- Batman #12 takes a step back from the fast pace of the past eleven issues and focuses on a minor character introduced in issue #3. Most prominently we saw her after Batman woke up in the sewers following his escape from the Owls’ Labyrinth. One tough cookie, her name is Harper Row, and after Batman saves her and her brother’s life, she takes an interest in the Dark Knight that looks to be leading toward a larger destiny. Writers, Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, are vague on that point, but have a wonderful track record regarding their treatment of the Batman character, so whatever it is I am sure it will be awesome.
- Batman & Robin #12 caps off the “Terminus” arc grandly, albeit slightly anticlimatically. Its a good issue, but pretty straightforward: Terminus attacks Gotham and the Bat family responds. Though there wasn’t a lot to it, taken with the previous issues in the arc, it completed a very interesting story and a very intriguing plot. The only thing that bothered me was how easily it folded up in the end, after all the buildup to how infallible Terminus’ master plan was supposes to be. Also the final battle of Damian in his challenge to the Robins falls flat as Dick just throws in the towel preemptively. Bad form, Grayson.
- Batgirl #12 brought together a great many story threads. Batgirl and Batwoman meet for the first time in a Battle of the Bats. James Gordon Jr shows up again after a couple of months hiatus. We finally get some closure as to the identity and motivations behind Knightfall. But most importantly things truly come to a head in a final page that is truly appalling, considering that with the #0 issues next month, we have to wait till October to know how it all comes out.
- Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #2 was as good if not better than the first issue. Adrian Veidt sets out on his journey as a mystery man and with his inaugural mission to stamp out the drug ring that caused the death of his girlfriend. In so doing, we see how his physical and mental acumen combine in a symphony of action. It isn’t just the beauty and precision of his movements that makes the issue so engrossing, but also the thought process behind it, which writer Len Wein delivers with equal precision. Jae Lee’s art is also stunningly suited to Wein’s scripting and the tone of the piece. To cap this issue off and lead us onto the next issue, Adrian decides to resurrect the investigation into the disappearance of the former Minuteman, Hooded Justice. In doing so he runs afoul of another seminal character of the Watchmen series.
- Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #12 concludes the “Son of Satan’s Ring” arc, which marked writer Matt Kindt’s inaugural storyline on the character. Frank gets to the bottom of the plot against S.H.A.D.E by the mole in Leviathan. After this, Kindt throws a curve ball into the plot that not only cuts to the heart of who Frankenstein is, but also ties the title into the Rotworld event going on in both Animal Man and Swamp Thing. Frankenstein’s previous encounter with the rotlings posed some very fundamental questions as to the nature of his being. This new plotline beginning in October can do no less.
- Night Force #6 marks the penultimate chapter of the miniseries and brings to light most of the the pressing questions posed throughout the previous five issues. The identity of Senator Greene’s omni-pregnant wife, the history of the madwoman Kassandra, the link to the American Revolution, the history of the multigenerational, eugenic demon castes. All of these are revealed in stunning detail. Writer Marv Wolfman has taken his previous runs of this title and team and conceived of a new and fresh crisis for them to surmount that is both unique and incredibly dire. Most intriguingly when you consider the cyclical manner in which the heroes (or at least one of them) causes the whole affair to begin in the past as a result of trying to stop if from happening in the first place. As ever Tom Mandrake’s art creates a phantasmagoric atmosphere that epitomizes the tone that the story elicits.
- Superboy #12 has our as of yet unnamed hero attempting to make a life for himself away from the Titans and free of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., the shadowy organization that created him from Superman’s DNA. In doing so he’s inadvertently fallen into the social circle of his Paris Hilton-ish land lady and her Jersey Shore-esque crew. But behind all the partying and posturing, there is something dark going on in Dallas’ (the aforementioned heiress) life. This comes to a head when she is accosted by thugs working for a mysterious woman named Kiva with the ability to distort reality. True to form, Superboy leaps in to help his pseudo-friend and finds he is in over his head. As he struggles to stop Kiva and her henchmen from hurting Dallas, Kiva discovers a secret about Superboy that is so disturbing it renders her into a catatonic state. Of course we never find out what it is, but the mere sight of a strong figure like her falling before it makes for a killer cliffhanger.
- Ravagers #4 picks up with the Ravagers in captivity after being attacked by Brother Blood and his minions. Sensing Blood and the plight of his former comrades Beast Boy drags Terra on a rescue mission to save them. In the process Blood’s aim comes to light and with it the rationale behind the change in Beast Boy’ color from its original green pre-Reboot to the post-Reboot red. What Blood seeks is to enter a place that he calls “The Red.” And considering his powerset, Beast Boy’s change to red and being connected to the Red make so much sense. It explains their past association, though that isn’t actually solidified. All we are told is that Blood and Beast Boy shared a dream in which they were both in the Red. That is why Blood seeks to open a portal to the Red. Destiny beckons him there. The Ravagers are freed and an epic battle ensues, causing one of the team to fall in the prevention of Brother Blood’s mad scheme. In the process Caitlin Fairchild sees the full extent of what terrible savagery her Ravagers are capable of when their backs are against a wall and she is terrified by it. The team then goes to meet her contact, Niles Caulder, making me curious if the Doom Patrol will be resurrected in this New DCU and whether or not Beast Boy, who has no memories before N.O.W.H.E.R.E, will have been involved with them. Next month’s zero issue is solicited as being an origin of Beast Boy and Terra, so I am dying to see what they do.
- Grifter #12 was really good. Writer Rob Liefeld is bring it back from the brink. His past two issues have been very lackluster and left me considering dropping the title. There was no story at all and nothing but disjointed action sequences that had no bearing or gravitas to make me want to read more. This one was good and returned to the heart of the character and what Cole Cash, aka Grifter, is at heart . . . a grifter. The grift he pulls in this issue is nothing short of epic. I will continue to read it to see if Liefeld is one the way back up or merely struggling up for a gasp of air before sinking back down into subpar plotlines.
- Deathstroke #12 was not the best. It wasn’t horrible. I can’t say much about it. I liked seeing Zealot throughout Rob Liefeld’s tour thus far as writer and artist. That was cool. I am intrigued by his introduction of a female Czarnian after Deathstroke’s defeat of Lobo. That was also something that worked in his favor. His Deathstroke, however, felt a bit . . . off. We’ll see where he goes from here. This one is on the precipice of being dropped by me.
- Warriors of Mars #4 has Gullivar Jones and John Carter descending into the the subterranean realm of the Thither People to rescue princess Dejah Thoris from their king. In doing so, reunions of all sorts take place, between parted lovers, mothers and daughters, the dead and the living, etc. It came off very touching when the rifts that divide are juxtaposed against the precious moments that defy them. The issue seemingly comes to an end of the story, but then doesn’t. Where a logical ending should exist, Gullivar finds himself still upon Barsoom, but a Barsoom that has oceans. To those familiar with Edgar Rice Burroughs books, the film John Carter, or simply the comics based upon Burroughs’ stories, this fact will be monumentally shocking.
- American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #3 marks another incredible turn in the series of series writer Scott Snyder has penned under the banner “American Vampire.” This one, following the seminal vampire of all time, Dracula, reimagines and morphs the King of Vampires into the context of Snyder’s overarching mythology. The most powerful of a seemingly weak race, the Carpathians, he has abilities no other vampire has ever wielded and in his past redrew the map of both the human and supernatural worlds. He caused unfathomable havoc to humans, but as this issue reveals, he also decimated entire populations of other vampiric species, giving rise to a brotherhood of vampires, not unlike the human brotherhood, the Vassals of the Morningstar, whose members I might add, include Hobbs and Felicia Book, our protagonists. This vampire order is comprised of lone individuals who represent the last of their species, wiped out by Dracula in centuries past. They, like the Vassals, have a vested interest in making certain the King never arises from his deep slumber, as he cannot be killed permanently by stakes or any other means it would seem, only contained. Out of five issues, this third issue represents the hump that completes the journey up toward understanding the dilemma and the playing field. The last two are all down hill into the maelstrom and promise to be like nothing we’ve seen thus far in incredible world of vampires Snyder has not only redeemed from the likes of Myers, Harrison, and the CW, but also redefined.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Batman & Robin #12: Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray
Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #2: Art by Jae Lee, Colored by June Chung
Superboy #12: Drawn by Robson Rocha & Eduardo Pansica, Colored by Tanya & Richard Horie, Inked by Greg Adams, Mariah Benes & Andy Owens.
Deathstroke #12: Drawn by Rob Liefeld, Colored by Andy Troy, Inked by Adelso Corona
American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #3: Art byDustin Nguyen, Colored by John Kalisz