Comic Book Review: Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth

Details: Written by Paul Dini and Alex Ross with art by Alex Ross. More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/graphic-novels/the-worlds-greatest-super-heroes-2005/wonder-woman-spirit-of-truth

Score: 7.6/10

Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth is the latest graphic novel from Alex Ross. He’s also worked on a Batman and Superman book in the same vein as this book. All were fantastic exhibitions of his art.

Alex Ross’ art in the comic book world is famous and revered. He uses a painterly style and portrays superheroes in a unique, almost mythological way. Heroes aren’t drawn to look like professional body builders. They look more like ordinary people, yet they don’t due to how Ross portrays them. They look… mythical.

Like the Batman and Superman books, this book seeks to tell a short story about what Wonder Woman is all about. There are many iterations of Wonder Woman, but this one goes back to a more ridiculous version, invisible jet and all. And yet, it is all more believable due to how awesome Ross’ art is. The story is decent though. It’s written by the legendary Paul Dini of Batman: The Animated series fame. It tells a decent, contemporary story about how Wonder Woman fits in a modern world. While the story is fine, it all comes back to the art.

The art is fantastic. Instead of a bunch of squares where each one contains it’s own image, it’s clear that Ross was given free reign to just draw to his hearts content. Every image in this book is a two page spread showcasing Ross’s art. There is very little separation. It’s just splash page after splash page. You could frame every image in this book. This is really more of an art book than a story.

Overall, this was a great book that showcases Ross’ art. The story isn’t bad, but I mostly got my enjoyment just from looking at the pretty pictures.

Comic Book Review: Batman: Three Jokers

Details: This is a three issue miniseries that has ended. More information can be found at https://www.dccomics.com/comics/batman-three-jokers-2020/batman-three-jokers-1

Score: 7/10

Batman: Three Jokers is a story that fans looked forward to at some point, but was delayed by years. This story was pushed so far back that any hype and anticipation you may have had for this story died years ago. The story itself isn’t bad and seeks to replicate the tone from classic Joker stories like The Killing Joke. It somewhat succeeds, but largely fails in that regard due to how short this miniseries is and how little the plot develops.

Years ago in the Justice League comic book, Batman sat in Metron’s chair, a chair that provides one with the knowledge of everything. Sitting in the chair, he asked who the Joker’s real identity was. The chair responded by asking him which one. What fans walked away with was that there were in fact three Jokers over the years and DC teased a comic going into the explanation for that. That was years ago. Delay after delay pushed this story back until finally, this story was published.

What’s disappointing is that I was hoping to gain insight into the origins of the Joker or Jokers. This story offered the possibility of getting a definitive origin story to the character or characters. What I got instead was a retcon that deletes the possibilities offered by three Jokers and tells Batman fans there is in fact only one true Joker going forward. In some ways, Three Jokers is a lazy attempt to reconcile the wild idea of three Jokers with the reality that the story tellers at DC Comics simply have no idea what to do with that idea.

The story itself isn’t too bad. The tone is right. This is a pseudo horror story that uses the Joker for greater character development of the Batman family. Primarily, we get to see a lot of Batgirl and Jason Todd. I cringed a bit at how they talked the relationship between Todd and Batgirl though. It made me feel like I was watching a long running television show where the writers have run out of ideas and decide that all the characters should start romancing each other. Additionally, the ending directly contradicts the reveal of three Jokers in the Justice League comic (although I guess you could argue it doesn’t with some half assed argument that Batman always knows everything).

The art is great.

Overall, this was an okay story that under delivered on possibly insurmountable hype. The delays in publication also didn’t help. If you are a fan of Batman, Three Jokers (and likely the White Knight elseworlds story) is likely a story you need to read for the wrinkles it adds to the Batman mythos.

Manga Review: Ajin

The above video is the trailer for the anime. This is a review for the manga.

Details: The series is currently ongoing, but keep in mind that the most recent issue came out months after the last issue. It’s pretty much on extreme delay/hiatus. More information can be found at https://kodanshacomics.com/series/ajin-demi-human/

Score: 7.2/10

Ajin starts out has a horror/survival story, but quickly turns into a psychological thriller. We get to watch a battle of wits between two characters who seemingly can’t die.

Ajin takes place in a fictionalized version of the real world. It’s mostly the same except a few years ago, society discovered that some people cannot die no matter how much harm you inflict upon them. There are only a few of them, but the world awaits the appearance of the next one.

Enter Kei, a Japanese students who discovers he is an Ajin. If he’s captured, what awaits him is a lifetime of dissection, experimentation and torture. So Kei goes on the run.

I want to leave the synopsis there, but it would be a disservice to ignore the latter 70% of the story. About a quarter into the current number of issues, the writer left the series and the artist took over writing duties. This happens sometimes and usually, the results are lackluster. However, the artist somehow wrote a more interesting story than the original writer.

The story changed with the introduction of the character Sato. I won’t go too much into the character, but his personality and insanity add so much to the series. The series becomes this enormous game of cat and mouse between two relative immortals (Ajin still die of old age, just not physical harm) where the two go to great lengths to defeat each other. Sato especially shows just what you can do with immortality if you’re willing to do whatever it takes.

The art is great and the quality is the same throughout. This is obviously because the artist never left.

Overall, this is a great series. The only caveat I would offer is that recently, the series has been almost entirely on hiatus. There are months between the current issue and the prior issue and it is unclear when the next issue will come out. What’s clear is that the series seems to be reaching its end. We just don’t know how many issues it will take to end. Ideally, this series will have a satisfying ending and won’t be dropped by writer/author with no ending.

Manga Review: Fairy Tail: 100 Year Quest

Details: The video above is the second opening for the Fairy Tail anime. This is a review for the second manga series. This series is currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://kodanshacomics.com/series/fairy-tail-100-years-quest/

Score: 6/10

Fairy Tail was a mundane shounen comic known mostly for its fan service. There were lots of curvy, scantily clad characters whose clothes were constantly being blown away. Other than that, fights were usually won through the power of friendship, which is a common shounen genre trope.

Fairy Tail: 100 Year Quest is a sequel to the first series. It’s just a continuation and offers nothing new or all that different. It also adopts all the same flaws as the original series.

The jokes are all the same. There’s still a lot of fan service, so if you liked that, then you’ll enjoy that here. The villains are all crap and aren’t built up properly. The fights are also not set up well and don’t offer any kind of emotional pay off. This is a generic shounen manga through and through.

The art is the same as in the prior series.

Overall, this is just a boring manga. If you liked the old Fairy Tail series, you’ll enjoy this. If you didn’t, you won’t like this. Personally, I just found this really boring. It sits somewhere at the same level as Black Clover, another shounen manga series I find boring and mundane.

Comic Book Review: Excalibur (2019)

Details: Currently ongoing. More information can be found at https://www.marvel.com/comics/series/27547/excalibur_2019_-_present

Score: 5.9/10

I’ve read about twelve issues at the time of writing this review and it’s become clear that Excalibur exists merely as a prelude to X Of Swords.

Basically, in X Of Swords, the big crossover X-Men events, Apocalypse creates and interdimensional gate. This book just explains how that came to be. The stories aren’t great and don’t feel as if they have any urgency or point to them. The art is fine. It’s just a pointless book where the biggest draw to me is seeing the romance between Rogue and Gambit. Even that wasn’t that great.

Overall, this is a skippable book.