So begins the month of March and a brand new round of excellent comics. Some of my favorite series adorn the first week of the month’s solicitations, so here’s to what hopefully will be an exceptional month of visual storytelling.
- Action Comics #7 returns to the “present” of the title, but has hit its stride. The two previous issues, taking place in the distant past and distant future, were pure Morrison, showcasing Grant Morrison’s unique, rich storytelling techniques. This issue, though still retaining aspects of the less good first issues, is beginning to hit its stride. We finally meet Brainiac and in his introductory scene all his names on different worlds are given. To the truest of DC dorks a few of these names will resonate and twang a few nerdly heartstrings. However, when his Earth name is revealed, all readers (unless they live under a rock) will have a reaction, and I am certain that reaction will be good. I have to say I was becoming an unbeliever, but Grant Morrison is making it happen for me. Perhaps there was a gestational period for him to transform a humdrum, normal world into a Super one. Whatever the case, Metropolis and the character of Superman are falling into the niche that they once fit securely into and an acceptable status quo is being built. This first arc was terrible to start off with, I hold to that opinion, but its ending with polarizing excellence. Truly worthy of having Grant Morrison’s name stamped on the cover. Now if DC could do something about that GODDAMN LOGO!!!
- Detective Comics #7 caps off the “Iceberg Lounge” arc. While this wasn’t the best arc that Daniel has ever done, it certainly is head and shoulders over most things DC is putting out, and is much better than a punch in the stomach. All the classic components of film-noir are present comprising a very entertaining gangster yarn. A casino run by a heavily entrenched crimeboss (the Penguin) on outskirts of town (or rather off the coast of), a mysterious femme fatale with an equally enigmatic link to the good girl our hero has the hots for, low level punks making a move on the aforementioned Boss’s turf . . . Are you getting the picture? This was a really entertaining issue that capped off a really decent arc. Daniel also leaves a few hats in the air for future storytelling, and a few of them are really game changers.
- Swamp Thing #7 was an interesting issue structurally. Action-wise not a lot happened, but a lot was happening. Story-wise, a great
deal was accomplished and the true potential of the book was reached. The Parliament of Trees is dying. Alec Holland is dying. Prophesies of destruction are becoming manifest. Hope is bleak. Despite this all, Alec Holland refuses to give up and in these last moments for both of them, he coerces truth from the Parliament and the truth of the Swamp Things is revealed. Through their interactions Alec is able to make the Parliament face the harsh realities of their own nature and that of the forces that seek their destruction. This is, as ever, a stunning issue by one of the best comic writers of the day, Scott Snyder. Aiding him as ever is the talented Yanick Paquette, rendering the story in glorious panels. This issue especially showcases the skill of Paquette to lavishly portray the stories of Snyder visually. Each panel isn’t just a comic panel, but a work of true art, which could stand alone on its own merit. This issue marks a great turning point not only in the series so far, but the entire history of the character going back to the seventies. A true must read.
- Red Lantern #7 wasn’t the best issue of the series, but is still superior to many of the comics that came out this week. There were aspects of it that lagged a bit. Also the story began to jump around a little too much. While the scope is spectacular, there are beginning to be too many characters. Issue #1 began with just Atrocitus and continued through the second issue simply focused on the Regent of Rage himself. Then Bleez was introduced and the story focused in on her for a time, really getting us involved in her. They took an issue and a half run to focus in on the trio of Lanterns, Skallox, Ratchet, and Zilius Zox. Now with the introduction of the human Red Lantern, Rankkor, the plot has split into three directions: Atrocitus, Bleez, and Rankkor. I have a feeling that all three of them will converge soon towards a more unified plotline, but at the moment, this issue felt a little schizophrenic. Also, following the revelation a few issues ago of the rogue guardian, Krona, being alive, the development in Atrocitus’s pursuit showcased here I felt was not the best piece of storytelling. That is my opinion, but what is done is done. I did enjoy it, but when you reach a certain height of excellent, it becomes inevitable that you will have to buoy down a little bit. Still one of the best books out this week.
- OMAC #7 was fantastic. Perhaps I am the only person that thinks this, as it is getting cancelled after next issue, which makes me cry a little bit inside. This series is so incredibly excellent it hurts. This issue features so many fan favorite Kirbyisms. The Apokaliptian god, Simiyan, makes an appearance, as does a certain talking Tiger named Prince Tuftan. I doubt many people will get these references, so my spoilers here won’t hit most of my readers. However, these characters are much beloved in the Kirby camp, and are rendered both narratively and visually with great finesse by the dynamic duo of Dan Didio and Keith Giffen. As stated before, this is the penultimate issue of the rebooted series and I look forward to and lament the coming of the last OMAC issue.
- Animal Man #7 was similar in a lot of ways to its sister series Swamp Thing’s, seventh issue, but with a lot less of the umph. Not a lot happens. There is a quick episode of shopping for food and an apocalyptic dream of the future. I was expecting a bit more in the story department, but the story just was. It wasn’t bad. It certainly wasn’t great. It just . . . was. Oh, wait. They did do a quick recap of what was happening in The Flash, which I thought was strange. A perplexing issue, which was unsettling once again with the bizarre artwork of Travel Foreman.
- Batwing #7 was fantastic. After six months of teasing, this issue FINALLY revealed the dark secret of “The Kingdom” and the atrocity they committed during the birth of their nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I can’t reveal what it was, it is that good. However, I can reveal that it is extremely thought provoking and a very morally complex thing that they undertook. I guarantee that the readership will be divided on the grounds of what they personally would have done, and how they feel about the opposing viewpoint. I myself am hard pressed to weigh in on my personal feelings. The choice they were left with was TRULY terrible. Its worth reading just for that reason. However, the story also features Batwing coming to Gotham and fighting along side the whole Batman family (save Batwoman and Catwoman) and finding his place among them. It also features the stunning art of the dynamic duo (there are few in DC’s Halls), Dustin Nguyan and Derek Fridolfs. Next issue promises to be the wrap up of this whirlwind first story arc for the newest and most intriguing member of the Bat Family.
- Justice League International #7 opened following a bang last issue and truly, getting into this issue’s meat was painful. I don’t mean this to impugn the writing or the story at all. Far from it. I think in past reviews I have said that this series was a “lighter” Justice League comic that was less substantial and just fun to read. This issue proves how WRONG I was. Shit hit the fan in major ways, and writer Dan Jurgens, a phenomenal artist and writer, is playing for keeps. The real point of this issue, which very likely will resonate throughout the remainder of the series, is that superheroes might be stronger, faster, and more talented than normal people, but they are still people and they also bleed . . . A LOT!!! Following the bombing at the end of the last issue, their lives are going to be changed in fundamental ways and in more ways than one, none of them will be the same.
- Hawk and Dove #7 is in a similar boat as OMAC #7. Like OMAC, its eighth issue will be its last. This also depresses me, though to a slightly smaller degree. I really feel that writer/artist, Rob Liefeld, is achieving a great deal in the series and delving deeply into the character, mining some quality gems. But also like OMAC, this wouldn’t be the first time that I held an unpopular opinion. The issue features the return of the villain, the Hunter, from their past and what he seeks this time around is something that strikes at the heart of what the Hawk and Dove concept represents. After reading this issue its hard to imagine that its ending in just one issue, such is the promise I read into it, but alas such is the case. I will buy next month’s issue and lament its passing.
- Night Force #1 was a real treat. This seven issue limited series is a remake of the 1980’s series Night Force, featuring the enigmatic Baron Winters who assembles rag tag groups which he refers to as the “Night Force” to combat paranormal occurrences. This series is written by the original writer, Marv Wolfman, of New Teen Titans fame. Its been awhile since I have read the original series, but from what I recall the series bears all the same eerie hallmarks as its predecessors. The Baron Winter returns, but welcomes an entirely new cast of back up characters who are fated to comprise his new “Night Force.” The original series featured the artwork of Gene Colan, who had worked with Wolfman on similarly macabre stories such as Blade and Tomb of Dracula. This time he is teamed up with Tom Mandrake, another artist who is not unfamiliar with the darker side of comics, having drawn for The Spectre and Batman. The series is quite different from most supernatural comics that are currently out, and has a very unique feel. This is to be expected from pros like Marv Wolfman and Tom Mandrake, who have made their careers off of innovation.
- Green Arrow #7 got a little better. I don’t know if I am just getting numb or acclimated, but not much has changed in the story. Ollie is still a douchebag. They are still pursuing the ridiculous notion of him running a software company like Steve Jobs. Maybe its the writing of the new writer, Annie Nocenti, that is novel. Maybe, like Ollie I was conned into the honey trap of the sexy trio, called Skylark. I can say that the art of Harvey Tolibao was okay. It was like a less jarring version of Travel Foreman’s art. In fact it was like if Foreman’s art had an illicit love child with the artwork of Paul Pope. I am reserving any other thoughts until I read further into the arc. So far I am not hating it as much as I have under the past two regimes.
- Huntress #6 ends the mini series and does it quite casually. I really liked this issue and I liked the series in general. I will say that while good, this last issue coasted through and was more of a denouement than a continuation of high drama. Not that I am complaining. The story was relevant and adequate to the flow of events. I think that writer, Paul Levitz, did a good job with this series reintroducing us to Huntress and making her relevant to this new DCU that has been put out. Artist, Marcus To, also contributed greatly by rendering a beautiful, dreamy Mediterranean vista of the Amalfi Coast and juxtaposing it with the high action scripted by Levitz. This series was important also, as upon the ending of the issue the question arises as to whether it is the end . . .
- Fatale #3 continues on the intriguing hybrid tightrope between film noir gangster yarn and supernatural, almost Lovecraftian horror story. A bizarre blend, but one that writer, Ed Brubaker, and artist, Sean Phillips, execute well. There is almost nothing I can say about it, because the series is so unprecedented. What I can comment on, however, is that the eponymous femme fatale, Josephine’s, character is really shaping up in this issue. The two previous installments lead up with a demure, but distant presentation of her. In this, her claws begin to protract. Anything else I could say, you will just have to read in the series.
- Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #4 was STELLAR!!! I mean it in both meanings of the word. I think that Sterling Gates, of all the writers in the Kirby Genesis line, truly understands his subject. This series is the most succinct, focused rendering of a Kirby series that is being put out. Reading this issue, I am becoming aware of Gates’ M.O. In the first issue he focused with surgical precision on the main character of Captain Victory and very casually, yet skillfully told us everything we needed to know about him to get why the series mattered. Then in the second issue, he set his focus on Victory’s friend and lieutenant, Tarin, who is an anthropomorphic lion of great nobility. The third, delves into his second in command, mentor, and oldest friend, Major Klavius. This issue focuses on the aquatic Ranger Orca. Here we see the amphibious character’s origins and what brought him into the fold of the Galactic Ranger Corps. Again Gates writes a “watertight” plot that tell us all we need to know about Orca and bonds us emotionally to his past and his present struggles. After a few more issues, I can only imagine the incredible web of storytelling that will have been knit by this incredible writer.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Swamp Thing #7: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Justice League International #7: Drawned by Aaron Lopresti, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Matt Ryan
Green Arrow #7: Art by Harvey Tolibao, Colored by Richard and Tanya Horie
Kirby Genesis: Captain Victory #4: Art by Wagner Reis, Colored by Inlight Studios