Week 10 (Nov. 9, 2011)

November enters its second week and brings around another round of can’t miss titles:

  • Green Lantern #3 was yet again an awesome read. Its almost prosaic to even say that, because its been quality since 2005.  The complexities of Sinestro are multiplying as the “Sinestro: Green Lantern” story arc proceeds and this issue, especially as Sinestro makes land on his homeworld, Korugar, laid to waste by his former collegues in the Yellow Lantern Corps.  His relationship with Hal Jordan is also interesting as they are both on the same side again, but at the same time have the baggage of the past however many years.  The ending of this issue is one that will drop jaws and have people talking for months.  Just really great storytelling.
  • Batman & Robin is another perennial hit that delivers consistently.  This one features Damian almost exclusively, showing his perspective in the wake of the appearance of Bruce’s enigmatic acquaintance, Morgan Ducard, in Gotham.  Though he still appears to be the same spoiled, sociopathic brat that he has always been his innate decency and humanity is shone quite vividly in one particular scene where he is given carte blanche to do as he pleases.  The mystery behind the masked vigilante, NoBody, as well as the choppy waters of Bruce and Damian’s relationship as father and son and mentor and sidekick are rife with possibilities which writer, Peter Tomasi, is reaping in abundance. If you like Batman, this is a book to pick up.
  • On the subject of awesome Bat-books, Batwoman #3 is heating up in an issue that fully explores Kate Kane as a crimefigher, possible mentor, daughter, lover, and woman.  All areas of her life are tested as J.H. Williams and W. Haden Blackman put her through HELL with a covert operative of the D.E.O, Cameron Chase, out for her blood, the enigmatic “Weeping Woman” loose in Gotham drowning children, the fallout with her father over the cover up of her sister’s “death” still fresh, her torrid romance with GCPD Major Crimes Unit Captain, Maggie Sawyer seemingly floundering, and her cousin not measuring up as a potential sidekick.  Kate is multifaceted and driven in a way that is so wonderfully akin to Bruce Wayne, yet so very different.  This book is beautifully crafted in both art and writing.  I have said it ten thousand times, but when an artist with a decent understanding of plot does a comic the art and story together are a symphony that is rarely realized when art and story are done by two people.  J.H. Williams is a genius and this book to date might be his opus.
  • Superboy #3 has taken on the tone of a pinocchio story, as the boy who would be known as Conner leaves the controlled environment he was created in for the larger world and sees humans for the first time.  As he sees real people doing everyday things, Lobdell and R.B. Silva do a really good job of portraying his curiosity and longing to be like them and experience things that we all take for granted.  He was made to be a weapon and yes sometimes he does violent things, but at the heart of his being his innocent, and that is the redeeming aspect of his character.  This issue was really poignant in the portrayal of this part of him.
  • Demon Knights #3 continues with the siege of the small village on the cusp of Alba Sarum, and really gets to the meat of the characters.  The Demon Etrigan’s ambivalent nature is displayed quite well by his uncontrollable brutality, and the other five characters who were met by Etrigan and Madame Xanadu begin to assert themselves toward the goal of holding back the horde and working together.  In patches their interactions can be sketchy, but the beginnings of friendships are starting to blossom.

    Diogenes Neves's opening shot in "Demon Knights #3"

  • Batgirl #3 is working toward something great and Gail Simone is really doing a good job writing the character of Barbara Gordon in such a way to reach the place she deserves.  The issue begins where the last left off with her fighting the villain, Mirror, but ends with her interacting with Nightwing and through this exchange her pyschological condition is revealed.  It not only clues the less versed of Batgirl readers into her past, but also uses that retrospective to show how she has changed and what damage has been done to her psyche.  Winning against villains might not be the hardest battle she will face in the new series . . .

    Cafu's Grifter lays down the law in "Grifter #3"

  • Grifter #3 featured a really intense family story of brothers at odds, duty vs honor, and the mystery of the alien invasion of the Daemonites.  Nathan Edmondson and Cafu do a great job plotting this series and really there isn’t much to say that wouldn’t spoil the plot.  This title is worming its way into my heart.  Surprisingly well done.
  • Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #3 was good this week and is holding its place on my pull list.  Lemire does a good job of taking the characters of Frank and the Creature Commandos and doing something new with them while holding onto the feel of their past.  That concept of the Monster Planet is intriguing and Lemire working the Atom into the frontline as a scientific consultant is a very interesting twist.  I’m intrigued.
  • Huntress is in its second issue and Paul Levitz writes an interesting narrative that takes Helena to Naples and deals in white slavery in the wake of the Arab Spring.  I’m really enjoying the story, and the artwork by Marcus To is very beautiful, on the level of Guillem March who does the cover.  Visually its a delight, and Levitz himself created her in 70’s so you know that the writing is on the level.
  • Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, also on its second issue, is really a complex character study of the Penguin.  Oswald Cobblepot is very much a monster, but the portrayal of his vicious actions is interlaced with glances at his past growing up a “freak” who is despised and ridiculed by his father, brothers, and society at large, while his mother is the only person to genuinely care for him.  In light of this we see how his sociopathic nature was developed and are shown hints at what his drives are and to what end his deeds are undertaken.  The artwork by Szymon Kudranski is very dark as well which adds great flavor to the whole.
  • Resurrection Man #3 was a condemned book in my opinion given a reprieve because this is a five Wednesday week and I could afford to get it.  It was decent, but on the whole not spectacular.  The premise is interesting and the ‘Body Doubles’ provided eye candy, but I can’t find myself caring about anything involved within.  I want to know what the deal is in the end, but its not written in a way that makes me care enough to stick around.  Fernando Dagnino’s artwork is great, truly well done, but Abnett and Lanning dropped the ball in my opinion on the story.
  • Kirby Genesis is a Dynamite Entertainment series by Kurt Busiek with art by Alex Ross and Jack Herbert.  The premise is that they took all manner of Jack Kirby characters that the “King” never got the chance to use or were published but were lesser known and put them all in one giant galactic cluster fuck of a storyline.  I say “cluster fuck” but please don’t think that I in any way am showing distaste or disappointment with the series thus far.  This week (or rather a couple weeks ago as I had to find a copy) was its fourth numerical issue, fifth if you count the #0, and there is way too much to even begin to describe the plot.  Needless to say, this series like, DC’s OMAC, IS a Jack Kirby comic.  Whereas OMAC is his mainstream work for DC, this series taps into his more abstract, esoteric work that was outside of his work at Marvel on Thor, Fantastic Four, Captain America, etc and at DC with OMAC, Demon, The New Gods, and Fourth World, etc.  This is RAW Kirby, and I like it A LOT!!! The disparate characters thrown together also adds a credence to it.  Whereas most of the worlds his characters occupy are tailored around the very unique creations, in this you have extremely different characters with different styles and vastly complex origins put into jarring contact with one another, but the fact that they don’t jibe perfectly make you believe that they come from different times and places throughout the universe.  I look forward to this series every month.

    Alex Ross's "Kirby Genesis" mural highlighting the key players.

  • Apropos the above entry, this week one of the lesser characters who has existed in only six issues put out in the 80’s by an independent comic book company got its own book again. Kirby Genesis: Silver Star tells the tale of a Vietnam soldier who is granted super powers and becomes a near god, not unlike the Alan Moore character Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen. I know little about his actual origins as I have been desperately trying to track down a collection of those six issues. The story put forth follows the existence of Silver Star through seven presidencies up to this day and what his role has been. There wasn’t much story, but it was a number one issue and was trying to make relevant a lesser known character, so I will definitely give it time to develop.  The art and characterization of the supporting characters was very good and it had a nice lead up to the ending.
  • Finally, the after dinner mint, The Unwritten #31 enters into a new stage of bimonthly release that may be heralding the end.  For five months they will be releasing two issues a month of Tommy Taylor battling the Cabal that has controlled humanity through their monopoly of the written word.  It doesn’t seem like at the end of this ten issue arc there will be much else to do, added to the fact that the .5 issues that they release are purportedly background stories of fan favorite characters.  This seems like a wrap up.  Anyway, to cut to the chase, Tommy takes the kid gloves off and gets his hands dirty in this one.  There is no hiding anymore. The hunted is now the hunter and Mike Carey and Peter Gross are turning the intensity up full blast, making it even more apparent that we are living in end times in the world of The Unwritten. I will be there for every last page and waiting for more.
So endeth the tenth week of the reboot.

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

Illustration Credits:

Demon Knights #3: Drawn by Diogenes Neves, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo, Inked by Oclair Albert

Grifter #3: Drawned by Cufu, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse, Inked by Jason Gorder

Kirby Genesis: Art by Alex Ross

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