Beach Blanket Bad Guys #1 – Lee Bermejo, Jeff Loveness, Paul Dini, Vita Ayala, Gabriel Hardman, Corinna Bechko, Michael Moreci, Tim Seeley, Shea Fontana, Daniel Kibblesmith, Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, Writers; Francesco Mattina, David Williams, John Paul Leon, Amancay Nahuelpan, Gabriel Hardman, Max Raynor, Minkyu Jung, Carlos D’Anda, Arif Prianto, Artists; Giuseppe Camuncoli, Penciller; Cam Smith, Inker; Steve Buccellato, June Chung, Matthew Wilson, Paul Mounts, John Kalisz, Luis Guerrero, Dave Sharpe, Tomey Morey, Colorists
Ray – 9/10
Ray: DC’s new wave of anthologies continues on a seasonal schedule, and Beach Blanket Bad Guys #1 may be, top to bottom, the highest-quality volume they have ever put out. Ten stories, eight pages each, all focus on the villains of the DCU in summer-themed stories. Some stretch the theme, but almost all are entertaining. “Worst Finest”, by Bermejo and Mattina, is a gorgeous, creepy story of a battle between Joker and Bizarro in the middle of an amusement park. It looks great, but the story is thin. I was a much bigger fan of “Help”, by Loveness and Williams. This character-driven story finds Lex Luthor stranded in the middle of nowhere when his self-driving car conks out in a burning desert. He gets some unlikely help from a Superman-loving civilian with a powerful story about why an invincible alien speaks to so many people. Also great is “Close Shave” by Dini and Leon, which focuses on a family-owned ice cream truck with a Mr. Freeze theme, a powerful ice cream conglomerate trying to push them out of business, and what happens when you treat a supervillain like a human being.
“False Idols”, by Ayala and Nahuelpan, is a story with a lot of good in it but a mixed narrative. Focusing on Cheetah, it’s the story of a traumatized young woman coming to make an offering to the vengeful goddess, only to be rebuffed. I loved this character, and was a bit disappointed when she disappeared to make way for another Cheetah vs. WW battle. “Icy Embrace”, by Hardman and Bechko, focuses on Black Manta and is more of a horror story. Taking place in Greenland during a salvage mission that unleashes some terrifying monsters, it looks at just how far Black Manta would go to fulfill his obsession. “Giganta Strong”, by Moreci and Raynor, takes the titular giant back to her hometown where she was a bullied, sick girl. She encounters her old bully – now a teacher who’s instilled the same kind of toxic behavior in his son – and exacts a little vengeance. Seeley and Jung’s “Cruel Summer” centers on the Flash investigating a particularly brutal slaying by Gorilla Grodd of his own people during a ritual, and goes back to Grodd’s childhood to show what made him so hardened.
Fontana and D’Anda’s Deathstroke tale, “Dog Days of Summer”, finds Slade being pulled into an assassination plot by a little girl with a sob story about an abusive stepdad. What happens from there is one of the creepiest reveals in the whole book, and sets up a plot I wouldn’t mind seeing revisited. The one story that didn’t really work for me at all is Kibblesmith and Braga’s Penguin story “Perfect Gentlemen”. Focusing on Oswald Cobblepot as a teenage “nice guy” obsessed with a debutante and the handsome personal trainer who tries to help him get into shape, it’s an odd tale of very obvious lessons about not being that type of “nice guy”. The problem is, it’s not funny and is very heavy-handed, the last thing I’d expect from a comic genius like Kibblesmith. The final story, “Independence”, by Kelley, Lanzing, and Camuncoli, returns us to Earth-3 to catch up on the Crime Syndicate. A battle of wills between Superwoman and Owlman on the anniversary of their takeover, it seems like a good stand-alone story that could also serve as a prelude to something else. Overall, a great spotlight issue that shows us hidden sides of some less-used DC villains and some big-name faves.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.