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DC Annuals Review, Part 2
Its annuals time...
By Tim Janson
September 05, 2012
Its annuals time at DC Comics and Mania is presenting reviews of five new annuals released this week. Now call me old fashioned but it’s always been my opinion that annuals should either be self-contained stories separate from what’s going on in the regular ongoing series, or it should wrap-up a storyline from the ongoing series. But DC is taking a different angle as their annuals are kicking off story arcs that will continue in the regular series. In this second part of our two-part coverage we are taking a look at the annuals for Detective Comics and The Flash.
Detective Comics Annual #1
Written By: Tony S. Daniel
Art by: Romano Molenaar, Pere Perez, and Sandu Florea
Before I get to my review of Detective Comics Annual can someone please explain to me why it seems like it takes three or four artists to work on every comic these days? Or for that matter two writers? When did comics become a “by committee” process? Ok…I’m digressing. Detective Comics Annual actually breaks the mold from the other annuals this week. While it doesn’t have that big story feel, it also isn’t setting up a new arc and is the kind of self-contained story that I mentioned.
Dr. Jeremiah Arkham has been affected by the Black Mask so much that he doesn’t even notice that Roman Sionis has escaped from Arkham Asylum, while Jeremiah has continued to believe he was still treating him. Black Mask is seeking to regain the masks of the False Face Society from Edgar Dempsey with whom he entrusted the masks care. But Dempsey has other ideas in mind…mainly turning to Black Mask’s competition in the hypnosis department…The Mad Hatter. Batman finds himself caught in the middle between the two warring villains.
While not a grand story there’s something intrinsically fascinating about having two villains going at each other and as a fan you get to make the intriguing decision of rooting for one or the other. On one hand you’ve got a relatively new villain with Black Mask (created in 1985) against one of Batman’s older villains The Mad Hatter (First appeared in 1948). So you have the dynamic of old vs. new. The only issue I had with the story is that Batman takes a backseat to the villains.
As far as the art, Molenaar does the first half of the book with Perez handling the second half. But the art is consistent both in terms of style and quality.
The Flash Annual #1
Written by: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Art by: Francis Manapul and Marcus To
Outside of Batman, no DC superhero has a more colorful rogues gallery than the Flash and again other than Batman, perhaps no rogue’s gallery has gotten together to team-up against a hero than Flash’s. When the Flash busts up another robbery attempt by the Rogues including Captain Cold, Heatwave, Trickster, Weather Wizard, and Mirror Master, Cold decides enough is enough. He decides its time the team needs true super powers rather than just their gadgets.
He uses a genome recorder to give each Rouge actual super powers based upon their weapons but the results turn out disastrous as Captain Cold’s sister is killed but reborn as the Glider, and Mirror Master is trapped within his own world of mirrors. The rogues seek revenge on the Flash but he gains an unexpected ally.
The Annual does rehash the events of the previous year’s Flash stories, giving them more definition and background. While not one of DC’s major villains, Captain Cold has always been intriguing due to his higher moral stances and a kind of thieves honor. He cares deeply for his sister and the other Rogues. Like the other Annuals (except Detective) Flash Annual #1 concludes with a cliff-hanger ending that will kick off a new story arc. The story was decent but not memorable in anyway but it will be interesting to see what role the Rogues will play in the upcoming issues of The Flash.
I’ve always liked Francis Manapul’s art although here he is doing the breakdowns and leaving the finished art and embellishment to (again!) a team of different artists. But the look is clean and has a dynamically charged look that fits the Flash persona.