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Wacky Wizard Games Imprint and Three New Games Announced by @wwizardgames

Wise Wizard Games announced the launch of Wacky Wizard Games, a new brand imprint focused on family-friendly, lightweight games. Three games are planned for release in 2024 as part of this new brand imprint: Star Realms Academy, Caution Signs, and Pack the Essentials. If you are interested and attending PAX Unplugged they will have prototypes of Caution Signs and Pack the Essentials. "We are super excited to be adding this new family friendly product line to our catalog. We wanted to maintain the focus of Wise Wizard Games on strategy card and dice games with geeky themes, and have created Wacky Wizard Games as an umbrella for lightweight games with a more whimsical, cute vibe," shared Debbie Moynihan, COO of Wise Wizard Games. Star Realms Academy Forge your own star realms, overloaded with cuteness! A kid friendly but still fun for grown-ups version of the popular Star Realms deckbuilding game for 2 players. A little less math, no reading necessary, but still tons of fun! 

BatWatch Reviews: @DCComics Batman #23.1s @BatWatcher

Here are today's Guest Reviews by Jeremy Sims from Batwatch for DC's; Batman #23.1 (Joker #1), Batman and Robin #23.1 (Two Face #1), Detective Comics #23.1 (Poison Ivy #1), and Batman: The Dark Knight #23.1 (Ventriloquist #1). I have also added my rating after each review. If you have any questions about my rating or want to discuss anything just leave me a comment.

See the Review Rating Overview page for more information on how I rate each comic.

Batman #23.1 - Time to Monkey Shine

The Joker has FOREVER been the face of EVIL in the DC Universe…but what led him on this devious path of treachery? Andy Kubert pens this early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Clown Prince of Gotham—The JOKER!



I'm severely torn on this one. I was enjoying this issue for the most part until I got to the end and there was a moment that made me kind of flinch. It's kind of like watching an ice skating performance where things are going pretty well and then all of a sudden the skater take a bad fall and slides across the ice on her face.

On the "going pretty well" front, this issue is billed as a Joker story, and Kubert (former artist for Batman and X-Men and current writer of Batman and cover artist for Superman, Earth 2, Vertigo's The Wake and Gemstone's Oversized Comic Book Price Guide) nails him. His additude is perfect being able to engender sympathy, laughter, and hatred all at the same time. It's a wicked story which will probably have you adoring the Joker on one level or another.

Also, the art is very good especially when focused on Joker.

Moving towards more sketchy calls, this issue delivers another Joker origin story, and I can see how this might upset some fans. Joker's origin story is like the Holy Grail in that nobody ever finds it, but the beauty of the Joker narrative that has taken shape over the modern age is that it is generally accepted that any Joker origin could easily be a complete load of crap dreamed up or deceptively presented by Joker's evil, ingenious mind, so personally, I don't mind a new origin too much. As an origin, it's pretty simple yet brutal in respect to the horror of Joker's supposed childhood, yet I do kind of like it because the origin has an over the top vibe even for comics. It's not normal child abuse but really extreme, erratic, irrational child abuse which is only funny because it seems exactly like the kind of load of crap Joker would make up for himself just like his "origins" in The Dark Knight.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating

Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 3/5
Layout & Flow - 3/5
Story - 2/5
Verdict - 2.7
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Batman: The Dark Knight #23.1 - A Rising Star of Red!

The origin of the Ventriloquist is revealed! One of them has powerful telekinesis and the other is a cold-blooded murderer—but who’s the real dummy in this act?


There Are Worse Things in the World

This issue revisits Ventriloquist and Ferdie, and the characters show even less charm this time than they did the first time round. In their original arc, there was a little mystery about them. Was Ventriloquist really telekinetic or was Ferdie alive? What caused this girl to be so messed up? Just how demented is Belzer?

Well, the desecration of several bodies and impaling of people's eyes showed how messed up Belzer is in the last arc, so there's no real mystery? Is Ferdie "real" or not? It's hard to say for certain, but we do know that Belzer is telekinetic, so it seems likely Ferdie is just a prop. What about Ventriloquist's motivations? That was revealed, and you'll never believe it!. Shauna Belzer turned evil because...she's just a victim! Can you believe it? Gail Simone, the lady who brings us nearly non-stop victimized villains in Batgirl, created another villain who is nothing more than a victim. Shocking!

Shauna was a victim of bullying, and she really wanted to be famous, so she's evil now because she...I don't know. She's just evil because I guess that will make her famous in her own mind. She killed the guy who owned Ferdie, and now you're up to speed.

With that, almost all that made Belzer interesting has vanished, and all she has going for her now is the vague creepy factor that the original arc landed semi-often. This issue does kind of get a disturbing vibe, but it's more of a gross vibe than creepy. Ventriloquist's relationship with her dummy? Not really scarey or even creepy but pretty gross especially when you learn where Ferdie got his name. People getting their eyes gouged out? Not scarey at all but definitely gross. Shauna and Ferdie talking to dead people? Kind of creepy but also played out. The end of the issue tries to one up everything that has come prior, but Shauna pretty well convinced me of her complete evil before the final scene, so who cares?

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating

Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 4/5
Story - 3/5
Verdict - 3.6
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Detective Comics #23.1 - The Green Kingdom

For too long, Poison Ivy has played with men’s hearts and been a pawn in their games too—but no more! Now that Batman is gone, she will grow into a force of nature unlike anything Gotham City has seen before!


Planting Some New Seed

Poison Ivy gets a new origin here, and though I generally hate reboots, I have to say that I'm not too annoyed with this new origin. In fact, I'll go a step further and admit that this origin is actually much better than her previous one.

Through this issue, we see all that plants mean to Poison Ivy. They are her solace, her tools, her hiding place, and her vengeance, and through our window to her past, we see these aspects of her personality take new context and greater meaning. You truly understand what has pushed Ivy in the direction she has chosen for her life, and it's scores better than her previous origin of being her professor's experiment.

The art by Javier Pina (former artist for Birds of Prey and penciler for Manhunter and current artist for Detective Comics)  is perfect, and I found myself adoring it by the end. I've always been saddened that Poison Ivy is made to look like a trashy character most of the time with a body that screams sex object, and I feel that's the wrong approach to the character. She uses her sex appeal to her advantage, but she can do it in a much more subtle way than by flashing her boobs at everyone. Plus, she can cheat with pheromones, so she doesn't really need it

Beyond the more modest dress though, Pina brings an elegance to Ivy as an adult as if she is the actual Queen of her jungle, and in her flashback scenes as a child, she seems more like a pixie, innocent and yet not truly. Pamela is the child who seems nice but has something secret and deadly locked away in her heart.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating

Cover & Solicit - 5/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 5/5
Story - 4/5
Verdict - 4.3
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Batman and Robin #23.1 - A Tale of Two Faces

Two-Face is approached to join the Secret Society! Which side will his coin land on?


A Tale of Two Harveys

Ooh boy! Two-Face is probably my favorite Bat villain, so I was hoping for great things, and this one did not disappoint.

The issue starts off with Two-Face flipping for two important decisions, whether he should join The Crime Syndicate's Secret Society and whether he should save Gotham. The coin tells him to join the Secret Society and to save Gotham, so now our...hero? Our Two-Face is in a bit of a conundrum since he has committed himself to two different goals.

Parts of this issue are brilliant. There is an exchange between Two-Face and Scarecrow at the beginning of the issue which is captivating as the two play off each other brilliantly. Tomasi (former editor of Hitman and current writer for Batman and...) is an extremely clever character writer when he brings his A game, and we can only hope he brings conflicts this rich during the upcoming Arkham War. The set piece is well chosen too as Harvey makes his decision balanced on the Bat Signal; sure, we've seen this kind of thing before and there should be some cops in the area, but it looks cool, and considering all the crap happening in Gotham, I'm guessing it would not be too hard to sneak on to the roof.

After this fantastic opening scene, the story does not flow quite as smoothly. Things take a weird route we do not usually see in Batman comics as Two-Face cuts a middle path between being a heroic vigilante and a psychotic murderer. The story seems to know where it's going but it's a little less sure how it wants to get there, or at least that's the impression I get as things seem to meander just a tad. The big moment where things feel off is when a random group of characters enter the picture in the last act. They create the opportunity for a final conflict and position Two-Face for his finale, but it seems like these random villains needed a little foreshadowing or introduction. Instead, they come out of the blue, and it's hard to see them as much more than a plot prop and cannon fodder.

Read the rest of Jeremy Sims' review on Batwatch

My Rating

Cover & Solicit - 4/5
Art, Colors & Inking - 4/5
Layout & Flow - 5/5
Story - 5/5
Verdict - 4.6
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Jeremy Sims is a blogger at https://batwatch.squarespace.com/ and a comic book reviewer at Comic Vine. The use of these reviews has been authorized by the original author.


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