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Mel’s Muses: Batman and Robin #20, The Flash #9, Blockbusters of The Marvel Universe #1 and Wolverine #5.1

It’s all about the start of new storylines and beginnings this week as we take a quick look at some of the latest titles hitting our neighborhood comic book store.

Batman and Robin #20.

Former Batman editor Peter J. Tomasi (Green Lantern Corps, Brightest Day) starts his reign as regular Batman and Robin writer here with his Dark Knight vs White Knight three-parter storyline, and it looks pretty good.

Handpicked by Batman architect Grant Morrison himself, Tomasi has brought his unique touch to the series right off the bat by giving an almost humanizing touch to the Bat family. We see all the male members of the Bat family getting together for cozy night in front of the TV watching the classic The Mark of Zorro. It’s all the little things like Alfred pulling the curtains so there’ll be no bat signal interrupting the movie, Gordon taking no crap for Damien and Dick running the Gotham playboy circuit once frequented by his mentor, that highlight Tomasi as one Batman writer to look out for.

As for the action and Bat villains, it’s all there too. A new villain The White Knight has yet to show his face but we do get the return of a familiar Bat villain as well as a murder mystery to start things off.

No complaints here with Patrick Gleason’s art either, its crisp lines and strong action scenes managed to put a smile on my face. It’s all the good stuff you would expect from a flagship Batman title.

The Flash #9

Like it says on the cover, this is The Road To Flashpoint, the start to DC Comics’ big summer event for 2011. It’s not yet clear what exactly Flashpoint is about but the teasers coming out of DC point towards some kinda alternate reality for our heroes.

But first I got to say that I’m not a big fan of artist Francis Manapul’s style here on The Flash. It looks washed and faded at times, a little too water-colorish for my liking. For me, Flash art should always be crackling with energy like how Scott Kolins or Carmine Infantino did it. Bright and sharp is how I prefer the art to be.

Anyway, writer Geoff Johns has a decent mystery story going here as he sets up the building blocks for Flashpoint. A wannabe teen hero The Elongated Kid is found dead under very unusual circumstances, and C.S.I. Barry Allen aka The Flash is called in to investigate. Meanwhile we got a couple of other mysteries zooming around Central City. So yah, a good place to start if you want to get in on the ground floor to Flashpoint.

Now does anyone remember a really cool but underrated film a decade ago called Frequency starring Dennis Quaid and James Caviezel about time travel, alternate history and a serial killer? Caviezel plays Quaid’s son who manages to change history so that his parents don’t die at the hands of a serial killer.

I bet that’s how Flashpoint is going to end, Barry’s folks come back alive instead of being victims of the Reverse Flash. Just so you heard it here first.

Blockbusters of The Marvel Universe #1

Speaking of summer crossovers, ever wondered what the deal is about past Marvel events like Secret Wars, Maximum Carnage or the Infinity Gauntlet? Well, wonder no more cos all of that plus at least two dozen other major Marvel event storylines, from the 1960s to last year’s Dark Reign, are explained in this wonderful one-shot issue.

Presented in the familiar Official Handbook of The Marvel Universe style, each entry is accompanied a small picture or two and a ton of text retelling the entire saga. Plus, there’s a little ‘legacy’ section at the end that updates readers on whatever impact the story has on today’s Marvel universe.

I love this just as much as I love the Official Handbooks, it’s a trip down memory lane for some and a whole new experience for others. I could read one for days instead of the usual 8 minutes of entertainment I get out of each regular comic book. Hah! More bang for your buck and definitely a must-get for any hardcore Marvel fan out there.

Wolverine #5.1

These 0.1 issues are meant as jumping on points for new readers. Like it says in the press release, “These issues … will be full-length, self-contained and handled by “top creators” will not only reveal major storyline concepts for these titles, but will allow retailers a method of easily hooking those who don’t know where to start.”

Now having said that, you got to remember that Wolverine #5.1 comes with a Parental Advisory tag so this isn’t meant for your little brother who thinks the movie Wolverine is cool. So what’s so ‘adult’ bout it? Cannibals! A couple of cannibal brothers to be exact. I won’t go into any gross details about the things they did but it did tickle my funny bone. It’s cool dark humor by writer Jason Aaron and artist Jefte Palo.

However unlike last week’s The Invincible Iron Man #500.1 where we got a total recap of shellhead’s history, there really isn’t much of an origin story here. This is more of a nice little tale showing Logan doing what he does best, and that’s good enough for me.

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Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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