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Comic Book Reviews (Week of October 5) by Alex Correa

For this week's slew of reviews I've decided to focus on five of the biggest names in mainstream comics whose impact on pop culture stretches far beyond the bordered panels of a comic book: Batman, Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Aquaman and the Flash. Chances are you've seen a movie or a television show featuring one of these characters; or maybe you've dressed up as one of them for Halloween. And if that's the case, I'd love to see some pictures (save the Aquaman ones, weirdo).

Flash #1 (Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato)

Long-time Flash artist, as well as proud Torontonian, Francis Manapul takes over as co-writer (while still remaining artist) on the popular Flash property. Barry Allen-Flash, to be precise. Now that may not mean much to you, but it does to me. Allow me to critique in a way that's less nerd-gripe and more critical analysis. Since his creation in 1940, there have been at least four incarnations of the Flash. Of the four, Barry Allen is by far the blandest. He's the sciencey do-gooder who's more of a character archetype than an actual character complete with personality and flaws. With Barry Allen as a protagonist, it feels like reading about a super power rather than a person with super powers. Now, I can get into reasons why former teen sidekick, Wally West, was by far the most compelling Flash to read but there are only so many demerit points I can accumulate before I have my man card taken away. I will say this about Flash #1, Manapul's art looks the best it ever has. Characters and backgrounds look very crisp and highly detailed while at the same time maintaining a clean and simple style. But again: Barry Allen. Overall: 3/5 stars for Flash #1 & 4/5 stars for the nerd rage.

Wonder Woman #1 (Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang)

This is by far the biggest change in direction of all the new DC #1's. The tone is darker than any mainstream superhero comic released this month and certainly not something I would have expected from a Wonder Woman story. The shock factor in terms of departure isn't why I rated this issue so high. Writer Brian Azzarello sets the stage perfectly for a story involving a warrior princess with heavy ties to Greek mythology. There's gods, half-gods, undead horse/human hybrids, oracles, a pregnant woman carrying the son of Zeus and the reluctant heroine/Amazon Wonder Woman. This is completely in sync with the fundamentals of her character. I would much rather see her in this setting than in a typical comic book battle against Giganta, a woman the size of a skyscraper (it's comics, folks). Definitely pick this up if you like the darker side of Greek mythology. Overall: 5/5 stars

Batman #1 (Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo)

This book marks one of four main titles chronicling the adventure of the Dark Knight, each serving readers a different kind of Batman story. Detective Comics delves into the grim and seedier side of Gotham City, The Dark Knight serves up a more palatable superhero romp, Batman & Robin focuses on the dynamic between the hero and his new sidekick/son, and Batman, as far as I can tell, begs the question as to why Bruce Wayne has adopted as man orphan boys as Batman has taken in Robins under his wing. If this sort of real life logic detracts from the enjoyment of a story, then maybe this one isn't for you. However, if you can ignore the signs, much like the citizens of Gotham, then you would probably enjoy this particular series. It's part classic-Batman (pre-Christopher Nolan), part James Bond and has a few twists that spring up unexpectedly. Overall: 3/5 stars

Catwoman #1 (Judd Winick & Guillem March)

This book is one of the reasons why I'm a little wary opening up a comic in public. The ridiculousness of this single comic's hyper-sexualisation makes it more of a "bathroom read," if you catch my drift. If you don't, here are some images to keep in mind. This is the sort of vapid smut that give the genre a bad name and I feel ashamed to have bought this book and kept it under my mattress. Overall: 1/5 stars

In addition, here's Catwoman tweaking on Bat-nipples as if she's searching for radio reception.

Aquaman #1 (Geoff Johns & Ivan Reis)

What a joke, right? He can talk to fish, big deal. There is no way around the fact that, in terms of pop culture relevance, Aquaman zero credibility. He's nobody's favourite hero and writer Geoff Johns acknowledges all these stigmas right off the bat in a real tongue and cheek manner. Throughout the story, Aquaman is constantly surrounded and pestered by characters who reflect the decidedly negative pop culture notions that have been around since the days of the ultra campy Super Friends cartoon show. Aquaman, fully aware of his reputation, dismisses these claims and myths while at the same time establishing the true ethos of the character, which is that of a person who does not fully belong to the worlds he has inherited from his parents. The injection of humour into the story is welcome as I was apprehensive in having to read yet another ultra serious take on someone who lives in the sea who's NOT named Spongebob Squarepants. Overall: 5/5 stars

The Marvel fanboy in me is getting on my case for ignoring some choice Marvel comics. Never fear, I'll go back to my roots and have some reviews from the other side of the comic industry for the next issue of the Howl.