Week 55 (Sept. 19, 2012)

This might be my favorite week of Zero Month.  The titles that came out were for the most part incredible in their scope and the quality of their stories.  Green Lantern: The New Guardians reinvents itself for the next phase in its development, Red Hood & the Outlaws delivers an incredible new origin for one of the DCU best antiheroes conceived by the maestro Scott Lobdell, J. Michael Straczynski serves up the next INCREDIBLE chapter in his four part Before Watchmen: Nite Owl series, and DC Universe Presents serves up a double sized issue that gives origins on five cancelled series, three of which I still lament the passing of.  I hope you folks enjoy them as much as I did.

  • Green Lantern: The New Guardians #0 is an issue I have been waiting for since the first solicitations were released months ago.  It ushers in the second arc of the series, complete with a new panoply of Lanterns.  After the falling out of the last group upon the revelation that their gathering was a hoax by the former Guardian, Ganthet, Kyle Rayner is left to pick up the pieces.  Returning to Earth to commune with Hal Jordan about the genocidal insanity of their former bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, he instead finds Carol Ferris, herself trying to meet with Hal to ascertain things of a more personal nature. Moments after this meeting the showdown between Hal, Sinestro, and Black Hand erupts in the cemetery, as shown in last month’s Green Lantern Annual #1.  Carol then dons her Star Sapphire ring to lend a hand to Kyle and her lover, only for the two of them to arrive at approximately the time in which Hal and Sinestro disappear.  Troubling as this is to both, Hal’s disappearance takes a back seat when Kyle’s ring begins to show a very peculiar ability following his adventures tracking the ring thief.  Reading his future, Carol predicts that he will have to master the seven emotions and channel the corresponding colors of light to, fingers crossed, rescue Hal and defeat the Guardians. Considering the scope of this aim, its probable that this current arc will encompass another full year’s worth of storytelling.  The Guardians’ mad plot to destroy all sentient life in the Universe promises to be a story spanning all four books and allowing for a long journey of twists and turns. Perhaps the most interesting twist occurs at the end of the issue with the Guardians visiting their former colleagues the Zamaronians on the Star Sapphire homeworld.  Though I was expecting a larger cast in this first issue, it does create a very solid jumping off point for the the new storyline to build off of.  New to the series as well is artist Aaron Kuder, taking over for Tyler Kirkham from the first twelve issue run.  His art is really fascinating, blending the styles of Mike Choi and Chris Burnham.  So to recap the awesome: Carol Ferris is Star Sapphire again, Kyle seems to be a standalone Indigo-esque Green Lantern, Tony Bedard remains at the helm, and new series artist Aaron Kuder’s panels look amazing.  This is gonna be a great year for this title.

    Has anyone ever seen the show “Avatar: The Last Airbender?”


  • Batwoman #0 is a true origin tale for Batwoman as it provides both an origin of the character and the comic.  Batwoman got her first solo series after a guest stint on Detective Comics two years ago.  The main arc of that run ended with her realizing that the blond psychotic she’d been fighting was her twin sister whom she’d thought murdered when they were small children.  Her sister, Elizabeth, masquerading as a psyched out Alice from “Alice in Wonderland”, then falls to her seeming death.  This issue picks up at that seminal moment and has the character, Kate Kane, recap her life from earliest childhood toward this moment and the decisions that led to her becoming Batwoman.  Seemingly having an elektra complex, she is driven throughout her life to live up to and win the admiration of her father.  That journey pushes her sanity to the brink and seemingly when she achieves her desire of measuring up to what she imagines to be her father’s mark, the schism of that moment, watching her long lost sister plummet out of her life once again, breaks her emotionally from her father, Col. Jacob Kane, setting up the beginning of this title’s first issue.  So not only does writer/artist J.H. Williams III and co-writer W. Haden Blackman create an origin for the character, they also create one for series, which seemingly sound like they should be the same, but really aren’t.  Williams’ artwork varies in this issue, demarcating past from present with stark lines and pastels in the former and hazy, vibrant art in the latter.  Well worth the one month break in the action of the current Batwoman/Wonder Woman team up.

    Sisters At War

  • Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #3 follows the second Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg, on his quest to find a slayer of prostitutes.  He does so at the behest of the very alluring masked madam, Twilight Lady, who while helping him locate the killer, slowly seduces him with her very penetrating wiles.  Through her flirtations and analysis of his character, we the reader learn a lot more about who Dan Dreiberg is than either he or us suspected. Considering how nemish he was in the original series, the interactions between Dan and the Twilight Lady, whose name is revealed to be Elizabeth Lane, is very charming, intimate, and more than a little sexy.  Nite Owl’s partner in crime-fighting, Rorschach, also has his place in this issue falling under the sway of an evangelistic minister who has a darker side to him.  J. Michael Straczynski is an ideal storyteller for these Before Watchmen books, as his stories echo the tones of the original that have resonated through the past two decades.  Andy Kubert’s art has a lot to do with the success of the visual narrative of the title, and should be noted that his late father, Joe Kubert, comic book legend, died while working on this title.  Rest in peace, Sir.

    The Twilight Lady Plays Her Game With Nite Owl

  • Justice League #0, like the first two entries this week in DC’s “Zero Month”, eschews an origin tale of the classic variety and instead gives the backup feature of the past several issues of the title, SHAZAM, the headliner position.  I have made no secret that I do not like Billy Batson in this Geoff Johns written monstrosity, and I do not like the interpretation that is coming out of it.  I think I have become comfortably numb, because as I read this story I know that I disagree with how it is being written, and though I can see what Johns was attempting to do, I do not believe that it is accomplishing the goals set.  However, my objections fall on deaf ears, so accepting that’s what it was going to be, I shut up and just went with it.  The Wizard gives Billy Batson his powers and then seemingly dies.  Not sure I agree with him just ceasing to exist right off the bat, but again, who am I to criticize?  Billy still seems like a punk and I only pray that he evolves as a character, because when it comes to flawed characters, they can be better than perfect characters, there is no denying that.  Yet when you make a character too flawed you reach a point of diminishing returns.  I hope for Johns’ sake that such a point is never reached, because his good name is beginning to tarnish in my opinion.  As stated in this review’s preamble, Justice League usually has a backup feature, and since the regular backup is the main story in this issue, Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver tell a tale of Pandora, the fallen Wizard from the main SHAZAM story, and the merest hint of the third immortal, the Question.  Sorry, in my mind the Question is best left as a fallible mortal human being.  Nice try, Geoff.  I am still unconvinced you have a clue what you are doing with the Question.
  • DC Universe Presents #0 takes the concept of the “Zero Issue” and injects it with anabolic steroids. Contained within are not one, but five origin stories of five series that were canceled at the end of the New 52 “First Wave.”  The first item on the docket is perhaps my favorite cancelled title and most lamented, OMAC, written and drawn once again by the phenomenal team of Dan Didio on words and Keith Giffen with Jack Kirby-channeling pencils.  The segment opens with Maxwell Lord and Brother Eye chiding the otherworldly scientist, Mokkari, for his lack of results and control over his research on what he deems “The OMAC virus” that will synthesize the recipient into a “One Machine Attack Construct.”  Brother Eye and Max then have a tete-a-tete about the nature of their relationship.  As per the conversation between Batman and Brother Eye at the end of the Justice League International Annual last month, Brother Eye reveals the rational and history behind his creation from a Mother Box leftover from Darkseid’s invasion of Earth in Justice League #1-6.  The conversation ends in a stalemate that results in the eight issue OMAC series.  Its clear that writer, Dan Didio, told this story to give further gravitas to what he will do with the eponymous character and Brother Eye in the new Justice League of America series out next year.  The next segment is Mister Terrificwritten this time by James Robinson, was most likely meant to segue into his use of the character in his Earth 2 series.  I didn’t read past issue #1 of this series, so my commentary on it will be rather uninformed.  Sorry.  I do remember the probability matrix of his dead son telling him he should become Mister Terrific.  This little tale has Michael Holt putting on the T-mask and activating his T-spheres, essentially becoming Mister Terrific.  Before he goes out to embrace his superheroic destiny, however, he first enters a rift in space time and sees his future’s most likely course.  This shows him the Justice Society that James Robinson is building in his Earth 2 title, as well as the Mister Terrific of Earth 2, Terry Sloan, killing him.  He fails to remember this when he exits and returns to his original plans of superheroing in the eight issues of his now cancelled series.  There is one last trick from Terry Sloan that writer James Robinson slides in there.  Terry, you tricky devil . . .  Third up is Hawk & Dove, written by Rob Liefeld, but not drawn.  Marat Mycheals steps in to fulfill artist duties on this vignette.  The story didn’t really facilitate anything, except giving a little backstory as to how Dawn (Dove) took over for Hank’s (Hawk) brother, Don, as the avatar of peace.  It says “To be continued…” at the end, but I don’t know if that is just generically saying that someone will pick up the pieces eventually . . . probably, but there wasn’t anything really left by this tale to elaborate on.  Blackhawks, written by Tony Bedard, goes back to the Apokalips invasion as seen in Justice League’s opening arc, and shows the origin of Mother Machine during that conflict.  I dropped the title after the first issue, so I am not as sure what this portion was about, but once again the ending makes it sound like this vignette is introducing a plot somewhere down the road in the DCU’s near future.  The final tale, also by Bedard, is Deadman, which is unfortunately illustrated by Scott McDaniel.  This tale is one that was worth telling.  In the original Deadman series, Deadman is given life after death to track down his killer.  The New 52 series writer, Paul Jenkins, told me in Chicago when I met him that he wanted to take a different direction with the Deadman and do something more in line with his understanding of the character.  This issue, goes back to his first possession of a person and wouldn’t you know it, that person whose life he is supposed to help is the man who killed him.  Deadman approaches the problem in the understandably harsh way, only to see the error in his thinking.  Not only does Bedard tie up that GIANT loose end in the plot of the original five issue run, he also validates the shift in the character that Jenkins pursued in his interpretation.  So ends the GIANT DC Universe Presents #0.  I think that it was well worth the doubled pricing.
  • Nightwing #0 is the first of two “Robin” origins this week, and I chose to read it first because Dick was the first Robin, and as we read, the one who created the persona.  The origin that writers Kyle Higgins and Tom DeFalco come up with is pretty similar to the one we know and love.  Dick is part of the “Flying Graysons” trapeze act in the circus that is visiting Gotham.  A local hood, Tony Zucco, cuts the wires and Dick’s parents die in the fall.  Taken in by Bruce Wayne, Dick seeks out his parents killer and through knowledge of body language deduces that Bruce and Batman are one and the same.  That is all canon, pretty much.  Where this zero issue deviated and does something novel is the end confrontation when Dick first dons the costume and faces the assassin, Lady Shiva.  She thrashes him pretty good and comments that he should come to her when he wants to reach his full potential.  Lady Shiva is coming to Gotham next month in issue #13, and this issue sets up a backstory that will no doubt define that encounter, making it more interesting to us, the readers.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #o takes a different approach to the Robin origin and presents Jason Todd like we have never seen before.  Jason’s infamy as a DC character stems from the controversial way he died; letting the readers vote on whether he survived the explosion set by the Joker after he mercilessly beat him to a bloody pulp with a crowbar in a warehouse full of TNT.  As a Robin, he is seemingly forgettable until he died.  Scott Lobdell used that point to write a zero issue that plays on this key fact.  It is literally the cliffsnotes to the first life of Jason Todd, from his birth to his death.  We see how his parent’s met, a shadowy scene of him being conceived, his early childhood traumas, his adolescent rebellion, his meeting with Batman, and the rash decision that landed him into the hands of the Joker leading to his death.  The final scene rests on his eyes opening again after death, ushering his second life that has lead us to the present in the previous twelve issues.  Lobdell changes the story of his death from the infamous 90’s “Death in the Family” storyline, to one that is more resonant with the character he is forming.  But even after ALL of that, Lobdell tops himself, and ends the issue with a very brief recap of the WHOLE issue from the Joker’s perspective, showing just how intimately he is connected with Todd as Robin, even BEFORE the incident in the Middle East where he bludgeoned him within an inch of his life and blew him to smithereens.  All I have to say after reading this zero issue is: Gotta love Jason and gotta love Lobdell.
  • Catwoman #0 ushers in new writer Ann Nocenti’s run on the title.  Her take on the character doesn’t seem to draw off of or explain what previous writer, Judd Winick, has done with the title, which leads one to believe that Nocenti has something new in mind for the character.  Selina is depicted here as an orphan who, unlike how she has always been depicted in the past, has a brother instead of a sister.  The two grew up in an orphanage that taught the children to he high end cat-burglars to steal for the orphanage’s benefit.  She lost track of her brother and after getting a job in the mayor’s office to try and locate him, she discovers that her name is an alias given to her and that she has another one.  When she tries to probe deeper she is nearly killed to silence her and stop her from finding her true identity.  Years later, when she tries again the files are gone.  So Nocenti sets up the question of “Who is Selina Kyle, really, and why is keeping her identity a secret from her so important?”  I for one intent to read on and find out.
  • Legion of Super-heroes #0 features the whole team, but really focuses in on the character Brainiac 5.  Shortly after the founding of the Legion there is a catastrophe on Colu with ancient terror machines constructed by the original Brainiac over a thousand years ago suddenly becoming operational again.  The Coluans have always been an analytic, peaceful people (except for Brainiac) and are ill equipped to fend off these terror attacks.  The Legionnaires intercede to save the people of Colu and their greatest treasure . . .  With the help of Brainiac 5 the day is won.  However, despite his altruism, there is a dark secret that the fifth Brainiac hides that connects to his evil forebearer.  Paul Levitz writes a really engaging story that adds extra dimensions to an already multifaceted character.  Lending guest pencils to this issue is the great Scott Kolins.  His art is kind of simplistic, but there is something really evocative about the lines.
  • Supergirl #0 opens on Old Krypton and deals with the last days of that doom planet from the perspective of Zor-El and featuring prominently the his daughter, Kara aka Supergirl.  The plot itself is pretty paper thin.  The issue really has three interesting points: the creation of the shield generator that protects Argo City from Krypton’s destruction, the mysterious appearance of a character from Earth (in the present time), and the answer to who shot Zor-El.  In the holomessage Kara saw earlier in the series from her father, he is cut short by a mysterious intruder who shoots him ending the message.  It is really for the latter two reasons that this issue is worth reading.  Otherwise, it isn’t really that engaging.

    WHAT IS SUPERBOY DOING ON KRYPTON HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO!?!
    (HE’S ONLY SIX MONTHS OLD!!!)

  • Birds of Prey #0 was as forgettable as when I dropped it several months ago.  Following the Team 7 #0 issue, Dinah Lance breaks away from the pack after whatever event disbands the group, seeking out a blackmarket sale of a specialty incendiary.  The meet goes down at the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge and she adopts the bird moniker, Black Canary, and meets for the first time both Starling and Batgirl.  The only really interesting thing about this issue is the revelation that she didn’t actually kill her husband, Kurt.  He is actually kept in stasis by former colleague and Team 7 member, Amanda Waller.
  • Blue Beetle #0 technically takes place in the present, right after the events of Justice League International Annual #1.  However, it does have the scarab attached to Jaime Reyes, Khaji-Da, reveal his origin from creation centuries ago light-years across the Universe to attaching himself to Jaime’s back one year ago.  The interim time involved both the origin and DCU introduction of Lady Styx, perhaps the freakiest villain in the DC pantheon, and also an explanation of the rise and fall of the Mayan Empire, which Khaji-Da influenced.  Finishing up in Reach Space, this zero issue sets up the next pulse pounding chapter in Blue Beetle.  Good times.
  • Wonder Woman #0 deals with the Amazonian princess from her twelfth birthday to her thirteenth.  As a pariah, due to her supposed birth from being formed out of clay, she wants to distinguish herself from her peers.  Hearing her pleas, Ares, god of war, takes it upon himself to train her for a year until her thirteenth birthday, when she will be required to perform an impossible feat in her mother’s honor.  Wonder Woman, regardless of which incarnation, has always stood as a paragon of strength, nobility, and a warrior’s mettle.  That is precisely what Ares attempts to teach her, but the divergence at the end between what she does and what he expects of her sets the mold for what the New 52 Wonder Woman stands for.  A pretty good issue that defines the character, albeit still sticking to a very marginalized representation of the Mighty Amazon.
  • Sword of Sorcery #0 is the third installment of DC’s “Third Wave” titles.  This is a dual feature title, headlining the title Amethyst, starring a brave young woman by that same name, written by Christy Marx and drawn by recently emancipated JLI artist, Aaron Lopresti.  The secondary feature is Beowulf, written by Tony Bedard (who is awesome) and illustrated by the great Jesus Saiz.  In the main feature, Amy is a strange girl with multicolored hair who moves around like a nomad with her mother from town to town.  Her impending seventeenth birthday means that they both are finally going to return to their “home”, even though Amy has no idea what that means.  Home turns out to be in a magical kingdom of Gems, ruled by her evil aunt, Queen Mordiel, of the house of Amethyst.  I assumed that Amy’s name is Amethyst as well, but I might be wrong there.  Either way, it proved to be a stunningly beautiful opening chapter to this epic saga, written and drawn to perfection.  In the Beowulf feature, we enter into a post apocalyptic world that has reverted back to the age of Vikings.  It follows the tale of Beowulf in that the warriors of “Danelaw” go to “Geatland” under orders from King Hrothgar to fetch the fabled warrior, Beowulf, to aid that former kingdom against the scourge called Grendel.  Beowulf proves to be a military experiment or something, as he emerges from a cryostasis chamber in an abandoned military complex.  Tony Bedard is a writer of great skill and ingenuity.  Jesus Saiz draws a grim, Norse-like setting with natural ease, assuring the success and authenticity of Bedard’s script.

    Return of the Princess

  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #8 opens with the next installment of the epic storyling “10,000 Clowns.”  Gotham is besieged by Jokerz from across the globe, unified by a central leader, the Joker King.  Suicide bombings erupt throughout the city, Bruce Wayne is dying in a hospital bed of liver failure, Max has been abducted by unknown assailants, and Jake Chill, aka Vigilante Beyond, enters the scene.  This story was intense to begin with, but cranks the dial up several more notches.  Superman Beyond has the Man of Steel hidden away in the Fortress of Solitude, forced to watch as the robotic monstrosity unleashed by Lex Luthor’s daughter wreaks havoc on his city.  The MetroPD special unit commander, Walker, is driven to overload on nanotech to even be able to contend with the situation.  Superman decides to try one last gambit, in spite of the kryptonite field around Earth that threatens to kill him if he leaves the Fortress.  Finally in the Justice League Beyond Unlimited feature, “Konstriction” moves into the next stage.  The Ouroboros leaves Apokalips after a transformation into its next developmental phase and heads back home to Earth.  On both sides preparations are being made.  The Kobra Queen readies herself and her disciples for the fulfillment of the Serpent’s prophesy.  The JLBU members go to make time with their loved ones before the end comes.  Terry McGinnis (Batman) communes with Bruce Wayne to get advice from his mentor and employer.  As ever Bruce gives stoic support as well as some wily tricks from up his proverbial sleeve.

    The Killing Joke

  • The Unwritten #41 takes us back a few steps to the aftermath of the cataclysmic “War of the Words.”  You could even say that it takes the reader “back to where it all began.”  Richie Savoy carries the wounded Tom Taylor back to the Swiss mansion where he was accused of mass murder.  Inside the ghosts of everyone who had died because of him haunt the pair.  The story is mostly told through Richie’s perspective, which is fascinating considering he comes to the conclusion by issue’s end that he is among the victims of Tommy’s “story” because he is a supporting character in it, and wants to be the main character in his own story.  This issue sort of becomes the first step in that process, as he is the protagonist, considering Tom is catatonic for a majority of it.  Once again, storytellers Mike Carey and Peter Gross pull out the stops and tell a really poignant tale that breaks new ground, but also reincorporates exceptional characters from storylines past.
  • Womanthology: Space #1 was good.  There is very little I can explain about it, since it is titularly an anthology of little vignettes that showcase strong female characters, written and drawn by women.  I got this because several of my favorite female comic creators were billed to have submissions throughout the run: Mindy Doyle at the forefront of this issue’s talent.  I am a fan of the short, avant-garde stories these women spin.

So ends the third week of September.  One more to go . . .

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: New Guardians #0:  Art by Aaron Kuder, Colored by Nei Ruffino

Batwoman #0: Art by J.H. Williams III, Colored by Dave Stewart

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #3:  Drawn by Andy Kubert, Colored by Brad Anderson, Inked by Joe Kubert & Bill Sienkiewicz

Supergirl #0: Art by Mahmud Asrar, Colored by Dave McCaig

Sword of Sorcery #0: Art by Aaron Lopresti, Colored by Hi-Fi

Batman Beyond Unlimited #8: Art by Norm Breyfogle, Colored by Andrew Elder

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Week 54 (Sept. 12, 2012)

Week two of September means week two of DC’s Zero Month and the release of some excellent titles and their corresponding origins.  Its a good week to be a Batman fan as Batman, Batman & Robin, and Batgirl come out this week, alongside the inaugural issue of Team 7, and the final issue of The Shade.  Here’s how they all stacked up:

  • Batman #0 was a flashback to Bruce Wayne’s first forays into vigilante justice.  Taking place after the events of Detective Comics #0, he has amassed all the skills he’ll need, but now is trying to amass the tools and the techniques to become the effective symbol he is destined to be.  Foiling a bank robbery by his most iconic villain under a different persona and hiding his crusade from the inquisitive Lt. James Gordon, Bruce does all this without donning cape and cowl.  What is intriguing about this issue is that it is a zero issue, but sets up a storyline the the ending solicitation bills for 2013.   I am very curious as to whether that ties into the ending of the “Death of the Family” storyline or the one that is to follow it.  Either way, Scott Snyder has created an origin story rife with possibilities.  In the backup, James Tynion IV writes a tale that picks up one year after the events of the main feature.  By now the Batman has become entrenched in Gotham lore, winning over Commissioner Gordon and, as we will see, four other persons who will become entangled in his dark legacy.  First off, we see a young super genius named Tim Drake in his prep school’s principal’s office about to be expelled, then a young hood going by the name Jason (Todd that is) in the midst of a bungled robbery, thirdly a young acrobat that is part of the star attraction of Haly’s Circus, The Flying Graysons.  The final youngster stands by her dad, the Commissioner, as he flips the switch for the first time on an iconic searchlight pointed at the skies of Gotham.  All four kids look up at the Bat Signal at the same time, never knowing that it was heralding their future.  A powerful story, made more so by Andy Clarke’s stark artwork.

    Four Robins’ Future Shines Bright

  • Green Lantern Corps #0 developed the character of Guy Gardner very well in this his origin tale.  I hate Guy Gardner.  I am not a fan.  However, I will amend that when Peter Tomasi writes Guy, somehow he gets me to empathize with the lughead.  This issue is no exception.  Born into an Irish cop family that goes back generations, he is the black sheep that disgraced his family name, and as a result is alienated from his father who, stereotypically is portrayed as a drunkard retiree.  Topically, Guy is very abrasive and totally fits the part of the screw up.  However, like any character that has survived in comics as long as Guy, there is something redeemable underneath.  In his case, tenacity and an intrinsic sense of what is right.  Tomasi delivers that in this issue, in both the powered and unpowered portions of Guy’s life.
  • Batman & Robin #0 follows on the tail of both of the previous entries this week, delivering an excellent origin from the Bat Family as well as a stellar book from Green Lantern Corps writer, Peter Tomasi.  Like Guy Gardner, having Tomasi on this issue is important, as it gives the origin of Damian Wayne (Robin) from birth to his introduction to comics in Batman #655. Damian is a sociopathic ten year old, so he is a very difficult character to write engagingly.  Grant Morrison wrote him initially in the grace and style that is quintessentially Morrison, and others that have taken him on in smaller doses have had varying success.  Tomasi is by far the most adept since Morrison.  At issue’s beginning Damian is quite literally baptized in blood by his mother, Talia Al-Ghul.  From then onward he is molded by her to become a new Alexander, to one day conquer the world.  He is indulged and given his heart’s every desire, except for one thing: the identity of his father.  That is the goal that drives him throughout his entire cognizant youth, mastering every discipline his mother subjects him to in the hope that the day will come when she will tell him who his father is.  Though he is spoiled and over-entitled, there is a drive within him that makes him akin to his father, Bruce Wayne, and despite the lavishness, his mother does create an abusive environment in the manner in which she raises him, giving him also a traumatic childhood, like Bruce.  I love Damian.  I always have and I am sure that I always will.  This issue is a blessing to Damian fans, because it not only presents a well written origin, but one that feels true.

    Five Year Old Damian Dons His Father’s Mantle

  • Batgirl #0 presents a third look into the origin of an integral member of the Bat Family: Batgirl.  I love Barbara Gordon.  I was part of the cheering section when they gave her back the helm of Batgirl at the time of the Reboot.  Gail Simone has a really good track record writing her and for this issue Ed Benes provides guest artwork.  Though he has taken a lot of flack for his overly idealized depiction of some female characters, I think his Barbara is done tastefully and beautifully.  Simone paints Miss Gordon as a loving daughter, raised by her single father, Commissioner James Gordon, idolizing him and using him as a model of strength and honor.  Her White Knight.  When she gets college aged, another man, this one Darker, enters her life and from him she learns a new kind of strength and independence.  Facing a nightmarish situation, she takes what her father has taught her, puts it to use, and then finds herself drawn into the world of her other idol, Batman.  From issue #1 of this series, I said that what Simone did extremely well was presenting the psychology of Barbara so the reader could feel what it was like to be her.  This issue does that exceptionally well, showing how her thoughts matured, evolved, and shifted through different phases of her life, ending with one of the most nightmarish, iconic images associated with her past.

    Ed Benes’ Killing Joke

  • Before Watchmen: The Comedian #3 begins the formation of what readers of the original series will recognize as the Comedian.  Coming out of the war in Vietnam for a vacation State-side, Eddie is beginning to see the changing of the times from the seemingly placid 50’s to the turbulent 60’s.  He is a man of intensity, but deep down has a side that longs to feel human.  With these two forces pulling at his soul, and amidst the race riots in Los Angeles and the anti-war protests, he snaps and realizes a fundamental thing about the world and life in general: its all a big joke.  The joke is what makes him so terrifying in the original comics and what made his actions so visceral.  He can do horrible things, because he sees the morbid humor in them.  Brian Azzarello really gets the character and with each issue brings us closer and closer toward the vision of Alan Moore’s original anti-hero.
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #0 presents the origin of Frankenstein as we would expect: with a modified version of the Mary Shelley novel.  Created by Dr. Victor Frankenstein in a manner seemingly connected to the modus operandi of Anton Arcane, Frankenstein is pieced together from bits of cadavers with perversions of science and brought to life through nightmarish meta-science.  From there he goes on a journey across the world, hunted by his creator, learning about what it is to be human and what morals exist inside his troubled soul.  It follows the general plot of the book skeletally, while being elaborated upon and changed drastically to fit what the character has become in the comics of the past ten years.  Matt Kindt does a decent job cobbling together a cogent backstory that fits the literary origin and maintains the comic sensibilities simultaneously.
  • Team 7 #0 felt very much like what most zero issues are like outside of what DC has been doing.  Zero issues in the past have been little teasers to spark interest in the title, but not really give anything substantial.  That is very much the case with this one.  Way too much set up and very little pay off.  Even though five out of ten characters on the team have been in other titles, writer Justin Jordan still bogs down the plot introducing them.  That’s fine, but when done in one issue with ten separate characters involved, it can be really top heavy.  The basic premise is that with a literal explosion of superpowered beings in the course of two years, the world government scramble to set up countermeasures against the threat they could pose.  That is the basis for Team 7.  Included in the mix are Amanda Waller (of Suicide Squad), Slade Wilson (Deathstroke of Deathstroke), Dinah and Kurt Lance (Black Canary and her ex-husband from Birds of Prey), Cole Cash (Grifter of Grifter), Alex Fairchild (Father of Caitlin Fairchild of Superboy and The Ravagers), and then three other people.  I think that after this issue, the true strength of the series will manifest.  It will either work or lack excuses for why it doesn’t.
  • Spinning our of Team 7, Grifter #0 was really confusing, although perhaps by design.  Coming of the previous title, Grifter opens up with Cole going on an infiltration mission with his brother, Max, and his boss, John Lynch.  After having read Team 7 I found it strange that Lynch was running ops with his agents considering his standoffish presentation, and also that Max was involved, considering he wasn’t on the original roster.  This was cleared up pretty quickly as it was revealed to be a simulation run by the Daemonites to hone Cole into a weapon they could employ against Lord Helspont.  Rescued from their conditioning machines by a mysterious man called Warick, Cole’s destiny starts to seem preordained.  Issue #1 last year made his capture and escape from the Daemonites seem completely random, but this issue makes it seem orchestrated.  I wonder if this has anything to do with what original writer Nathan Edmondson intended for the character, or whether Rob Liefeld is taking it in his own direction.  Either way, it was interesting, but not the best issue by any stretch.
  • Deathstroke #0 carries on this pattern, pertaining yet again to a member of Team 7, and like Grifter, written by Rob Liefeld, who also provides art as well.  This one I would consider a success.  Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, is one of the DCU’s most incredible, versatile villains and has a rich history stemming almost entirely from the seminal New Teen Titans series from the 80’s.  Liefeld wisely sticks very close to this origin, deviating only slightly to shoehorn in this Team 7 nonsense, which I’m sure he was forced to do by the powers that be.  Despite the ludicrousness of his being involved with that team, all the pertinent events are there.  Meeting and being mentored by Capt. Adeline Kane in boot camp, falling in love with her, marrying, and having two sons by her, becoming a government super-soldier, rescuing his comrade and future manservant Evergreen when he is taken prisoner by a foreign power, and ultimately becoming a premiere mercenary/assassin.  Its all there.  His wife and their youngest faking their death, and his eldest son, Grant, becoming an assassin and falling in the line of duty also are depicted, continuing his decline into villainy.  But what made me so excited was the revelation at the end, that once again finds its roots in New Teen Titans, involving a plot to put down Deathstroke for good by his estranged wife and their youngest son, Joseph.  Joseph Wilson, aka Jericho, is perhaps one of my all time favorite superheroes under the age of twenty.

    Jericho and Adeline Wilson

  • Demon Knights #0  comes after several origin stories that this title has served up already and still finds a yarn worth wringing out.  Though it is rife with meaty characters to expand upon, the choice of origins is right in the title: Demon Knights.  Etrigan, the Demon, bound by the sorcerer Merlin to forever dwell in the flesh of English knight, Jason Blood, provides a two-fold origin.  Though we saw the binding in this series and in the original Jack Kirby Demon series, the rationale had gone untold.  Paul Cornell takes a stab at it, giving an explanation that is intriguing in the ironically altruistic motive employed by Merlin, as well as the pairing itself.  Jason is a lowly knight that goes unnoticed and unmerited by the Court and Etrigan is a demon in Hell that is largely abused and undervalued.  Both have it up to here (I’m motioning pretty high with my hand)  and decide to assert their worth.  Etrigan by singlehandedly slaying entire battalions of demon warriors to gain the loyalty of legions.  Blood attempts to use Merlin’s spells and lays hands on Arthur when they go awry.  They are paired as we know, but despite not liking one another there is an accord between them because of that kindred spirit that exists between them.  I have loved the Demon for a long time as the anti-heroic medieval paradigm of chaotic valor.  This issue makes me love him even more.
  • Superboy #0 is ice cold awesome. Six months ago in Superboy #6Superboy met up with Supergirl and she called him Kon-El, which she told him (or maybe alluded) meant “abomination.”  This issue opens with exactly what that means.  On Krypton they had what Star Wars nerds would call “Clone Wars.”  The clones bred cheaply and inefficiently  for menial tasks , rose up and wrecked havoc, doing things that eventually led (long after their downfall) to the cataclysm that befell Krypton.  The clone that did this had a name: Kon.  Kon tamed the mindless hordes of clones and molded them into a fighting force that almost brought an entire civilization to its knees.  It was for this reason Harvest initiated Superboy’s birth and as the issue progresses writer Tom DeFalco has the main events from the first several issues replayed with Harvest and his lackey, Omen’s, commentary overlaid.  There are allusions too that are left up in the air, such as the traitor in Kon’s ranks that betrayed him and crushed his uprising, and also the subliminal programming Harvest has subjected Kon-El to, training him and conditioning him against the Man of Steel and what remains of Krypton’s legacy.  I am VERY interested to see how both those plot-points manifests itself in future storytelling.

    KON!!!!

  • Ravagers #0 was really enjoyable, considering that Beast Boy and Terra are two of my favorite Teen Titans of old.  Though they are not Titans currently, writer Howard Mackie retains a lot of what made them awesome in the past.  I neglected to do a review of the fourth issue of Ravagers, which in many ways pave the way for this zero issue.  I wrote one retroactively and if interested, here is the link: https://offthepanelcomicreview.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/week-49-aug-8-2012/  Following in the wake of Superboy #0, Ravagers opens in N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with Harvest overseeing the processing of the abducted young men and women his organization is assimilating into the “Ravager Program.”  The first on the block is Gar Logan, who we watch become Beast Boy, as his metagene is activated. During his transformation, Harvest’s technician, Non, registers the connection to the Red that has manifested in Beast Boy.  No mention of Brother Blood is made, which depresses me a bit, since that intimate connection between the two was really intriguing in the past two issues.  Next up is Tara Markov, aka Terra.  Here she already has her geokinetic powers and maintains her tough girl attitude from her original incarnation in New Teen Titans.  Beast Boy on the other hand, has been in a state of traumatized uncertainty since his first appearance up through his and Terra’s escape from N.O.W.H.E.R.E., so he has yet to gain his iconic jocularity.  There initial interaction is one of Terra acting in Gar’s defense against some of the more senior kids in the Colony.  She, however, remains hostile toward him, true to her loner nature.  When she yet again acts in his defense later on and nearly dies, Beast Boy unlocks his own primal furor and rushes to her aid.  Together they slaughter scores of their fellow teens, ensuring their place in Harvest’s Ravagers.  I like both characters and I like the thought of them together.  In New Teen Titans that was pared short before it could happen, and in the television show the betrayal was one that cut Beast Boy deep to the quick and defined his humanity greatly.  This origin issue defined the nature of the bond between them beautifully, and also alluded to the existence of the Doom Patrol, as Gar references a memory fragment of Niles and Rita, who are most likely Niles Caulder and Rita Farr.  Interesting . . .

    Terra and Beast Boy

  • He-Man and the Masters ofthe Universe #2 didn’t seem to accomplish too much in and of itself.  The mindwiped Adam is on a journey to try and discover the meaning behind his dreams of another life.  On this trek he is captured by the forces of Kronis (Trap-Jaw).  In his captivity he comes in contact with a young woman, Teela, who emancipates him after Adam is forced to fight his captors for his freedom.  She also has no memory of anything that happened before, when Adam was prince of Eternia and she was one of the eponymous Masters of the Universe.  This could be one of those series where you have to climb up a few arduous steps before it gets better, but up through this issue I am still whelmed.
  • The Shade #12 is the final issue in the year long odyssey writer James Robinson has taken us on in the life of the Shade, a character he resurrected and redefined in the mid 90’s.  That journey was rooted deep in his past, as we have seen for the past eleven months, and created a mindblowing present for him.  That journey ended with issue #11, and though it is marked #12, this issue is at its heart a zero issue.  Taking place in and around the England of 1838, we see the Shade in his human life as Richard Swift, Victorian merchant and loving father and husband.  In Robinson’s 1990’s series Starman, featuring the Shade as a villain and sometime anti-hero, we are shown vague images of his former life and are given the broad strokes of what turned him into the dark creature we’ve read about.  This issue provides the finer bits of the story, bringing in his arch-rival, Simon Culp, and leading in a very round about way to the culmination of events that would baptize  him in shadow, forever transforming him into a creature of darkness. Looking back on it all, the Shade recognizes what he did and why he did it, but uses those missteps taken when first he became the Shade to guide him as he reinvents his life in a new time and place.  James Robinson has a flair for the dramatic and the literary, which is why his presentation of this issue as a Victorian flavored log works so well.  Though it was only twelve issues, this series was like going home, bringing back the heart and excellence of Starman, cancelled now for eleven years.
  • American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #4 dwells on Hobbes, Felicia, her son Gus, and the secret vampire organization called “The Firsts” escaping their stronghold when an army of Carpathians descends upon it.  The Firsts represent the last members of vampiric species nearly wiped out by the king of the Carpathian breed, Dracula, while he was still active.  The leader, Benedict, believes that the Carpathian attack was a ploy by Hobbes to trick the Firsts into complacency with his plan to attack Dracula’s coffin.  Hobbes attempts to prove that Dracula is making his play against them to solidify his position now that he has been awakened.  This issue did two things very well: exploring the history of the very enigmatic character of Linden Hobbes, and how he became involved with the Vassals of the Mornings Star, and introducing a plot that is the closest thing to a vampiric doomsday scenario, dependent upon Dracula reaching a device built by his followers called the “second throne.”  Once again, Scott Snyder has taken his concept of American Vampire and cranked it up to 11.  The miniseries ends next month with the fifth issue and I am on pins and needles.
  • Saucer Country #7 follows its previous issue in a very similar fashion.  As I reviewed one month ago, issue #6 was Prof. Kidd detailing the history of the Alien phenomenon and what the human mind constructed the occurrences into.  It read very much like a History Channel special, giving empirical information such as dates, people, places, and scientific fact that spawned the theories we have read or heard about. In a previous issue we were introduced to the Bluebirds, a secret society that studies and attempts to mimic UFO flight technology and engineering.  This issue is narrated by one of these people and does exactly what issue #6 did.  It takes the real life encounters with the unexplained and shows how that influenced different aspects of the government, research, and historic events.  A true part of the story was the use of the term “Foo Fighters” to describe UFO’s before they were associated with extraterrestrials.  The path from their first mention in WWII through the decades to the eventual use of flying wing technology and gyroscopic flight, takes the reader on a journey that sets up another key facet of this series’ very complex premise.
  • Warlord of Mars #21 begins the five part story arc that encompasses the third book in Edgar Rice Burroughs original Barsoom Trilogy, that also bears the title of this comic: “The Warlord of Mars.”  In it, after John Carter has liberated the black “First Borns”, and all of Mars for that matter, from the ancient despotic goddess, Issus, his wife, Princess Dejah Thoris becomes trapped in a time locked chamber in the  Temple of Issus with Thuvia of Ptarth, a Red noblewoman, and Princess Phaidor of the Therns.  While he awaits the end of the year for her emancipation he overhears a plot by the rogue First Born, Thurid, and Hekkador of the Therns, Matai Shang, to break into the chamber by secret means to free Shang’s daughter, Phaidor, and abduct Dejah Thoris.  John Carter works to stop this, but is unable, setting up the plot for the next four issues.  This was an excellent novel and so far writer Arvid Nelson has set the comic adaptations up spectacularly.  I doubt this will be an exception to the rule.

And so ends Week 2 of Zero Month.  I have to say that I was blown away by some of these titles.  The DC Reboot has left some holes in the various titles, but slowly this month’s issues are patching them up.  Can’t wait till next week.  See ya then . . .

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #0: Art by Andy Clarke, Colored by FCO Plascencia

Batman & Robin #0: Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Batgirl #0: Art by Ed Benes, Colored by Ulises Arreola

Deathstroke #0: Drawn by Rob Liefeld, Colored by Juan Fernandez & Ross Hughes, Inked by Adelso Corona, Cory Hamscher & Art Thibert

Superboy #0: Drawn by R.B. Silva, Colored by Tanya & Richard Horie & Hi-Fi, Inked by Rob Lean

The Ravagers #0:  Art by Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund, Colored by Hi-Fi

Week 53 (Sept. 5, 2012)

This first week of September marks the first week of the second year of DC’s “New 52” initiative.  With that in mind, DC decided to commemorate this hallmark with a “Zero Month”, numbering all their ongoing series at #0 and telling an origin or new beginning of each.  For me, this week was purely a DC week.  None of the other imprints released issues of series I read, so this first week of “Zero Month” is purely DC.  So here goes:

  • Action Comics #0 tells a very straightforward yarn about Superman’s first days in Metropolis: his alluded to visit to the shirt press for 200 blue S-shirts, his first day at the Metropolis Daily Star, his first tangle with the Metropolis crimeboss, Glen Glenmorgan, his first sighting by Jimmy and Lois, and an examination of what really makes him or anyone super.  The last part pertains to a kid that comes across his fallen cape and what the boy does with it.  Though its not mind bending like a lot of his work, Grant Morrison does put a really thought provoking twist on the seemingly mundane opening shots of Superman’s early career.  Also in a stunning one page panel, he and artist Ben Oliver do an homage to the Joe Shuster cover page of the 1938 Action Comics #1, that first introduced Superman to the world.  This part of the main story really resonated with me as a comic book geek.  And as with all Action Comics issues, Sholly Fisch provides a quick backup feature that gives a background on not only Adam Blake, but also the character Erik Drekken, of whom we got a brief glimpse in Action Comics #7. All in all, a really great first issue to usher in the Zero Month at DC.

    Morrison and Oliver’s Reworking of the Iconic Action Comics #1 Cover Image


  • Detective Comics #0 features the final issue of the title to be drawn by Tony Daniel (at least in the foreseeable future) and has, for one issue only, Batman: The Dark Knight scribe Gregg Hurwitz at the helm.  Chronicling Bruce Wayne’s training in the orient, Hurwitz has Bruce train with a Zen master in Tibet and learn possibly the most depressing lesson imaginable.  Beyond that, there is little else to be said, except READ IT and find out.  As with Action Comics above, Detective features a backup feature, and this one comes from Batman cowriter, James Tynion IV, with the help of the liney artwork of Henrik Jonsson.  Alfred Pennyworth has been waiting for years, hoping against all hope that his ersatz son and ward, Bruce Wayne, will reappear after several years of speculation that he has died somewhere far away.  The struggle to hold on, not only to the hope of his being alive, but also to the legacy and inheritance that he is custodian of is harrowing, as this story shows.  But the faithful servant’s fidelity warms the hearts of readers and provides a really uplifting bookend to the depression of the first half of the issue.

    Lesson Learned

  • Green Lantern #0, contrary to my expectations, was not a disappointment.  This could be for several reasons.  Firstly, the new GL comes from my own backyard, Dearborn, Michigan, a hop, skip, and a jump from Flint, where I hail from.  Secondly, they tie him into the larger issue of Islamaphobia and anti-Arab mentality that is hotwired in most ignorant American minds.  Thirdly, its just F***ING GOOD!!!  Geoff Johns is hit or miss with me.  He has swung at NOTHING in so many things he’s doing right now.  This issue and the character it introduces is a line drive down center.  This character, though brand new, feels like a Green Lantern.  Can’t wait till Green Lantern #13 in October.  Awesome job, Geoff, and welcome back Doug Mahnke!
  • Swamp Thing #0 rewrites Swamp Thing history, introducing Anton Arcane right off the bat as someone far older and more immediately sinister than he was in the original Wein/Wrightson run in the 1970’s.  But true to Scott Snyder style, he has taken the cast of characters and reinvented them to fit into the frame of a fresh, innovative premise.  Here Arcane has been a perennial foe of the avatars of life: the Swamp Thing of the Green and the  Animal Man of the Red.  As far back as 1895 Arcane has been on the hunt as avatar of the Rot. Whereas in the original series by Len Wein, Alec Holland was turned into Swamp Thing by sheer luck or misfortune, depending on how you want to look at it, here he was selected from birth by the Parliament of Trees to be not only the new Swamp Thing, but the warrior king avatar that had been prophesied for centuries.  This is why the “accident” is initiated by Arcane, but contrary to how it came out in the original run, this accident poses problems to the fulfillment of his destiny as avatar of the Green.   The issue is written well, obviously, being penned by Scott Snyder, but it is also drawn exceptionally well by artist, Kano.  When I saw that someone other than the three staple artists of Swamp Thing was doing this issue I was a little pissed, but now, as has happened numerous times in the past, I have to eat crow, because his artwork is stunning.  I pray that he get a shot at another issue or two in future, maybe a whole arc, because his lines and style are so incredible.

    Kano’s artwork reminiscent of Paquette and Rudy’s Panels


  • Earth 2 #0 was very good, albeit confusing.  Told from the perspective of Terry Sloane, better known to DC readers as the Golden Age Mr. Terrific, as well as staple JSA member.  We saw him briefly in issue #3 meeting his Earth 1 counterpart, Michael Holt.  This issue not only gives him the spotlight, but also fills in his role in the history and hierarchy of Earth 2.  Sloane existed as one of Earth 2’s eight heroes during the Apokalips Invasion.  He went by the name Mr. 8, the meaning of which I don’t get.  Also, as his first appearance in the series suggested, he is much more sinister than in previous incarnations.  When he shows his true colors in this zero issue, turning on the Trinity for what he deems “the good of the Earth” he states that to ensure victory he needs Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to survive.  They died in the first issue, and yet as he narrates this issue from the present looking back, he still thinks that his plan has succeeded.  They are dead.  We saw them die.  So what the hell is he talking about?  Good issue topically, but too cryptic for my taste.
  • Speaking of Earth 2, Worlds’ Finest #0 focuses on that same world’s two junior members, Helena Wayne, aka Robin, and Kara Zor-El, aka Super Girl.  We’ve seen them as Huntress and Power Girl in both Earth 2 #1 and the first four issues of this series, but now we get to see their geneses in their roles as young superheroes.  Helena, the daughter of the Batman and Catwoman, growing up a strong, confident young woman, amalgam of both her parent’s characteristics, meets her first great tragedy.  Kara, last daughter of a doomed homeworld, lives with her cousin on their adoptive new world which itself stands on the brink of annihilation by the incurring forces of Apokalips, and yearns to break out of his protective bubble and lend her skills toward averting another world’s destruction.  Paul Levitz writes these two young women really well, showing both their overwhelming frustration and youthful exuberance.  One thing that the first four issues of this series did well was show the strength and depth of their friendship, and this zero issue shows the tying of their fates together in a very touching manner.

    Even When Your Parents Are Superheroes They Can Still Embarrass You

  • Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #3 brings Laurie into direct conflict with Gurustein and the mysterious “Chairman”, who bears a striking resemblance to a certain blue eyed crooner.  The Comedian also makes his first significant appearance in Lauries life, whether she knows it or not, at the behest of the original Silk Spectre, Sally Jupiter. Darwyn Cooke writes a really psychedelic story that Amanda Conner draws exceptionally well.  Drug overdoses, orgies, waking up naked in a hospital morgue. What else do you need from a story?  With one more issue, this series is at a its fever point.
  • Green Arrow #0, like the other issues written by Ann Nocenti, is a fantastic issue, but also a good origin story.  Green Arrow’s marooning on the remote island and honing his bowmanship is already a well known story done to death.  Nocenti eschews this tale, hinting at it towards the end, but offering something very different, focusing on a fresh episode of failure that lent itself to his later commitment to being better than he was and atoning for his many sins.  It also ties in the character of Merlyn in a very prototypical stage, giving a reason for his later enmity toward the Emerald Archer.  Nocenti tries to tie in a Roy Harper intro, but nothing really comes of that two page segment, so I’m not sure what was meant to be accomplished there.  Also, I am not usually a fan of Freddie Williams II’s art work, but here it wasn’t so obnoxious and really suited the overall atmosphere and genre of the book. Overall, a great zero issue for a character that floundered badly when it first was released a year ago.
  • Phantom Stranger #0  marks the first regular issue of Phantom Stranger since the late 80’s.  Writer Dan Didio (along with Geoff Johns and several others, no doubt) have him as Judas Iscariot.  They have quashed rumors of this since Free Comic Book Day this past May, but while they don’t come right out and say it in the story, it’s him.  Thirty pieces of silver he has to wear around his neck, his suicide, betraying his best friend, being returned home to a desert-like landscape that bears a striking resemblance to the Levant?  Its friggin’ Judas, quit being assholes and just admit it!  Judged by a council of Wizards on the Rock of Eternity, he and two others are cursed for their incredible crimes against humanity with individualized penances.  Phantom Stranger is cursed to walk the earth, a stranger to all, and forced to intercede in events by an enigmatic voice.  By issue’s end, the horror of what his interventions will do is made clear, showing how the punishment does fit the crime.  Didio is a great writer and this series has a great amount of promise. Artist Brent Anderson delivers lush artwork that has soft, hazy lines that suit the mysterious atmosphere of the book and really set the mood.  With a solicitation for next issue at the end, eliciting only the name “Trigon” I am riveted for what is to come.
  • Batwing #0 shows an episode in Batwing, aka David Zavimbe’s, life that has as of yet remained untold.  We know that he and his little brother, Isaac, were child soldiers in the mercenary group, the Army of Dawn.  We know that he was picked up by Batman as the African representative of the International organization, Batman Incorporated.  Between his rescue from the AOD and his inception as Batwing, there is very little known.  This issue shows the guilt fueled rage that eats at David’s soul after he enters the relief shelter for war refugees and the events that forge his resolve as an adult to take up arms once again, fighting a crusade of his choosing that eventually brings him to the attention of Batman.  With this issue all the pertinent parts of David’s history are fully chronicled, giving us a comprehensive understanding of his entire history.  Grant Morrison may have created the character, but I think that Batwing will forever belong to Judd Winick, who wrote him for the first time as a fully fleshed out character.
  • Animal Man #0 was definitely written in tandem with Swamp Thing #0, because writer Jeff Lemire does what Scott Snyder did, beginning with Anton Arcane tracking down a previous avatar,  this one an Animal Man (Avatar of the Red) and dispatching him.  Whereas the Parliament of Trees put their hopes on an avatar to come, Alec Holland, the Parliament of Limbs decide to be more proactive and create a new avatar in anticipation of the next who will be born years from that moment.  The avatar they create just happens to be the next scheduled avatar’s father, Buddy Baker.  His inception as the new Animal Man and what that foretells is a well plotted zero issue that makes Animal Man that much more intriguing.

    Death of an Animal Man

  • Dial H #0 takes us out of the present for a jaunt back to Ancient Mesopotamia and the maiden voyage of the first dial.  In the pre-bronze age civilization, the dial is as analogue as it gets, being merely a sundial like device, using the Sun’s rays as the triggering mechanism and the dial itself, a monolithic slab, having to be manual rotated to dial.  The operator, Laodice, over the course of four days manipulates the dial to evoke a myriad of powers to counter an ancient beast that plagues her people.  The origin of the dial is a mystery, even to Laodice, but writer China Mieville fleshes out a facet of its usage in this issue that not only doubles the question of its origins (along with its rotary successors), but also what the consequences of its usages in the modern stories are.  In a series already rife with insane twists and turns, this zero issue throws a major curve ball to the overall plot.

    The First Dial

  • G.I. Combat #0 was framed in an interesting manner.  The main segment, as evinced by the cover, features the Unknown Soldier.  The story picks up from last issue’s ending point, but validates itself as a zero issue by having the mysterious Kamal subjecting the Unknown Soldier, a former financial trader whose family was killed in a terrorist bombing on a train in London and who turned mercenary in Afghanistan when no military would accept him, to a mind altering drug that would open his subconscious to past experiences.  Despite being born in the seventies, he has vivid memories backed up by historic record of Vietnam, Korea, the American Civil War, Revolutionary War, as well as several Medieval and Greco-Roman conflicts.  How is this?  Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray find a way of revealing who and what the Unknown Soldier is while keeping pace with the past four issues.  The War That Time Forgot segment ends the issue and also concludes itself as well, marking the end of this story, which will be succeeded by The Haunted Tank, which will be penned by Peter Tomasi and drawn by Howard Chaykin.  This one, however, is in no way an origin story.  Its more of an epilogue to the last installment, ending the arc with really no significance.  I love JT Krul as a writer, but this story he told didn’t say or do anything.  American G.I.’s going to North Korea find, instead of a belligerent Communist army, a raging horde of dinosaurs.  That’s it.  They find this seemingly impossible situation and almost everyone dies.  I hope the Haunted Tank offers better literary fare.

The Origin of the Unknown

  • Night Force #7 concludes the miniseries featuring the third incarnation of the Night Force headed by Baron Winter, and written by creator Marv Wolfman.  Zoe has been captured by the demonic progenitors and it falls to Det. Jim Duffy to save her.  With this last issue out, the MVP of the series is hands down Jim Duffy.  Despite all his blustering and posturing, Baron Winter really doesn’t do anything worth speaking about.  His arrogance is what prompted the problems that assail the Night Force in the first place and Det. Duffy is really the one who both plans and orchestrates the events that resolve the situation.  He captures the Harvester, breaks into the gestation chamber, and pulls the metaphoric trigger on the demon breeders plan.  That said, Jim Duffy and Sela Greene, aka Mad Kassandra, are the two characters that really advance the plot and their clashing was a scene that made this issue and the six previous well worth the read.  The conclusion is twisted, nightmarish, and bloody, which makes me give it a thumbs up to anyone with a taste for the macabre.
  • Smallville Season 11 #5  accomplishes something I was waiting for in the series when it was on TV: the advent of the Batman.  Done in a very unique way that is synonymous with “Smallville” in general, Batman is shown busting up an Intergang arms deal with the help of protege, Nightwing . . . who is a red haired young woman!  Obviously since Nightwing has boobs, its not Dick.  I won’t spoil the identity of Batman’s sidekick, but if you are as good of a detective as the Bat, you should be able to ascertain who she is under the mask.  As a bonus hint to those who know me, I am always excited to see this character, regardless of the circumstances.  In the continuing plot of Smallville, though, Clark continues to work toward finding a way to purge the radioactive isotope Lex implanted in him so that LexCorp satellites can monitor his movements 24/7, while at the same time dealing with the strain that puts on his relationship with fiancee, Lois Lane.  It does leave him with more time to dedicate to civic vigilance and crisis aversion.  But with the Dark Knight descending on Metropolis with his sights on a singular task, Superman has a lot more to worry about than armed gunmen and impending traffic accidents.

And that ends the first week of “Zero Month.”  I thoroughly enjoyed all that I read.  Can’t wait for the next three weeks worth of issues.

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

Illustration Credits:

Action Comics #0:  Art by Ben Oliver, Colored by Brian Reber

Detective Comics #0:  Drawn by Tony Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Richard Friend

Swamp Thing #0: Art by Kano, Colored by Matthew Wilson

Worlds’ Finest #0: Art by Kevin Maguire, Colored by Rosemary Cheetham

Animal Man #0: Art by Steve Pugh, Colored by Lovern Kindzierski

Dial H #0: Art by Riccardo Burchielli, Colored by Tanya & Richard Horie

G.I. Combat #0: Art by Staz Johnson, Colored by Rob Schwager

Week 52 (August 29, 2012)

I started this blog one year ago to coincide with the DC Reboot and as of this, the last week of August, it has been 52 weeks of the “New 52.”  That is one year exactly, and what a week to commemorate the first year of the relaunch.  Since it is also a fifth week, there are five (count them), FIVE! annuals that came out, and each one from a series that I have followed religiously and enjoyed throughout the twelvemonth past.   So without further ado, here they are:

  • Justice League #12 completes the first year of Justice League storytelling and wraps up the four part “Villain’s Journey” arc.  It may be my own prejudice against this the title, but my opinion is that this arc was adequate, but on the whole uninspired.  A lot of the public and the League’s analysis of things is positively ludicrous.  The thought that the League should have been able to prevent the deaths of the Graves family from after effects of Apokalips ash inhalation DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!!!  No one from Earth had ever heard of Apokalips, let alone its flora, fauna, and minerals, and somehow this team that wasn’t even a team at the time is supposed to know and prevent after-effects of something no one on Earth had any knowledge of?  That is the kind of twisted logic villains should employ in shortsighted revenge schemes–that actually makes for good storytelling– but not the heroes or the public.  This defies logic.  This issue also inaugurates the romance of Superman and Wonder Woman.  This concept I think is more of a fanboy fantasy than a substantial plot, in my opinion.  However, Geoff Johns seems set on proving me wrong, as he does a pretty decent job of delivering a compelling argument for the pairing.  We’ll see is all I will say.

    What Everyone’s Been Talking About


  • Aquaman #12 is a pretty straightforward issue.  Mera is brought into the loop by the Others, Arthur fights Black Manta, and the he gets really angry.  There isn’t a lot of exposition or ambiguity about it.  The concluding issue of this arc, “The Others,” is two months away and I CAN totally wait.  I think that sums up what the issue was like, better than an over extended explanation.
  • Green Lantern Annual #1 . . . changes . . . EVERYTHING!!!   That was the promise DC put up for month as this annual’s solicitation, and writer Geoff Johns keeps his word.  This Annual is SICK!  Distilled within is everything Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) is and has ever been.  It is everything the Green Lantern Corps ever was.  It is everything Geoff Johns has made it into over the course of  7+ years.   That is really what struck me while reading it.  About seven years ago Geoff Johns did something incredible and marked a major note in the canon of DC history with Green Lantern: Rebirth, bringing Hal back from the dead after almost a decade of being dead.  In this annual, he puts in another bookmark and does so with the help of the artist who aided him in Hal’s resurrection, Ethan Van Sciver.  Both’s skill of storytelling is at their respective heights with this one, telling perhaps the most apocalyptic tale in Green Lantern history.  I would argue even more so than the seminal Blackest Night, because in this story the power base of good is shaken to the core and what was once pure is now tainted, and what was once sinister might now be the Universe’s only hope.  One thing I will say: the Guardians are beyond the pale.   There is no going back now, lines have been crossed and they will have to hope their mad scheme succeeds, because if it does not there is no longer going to be a place for them.  The ending of this annual leaves a large question mark in the heroes column, but leaves a glimmer of hope.  After this story, I am ravenous for more Green Lantern Family books.

    A Devil’s Deal

  • Flash Annual #1 completes the “Rogues” arc, not only by continuing the plot of Golden Glider’s coup from issue #12, but also by giving background on the Rogues before the beginning of the series.  The Rogues were regular men who had implements that gave them their particular powers, i.e. flamethrowers, ice guns, mirror projectors, weather wands, etc.  How they came to have those powers inborn is finally revealed and linked to a shady persona we’ve come to know decently well over the past twelve issues.  Secondly, Turbine resurfaces outside the Speed Force in Central City and meeting with Patty Spivot reveals that Barry Allen is still alive.  Thirdly, the new story arc is revealed, bringing back a classic Flash villain.  Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato write this multi-chaptered annual incredibly well, with the help of guest artists Marcus To, Scott Kolins, Diogenes Neves, Marcio Takara, and Wes Craig.

    This Could Change EVERYTHING

  • Superman Annual #1, like Flash Annual #1 above, accomplishes several important things.  Firstly, Scott Lobdell takes over the Man of Steel’s main title.  George Perez and Dan Jurgens have written the title since the reboot exactly one year ago.   In that time it has been passable.  Scott Lobdell has done incredible work on Superboy, Teen Titans, and Red Hood and the Outlaws.  While still writing the latter two, Superman is now on his ticket and considering the extremely fresh voice he had imbued to both the Titans and Outlaws, I have very high hopes for his run on Superman.  As for the annual itself, Lobdell brings together many strands from across the DCU into an intriguing nexus point.  Starting on the faraway world of Daem, thousands of years ago, we see the birth of the the evil Daemonite despot, Lord Helspont, as well as a explanation for the schism in Daemonite forces that has been alluded to in Voodoo, Grifter, Stormwatch, as well as issues #7 & 8 of Superman.  Bridging this into the present day, Supes fights Helspont to a standstill, getting his best efforts effortlessly fended by the fallen Daemonite prince, and is treated to an extended explanation of the sinisterly noble mission that Helspont has been waging for over three millennia.  Lobdell also ties Grifter into the annual, picking up the character’s journey from where Rob Liefeld left it at the end of this month’s Grifter #12.  Most intriguing, however, was the further reference to the “Thirteen.”  He spells out certain aspects of what the “Thirteen” are through the mouthpieces of Helspont’s most trusted lieutenants sent out to recruit aliens on Earth to the fulfillment of the prophesy of the “Thirteen Scions of Salvation.”  Apparently, it has something to do with Martian Manhunter, Starfire, Hawkman, and presumably Superman.  Mentioned in Red Hood and the Outlaws #12 this past month and once again in this annual, I am very curious as to which title this plot is going to unfold in or if it will be done in a crossover between them both.  A truly fantastic annual across the board.

    The Thirteen


  • Justice League International Annual #1 yet again blew my mind.  What it did, it did very well.  Geoff Johns and Dan Didio take the reigns from writer, Dan Jurgens, giving the JLI their last adventure as a team.  Didio brings the authentic OMAC feel to this annual, as OMAC is truly the pivotal character in this story.  Johns works to facilitate the transition of this book into an upcoming plot that looks to be a defining one of 2013.  This excites me greatly, because the story put forth here was EPIC!!!  If Justice League picks up its cues next year from this annual then perhaps that piece of $h!t title might actually gain some merit.  I am glad I read Justice League #12 first, because this issue took the events of that issue and turned them completely on their heads, adding an apocalyptic note to something that was otherwise touching and benign.  What is coming next year in Justice League? I never thought I’d say this, but I REALLY WANT TO KNOW . . .

    What Did Booster See?

  • Detective Comics Annual #1 concludes writer/artist, Tony Daniel’s, run on the title with an extended story dealing with the Black Mask character from where he left him in issue #9 with the “Night of the Owls” crossover.  I have to say that this annual did not live up to expectations.  It was a good annual in its story and pacing, but unfortunately for it, Daniel’s previous work on the character of Black Mask pre-reboot, was head, shoulders, and waist above this representation.  For those who read the collection of his previous work on the character, Batman: Life After Death, now in graphic novel form, there is no comparison.  While the former storyline was stark, terrifying, and realistic in its menace, this annual seemed more farfetched and cartoonish.  It lacked the gravitas of its predecessor.  Though Daniel tries to link the two storylines, it is very difficult to imagine there being any connection between two stories with such different tones and styles. What it does represent is a changing of the guard, with a new creative team coming on with September’s #0 issue.  I think that the first several issues of Daniel’s run on Detective were exceptionally good.  Dollmaker was perhaps one of the best Batman stories of recent years.  I will miss Daniel’s work on the character and hope that someday he comes back to it.
  • Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3 begins to cut into iconic plot points from the actual graphic novel.  First of all, and possibly the most pressing, is the fate of the Comedian after he is caught raping Silk Spectre.  On that same note, we also are treated to what Eddie Blake does after his expulsion from the Minutemen and how he segued into working for the government.   Writer/artist Darwyn Cooke focuses, however, on the Silhouette’s crusade against child pornographers and powerful cabals.  What Cooke does so very well is mimic the retro-style of golden age comics, and likewise presenting a very gilded exterior to the day to day life of the 1940’s society, while at the same time presenting the horrid, seedy underbelly that the veneer of class attempts to hide.  That was really what Watchmen was about in the 1980’s.  How society had been rotting for years and all the detritus had finally begun to show through.  Darwyn Cooke sort of has the whole Before Watchmen line in his hands, writing the story that is the fountainhead of everything that happens consequently.
  • Phantom Lady & Doll Man #1 is the first in a  four issues series that reintroduces the character of Phantom Lady to the New DCU.  A completely new person in the role, Jennifer Knight replaces both Sandra and Stormy Knight as the spectral super-heroine.  Instead of being the daughter of a US senator, she is rewritten here as the orphaned daughter of slain journalists trying to take down the crime family that has dominated Metropolis politics for over a century.  Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray start the series off pretty well, but as I am not super familiar with the character, I’m unsure how I feel about it.
  • National Comics: Looker like Phantom Lady & Doll Man #1 reintroduces a niche character, Looker, into the revamped DC lineup. Emily Briggs is a supermodel turned vampire who runs a fashion empire from the literal shadows.  It was interesting, but not the best comic ever written.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #7 picks up several incredible stories by some of comics best writers and artists.  Writer/artists Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs continue their story, “Konstriction”, from the Justice League Beyond segment to the final showdown on Apokalips.  After decimating New Genesis, home of the New Gods, is there any way that the survivors, along with the forces of Apokalips, and the Justice League Beyond can stop the giant Ouroroboros?  In a one part Beyond Origin segment written by the aforementioned Nguyen and Fridolfs, the story and history of Aquagirl is revealed.  Apropos the Justice League Beyond story preceding it, the story reveals a connection between the Atlantean princess and Apokalips.  Following the “Justice League” animated series and expanding upon it, the two master storytellers weave a convincing, compelling yarn that details a very plucky young woman with an iron will.  Batman Beyond brought together SO MANY tantalizing elements!!!  Firstly, the liver failure that we are told in “Justice League Unlimited: The Animated Series,” that Bruce Wayne undergoes, prompting the discovery that Terry is Bruce’s biological son, happens right here!!!  We remeet Dana’s brother, Doug, as the king of Jokerz, and see his master plan revealed.  Thirdly, we also take the next step in Max’s journey into cyber terrorism, carried over from the first Batman Beyond series.  And finally in the Superman Beyond segment, Batman (Bruce in a cybernetic suit) saves Superman from Solomon Grundy’s goons after Earth becomes irradiated by a kryptonite meteor feel in geosynchronous orbit around Earth.  However, will even the Dark Knight’s best efforts be enough to keep the Man of Steel safe from the machinations of the Luthors?
  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #6 brings the title to its penultimate chapter, featuring a tale of the backstory of Black Benny, from the perspective of Baron Samedi, the Voodoo god of death whom Benny evaded even after his passing.  The backstory answers a few questions, and clues us into why Benny came forward to help Dominique in the first issue, but other than that was kind of ambiguous as to its overall relevance.  One thing it did accomplish, however, was the further portrayal of Baron Samedi, quite a colorful character, and his wife, Maman Brigitte.  Brigitte is an interesting goddess among the Voodoo pantheon, as she is a blonde haired white woman of Irish extraction.  The marriage between her and the Baron is an acrimonious one that revivals those depicted in Greek myths in both epicness and tawdriness.  An interesting issue for sure.  I am uncertain what to expect from the last issue, considering it is the last and so much still remains undone.
  • The New Deadwardians #6 appears to me to be the beginning of the end.  With six issues down in an eight issue miniseries, we’ve reached the three quarter mark and the plot has reached its height.  After venturing out into the countryside to the Hinchcliffe Estate, Inspector Suttle, the vampiric Scotland Yard chief of detectives, comes to a startling hypothesis as to the true identity of the deceased “young” lord and the motive behind his murder.  On his way back to London to authenticate his theory he runs across his prostitue informant, Sapphire, who he gains valuable information from, but more titillating  to the reader, he also takes to bed for the first time, ending fifty years of abstinence.  But, hanky-panky aside, by issues end the stakes (pun intentened) are at their height.
  • Spaceman #9 ends the series.  I promised I would revisit the series once it was over, because I did not understand a jot of what was going on.  Now that its over, I still have NO idea what was going on.  It was beautiful to be sure, but without a cogent plot to support it, there is very little to hold onto afterwards.  Look at the graphic novel and enjoy the pretty pictures, but don’t expect a story that makes sense.
  • American Vampire #30 brings us to the third installment in the six part “Blacklist” storyline, taking place in 1950’s McCarthy-ist California.  After a coven of vampires attempted to take the life of her husband, Henry Preston, Pearl takes the fight to them, alongside the other two American Vampires, Calvin Poole and Skinner Sweet.  So many insane things happened in this issue and obviously I can’t make reference to them, but this issue changes so much about two of the essential characters.  This arc has been promised to be a game changer, and after this issue I am not doubting it for one second.

Thus concludes not only this week of comics, not only this month, but this year of comics.  Its been a really great ride, and though I have been disappointed by several things regarding the loss of incredible storylines built up over decades of seminal writing, this first year begins something that could eventually be just as outstanding.  Hopefully I will be here again next September 1st, providing my thoughts and impressions on great graphic fiction, and I hope you all are too.

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

Illustration Credits:

Justice League #12: Drawn by Jim Lee, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Gabe Elaeb, Tony Avina, Sonia Oback & Pantazis, Inked by Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Jonathan Glapion, Mark Irwin, Matt Banning, Rob Hunter, Joe Weems, Alex Garner & Trevor Scott

Green Lantern Annual #1: Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Colored by Hi-Fi

The Flash Annual #1: Art by Marcio Takara, Colored by Ian Herring

Superman Annual #1: Art by Pascal Alixe, Marco Rudy, Tom Raney, Elizabeth Torque & Mico Suayan, Colored by Blond

Justice League International  Annual #1: Art by Jason Fabok, Colored by Jeromy Cox

Week 51 (August 22, 2012)

This is a week I have been looking forward to for awhile.  Green Lantern: The New Guardians has been powering towards this year long finale and I am anxious to read it.  Batman Incorporated was regrettably bumped back a month due to the shooting in Colorado, but finally hits stands.  The Golden Glider, aka Lisa Snart, makes her first appearance in The Flash.  And The Unwritten has been at the top of my pull list since it first came out over three years ago.

  • Green Lantern: The New Guardians #12 completes not only a full years worth of storytelling, but also the very first story arc which I believe has been referred to as “The Ring Thief.”  Self contained, this twelve month span of issues presents a beginning and an end wrapped up very neatly.  If one wanted to stop here, writer Tony Bedard provides a perfect jumping off point for reader, but also a perfect jumping on point next month for a new stage of storytelling with a brand new team.  Wrapping up the threat of Invictus against the Vega System and the Universe and the mysterious motives of the “Ring Thief”, Bedard presents two very complex figures.  Both the fallen Angel of Vega and the fallen Guardian of Oa have good intentions that cross boundaries of morality and pervert their noble aims.  Both are put down, but the result leaves a bittersweet taste in one’s mouth as to whether or not the Universe is better or worse for their defeat.  This series started off shaky last September, but finished high on the leaderboard in my opinion.  Can’t wait for next arc with the return of two of my favorite Lanterns: Carol Ferris and Atrocitus.

    The Last Flight of the New Guardians

  • The month delayed Batman Incorporated #3 finally came out this week, for those who couldn’t get a bootleg around the time of the original release date.  Isssue #1 introduced the reentry of Leviathan as the central threat under the banner of Talia Al-Ghul.  Issue #2 reintroduced the origin and journey of Talia to the foreground as the mastermind behind Leviathan and the reasons for the organization’s creation.  This issue brings us back to Batman and Robin fighting Leviathan and how the enigmatic cabal is spreading like a cancer throughout the infrastructure of Gotham, and probably the whole country.  Donning the seemingly retired persona of “Matches” Malone, Batman attempts to infiltrate the beast from its belly.  Grant Morrison writes a tight script and artist Chris Burnham draws it exquisitely, with as style reminiscent of Frank Quitely, but with a flavor all its own.

    A Tangled Web

  • Flash #12 brings months of Flash issues to a head.  Writer/artists Francis Manapul and Brian Brian Buccellato  have been slowly introducing the Rogues in one off issues that reintroduce and in some cases reinvent the characters to the DCU.  With Heatwave’s, appearance last month the final two make their’s in this twelfth installment.  Captain Cold’s little sister, Lisa Snart, aka Golden Glider, comes into the picture, ousting her brother as leader of the Rogues and institutes a daring plan to bring the Gem Cities to their knees, with a lot of help from a final Rogue who has kept a low profile thus far.  In the life of our protagonist, Flash confronts his fair-weather friend, Dr. Elias, about his betrayal and finds the good doctor to be an egotistical user who took advantage of the Flash to further his own research.  Elias then becomes the lynch pin between the Rogues, the Flash, Captain Cold, and The Pied Piper.  A lot of things happening and all setting up the Flash Annual due next week . . .
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #12 was a pretty intense, thought provoking issue.  Falling into the clutches of the Scarecrow, Batman is subjected to various regimes of fear toxin.  Through his descent into the trauma of his childhood, we see that Bruce Wayne and Jonathan Crane are actually very similar in several respects.  Also the the greatest fear of Batman’s is revealed and it is quite shocking, but appropriate.  Gregg Hurwitz is writing a great Batbook that is both hard hitting and introspective.  David Finch’s artwork continues to define the book and lend it a feel that is truly gothic.
  • Fury of Firestorm #12 reaches the fever point for both Pozhar and Director Zither.  With the international tension between Firestorms mounting, the truth behind the emergence of these superbeings unfolds.  Pozhar, the Russian Firestorm, pioneered the technology with Professor Stein.  Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond gained their powers from Stein’s Matrix.  The Firestorms of the other nations received their Firestorm Matrices from Zithertech, which makes all the difference.  The fallout (perhaps literal as well as figurative) redefines the title in time for the new regime of Dan Jurgens as writer/artist.  Ashra Khan hasn’t shown yet.  Hope that doesn’t vanish with the previous creative team.   I like Dan Jurgens’ work as a whole, but sometimes he can drop the ball.  I feel like he could do this title great justice, considering the subject material.
  • Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 inaugurates another out-of-the-park hit from J. Michael Straczynski in the Before Watchmen line.  With a plot whose flow is dictated by the principles of quantum physics, mainly that of what I believe is referred to as “Schrödinger’s cat”, stating that anything conceivable is possible until proven otherwise.  In this, the young Jon Osterman receives a present from his parents, and looking back on it as the godlike Doctor Manhattan, he states that until he opened that box, its contents could literally have been anything. A kitten, a teddy bear, a baseball mitt and ball, etc.  And in numerous realities it did contain those things.  He goes over his entire life and the exact moments that are unchangeable that lead to his metamorphosis into his current state.  However, when he witnesses a reality in which he does not find himself locked in the Intrinsic Fields vault, he then is confronted with the possibility that not everything is quantifiable and chaos does exist in a seemingly fixed set of rules.  There is obviously much more to the story, but the way in which the plot is scientifically mapped and charted by the author and its protagonist is what truly makes is a fascinating read.
Quantum Possibilities
  • Superman #12 brings a close to the first year of the title and also Dan Jurgens’ role as writer/artist.  I love Jurgens and his work, but this issue and the story arc it concludes was not good.  We see that the predator monster, who unmasked does actually look dissimilar and more like a reptile than the movie predator, was actually just an unwitting victim, ripped from his home dimension and who is just trying to get back to where he belongs.  While fighting his Russian captors to escape captivity, some of them are killed, and because of this Superman tries to bar his exit from Earth, because “this creature needs to pay for his crimes.”  WHAT?!  Knowing full well that the creature doesn’t want to stay here and was forcefully removed to Earth, are we really supposed to believe that Superman would take that line, especially considering his track record of wanton destruction?  No!!!  Mister Jurgens, this doesn’t make sense.  Better luck on Fury of Firestorm in two months.  Starting in September with issue #0, Superman will fall under the skillful pen of Scott Lobdell.  I for one, can’t wait.
  • Justice League Dark #12 continues the “Books of Magic” storyline’s descent deeper into the twisted realm of deception.  Felix Faust and Dr. Mist turn out to be merely pawns in a faceless enemy’s highly sophisticated plot.  While we do not know who this man is, we know he is powerful, we know that he has an old tie to John Constantine, and while Constantine is master of the House of Mystery, this other gentleman is become lord of the House of Secrets.  Also, we get to see the true secret about the rift between former lovers Zatanna and Constantine, and oh man is it a doozy.
  • Teen Titans #12 reveals further details about the connection between Cassie Sandsmark and the source of her power, the Silent Armor.  The Armor is an evil device, linked to an Armageddon force that thus far Cassie has been able to suppress.   However, the enigmatic young man from her past, Diesel, introduced last issue, holds the key to unlocking both her destructive potential and the secret of the armor.  In two months we will see how this all plays out.  In the backup story by Fabian Nicieza, Teryx, with the help of Kid Flash, hunts down Steg in an attempt to stop his dino-supremacist actions.  There isn’t really an ending to this segment making me wonder if it will be a future plot line or a recurring backup.
  • Voodoo #12 marks the end of that series’ main run.  There will be a #0 issue next month, but as of the end of this issue, both Voodoo and Priscilla are going to be relegated to the pages of other series, such as Grifter and possibly Superman.  When I read the first issue of this series a year ago, I had so many theories and questions as to the destiny of the anti-heroic title character, but this issue didn’t get anywhere close to resolving either.  I hope that Grifter utilizes the character  better, and both develops her and answers those questions.
  • All-Star Western #12 wraps up the storyline of the reorganized Religion of Crime . . . for now.  Jonah Hex and Tallulah Black (along with Dr. Amadeus Arkham) escape from the group’s steampunk deathtrap and take it to the self-appointed Lords of Crime with bare fists and .44 caliber bullets.  The results of their labors seem definite, but as is an accepted truth about Gotham City, no evil ever dies.  In the meantime, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray introduce us to the next conflict in the series’ future . . . Dr. Jekyll and his strange associate.  In the backup feature, Palmiotti and Gray conclude their “Dr. Thirteen” arc in classic Sherlock Holmes style, with science masqueraded as superstition.

    Tallulah Black and Lorna Kyle Duke It Out In Old Gotham

  • Kirby Genesis: Dragonsbane #3 brings the group of mythic heroes closer to the Conspiracy of Dragons imprisoning the Persian princess, Tahmina.  In the process, they pick up another comrade-in-arms, the She-Demon.  Though she seems generic, it is hinted that she comes from a Romanian inspired mythland.  With the last of their fellowship together, the heroes end the issue by setting foot into the Persian mythland and on the verge rescuing Tahmina.  Next issue will conclude the series and I have to admit I am intrigued.
  • The Unwritten #40 marks the return of Tom Taylor to the main narrative.  As has been foreshadowed in previous issues, Tom is coming to Australia on a world tour of revelation that we can assume is in response to the eponymous “Wound” this arc details following Pullman’s attack on the Leviathan several months ago.  It also marks the meeting of Tom with the characters who we have come to see as central these past three months: Daniel Armitage, Det. Didge Patterson, and most importantly, Reverend Lucas Filby of the Church of Tommy cult.  When meeting each of these three, Tommy is made aware of something important to his journey forwarding.  In fact, Didge’s revelation, born of her disintegration by Pullman’s wooden hand, leads Tom and the title toward the next major arc.

    The Unwrittten Made Light

Thus concludes a phenomenal week in comics. See you next week.

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #12: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino & Wes Hartman, Inked by BATT

Batman Inc #3: Art by Chris Burnham, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #11: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino, Inked by BATT

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1: Art by Adam Hughes, Colored by Laura Martin

All-Star Western #12: Art by Moritat, Colored by Mike Atiyeh

The Unwritten #40: Art by Peter Gross, Colored by Chris Chuckry