Comics Shotglass Reviews for 9/30/15

Comics Shotglass Reviews for 9/30/15

The Justice League goes to war, Archie falls in love, and Weirdworld continues to be weird.

Sorry for the absence of my comic reviews, my friends. The last few weeks have involved a great deal of travel on my part and something in my schedule had to give. That unfortunately meant that I couldn't keep up with my weekly comic reviews. Luckily, I'll be home for the foreseeable future and my next travel won't come until January.

This week, we're diving into Archie #3, Justice League #44, Ghost Racers #4, Grayson Annual #2, and Weirdworld #4. Like always, this series highlights just a few of the comic books on sale each week, without delving into heavy spoilers. If you're interested in any book, click on the title and it'll take you to that book's Comixology page. Let us proceed.

Archie #3

Written by Mark Waid
Art by Fiona Staples, Andre Szymanowicz, Jen Vaughn

Welcome back to the all-new Archie. After two issues focusing on Archie and Betty, this issue finally gets around to the last leg of the love triangle: Veronica Lodge. Archie is torn between being immediately smitten and horribly guilty, having destroyed a Lodge home under construction in the last issue. Both facets keep him tied to Veronica, who essentially treats him like crap through most of the issue.

There's a moment where the facade breaks and Veronica becomes a girl from a different culture whose father uprooted her and brought her out to small-town Americana, but in the end, the stuck-up rich kid is a part of her DNA. Classic Veronica was always like that, but new Ronnie seems to have a harsher edge.

This is the final key in the ongoing dynamic. Archie and Betty were together and now they're not. Veronica is new to town and has no friends, so Archie is her best bet. Archie is catching feelings for Veronica, while still holding a bit of a flame for Betty. Jughead thinks Archie belongs with Betty. It's a solid status quo for the CW show that new Archie is. (Speaking of, there will be a live-action CW show.)

Justice League #44

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jason Fabok, Brad Anderson
Any day someone is a dick to Hal Jordan is a good day.

And so the Darkseid War, the story that the new 52 DC Universe has been working up to since the beginning, continues. We're still in the "fractured team" part of the story, where the members of the Justice League are separated and in distress, before finding their own ways to defeat the villain. It's worth noting that "the villain" is a difficult label to give this time around, since the League is trapped between Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor. Both sides want to kill the other, which is fine for the Leaguers; the problem is they want to have their battle on Earth Prime, where the Justice League makes their home.

We have Batman in Metron's Mobius Chair and Green Lantern on the Crime Syndicate Earth looking for Anti-Monitor's motivations. Superman and Lex Luthor are trapped on Apokolips, where the dark sunlight of the planet's core has corrupted the Man of Steel. On Earth, Wonder Woman, Shazam, Cyborg, Flash, Power Ring, and Steve Trevor are watching both sides come to blows.

Things happen. We're introduced to this universe's versions of the Black Racer and the Black Flash. And then we're treated to an absolutely amazing final page cliffhanger. Will this be the end of a certain character's era as the New 52's boogeyman? The problem with an ever-present evil figure is there's a whole lot of talk, but they can't do much because you can only play that card once or twice before it loses its power. Hell, Marvel's Cinematic Universe needs two huge Avengers movies to justify all the Thanos teasing that we've had to endure.

Johns has played the card, so now we need to see how this all shakes out. This issue is follow by six one-shot issues featuring members of the League who have been corrupted or changed by the events of this crossover, before heading into part 5. This is a mini-event for the DC Universe, but I admit, I'm enjoying the fact that it's self-contained.

So what did you make today?

Ghost Racers #4

Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Juan Gedeon,

The Ghost Rider book for Secret Wars is still craziness. There's a T-Rex Spirit of Vengeance with robot arm sporting missile knuckles. It rides a fighter jet as its vehicle. There's a burning Spirit Gorilla riding a tiny Steam train. It simply doesn't get better than that.

Robbie Reyes, Spirit of Ignition, has broken free of the Death Race-style matches he has to face night0after night. Unfortunately, race runner Arcade wants his star attraction back in the ring, so he's kidnapped Robbie's brother and forced him to race. This is Gladiator via Ghost Rider, with Robbie leading the other Spirits in revolt against their master.

It ends like a B-movie should. Honestly, it's kind of pat and simple ending, an issue I've had with a number of the Secret Wars minis. I'm not sure if I need Ghost Racers to continue on, but the team here obviously had a lot of fun crafting the title and I enjoyed reading it. There's currently no Ghost Rider at all announced for All-New, All-Different Marvel, which is a shame. Fingers crossed Marvel's holding onto a book by this team.

Grayson Annual #2

Written by Tim Seeley, Tom King
Art by Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Jeromy Cox

After superspy Dick Grayson's great appearance in the Batgirl Annual back in July, it's now time for his own annual. Annuals are weird one-shot tales that sometimes operate as springboards for a larger tale in the main title, but frequently it's just a chance for the book's creators to play around. This is somewhere in-between filling in Grayson's past, notably his relationship with Superman.

Dick Grayson in his Nightwing persona has always been Batman by way of Superman. He buys into Batman's mission and uses many of his techniques, but he's well-adjusted, personable, and does his duty out of a good heart, not a relentless need for revenge. The Nightwing name even comes from an old Kryptronian hero in-universe, a fact that's brought up here. This issue is about the soul of Dick Grayson. Being a superspy in a world of "backstabbers and liars" as Superman puts it, is Dick still the good guy he once was?

Yeah, of course he is. He's the best the DC Universe has to offer.

I wouldn't say this is a great issue. The art is solid, but uninspiring, and the story is largely a reason for Superman and Grayson to team up for personal validation and unresolved sexual tension. With better art, it would've been a slam dunk. As it stands, probably not worth it unless you're a Grayson fan.

Weirdworld #4

Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Mike Del Mundo, Marco D'Alfonso

Weirdworld is one of the better concepts to come out of Secret Wars, a mashup of Marvel fantasy characters and homages in a single, mad world. Arkon is a king that just wants to get home to his home, Polemachus, but we're not quite sure the place ever exists anymore. It's a Conan copy up against Marvel fantasy.

The highlight of this issue is the swamp Arkon finds himself fighting Skull the Slayer in. A swamp where the wood burns those who are afraid. A swamp that is the home of the Man-Things! I've always enjoyed the Man-Thing - who actually preceded DC's Swamp Thing by more than a year - as a vestige of Marvel's older fantasy magazine days. Weirdworld is a perfect title for the character. The book is an ongoing hodgepodge of ideas, with the Man-Things being led by Ghost Rider supporting cast member Jennifer Kale and Skull the Slayer actually being a callback to a real Marvel character.

The end, we finally answer the question of Polemachus' whereabouts, putting Arkon closer to his intended target than he ever thought possible. He might be crazy, but he's not that crazy.

Weirdworld will be continuing on after Secret Wars is over, as Marvel has announced that the new Black Knight title will be taking place in the region. That's good, because Marvel needs a repository for all its random fantasy nonsense and Aaron has crafted something real compelling in this mini-series so far.

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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