Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

I’m sure everyone is aware by now but just in case, here’s your warning. Spoilers for Batman Inc. 8 are in this post.

By Alex Headley

The cover to Batman and Robin 18 is striking and the comic makes a great reference to it about halfway through. Property of DC Comics.

Batman and Robin 18

I won’t say much about the contents of this issue, as it’s better to just read it but its fair to say that this is one of the most emotionally powerful comics I’ve read. The issue is completely silent, no word balloons at all, as Bruce deals with Damian’s death over in Batman Inc. 8. The decision to make this a silent issue means that all of the responsibility falls on Patrick Gleason’s shoulders and he really pulls it off well. Bruce has lost people before, but never quite like this. His reaction is perfectly in character and very easy to relate to. Every page here works to drive home a terrible feeling of emptiness, guilt and anger. Damian’s dog Titus is particularly heartbreaking to see, as he waits for his master’s return at this bed and in the Batcave near his uniform. Damian’s drawings and list of recommended from “C.K.” give the absent dead a personality and something to remember him by, while the unfinished painting of Bruce and his sons in the library reminds us that Damian lived for only a short time. All these details and more make for a riveting read. It is utterly depressing but excellently crafted at the same time. This issue is a great example of what comics have to offer as an art form and anyone that is the least bit interested in the medium should take notice. Gleason’s use of shadow and quick-cut panels is especially provocative and the final pages will stay with you for quite some time.

Greg Capullo may be absent this issue but his cover is still great. Property of DC Comics.

Batman 18

Scott Snyder teams up with Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev to bring us another issue all about Harper Row, the mysterious girl first introduced all the way back in Batman #7 and she’s just as interesting as ever. This time around, she’s here to help Batman grieve for his dead son, and maybe hint that she should be the next Robin (or maybe a new Oracle?). This is a great issue and it goes hand in hand with Batman and Robin 18 out this week. While it’s not quite as heartfelt and emotional as Patrick Gleason’s offering, it still packs quite a punch and reminds us why Batman is such an endearing character. Harper’s speech late in the issue is a bit cheesy, but it feels appropriate and gives her a lot of personality.I like Harper, and I’m quite curious to see what role she ends up playing in the grand scheme of things. I hate to see Damian gone but his death really signals the passing of the torch from Grant Morrison to Scott Snyder and gives the new showrunner a lot more room to play with the story. Morrison’s Batman epic is drawing to a close and it makes sense that a new status quo should follow his absence. And although he’s a bit of a jerk for killing my favorite Robin and the best new DC character in years, Damian was his creation and it’s fitting that he gets the final say on his fate.

Andy Kubert delivers some fun visuals early in the book, managing to get in quite a bit of action in a short time in a way that still has emotional underpinnings. But the real story here is Alex Maleev on a Batman book. His pages are fantastic and really left me wanting more. I loved Maleev’s run with Brian Micheal Bendis on Daredevil all those years ago and to see him working on my favorite title is exciting. DC needs to find him a steady gig soon.

New York has seen better days. Property of Marvel Comics.

Age of Ultron 2

That’s right, this is a weekly series! Issue 2 doesn’t let up with the doom and gloom, immersing us further into a world that is very unlike the Marvel U we know and love. Heroes kill without question to get by and shiny golden robots gun down citizens in the streets while Avengers stand by and watch. It’s kind of rough to read but Bendis is delivering an incredibly intriguing story here. So far, this event feels very unique and is a breath of fresh air to me. Of course, being an event that promises “Everything Changes!” means that as the story goes on it may be a little less unconventional and a little more predictable. Bryan Hitch continues to deliver cinematic visuals and big, sweeping destruction. The flahsback pages with Spider-Man tell a tale of a battle won before anyone can react. The heroes are all dead or in hiding and nobody can stand up to Ultron, whom we have yet to hear much from at this point. There are still quite a few questions regarding what happened and how all this went down but it doesn’t seem like Bendis is too interested in exploring that, instead pushing the story further along with almost every page, the last page in particular pushes the story forward a great deal.

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Batman Heroclix introduces Prime dials

Posted: November 17, 2012 in DC, Games
Tags: ,

By Alex Headley


The Batman Heroclix set adds a lot of new things to game. Vehicles are the most prominent addition but the possibly more impactful addition is that of prime dials. Prime dials are rarer than normal dials and as a result the pieces are more powerful. The trade off is that only one prime character can be on your force for a game. Prime characters are denoted by a green ring on the dial. Here’s the thing, prime pieces are numbered differently, instead of having their own number in the set, and each prime is just a rarer version of the normal piece. For instance, Catwoman is number 007 in the main set. Her prime counterpart is 007b. Both are common pieces but the chance of getting the prime Selina Kyle is much lower. Selina is also a much improved figure over regular ol’ Catwoman, sporting better powers and values for fewer points. This is a great way to add more valuable ‘chase’ pieces for collectors. However it also leads to the slippery slope known as power creep. Prime figures will dramatically outclass older pieces (or even pieces in the same set) thus making the less powerful figure irrelevant. This is already the case with super rare and chase figures that are in each set, but those typically come with a high point cost to off set the power. They are also different characters or takes on popular characters. Game designers can get around this hurdle with intelligent game design and giving popular pieces varied point values. keyword and special powers to break up the game. That’s the case in the Batman set.

 

The aforementioned Catwoman and prime Selina Kyle are capable of different things. Kyle is the perfect thief, able to swipe special items and relics from opponents and staying in the shadows to keep safe. Catwoman played it stealthy too but is more of a team player with a fun support special power and picking up better defenses with a teammate nearby. The two are uncomfortably close in point values though, with Kyle clicking in at 69 and Catwoman coming in at 71. Kyle has significantly better combat numbers as well. There are prime figures at every rarity in this set. Catwoman/Selina Kyle at common, Sasha Bourdeax/Black Queen at uncommon, Hush/Bruce Wayne at rare and Batman/The Caped Crusader at super rare. The best part is that these are extra figures in the set. They don’t take up a slot that would otherwise be occupied by a new, possibly inclined character like Batwing or El Gaucho.

The batman set vehicles are no less complicated. Unfortunately, the cards for the vehicles include a lot of text and extra rules that makes playing them a bit of a chore. Still the fun of ramming your enemies with the Batmobile makes up for it in my book. The dials are very long and since the pieces are bigger can make great tie up pieces, and mobile blocking terrain to hide behind. They can fight too but take damage for doing so. Their ability to carry several figures across the battlefield at once is invaluable. Especially on teams without fliers, like Gotham City and Police themes. Plus, when they are destroyed, they become ultra heavy objects that super strength pieces can use in combat. Standouts include the Blue Beetle’s Bug for its hypersonic speed and ability to avoid or heal damage and the Batwing’s ability to drop its passengers in its flight path.

So, clixers, what do you think of prime dials? Are you happy with the Batman set? Will you be fielding the new vehicles? Let me know in the comments.

Bonus! Here are five of my favorite pieces from the set. Go check out their dials in the HCRealms units section. Here’s a link: http://www.hcrealms.com/index.php?page=units

Runner-Up

BM 207 The Joker

The counter top display Joker is my preferred clown in this set. Both Jokers in the set are good, but this one has indomitable, trait probability control on your turn and a fun trait that lets him get revenge on anyone dealing damage to a friendly Harley Quinn. Throwing a Harley around as bait is great fun when the Joker comes dashing in with a free close combat attack. Lots of keywords make him a versatile piece and I love to play theme teams.
5. BM 010 Blackbat
This is an obvious choice. Cassie Cain will be swing lots of competitive play. Charge in with an incapacitating quake to deal damage and knock back to multiple opponents then use a free smoke cloud to get back stealth. If that doesn’t work she is plenty capable if holding her own with combat reflexes and super senses, outwit, exploit weakness and close combat expert keep her useful. Batman Incorporated keyword cinches it.

4. BM 031 Alfred Pennyworth
This butler means business. Opening click perplex is nice but the second click onward is where Alfi shines. Super Support with a range of 4 and  perplex is a winning combo. Just like in the comics, Pennyworth keeps the Batman Family safe and healthy for cheap. And indomitable lets him keep it up and make sure he is in the best position to take care of your team. All that for just 42 points.

3. BM 019 & 005 Beast Boy
The morph mechanic returns! In DC75 Beast Boy could morph into several different animal forms. Batman adds two more options a dolphin and a pterodactyl. The pterodactyl is my favorite here because it can carry multiple pieces and still packs some offensive power with charge and exploit weakness. The dolphin has some fun water bonuses but water is too rare to really make use of it. The best part is that these animals are packing the teen titans keyword, meaning you can start with one on your force instead of the lackluster human form offered in DC75.

2. BM 032 R Big Barda
I’m a fan of the New Gods and especially Barda. Which is why I voted for her inclusion in the set in WizKids first big fan vote. I was very pleased that she won and even more pleased with her dial. She bring more to the table than the typical brick piece thanks to her Boom Tube trait. It allows her to incredibly mobile and position to where she can forge most damage. Her second trait gives her extra defense for each action token, encouraging pushing and constant offense. Very character accurate for the aggressive New God.

1. BM 048 SR Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze puts the often overlooked power Barrier to good use. Barrier shenanigans are fun and Freeze uses it well, making 9 range close combat incapacitate attacks against anyone adjacent to his barrier. His three targets are escape finally useful as he can target multiple character with his special engaged combat expert power and thanks to his trait gets a bonus to his attack for each character targeted. It’s a fun dial for one of my favorite batman villains.

The Review Round-Up will be a regular installment here at Comic Critique. Phil and I will be taking a look at our pull lists each week and reviewing the new issues of our favorite books. If you enjoy our thoughts, leave suggestions on future books for us to review.
By Alex Headley
It is a FANTASTIC week in comics for me. Only three books on my pull list (all bat-titles!) this week so I decided to take a chance and pick up Fantastic Four #1. I am very glad that I did. The start of Marvel NOW! and the next chapter in the Bat-Event Death of the Family made for some great comic book stories.

Batman #14.
Property of DC Comics

Batman #14
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo continue to blow me away each week. Their work on Batman is just brilliant. Their reintroduction of the Joker is chilling and brutal. This is a frightening Joker and everything about the comic hammers that home. While nothing in this issue tops the creepiness of Batman #13’s first couple of pages, the atmosphere is still dripping with tension. The lettering does a fantastic job. You can practically hear Heath Ledger’s performance as he speaks. The way his voice rises and falls, first full of laughter and what could almost be described as glee and then immediately switching to a more menacing, threatening tone that gives you chills. It’s rare for a comic to give such a visceral voice to a character but Snyder delivers on every page. I particularly enjoyed Bruce and Dick’s discussion on the roof of the hospital. Things do not look good for the Bat-Family as Joker targets each of them one by one. Alfred was the target last week in the event’s opener and this week Jim Gordon is in danger. But it’s the final pages of the book that really make this stand out as a soon to be classic Joker tale. His monologue on the bridge is pitch-perfect and really does a great job of setting up what’s coming.

Batgirl 14
Property of DC Comics

Batgirl #14
Batgirl immediately delivers on the promises of Death of the Family. The book has been strong since it’s start thanks to Gail Simone’s excellent understanding of Barbara Gordon. Death of the Family is especially poignant for Babs because Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke is still in continuity. The Joker shot and paralyzed her in that 1988 story, forcing her to retire as Batgirl and take up the mantle of Oracle for the next decade or two. The New 52 cured her paralysis (though we still aren’t sure how that happened) and put her back on the streets fighting crime. Babs is typically an optimistic, upbeat character but events change that in issue 14. Batgirl is teetering on an edge that many heroes find themselves in at one point or another, especially those in the Batman Family. Can she lead any kind of normal life, where is the line between heroism and vigilantism? Should heroes kill dangerous villains? These are questions she hasn’t had to wrestle with very much before (In the New 52, she only operated as Batgirl for a year before being shot and hasn’t been back in the picture for long) and it will be interesting to see how she resolves these big questions. Especially since her family is so heavily involved in goings-on around Gotham City. The recent return of her estranged mother and the danger she finds herself in now-not to mention her sort of villainous brother James-really cuts to heart of an event that is all about family in the first place.

Batman & Robin #14
While this issue barely ties into Death of the Family and involves a plot that falls flat it’s the relationship between Bruce and Damian that saves it. Tomasi has put a lot of work into developing Damian Wayne over the last year and it’s finally starting to pay off. The little brat has grown a sense of compassion and it’s on display here more than ever, even if he still is a bit of a know-it-all. The story here, part two in a two-part arc, feels like background noise. Robin fights a cult of cannibals, Batman does some detective work, there’s some fun fight scenes. But all that just serves as a vehicle to bring father and son a little closer together. That’s been the typical MO for the book so far and while it worked best in the Nobody story arc, it still has some meat left to it. The book looks to tie in a little more with Death of the Family in it’s next issue, hopefully Robin’s interactions with the Joker will be just as interesting as everyone else’s despite having much less history. Batman & Robin was not the best book on my pull list this week but it was still a fun read.

Marvel NOW! Fantastic Four #1
Property of Marvel Comics.

Fantastic Four #1
I picked this up on a bit of a whim this week. I’ve been more interested in Fantastic Four’s sister book, FF, since the beginning largely due to the quirky characters involved and Mike Allred’s art. But I have to say, Fraction really knocked it out of the park with Fantastic Four #1. No easy feat considering Jonathan Hickman’s run on the series is already the stuff of legend. I heaped a lot of praise on Matt Fraction last week, and he doesn’t disappoint me here. I’m not the biggest Fantastic Four fan but the characters are the very definition of iconic and Fraction proves that he is more than capable of writing and understanding these characters. While, the Thing is a little too catchphrase dependent for my taste, his interactions are still fun and full of humor. Fraction’s Reed Richards is a little more likable than recent incarnations, even if he does still love to keep secrets. Johnny Storm’s date in the Negative Zone gave him just enough character development to make me like the guy again. The Human Torch is often played for laughs or portrayed as a reckless loser. While he is indeed reckless and narcissistic, Fraction manages to give him just a hint of underlying sweetness and legitimate charisma to keep him from being a caricature. Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman is the perfect mother figure in the Marvel Universe and that comes through here as she checks on each member of the team and the kids of the Future Foundation before going to bed herself. The Fantastic Four is about family first and foremost and Fraction does well to establish that in his debut. Also, the concept going forward for the book is exciting and true to the team. A year’s trip through the space-time continuum is exactly the kind of thing the Fantastic Four should be doing in their book. I’m sure the title will deliver big action, high science fiction concepts and a family dynamic that can’t beat in comics. It’s definitely earned a spot on my pull list.

That’s it for me this week. Check back later to read Phil’s thoughts on his pull list for the week, including All New X-Men and Thor: God of Thunder.