A week in ink: issue No. 6

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The Spectrum

Bruce Wayne: The Long Road Home: Batman and Robin

The dynamic duo of Damian Wayne and Dick Grayson is put to the ultimate test as tensions boil over between the two. Ever since Bruce's mysterious retirement from the cape and cowl, these two have served as perfect step-ins for the job.

Opening with a confrontation between the Dark Knight and a gang of assassins known as the Hangmen, Batman's methods are questioned as he intentionally lets one villain escape. Damian, brash in his youth, declares that his father would have never let that happen, though Grayson always has a good handle on the situation. Tracking down their prey leads them to an abandoned warehouse, where an unexpected foe helps the killer escape. It turns out Damian's father is closer than he thinks.

The Bruce Wayne: The Long Road Home series is just beginning, and so far, it is riddled with more questions, mysteries and plot twists than Edward Nigma would care to solve. Before long, the situation turns into a regular family affair as Red Robin enters the scene near the end of the comic's conclusion, making this a reunion of the heroic variety. While it will be interesting when the mystery surrounding Bruce is cleared up, this first issue feels rather lacking at points.

For fans of the Dark Knight and those who are familiar with his "family" history, this issue has a lot to love. Adversely, those who can't tell the difference between Red Robin and Nightwing may want to stay away from this issue.

Iron Man: Titanium

For those patrons who go to a comic book shop and can't decide what they should pick up, this is their comic. With four seemingly unrelated stories, "Iron Man: Titanium" features at least one Tony Stark that everyone will love.

The first issue in this behemoth of a comic is "Railguns, Power Ties, and Titanium Men," which follows the suave protagonist as he goes up against a near-perfect incarnation of himself in female form. Her name is Huang Qiaolian, and she is the chief of a seemingly perfect company, A.I.M. Using this company's prominence to capture some of the world's wealthiest investors, she puts her diabolical plans into effect.

Admittedly, the first story is a bit too dialogue-heavy, pushing a lot of the extremely well inked panels behind a massive amount of text. Still, the plot is interesting, and enough of the exceptional artwork still shines through to make this a cool issue.

"Killer Commute," the second story to be told, changes the tone and art-styling completely. Pepper Potts is attacked on her daily commute, and as her assailant will soon find out, Potts is not to be trifled with. This story has a rather lackluster plot, but after seeing the accompanying artwork, that part of the story is irrelevant. Areas of sunlight are vibrant while the dark depths of the subway are heavily shaded panels, depicting an excellent adventure from start to finish.

The remaining two stories are not anything special, but the strength of the first half of the comic makes them bonus issues, in effect. This issue is thick, and for its $4.99 price tag, it should be. That isn't a bad deal for four stories – everyone will find something to like in this issue's multitude of pages.

Turok: Son of Stone

This first issue by Dark Horse is a retelling of the Turok origin story. Without a shadow of a doubt, this issue does justice to the video game's 64-bit gameplay. This is not the first time the dinosaur hunter has seen an ink and panel interpretation; in fact, very few people know that Turok is actually a story from the early 1950s.

For those who haven't played the classic N64 games, Turok is an American Indian brave who gets lost in the land before time with his side-kick, Andar. This story has been told so many times that the origins of this character have been altered over and over again, but this issue is one of the best out there.

Andar and Turok are on the run from an Indian warlord, seeking refuge in a mysterious cave, and the duo is soon cornered. Stuck between the bloodthirsty tribe and a sheer cliff edge, an unholy wind transports them from a relatively recent North America to a time when mammoth reptiles walked the Earth.

This first issue sets the series up in a spectacular fashion, as the story's rich history will serve as a nearly infinite well of plot material. Artistically, this issue has its high and low points. One page that deserves a mention depicts Turok and young Andar looking out upon a vast, pristine field full of ancient reptiles. It is simply stunning to behold.

As an added bonus, this issue contains a reprint of one of the original Turok comics, "Turok Son of Stone and The World Below." For those into the retro-comic scene, this issue is an absolute must-have.

Turok the dinosaur hunter is back, and if this issue is any indication, he's here to stay.