Recommended Reading: From Hell

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Welcome to October here at Deja.Revue. If you have not noticed already, I tend to be a fan of the creepy, the weird, and the left-field in comics. So I though October would be a perfect time to indulge those predilections even more than I already have. Horror, as a genre in comics, has always been just off to the side. Less flashy than superheroes, and something of a mutant child of crime comics, the genre has a breadth and depth which is, in my opinion, almost unmatched. I do not hope to cover the whole diverse range of the genre in the coming month, but I do hope to give you a survey of some of my favorite works on page and screen. If you would like to read further, Paste has an excellent list of horror comics you should read. For further reading on the history of horror comics, check out Mike Howlett’s essay in the back of this excellent horror anthology that I will not have the time or space to write about this month. If all goes according to plan, I will have a column each Monday for you, culminating, fittingly, with Halloween at the end of the month. Don’t forget to turn off the lights.

It has been three or four weeks since I put down the heavy copy of Alan Moore’s From Hell that I borrowed from the library. It was nearing 2 AM, and while the tome sits silently on a shelf in my house currently, the real weight of the book has pressed on my mind almost constantly since I finished reading it.

Moore is a giant of comics who also has no trouble voicing his skepticism and impatience with the direction of the medium. He has essentially disowned his two best-known works, V for Vendetta and Watchmen, over the cash-grab way in which the film adaptions of each were brought to theaters (it is also important to note that Moore sees his work as fundamentally unadaptable, that is, he made them comics for a reason and comics they should stay – but that is a topic for another time). Lately, he has moved away from comics altogether. In a recent interview with Vulture promoting his new novel Jerusalem – a nearly 1200-page post-post modern novel that seems to share more than a little DNA with From Hell – he said, when asked about the influence of his superhero work:

I am really in a bad mood about superheroes. I’m not the best person to ask about this. What are these movies doing other than entertaining us with stories and characters that were meant to entertain the 12-year-old boys of 50 years ago? Are we supposed to somehow embody these characters? That’s ridiculous. They are not characters that can possibly exist in the real world. Yes, I did Watchmen. Yes, I did Marvelman. These are two big seminal superhero works, I guess. But remember: Both of them are critical of the idea of superheroes. They weren’t meant to be a reinvigoration of the genre.

The irony of much the current superhero-saturated climate is that it ostensibly owes a great debt to the aesthetics and moral weight of Moore’s work, yet it misunderstands and misinterprets that work – much as if one had taken the wallpaper from a house, pasted it on a billboard, and claimed to have reproduced the house.

One need only to read Moore’s other work to recognize that his interests and fascinations lie almost entirely outside of the (to him) childish realm of caped heroes. From Hell is the ur-text for understanding where Moore is coming from. The book mixes deeply researched history with conspiracy, the occult, penny-dreadfuls, architecture, Nietzsche’s theory of eternal return, melodrama, freemasonry, and the poetry of William Blake (to name only a few touchstones from which the book takes its flight). One of the great pleasures of reading the work is pouring over the dense endnotes after finishing each chapter to discover what Moore made up, what he speculated on, and what is cold fact. In the endnotes we find Moore the scholar as well as Moore the author. These notes are casual, even conversational, in tone and they are bunched at the back of the volume that I read. However, they served as a much needed breather after the densely packed pages of each of the 16 chapters.

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Not only is each chapter dense with detail, but most are terrifying in an apocalyptic sense. The book, on its surface, is about the Jack the Ripper murders which plagued London toward the end of the Victorian era. To this day, the murders remain unsolved and, as a result, an entire culture of amateur investigation and conspiracy has grown concurrently with the Ripper legend. While Moore cobbles some of these theories together in order to form the central plot of the book, this is the opposite of a whodunit. Moore does not hide the murderer or his work from the eyes of the reader. The killings are depicted in harrowing detail as the work of William Gull – royal physician to Queen Victoria – who, on the one hand, carries out the murders to cover up an embarrassing royal family secret while, on the other, turning this bit of dirty work into a grand pagan sacrificial ceremony with the city of London serving as the altar. The book explores Gull’s life, showing the events that lead to his rise in social standing and seeing him through to the murders and on to his ultimate fate. Moore also follows the victims, investigators, and various accomplices (both witting and unwitting) who are all tied intricately and disastrously with the bloody business. Gull (through Moore) sees himself as a prophet of the century to come – the chosen one tasked with the business of birthing the 20th century with all of its wars, its famines, its depressions, its industries, and its revolutions.

This is where Moore expands the scope of the whole enterprise. The book is grotesque, yes (and though Moore is notoriously heavy-handed when it comes to working with artists, Eddie Campbell draws the book with the kind of ugly beauty it requires, making every panel seem as if it were illustrated using soot from a cobbled London street), but this is not what makes the book terrifying – and it is terrifying, being among the very few books I have read which left me wary of the dark corners and late-night creakings of my own home – what makes the book utterly terrifying is the universe-size canvas on which Moore projects his story. The sense that this is all happening now – that it all has happened – that it all will happen again – turns the book into a deeply personal, though still cosmic, kind of horror. It is a book with a bleak view of humanity. Its dark energy saps the hope from your body – the horror is bone deep.

From Hell is not a story of good vs. evil. The book never even whiffs at the illusion that good has any chance of prevailing. We watch, helplessly, as mundane, political evil opens the door for darker, more sinister kinds of evil. We watch as the “good” characters, compromised as they are, grasp at straws in order to stop the murders only to find that, once the crimes have been solved, the few people who care are helpless to do anything to stop Gull. And we watch as Gull’s obsessions grow and, eventually, utterly consume him. This consuming obsession spirals out from the book (there is something of “The Tell-Tale Heart” in this) to engulf Moore’s obsession, as documented in the copious endnotes, and the macabre obsession of Ripper enthusiasts, salivating over a string of murders that terrorized a city and took the real lives of real people and turning them into a hobby. Perhaps this is why the book is so horrifying, because, by the end of From Hell, haven’t we, the readers, become one of them?

New Comic Book Day top 5: Oct. 12th

Hello Revuers! Tomorrow marks a fantastic New Comic Book Day. It’s the best day of the week in my opinion. I’m looking forward to many titles but for this segment, as always, I have narrowed it down to my top 5. Two titles are from DC, two are from Image and one title is from Marvel. If you agree or don’t agree wit my picks let me know in the comment section below. I love hearing each week what our readers are picking up! Without further delay let’s jump right in.

 

5: Supergirl #2

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Supergirl #2 comes to us from the creative team of writer Steve Orlando and artist Brian Ching. This issues sees Supergirl clash with Cyborg Superman who was revealed at the end of issue 1 of Supergirl. Supergirl #2 was a vast improvement on the Rebirth special issue of Supergirl, and I look for issue 2 to continue this trend. The reveal of Cyborg Superman at the end of issue one was a surprise and sets up an interesting antagonist for Supergirl to face off against. The art by Brian Ching was superb, building a world that’s aesthetically pleasing and unique. The variant covers by Bengal have been some of my favorite variant cover work to date. I can’t wait to pick up issue 2 tomorrow.

 

4: Southern Cross #8

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Southern Cross #8 is written by Becky Cloonan with art from Andy Belanger. This series from Image comics has been consistently one of the best series’ they put out. I love the genre bending the story explores. Is this series Sci-Fi? Is it horror? A little of both? The driving mystery of the series keeps the reader coming back for more and more. This issue sees the continuation of the story arc ‘ROMULUS’ The second story arc of the series. I don’t want to go into too much detail and spoil the first arc for you so I’ll just say this. Spaceship. Paranormal activity. Government conspiracy. All of the covers are by the spectacular Becky Cloonan, who is just as talented of an artist as she is a writer. If you haven’t read this series yet, so yourself a favor and pick up the first trade (it’s only $9.99!). Read it, and then go buy the new issues.

 

3: Great Lakes Avengers

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I was a pretty big fan of the origianl volume of the Great Lakes Avengers, so when Marvel announced that a new series featuring the GLA would be part of their (newest) NOW! initiative I was excited. The series comes from writer Zac Gorman and artist Will Robinson. The story shows that the GLA have been reinstated as members of the Avengers and have been moved to a new headquarters in Detroit. Detroit is about 3 hours away from where I live so that’s kind of exciting for me (I know, I’m a huge nerd).  IT looks like all of the original members are back except maybe Squirrel Girl (who is seen in cut out form in the cover). I’m sure that this new series will follow in the humorous tradition of the previous volume.

 

2: All-Star Batman #3

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All-Star Batman is written by Batman scribe Scott Snyder, with art by John Romita Jr and features some of the best color work in any comic book series on the shelves today, from Dean White. At the close of the last issue we see that even those that Batman trusts the most have turned on him. It’s one thing when it’s Two Face and some bounty hunters you have to worry about, but what will Batman do now that even the police are after him? This road trip with one of his most deadly enemies has turned out to be quite the handful. I dare say that this series is one of the top series’ in the stellar Rebirth initiative by Dc Comics. I think it benefits a lot from being on the traditional once a month schedule as opposed to the twice monthly pace of most of DC’s big titles. This once a month schedule allows Snyder to take his time developing the story. The art by Romita JR. doesn’t feel rushed at all, but rather sweeping and grandiose. As I mentioned before the color work by Dean White is next level work. Truly an All-Star creative team for All-Star Batman.

 

1: Reborn

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The big guns are out for Reborn, a new series from Image comics written by Mark Millar with art by Greg Capullo. The general plot deals with the idea: Where do I go after I die? In this series you go to a place that’s not heaven or hell, but rather a place where you have to fight to survive. A place where you have to make a reckoning with everyone you ever wronged or treated nicely. The story sounds interesting and I trust Mark Millar will do a magnificent job. What really intrigues me is the art by Greg Capullo. This is the first comic book project for Capullo since his legendary run on the New 52 Batman with Scott Snyder. I am excited to see the world that he create for the readers. One of his strongest area is in character design (he designed the current Batman look), so I am curious what he will do having free reign over an environment. Not having any limitations should produce some incredible work from the comic book veteran. All in all this series has me intrigued.

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see your list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

New Comic book Day Top 5: Sept 21st

Hello Revuers! Another great comic book day is upon us! Which means it’s time to take a look at my top 5 most anticipated comic coming out tomorrow. This week there was, once again, some stiff competition. But in the end there could be only 1…..er I mean 5! Tell me what you think of my picks in the comment section below, and let me know what’s on your pull list or what you are most looking forward to.

 

5: Horizon #3

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Horizon from Writer Brandon Thomas and artist Juan Gedeon has been a fun and often surprising comic so far. It takes a very common place idea and puts a unique and fresh spin on it. The first two issues were very solid with great world building from Thomas and Gedeon. The third issue has promised to show us our first glimpse at a villain so I am excited for that. If you haven’t had this series on your pull list you may want to rethink your priorities.

 

4: Mighty Thor #11

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This series from the acclaimed team of Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson continues with what is being billed as the Team up no one expected. I have been following Thor since Jane Foster first took over the mantle after the events of Original Sin. Before that I had never been much of a Thor guy as I always found him to be sort of one note. This new Thor is an evolving, relateable character with a ton of nuance. We can thank Jason Aaron for that. This series is one of few that has always been on my pull list for the last two years and it’s looking like it’s place is firmly cemented there.

 

3: Batman #7

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This issue starts a new arc for Tom King and sees a new artist, Riley Rossmo, take over art duties. The title of this arc is called NIGHT OF THE MONSTER MEN, and is a continuing story over all of the Batman titles. I don’t know much about this story arc other than it involves mad science monster. Really though, do I need to know any more than that? I love the writings of Tom King and the art of Riley Rossmo, so you know that I’m in 100%

 

2: Patsy Walker: AKA Hellcat #10

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I have loved this series from the very first issue. Kate Leth, Brittany Williams and Megan Wilson have crafted a world that is so fun to explore each and every month. This issue sees the end of the series’ second arc! It has been an excellent series for the first 9 issues and I expect no different from this issue. I’m excited for the future of the series and saddened by the departure of Megan Wilson (if you would like to read the interview we did with her then click here)

 

1: Wicked & Divine 1831 (one shot)

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I love this series. Thecreative team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cawles can do no wrong in my mind. This issue looks interesting as it i a one shot set in the past. 1831 to be exact. I like the idea of a sort of anthology of the Pantheon, and looking at them in the past. I think that’s an interesting concept. The art in this issue is by Stephanie Hans (Journey Into Mystery, Angela), who I really enjoy. Should be a great issue!

 

So there you have it! Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

 

-Andrew

 

 

 

 

 

New Comic Book Day top 5: Sept. 14th

Hello Revuers! It’s time to once again look at our top 5 most anticipated books of this upcoming week. This New Comic Book Day sees the release of a plethora of titles from DC, including a few titles that make this list. On the Marvel side of things, this weeks marks a week of even more Civil War 2 tie ins (spoiler alert, none of those make the list). Let’s dive right in:

 

5: The Forevers #1

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This series is a bit of a mystery to me, albeit an intriguing one. The Forevers is written by Curt Pires with art from Eric Pfeiffer published by the fantastic folks at Black Mask . The premise is that 5 friends make a black magic sacrifice in order to gain fame and fortune. After awhile they start to lose their “glow”. After one of the members dies they realize that the “glow” is stronger. Setting up for a betrayal by one of the friends. I have not seen any interiors but this cover by Eric Pfeiffer is stunning. As I said I don’t know much about this one but the premise and the cover has me stoked.

 

4: Black Panther #6

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The only Marvel title that makes the list this week is Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates with Art by Chris Sprouse and this fantastic variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze. This series hasn’t been what I expected from a Black Panther title, but has been a solid title. I am hoping that this issue sees a bit more action as the last few issues have dealt more with T’Challa as a diplomat more than T’Challa as a warrior. This variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze is beautiful. This is the second issue with Chris Sprouse on the interiors, the last issue he nailed it so I’m hoping that continues with this issue.

 

3: Flash #6

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This issue written by Joshua Williamson and art by Carmine Di Giandomenico, is the culmination of the first story arc ‘LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE’. Finally we will see Barry Allen come face to face and head to head with Godspeed. I’m sure that Barry won’t be alone as he has been training a new generation of speedsters (who may or may not last). Godspeed has been an interesting villain that has a great character design. This story line has managed to feel fresh and yet familiar all at the same time. Great work over all by Joshua Williamson and Carmine Di Giandomenico

 

2: Doom Patrol #1

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The first issue and series off of Gerard Way’s new imprint Young Animal, Doom Patrol looks and sounds fantastic. The art and cover art is from Nick Derington. I have never read any of the original Doom Patrol but I’ve heard great things about it. So this series is a bit of a mystery to me as well. That’s one of the things that’s exciting about comics. That every week you have the opportunity to try new books you’ve never tried before. This cover by Nick Derington is interesting and fun as well.

 

1: All-Star Batman #2

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All-Star Batman #1 was a fun filled joy ride (well for the reader, not Batman) it featured the spectacualr team of writer Scott Snyder and artist John Romita Jr.. The same team has returned for All-Star Batman #2. Issue #1 saw Batman on a road trip with Two-Face taking him to a yet unknown destination. Two-Face made everyone a proposition to kill Batman. Now everywhere they stop Batman is met with resistance. Can Batman survive attacks from everyone around him or has he finally met his match? I suppose you’ll have to buy the issue to find out.

 

Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

Covers of the Week: Sept. 7th

Hello Revuers! It’s that time of the week again where I select my favorite covers of the week. This week there was pretty strong competition across the board, but in the end my selections made the leap over the rest. As always if you agree or don’t agree let us know in the comments below. Now let’s jump right into it.

 

My favorite regular cover of the week is:

Daredevil #11

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Original story arc, for this volume of Daredevil, artist Ron Garney returns to the series after taking a break for a few issues. This cover is also by Garney, who absolutely nails it. The first story arc that Garney did art for was known for it’s tri-color palette and this cover continues that tradition. This story arc is about a serial killer who turns his victims into “works of art”, and it’s being billed as the creepiest Daredevil story arc of all time. judging by this cover it might very well be. The series itself has been hit or miss for me. However Daredevil #8 by Charles Soule and Goran Sudzuka may very well be my favorite single issue of the year. If you are looking for a Marvel series that’s outside of the norm Daredevil may be a perfect fit for you.

 

My favorite variant cover of the week is:

Supergirl #1

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This variant cover is by the artist Bengal. This deceptively simple cover is beautiful, but more than that it’s complex. The longer that you look at it, the more details you notice. Like the color shading in the buildings or the shading of Supergirl’s boots and skirt. The sky is the same way with almost a photo realistic rendering of clouds. The palette is classic! with bright reds and dark blues that get lighter until the greyish blue at the bottom of the cover.  Bengal does simple right.

 

Was your favorite cover on the list? If not tell me what your favorite of the week was in the comment section below!

New Comic Book Day Top 5: Sept. 7th

Hello Revuers, I hope you had a lovely labor day weekend! We here at Deja.Revue strive to bring you the best in comic book related entertainment, so that means no days off for us. Our newest writer Ian Maxton penned a piece about Stranger Things yesterday that you should check out (after you read this of course). But back to the business at hand, in this article I will present to you the 5 titles I am most excited about, in order. So break out your pencils and get ready to write this down.

 

5: Moon Knight #6

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I enjoyed the previous run of Moon Knight by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. After they left I had lost interest in this title, until after Secret Wars when I learned that one of my favorite writers, Jeff Lemire, would be taking the helm. The team of Lemire and new artist, starting this issue, Francesco Francavilla kick of a new story line called Incarnations. After a fast and furious first story arc I can’t wait to see what is in store for Moon Knight next. I really like that Lemire is taking Moon Knight back to basics and really focusing on his Dissasociative Identity Disorder (used to be called Multiple personalities disorder), this sets up numerous possibilities and plot points that could be exciting to explore. The cover hon is the Story Thus Far variant cover by Greg Smallwood.

 

4: Boo Worlds Cutest Dog #1

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As I’ve mentioned before I am a sucker for cute things. Yes, I follow Lil’ Bub on Instagram. Yes, I bought the Grumpycat Comic Books. Yes, I watched the Grumpycat Christmas movie….Twice. Yes, I personally loved Bee and Puppycat when it was coming out. Yes, I will be purchasing this title as well. Coming from Dynamite entertainment (the same company that published the Grumpy Cat and Pokey series) is Boo the worlds cutest dog #1 (of 3). It appears as if this series will follow a similar pattern as Bee and Puppycat where each issue will feature several short stories. the inference is made based on the fact that there are numerous writers and artists listed for this issue. But hey! I could be completely wrong about that. I suppose we will have to buy the comic to find out.

 

3: Supergirl #1

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After a sort of lackluster Rebirth issue, the relaunch of Supergirl is out this week! Comic from Writer Steve Orlando and Artist Brian Ching, Spergirl #1 kicks of the ‘REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMAN’story arc. I am interested to see what comes of this arc. I am wondering if they will do sort of a homage to Death of Superman where after he died they had other Supermen come and try to take his place. Including Cyborg Superman. Since the New 52! Superman is dead, this could be a possible direction this series goes. I am fine with that, as long as the keep the focus on Supergirl. I have a lot of faith in Writer Steve Orlando as he penned the excellent Midnighter series during the DCYou initiative. The cover is actually the Bengal Variant cover.

 

2: Nightwing #4

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The new Nightwing series fro writer Tim Seeley and art from Javi Fernandez has been one of my favorites from the Rebirth initiative. First, Nightwing is back in blue which I love. Second, He’s longer a spy but rather a caped crusader again. Lastly, he’s trying to take down the court of Owls from the inside. All of this comes together to form a fact paced and exciting series. Tim Seeley is one of the best writers in the game, combine that with the next level art from Javi Fernandez and you have a serious hit on your hands.

 

1: Batman #6

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Batman #5 was my Pick of the Week last week (check out the review here), and now it’s my most anticipated comic book of this week. Tom King continues to deliver a strong Batman, after a highly acclaimed Batman run by Scott Snyder. King has left his mark on Batman after just 5 issues and made sure that people knew this Batman is different than the Batman that came before him. If you haven’t read the first five issues I recommend you fix that as soon as possible. Spoilers ahead………………………….From what I understand this issue is a stand alone before the Monster Men arc starts in issue 7. That’s why the usual artist, David Finch, is not on interiors this issue. Instead it is Ivan Reis (Cyborg, Justice League). This issue will deal with the psychological fallout of Gotham Girl killing her brother. I predict that Batman will take on a mentor role and try to console Gotham Girl. No matter what though it’s going to be a great issue.

 

So there you have it, our most anticipated books that are coming out tomorrow. Did your most anticipated books make the cut? Tell us in the comments below. We would also love to see you list of most anticipated comics!

Pick of the week: Aug. 31st: Justice League of America #9

Justice League of America #9

Writer/Pencils: Bryan Hitch

Inks: Daniel Henriques

Colorist: Alex Sinclair

Justice League of America (not to be confused with the current Bryan Hitch Justice League) picks up where it left off in the New 52. The reader is viewing three separate timelines at one. Past Rao on Krypton, the Flash at the Stones of Eternity (brought there after fighting the Parasite from issue 1), and the present where the Justice League of America stands over a presumably dead Superman. In the Flash timeline we see the tone going berserk “singing” that “they” have arrived. The Flash and Co. are confused as to who they are speaking of. At that time Rao arrives on the scene to announce that the Stones of Eternity have arrived, and that both sets of stones are now communicating w2ith each other. In the past timeline of Rao on Krypton, we see a Green Lantern who is being held prisoner by time traveling future Rao. Time traveling future Rao has somehow disconnected the Green Lantern from his power ring. Rao that lived during that pat timeline (keep’em straight come on) is on Green Lantern’s side after he has a philosophy battle with time traveling future Rao. Past Rao realizes the evil that he ha become. However, past Rao is powerless to stop time traveling future Rao. Past Rao explains to Green Lantern, that future Rao has had centuries more time with the stone of life and there fore they are under his control and granting him power that past Rao can not match. Past Rao encourages Green Lantern, who is distraught about what he can do, by telling him that “single drops of water can erode mountains”. This gives Green Lantern hope to keep fighting against Rao’s power and attempt to reconnect with his ring. In the present timeline we see Diana trying, unsuccessfully, to revive superman The rest of the league tells her it’s time to give up but Diana refuses to let Superman die. In her last effort she strikes Superman with the lightning bolt of Zeus, trying to jump start his heart. The result is……Successful (Surprise!). Superman stirs and asks where Rao went. Its then the time traveling Rao emerges with……..Well I’ll let you read that for yourself. I will say though that the surprise twist at the end of the issue provides a threat that the reader can actually believe will be a threat to the Justice League.

The idea of telling the story in three different timelines could have been disastrous. As it’s almost like its’ trying to get the reader confused. However, Bryan Hitch handles that delicate tasks beautifully. He manages to craft the story telling on three levels and bring it all back around by the end of the issue. I am really excited that he is continuing this series even with the Rebirth reboot. Hitch is an excellent story teller and this issue just cements that for me. The character work between part Rao and Green Lantern is especially stunning as he manages to humanize a character who out God’s Superman himself.It’s also nice to know that thy have something resembling a coney dog on Krypton:

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The dialogue when the Justice League themselves talk is the only real weak point. As I feel it was supposed to come off as funny, but rather just seemed corny.

The art for the issue was very good. I think having Daniel Henriques take over the inks has helped with the completion of the issues and has freed up some extra time for Bryan Hitch to work on the script. The colors by Alex Sinclair are most excellent. The palette used by Sinclair for world build helps carry the story forward and helps the reader keep the three timelines separate from one another. The colors used to convey energy, such as the lightning coming off of the stones of the electricity springing from Zeus’ bolt, feels real and powerful.

Overall, this issue is solid with very minimal problems. I have thoroughly enjoyed this series and will be saddened by its’ absence in my pull list. If you haven’t read any of it I’d highly recommended you remedy that. In the gallery below is all of the covers the issue shipped with.

Rating: 8/10

-Andrew