This week packed a lot of punch and included two issues that I think most comic geeks, myself at the forefront, have been anticipating for a quite some time. I am in fact referring to the first two entries on my list Green Lantern #7 and Batman & Robin #7. Not to say that the rest of the week wasn’t just as good. However, without further ado, let’s get to it . . .
- Green Lantern #7 was incredible. In the Green Lantern books for the past five or six years, a great deal of time has been dedicated to the emotional spectrum. “The Sinestro Corps War” and its
prelude introduced us to the Yellow Lanterns five years ago. “Sins of the Star Sapphires” reintroduced us to the Star Sapphires (now de facto Violet Lanterns) in 2008. “Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns” released in October of 2008 introduced us to not only the Red Lanterns, but also the Blue Lanterns, via their hetman, Saint Walker. Following the Rage, “Agent Orange” introduced us to the sole Orange Lantern, Larfleeze. The “Blackest Night” introduced the Black Lanterns and the White Lantern entity, explaining the balance between life and death. Also in this title, the Indigo Tribe made their first appearance, but shrouded in mystery, there is no mention of who they are, where they come from, what their mission really is, or anything of the sort. For two years bread crumbs have been dropped, but nothing revealed. THAT ENDS HERE. This arc in Green Lantern is “The Secret of the Indigo Tribe.” Its first installment is not the longest issue, but writer Geoff Johns accomplishes SO MUCH in the space he is given. Even the smallest actions and statements have a crucial role in the story. The relationship between Sinestro, Hal, and to a lesser extent Carol, is top notch. The whole product put together is incredible. Johns has made a symphony of the series for seven years, and has yet to diminish in his vision of the Green Lantern concept. As ever, artist extraordinaire Doug Mahnke renders the beauteous script in equal grandeur. Can’t wait for more revelations next month. NOK!
- Batman & Robin #7 was perhaps the darkest Batman story I’ve read in awhile. Ending the first arc, there is a great deal culminating in this last issue. The three characters of Bruce, Damian, and Morgan are on a collision course that is inextricably set and the rules have been thrown out the window. As of the last panel of issue #6 Damian has made his last gambit and now is reaping the whirlwind. Morgan Ducard’s baggage has been laid to bear by Bruce and his pride from here on out dictates his actions. Through Bruce’s soliloquy from issues #5 and 6, his own emergent paternal desperation has him locked in a collision course with Morgan, unleashing the darkest Dark Knight on his old “friend.” Hell truly hath no fury, like a father provoked. This issue showcases the worst instincts in all three (two and a half, actually) men, but also the best in both Bruce and Damian. Perhaps the good in father and son discloses the difference from the NoBODY that is Morgan Ducard. Either way, a killer issue of an even better arc. This is one of the must reads of the new DC Line.
- Batwoman #7 was a little bit like Red Lanterns #7 last week. This book had seven segments from six different character’s point of view. Conversely though, I think that since the book was intentionally paced that way it compensates for the disconnects and uses them to the advantage of the story. Also we are abruptly introduced to two new characters, and writers J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman resurrect a group from the Greg Rucka Detective Comics run of Batwoman. Storywise I have to give it a thumbs up. Visually, since guest artist Amy Reeder took over the flow of the panels has changed, but with artwork like her’s, its hard to really notice. Reeder makes magic with her evocative pencilling of Williams and Blackman’s scripts, which is no mean feat having to contend with what Williams has done with the first five issues of the series. Looking forward to next month’s issue for many reasons.
- Batgirl #7 is taking the series into the realm of a comfortable, enjoyable Batbook, like the old, Nightwing, Robin, and Red Robin books pre-reboot. Her newest antagonist, a dapper man in a tuxedo (no shoes for some reason) and a demon mask named Grotesque, is actually quite intriguing and fun to watch in tete-a-tete with our heroine. Thus the superhero side of the plot is well done, but conversely, as I have said many times before, writer Gail Simone is an artist at characterizing Barbara also as a woman and not just a superheroine. After the catastrophic events of 1988’s The Killing Joke her world was turned upside down and emotional scars run deep to the core of her psyche. Not even Superman could shrug off the shit she has been through, and nor can she. But stoically she deals with it, issue by issue with a stiff upper lip and an indomitable spirit. This issue yet again makes her look her past dead in the eyes, with the anticipation on our part to see how she rallies to overcome it . . .
- Grifter #7 was pretty good. As advertised at the end of the last issue, this one was a showdown with the character of Midnighter from Stormwatch. Unlike his exchange with Green Arrow several issues ago, this one with Midnighter was unprovoked on the former’s part and bothered me a little bit. Maybe I am tipping my hand here, but I think that owing to several things, my love of an underdog, my unfamiliarity with Stormwatch and more specifically the character of Midnighter, coupled with the aforementioned unwarranted aggression, I was a little disappointed that Cole didn’t do a better job putting that sociopathic jerk in his proper place and give him a lesson in manners. Alas, that doesn’t happen, but Grifter does make a good showing, and achieves his ends. Sorry that was a bit of spoiler, wasn’t it? Well at least I didn’t say what those ends were. THAT is the true draw of the issue. On a side note, I predicted that the Black Curate from last month’s issue would be someone else. I was incorrect. However, that person who I though would appear under the guise of the Black Curate, enters stage right under his own steam and will be further appearing in this month and April’s issues of Superman!!! That is reason two to read this issue.
- Demon Knights #7 ends the siege of Little Spring. That’s about all I can say about it. The plot was very linear and everything that happened up until now was the setting up of dominoes. From the first page to the last, its all about watching the dominoes fall where they may. I liked it a lot. However, its a case of next issue the dominoes will be set up again.
- Superboy #7 was the homecoming episode of “Little House on the Prairie.” Have I mentioned how much I love Superboy? This issue keeps the awesome train rollin’ down the tracks. Superboy, after an existential experience beating the shit out of the Teen Titans, returns home to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to get the answers he so craves from those who created him. He doesn’t get any answers, only more questions. We, however, get a few answers, as well as a hint at the identity of Mr. Zaniel Templar. Last but not least, I said last issue that Lobdell took a horribly miswritten casualty of the Reboot, Supergirl, and made me like her again. In this issue he’s performed a flipping miracle and made me cheer on Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark), a character I have detested for years. Mr. Scott Lobdell, is there anything you can’t do . . . ?
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #7 was also kind of mechanical. Last issue had the humanid population, recycled human-like drones that die and are reborn on a 24 hour cycle, rising up against the members of S.H.A.D.E. in SHADE City and asserting their independence, as well as the release of the “Children of Frankenstein” from the microscopic prison called “The Zoo.” This issue kind of just played that out like the proverbial dominoes in Demon Knights. The end of this issue, on the other hand, portends potential awesomeness next issue.
- The Shade #6 continues the detour Shade took in Barcelona, being thrust into aiding his “daughter”, La Sangre, against her perennial nemesis, “The Inquisitor.” A masterpiece on the part of writer James Robinson, he not only deepens the mystique behind the Inquisitor with a very conversational recap of the past appearances of the villain, he also deepens the mythos and history of the Spanish superhero scene going back over a century. He also introduces a Bangladeshi superhero named Montpellier. How many times do you see a superhero from the Subcontinent? After reading this issue I want to read more adventures featuring La Sangre and her friend, Montpellier. Such is the talent and passion Robinson has put into these characters and their world, this could very easily become its own series. And rounding out the issue is the lavish artwork of the Spanish artist, Javier Pulido. Next issue ends both the La Sangre portion of the Shade’s journey and the collaboration of Robinson and Pulido in this series. I anticipate it with great excitement.
- My Greatest Adventure #6 comes to its final issue wrapping up all three yarns within. Robotman was I think the best yet. While I was sort of on the fence about it, this issue cinched it for me. There were elements of deep introspection on the part of protagonist Robotman (aka Cliff Steele) but as the action had tailed off after issue #5 this issue really focused on the existential side of the character. He isn’t just a robotic kick-ass machine, but a thinking, feeling, intellect encased within a literal kick-ass machine. There is a a truly tragic, yet stoic nature to living in a physical world you can’t physically interact with like a human being. Garbage Man reached a climax that was very poignant. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and will say, for the final time, it was my favorite of the three. Tanga actually pulled itself together well in the end. This one shambled the most on its almost drunken, ambling plot structure, but I have to admit that in the end writer/artist Kevin Maguire made a cogent plot appear to explain the madness and Tanga herself has some very interesting bits of characterization. This was a great series, and I hope that these characters pop up again, because their inaugural runs in this anthology book (And Strange Adventures) were spectacular.
- Saucer Country #1 is the first of four comic titles Vertigo is launching in March, probably as a result of DC’s larger remodeling initiative. The title centers around the Hispanic governor, Arcadia Alavarado, who is on the verge of running for President of the United States. Along side her, this first issue also deals with her ex husband, Michael, and a slightly off college professor, Dr. Kidd, who has visions of a miniature, naked couple who tell him to do things. These three people it is heavily insinuated have a common connection that also is insinuated to involve aliens. I am an overall fan of Paul Cornell, but for Stormwatch I’ve enjoyed everything of his I have read. I think that this comic offers him an interesting platform to work off of, as he has a good handle on science fiction, having worked previously on “Dr. Who” in the UK. Overall, a good book. The writing was excellent, and the art had a very Vertigo feel to it, as done by Ryan Kelly who has worked on Lucifer, DMZ, and Northlanders for the imprint.
- Warlord of Mars #16 was outstanding as ever. The comic as adapted by Arvid Nelson follows the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel perfectly, except for the random interjection of references to some kinky sexual acts. I don’t quite know if that was necessary, due to the already abounding amount of eye candy throughout the book, but whatever. I won’t condemn the issue for something that small. The richness of the material’s presentation makes it a nice companion piece with the novels themselves.
- The Unwritten #35 was the most incredible yet!!! I do not say this with any false enthusiasm. Literally 34 issues and almost three years worth of storytelling have led up to THIS ISSUE. The mysterious events and diabolical machinations that our protagonist, Tom Taylor and his friends, have endured are explained for the first time in full detail and rationalized. The explanations given by creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross, are both epic and wonderfully succinct. I have felt that this story arc would end the series and this issue capping it off, but HUZZAH this is not the case! At least for another story arc. If you haven’t read the series up till now, I suggest you NOT read this issue, but rather read the series from issue one and work towards this one, because the journey is worth every word: written or otherwise.
Green Lantern #7: Drawn by Doug Mahnke, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inks by Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, and Mark Irwin
Batman & Robine #6: Drawned by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray
Superboy #7: Drawn by R.B. Silva, Colored by Hi-Fi and Richard and Tanya Horie, Inked by Rob Lean
The Unwritten #35: Layouts by Peter Gross, Finishes by M.K. Perker, Colored by Chris Chuckry