This was an outstanding week in comics. I really enjoyed what I read, but most importantly because some of the best issues were from titles that usually aren’t top tier. This clearly shows that across the board people are stepping up their games to put out the best products. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
- Green Lantern #8 continues Hal and Sinestro’s imprisonment on the enigmatic Indigo planet. This was a good issue, but a very short one. On the other hand, it did feature a few really cool moments. I’m not certain if I read this correctly, but if I did: Sinestro curb-jobbed a guy!!! Also Hal broke out of his cell in a very ingenious way, that frankly I didn’t even consider an option. That said, writer Geoff Johns is really rounding out our understanding of the Indigo light of compassion and defining its true nature. Also, he keeps flirting with the revelation of the connection between Hal’s predecessor and Sinestro’s best friend, Abin Sur to the creation of the Indigo tribe. I am so pissed that as of yet he hasn’t gotten around to it, but its keeping me on the Green Lantern leash, so that can be chocked up to excellent storytelling (unlike his horrendous Justice League series that is currently coming out.). This is one of the best series out there, regardless of imprint.
- The winner of this week’s “Chicken Dinner”, however, is Batman & Robin #8. This issue deals with the aftermath of last month’s shocking conclusion. If you haven’t read it by now, I’m not gonna hold back, so SPOILER ALERT!!!: Batman and Damian, father and son, deal in this issue with the cataclysmic consequences of Damian’s killing of an unarmed man. The lead-up to this eighth issue has been Freudian, Shakespearean, and mythic in the Greek tradition. If you look at it topically, it may not seem that provocative as Damian has killed scores of people in the past, but really this one is very meaningful. First, since he has donned the Robin uniform he has been on a tight leash by Dick and Bruce to not kill, second he’s normally killed in the heat of battle when his victim had a gun or a knife or something of that nature, and thirdly he was a different person then, still under his mother’s League of Assassins indoctrination. When Damian killed Morgan it was after Bruce has almost done it himself, and stopped only while looking at his son’s saddened face, beseeching his father not to lower himself by violating his code of ethic in such a blatant way. Then when Morgan whispered that he would hunt them both down later and kill Bruce, Damian did the deed himself and aced the villain with his fingers. Damian killed Morgan FOR his father. THAT is the significance of the issue, that Damian did one of the most horrible things in the world for the most altruistic reason, something he has never even come close to doing before. This issue takes everything from those last seven issues and glides through in one of the most touching, poignant issues in the whole of the New DCU. Damian finally listens to the recording Bruce made while trying to find him, and hard assed as he may be, admitted that all he wants is Bruce to love him. This is probably the biggest spoiler, but the most straightforward: Bruce doesn’t disappoint. For this issue at least, he’s got the dad thing down.
- Batgirl #8 may have been the best issue yet. You know what? It WAS the best issue yet. This issue is a silver bullet to the heart of Batgirl/Barbara Gordon as a character. In the last panel of last month’s issue writer Gail Simone dropped a bombshell that had implications going back to the iconic Killing Joke storyline that paralyzed Barbara for two decades of storytelling (and I think two years within the plot of this new series). This issue picks back up on that crucial plot point, but also explores another traumatic event as well, the reemergence of her mother. Like the father/son dynamic in Batman & Robin above, the role of a mother in her daughter’s life and maturation is a pivotal thing that can leave lasting effects. Simone tells us why the elder Barbara Gordon left her daughter, the younger Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), and leaves our heroine at a tricky nexus point of what to do, in both her personal and private lives. Simone also reasserts that James Gordon Jr is still a psychopath and intimates that the events of Scott Snyder’s Detective Comics run, “The Dark Mirror”, are still canon. This issue has a very sentimental feel that is very engaging and nostalgic. And the twists keep coming right up to the final page. HOLY . . . COW . . . !
- Batwoman #8 remains one of the most intriguingly nuanced books out there. Like Red Lanterns the past two months, it splits its narrative into segments each devoted to one of the main characters, but writer J.H. Williams III knows how to utilize this narrative style expertly, making it work for the plot. In this way he slowly develops each character’s storyline on a slow, tantalizing simmer, cultivating the readers interest with good storytelling and a veritable pu-pu platter of events that are leading toward one giant convergent event that will tell us once and for all who the main mastermind behind Medusa is and why these weird figures of the underworld have been kidnapping Gotham’s children. Along the way, we see the tragically penitent Jacob Kane trying to pick up the pieces of the shattered relationships in his life, Kate’s relationship with Maggie in both her role as Batwoman and as the policewoman’s burgeoning paramour, both explored in great detail, and truths about her true feelings are hinted at. I love this series.
- Grifter #8 illustrates the final threads tying Cole Cash to the land of living being severed forever. After this issue, he truly has nothing to lose and becomes the worst nightmare for the Daemonites. The things Grifter sees, and more importantly is forced to do by the aliens hunting him, drive him over the line. Letting him live is perhaps the last mistake they will make. Or perhaps it was a calculated strategy on their part . . . Either way, the ride that this series has taken us on for the past eight issues has really been spectacular. I was initially skeptical of the series and only bought it to give it a fair chance. Well it didn’t need my fairness, because it has stood on its own merit thanks to the incredible writing of Nathan Edmondson. Sadly, he will be leaving after this issue as writer and Rob Liefeld will be taking over duties for at least the next five months. I didn’t mind his writing on Hawk & Dove, but at the same time he didn’t have to compete against the awesome lead up such as Edmondson has achieved thus far. Time will tell. In the mean time though, I am a huge fan of this series.
- Demon Knights #8 was an interim issue between the “Siege of Little Spring” arc and the coming “Murder of Merlin” arc. On their way to the great city of Alba Sarum the Demon Knights ask the question that has been on most of the series’ readers’ minds: Just what IS the deal with Madame Xanadu and her dual lovers in one body, Jason Blood and Etrigan. The issue clarifies the history that she shares with Jason and how the romantic triangle began. It’s an interesting yarn that gives an answer, but has the reader questioning the veracity of it by the end. Either way, I choose to believe that she is in love with Jason, but then again she is a tricksy minx, as her other series, Justice League Dark, has shown us. Either way, an excellent story from writer Paul Cornell about the fall of Camelot, the immortal lovers, and Jack Kirby’s fantastic Demon character. Also it features the death of Merlin by a very interesting assassin. It’s not someone, or something you’d expect. It’s actually quite . . . out of this world.
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8 made me sad. Literally, this issue depressed me deeply. It was a beautiful story, but one that was very tragic in the subject material. I’ll lay out the basics. In the 1950’s Father Time had the genetics of Frank and his wife, Lady Frankenstein, spliced to artificially create the child they could not have naturally. Needless to say, the results are horrific and they thought that their child had died. It hadn’t. As of last issue’s final panel we are told that the “Spawn of Frankenstein” has escaped. The rest of the issue is the patchwork parents trying to find their abomination of child and bring him home. As you can tell from my introduction, it’s not the ending that I would have liked for the issue, but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be construed as a happy ending if you really think about it. This series is really outstanding from Jeff Lemire. It’s not my favorite of his works, but it is apparent that he has a great passion for the subject material and the characters he is reworking into the New DCU.
- Superboy #8 reaffirms that writer Scott Lobdell is the man to reboot the younger generation of the New 52. Superboy is portrayed possibly the best in this issue. “The Culling” is about to occur and though we haven’t really learned much of what that entails . . . yet, we do get a feel for its implications in this issue. The story opens without preamble on Superboy being pitted against a metamorphic teen called Grunge with the ability to take on the characteristics of anything around him: stone, metal, liquids, etc. What’s more, he’s immune to Superboy’s tactile telekinesis. Superboy gets his butt kicked, but amidst the beatings we get that prescient, penetrating commentary by our hero as he works out what is happening around him and reacts to it. He is a very complex young man and not without a very kind soul and conflicted conscience. Also we see the current situation of Rose Wilson, as well as a peek at her past via the character of Solstice. And to cap it all off, we are visited by two Titans of Teen Titans past, both great favorites of mine from the seminal New Teen Titans days of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
- Shade #7 wraps up the Barcelona arc with the Shade aiding his “daughter” La Sangre in her fighting of her resurrected foe, the Inquisitor. Within that fight Shade is confronted with a resurrected foe of his own from a battle in the Paris of 1901. This leads to the next and final arc of the twelve issue series. I have to say again that story-wise, James Robinson is a genius and I really appreciate the love and care he puts into his worldcrafting. This may be kind of meta, but I know that there is one person who views this blog from Bangladesh, and though I do not know who this person is, I am curious what they think about the character of Montpellier, who hails from their country and represents for the people of the Subcontinent. I for one hope that La Sangre and Montpellier get resurrected soon, as they are incredible characters, each in their own right. Also I am going to miss the sumptuous art of Javier Pulido, who really set the mood of the past four issues.
- Batman: Arkham Unhinged #1 was one I got out of curiosity and wasn’t too bad. If you are a fan of the video games “Arkham Asylum” and “Arkham City” (which I am), you will love this series as it takes place within that same continuity. This first issue deals with the time just before “Arkham City” when Two-Face and Catwoman still remain free and the genesis of their feud from the game begins. That’s really all that you need to know going in. It is adapted by Derek Fridolfs from a teleplay by Marly Halpern-Graser and reads very straightforwardly. It’s not anywhere close to being the best Batbook out there, but it’s still pretty entertaining.
- Saucer Country #2 continues to develop what I feel is going to be a really engrossing series from Vertigo. Though little is explain or revealed, ties are starting to be woven between characters who are being pushed forward from the narrative into main roles. Writer Paul Cornell has a true passion for the pseudo-mythology of alien abductions and hashes out a decent yarn that takes all that and integrates it into a real life, present day scenario. I really don’t know what else I can say about it, as it lies in a hazy state after just two issues. I am onboard for the time being, though, as Paul Cornell has yet to disappoint me, but for Stormwatch, which I don’t blame on him. I think it might just be a shitty series based on a shitty concept. My opinion, of course.
- And as ever, rounding out the second week’s reading is The Unwritten #36. This was a very interesting issue that takes place outside of the main storyline of Tommy Taylor and his friends journeying towards discovery. After the conclusion last month of the “War of the Words” the entire fabric of reality has been thrown into flux. A greater calamity hasn’t occurred since the dawn of creation. For those who haven’t read or understand this series, you really shouldn’t be reading this review, but I’ll try and present the situation. The written word and its conceptualization by the masses shapes reality. When you cut deep into the cogs that have been put in place to control the written word and the concepts that have until now held the perception of the world in stasis, as the series’ characters did last month, great upheaval is going to occur. In this issue, the Superman-esque 1930’s comic book character, “Tinker”, and the foulmouthed rabbit, Pauly Bruckner, are part of an exodus movement of literary characters, places, and even ideas that are fleeing the “Wave” that is ripping through the fictional world and wiping out the canon of human creation. It is quite fun to read as it drops a number of iconic literary references to clue the reader into the enormity of what is happening. They reference “The Houses of Secrets, Mystery, Silk, Night, Leaves, and Usher. Pemberly Northanger Abbey. Toad Hall and Cold Comfort Farm.” “Isles of Plenty. Mountains of Doom. Heights both Wurthering and Non-Wurthering.” Swords are pulled out of magic bags with names like Narsil, Anduril, Hrunting, Excaliber, Stormbringer, etc . . . And to cap it all off, the final page portrays what I am almost certain has been the thing this series has been leading toward but never actually spoken of. I could be wrong, but I think on the last page we finally get to see “The Unwritten” . . .
And thus concludes the thirty second week of the Reboot and of my comic reviewing. I’m gonna throw out, well I won’t say a request, but rather an invitation to anyone reading this blog to comment on my posts whenever you feel like it. I’m not so much asking you to tell me how awesome the blog itself is, although any feedback on what I am doing right or could do better are welcome. Making this blog is really a bi-product of my excitement for comics. If you’ve read something I’ve reviewed and really liked it or really hated it, throw a comment on the post and dork out with me. Part of the fun of reading comics is dorking it out. So why not dork it out with me? That goes doubly for anyone that doesn’t know me personally. So consider the invitation open and I’ll post again next week.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Green Lantern #8: Drawn by Doug Mahnke, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, and Doug Mahnke
Batwoman #8: Drawn by Amy Reeder, Colored by Guy Major, Inked by Rob Hunter
Superboy #8: Drawn by Iban Coello & R.B. Silva, Colored by HiFi, Inked by Rob Lean & Iban Coello
The Unwritten #36: Art by Peter Gross & Rufus Dayglo, Colored by Chris Chuckry