Week 23 (Feb. 8, 2012)

  • Green Lantern #6 was a break from the main flow of the series in several respects.  Firstly, the great Doug Mahnke took a break from art with Mike Choi filling in until next month’s “The Secret of the Indigo Tribe” arc.  It also featured Hal as just Hal Jordan and Sinestro doing his own things outside the purview of the Guardians’ designs.  I really was not looking forward to the seemingly lackadaisical sixth issue, but was pleasantly surprised when I got into  it.  The characterization of both Hal and Sinestro remained on par, and even more so as their motivations were driving events, not the other way around as can be the case in the larger multi-issue arcs where things usually spin out of control.  Geoff Johns, I think, develops Hal’s character well in his weighing of a life with Carol against the life he loves as a Green Lantern.  The harshness of Sinestro is balanced well against his innate nobility in an attempted offer of redemption to an old foe in his search for answers.  Through this latter interaction Johns gives great revelations toward the dark designs of the Guardians hinted in previous issues.  Also, without bloating his ego by saying it in his presence, Sinestro gives Hal Jordan possibly the greatest compliment he is capable of giving.  After reading it, I was stunned that Sinestro could be that honest out loud.  The issue teases well at the anticipation for the next arc which promises the origin of the Indigo Tribe, and the artwork by the guest artist, Mike Choi, was absolutely beautiful, again assuaging the absence of the great Mahnke’s work, which is saying a lot!
  • Batman & Robin #6 was one I waited for, biting my fingernails, and twitching uncontrollably like junkie.  Damian is put in the cross-path of destiny with two incredibly strong men on either side, both vying for his soul.  Have I mentioned that I love Damian Wayne?  If I haven’t, I’ve been remiss, and will rectify it: I FRIGGIN’ LOVE Damian Wayne!  This issue does a good job again of

    Damian laying it down!

    juxtaposing how awesome the father is and how incredible the son is.  The two are separated by generation and upbringing, but Bruce has molded himself into a mortal God almost, and his son surreptitiously has done something similar.   Bruce finishes his tale of training with the Ducards and the conclusion fills the reader with awe.  Damian works with the younger Ducard, Morgan, and through his interactions fills us again with awe.  Like Sinestro did in Green Lantern, Damian very succinctly in one sentence fragment tells you everything you need to know about his allegiance.  Next issue promises to be as exciting as this one, and I am again back to the nails and the twitching.

  • Batwoman #6 was also greatly anticipated, but this one is unique to the anticipation I described above.  I anticipated Batman & Robin #6 since the ending of issue #5.  I have been anticipating this issue since before its fifth issue.  I have even been anticipating it since BEFORE its first issue!  I have been anticipating it since it Zero Issue that came out last February, one whole year ago.  Why was I anticipating the sixth issue in particular from the Zero Issue?  Its because the artist is none other than Amy Reeder, whose art I fell in love with after her seminal run on Matt Wagner’s Madame Xanadu. (P.S. If you can find them I would definitely check them out. They are great.)  Reeder’s art takes us into the second arc of J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman’s take on Batwoman.  Though it no longer is drawn by Williams, Reeder does a phenomenal job keeping the art lavish, crisp, and stark.  The devil is in the details, and several panels in this issue just ooze with ambiance.  The story takes a new stylistic approach with a fragmented narrative that follows each character individually, including Kate and Batwoman as separate perspectives.  Like the details in Reeder’s art, there is uncanny detail in the story imbued in each segment’s plot.  I am at a loss as to what else I can say about this issue in that much of it is enticingly shrouded in mystery and the other half would spoil the reading if I commented on it.  So, as ever, I command you to  READ IT!!!
  • Superboy #6 picks up where Teen Titans #5  left off, with Superboy hovering over the bodies of the defeated Titans.  I praised Lobdell for the morally complex narrative of the latter title’s fifth issue, and this issue builds beautifully off that.  Superboy is very much the warrior-philosopher and after this battle he again struggles to find meaning and significance in his actions.  As the cover reveals, Supergirl makes an appearance that steeps more mystique into the plot, but does offers more information as well.  She tells Superboy that he is “Kon-El” and a hint as to what that entails.  She also presents ominous foreshadowing of his future.  Perhaps it is because I was the youngest in my family with two sisters who were several years older than me, but throughout this issue I totally related to the feelings of isolation and confusion Superboy felt from those around him.  In my previous reviews of Supergirl the character and Supergirl the title, I have given my reservations as to how the character is being handled and my moderate distaste in both regards.  Lobdell’s handling of her left me with something akin to a cool minty taste.  I genuinely liked her by the end of the issue.  I wonder if Mr. Lobdell has room on his plate for a fourth DC title perhaps . . . ?
  • Demon Knights #6  is an interesting case, as it has gone a long way in a very short time.   So much has already changed since the first issue.  The team has evolved, growing individually, growing together and also growing apart.  I think what’s the most interesting is watching these different warriors and seeing their individual concepts of honor.  The range goes from the super honor-bound Amazon, Exoristos, to the Demon himself who really doesn’t give a shit and is kept on the leash of his affections for Madame Xanadu.  These aren’t goody-two-shoes characters.  They will do bad, sometimes very rash things, yet they remain in the besieged village trying to save people they’ve never met.  Next issue promises “The Final Battle” and I am excited to see what that entails.
  • Batgirl #6 ends the two part Gretel story and it follows well in the very touching manner in which it began.  The best parts of the story are the Barbara parts.  This issue focuses a great deal on her past relations with Batman.  Barbara didn’t set out to be his partner or live under his shadow and yet she some how fell into both all the same.  Though she says that she doesn’t care, you can tell that what Bruce thinks means a great deal to her.  Gail Simone is doing a great job writing the character.
  • Grifter #6  is progressing nicely.  This is a series that I had the lowest expectations for and has developed quickly into one of my favorites.  This series, and more recently Voodoo, have been the engine upon which the Daemonite story has been exposed.  Just as they are invading Earth in these two books, they are also invading other titles.  Stormwatch #6 featured Daemonite technology, Superman #7 features an old baddie from the old W.I.L.Dcats series on its cover, as well as a few other posited cameos.  This one features the advent of the ‘Black Curate.’  I had preconceptions as to what I thought the ‘Black Curate’ would be, but so far they haven’t confirmed or disconfirmed those suspicions.  However you decide to look at it, the Daemonites are a unique threat that is growing more and more ominous by the issue, and this series is the font from which it is all pouring forth . . .
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #6 is gaining steam.  It is now on its second full arc after that weird crossover last issue with OMAC.   If this issue is any indicator, I think writer Jeff Lemire is back to his old swing of really interesting storytelling.  The first arc was interesting, but overtly strange.  This one seems more like his style involving back story, technology gone wrong, and intimate characterization.  Two major things are revealed about Franks’ past, as well as a moral dilemma aboard the Ant Farm.  The latter situation deals directly with the last issue’s crossover with OMAC.  If I was rude about those two issues of their respective series, I stand by my statements, but will concede that some good came of the crossover in the form of this seemingly significant plot point engineered by Brother Eye.  I’ve been lukewarm on this series, but my interest is now piqued.
  • Huntress #5  was the penultimate issue and apart from setting up a killer (metaphorically, though perhaps literally) ending, not a lot really came of it.  The miniseries has been pretty tight so I can’t fault the amazing Paul Levitz.  Sometimes great stories need a little drag period to facilitate something larger.  A good issue though, with a lot of Helena kicking ass.
  • Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5 caps off this miniseries the way it had to end.  I won’t say I like the ending, but I respect it.  There is no salvation for the Penguin.  You go into the series knowing that.  He is a tragic character, not just in the hard life that led him to the role of criminal kingpin, but also in his inability to allow himself the luxury of happiness or even trust in anyone apart from himself.  Gregg Hurwitz did a great job writing a story that was honest about the Penguin, but at the same time didn’t completely demonize him.  I’m not the biggest fan of the Penguin, but this series still sucked me in.  Its my belief that if you are a Batman fan, you owe it to yourself to give this a read in single issues or trade paperback format.  There is a slight demonization of Batman and Commissioner Gordon in the few instances we see them.  Just like the Penguin’s positive aspects, the negative aspects described of the two Gotham protagonists are very real and believable.  If we didn’t realize they were, it reveals our own prejudices which mask them.
  • Warlord of Mars #15  continues its adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ second Barsoom novel “The Gods of Mars.”  As a fan of

    Barsoom's Legendary Temple of Issus

    those turn of the century novels, I have to say that I am a fan of this series’ faithful interpretation of the novels thus far, as well as the writer, Arvid Nelson.  The land of the Black Martians is presented in all the glory Burroughs’ prose evoked in the imagination and then some.  Carthoris makes the scene when his father, John Carter, arrives at the legendary Temple of Issus, and though it is very different from how it occurs in the novel, I don’t mind so much.  Nelson has done a good job and I would suggest anyone into classic science fiction should check out the spectacle that the main Warlords of Mars series embodies.

  • Silver Star #3 was a little confusing, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good.  I enjoyed unfolding the plot page by page, even though I’m not sure I got all of it.  Writer, Jai Nitz, does a good job of introducing new characters and plot points alongside the old.  Like Captain Victory, I am unfamiliar with the original Kirby material, but think I am picking it up slowly.  One thing I will say for Jai Nitz’s style, he provides very bold strokes in his storytelling and the fourth issue promises a defining story.
  • Finally, The Unwritten #34 ends off my week.  The series is like a doomsday clock and each issue is a tick towards midnight.  The secrets of the Cabal continue to be revealed as are their aims at the world.  The end is nigh in this series and the kid gloves have come off.  Tommy Taylor plays for keeps in this, as do the men and women whose interests he is a threat to.  M.K. Perker’s art is a worthy substitute for Peter Gross’s.  I’m not sure where they are going with the plot, but I am looking forward to the next several months where hopefully all will be explained.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman & Robine #6: Drawned by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Warlord of Mars #15: Drawn by Edgar Salazar, Colored by Marcelo Pinto

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