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ORACLE OF COMICS #032 – BATMAN ETERNAL #21 – TEN FORTY-EIGHT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #21 Bullock
Halfway through Issue #21 of Batman Eternal, you think that you are reading a filler comic. It isn’t bad, but is one of those issues that this series churns out every now and again, where the story is slowly built upon, but is mainly an excuse to add some character development to proceedings. Good, but not essential. However, when the comic hits the halfway point, it speeds right up to the maximum, hitting us with a terrific scene with Alfred, a brand new villain entering the fray (no spoilers, but he is one of my favourites!), and a twist that will shake the foundations of this story.

If it seemed that I was criticising the slower first half of the comic, I wasn’t. I like that the side characters were developed. We got to see a few tender moments from characters that are often overlooked in the grand scheme of things. Harvey Bullock has been on exposition duties from day one, but this issue, we get to see his take on the events of the last twenty issues. We get a sneak peek into the private life of Bard and Vicki Vale. Falcone turns out to still be a player in the conspiracy (he is much better now he is not centre of attention, but allowed to just show up and be menacing from time to time). These small moments might seem like they are time-wasting, which they might very well be, but it does make Batman Eternal feel like a bigger thing. Everyone is a three-dimensional character and it makes the events that unfold have a much more dramatic read.

Batman Eternal #21 Falcone
Also, how badass was Alfred! Out of all of the supporting cast that never get truly explored in Batman, Alfred is usually the first to be dropped. He serves well for the origin and all of the stories that are closer to home, but for a lot of Batman stories, it’s hard to think up a reason to include him. Today, Alfred gets to show off. He is given an extended scene, where he just screams awesomeness from every angle. He has some great dialogue, handles a weapon impressively and somehow unleashes the Vulcan grip to put someone to sleep. I am glad that now Eternal has a bit of free time to explore new story avenues, Alfred was chosen to be a key part in the next one. I hope we get more moments like this from him.

Batman Eternal #21 Alfred
And that twist at the end! I am still not sure what to think of it. It definitely surprised me, but I might need to go over a few of the previous issues to decide if it makes sense or not. I hope it is a planned twist and not something thrown in to make Eternal more jaw-dropping. The next few issues on this twist be fully handled will be make or break for Eternal. Like last issue with Spoiler’s reveal, it does have the same annoying effect of the civilian characters either becoming superheroes or bad guys, rather than just being ordinary for once. But at least with the latter, it has the promise of doing something genuinely interesting. For now, I am glued to Eternal and unable to guess what this story has in store for us.

Quote of the Issue:

Alfred: You have broken into my home. You are a threat to my family. Master Wayne might have a predilection against firearms… but I’m afraid he isn’t home right now.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on September 1st, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #029 – BATMAN ETERNAL #20 – WILD ANIMALS

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #20 Croc
Wild Animals continues the streak of action-packed fight scenes. I slightly prefer the last issue, but at least Eternal seems to be picking up the pace at a rapid rate. Here, we get the conclusion of three storylines and the birth of another one.

We start off instantly with Batman, Croc and Bard taking on Ten-Eyes and his army of spectres. This storyline is tied up a little too neatly for me, but it does feature some neat set-pieces. I assumed that Ten-Eyes’ abduction of Gotham citizens would tie into Deacon Blackfire’s schemes, seeing as they both having ghostly figures lurking around the sewers as an integral part of their plot. Sadly, it seems that Gotham is just unlucky enough to have two supernatural invasions in one night. (While we are mentioning Blackfire, where has he got to? That imminent threat was a cliffhanger a couple of issues ago that has been shoved onto the back-burner). Essentially, reviewing this entire three issue story, we can chalk this up to a simple distraction from the ongoing story, which does make this finale a little flat. We wanted it to be another part of the conspiracy, yet now this entire side of Eternal is dead in the water. At the very least, it did give us some time with Killer Croc, who is always a fun character, and Bard’s development continues strongly. I can’t say I hated my time with these three heroes.

Batman Eternal #20 Pluck
Gordon’s story comes to an end rather abruptly. It is all good, but I assumed there would be four issues worth of Falcone-fighting to get through. Gordon is apparently too efficient a hero for my liking. That being said, it is nice seeing him take on an army of goons using his wits. He hasn’t got the gadgets that Batman has, so it is rewarding to watch him hold his own in an action sequence. The downside of this story being cut short is that we never really got any more time with Falcone or the Penguin. I was hoping that they would get a few monologues out of their characters being mentioned again, maybe some more rationalisation with the wardens of Blackgate. I felt that would have been an interesting feature to have, but sadly the return of these two villains wasn’t so much of a return, but more of a prolonged cameo. On the plus side, there is a great twist to end this story, that I didn’t see coming. It adds a nice after-thought to the gang war saga that doesn’t bring too much to the plot, but adds a neat little layer of intelligence and development to the series.

Batman Eternal #20 Batgirl
Finally, Batgirl catches up with Falsario. This storyline suffers the most, as there is simply no time to do this one justice. I would have relished in Batgirl’s character a little more if I was writing this chapter. She is always threatening to break into her dark side and this fight would have been the ideal time for her to maybe go too far with the vigilante persona. As it stands, the sequence is cut drastically short, although it does add some more questions, which will keep Eternal on the watch list for comic-readers everywhere. I just hope that the ending development doesn’t mean that Batgirl’s arc has come to an end, as she was the most interesting sub-character of the lot.

And then there is one twist to end the comic. I don’t like it. A side character essentially adopts a superhero alter-ego and I didn’t see the point. I loved this character as a civilian, helpless against the corruption of Gotham. It was a new dynamic, yet now this character is yet another Robin knock-off. This storyline is now no different to the rest of Eternal. Not every character needs to be a superhero, yet the writers don’t seem to want to have a civilian develop without donning a costume at some point. I will be watching this side of Eternal with very judgemental eyes.

Quote of the Month:

Row: Go pluck yourself, Cobblepot.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on September 1st, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #027 – BATMAN ETERNAL #19 – BREAKING BAT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal- #19 Croc
First things first: best title ever.

And now onto the rest of the comic. This was quite a jam-packed issue, but in the right way. It cleverly picks up three stories that each have something different to offer. Batman carries on from last issue, tracking down the mysterious kidnappers in the sewers, teamed up with Killer Croc and Bard. It is nice to see these three great characters, even if they do little more than lurk around and look awesome (the artwork for Croc is terrific). Then we have a brand new plot-line with Jim Gordon. Falcone and Penguin are continuing their gang war from inside Blackgate Prison and Gordon finds himself in the position where only he stands between the convicts and the lives of several prison guards, taken as hostages. It is a triumphant return for an important, yet sometimes overlooked character. Finally, all chaos breaks out, when Batgirl, Red Hood and Batwoman take on Falsario, one of the biggest leads we have been given yet.

Batman Eternal- #19 Gordon
The pacing works, because we have a beginning of a plot-line, the middle of a plot-line and then, a massive punch-up. We need to get through the opening exposition of Gordon’s new story arc and we also need to progress with Batman’s descent into Arkham, but the writers understand that this should never sacrifice fun. The truth is, none of the readers overly mind the slow exploration of Batman Eternal, but we just need some action to spice things up a bit. Therefore, when we are given a great fight between a brain-washed Batgirl, a slave to her anger, and Red Hood, we don’t mind breaking away occasionally to spend long scenes with little more than exposition. We never hated any of the story-building or scene setting; we just needed something a little more to make picking up a certain issue worth it.

Batman Eternal- #19 Folsario
But best of all, I am barely able to wait for the next issue. This Blackgate prison riot is a side of the Batman universe that I love, especially if we don’t have Batman to help save the day, but need to rely on a cop, who has had his hands behind his back from the very start of this series. The cliff-hanger is pretty epic and I hope it promises another great punch-up next time around. One without the supernatural illusion tricks that made the last Batwing finale a little mediocre. And while the action was certainly more hyped than usual, the Batgirl investigation isn’t over. She still has to track Falsario down, who is an interesting figure, as he does have the powers to make Gordon think he saw a gun on that subway station. Despite that arc being up and down, I think that is the advantage it has over every other plot-line: it brings the mystery right back to Issue #1, grounding this massive serial of a Bat-story.

Quote of the Issue:

Red Hood: Me, I only remember what’s important. Like the day I met Batgirl.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on August 16th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #026 – BATMAN ETERNAL #18 – A NIGHT ON EARTH

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #18 Decided
This was a much stronger effort from Batman Eternal, mainly because we finally got to see Batman be Batman for an extended time. The issue is split fairly between Batgirl’s investigations in Brazil, as she teams up with Red Hood and Batwoman (why did Batgirl and Batwoman have to be sent on the same adventure? This is far too confusing for novices like myself!), and then Batman’s pairing with Bard. There is also a nice sprinkling of Jim Gordon, a character we must not forget is at the heart of this entire saga.

Batman Eternal #18 Killer Croc
It is good to see Bard back in good guy duties. As much as I liked his darker tone in the last few issues, I don’t want him to become a villain. I prefer him as one of the good guys, just someone who is willing to go down a slightly darker route than Batman. Here, he is thrown out of his league, as he takes on one of the more infamous figures in the Batman rogue gallery, the Killer Croc. It is a nice position to have Bard in, because at the end of the day, he is your typical police officer, way out of his league. This issue reflected that nicely, especially when contrasted with Batman’s cool and steady demeanour of going about things. It is great to see Batman get reintroduced to his own story, especially when pitted against Croc. As much as I like discovering less known Batman villains like Deacon Blackfire and the Joker’s Daughter, it is nice to have an issue grounded with a more prominent villain. Killer Croc ticks that box excellently, fantastic in every frame he is in. Croc is interesting throughout the entire arc and as the writers point out in one ghostly frame, he is no longer the scariest thing lurking in the Gotham sewers.

Batman Eternal #18 Shadows
The Batgirl storyline has been dragging its feet for some time. I liked Batgirl’s arc, because unlike a lot of the Robins that have been shoe-horned into the plot, she has a genuine reason to be involved with Eternal. However, despite the interesting premise, the storyline hasn’t really gone anywhere. One issue went for comedy over drama, while there hasn’t been a strong enough villain for Batgirl to face off against. She is paired with two characters that I don’t care much for. Red Hood is intriguing, but hardly someone I am clamouring to find out more about, while Batwoman hasn’t shown any personality as of yet. Her appearance feels like it is referencing her as an ongoing figure in the Batman universe, rather than giving her anything worthwhile to do. However, the issue does make me think twice about condemning this strand of plot. The issue ends with Red Hood reflecting on Batgirl, juxtaposed with frames of her beating up a bunch of goons. It is a terrific sequence and a great read.

Then we have Jim Gordon. His storyline doesn’t really progress, but it does offer up some nice details. We see a glimpse of Falcone, which is a nice touch. I don’t like it when villains are defeated and then written out of the plot. Eternal has been good with that, as evidenced by Professor Pyg. This issue is great with the small touches and I think that is what takes a comic book from good to great.

Quote of the Issue:

Bard (about Batman): Does he always talk to himself like that?

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on August 11th, 2014
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INTER-COMICS PODCAST – EPISODE #049 – ROBOT JESUS

By Jack Chambers, Daniel Cole and Free Costin

Click HERE to listen to the Inter-Comics podcast – Episode #049

INTER-COMICS PODCAST – EPISODE #049 Transformers
This week the gang is joined by John-Paul Bove. JP talks about his work, the role of colourists and which comic book characters he’d marry, kill or fuck.

The gang also look at the big news announcements from the week, talk about their best/worst comics of the week and discuss a double helping of 52.

Sit down, relax and enjoy!

Click HERE to listen to the Inter-Comics podcast – Episode #049

Click HERE to view all the podcast episodes

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Posted on July 26th, 2014
Category: INTER-COMICS PODCAST, NEWS & VIEWS, PREVIEWS & UPCOMING RELEASES, REVIEWS
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ORACLE OF COMICS #021 – BATMAN ETERNAL #15 – THE COMMON LIMIT

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #15 Batgirl
Batman Eternal once again decides to go through several plot lines at once, rather than knuckling down and truly getting to grips with a specific set of characters. I partially expected this after the gang war story was brought to a close; we need to be reminded what is left to do for the next set of issues. However, a bit more tack would have been nice.

Batman Eternal #15 Spectre
Personally, I would have liked to have spent the whole issue with Corrigan and Batwing in Arkham Asylum. This story is the most intriguing at the moment, because no one has quite figured out what it is all about. We have seen Dr. Phosphorous rising from the depths and the Joker’s Daughter seems to be behind it all, but otherwise we have just witnessed a few terrifying shots of the inmates being tortured by supernatural forces. In fact, I would have happily had a whole comic book series of Batwing and Corrigan slowly making their way through the Asylum, a gripping horror mystery. As it happens, the writer’s attention is often elsewhere (with Bluebird, or with Batgirl), so the Asylum is never fully tackled. It moves along too fast, jumping from the eeriness of an empty Asylum to the horrors of the two heroes taking on zombies that come out of the brick walls. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this particular section of the issue, but I just wished that it was slowed right down, so we could appreciate every beat of the story, rather than rushing through it to get to the point.

Batman Eternal #15 Bluebird Robin
The other stories were kept to a minimum and therefore too short to comment on much. Red Robin and Bluebird remain a fun team, never really progressing with the story, but being so much fun to spend time with that you don’t mind wasting a page with them bickering. Bluebird’s ‘hand-made costume’ is quite a fun addition. Batgirl and Red Hood uncover a lead, but it doesn’t seem to be in any rush of carrying on Batgirl’s interesting arc. Batman is given the worst deal of them all. His appearance in this comic does little more than remind everyone that we are reading a Batman comic. In fact, his brief interaction with Bard actually hurts the overall story. Doesn’t this little conversation totally ruin the interesting dynamic that the last issue left us with? This is a problem with a story this big with several writers attached to the project: you end up getting issues that contradict each other.

Quote of the Issue:

Red Robin: You pull a stunt like this, you deserve nine hours in a stress position.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on July 18th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #019 – BATMAN ETERNAL #12 – THE GOOD MAN

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #12 Red Hood
This was the issue I figured out I had been reading Batman Eternal all wrong. Rather than checking them out each week, I should have collected the entire series and marathoned them in a single evening. There is not a lot I shall say in this review that I haven’t said before. “We check in with everyone’s storylines.” “Something big is around the corner, promise!” The truth is Eternal is playing the long game and the people who will get the most pleasure out of this series are the ones who are content to wait until they have every issue in their hands, before even beginning. However, I have started this weekly review now and I will see it through to the bitter end.

Batman Eternal #12 Trial
The Good Man tackles far more of the ongoing stories than any of the other issues so far. Jim Gordon makes a return after a long absence. His trial gets underway and we get a savagely delicious courtroom scene. Meanwhile, Penguin and Falcone are going to greater lengths to win the city back, the first page showing Penguin’s thugs getting mown down by armed thugs. Jason Bard, Harvey Bullock and Captain Sawyer get together and come up with a plan to end the gang war once and for all, but it requires a risky step which is revealed in the last few pages. Also, Batgirl and Red Hood’s encounter is carried on from the last issue, but without the distracting art or silly humour. Also… takes deep breath… we check in on Red Robin and Bluebird, who haven’t shown up in forever. And on top of that, there is more drama in the Pennyworth family. Yes, this issue is action-packed, yet the writers even find time to slip in a cameo from a certain famous DC reporter.

Batman Eternal #12 Harper
It’s all good. It really is. There isn’t any part of this issue where I could point to a certain beat and say: “that’s wrong!” As far as issues of Batman Eternal go, that would make this particular episode a success. It is just always promising something interesting in an issue’s time. Every frame is orchestrated into making you buy the next issue, rather than focusing on this particular one in your hands. This is a common sin for any comic book collector. However, it works, because I am unable to stop buying this Batman comic now: I am in too deep. So yes, if anyone is still on the fence about buying these comics, do it! Just maybe read them in one go, rather than sitting through a single issue that seems perfectly content to inch along with its narrative.

Quote of the Issue:

Bluebird: “Just told me to ‘buck up’ or something like that.”

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on June 26th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #016 – BATMAN ETERNAL #11 – DAY OF THE DADS

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #11 Insect
Not a fan of this issue. Just didn’t work for me.

The biggest shame here is that there are a lot of storylines being brought back up, which I was waiting for with anticipation. This means that the return of these characters is met with a strong feeling of disappointment. Batgirl, missing ever since Issue #4, finally tracks down her lead, a Brazilian actor who was at the subway when Jim Gordon was set up. Sadly that actor has his own problems to deal with when the Club of Villains send an assassin after him. Stephanie Brown takes a bigger role than before and we learn a bit about the origins of the Cluemaster. We also step back from the action and explore the relationship between Alfred and Julia Pennyworth. While their part in the story is a little distant and seemingly irrelevant to the bigger picture, I am sure that this is the groundwork for another intriguing element to Batman Eternal.

Batman Eternal #11 Coward
The main problem is the Batgirl section falling flat. In Issue #4, it appeared that the character arc for Batgirl was going to be excitingly parallel to Batman’s. Sure, we have had this storyline with almost every Robin, but because Eternal’s crux lies on the shoulders of Jim Gordon, Barbara’s character development keeps the reader invested in the central part of the narrative, desperately needed with several side-stories in the mix. I wanted the writers to really depict Barbara as a vengeful woman, desperate to protect her father, but getting lost in the anger that almost consumes Bruce Wayne on a daily basis. This is not conveyed here at all, mainly because someone decided that this issue would be a perfect area for some comedy. We are treated to a frustratingly slapstick chase around a film set, like something out of a Scooby Doo cartoon. The suspect is a male bimbo, convinced that he is being targeted for his looks. Scorpiana was looking like a great villain (the Scorpion snake monster that attaches itself to her back looked terrifying), but she was reduced to terrible lines and little action. She felt like the usual ‘hot girl that likes dominating men through violence’ stereotype that gives comics a bad name. It was hard to take this storyline seriously, which is a shame, because there would have been a lot on offer here otherwise.

Batman Eternal #11 Cluemaster
I didn’t like the art style at all. There were moments when I appreciated it. The first page sees a mystery figure in a graveyard with the rain hammering it down. I cannot fault the artistic nature of the piece, but I felt that it didn’t have its place in this comic. Characters looked grotesque and messy. It was hard to take anything seriously when the people in the story looked like cherubs. I appreciate that this issue was trying to break out of the norm that Batman Eternal has got itself stuck in. While I have been enjoying the series lately, it does occasionally slip into borderline routine. Somewhere along the lines it may have seemed a good idea to try an outside-the-box art style and throw a bit of humour into the story. However, it was too distracting and it has distanced me from the story, which ruins the immersive capabilities of some of the earlier issues. Hopefully, this style doesn’t crop up again too soon.

Also, Batman was kept to a bare minimum. Not OK, people!

Quote of the Issue:

Julia Pennyworth: You used to serve the greater good, but now you just serve tea and biscuits!

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on June 20th, 2014
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ORACLE OF COMICS #007 – BATMAN ETERNAL #4 INJUSTICE FOR ALL!

By Luke Abbott

Batman Eternal #4 Batgirl
This week, Gordon goes on trial, provoking some angry feelings inside of Barbara, also known as the Batgirl. Batman begins to see parts of his earlier self inside her, mainly the anger at the injustice of Gotham. He might have to put investigating Gordon’s trial on hold to make sure that she isn’t about to do something stupid. Meanwhile, Bard struggles to stay afloat amidst the corruption of Gotham, Gordon’s troubles appear to only just be beginning and Stephanie, after finding out her father was the Cluemaster last issue, has no idea just how deep the conspiracy goes, and how much danger she is actually in.

Batman Eternal #4 Behind bars
Injustice For All is a bit of a poor issue. I picked out two reasons for this. The main point is that there is a little too much to cover. This is a common problem with the Batman universe, as there are so many characters to cover. Having the main focus of your mystery as police corruption is fine in itself, but it means that we have to keep jumping to all of these characters. Bard needs to be checked in on, so the reader knows that he is an essential part to the narrative, but at the same time, we don’t want to forget about Gordon, who is meant to be one of the most important characters in the whole story arc. On top of that, we have Batgirl. While it actually makes sense to explore Barbara Gordon’s reaction to the whole drama, as she is the daughter of the guy being put on trial, I hope that the writers aren’t going to keep doing this with other characters. For example, do we have to cover what every ex-Robin is going through in future issues? It keeps this issue stagnant and before long I can see the actual Batman being pushed out of his own story.

Batman Eternal #4 Falcone
The other annoying factor here is poor writing. I get the elements of the issue’s story, but the comic struggles to get from Point A to Point B. Two moments in this issue severely lost track of logic. There is a scene where Batman breaks into Falcone’s penthouse and learns his side of the story. However, he does very little in this scene. He breaks through, has an obligatory awesome Batman fight scene and then ‘chats’ with the guy who he believes is the mastermind of the whole thing. He literally accuses Falcone and then just walks off into the night, without even trying to get any answers from the supposed big bad guy of the conspiracy. While it covers up the plot hole of ‘can’t Batman just take Falcone out right now?’, it throws up so many other questions and gaps in logic that the scene fell flat. The other terrible piece of writing was when he confronts Batgirl in the Batcave. Yes, she is angry and yes, she should be watched, but she actually uncovers a pretty, big clue. It is probably going to be a red herring, because the writers want to go down the road of Barbara’s judgement being clouded, but at the same time, shouldn’t Batman at least hear her out? She pretty much has figured out something that could crack the case wide open and all he does is lecture her on her understandable anger. Batman is very unBatman-like this issue.

Batman Eternal #4 Batgirl clue
It’s not all bad. The Cluemaster subplot is turning into my favourite part of Batman Eternal, with another neat plot development. The cliffhanger was pretty creepy and promises a good fifth issue. And, while I have already made this point and will make it again several more times, when the next issue comes out in a week’s time, I find myself OK with a substandard story. Hopefully this is nothing but a small wobble on a pretty great story arc.

Quote of the Issue:

Leo: Cops in Blackgate… they don’t tend to last very long. And cops in Blackgate Gen-Pop? Well, they might as well skip the trial and hand you your death.

For more comic views and reviews follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeBbtt and check out his website at www.oracleoffilm.com

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Posted on May 4th, 2014
Category: ORACLE OF COMICS, REVIEWS
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