RECAP & REVIEW: BATMAN #90, STRANGE ACADEMY #1, STRANGE ADVENTURES #1

By Kyle Hickey

(Recap & Review)


Hey gang, it's time to dive into my weekly pick-ups down at the local comic book shop and unlike those intros before WWE, I highly recommend you try this at home and support your local shop!


SPOILERS AHEAD!


BATMAN #90

Batman #90 marks the 5th issue for new scribe, James Tynion IV after the departure of Tom King, who left Batman after his City of Bane story arc concluded. Tynion has already made quite the impression with fans, with issue #89 being sold for up to $50 USD on eBay courtesy of its one panel containing Joker's new right hand lady, Punchline. With rumours swirling about the future of DC comics and Dan DiDio's departure as co-publisher, this sort of jolt to their twice monthly, flagship title is exactly what they are in need of right now. The newest issue picks up where #89 left off; Batman questioning his wife, Catwoman about her knowledge of the mysterious figure known as The Designer, who has now stabbed the Penguin and hunted down the Riddler. The issue serves as a backstory for the new character and shows a younger Catwoman in those cool purple duds featuring the dope Cher hair flowing in the back.


While they look over Gotham being rebuilt in present-day Selina explains to Bruce that during their early battles with Batman – herself, Riddler, Penguin and Joker met with a sort of mythological figure in the underworld called The Designer, a man with a spooky hangout who used to lose to a younger, smarter adversary time after time, until he locked himself in a room for a year in order to create the masterful “design” to finally thwart his enemy.


The Designer sat down with each villain and helped them carve out a plan to get exactly what it is they wanted, and will also help them financially, so long as he gets half of their earnings when they accomplish their mission. Penguin is given a plan to become mayor, Riddler is given plans to a technological system that will cripple law enforcement and Selina was shown a design for the largest monetary heist in history. When it gets to Joker though, The Designer is so disgusted by the Clown Prince of Crime he decides to renege on helping Gotham's most dubious scoundrels. A tussle ensues, resulting in Joker going blamo to The Designer’s skull. What a little stinker!


Cut back to the present and it turns out The Designer is still alive and he's using those plans he made with each of them to get back at the four villains who were involved in his 'murder'. Oh, and those plans of Catwoman's heist? Turns out they involve Wayne Enterprise! So buckle up Bruce and Selina, because according to Dr. Steve Harvey (probably), money is the leading cause of most fights in marriages and you've got yourself a murderous mastermind involved in your funds now, playa!


It was reported that Tom King's departure after #85 was due to DC's long term plans not wanting to involve the relationship between Selina and Bruce, which is what King's run focused predominantly on, so this may be the story arc that breaks the two up for awhile. Either way the issue was fun and Batman seems very safe in the writing styles of Tynion IV, who will be back with Batman #91 on March 18th.



STRANGE ACADEMY #1

I have to admit right off the bat before I get into this title... I haven't seen any Harry Potter's outside of the first one, and I only saw it once.


Wait! Wait! Don't leave!


I swear I have nothing against Harry Potter, I just haven't gotten around to seeing them – I also understand saying that makes the real 'Harry Heads' want to cast a spell on me to make me kick my own ass.


That being said, I'm sure Strange Academy will draw a lot of comparisons to the Potter franchise, as they’re both about kids going away to wizard school (God I hope that doesn't offend the 'Potter Posse'), but what writer Skottie Young does well to differentiate this book is grounding the story firmly in the Marvel Universe by using students from Asgard and even the son of evil dark lord and Doctor Strange villain, Dormammu. The wild and colourful cast of students, combined with the backdrop of New Orleans gives the incredible penciler, Humberto Ramos an enormous artistic workload. I don't envy Ramos's hand when I look at a panel of a bustling New Orleans street featuring close to 27 people he has to draw, but the veteran artist captures all the flash and excitement that comes with a Skottie Young project.


Strange Academy follows protagonist Emily Bright, who is your typical kid growing up with magical abilities. After bringing her dog back from the dead, Emily is recruited by Zelma Stanton on behalf of Doctor Strange's, Strange Academy, which is a new school to help gifted youngsters hone their magic powers (let’s hope he’s not sued by Xavier’s School for copyright infringement). Zelma brings Emily to New Orleans, where we get a cool cameo from the God of Mischief himself, Loki, who as 'King of The Frost Giants', is dropping off a young Frost Giant to the new academy (he also gives us a hint that Zelma's intentions may up for question). The climax of the issue comes when our favourite magic man (we're not counting Channing Tatum), Doctor Strange shows up to 'wow' the new students with an encouraging and terrifying first lesson.


I was very excited when I first saw the partnership of Young and Ramos, and I have to say, Strange Academy didn't disappoint. I'm pumped to see what they do in the future with this title and unfortunately I'll have some time to use my imagination, as the next issue isn't hitting shops until April 1st.


STRANGE ADVENTURES #1

Speaking of Tom King earlier, his brand new comic, Strange Adventures came out this week under DC's Black Label, which in my opinion is pumping out the hits right now. King, who is well known for his influential run on Vision (which will serve as source material for the upcoming Disney+ series, WandaVision) returns to his roots of taking a lesser known character and rejuvenating them through realism and complex storytelling. King is able to separate himself from having to work around overarching story-lines like he had to with Doomsday Clock in his Batman run and is now given free reign to go wild with the Adam Strange character.


Strange Adventures tells the a non-linear story of Adam Strange returning to Earth after being away on the planet Rann, where he fought in an arduous war. Strange is now back and doing promo for his new book called Strange Adventures which details his life on Rann, where he met his wife, Alanna, who now serves as a sort of publicist for him during the book tour. Adam and Alanna are left stunned when a fan who had an angry exchange with Strange during a book signing, turns up dead from a laser shot to the head. All signs point to Adam Strange being the trigger man, as not a lot of citizens are rolling around with laser pistols, and Adam even tries to employ Batman to clear his name.


Not going to lie; when I flipped the page and saw Batman I may have made a tiny audible gasp. It was cool to see King be able to still put a little Dark Knight in his new series.


The issue's art is really stunning, as the story is told by two artists with uniquely different styles in two different timelines. The present Adam Strange is dealing with more real world problems like social media, the press and the court of public opinion, so Mitch Gerads's more gritty and realistic art is fitting for the story on Earth. Evan "Doc" Shaner serves as the artist for the time Strange spends on Rann and his classic comic book style is so smooth and easy to enjoy; I find it's reminiscent of Frank Quitely's work on All-Star Superman.


The issue was a great re-imagining of the 62-year old comic book character and Strange Adventures #2 will be out April 1st.



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