- Batman Inc #4 finally finishes off the dropped plot from issue #3, two months ago, following that issue’s postponement in light of the Aurora, Colorado massacre. Normally, it would have ended neatly before the Zero issue last month, but incidentally we had to wait for two to get closure on the seeming murder of “Matches” Malone and the solo flight of Damian, under the new nom-de-guerre Redbird. Following the two Waynes getting seemingly over their heads, Batman Incorporated swoops in, seemingly from the grave themselves. Their symmetry in the face of Leviathan’s well laid plans makes this issue and its predecessor, Batman Inc #3, a well executed feint in the chess game of giants: Bruce Wayne on one side and Talia Al-Ghul on the other. Grant Morrison’s writing is, in and of itself, a piece of art furthered by the exquisite artwork of Chris Burnham. Both masters in my opinion.
- Red Lanterns #13 returns to a trope that set the tone of the book in the initial batch of issues last year, by showing a planet plagued with injustice and the birth of burning rage. On the planet Arhtky, warlords reign over the weak masses. Writer Peter Milligan focuses his pen on two sisters who survive the slaughter of their parents, only to fall into bondage at the hands of the warlord who ordered it. Women are merely chattel to him, as well as other men outside of the despot’s army. I’m not sure if it was British born Milligan’s intention to make a commentary on women’s rights as a hot topic issue of the American presidential election that is less than two weeks away, but it certainly can be read that way. Even if its not, his story certainly shows the power of women, in both the enslaved Arhtkian woman, Taya, as well as the the two female Red Lanterns drawn to that sector by her plight, Bleez and Skorch. Bleez has proven herself to be a multifaceted character many times over, but the newby to the scene, Skorch, is quite a powerhouse as well. Following this, the Third Army tie in that has been symptomatic of the Green Lantern family of books catches up with the Red Lantern Corps in truly terrifying fashion. Unfortunately, we have to wait another month for the full horror of their appearance. Peter Milligan writes an incredible book, but his partner in art, Miguel Sepulveda, I find to be lacking. Its just an aesthetics choice, but his art doesn’t work for me. A good issue, though, in substance.
- Flash #13 continues from August’s Flash Annual #1 with the Gorilla invasion of King Grodd’s forces. This invasion, of course, interrupted the Scarlet Speedster’s confrontation with the united assembly of Rogues under the leadership of Leonard Snart’s (Captain Cold) little sister, Lisa, aka the Golden Glider. What the Flash/Rogues conflict boils down to is who controls the Gem Cities? The operative principle in that question being that there are Gem Cities. The Gorillas just want to destroy and kill. Conflicting with the interests of both, the Flash and Rogues have absolutely no choice but to ally themselves toward mutual benefit. Uneasy fellowships like these are always fun to watch unfold, as sworn enemies tend to work really well together, accomplishing things exponentially greater than they could separately. If only they could always get along the rest of the time . . . Also, drawing off September’s Flash #0, one of Iris West’s male relations, possibly her brother, who was incarcerated in #0, is released from prison, and clearly has some part to play in the events unfolding. Co-writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato return to art duties rendering a visually stunning tour de force, as per usual.
- Superman #13 reunites writer, Scott Lobdell, with artist, Kenneth Rocafort. Their work on Red Hood and the Outlaws was the initial draw that hooked me on that book. They did a bang up job with their first foray into Superman lore, with Superman #0 taking place on Old Krypton following the last ditch efforts of Jor-El to ascertain his planet’s impending fate. Now they jump to the present, with Clark undergoing an existentialist dilemma in all facets of his life. Following Scott Lobdell’s Superman Annual #1 two months ago, Superman is feeling uncertain about his omnipotence after being soundly thrashed by the Daemonite, Lord Helspont. Though he exhibits near godlike powers, he is weighed down by fallibility. In his civilian identity of Clark Kent, he is made to also feel impotent in his crusade to report important facts and meaningful information as is his calling as a newspaper reporter. However, Perry White, Lois Lane, and Galaxy Broadcasting CEO, Morgan Edge, refuse to allow him to report on those meaningful things, wanting only fluff pieces and pop culture nonsemse, and as a result Clark, like Superman, is left seemingly devoid of a firm footing. All this comes to a head when a nightmarishly proportioned dragon comes into play in Metropolis, leading the Man of Steel across the world on a desperate chase of chaos. Supergirl guest stars, shedding a little light on what is going on. Lobdell brings a soul and substance to this title that has been lacking since issue #1. He stays on some of the hallmark themes that masters George Perez and Dan Jurgens set up in those first issues, but in his stories they resonate and actually show merit. I had no doubt when I heard he was taking over that this title would blossom at his touch. It has, and then some. Kenneth Rocafort’s art is top notch. It loses none of its allure and his Supergirl is the best she has been rendered since the inception of the Reboot.
- Batman: The Dark Knight #13 was subpar. I very much like this series, and writer Gregg Hurwitz tells a complex, compelling tale about the Scarecrow and the nature of his intense fascination with fear, however this issue accomplished nothing the last issue hadn’t already, nor did it build upon anything important. It told the EXACT same information as issue #12. Nothing new. If you like seeing new art by series artist, David Finch, definitely worth getting, but in the realm of plot, you can skip it and go right to issue #14.
- Justice League Dark #13 combines the building story line of issues 9-12 with the Constantine/Zatanna origin from September’s zero issue. The mastermind behind Felix Faust and Dr. Mist’s quest for the Books of Magic is none other than Nick Necro, Zatanna’s former beau and Constantine’s former mentor in the arcane arts. His plot for the books looks to be nothing more than petty vengeance and narcissism. Don’t think John learned that from strangers, either. Jeff Lemire writes a good JLD yarn, however, I am nostalgic for Peter Milligan’s writing. Mikel Janin continues to keep the art of the book tight, lush, and engrossing. The epic conclusion to this arc comes next Wednesday with the Justice League Dark Annual #1. Looking forward to it.
- Talon #1 presents the first “official” issue of the series. The introductory zero issue gives us the back story of former Talon, Calvin Rose. His traumatic childhood, his “escape” to Haly’s Circus which led him into the clutches of the Court of Owls, his descent into darkness, and his escape from that same evil. All of these are depicted in stark, beautiful detail by co-writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and artist Guillem March. All that, including Rose’s assault by a Talon after years on the run, is in the past. THIS issue takes us into the razor’s edge of present events following Batman and his younger brother, Thomas Wayne Jr’s (Yes, I am asserting this identity) simultaneous attack on the Court, Batman from the outside and Tommy, aka Lincoln March, from the inside. With the Court crippled and vulnerable, Calvin flies back to their nest of Gotham City to see just how extensive the damage to the shadowy cabal truly is and whether or not he is really safe. What greets him is the Talon of the 1880’s, whom we have seen a handful of time in the wild Western pages of All-Star Western. But amid a less than amicable welcome home from the Court, Calvin does make a very valuable friend that gives him news that will define and drive the series onward toward vistas that ANY self-professed Batman fan who’s read the “Court of Owls” story line would twinkle at the eyes to read. This WILL be one of the must read titles of the DC line for years to come.
- Fury of Firestorm: The Nuclear Man #13 was kind of a toss up. Ronnie and Jason continue to try to lead normal lives as high school seniors, despite also being two halves of the hero Firestorm. Called away to fight a giant robot that is nonsusceptible to their transmutation skills. The motivation of the people that sent the robot out is ambiguous at this point, so its hard to gauge whether this series is going in the right direction. Writer/artist Dan Jurgens made his debut on the zero issue last month, but I am still dubious he’s taking the series in the right direction, even though that direction is the original one from the previous series.
- Teen Titans #13 takes the reader back in time to explain how Wonder Girl, Cassie Sandsmark, first obtained the Silent Armour, as well as how she met the boy, Diesel, who stole it from her at the end of August’s issue #12. And all the while the audience to Cassie’s reminiscence are two very handsome and very angsty teen boys, Red Robin, aka Tim Drake, and Superboy, who take every chance to trash talk Diesel out of clear jealousy over the intimate details that Cassie is way too forthcoming with. The ending of this issue comes forward with two interesting tidbits: a connection to Trigon and the return of Kurt Lance to the frontlines of the DCU as a glorified “truancy officer.” Scott Lobdell continues to write this series masterfully, and his partner in art since the first issue, Brett Booth departs the series, replaced her by Ale Garza, whose sumptuous style is very similar to Booth’s. I love all the books Lobdell writes and this series is no exception.
- National Comics: Madame X presents a really different Madame Xanadu, who they are calling Madame X, probably because of how different she is. Taking place in New Orleans, this followed a realistic Law & Order type plot of a mayor getting killed in his home and a local Voodoo Queen being blamed for the killing. Madame X is a defrauded psychic and card reader. On retainer to a law firm she is brought into the investigation and wades through fake rituals and sordid political dealings. Like the Rose & Thorn one shot last month, this issue didn’t seem to have a one shot ending, but rather start off a series or story arc. Perhaps that is what we are going to see later on when the sales figures gauge interest in the National Comics brand.
- All-Star Western #13 picks up the story of Dr. Jekyll’s formula coming to Gotham. With a murderous clown running rampant around Gotham killing priests, the finger is pointed at Haly’s Circus which has pulled into town. As ever, Jonah Hex and associates Dr. Amadeus Arkham and Tallulah Black are hot on the trail of carnage. Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray make interesting connections towards the end to the original Robert Louis Stevenson novel they are tapping for the arc’s subject matter. Also there is a connection between Mr. Hyde and the fabled Black Diamond . . . In the backup feature they take a giant leap backward in time telling the story of a Native American warrior named Tomahawk of the Shawnee tribe. This takes place at the very end of the 1700’s during the Washington administration and the push of settlers into the Appalachian territories. It seems very reminiscent of “Last of the Mohicans” the way in which it is broached. Overall, both features in this title were superb and I am dying to read their next installments.
- Warriors of Mars #5 brings an end to this brief miniseries about Union naval officer, Lt. Gullivar Jones’ time on Mars and his association with John Carter, the Warlord of Mars. After helping to rescue Carter’s wife, Dejah Thoris from the Thither Men, Gullivar attempts to go home, only to jump to Mars’ future several thousand years down the pipe. Humans have come to Barsoom and like we did on the American continent, brought war to subjugate the Martians and take their planet from them. Attempting to get his bearings, Jones finds himself brought together with the leader of all Mars, Dejah Carter, granddaughter of John Carter. This issue comes to an end, that like Madame X above, isn’t really an end. I would assume that its a similar situation of this last issue testing the waters for interest in another series. I hope so, because this was an excellent, compelling story.
- The Unwritten #42 begins the “Live Like Lazarus” arc, showing Didge’s descent into the realm of story where she met Lizzy Hexam. Before she is drawn back into the real world because of her dyslexia, Lizzy gives her a message to take back to her boyfriend, Tom Taylor. After the events of the “Wound” plot arc, Tom receives the message and plans to descend into the “underworld” like Orpheus to get his lover back. To help him are new friends Officer Didge Patterson and Danny Armitage, as well as the return of Richie Savoy after his indignant flight at the end of last issue. To do this they go out to the Outback and find a portal through to the storyrealm through an Aborigine myth of the whale, which connects to the Leviathan of previous arcs. As ever, creators Mike Carey and Peter Gross deliver a can’t miss issue of a seminal series.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Batman Inc #4: Art byChris Burnham, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Red Lanterns #13: Art by Miguel Sepulveda, Colored by Rain Beredo
Superman #13: Art by Kenneth Rocafort, Colored by Sunny Gho
Talon #1: Art by Guillem March, Colored by Tomeu Morey
Teen Titans #13: Art byAle Garza, Colored by Andrew Dalhouse
The Unwritten #42: Art by Peter Gross, Colored by Chris Chuckry