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Review: Detective Comics #33 (Buccellato and Manapul)

I have always loved the detective aspects of Batman stories, but they’ve taken on a new meaning and a greater importance under creators Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.

In Detective Comics #33, the story is riveting and we are in on every clue Batman picks up along the way. I specially like the way the characters interact and I’m falling in love with Bullock.

It is the small things that add up to so much: the very active participation of Alfred behind the scenes, Batman hanging upside down Spidey-like in the midst of his detecting, the confidence of Bullock who isn’t afraid of even “the bat-man.” So much gained from little things.

I was a big fan of The Black Bat series Brian did for Dynamite Entertainment. It is wonderful to see him teamed with Francis on Detective Comics.

What can I say about the art? Experimental, wonderful and you never get confused like you do during the works of some other storytellers who try to take this tact. Simply wonderful work.

This creative team has made Detective Comics a better book that has been, and I didn’t think that was possible. Very involving and intriguing.

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Advanced Review: The Black Bat #9

Under the creative pen of writer Brian Buccellato, The Black Bat has become one of the most puzzling mystery reads every month. And, need I say, entertaining.

The noir vibe is here in force, yes, but this is also a modern saga of redemption, revenge, renewal and corruption. The latter is served up plenty in issue #9.

To rescue the woman he loves, or thinks he loves, our hero must break his most dread enemy out of prison, the man who is responsible for all his current miseries, including the loss of his sight.

Or is he? The dramatic climax of this issue brings that in doubt, as well as presents a special predicament for the crimefighter’s continued future.

Meanwhile, the police and the DA’s office have put out a warrant for our vigilante, put prices on his head and who knows where that will lead. Buccellato has done an excellent job of allowing our protagonist to paint himself in a corner, with no which way to turn. I am curious myself.

What can I say about the continually excellent art of Ronan Cliquet? Competent and capturing Buccellato’s script perfectly .. in fact, without words a lot of times … Cliquet’s Black Bat this issue reminds me of Gene Colan’s early Daredevil work. The large panels, expressive human faces and taught action scenes: they all scream Colan, and they all scream excellence! Double kudos to the mute then powerful pallette of colorist Mat Lopes. Excellent!

The Black Bat may just be the best book on the stands you are not reading. If not, why not? For comic book fans, mystery fans, street level hero fans and (need I say?) “bat” fans, this is the one. 

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Advanced Review: Black Bat #8

Some books set you up and the payoff never comes. Others do the same-old, same-old and get lost in “events.”

Hand it to Black Bat! This noir treasure with a pulp feel is reaching new heights as we slowly but surely get to know the characters in the most interesting and reader-involving ways.

Think Brian Buccellato was great on DC’s Flash? Take a gander at what happens in a comic when Double-B is at the writing helm solo!

In Black Bat #8, all the build-up from issues of hinting at the relationship between the Bat, Carol and the shadow organization behind his creation has been set. Now everything is up in the air and our protagonist all of a sudden must wrestle with the choices he has made — not as a shyster lawyer but as a midnight vigilante.

You will want to read this issue twice. Once to get the story straight and then again to become totally absorbed in the beautiful artwork of Ronan Criquet, who has repeatedly transcribed Buccellato’s script into a wondrous comic book classic since Day One. His facial expressions, characterization additions and just small touches from panel to panel hold everything together.

Kudos to the subdued palette of colorist Mat Lopes as well. This is not Green Lantern; these subdued back-alley tones are exactly what Black Bat calls for.

This just MAY be the best book you are not reading. And if not, WHY NOT? Great read. Twice!

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Review: The Flash #24

Issue #24 of The Flash concludes the battle with the Reverse Flash, which offers up revelations, heavy emotions and a renewed sense of duty from Barry Allen as someone more than a hero.

Issue #25, next month, will mark the end of writer Brian Buccellato and artist Francis Manapul’s run on The Flash but they depart to take up the creative duties on Detective Comics. Unlike many of the heated and often public departures from creators this past year on several DC titles, Buccellato and Manapul felt that the time is right to move on from The Flash, and this issue comfortably settles in to begin the wrap up their run.

In a classic plot line of time travel, through the speed force Barry must stop Daniel West from killing his father in the past but not before he manages to kill three of Barry’s friends in the process. It will take more than physical force to stop the Reverse Flash, and Barry must use his criminal training in psychology to make Daniel realize the consequences of this abuse of the speed force. Rarely do I like to use the term “a great jumping on point” but in this case it holds fairly true. Buccellato uses this issue to reflect on what has come before and tries to make clear Barry’s understanding of how his power works. So for new readers it can serve as introduction as much as it can serve as a wrap-up for long time readers.

While Barry uses this chance to defeat Daniel, it also forces Isis to come face to face with the horror her brother has perpetrated, his lack of remorse and willingness to do it all over again. Ultimately, it’s Barry who has the harshest of revelations to come to terms with, and both Buccellato and Manapul are more than willing to have Barry understand that his dual lives needs balance. To become a better Flash Barry needs to slow down for life’s quieter moments least he becomes the villain.

Francis Manapul’s visual depictions of travel and battles through the time stream are always a thing to behold; the spreads during his final battle with Reverse Flash feels like some of his best work to date on this series. The details seem to go on forever and a reader could spend significant time reviewing every inch.

Finally, even as Flash grows in his understanding of the how’s and why’s of the speed force, Buccellato still leaves a bit of mystery. Part of Barry’s growth is his willingness to accept he may never be able to grasp the true magnitude of his power source because in the end it’s more about responsibility and constantly moving forward. This issue is both moving and inspiring. Buccellato and Manapul are one step closer to leaving The Flash much better off than when they found him.

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Manapul & Buccellato Off Flash With December’s #26


With DC Comics revealing their December 2013 solicits earlier today it was learned that a new creative team has joined The Flash for an issue.

Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato released a statement confirming their departure from The Flash; however, that is not the end of their stint together at DC as they have a new yet-to-be announced title coming in 2014.

The December DC solicits reveal Christos Cage and Neil Cooge are coming on board with The Flash #26 for one issue.

Buccellato revealed the following on his blog which reads in part:

Francis and I will be moving on to a NEW regular DC series that will hit stores in MARCH 2014. We can’t tell you what the series is (yet), but we are super excited about this new sandbox we get to play in!

We want to thank everyone who was involved in helping us shape Barry’s world for the last three years.

A HUGE thanks to the powers that be at DC, for taking a chance on two “new” writers and giving us the room to grow.

We love Barry… We’ll miss Barry… and we look forward to seeing what the future has in store for him. But this isn’t goodbye. Not YET.  Because of the way solicitations work, we have to announce this now… but don’t forget to pick up issue our Villains Month Books, and #24 and #25! Francis and I still have some story to tell before we hand Barry off…

Manapul offered through Twitter:

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Review: The Black Bat #3

The Black Bat continues his trip down the road of redemption, cleaning up the mess he made in his previous life as an attorney.
This issue, we learn in a spectacular action scene that when Tony Quinn breaks up an operation to get a rise out of crime kingpin Snate, he does so with style!
The mystery of the missing police officers also takes on new dimension in Black Bat #3 as the media hears from the wife of a kidnapped officer and the City Council debates budget vs. justice.
There are already casualties in Quinn’s war on Snate, the first among them druggie turn C.I. Silk who sinks a bit this issue.
Carol too has a little bit of personal exposure (no pun) as we learn she has a personal ax to grind with Snate. Is Quinn her tool?
The vigilante and police who remain come face-to-face in one hell of a cliffhanger. How Quinn escapes this is beyond me.
Engaging, mysterious and just plain fun, Black Bat by writer Brian Buccellato and artist Ronan Cliquet is probably THE greatest book you are not reading.
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Review: Black Bat #2

Tony Quinn continues his battle for redemption as he tries to solve the month-long kidnapping of the city’s police officers in Black Bat #2.

Writer Brian Buccellato continues his storytelling method established in the premiere issue as he peels the layered past of Quinn slowly like an onion, relating it to the mysteries he is facing today.

Silk has slid into a dual sidekick/”Alfred” role, if you will allow the bat-ref from another universe, aiding and abetting Quinn in his efforts to crack the cop-knapper caper.

Artist Ronan Clique more than carries his load as he frames Quinn’s flashback in brilliant vignettes relating to the actions of today, his panel arrangements keeping the excitement at a fever pitch!

Kudos also to the color palette of Mat Lopes, who keeps the noir dark and gritty but who doesn’t mind bringing the bright tones during gun fights and the terrific explosions.

Dynamite has a winner here, and the continuing redemptive adventures of former drug lawyer Tony Quinn are ones I want to follow, as Black Bat works his way slowly to the top of the Snate crime empire.

Pick this one up.

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Review: The Black Bat #1


A little bit Batman, a little bit Daredevil. Yet the character is older than either.

After learning the background of the great pulp hero Black Bat, it is hard to believe Bob Kane and Stan the Man were not influenced by this creation of the Doc Savage era.

Brian Buccellato and Ronan Cliquet breathe new life into a hero whose legend is virtually unknown these days, putting a modern twist on this street level crime fighter.

The first pages of Black Bat #1 bring us directly into the alleyways with the man of mystery, Cliquet and colorist Mat Lopes creating the shadows and dark environs reflecting Buccellato’s excellently noir script.

We are introduced to the man behind the mask, Tony Quinn, a morally bankrupt defense attorney for the mob who gets in too deep with his murderous clients and is almost killed.

When given a second chance at life, Quinn tries to set aright all the wrongs he has committed. His big problem is drawing the line between justice and revenge.

There are other juicy secrets you will discover about Quinn and his world, and this is a #1 definitely worth the read.

Dynamite has brought an old property out of moth balls and grandly refurbished it for a modern world. Just excellent.

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