This week it’s a double dose of DC as we enter Arkham Manor and take a look at Slade Wilson’s new series: Deathstroke!
Arkham Manor #1 (DC Comics)
The second Batman title for October has been released, and while it’s more Bat-Centric than Gotham Academy, it’s probably going to have its work cut out for it to stand out from the pack. Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal’s Arkham Manor has a pretty intriguing plot, but this first issue doesn’t do much with it. In fact, its opening page tells you to read Batman Eternal #30 before reading Manor, which is interesting because Eternal #30 isn’t coming out until next week.
The basic twist of Arkham Manor is this: with Arkham Asylum in shambles, Gotham City needs a home for their most depraved minds. The best substitute? Wayne Manor, which, during the course of events in Eternal, has now become State property and is no longer under Bruce Wayne’s control. When a murder occurs at the new facility, Batman makes it his mission to find the person responsible, using a new undercover alias to do so.
You may worry that seeing Deadpool co writer Gerry Duggan’s name as the writer means that the script is one slapstick joke after another. It isn’t. Thankfully Duggan is able to keep things pretty serious for this series, and his voice for Batman isn’t too bad. There are some weird moments here and there with the character, but most of the time his take on the Dark Knight works. Unfortunately this first issue doesn’t really do a very convincing job of explaining exactly why Batman is allowing his childhood home to be turned into the new Asylum. Perhaps this is something that will be picked up on in next week’s issue of Eternal, but for those who are picking this book up and not reading Eternal, it would’ve been beneficial to explain why Bruce Wayne is allowing this to happen (other than just wanting to be able to keep a closer eye on his enemies).
Shawn Ryan’s art is a lot looser than I was expecting it to be. In fact, his art is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. Some pages look awesome, while others look extremely weird. There were some close ups of Batman that make him look like a character from the Simpsons. His moody style should complement the book well, but unfortunately his art just isn’t up to par in this first issue.
Arkham Manor is off to a rocky start, but it has potential to be something truly unique in the Batman titles. Right now it reads like just another Batman book, but who knows, maybe Duggan is planning on focusing on some of the other inmates of Arkham, which could offer a very dark and disturbing look at the Dark Knight’s world. As of right now though, Arkham Manor feels like any other Batman book on the stands.
Deathstroke #1 (DC Comics)
Deathstroke already had a series when the New 52 started. It wasn’t very good. However, thanks to the character’s popularity on Arrow, he’s getting a second lease on ongoing comic book life. A very bloody, super violent lease on ongoing comic book life. Written and drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Deathstroke #1 one of the most violent “Big Two” books I’ve read, and it’s actually pretty good.
This first issue finds Slade Wilson accepting a contract for a hit in Russia, and starts off like any espionage comic would. There’s the globe trotting adventure, the femme fatale, and nameless goons who are only there to get killed. The whole issue is one insane fight after the other. After the opening set up pages, it never lets up.
Those fight scenes are also really, really brutal. Sword handles impale heads, limbs are cut off, and I’m pretty sure the back of Slade Wilson’s head is blown open by issue’s end. In terms of violence and body count, Deathstroke is like The Raid of comic books.
Tony S. Daniel is a great artist, but in my opinion, was never that good of a writer. However, he’s done a really fantastic job here, so maybe he wasn’t writing the right character before. He’s got a great sense of what motivates Deathstroke, and of course, his action scenes are written extremely well. His art is incredible as always, and many moments in the book made me exclaim “wow”.
Deathstroke #1 was a huge surprise for me. I wasn’t expecting much from Tony S. Daniel, but he absolutely floored me with this. While the ending of this issue is a little strange, I’ll definitely be checking out the second issue to see if Daniels can keep up the intensity.
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