Week 7 (Oct. 19, 2011)

Commence Week 7:

  • Justice League #2 was a lot like the first issue, intriguing and definitely not a half cocked series. You can tell that Johns and Lee are giving it their all, respectively in the storytelling and artwork.  They are doing truly great things, but again I question their takes on the characters.  The logos behind Superman’s outburst at the end of the first issue are made clear, but they do little to salvage him from the relegated role of half-witted noob and overgrown, super powered man-brat.  Batman isn’t HORRIBLE, and Green Lantern and Flash are pretty decently depicted on par with what Johns has already been doing with them for years, and we as fans have been loving. That said, the series is working on several levels. The two main detractions to this title that sandbag it down from soaring as a it should are the new Superman and the world itself.  I think I might hate the xenophobic world they’ve constructed the series around more than I hate Superman, and I am kind of on a Superman hating jag.  It’s a good title, but they need to get their shit together and get some character and plot development done stat if they intend to get this title where it should be.

    Jim Lee's Superman beating on Batman while Green Lantern intercedes in "Justice League #2"

  • Batman #2 was excellent.  I have to admit that when I reviewed the first issue I was being uncharitable.  Or perhaps it was slower to get into than usual.  Either way, this issue had the shock value revelation of the previous issue’s closing to play off of, but quickly established itself into a much more substantial ground of storytelling.  Whereas the last one had mysteries with no visible clues and grand talk about the character of Gotham in this not-so-rebooted title, this one grabbed onto a premise and rode  with it very succinctly. With the threat finally established, Scott Snyder does what he always does and does well, creating a mythology unique to his work and artfully integrating it into the larger world, in this case the Batman mythos, as if it had always been there.  This time that creation is the Court of Owls, which purportedly finds its root in Ancient Athens.  I’m onboard again, Mr. Snyder.
  • Catwoman #2 yet again, was stellar.  The way Judd Winick chooses to write this title, I feel is perhaps what makes it work the best.  Instead of relying solely on action or “T ‘n A” (as his detractors claim, and are only partially correct about), he incorporates both elements tempered with in-depth narration by Catwoman herself.  In this light you see these eye grabbing moments of sex and violence, while at the same time receiving validation for them from our protagonist.  Yeah, she’s not a hero by any stretch, but she is most certainly human, and how Winick writes the book, you get a fully rounded picture of a thrill seeking, obsessive, self-destructive individual, whose flaws make her that much more captivating to read.  The issue came full circle to the consequences of the first page of issue #1 and sets up perfectly the anticipation for the third issue.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #2 continues from its first issue to be a good series.  Lobdell does a good job of riding the line between compelling anti-hero and callous prick in his portrayal of the fallen Robin.  His storyline is shaping up nicely, delving into the mystic elements that seem uncharacteristic for a calculating Batman disciple, but truly define his growth as per this rendition.  He is a very dark, driven character like his mentor, but is offset well by his two tag alongs, Roy Harper (Red Arrow) and Starfire.  Both bring something to the table to take him down a few notches which he needs, but won’t admit, and illicit his latent humanity.  The issue is also bookended really well, beginning with his first reticent exposure to the “All Caste,” during which he acts as you would expect him to, and then ending with a shot glimpse of his concern for them a year after the fact.  Its brimming with mystery and intrigue, and I truly believe that this series is going in the right direction to becoming a hit title.

    Jason is introduced to the All-Caste by Talia al Ghul in "Red Hood and the Outlaws #2"

  • Green Lantern Corps #2 is another example of why Peter Tomasi is incredible.  Coming off the first issue this one finally clues us into a general idea of who is attacking the Green Lanterns Corps and why.  After the apocalyptic events of the previous issue’s final page, we knew it was no joke, and this issue certainly qualifies that judgement.  It features, obviously, John Stewart and Guy Gardner, but their backup Lanterns make themselves know quite well too, so I truly feel that this book is returning to what a Green Lantern Corps title should be, namely a book that isn’t strictly about one or two Lanterns, but the whole Corps itself.  Whatever it turns out to be, Tomasi has definitely set up a complex, far reaching plot that may be fertile ground for future use after this arc wraps up.
  • DC Presents: Deadman #2 continued to explore the story of Deadman in the current continuity.  From the first issue we saw that Rama Kushna had something different in mind for him from his previous incarnation.  He is no longer driven by vengeance or retribution, as he was in the original Neal Adams/Arnold Drake run, trying to track down the hook handed assassin that killed him.  In this series he has a different mission of being assigned bodies to inhabit and living their lives, not, as stated before, to seek out his killer, but rather to seek out his humanity.  This message seems to be more inline with the precepts of Eastern philosophy and mysticism that inspired the original writers and were the basis for the goddess, Rama Kushna.  This is a reboot that I can get behind.  They’ve tried to streamline characters like Superman and Green Arrow and utterly failed.  This reboot is truly one that takes the character in a new direction, respecting what worked in the past, but also having the respect to offer a well reasoned alternative that honors the character’s past and emerging future.

    Deadman offers Rama Kushna an ultimatum at the end of "DC Presents: Deadman #2"

  • Supergirl #2 was whelming from the first issue and kinda kept it at the same pace. I think that unfortunately Kara is attached by a poisoned narrative umbilical to her cousin’s fate.  The Superman books have been subpar, and she is trending that way.  Like her cousin in this week’s Justice League, the first thing that happens when she meets her cousin is she goes into a berserker rage and pummels him despite his many entreaties to calm down. Yes, I realize her outburst is slightly more reasonable considering the circumstances as opposed to here cousin’s aforementioned fit.  This title can go places, but it doesn’t look to be going there quickly.
  • Wonder Woman #2 got better this week from its inaugural, much like Batman and Green Lantern Corp, falling into its stride and getting comfortable with itself.  Finally we see more of Wonder Woman as a person.  The first glance we are given of her in the entirety of the first issue is her as a characterless warrior.  She kills and fights and that’s about it. She is violence in a female form.  This issue delves into her origin story, and then surprised us a new twist at the end. It finally introduces us to who she is now and what we can expect of her throughout the new Universe.  I am not displeased with what I’m seeing, although at the same time I am not whole sold.  But I have to say that this issue was well done and is giving a brighter outlook to a much jaded title.
  • Legion of Superheroes #2 was enjoyable, yet again.  This issue took some getting into.  The plot wasn’t as balls-to-the-wall as some of the previous issues done by Paul Levitz, but it did introduce an interesting dimension to the plot.  The Daxamite’s involvement with the overthrow of the watchworld base on Controller Space became slightly more clear.  This is really a Legion of Superheroes fan’s delight, because there were numerous references to events in the past of the Legion of Superheroes that no doubt have those of us who get the references, salivating.  The agoraphobic Daxamites rarely leave their world, but for lots of us who read Levitz’s LOSH opus “The Great Darkness Saga” we know that the last time they left, Darkseid had them wreaking  havoc across the universe as an out of control horde of men and women with the same powers as Superman.  The possibility of this happening again is on the horizon and Levitz is setting the stakes high.
  • Birds of Prey #2 doesn’t feel like the Birds of Prey.  You can’t put Black Canary into a team of women and have it automatically be a Birds of Prey story.  They invented the character, Starling, to step into the shoes of other bird themed crime fighters, like Lady Blackhawk or Dove, or to a lesser extent Barbara Gordon’s past tense Batgirl, but we’ve yet to see anything extraordinary about Starling.  She’s just mouthy and likes to break things.  That’s fine, but it doesn’t really fit the mold of what a Birds of Prey story should be.  True innovation is the best course, but at the same time conventions have to be maintained for the title to be maintained.  It might turn out to be good, but this issue didn’t really remind me of anything about the title that I liked in the past.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Justice League #2: Drawn by Jim Lee, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Scott Williams

Red Hood and the Outlaws #2: Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Colored by Blond

DC Universe Presents #2: Art by Bernard Chang, Colored by Blond

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