Week 50 (Aug. 15, 2012)

This week was pretty epic in the breadth of stories that were told.  Green Lantern stands on the precipice of what promises to be a hallmark turning point in the title, just as Emerald Twilight was back in the 90’s and Rebirth was in 2005.  Batwoman starts on its next chapter that promises both excellent, dynamic art, and revelation toward the threat that has been looming for this past year. Several others reach their respective arc conclusions in anticipation of next months’ Zero issues.  I don’t know if I have been this excited about a round of comics in awhile.

  • Green Lantern #12 was an incredible issue.  It wasn’t so much the issue itself, but rather what the issue promised.  After last month’s installment, Hal and Sinestro are now face to face with Black Hand in his family’s old mortuary where he has regained his necromantic powers, bringing forth an army of the departed to fight for him.  That is the premise.  The real hook is what Black Hand reads in the Book of the Black.  There is a prophesy that, as with all prophesies in the different books of light, is destined to come to fruition.  This prophesy will literally change everything . . .  With it all leading up to the apocalyptic finale in Green Lantern Annual #1, the stakes are pretty high.

    The Greatest WHAT!?!

  • Green Lantern Corps #12 concludes the “Alpha Lantern War” arc and like Green Lantern #12 counts down to the Green Lantern Annual in two weeks.  For years now the Alpha Lanterns have been an ominous presence in the Green Lantern books and the looming question is, what happens when they are put into the position where their goals are at cross purposes to that of the Corps they supposedly serve?  That has been “The Alpha War.”   With this last issue before the Green Lantern Annual and the final chapter before the advent of the “Third Army”,  the story is cataclysmic.  Plus it reveals another clue to the aftermath of that Annual.  In this month’s Red Lantern #12 I thought I had it all figured out.  This issue threw a wrench in that and now I am reevaluating my hypothesis.  No matter how you look at it, the Green Lantern family of books is stellar across the board, both literally and figuratively.
  • Batwoman #12 inaugurates a brand new story arc and returns cowriter J.H. Williams III to artist duty as well as writing, bringing back the florid, nonlinear panels and layouts that make this book so incredible. Following the assault of Falchion’s lair, Batwoman, aka Kate Kane, renews her mission to locate the kidnapped children of Gotham, as well as their supernatural abductors, the organization called Medusa.  The mystic and mythic nature of Medusa is revealed and as a result, Batwoman decides that she must enlist the help of Wonder Woman to assault this foe that lies outside of her own ken.  Half the issue is dedicated to Wonder Woman’s independent battles with the snake worshiping foes that Batwoman has already come up against.  Williams and Blackman’s writing of the Amazonian Princess  is really good.  I’d say that if J.H. Williams had taken on the reinvention of Wonder Woman in her title at the Reboot a year ago, he would have done a better job than Brian Azzarello, whose work I do enjoy.  This series, these writers and artist, are phenomenal.  This is one of the must reads of the DC line.
  • Nightwing #12 was decent.  The majority of the issue was dedicated to the resolution of the “Paragon” plotline. From the look of epiphany on Dick Grayson’s face at the end of the last issue I was expecting more from this issue’s conclusion.  The villain and the slain Strayhan brothers were just bystanders in an entirely unrelated earlier battle sequence involving Nightwing which begs two questions: How the HELL did Dick figure that out? and Why should I care?  What it did do well was introduce the coming of Lady Shiva to Gotham as well as further hint at a possible romance between Dick and Sonia Branch, the daughter of the man who killed Dick’s parents.
  • Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1 was awesome. Truly a testament to the original Alan Moore character. Rorschach is a truly dark, twisted visage of vigilantism and brutal justice with his ear set to the pulse of New York’s seedy underbelly.  Brian Azzarello writes him just so, with all the grit, grim, and menace he has lent to Batman1oo Bullets, and his Before Watchmen: The Comedian series, to name only a few.  In the realm of art, Lee Bermejo’s work elicits stark realism  in the lines, depths, and coloring of his panels that, regardless of the outlandishness of the subject matter, draws you into it, as though it were actually happening right before your eyes.  All of the Before Watchmen titles have been fantastic, and this is no exception.  If I could make one bit of criticism, however, I would say that the Rorschach in J. Michael Straczynski’s Nite Owl series is more authentic sounding than this one.  Azzarello has him speaking more eloquently and with more complex thought processes. Straczynski gives him the more clipped sentence structure that Moore originally endowed him with more that twenty-five years ago.  Rorschach isn’t stupid, but due to his traumatic upbringing he is a little stunted, both emotionally and cognitively.  He is quite brilliant, but his mind processes things in an abnormal manner.  Azzarello writes him well, but I would be lying if I said he wrote him the best.

    The Beauty and Macabre of Lee Bermejo’s Artwork

  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #12 was just fun.  The Outlaws continue to orbit Starfire, aka Princess Koriand’r’s, homeworld, Tamaran, recently occupied by the invading race, the Blight.  Torn between her loyalty to her people as their princess and her sense of betrayal at their allowance of her former enslavement to the Blight, she answers the call with a little help from her friends, both past and present.  Jason’s whirlwind romance with flight attendant, Isabel, continues to intrigue.  The bond between Roy and Starfire is strengthening, reevaluating Starfire’s flippant nature and “loose” morals from our first view of her in issue #1.  Starfire’s elder sister, Komand’r, makes her first appearance and its quite different from her former incarnations.  Finally, there is mention of something called “The Thirteen” by a member of the Blight and a human which raises major questions about the next phase in storytelling coming up.  Timothy Green II takes over artist duties from Kenneth Rocafort, which saddens me considering the former’s incredible ability. Green does a good job mimicking it, but its still not the same.

    Princess Blackfire

  • Legion of Super-Heroes #12, like its predecessor last month is a straight shot story that completes the Dominators arc.  The Dominators, an evil Darwinian empire of sharp-toothed, beady eyed, grinning aliens has kidnapped Brainiac 5 and Dream Girl to integrate twelfth level intelligence and precognition into the gene pool of the next caste of Dominators.   Due to political maneuvering, the United Planets Council refuse to intervene to rescue the Legionnaires for fear of causing a state of war between UP Space and the Dominator Space.  To side step this, the Legion dispatches (unofficially) former legionnaires and legionnaire cadets to extract their comrades.  That all culminates in the last major conflict with the Dominators before this issue concludes.  I enjoyed the way Paul Levitz framed the conflict with super politics and and nightmarish perversions of genetics.   Those two things are what truly make the Dominion terrifying; their use of politics and military might to shield them from censure and their forced evolutionary advances.  Levitz wrote them exquisitely.
  • Catwoman #12 ends the arc of Dollhouse, and after September’s #0 issue, Judd Winick’s run on the title.  In this final issue dealing with the taxidermist serial killer of prostitutes and street youths a connection is made to the character Dollmaker from Detective Comics #2-4.  I knew that there was something familiar about what was happening in this arc!  The MO of Dollmaker and Dollhouse aren’t exactly the same, in fact there is a uniqueness about both, but still it was interesting to see how these characters can bounce around between titles, cementing the concept of a new universe and continuity being developed.  Outside of the Dollhouse arc, the other complications in Selina’s life, the GCPD detective that she’s uneasily allied herself with, her accomplice who is actually selling her out to corrupt policemen, her new fence that doesn’t trust her, and the Penguin, all make appearances in one form or another, advancing this plotline into the next chapter of Catwoman that will be written by Green Arrow scribe, Ann Nocenti.  I’m looking forward to that, with a nostalgic look back at the first awesome year of Catwoman issues.
  • Wonder Woman #12 also enters into the category of lost interest in the main plot and more interest in the tertiary aspects of it.  This new Wonder Woman origin of her being the daughter of Zeus is taking too much explanation.  It’d be great if it were simple and more time could be spent acclimating her to the larger DCU, but that is not the case.  She is still mired in the cluster-cuss of political intrigue and family drama with the Greek gods.  Its interesting, don’t get me wrong, but when you have a character like Wonder Woman, who routinely shows up in Justice League, and other titles as well, such as this week’s Batwoman #12, its really tedious to see her tied down (no pun intended) in her own title.  We have yet to see her breakout into a real world conflict.  I hope that the birth of Zola’s baby and the sequence of events that could hasten Zeus’ return bear fruit very soon, because I really want some conclusion to this so we can all move on.  The one thing in this issue that really got my heart beating and my eyes watering was the last page.  With absolutely no bearing on this title and its strange neo-Greek mythological mode, I am aching to know what is going on with it.

    The Literal Rise Of The NEW GODS!

  • Supergirl #12 continued the acclimation of Supergirl to Earth.  Starting with her in her cousin’s Fortress of Solitude, she attempts to trust him and believe the unbelievable, that Krypton is gone and she and Kal-El are the last surviving Kryptonians, but continues to fall short.  Its annoying on the surface, but underneath it resonates, begging the question of how we would feel in her predicament.  Also she burns with the same angst that human teens do, which while tedious outside those years, is inevitable and quite real when in them.  The final key to unlocking her past lies with a piece of her ship that sank to the ocean floor.  What she finds there is quite interesting.
  • The Shade #11 brings to a close the overall conflict of the miniseries.  The family infighting that has lead to the Egyptian “gods” being released upon London comes to its conclusion.  Half the issue is spent getting there in large full page or, in a few cases, two page spreads of the titanic battles between the gods, the Shade, and London’s superhero protectors.  The other half is dedicated to a transcendental explanation of who and what the gods actually are.  An interesting issue from James Robinson that begs for the twelfth and final issue to put a great run of books to sleep with one last validation of their brilliance.
  • Blue Beetle #12 had Blue Beetle facing his former mistakes from back when he first got the scarab  in the form of Blood Beetle.  Trying to save his friend Paco’s life, he accidentally infected him with a mocked up scarab that turned him into a blood thirsty Reach operative like himself.  The battle between them isn’t the interesting part.  The interesting part is how through interacting with his own suit, Jaime is slowly getting his scarab to understand complex emotion and humanity.  As any sci-fi film will attest, getting an analytical machine to feel is not something that usually can be done.
  • Spinning out of the backup feature in Teen Titans #11, DC Presents: Kid Flash #12 is, as its title reveals, about Bart Allen, aka Kid Flash, responding to three dinosaur/human hybrid teenagers that escaped from the Mystery Island the Titans previously found themselves upon after their exodus from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  Dac, a pterodactyl girl, Teryx, seemingly an archaeopteryx, and Steg, a stegosaurus,  come to the Big Apple and have converse ideas about what to do.  As complex as the Titans themselves, these kids, regardless of their species, act like teenagers with the same angst, fear, and misguided ideals as most of us did back in the day.  They present very complex archetypes, matching teen cliques and the species from which they are descended.  Writer Fabian Nicieza spins a really interesting yarn in this one shot DC Universe Presents issue.
  • Saucer Country #6 appeared to be Paul Cornell cluing his readers in on the actual mythology behind Flying Saucers and Little Green Men.  No doubt that some of it was made up by him, but a lot of it is historical fact of sightings that people saw (regardless of whether the sightings were legitimate or misconstrued) and how those events were reported.  Paul Cornell stated that one of the things that fascinated him in his younger days was the whole ET/UFO subculture of the American southwest and other pocket communities throughout the world.  It really shows through in this issue.  Divorced from the main plot almost entirely, its just a really interesting little informational seminar on the topic the comic explores that clues in the readers, doing so in a very palatable, entertaining way.

That is the third week of August.  Exceptional issues that marked many endings and the promise of just as many new beginnings.

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

Illustration Credits:

Green Lantern #12:  Art by Renato Guedes & Calafiore, Colored by Alex Sinclair

Batwoman #12:  Art by J.H. Williams III, Colored by Dave Stewart

Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1: Art by Lee Bermejo, Colored by Barbara Ciardo

Red Hood and the Outlaws #12: Art by Timothy Green II, Colored by Blond

Wonder Woman #12: Art by Cliff Chiang, Colored by Matthew Wilson

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