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The GWL Trade Reviews: Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle Of Violence

Recently my local libraries had a massive upgrade as to what books they carry graphic novel/tpb wise. I found a diverse and downright impressive collection of books. Hence starting a new series for me here on the blog. As I got a massive pile of books the first one I decided to read was Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence. I read the first volume of this ages ago and it was okay. Outside of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman I’ve not read a lot of Batman’s New 52 adventures. Hence why I decided to grab Vol. 2 with Vol. 3 to see more of what I missed from Gregg Hurwitz on this series. Hurwitz’s run has gotten a bit of acclaim so as it is the library, why not give it a go?  There is nothing wrong in life with taking a chance on reading more of a series; especially from your local library. Anyway enough of the intro, let’s start up this Bat-tacular and see where it takes me.

Now Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence is mostly stand alone from everything else. If you aren’t up to date on the Bat-Universe, this would be a story up your alley. I can appreciate the way Hurwitz did this story as it does require little to no previous Batman knowledge. Take note before diving into this, this is almost borderline mature readers territory. If you have a kid who may be wanting to read Batman, I wouldn’t recommend this. I give Hurwitz credit here as he pulled no punches with this story so for a teenager and on up; this is a perfect story. Hurwitz manages to write one of the creepier Scarecrow stories out there. There’s even rare moments where you can actually understand the Scarecrow. Hurwitz dives into the backstory of Scarecrow and managed to terrify me a couple times. Not easy to do by the way to actually make my eyes widen in shock, Hurwitz did this.

The Bruce Wayne segments with Natalya, Bruce’s girlfriend in this story, slow down the story a touch but they’re not bad either. They lead off to strong moments later on but they’re mostly tension break moments to balance the story. I do like the payoff of those scenes as they all contribute further into the focus of the story, fear in multiple forms. It’s a pretty multifaceted story diving into the fears of Batman and everyone in his life. Now that being said the fear exploration worked and didn’t work depending on the phase of the story.It’s also a vivid way to explore the Scarecrow and his alter ego Jonathan Crane. By the end of this story you’re going to understand the fears of our characters in ways you wish you didn’t know. As I said some fall flat but when they work, they’re haunting and beautifully done.

Here’s where things get more hit or miss with me, David Finch’s artwork here. In any sections where there was action involved, he was spot on. He’s great at translating the mood of Hurwitz’s scripts too. I loved his art on the Scarecrow, that was terrifying and the imagery involved won’t leave my head anytime soon. Overall Finch’s storytelling for The Dark Knight was solid. Just I learned that I am not big on how Finch draws his faces. If it’s Bruce Wayne, Batman, Gordon, and Scarecrow, the faces and designs look amazing. A lot of other characters suffer from stiff face syndrome as it looks as though all the life was drained from them. That bugged me more than anything else. Everything else art wise from Richard Friend’s inking to Sonia Obach’s coloring looks good overall. The curse of David Finch’s artwork as it does suffer from uneven moments but when it’s on, it looks great.

The #0 issue in the Cycle Violence collection is a different take on the Joe Chill and Bruce Wayne’s parents death story. It was a good way to place this story as it expands upon concepts Hurwitz brings up in his story. I found myself liking this story way more than I thought I would. The death of Bruce Wayne’s parents is one that’s been retold by many creators, this one is good though. Heartbreaking on the levels of Bruce Wayne’s suffering and also why their deaths happened in the first place. Hurwitz did a nice job conveying the absolute pain Bruce Wayne went through. I almost call it a mini version of Batman Begins. It didn’t hurt that Mico Suayan and Juan Jose Ryp did a good job art wise on this story. I would say #0 was a perfect way to close out this collection.

Now if Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 2 was in front of me to buy would I buy it? This would be one I could buy if it was at a discount somewhere. It was a good story but not so much that I’d go out of my way to own this collection. I will say if you’re huge into Batman, you may want to give this a shot. Especially if you’re curious about this take on the Scarecrow, it’s unlike anything else out there. If you’re at your local library and see this on your shelf, check it out. Uneven at times but I must say that this was a solid read.

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DC’s Forever Evil Calls For A Crisis (Spoilers)

Brutal honesty moment here for you all, I only read one issue of Forever Evil. One single issue of Forever Evil was all I could handle because I did not like that book. As Forever Evil hit just after the Trinity War series I did for Comics Crux maybe I’d look into expanding into Forever Evil. Even Trinity War had managed to at least do enough to get me interested in reading more. After that one issue I just couldn’t read any further into the series. I kept loose tabs on Forever Evil but nothing more than that. Barely paid attention to the whole hooded prisoner or anything else involving the series. Forever Evil did a number in killing my interest in DC after the slight high I got after finding myself enjoying Trinity War by the end. Now I’m reading about the aftermath of Forever Evil #7 and you know DC may have more potential after the event than when it was happening.

)By the way I did spoil myself on this purposely but if anyone on here reads it or plans on reading the series later, here’s your spoiler warning. I start spoiling the heck out of Forever Evil #7 now. You have been warned in the best authoritative voice I can make.)

Let’s go for the fun appearances, Ted Kord officially in the New 52. Oh my sweet lord that made me smile. Any chance of me getting the Ted Kord Blue Beetle back and somehow Booster Gold in the picture again makes me smile. I’m an old school Justice League International fan and love the Blue and Gold combination of awesome. Even better that there’s the concept of Lex Luthor as a good guy in the picture. He’s learned Bruce Wayne is Batman. Yes, Lex Luthor knows Bruce Wayne is Batman in the New 52. That is crazy but cool at the same time. You may also be surprised to find out that I actually am hyped for the Grayson book, the concept intrigues me. Of course the one major piece of fallout from Forever Evil is what may get me checking DC Comics on a more regular basis, say hello to the Anti-Monitor.

People had been wondering what DC Comics was going to do next year for the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Bringing the Anti-Monitor back in play is a major push towards the future of the DC Universe. I don’t think that this is a sign that the old DCU is making a comeback, this is likely a setup for the Earth 2 weekly and Future’s End. Putting Anti-Monitor against Darkseid is an attention getter for me. For the first time in a long time I feel as though stuff is happening in the New 52. Not just here’s one event, here’s another event, oh look at that another event, and now an actual something to grasp onto. I’m amazed, I’m legit amazed that somehow in the midst of Forever Evil that DC is starting to find a groove.

If Forever Evil’s biggest success manages to create interest in the New 52, they may have succeeded. This is the first time in a long time I’ve actually been wanting to see more of DC Comics. All I can say for DC Comics going into the rest of this year into 2015, don’t screw this up. Keep up this wave of excitement and energy in your line. If you manage to screw this up, I don’t know what to tell you. Go big or go home DC Comics because at this point, The New 52 needs this spark of life in the worst way possible. Crisis in the New 52 has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

Update: If you want to know more of the beats of Forever Evil that I didn’t catch check out @Jawiin’s video he did on the event. He did a great job with it.