Going into this week I am psyched by the “Night of the Owls” books and Green Lantern #9 featuring the elusive origin of the Indigo tribe. Other than that I have high hopes that I’m confident will be met.
- Green Lantern #9 changes everything. This is the penultimate chapter of the “Secret of the Indigo Tribe” arc, and the mystery of the Tribe is finally laid bare, as is their connection to the legendary Green Lantern, Abin Sur. Though they represent compassion, the Indigo Tribesman are actually quite sinister in nature. On the other hand, as the series has progressed since Blackest Night, the Guardians of the Universe have been portrayed as more and more wicked themselves. This issue brings all those issues to a head. Apart from the Blue Lanterns, all the Lantern Corps have darker sides and what this arc is leading towards promises to be a collision of several of them. Written and conceived so well by Geoff Johns and rendered stunningly by the incomparable Doug Mahnke, this issue soars.
- Batman #9 was a powerhouse. Going into it, we all knew it would be. The Owls have come unto Wayne Manor in droves and its up to the Dark Knight to stop them and reclaim what is his. Gotham was his city, and the owls took that away from him. Wayne Manor is his home and they are here to take that from him as well. Bruce is drawing a line in the sand and that line is drawn in his sanctum sanctorum: the Batcave. What makes Scott Snyder’s work so great and insightful is the anecdotal way in which he frames them. Yes, this story is about Bruce kicking ass in his secret lair, but the whole plot of the issue and the arc as a whole is made parable by Bruce’s story herein of his ancestors releasing owls into the caves to cull the bat population so the Brothers Soloman and Joshua Wayne could move into the Manor. There is an apocalyptic omen to it, but then he tells of how the bats weren’t purged from the cave and eventually regained supremacy of their home, invaded by the owls. That’s some pretty Grade-A storycrafting. Also, like last month, this issue featured a backup feature written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and drawn by Snyder’s American Vampires colleague, Rafael Albuquerque. Entitled “Fall of the House of Wayne” this backup is narrated by Alfred’s father, Jarvis, and chronicles the role of the Court of Owls in the deaths of himself and Martha and Thomas Wayne. Another incredibly beautiful tale spun by Snyder.
- Batman & Robin #9. Ok, to set the record straight, I F&%KING LOVE Damien Wayne!!! Peter Tomasi has yet to disappoint in a Batman & Robin story. I hope that doesn’t jinx it. This “Night of the Owls” tie in was a piece of art both literally and literarily. Damian is the little soldier we love to love or love to hate, taking the bull by the horns and setting out to defend the military commander of Gotham’s Army and National Guard Reserves from a 1770’s Talon. His precision and tactics are a credit to his upbringing and put his charges to shame. What was really cool about this issue as well as Damian’s role in it, was the Talon himself. He spins a yarn about his days as the Court’s assassin during the American Revolution and connects his final targets of that period to the one he is currently hunting in this issue. The art of Lee Garbett mimics series artist Patrick Gleason quite well, and the stunning pencils of Andy Clarke set the 1770’s flashback apart with art that is very appropriate for the era it is set to depict. Finally, Damian’s self analysis and kinship to the Talon was a very interesting moment as well. God, I love this series. I had great expectations for this issue and they were met and exceeded.
- Batgirl #9 features yet another chapter in the “Night of the Owls” crossover in the Bat titles. Really good and very interestingly framed. The Talon in this book was from the 1950’s and was a mutilated young African American woman whose face and several other parts of her body were burned in a Japanese terror attack of the Pacific coast during WWII. The issue starts with another little girl, possibly the same age as out Talon, making the bombs and expressing effervescent joy at creating weapons for her homeland. This Talon employs the same terror techniques used on her against Gotham City. Both Batgirl and her father, Commissioner Gordon, are up to bat to stem the violence of this “night of owls” with the deck stacked greatly to their disadvantage. Commissioner Gordon’s role in the plot is perhaps the most interesting as he wrestles between the duties of a father and the duties of a public servant sworn to keep the peace. This issue was incredible and the slant put on the Talon depicted here was really eye opening. Unlike the others, this one, though still a monster, clung to a shred of humanity. Can’t believe I have to wait seven more days for another taste of the “Night of the Owls.” Booooooo!!!
- Superboy #9 and Legion Lost #9 I am going to review together, as they, like Teen Titans Annual #1 last week, really aren’t individual titles. They are truly part of an amalgamated whole which is “The Culling.” In Superboy #9, though it bears the “Boy of Steel’s” name, it barely portrays him at all. It mostly depicts the Teen Titans and the lost Legionnaires. Ditto, Legion Lost. The plots flow together as though they were the same book, and truly they are. This title also features the New 52 introduction of the W.I.L.Dcats character, Warblade. Now the ‘Cats number Grifter, Voodoo, and Warblade in the New DCU, with Helspont also cruising around out there. Harvest continues to grow as the enigmatic villain and I have to say that he intrigues me. I can’t wait to see what his deal is in the final issue of the “Culling” event. I hope they tell us.
- Grifter #9 takes our friend from one phase of his journey to another. In the first phase of the series written by Nathan Edmondson his brother dies, his girlfriend dies, his new lady friend and partner dies, and all of his ties to any semblance of continuity is cut. Now that we have entered the next phase, and writers Rob Liefeld and Frank Tieri have taken over, Cole Cash is now thrust into a new life. While escaping from Daemonites on skis he meets the lovely yet deadly Niko, who was solicited to be Cheshire on the DC website. If that is the case, she is either using an alias or they have completely changed the character, whose name was Jade Nguyen in the past. Jade isn’t the only reintro in this issue. Deathblow, of Wildstorm fame, also makes his debut as Cheshire’s brother-in-arms against the Daemonite invasion. Overall, it was a short issue, albeit with a great deal of exposition about the Daemonites from Cheshire and a nice little one frame cameo of the aforementioned Lord Helspont. I don’t have too much against Liefeld, so I look forward to seeing what he does with Grifter.
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #9 was a short little yarn, but definitely interesting. Dipping into the war with the Rot from Swamp Thing and Animal Man, the issue follows on Buddy Baker’s trail. Doing this makes a great deal of sense, since writer Jeff Lemire writes both Frankenstein and Animal Man,but also because Frank being a reanimated corpse segues well into the War of the Rot. This issue establishes a very strange paradox: Frankenstein isn’t alive as evinced by his immunity to one threat posed in the issue, but he’s also not truly dead as evinced by his immunity to the manipulations of the Rot, so the question remains as to just what is he if he isn’t one or the other.
- Demon Knights #9 follows last issue’s incredible ending into the next arc, “The Murder of Merlin.” The Demon Knights finally find their way to the medieval metropolis, Alba Sarum, ruled over by the beneficent Princesses Alba and Sarum. The dual monarchs’ wish for their city to be the new Camelot to usher in another golden age for mankind, but with the murder of Merlin this dream is jeopardized. As ever, Madame Xanadu has a plan that involves going back to the ruins of old Camelot and from there to the heart of Avalon. In the meantime most of the anti-heroic leads in this title hatch their own schemes. So like the first story arc its hard to tell whether we should cheer on the Demon Knights or pray they don’t succeed. The moral ambiguity is what really gives this series its flavor. I can’t wait to see what Camelot and Avalon have in store for our “hereos.”
- Nightforce #3 delves deeper into the arcane mysteries that epitomize writer Marv Wolfman’s supernatural thriller. This seven issue miniseries follows two previous runs, of 14 and 12 issues respectively. All deal with the seemingly vampiric Baron Winter assembling a ragtag group of unrelated individuals into a team to combat mystical forces. This series thus far has dealt with a shadowy cabal that since at least the 1700’s have been eugenically breeding demons through generations, branded with crescent moon birthmarks, toward some unspeakable goal. After the first two issues of establishing the new environment that this run operates in, the characters of Det. James Duffy and Zoe Davis begin to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearances of women in the USA throughout time, and the disappearance of Zoe’s own baby, whom she didn’t even remember being pregnant with. Also the character of Senator Greene comes into focus with his own pregnant wife entering into the equation. From what was teased in this issue, both the Senator and his wife are going to play integral roles in the plot and perhaps not toward the same ends . . . Also exciting is the reintroduction of the original run character, Prof. Donovan Caine. Marv Wolfman is a master of the eerie tales genre and has a very competent partner in Tom Mandrake, whose artwork truly sets the tone of the book.
- Deathstroke #9 was a surprise. I stopped buying it after the second issue because it just wasn’t working for me. When Rob Liefeld took over I thought I’d give it a shot to see if anything changed. So far, though its only one issue in, I am thinking this could be ok. Slade Wilson is just as wily as he has ever been and Liefeld draws him well. What truly grabbed my attention and got me excited about the future was the inclusion of yet another W.I.L.Dcat: Zealot of the Coda. So now to amend my tally in the above Superboy/Legion Lost review, it is four ‘Cats in the New DCU. Yet again, she seems to have been majorly tweaked, but so far I am thrilled to welcome her to the party. Whether or not the Deathstroke title continues to be good remains to be seen, but I am going to ride it out for a bit.
- Dejah Thoris and the White Apes of Mars #2 was perhaps the shortest most linear story I’ve ever read. I don’t even think spoiling it is an issue considering how watered down it is. After last issue the marooned ladies of Helium take refuge in the ruins of an old palace after their ship breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Then White Apes attack them. That was last issue. This issue the white apes chase them and a couple women get killed by them. That is really it. They get chased. There is no exposition or commentary. They get chased into a room and the other women tell Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, that she isn’t to blame. I hope that next issue gets better, because absolutely nothing happened in this one.
- Fatale #5 concludes the first story arc of the title. Ed Brubaker’s occult noir story about hard-boiled LA detectives, down on their luck newspaper reporters, and titular femme fatales comes to a very satisfying head by issue’s end. Hank Raines has lost a wife and child, Walter Booker lost a partner, and Joanna is driven to the winds by the literal specters from her past. Everything we have been lead to believe about these people is thrown out and we are shown what truly lays beneath their cool facades. I have to admit that this series surprised me. I look forward to seeing what the second arc delivers.
- Mystery in Space #1 was an anthology book from Vertigo in the same vein as Strange Adventures and The Unexpected. Contained inside are nine stories about space exploration and/or alien vistas that cut deep to the heart of what it is to be human. What it also contains is top notch writing and art by some of the best and promising talents in comics. Duane Swierczynski, Andy Diggle, Ann Nocenti, and Steve Orlando are among the writing talents while Ramon Bachs, Michael Wm. Kaluta, and Ming Doyle provide art. There is the tale of a society governed by machine proxies who guide the governments of mankind into “cleansing” those other humans on colonies “infected” by a contagion that creates erratic behavior . . . such as self-determination. Three deal with matters of the heart and how they conflict with the worlds we inhabit and the societies that favor logic over emotion. Some are just fun little yarns on alien worlds, rendered exquisitely.
And that is that. Some good books and a few flops. But still a good week in comics. Especially the Bat-books.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Green Lantern #9: Drawn by Doug Mahnke, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin & Tom Nguyen
Batman #9: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO, Inked by Jonathan Glapion
Batman & Robin #9: Drawn by Lee Garbett, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Keith Champagne
Frankenstein #9: Drawn by Alberto Ponticelli, Colored by Jose Villarrubia, Inked by Wayne Faucher
Deathstroke #9: Drawn by Rob Liefeld, Colored by Andy Troy, Inked by Adelso Corona & Jacob Bear