and disconnected from the first two issues, which stood on their own quite nicely.

Most of the action here takes place in London, under Amazon occupation and with Lois Lane as an adult in the resistance, Kal-El grown and out of the lab (but still a skinny, pale wretch), and General Lane and Subject Zero accidentally released from the Phantom Zone by the Flash and his team he's been assembling. Most of this isn't explained at all. . .it's just assumed you've read the other books these things happen in.

Most of this issue is the final confrontation between Kal-El and Subject Zero (now more alien than man and almost completely insane) in the streets of London. It's a pretty spectacular fight, and in the process, Kal learns that he must become the hero that Earth needs from Lois Lanes dying words before a very nice homage to Supergirl's death on the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

All in all, this didn't feel so much like the conclusion to this mini so much as a tie-in to Flashpoint in general. That's not to say it's bad. It's not bad. . .it's just not as good as it could have been.


Overall, for an event tie-in (and pretty much a throwaway one at that), I really liked Project Superman a lot. . .especially the first two issues.  The third issue was really more of a tie-in than the other two.  In particular, I liked the first issue the best, and feel that it could have stood alone as a one-shot story of science gone wrong in the name of patriotism. 

I liked that the villain of this mini was a good man driven mad through no fault of his own. . .through the hubris of the government trying to create something they had no business trying to create, and then trying to hide it once things went wrong.  If you look past the crossover ties, there's a really good, really dark story here.  

Up next. . .

Anybody remember when the Joker had a bushy hobo beard and was openly gay?  That time Deadshot took a bullet to the face from a rando villain?  And then Alfred and Bruce Wayne had a short discussion about the Bat-Penis?  Welcome to the wonderful world of Kevin Smith. . .

Batman: Cacophony.  Be there or be square!