Week 42 (June 20, 2012)

  • Green Lantern Corps #10 epitomized the growing schism within the ranks of Oa.  The Alpha Lanterns unilaterally passing sentence on John Stewart for his killing of corpsman, Kirrt Kallak, and the sentence is death.  Though Stewart resigns himself to his fate, the rank and file officers who know John and fought alongside him do not.  The Alpha Lanterns are an unimpeachable force of “justice”, empowered but not censored by the Guardians and the Green Lanterns find themselves disenfranchised from their own Corps.  This comes to a head with Stewart being offered up as an unintentional martyr, sparking off what promises to be a conflict that will define the destiny of the Green Lantern Corp for years to come.
  • Batwoman #10 brings us to the cusp of the “To Drown the World” arc in the penultimate issue.  Told in the fractured means, pioneered in this arc, Killer Croc comes out the main subject of discussion, as the enigmatic sorceress, Maro, fulfills his legacy dating back to his supposed Babylonian heritage, turning him into a truer form of a mythological crocodile monster.  The other characters, Jacob Kane, Maggie Sawyer, and Cameron Chase continue to evolve, but among the supporting cast of characters, Sune’s was the most interesting.  After kissing and attempting to seduce Kate last issue, her fate in this issue truly intrigued.  I can’t wait to read the concluding chapter of this arc next month.

    What a Croc!

  • Catwoman #10 was very interesting.  I think I would have enjoyed it better if I could have read it and its fellows all at once in graphic novel format.  The story is really fascinating, picking up from where it left off two months ago, prior to the “Night of the Owls” tie in issue, following Catwoman’s investigation into the disappearances of prostitutes and teen gang members throughout Gotham.  A great deal is revealed about who is doing this, why they are doing it, and also about the background of both Catwoman and her new partner in crime, Spark.  A lot is going on and there are numerous threads running through the story.  It can be tedious with the jumping around, but I feel that once we are able to pull back after the fact, these elements are going to combine to an incredible story.
  • Nightwing #10 is the first issue of the series, truly, that breaks from the “Court of Owls” plot and goes into a self determinant direction.  Picking up a subplot mentioned at the end of issue #7, Dick goes looking for the criminal who murdered two brothers using his escrima sticks.  Following this brings him right smack in the middle of a cult gang that are tied to the alpha and omega symbols.  In between, Dick also stumbles on a police conspiracy, plans an ambitious project of urban renewal, and takes the reigns once more of Haly’s Circus.  This issue will shape where Nightwing truly stands in the New DCU, post Court of the Owls.
  • Supergirl #10 follows the Girl of Steel inside the beast, after the Black Banshee consumed her in the previous issue.  Inside the villain, Kara is transported through perverted versions of her dreams, revealing much about what events shaped her as a person.  Inside she is confronted with the true nature of Black Banshee, as well as his intrinsic qualities that can serve as his weaknesses.  Looking forward to seeing what the Mikes have in store for her in the coming issues.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #10 also is fresh off of the “Night of the Owls” tie in, and breaks also from its first arc of the All Caste vs. the Untitled.  Jason and Roy are roused from their much deserved R&R by a seeming attack on Starfire.  What follows brings all three and Jason’s unfortunate date, Isabel, halfway across the galaxy to Starfire’s planet, Tamaran, to fight an enigmatic scourge aptly called “The Blight.”  Starfire’s exile from her homeworld has in the past always been an interesting story, and in the capable hands of Scott Lobdell her new backstory promises to be equally epic.  After the main story wraps up for the issue, there is a backup feature following the character Essence in her crusade against the Untitled.   Most likely after Lobdell has explored non-Untitled plots, the backup and main features will reunite to cap off the whole thing.  Until that time, however, I am just going to enjoy the incredible storytelling Lobdell has in store for us.
  • Wonder Woman #10 really highlights the character of Hades.  After the ending of last issue, when Hades required proof of Wonder Woman’s love, we see how the love of Wonder Woman juxtaposes against the vacancy of his soul.  Thus far, I have been a huge fan of Hades and I am a little sad to see the arc in the underworld ending.  However, I doubt that this will be the last we see of him.  In the meantime, I am curious to see what writer Brian Azzarello has in store for the Amazing Amazon next month.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes #10 brings the Legion into the dark waters of interplanetary diplomatic tension.  The United Planets have been attempting to maintain a strained peace with the Dominion and the kidnapping of two legionnaires leaves their fellows with few options.  With not proof, the United Planets refuse to intervene on behalf of the Legion and any act by the latter to get proof would be considered an act of war.  Within the Dominion, we see how Dream Girl and Brainiac 5 are holding up, as well as what has been done to them, the portents of which are truly terrifying.  In light of all this, it doesn’t lie in the hands of the Legion to save the day, but rather former Legionnaires and Legionnaires yet to be . . . Paul Levitz keeps the drama and intrigue cranked at 11 with no signs of decline.
  • DC Universe Presents: Savage #10 brings us within one issue of the conclusion to the Vandal Savage storyline.  Can’t say that I am completely into this story.  It still seems like there is more than a passing resemblance between this plot and Silence of the Lambs.  We’ll see how it turns out, but thus far I am not the hugest fan of what James Robinson is doing, but in fairness, he only has three issues to work with.
  • Before Watchmen: The Comedian #1 was stellar.  So far the Before Watchmen line is three for three.  Brian Azzarello tells a convincing story about sociopathic superhero and government lapdog Eddie Blake.  Opening with Blake playing touch football on Martha’s Vineyard with the Kennedy boys (JFK being president at the time).  There is a close knit relationship between the Kennedys and Blake.  Like its predecessors Minute Men and Silk Spectre, it retains a great deal of the original grit and apocalyptic ambiance of the original graphic novel.  Both Brian Azzarello and artist J.G. Jones are the perfect choices for this title about one of the starkest characters in the Watchmen universe.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #5 prominently features a one shot intro to a character firmly rooted in the original Batman mythos. Called “Jake” this issues’ Batman Beyond story focuses on the Wayne/Powers enforcer who killed Warren McGinnis.  That man’s name just happens to be Jacob Chill.  In the Beyond Origins segment, the origin of Warhawk.  His birth was masked in tragedy and his life follows suit.  There is a tragic beauty to it.  The Justice League Beyond Unlimited segment takes a break this month, absent from this issue, which makes me sad, as the cliffhanger from last installment was incredible after Apokalips had been ravaged by Kobra.  Hopefully next month we can get some resolution to this INCREDIBLE story development.  The Superman Beyond segment returned the aged Man of Steel to the cat and mouse antagonism of his former associations with Lex Luthor.  With Lex’s daughter now behind the scheme its the same feel but different venue.  Like the Batman Beyond show, the atmosphere remains with a fresh take.  Good job, JT Krul.
  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #5 for the most part did some world building rather than plot development.  Perhaps it was supposed to be plot development, but it sure didn’t feel like it to me.  It follows Dominique being tested by several Voodoo deities and analyzed by them in the cryptic fashion one expects from the divine.  There is no resolution or advancement to what any of this means.  I will say that it was entertaining and interesting to see the mythological background that gives power to the main characters in this manner.  A good issue, but I am anxious to get to the confrontation with the current Voodoo Queen.
  • The Unwritten #38 has Didge linking up with Danial Armitage to get the inside scoop on the Cult of Tommy and the related disappearances.  In Switzerland Richie powwows with Madame Rausch who tells him the nature of the wound that gives this four issue story arc its name.  The world of stories is dying, which means that humanity’s ability to interact with its own history and identity.   So far this new arc is intriguing as it breaks almost entirely from the Tom Taylor line of the story and goes outward to show what all of the things Tommy has done mean to the world at large.  We’ve gotten tastes of that throughout the series in the past, but these past two issues immerse themselves in it.  I do want to get back to Tom, but in the meantime I am really excited about the fleshing out of Armitage as a character and the promise of Didge as a potential mainstay of the series.  All around Grade A comic.


Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Batwoman #10:  Art by Trevor McCarthy, Colored by Guy Major

Red Hood and the Outlaws #9: Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Colored by Blond

Wonder Woman #10: Drawn by Tony Akins, Colored by Matthew Wilson, Inked by Dan Green

Before Watchmen: The Comedian #1: Art by J.G. Jones


Week 41 (June 13, 2012)

The second week of the month is one of my favorites, featuring the main Green Lantern and Batman series, as well as the incredible Batman & Robin, but with added bonuses like Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares, and Captain Victory, its looking even brighter.
  • Green Lantern #10 concludes the “Secret of the Indigo Tribe” arc and brings us to the brink of the next major storyline.  The story itself was pretty quick and brief in duration, but there was a lot of characterization packed in there.  Sinestro is definitely gaining layers and growing as an individual.   Writer, Geoff Johns, imbues a great deal of progression into this character, but also give complete regression in another character prompting the next arc, foreshadowed by the last page’s events.  I love this series so much, as well as the direction that Johns is directing it.  I have been very hard on him because of his current Justice League run and I stand by those opinions.  Thus far he hasn’t shown any proficiency as JL writer, but he certainly will be remember as perhaps the greatest Green Lantern writer of all time.  Artist Doug Mahnke has been on this title for several years now and his pencils have almost become synonymous with the book.  This is one of the MUST READS of the DC lineup.
  • Batman #1o was perhaps the greatest Batman story told in years.  I’m not certain whether the fervor with which I type this comes from the freshness of its reading in my mind, but THIS issue validates and accentuation what has already been a meteoric plot in the new DC canon, making what has come before exponentially better.  I can’t say anything about what makes it so incredible.  You all will have to read the entirety of the “Court of Owls” storyline to fully comprehend its implications.  What I can remind everyone is that this comes fresh off the ending of issue #9 where Batman’s allies have put down the “Night of the Owls,”  and Batman makes the grandiose statement, “I know where they live, Alfred.  They came into my house, now I’m going to burn theirs to ground.”  Well he goes to their house, but the events one would imagine do not transpire.  What does occur is something that literally made my hair stand on end and my heartbeat quicken.  This is one of the seminal stories that many of us will look back on with wonder.  READ IT!!!!
  • Batman & Robin #10 moved into what has the promise of an iconic storyline.  The title is called Batman & Robin, but lets face it, Robin is really the star of the show.  Damian Wayne is a controversial character that is loved and hated equally by bat-readership.  Heck, a lot of us just plain love to hate him.  What makes him work as a character and fit into the role of both Robin and son of the Batman is that he is very driven.  He has to be the best and he pushes himself parsecs ahead of what any normal ten year old would.  That is what birthed his father, Bruce, as the Batman, and because of this, what he has the potential to become could be either awe-inspiring or terrifying.  That is truly what separates him from the other Robins.  Even my favorite, Tim, is at a certain detachment level from the legacy of the Bat.  Dick, Jason, and Tim have all worn the red and gold, but all have lacked the complete dedication that Damian and Bruce embody.  However, they wore the colors first, and in this first issue of the arc, after taking some guff about his performance as Robin, Damian calls out his three predecessors and informs them that he will randomly challenge them sometime in the near future at something they excel at and beat them to prove to Bruce, them, and himself that he is the best Robin.  It sounds grandiose and overly indulgent, but if you really look at it, Damian does have to do this.   Batman has made a career of fighting for justice, but he has also propagated his image on doing things he never thought possible.  So much has defined him by pushing past his limits.  Damian is his son and he has to prove himself just like his dad or he would be an impostor.  Tim is the first to lock horns with Damian in his challenges and though they come to blows, the true test is psychological.  The arc also introduces a very sinister villain in the shadows, whose legacy will be in destroying the Bat for what he did to him and his accomplices, but the true gravitas of this issue lies with the Damian side.  Can’t wait to read more.

    Damian Lays Down the Gamut

  • Batgirl #10 introduces a brand new story arc after last month’s dalliance with the “Night of the Owl” mega crossover.  Batgirl finds herself at odds with a group of vigilantes tied to a major urban renewal campaign by a woman named Charise Carnes.  Cleared of the charge of murdering her parents and brother, there is an ominous shadow cast over what little we are shown of her.  I’m curious to see what Gail Simone’s plan is for this threat that is referred to as Knightfall.  Alitha Martinez returns as series artist and renders the issue beautifully.
  • Demon Knights #10 finds our heroes sailing toward England from Alba Sarum in search of the isle of Avalon where Merlin’s wayward soul lies.  Assailed by a giant sea serpent our heroes come ashore in a plagued England, post Camelot’s fall.  Making their way northeast from Cornwall they come to Camelot and see the source of the fell omens.  Paul Cornell does a wonderful job crafting a unique world of swords and sorcery peopled by several mainstays of the DCU.
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #10 was stupendous.  Writer, Jeff Lemire, is replaced by Matt Kindt who takes Frank in search of a traitor in the S.H.A.D.E ranks in the extradimensional Fourth Cloud’s “Untropolis.”  There are strange cutaways to what we can only assume are Frank’s memories of a young woman strangled.  They don’t tie into any of the events portrayed here, but whatever they are its clear that they have great significance to Frank.  Kindt does keep the eerie strangeness of the series alive after the departure of Lemire, and much as the title of next month’s issue reveals, this new arc does resemble the novel “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” only with more giant insects, pan dimensional travel, and ancient spymasters in the bodies of tiny Asian girls.
  • Grifter #10 literally is one continuous scene.  Cash travels with the human resistance force and proves how why he is important.  A display of telekinesis and that’s pretty much it.  Little exposition, except . . . Cash has telekinesis.  Rob Liefeld’s really not doing the best job fleshing this series out thus far, but he is working on three series, so . . . I guess its okay.  At some point they need to do something interesting or it’d be a crime.  The series was was amazing for the first eight issues.  Hopefully this creative team switch doesn’t drive the title to cancellation.
  • Superboy #10 finds Superboy as Wonder Girl waking up on the beaches of an enigmatic island that, enigmatically is shaped like a question mark, right down to the little islet dotting the bottom.  The issue mostly is characterization of the two teens playing off the lingering resentments of their past interactions and the spark of lust that is growing between them.  Superboy is continually evolving from his appearance in issue #1 and this storyline really focuses on Superboy’s burgeoning humanity.  Cassie Sandsmark is a hardass.  That is practically written into her DNA.  I am anxious to read more about her, because she comes off as overly harsh in this issue, although I will concede that if I had gotten the crap kicked out of me by Superboy, I might also have lingering animosity.  The appearance of dinosaurs on the island is interesting and makes me wondering if this island has anything to do with the appearances of these same prehistoric beasts in Action Comics and G.I. Combat.  Time will tell, as Teen Titans #10 picks up where this issue left off in two weeks.

    Two Star Crossed Would-Be Lovers

  • Deathstroke #1o was better than Grifter, but still a little lackluster.  I am still riding high off the appearance last issue of Zealot and this character’s exploits in this issue did pepper it up for me, but still there was a very straightforward, unconvoluted plot.  There was just Lobo breaking things or Deathstroke breaking things.  No real subtext or hidden agendas.  Lobo is going to blow up Earth.  Not hidden, just very overt and obvious.  I like writer/artist Rob Liefeld’s art, but still hoping that the plot gets better.  He owes us that much, considering what and who are involved in this plot.
  • The Ravagers #2 is getting very good.  Last issue kind of just set things up.  In this issue there was a lot of characterization and developments in the larger plot of Harvest and the escaped metahumans from the “failed” Culling.  Thunder, Lightning, Ridge, and Caitlin Fairchild are being forced by necessity to trust one another and come to grips with who and what they are.  Also interesting are the new lieutenants of Harvest that are thrown into the limelight, such as the very creepy Shadow Walker and the Keeper.  I am fairly certain neither have appeared in any books prior to this issue, but don’t quote me.  Packed with action and mindbending plot twists, I think that this series is going to be one of the ones to look out for.  Howard Makie writes it beautifully, and former Teen Titan illustrator, Ian Churchill, adds an elegance and beauty to the cast of characters that in and of itself makes the boo worth reading.  Next issue promises to feature the returns of Titans past, Beast Boy and Terra, along with a classic Teen Titan villain, Brother Blood.  What does Blood have in store for these kids and how does it tie into Harvest’s larger schemes?  I don’t know, but I want to . . .  Until next month, the speculation will keep me busy.
  • Shade #9 is the homecoming issue of the series.  The Shade is back in London, the city of his birth and rebirth as a harbinger of shadow and mystery.  Coming back also puts him on the trail of his descendant, Dudley Caldecott, who is portrayed as a kingmaker, wrapped in a tangled web of global corporate intrigue and seemingly mystical human sacrifice.  Shade’s confrontation of his errant kinsman is very interesting when its consequences are shown in full at the end.  We are down to the last three issues and the story is getting really good.  I am overjoyed that James Robinson returned to his revamped version of the Shade and the ensemble of talent he corralled to bring it to life visually.  This time around, Frazer Irving is at the drawing desk, adding an air of mystique and latent madness to the book.  It looks like he’s been tapped for the next two issues also, so the ride down the rabbit hole has only just begun.

    Family Matters

  • Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1 follows in the grand tradition of last week’s Minute Men #1, and why wouldn’t it?  It’s written by the aforementioned series’ writer/artist, Darwyn Cooke.  Amanda Conner takes over art duties on this one and the success of the issue is dependent on this fact as much as it is to Cooke’s writing.  The younger Silk Spectre, Laurie, is a character that is equally dependent on her beauty as her talents.  That is pretty much the basis of the character, and Amanda Conner is renowned for her lush artwork and sensuous female characters.  Taking place in the 1960’s, around the time of Vietnam, the story fits perfectly in the purview of Darwyn Cooke’s talents as well.  Sewn up within, Cooke has maintained much of Alan Moore’s social uncertainty and stark storytelling.  I would say that Darwyn Cooke, with the help of Amanda Conner, has really set the bar high for this much anticipated event.
  • Saucer Country #4 didn’t really reveal much in the way of alien mythology, like the previous three, but did advance the plotlines of who the players involved in this series are and the beginnings of how their interests run counter to one another.  Thus far, Paul Cornell has done an exceptional job setting up the base understanding of what alien abductions represent, now it would seem he is drawing together the human responses to this phenomenon.  Its apparent from issue #1 that his storycrafting comes from genuine interest and love of the topic material, and he passes that on quite well to the reader giving a fresh, unique take on what a lot of us see and immediately dismiss on History Channel specials and grocery store tabloids.  From his past products and what he has shown us of this new series, I already know this is gonna be a must read series from Vertigo.
  • Warlord of Mars #18 ends the “Gods of Mars” arc and yet again the fidelity to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.  John Carter has escaped the Valley of Dor, and in doing so committed a great heresy against the Barsoomian religion.  When this issue opens, John Carter and his allies in Helium rally to invade the Valley to depose the ancient “deity” ruling over Mars’ many races, and, as ever, rescue Princess Dejah Thoris.  I like what writer, Arvid Nelson, is doing with the material.  He sticks to the source material in all the important aspects, but deviates in ways that supplement, not supplant, Burrough’s original concepts.
  • On that same note, Warriors of Mars #3 is an interesting amalgam book that combines two different series about the planet Mars from the turn of the century.  One of course is the Warlord of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the other is the Lieutenant Gullivar Jones series by Edwin Lestor Arnold.  Jones is a Union naval officer from the Civil War, and John Carter is a Confederate cavalry captain.  Needless to say, they shouldn’t get along, and for the first two issues it was looking like they were going to coexist nicely. This issue introduces that tension into their relationship as well as comingles the peoples described in Warlords of Mars (White, Red, Green, Yellow, and Black Martians) and those of Lieutenant Gullivar Jones, namely the red, ape-like Thither people.  Writer, Robert Place Napton, does a great job of combining them and rationalizing it so that it makes sense to both mythologies which are quite different. Its not perfect, but it does entertain and enrich the swords and sorcery genre of Mars, which is pretty niche.
  • Captain Victory #5 continues in the grand tradition set by its predecessors, presenting the very tumultuous life of a Galactic Ranger aboard the Dreadnaught Tiger.  The Tiger has crashed on an inhospitable planet and sabotage is suspected.  Most of the systems are down, and the weapons systems blocked.  In the midst of an unstoppable onslaught, Major Klavus discovers a survivor from a previous crash on the planet whom he used to know.  The issue brims with the tragedy of war and hard decisions that hinge on the cusp of survival and utter annihilation.  This series is a perfect continuation of the 80’s Jack Kirby series.
  • American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1 kicks off another spinoff miniseries by American Vampire writer/creator, Scott Snyder.  Lending art on this mini is the great Dustin Nguyen whose ink washed style mirrors the tone evoked by both Rafael Albuquerque and Sean Murphy.  Taking place in the 1950’s, this series returns to Europe ten years after the conclusion of the American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest miniseries.  With an attack on a London base of the Vassals of the Morningstar, the enigmatic Agent Hobbes must enlist the help of former agent, Felicia Book who has gone to ground with her son, Gus, after the events of Survival of the Fittest.  The reason?  Inside that base lies the most deadly single vampire in history, King of the Carpathians.  Yup.  Its HIM! I very much look forward to the future issues in this miniseries.

    The King of Carpathians . . .

And that concludes the second week of June.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Batman #10:  Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Superboy #10:  Art by Sebastian Fiumara, Colored by Richard & Tanya Horie

The Shade  #9: Art by Frazer Irving

American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1: Art by Dustin Nguyen, Colored by John Kalisz

Week 40 (June 6, 2012)

Wow, this week’s review was late.  Its been a crazy week, but one that has several mainstays including four of Second Wave titles and the first of the Before Watchmen books, Minute Men #1.  So here we go.
  • Action Comics #10 was outstanding.  Grant Morrison is really weaving a compelling epic concerning the genesis of the “Man of Steel” in this New DCU.  I still don’t  look back fondly on the first issue of the series, but I will admit that it has facilitated something really beauteous in this new arc.  Unlike the balls-to-the-wall, leap-before-you-look Superman, this issue presents a very thoughtful one, whose concern for the world returns to the naive, idealist character of the past.  Unlike the other Super-titles, this one feels the most genuine.  A friend of mine proposed that what was missing from all the Superman books was Clark Kent.  Grant Morrison must have intuited that as well, because apart from portraying a very caring Superman, he really focused on a sainted Clark.  How they frame his virtue is really worth the read.
  • Detective Comics #10 returns to the main flow of the book after last month’s “Night of the Owls” jaunt to Arkham Asylum to thwart the assassination of Dr. Arkham.  Here an armored car robbery perpetrated by a slew of “Batmen” precipitates the entrance of a truly sinister villain with motives hinted at with frightening scientific theory.  We also see the aftermath of Charlotte Rivers’ grievous injuries after the heist at the Iceberg Lounge.  Though its still in the setup stage, Tony Daniel really creates an entertaining book.  In the backup feature, Two-Face goes on a journey of self-discovery and comes one step closer to figuring out the conspiracy against him.  Ed Benes provides art for the main feature, coming over from a guest-stint on Dark Knight last month, and Szymon Kudranski provides art for the backup.  Considering the dark nature of the Two-Facebackup, Kudranski’s stark pencil work really fits.  I like Ed Benes a lot, and on most other books I would love to see his art, but considering the marriage of Daniel’s artwork to his storytelling technique, I miss seeing the two together.    Still really amazing, though.

    Enter Mr. Toxin

  • Batwing #10 is a round the world jaunt of awesome.  Piracy off the coast of Nigeria, kidnapped Chinese physicists, Triads, and a certain Gotham crime boss.  From the shores of Africa, to Beijing, to Gotham, Batwing gets around in this issue, working close with Batman to root out a grave threat to World security.  Somehow the pirates, the Chinese mafia, and the American interests are working toward some larger goal . . . but what is it?  Marcus To continues his stint as series artist after the departures of Ben Oliver and Dustin Nguyen.

    Enter the Dragon

  • Swamp Thing #10 takes the saga of the “Rot” to the next level, returning Abigail Arcane to her human form as well as to her ancestral home in the Swamplands.  Following her resignation as Queen of the Rot, her uncle, Dr. Anton Arcane takes his place as monarch of the Rot.  Through his communications with the Swamp Thing we learn interesting facts about Abigail’s earliest connections to the Rot.  Taking over art duties for this new arc is the incomparable Francesco Francavilla.  Having worked with writer, Scott Snyder, on his Detective Comics run, Francavilla’s haunting, twilit artwork really brings out the eerie quality of the material that Berni Wrightson’s art brought to the original series.

    Swamp Thing & Abigail Arcane

  • Animal Man #10 achieved several things this month, including linking writer Jeff Lemire’s other project, Justice League Dark, to this book.  It also develops further the true nature of the Red and its relationship to the Green, but more importantly the Rot.  Its a good book, but its very much an interim book, awaiting further resolution.
  • Red Lanterns #10 was for the most part lackluster.  Writer Peter Milligan tied this book’s plot to that of his other project, Stormwatch, which unfortunately is floundering.  What was intriguing was how powerful Atrocitus is portrayed to be in the things Milligan allows him to accomplish which have as of yet never been done.  But, yet again, Midnighter didn’t get his ass handed to him, which bothers me greatly.  What’s more, Midnighter KO’s Dex-Starr the Cat.  Ok, being a prick is one thing.  Abusing animals, no matter if they are wearing a red power ring, is quite another.  Someone needs to cut him down to size.  I await next issue with the confrontation of the surviving Red Lanterns and the Star Sapphires.  
  • Stormwatch #1o was of no consequence.  Consider it dropped once more.  No matter how awesome the writer, the title is like black hole.  No matter how much talent is thrown at it, it just keeps sucking.
  • Justice League International #10 was as good as it’s ever been.  The enigmatic villains begin to take on moral complexity, and though they do horrible things, a certain pathos is revealed in their motivations.  Among the heroes moral complexity also is revealed, especially in the case of OMAC.  Connections are explored interpersonally between characters: Batwing and Vixen from their days in Africa, August General in Iron and OMAC due to their life altering conditions, and Guy Gardner and Tora Olafsdottir in love.  This series abounds with rich storytelling and characterization.  I still love it head and shoulders over the actual Justice League title.
  • Green Arrow #1o was a one-shot story this month, drawn by guest artist, Steve Kurth, that really explored the nature of what it means to be human.  A Robot that looks very much like a person is rescued by Green Arrow and in helping her the nature of both their existences is revealed.  Writer Ann Nocenti is what makes this series work for me.  Hopefully she will be on it for some time to come.
  • Earth-2 #2 was a controversial issue and rightly so.  Though it features Jay Garrick in his genesis as the Golden Age version of the Flash, the main thing this issue will be remembered for was its introduction of Alan Scott as a gay man.  I’ll get this out of the way up front.  I am among the detractors of writer James Robinson’s choice to make Alan Scott homosexual.  I do not object on moral grounds, as I have applauded Robinson for his outing other characters in the past, such as the second Starman, Mikaal Tomas, and the Australian character, Tasmanian Devil.  What I do object to is the logic behind the decision.  It was reached because Scott’s gay son, Obsidian, was obviously written out of continuity owing to the complete restarting of the Earth-2 pantheon of heroes.  Because Obsidian was no longer in the title, his father, who was a fully fleshed out character and happily married for years, was rewritten to be a gay man.  I believe in the diversification of characters.  That was what made the mega event 52 in 2006 so incredible, highlighting or introducing a character that represents every conceivable demographic.  However, I think that taking an established character and making the choice to change his sexuality simply because his son who was gay was removed from continuity is a very weak reason.  Other than that, the issue was very interesting.  Another Earth-2 stable character is introduced, as well as Mister Terrific from Earth-1 meeting his Earth-2 counterpart, and the meeting is far from amicable.  A great series thus far.  I am a huge fan of writer James Robinson, so despite my objections to Scott’s makeover, I will hear him out on it.

    Enter the Flash

  • Worlds’ Finest #2 again follows excellently on the heels of Earth 2, chronicling the adventures of the exiled Huntress and Powergirl.  We see exactly how Karen Starr makes her money and an interesting connection between their current foe, Hakkou, and the Apokaliptian invasion of their former Earth-2 home.  There also is raised the question of whether the Darkseid they thought they chased through the interdimensional boom-tube to this Earth is the same one who attack our Earth in the first Justice League arc.  Everything about what writer Paul Levitz is doing so far with Worlds’ Finest is fresh, innovative, and interesting.  I love it so much.  Also it doesn’t hurt to have the stunning pencils of two master artists, George Perez and Kevin Maguire.
  • Dial H #2 continues down the rabbit hole of psychedelia.  The plot is so very reminiscent of the British comics put out by Vertigo in the late 80’s/early 90’s by such young turks as Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Alan Moore.   The main character, Nelson, explores more forms including Pelican Army, Double Bluff, Hole Punch, Human Virus, Shamanticore, Rancid Ninja, and Iron Snail.  The main plot is interesting and enigmatic, but even were it not, seeing the different identities explored is truly fascinating.   I know that I will continue reading it for that alone.  What does intrigue me in the plot, however, is the appearance of a superpowered woman somehow tied to the dial . . .
  • G.I. Combat #2 was a little slower this month.  The War That Time Forgot storyline was pretty short and straightforward.  There was very little exposition, yet again.  Just lots of scenes of US and North Korean forces battling dinosaurs with tanks, helicopters, and automatic weapons. The Unknown Soldier  story was short as well, but did bear the seed of an interesting plot following a plot by a terrorist group called Crimson Jihad planning a biological attack using teenaged American sleeper agents.  A good series, but not a great one yet.
  • Night Force #4 makes the hump over the halfway mark and things begin to come together in interesting ways.  The demonic forces we have been witnessing are tied to the American Revolution, explaining the beginning of the first issue’s portrayal of George Washington.  The tie of Senator Greene to the cabal is also revealed as is the further involvement of his wife.  The plot is defined well, but the character drama is truly what captivates in this issues especially with the original Night Force agent Donovan’s last moments on this Earth, as well as a look back by Det. Duffy at the moment of his father’s death.  Marv Wolfman is an amazing writer and he delivers another incredible tale of the macabre in this series.
  • Before Watch: Minute Men #1 was pure art.  Coming off of the controversial Before Watchmen banner that has been maligned by some as heresy and lauded by others as potentially the best thing to hit comics in decades, this first installment does it right on several levels.  Just like there would be no Silver Age Flash or Green Lantern or frankly any DC characters without the oft forgotten Golden Age pantheon, without the Minutemen there would be no Watchmen.  These Depression Era heroes were the pioneers that set the stage for the apocalyptic Watchmen to step up towards postponing or hastening Man’s fate.  And what better hands could the title be than those of Darwyn Cooke.  Cooke excels at retro, pre-70’s storytelling.  He captured the spirit of the Golden Age of comics in his revamp of The Spirit, his homage to the Silver Age in his opus DC: The New Frontier, and the gritty crime genre in the 60’s comic adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.  In Minutemen he takes the characters we’ve briefly glimpse in contextual references from Alan Moore’s opus magnum and fleshes them out into fully realized characters that we can understand and relate to.  If this is what DC has in store for us with the rest of their Before Watchmen titles, then nuts to the haters, and bring it on!!!

    Enter Hooded Justice

  • Smallville Season 11 #2 continues the CW television series into another post television “season” with the storyline entitled “Guardian.”  Introducing the character of Hank Henshaw, future Cyborg Superman, the groundwork is laid down for what promises to be a great series.  Lex is, as ever, complex and morally ambiguous, and the supporting cast of characters from the show return as good as ever.  The malfunction in the Russian space station from last issue is explained and another cosmic catastrophe occurs furthering the question of what dangers lie in space . . .

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Detective Comics #10:  Penciled by Ed Benes, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Rob Hunter

Batwing #10:  Drawn by Marcus To, Colored by Brian Reber, Inked by Ryan Winn

Swamp Thing  #10: Art by Francesco Francavilla

Earth 2 #2: Drawn by Nicola Scott, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Trevor Scott

Before Watchmen: Minute Men #1: Art by Darwyn Cooke, Colored by Phil Noto

Week 39 (May 30, 2012)

Being the fifth week of the month, there were only a few titles that came out, but among them were two annuals, Batman and Animal Man, the last of DC’s “Second Wave” titles, and  three other killer titles.

  • Animal Man Annual #1 takes a step outside of the main series, focusing rather on a story from the past of the “Red” and the “Green” uniting against the “Rot.”  Writer, Jeff Lemire, gives context to the current War with the “Rot” by showing the relationship of avatars of the Red and Green in times past.   We’ve been told that there were avatars  before Swamp Thing and Animal Man, but thus far they have never elaborated on any of their predecessors.  Focusing on a rural village in 1890’s Canada, Lemire draws several connections between Jacob Mullin, former Avartar of the Red, and his future successor, Buddy Baker.  Featuring artwork by Timothy Green II, it has a very similar feel to the early art of Travel Foreman.  Overall, an interesting look at both the Red and the Green with foreshadowing to what Swamp Thing and Animal Manhave in store in the next several months.

    The Balance . . .

  • Batman Annual #1 though conceived and written by Scott Snyder, who’s blown the Batman title out of the water with the current “Court of Owls” arc, I am uncertain about this issue.  The Annual gives a New 52 introduction to the history of classic Batman villain, Mister Freeze.  It begins well, but falls a little flat at the end.  In the past the character of Victor Fries found its poignance in his moral complexity.  His villainy has always been fueled by his desire to cure his wife, Nora, who lies in a state of cryogenic stasis.  It makes him extremely ruthless, but at the same time almost impossible to truly hate.  This Annual completely destroys all of that.  I hope that Snyder pulls it out, but he’s gonna have to prove it to me.  Jason Fabok provides art and his style really fits the issue, having a cool, frosty quality.  I’ll give it an iffy shrug.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #4 just keeps getting bigger.  Starting out in the first two issues with Batman Beyond and Justice League Beyond segments, the third introduced an ongoing Superman Beyond segment, and this newest issue now introduces an ongoing Beyond Origins segment featuring a multi-part Warhawk origin.  In the Justice League Beyond segment, written and drawn by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, the Kobra plot finds its way across the cosmos to New Genesis.  For those who are fans of the New Gods and the works of Jack Kirby, this storyline takes it beyond the limit . . .  In the Justice League Unlimited television series, perhaps one of the biggest bombshells lay in the revelation that Warhawk from the then cancelled Batman Beyond show was actually the child of Green Lantern, John Stewart, and Hawkgirl.  This revelation was dropped, but never actualized within the run of the series.  Here in this incredible title, writers Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen give us the resolution of Warhawk’s genesis in the new Beyond Origin segment, rendered with the beautiful art of Eric Nguyen.  In Batman Beyond the “Mad Stan” storyline concludes in an abbreviated portion.   In Superman Beyond,writer JT Krul explores Lex Luthor explaining his crusade against the Man of Steel to his daughter via holo-vid and the newfound Luthor setting her mind to the continuance of that vendetta.  I love this series soooo much its insane.

    If that’s Darkseid . . . ?

  • Rounding out the DC releases this week is the sixth and final “Second Wave” debut issue, The Ravagers #1.  Picking right up where the “Culling” event left off, Dr. Caitlin Fairchild has escaped with roughly a dozen young heroes from Harvest’s Colony, with the villain’s Ravagers hot on their tails.  This as the backdrop, the issue was very much an inaugural issue.  Though Terra, Beastboy, Thunder and Lightning, and Ridge have appeared in other issues throughout the “Culling’s” duration and leadup, they have yet to appear in starring roles, so writer Howard Mackie now has to introduce us to them situationally  and familiarize us with these old and new characters alike.  However, as stated above, the full force of Harvest’s Ravagers are bearing down on them so this introductory process is a bit awkward.  What it lacks in exposition, though, it certainly makes up for in action and adventure.  Well worth looking into.
  • The New Deadwardians #3  brings Chief Investigator George Suttle to Zone-B, what was the “East End” before the Zombie Wars.  From last issue, George found evidence of the dead “Youth”, which we would call a vampire, having been a frequent visitor of a house of ill-repute in Zone-B.  That said, George visits an Edwardian brothel that caters to clientele of both Youths and Brights (regular people) in a post-Zombie infestation culture.   Though there is very little resolution to the case, what writer Dan Abnett accomplishes here is a very intimate look at George’s humanity, or rather what lingering bit remain of it.  Though I am far from a Zombie fan, this series has done for Zombie fiction what American Vampirehas done for vampires.

    The Remains of the Day

  • And speaking of American Vampire, #27 concludes the ‘Nocturnes” arc following newest American Vampire, Calvin Poole, through his old stomping grounds.  The “Dogs” as they are called, elderly war vets who seem to run the town of Midway, Alabama, are revealed to be a strange werewolf-like breed of vampires vulnerable to silver.  It also ties in the end of the insane ending of the previous issue, as pertaining to our old friend, Pearl Jones.  Series artist, Rafael Albuquerque, is tied up with his work on Scott Snyder’s “Night of Owls” back-up features, so this arc is rendered by Riccardo Burchielli, whose art is very appropriate to the title.  I cannot wait until the next month’s “Blacklist” story arc begins.

A very good bonus month of comics.  Though, I am looking forward to next week’s full run of issues.  See you then.

Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.

Illustration Credits:

Animal Man Annual #1: Drawn by Timothy Green II, Colored by Lovern Kindzierski, Inked by Joseph Silver

Batman Annual #1: Art by Jason Fabok, Colored by Peter Steigerwald

Batman Beyond Unlimited #4: Drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Colored by Randy Major, Inked by Derek Fridolfs

The New Deadwardians #3: Art byI.N.J Culbard, Colored by Patricia Mulvihill