The last week of the month always yields a strong crop of titles, but being that this month is a five weeker, that crop may be slightly diminished. I do look forward to several that are coming out this week and so let’s check em out:
- Aquaman #9 was cryptic as ever. There were quite a few revelations in this book that I am still processing. I mentioned earlier something that Aquaman writer Geoff Johns, who also does Justice League, does wrong in the latter title is changing things that are perfect. I also said that he should feel free to change things that few people know or care about. This title, with Aquaman being the laughing stock of comic book dorks around the world, is in a prime position to do that. I won’t mention what he is asserting, but I will say what he is not. I believe that Johns has completely cut out the defining “Death of a Prince” storyline, as laid out in the 1970’s in which Black Manta murdered Aquaman’s four year old son, Arthur Jr. It makes sense that this is the case, since this title is a near reboot of the character, though one that may still cling to some vestiges of the Brightest Day event. Either way, I am saddened by this departure from the old canon, but accept it in the same vein as the other titles in the New DCU. I won’t pan this arc like I have the whole of Justice League, but I am waiting for closure. For more on the “Death of a Prince” story, please visit my review of that story’s graphic novel collection on this blog. https://offthepanelcomicreview.wordpress.com/2012/02/20/review-aquaman-death-of-a-prince/
- Green Lantern: The New Guardians #9 is OUTSTANDING!!! Following the diaspora of the New Guardians over the past two issues, this one marks an event that promises to bring them back together: the Invasion of Odym. Odym, home of the Blue Lantern Corps, is under siege by the merciless Reach, the insectoid invaders whose scarabs enslave the wearer to do the Hive’s bidding, and whose faulty scarab powers the teenaged superhero, Blue Beetle. This issue primarily is about the Blue Lantern Corps and especially their gentle generalissimo, Saint Walker. Not a great deal has been done with or reveal about the Blue Lanterns and writer Tony Bedard jumps in head first to fleshing out the Corps, introducing new Corpsmen, and really exploring how awesome they can be. Saint Walker is one of my favorite Lanterns, and seeing him fulfill his potential to be one of the greatest of Lanterns fills me with nothing short of wonderment. Elsewhere in the plot, Fatality explores the white hole through which Invictus entered our reality, begging the question of who let him in? I know the answer, though admittedly it is a guess. Skip over the next sentence if you don’t want to hear my guess. The Guardians of the Universe. Though her stint in this issue is brief, I have to say that Fatality also is climbing the charts of my favorite ringslingers. This issue is perhaps one of the purest that has come out. Those who read my reviews with some frequency should realize that I talk about as much smack as I do praise, so when I say this issue knocks it out of the park, I hope you all believe me.
- Batman: The Dark Knight #9 is a step outside the regular series. It is guest-written by Judd Winick this month and marks the return of series artist and creator, David Finch. This issue promised from solicitations and the cover to feature Tim Drake, aka Red Robin’s, duel with a Talon in Gotham City. Nope. He is only in one panel, which he shares with two of his brother Robins, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. (In the case of Damian they are technically brothers.) This bothers me, as Tim is one of my favorite characters and I wanted to see his analytically contribution to the storied “Night of the Owls.” That said, I didn’t dislike this issue at all. Far from it. This issue details the life of the Talon seen at the final confrontation of this month’s Batman #9. He is insinuated to be the Talon of the 1980’s, predecessor of Dick Grayson, had Dick indeed become a Talon. The way in which Judd Winick writes the story is very reminiscent and wistful, like a person’s life flashing before their eyes in a single moment before death. That pretty much is what it is, and it suits the issue’s role and tone. As ever, David Finch’s art is superb and lends an eerie, yet hard edge to the story. I enjoyed it, and anyone who enjoyed Batman #9, regardless of whether you like Batman: The Dark Knight should pick this one up.
- Batman Incorporated #1 reigns in the fifth of the six “Second Wave” titles. Though this isn’t a new title in the strictest sense, its release is nonetheless very exciting. Picking up the second half of the original series, the incomparable Grant Morrison hits it out of the park, maintaining all the key elements from the first run of Batman Inc. At times it is funny, at times it is surreal, and others off-the-wall action packed. However, with only sporadic glimpses of the other “Batmen”, this issue kind of felt more like an issue of Morrison’s Batman & Robin run. Since this is the first issue of the second stage of the series, I’m confident that the Batman Incorporated agents will make appearances soon. The elements I was most excited about were an assassin named “Goatboy” (even in spite of the fact that he’s a middle aged man), the man-bat ninjas Talia created back in 2006 in Batman #655, and the “Mutants” gang from or inspired by Frank Miller’s seminal Dark Knight Returns. Though this doesn’t figure into the larger community of Bat-books, this is one of the ones to read.
- Flash #9 was yet again a deeply engrossing story in the life and redux world of the Flash. This time round the Scarlet Speedster lands in Gorilla City shortly after the coronation of the sinister King Grodd (aka Gorilla Grodd), and yet revealed a key facet of the Speed Force and how it pertains to the super intelligent Gorillas of that fabled African city. That is perhaps the greatest thing about writer/artists, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato, the way in which they take the canon elements of The Flash and reinvent and innovate them. With sumptuous art depicted in interwoven panels and truly fresh storytelling, this is one of the books I dream about the other three quarters of the month. Next issue promises the introduction of classic villain, Weather Wizard. Read this series, if you haven’t already.
- Superman #9 has gone back to whelming after the two issue advent of the Daemonite heretic, Lord Helspont. There is a strange new flow to Superman’s main title and its been there since George Perez started us off on this journey with issue #1. I’ve been trying to figure it out and put my finger on just what exactly it is. Perhaps its very densely packed storyboarding, but the page are plotted very prolifically. The story, therefore is very much in your face with asserting this new world of the “Daily Planet” and “Galaxy Broadcasting” being part of a larger media conglomerate and Lois Lane moving from the reporter’s desk to the Producers chair of the aforementioned television network. I haven’t yet acclimated to it, so thus far the lackluster plots are sort of not blowing my skirts up as I read these overly compact plotlines that rely heavily upon this not yet established status quo. We’ll see. Love writers Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens, but thus far not my favorite Super-book.
- Justice League Dark #9 comes back to the table different, but equally hard hitting. Several changes have come to the title, but also a great deal has been salvaged and brought back. Change-wise we shift paradigms from the genius of the established hand of Peter Milligan (whom Grant Morrison called the Handsomest Man in Comics) to the young turk of the eerie DC books, Jeff Lemire. Our good friend, Shade, and our acquaintance, Mindwarp, have left with their maestro, Milligan, and Madame Xanadu remains for the moment, albeit on the sidelines sitting this dance out. To replace them Andrew Bennet of the I, Vampire title is doing a guest appearance and Black Orchid comes on the scene in what promises to be a more permanent role. On the returning side, series artist, Mikel Janin, is back and bringing with him that glorious art that epitomized the opening chapter of this title. Lemire also has brought most of the band back together to combat a mystical threat by Felix Faust, the cryptic mystic who is making his New DCU debut. When you find out what the “McGuffin” is at the end of the issue, those who have read the 90’s works of Neil Gaimon will be in for a treat.
- Fury of Firestorm #9 was stellar yet again. I really enjoy this series. As a side note, this past Friday at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan I got to meet co-writer and sometime artist, Ethan Van Sciver, and tell him just how much I enjoyed it. Though tight lipped about what was in store for the Firestorms, it was clear that he enjoyed writing this series about as much as I enjoyed reading it. Probably more, and that is saying something. This issue costars the Justice League International and continues the introduction of the French firestorm, Firehawk, and the British, Hurricane. From the plot, a great deal of interesting twists lie in wait for our heroes as well as us, their readers. The JLI, as can be expected, are impressed with the presentation of these three young firestorms, as well as the importance of their role as the new nuclear weapon of the Age. Thus, its intimated that one of them may be invited to join the JLI ranks, and with the solicitation that yet another JLI’er’s gonna bite the dust this possibility is becoming more and more possible. Ronnie’s forced affiliation with the veteran Russian firestorm, Pozhar, is taking him down an enigmatic and very cloak and dagger path that just begs to be read. One thing that Mr. Van Sciver told me, unprompted, was that he and his co-writer, Joe Harris, love Cold War storytelling. Before meeting him I called that, as my previous reviews and their time stamps will attest. Lastly, the series is called “Fury of Firestorm” because of the creature called Fury that comes of Jason and Ronnie combining to form it. Query: What happens when Jason and a different firestorm combine. Without blowing the surprise, just read this issue . . .
- Teen Titans #9 brings to a close the “Culling.” Like the Teen Titans Annual, Legion Lost #9, and Superboy #9 this issue wasn’t so much a Teen Titans story so much as a “Culling ” story. Though it did feature the Titans prominently, it also functioned as a proto-Ravagers issue to whip up excitement for that series debut next week. I am a little disappointed by the lack of closure on Harvest presented, but I suppose that means that the epic story of this very freaky villain will continue on in all its glory. I feel that Scott Lobdell’s epic has yet to rear the entirety of all its awesomeness. Series artist, Brett Booth, is MIA after penciling the oversize annual this month, so filling in as guest artist is Ig Guara, of former Blue Beetle fame. The difference in look was a little jarring, but other than that his lines suited the title and were really quite good. With the “Culling” now officially concluded, I look forward to what lies in store for both the Teen Titans and Superboy.
- Voodoo #9 is getting real, real fast. The title has now entered a stage where the juxtaposition of Priscilla to Voodoo has taken a front seat, defining the current course of the series. I lamented above, in the Superman review, the departure of Lord Helspont. Well, one month later, he has resurfaced in Voodoo and looks to be a new fixture to the series as well. I am very curious to see whether Voodoo will become a good guy or be the anti-heroic centerpiece of the title, as she is not really sympathetic at all presently.
- All-Star Western #9 is technically a “Night of the Owls” tie in, but obviously disconnected as the title takes place in the 1880’s, more than a century before the advent of Batman. Finishing up the conflict with the August 7, Jonah Hex, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, Nighthawk, and Cinnamon confront the cabal head on and track down their quarry, former Gotham Drain Commissioner, Thurston Moody. In the meantime a Talon makes a cameo appearance all the way down in the “Big Easy.” I am glad that this Talon made an appearance, because the Court of Owls suits this title very well and it gives the astounding series artist, Moritat, a chance to design a really sleek Talon for the Old Western style of this book. Once back in Gotham another threat rears its head. Even before the Bat, Gotham was a happening town. And in the backup feature, the tale of Nighthawk and Cinnamon comes to a close that leaves the reader wanting much more.
- Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris #12 continues the strange tale of the “Boora Witch.” Taking a jaunt into the wilds of Barsoom, this arc of the series fleshes out the mystical side of Mars further. I am still trying to hash out whether the Witch is a Thern (white Martian), a First Born (black Martian), or yellow Martian. Her skin is a weird yellowish-grey and she is also very old which makes it hard to tell. Its interesting also what the Witch has in store for the princess of Helium. Those plans reach far beyond that city, threatening the whole of Red Barsoom.
- Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #3 continues the journey to self discovery of the voodoo child, Dominique Laveau. With the Voodoo Court out to destroy her for the abomination of her birth, she must discover the truth behind how she came into this world and how she can survive with witch-hunters and werewolf assassins hot on her heels. With notes of voodoo, jazz, and Afro-Caribbean culture this is a series that has a definite uniqueness that lures the reader onward.
- The Unwritten #37 reins in the new conflict facing our heroes, namely the “Wound.” After the events of issue #35 with the fall of the Cabal, and issue #36 with the unraveling of the worlds of fiction, this issue picks up with a surge of Tommy Taylor cult worship and the advent of the aforementioned wound in the realms of fiction. Though it is fiction and not reality that is imperiled, the wound generated is causing existential damage to human consciousness. Once again, Tommy Taylor is MIA and creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross are choosing rather to show the tertiary surroundings of the world of Unwritten to fully develop the consequences of the first half of the series. Madame Rausch and Richie Savoy do make appearances, as does Danny Armitage from the last .5 issue of the “War of Words” story arc. This last addition intrigues me greatly, as I feel that Gross and Carey imbued Armitage’s first appearance in #35.5 with a great deal of promise. This new arc is shaping up to be an interesting new dilemma, continuing the quality enjoyed in the first 35 issues.
And that concludes the fourth week of May.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Green Lantern: The New Guardians #9: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino & Hi-Fi, Inked by Batt
Batman Incorporated #1: Art by Chris Burnham, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
The Flash #9: Art by Francis Manapul, Colored by Brian Buccellato
Fury of Firestorm #9: Drawn by Yidray Cinar, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Marlo Alquiza & Norm Rapmund
All-Star Western #9: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista