This week new comics fall on the birth of our nation and, despite being a holiday, new books are ON THE SHELF!!! God Bless America!!! This is truly one of the things that makes our country great. Maybe not, but its still pretty sweet for those of us who are of the nerdier persuasion. So here’s to those awesome first week titles released on the 4th of July.
- Action Comics #11 was pretty good. I think like the first arc, its setting up something epic, but at this point its kind of vague. I’m still not that sure about the death of Clark Kent, but again, Morrison may have things in store for us if we follow him down the path, which I intend to do. He introduces us to a Johnny Clark, a fire fighter person Superman has no adopted, as well as Lois Lane’s niece, Susie, who figures very prominently into not only the future of this series, but also mankind. And if that weren’t enough, Morrison also foreshadows something incredible on the horizon following in the wake of his introduction of Brainiac to the New DCU. Brainiac is by far one of the most apocalyptic of Superman’s foes, and yet Morrison intimates in this issue that Brainiac is merely the scavenger that precedes another, greater, unspeakable threat. Interesting stuff. By itself this was not the best issue, but once the arc complete I am confident it will be incredible.
- Detective Comics #11 was an interesting issue in a very peculiar story arc. I am used to Tony Daniel writing gritty stories of Batman navigating vistas and plots mined from his rich canon. So far Daniel hasn’t done that post-reboot, but still stayed centered in a similar world of twisted psychopaths and kingpins in Gotham. This one is a super science oriented story dealing with a plot centered around theoretical physics that seems a little strange. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but I remain uncertain. I will say that I haven’t been feeling the Two-Face backup for awhile. That’s not my favorite in art or story. I hope that the series builds momentum, because Tony Daniel has proven in the past that he has the chops to be an amazing Batman writer.
- Red Lanterns #11 returns to excellence this month after last month’s disappointing crossover with series writer Peter Milligan’s other series, Stormwatch. The latter title has been dropped by me, not because Milligan is anything less than a genius, but because its is just a wasteland where good stories and art go to die. Red Lanterns, on the other hand, is a series that continues to innovate the Green Lantern Universe as well as the DCU as a whole, giving voice to the discontent of the human soul. Showcased on the cover is the showdown between the Vixen of Vengeance, Bleez of the the Red Lanterns, and her former associate in the New Guardians, Fatality of the Star Sapphires (formerly of the Sinestro Corps.) This confrontation was very well done and interesting to watch unfold. They are very similar women who are strong in their convictions, yet diverge in their response to the traumas that birthed them. One embraces love and the other embraces hatred. The dichotomy is very stark, yet despite that there is still a sisterhood between them. I can’t wait to see how this portion of the story reconciles itself. Elsewhere in the universe, is the errant Red Lantern of Earth, Rankorr aka John Moore, who is still coming to terms with his new life as a Red Lantern, and a completely new kind of Red Lantern at that. And finally, and most importantly, the Regent of Rage, Atrocitus, tracks down his failed creation, Abysmus, in the hope of killing him and remedying the poisoned central power battery of his corps that is killing his soldiers. So much is revealed in his issue and ties towards a larger precedent of the various corps being attacked and systematically shut down by an unknown force. This series remains one of the best DC is putting out.
- Batwing #11 wasn’t spectacular. He continues his journey through China in search of the reason behind the Chinese programmer’s kidnapping by African pirates. In the wake of the assault on the corrupt Nigerian governor of the River state’s mansion, we discover that the slain politician is Batwing’s mentor, Matu’s father. Following his estranged father’s final wishes to be buried in his homeland, Tundi, which is currently ruled by a super-powered despot named Lord Battle. I’m not so much feeling this issue. I really like the opening arc, but this one is taking some time to settle into.
- Justice League International #11 is a protracted fight scene that brings to a close the arc following the terrorist attack on the United Nations. Put on show trial for supporting international imperialism the JLI’ers have to escape and defeat Breakdown, Feedback, Lightweaver, and Crosscut. Not going to spoil it, but it was an interesting issue, albeit sort of anti-climatic. August General in Iron is the MVP of this issue.
- Earth 2 #3 really went a long way toward world building Earth 2. Though I still am super dubious about the rationale behind the change of Alan Scott’s sexual orientation, this issue setting up a his role in this universe’s hierarchy. He is chosen to be an avatar of the Green energy of Earth to combat the forces of death and decay, called the Gray. Like the war going on in Animal Man and Swamp Thing between the Green, Red, and Black or Rot, Earth 2 has its champion of all life in Green Lantern and an avatar representing the Gray to balance the forces of life and death. The Gray’s avatar is a surprise that I am grateful to see reintroduced to the New DCU. What’s more, the Green reveals that down the road an evil that dwarfs the Apokaliptian invasion is on the horizon. I have no idea what that is, but writer James Robinson has me on the hook for at least the next year’s worth of issue. See y’all back at issue #15.
- Worlds’ Finest #3 follows the fight of Huntress and Power Girl with Hakkou at the Fukishima nuclear power plant and into the heart of Tokyo. You can just tell that writer Paul Levitz was a Godzilla fan as a kid from his loving homages to the Japanese nuclear monster genre. It also goes back in time as usual to highlight the initial stages of Helena and Karen’s transition to Earth 1’s way of things. I really like this series both in its writing, and in the stunning art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire.
- Animal Man #11 wraps up the first phase of the series. After dying and being resurrected this issue leads to what we have all been waiting for. Next issue we will finally see the team up of Swamp Thing and Animal Man, the avatars of Green and Red respectively, against the common enemy, the Rot, personified by Anton Arcane. What this issue does is give Animal Man his last great test before he can face Arcane. He is given a new body by the Red’s “royal tailors” and must fight and defeat his old body that has fallen t the Rot, in effect fighting and overcoming himself and his past in order to progress to his full potential. Symbolically it was a good issue, but I feel like it could have read better.
- Green Arrow #11 was slightly schizophrenic, but that may be owing to it working on what Dennis O’Neil referred to as the “Levitz Paradigm.” I’ll get to that later. The issue starts at a charity poker tournament that is robbed by Robin Hood-esque thieves out to reclaim wealth from the 1%. The identity of the female member is quite ironic, taking this fact into account. The second half of the story takes Ollie to China to sell cutting edge technology to an unscrupulous businessman. To return to my earlier statement about the “Levitz Paradigm,” Paul Levitz employs a writing style where he inserts a minor storypoint or two into an issue along side the main issue, seeding that other storypoint to grow into the next main issue that the hero(es) will face. I am guessing that is the case here, since the Robin Hoods don’t really sync with the Chinese business interest.
- Dial H #3 introduces an enigmatic woman named Manteau who is in possession of her own dial that grants her similarly eclectic powers. Other than this, the series remains an enigma. That is both a weakness and a strength depending on who you are and what your tastes are. I’ll continue reading it in the hopes of it fulfilling its potential.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #1 features Adam of Eternia, not as prince of the realm, but rather the son of a lowly woodcutter. Despite this, he still has dreams of once having been He-Man and fighting strange people while fighting along familiar faces. Writer James Robinson does an amazing job creating an authentic atmosphere while penning a story that is unlike anything in the cartoons. I’m a He-Man fan from my earliest memories and what Robinson and artist Philip Tan are doing makes me hopeful for what this series promises.
- Night Force #5 was just freaky. There was some exposition that aided the furthering of the plot: Senator Green is further depicted to be an unwitting demonic brood-stud, one of his impregnated women stillbirths her fetus, and his wife continues to be evil as hell. These points in and of themselves are creepy enough, by when taken alongside how they are presented, the title descends to another level
- Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1 continues the tradition of its predecessors with gusto. This may be my favorite thus far, owing to the incredible writing of the legendary Len Wein and the eerie art of Jae Lee. Starting from his birth, this issue gives a very comprehensive look at the life of Adrian Veidt, from his awkward childhood to his rise to economic and intellectual greatness. The way in which Wein narrates the events of Veidt’s life is very cold, calculating, and intelligent and when used to describe such things as schoolyard bullying and falling in love for the first time, the effect is really engaging. Jae Lee’s art is hypnotic when set with Wein’s plots, further luring the reader deeper into the narrative.
- Smallville Season 11 #3 brings us back to Earth after the catastrophic explosion aboard the Guardian platform launch. Astronaut Hank Henshaw has sustained burns over most of his body and needless to say is in critical condition. In the wake of this Superman confronts Lex for the first time (sort of), he has his first run in with the military, Chloe and Oliver explore an alien crash site in Kansas that may not be so alien, and the fate of Henshaw and beginnings of his role as a classic DC supervillian.
- Captain Victory #6 looks to be the penultimate chapter of this series. I hope this isn’t the case as it is REALLY good. After escaping the planet Ilili, which Galactic Command had sent them and several other doomed ships to, it becomes obvious that there is a traitor somewhere in their headquarters, but who? That will have to wait until they can suss out who the traitor is on their own ship. I really hope that this series continues, because writer Sterling Gates has the feel of Kirby’s original series bottled in this exquisite run. And long may it run . . .
So ends this week in review, and what a week it was. Excellent entertainment, as befitting their release on the anniversary of our nation’s birth.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Red Lanterns #11: Art by Miguel Sepulveda, Colored by Rain Beredo
Justice League International #11: Drawn by Aaron Lopresti, Colored by Hi-Fi, Inked by Matt Ryan
Green Arrow #11: Art by Harvey Tolibao, Colored by Richard & Tanya Horie
Night Force #5: Art by Tom Mandrake, Colored by Wes Hartman
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1: Art by Jae lee, Colored by June Chung