- Batman #11 follows up on the heels of last month exceptional issue. With the revelation by the former Lincoln March that he is in fact Bruce’s brother, Thomas Wayne Jr, issue #11 jumps into the aftermath of this assertion as the “brothers” fight for possession of their hereditary legacy, Gotham City. I am torn as to what I think of this issue. Scott Snyder is a genius and I have the utmost faith in his adjudication on the future of this plotline, but I think that with a revelation such as this, abounding with endless possibilities and countless ways it all could go wrong, he has to tread lightly. Tread lightly he does, and part of me is glad, but another a part wishes he would have gone for broke and commit to the truth of Thomas Wayne Jr’s identity. Still an awesome book, and well worth the read.
- Batman & Robin #11 depicts a great shadow descending on Gotham. However, before I elaborate on that, it also features the second of Damian’s attempts on his fellow Robins, and this time Jason Todd’s lot comes up a la crowbar under his pillow. The tete-a-tete between Jason and Damian is very interesting as Jason is the closest to matching Damian’s sociopathy. Jason is the “ghost of Christmas future” who knows from personal experience what awaits Damian down the path, and conversely Damian (unlike Dick, Tim, or Bruce) has a clearer view of who and what Jason is, free of self denial. Their rivalry therefore is fraught with psychology and exposition of former plotlines involving each. Outside of their fight, the enigmatic alliance of villains descend on Gotham in a very dramatic show of force and violence. One could even say that they are getting their “brand” out there . . .
- Swamp Thing #11 serves as the conduit, connecting Animal Man and Swamp Thing and bridging them toward a common plotline: “Rotworld.” The history between Abby Arcane and her twisted, semi-necrotic uncle, Anton, is revealed. Swamp Thing, or rather Alec Holland in his human form, awakens after a rejuvenating sleep in the swamps behind Abigail’s home. The Parliament of Tree, regrown and in the form of “swamp children,” exalt his success as their king and for saving them from utter destruction. Coming against Arcane a portal into the Black is opened. In Animal Man we have seen the Red, in Swamp Thing we have seen the Green, but apart from an island of Rot within the Red, thus far we have not seen the Black. With Animal Man showing up at the end of this issue, the war with the Rot is finally come . . .
- Batgirl #11 continues our heroine’s first parlay with the dark vigilante, Knightfall, who has designs on the future of Gotham. In the midst of this, Det. McKenna stumbles in and rescues Batgirl, intimating prior history with Knightfall. This history and how it pertains to the character of our as of yet enigmatic policewoman is something ominous. Not to mention that this issue also features the first follow up of James Gordon Jr (serial killer son of Commissioner Gordon) dating Barbara’s roommate Alysia, as well as a cameo at the end by the Batwoman. Promise abounds in this current issue, making the future of this title seem infinite.
- Before Watchmen: Minutemen #2 presents another chapter of Darwyn Cooke’s saga of the Watchmen’s predecessors from the late 30’s. As with the Watchmen themselves, this title continues to be dark and morally ambiguous. The genesis of the Minutemen is shown here, from the audition phase to their first foray into team superheroics. But as valiant and upright as this may sound, their beginnings were fraught with backdoor politics and shady dealings. And while the first case they solve is arms smuggling fifth columnists, the real case that turns heads in this is Silhouette’s tackling of a child pornography ring. The ending of the issue following the latter case is truly stark and though not graphically elaborated upon, quite disturbing.
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #11 reveals the story behind the strange flashbacks that Frank has been having of violent episodes throughout history. When he was created, he was constructed using pieces of violent criminals from around the world. As a result, Frank is haunted by the memories of his body’s past actions, leaving him with a complex, believing that he is no better than the sum of his parts. Literally. In the midst of all that, Frank also finds his way to Leviathan, the underwater creature that houses forcibly retired S.H.A.D.E operatives until doomsday. Within Leviathan lies the mole threatening the organization. Till next time . . .
- Superboy #11 features Superboy’s first adventure away from the Teen Titans since the end of the “Culling” event’s conclusion. However, he does hangout with Bunker, returning to the real world of New York City, trying to make a go of it. He still is a little green and the comedic nature of his missteps are accentuated by the foiling of Bunker’s sardonic wit. And to top it off, the amalgamated villain, Detritus, that Bunker and Red Robin faced off with in the Southwest makes the scene in the Big Apple, prompting the two teenaged superheroes to intercede. Kind of a nice interim issue that really comes off more as a humanizing story, than a superheroic one.
- The Ravagers #3 introduces Brother Blood to the New DCU. And what’s more, this issue returns the spotlight back to Beast Boy and Terra, showing their journey since the exodus from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. It also ties Beast Boy, in his new red hide, to Brother Blood in a yet to be revealed way. Blood is terrifying empowered by and commanding fanatical cultists that “shed lives, shed flesh, shed blood” for the cultist figure. The issue tantalizes with the presentation of just enough information and the withholding of the really meaty bits. I can’t wait to see what issue #4 has in store next month.
- Shade #1o is the crescendo point of the miniseries. Tied up and depowered by his great great grandson and his cabalist friends using their enslaved Egyptian gods, the Shade does what he does best and through eloquence and no shortage of wit gets his progeny to reveal the inner workings of his organization, their shady dealings, and membership, then tricking him into his own undoing. That is the good news. The bad news is what that gambit results in and the consequences of obtaining liberation. Perhaps James Robinson’s greatest contribution to comics is his version of the character, the Shade, and his return to the character in this limited series is stellar. Two more issues till the conclusion and already I am champing at the bit to read them.
- American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #2 proves that writer, Scott Snyder, is a literary writer as well as a truly talented comics writer. In this installment he chronicles the rise of the “Dracula” vampire that inspired the Stoker novel and its relationship to the Carpathian species of vampires. He ties the capture and containment of this vampire to the madness of Queen Victoria’s son, Albert the Duke of Clarence, and states this as the reason that Albert perpetrated the “Jack the Ripper” killings. And in the midst of all that, plots out a really compelling story featuring a cast of our favorite American Vampire characters. Or at least three of mine.
- Kirby Genesis #8 brings its run to an end after more than a year of anticipation. This is as good as it gets. The combine armies of the disparate Jack Kirby creations come together in a Ragnarok like event with the most primal forces and entities of the Universe converging on Earth to judge humanity’s fitness to continue existing. At the heart of it all is a seemingly ordinary young man, aptly named Kirby, who we’ve watched from issue #0 onward. He has never done anything superheroic or gained extraordinary powers, but in this issue we see his true purpose and what key he holds within him to not only the survival of our planet, but the very nature of life itself. This was truly an incredible thing that Dynamite Entertainment put out and I think that writer Kurt Busiek and his cocreator and artist, Alex Ross, should pat themselves on the back for the excellence and fidelity with which they produced a new series based on and in the spirit of Jack Kirby’s works.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Batman #11: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO, Inked by Jonathan Glapion
Batman & Robin #11: Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #11: Drawn by Alberto Ponticelli, Colored by Jose Villarrubia, Inked by Wayne Faucher
Ravagers #3: Art by Ian Churchill, Colors by Hi-Fi
Kirby Genesis #8: Art by Alex Ross, Colors by Vinicius Andrade