Week 64 (Nov. 21, 2012)

On this third week of November I welcome a slew of my favorite titles: Batwoman, Green Lantern: The New Guardians, Legion of Super-Heroes, Wonder Woman, and The Unwritten, as well as some stand up series that are far from chopped liver.  This promises to be fun.

  • Justice League #14 is heading the series in a better direction.  Still a sham when compared with the writer Geoff Johns’ current Green Lantern run as well as most of his previous projects, but its getting there.  The whole thing with the Cheetah was interesting, and while I was thinking it was pretty pointless in the long run, Johns hints at an overarching context to it.  What really grounded the story and made me like it was the romantic little interlude at the end where Superman takes Wonder Woman to Smallville to see where he grew up.  I’ve fought against the idea of this relationship tooth and nail since it was introduced at the end of issue #12, but sonuvagun, Geoff Johns has sold it to me.  The scene I mentioned above was really poignant and humanizing.  It was about how godlike beings can exist in a the real world and how idealists can survive in an imperfect one.  It made me like Superman and Wonder Woman, which I should have already, but Johns stumbled with in the initial batch of issues.  I reiterate, this is not even close to being one of DC’s best series, but I would be remiss if I didn’t give it props for making substantial progress towards being a thoughtful, relatable series.  And of course I would be VERY remiss if I didn’t also credit guest artist Tony Daniel on his awesome two issues on this title.  I love his artwork so much and it really supplemented the awesome factor of issues #13 & #14.  The less said about the SHAZAM! backup feature the better.  Gary Frank’s art is solid, but its toothpicks holding the plot together.

    Down On the Farm

    Down On the Farm

  • Batwoman #14 was . . . AWESOME!!!  Truly this series is unprecedented.  I go into every issue with high hopes and any other time that assertion precedes the fall, as rarely do comics exceed expectations.  This one took my breath away.  I had to set it down for ten minutes somewhere in the middle just to get my thoughts together.  Batwoman and Wonder Woman are hot on the heels of Medusa and in this issue the search ends.  They find Medusa and we, the readers, get to see her and experience her inner monologuing in the most personal of terms. This last part is something interesting that Williams and Blackman have really utilized effectively throughout this arc to encapsulate the many strong egos co-mingling within its pages.   Each arc the two writers have pioneered far out narrative styles to characterize and differentiate the storylines from one another.  This time around, that narrative technique of deeply rooting the plot in the varying perspectives of the two heroines, Batwoman and Wonder Woman, is what adds so much ambiance and charm.  Wonder Woman is all but perfection and the paradigm of the feminine warrior, so obviously Batwoman is intimidated as hell to be in her midst and overcompensates so as not to sound like a tittering fan girl.  Batwoman represents the same dark mystique and cold justice that her male counterpart does, and as such Wonder Woman is in awe of her and how cool and calculating her every action is amidst some truly horrific events.  That mutual respect as well as the very personal and realistic reactions to the unrealistic vistas they encounter is what I personally enjoyed above all.  Reading this title is a must for all comic book fans.

    The Dark Heart of Gotham

    The Dark Heart of Gotham

  • Catwoman #14 finally brings Catwoman face to face (to face) with the Joker.  Gotta say, after all the buildup in other titles, it was a bit of a let down.  I mean sure there is some discomfort involved, but really the Joker’s entire shtick in this issue is just one giant annoyance tactic.  Sorry if that ruins anything, but while seemingly ominous at first, this “I Just Want To Have Some Fun, No Hard Feelings” Joker doesn’t fit with the ultra-homicidal incarnation that is being shown in the other books.  I mean, yeah, sure he’s gonna have a lot of fun doing whatever, but he’s going to be a lot darker than we see here.  I really love Ann Nocenti’s writing, but this is one issue that I feel she was ill equipped to write.
  • Green Lantern: The New Guardians #14 feels more and more like the television series Avatar: The Last Airbender.  Kyle Rayner, fourth Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, is put on a quest by Star Sapphire Carol Ferris of Earth (who is also the lover of Green Lantern Hal Jordan) to use his unique Lantern ring which has been inundated with the seven colors of the emotional spectrum to in turn master those other emotions and channel their energies.  He has mastered green, of course, and as of last issue under the tutelage of Atrocitus, the red energies of rage.   This issue begins with him mastering the indigo light of compassion, but also getting instruction from Indigo-1, primary Indigo Lantern, on how one masters the “good” and the “bad” emotions in harmony.  From here he goes to the only Yellow Lantern left in the Universe: the fear god, Arkillo.  Arkillo is a truly complex character and as the issue goes on his experience with Kyle in the latter’s search for the true heart of fear is reciprocated back upon him, also showing him his own path.  There is a lot happening in this issue, including further revelations of the Guardian’s sinister plot for the universe as a whole.  Series “artist” Aaron Kuder is yet again MIA on this issue, instead being substituted by Andrei Bressan and Amilcar Pinna.  Not gonna lie.  I love Kuder’s artwork, but his tardiness in what has been solicited as his run on the book is really starting to irritate me.  It appears that he will return as series artist next month on issue #15, and I truly hope that this isn’t more smoke being blown.  He’s good and I want to see his art on the book very badly.

    GreenLanternNewGuardians14

    Kyle’s Power Has Always Been His Lack of Fear to Admit That He Is Afraid

  • Legion of Super-Heroes #14 returns to three major plotpoints: the resurrection of the Fatal Five, the rationale behind Comet Queen’s betrayal of the Legion on the Dominion homeworld, and most recently the three Braalian terrorists that K.O.’ed Cosmic Boy.  The latter-most point is what really moves the plot and delivers the pathos of the plot.  Since the beginning of this series over a year ago, Element Lad has been taking Chemical Kid under his wing and showing him the ropes, like a less psychotic and more super-powered Training Day.  This even included Element Lad sitting on the sidelines and letting Chemical Kid take down Renegade, one of the most powerful beings in the universe, just giving encouragement and advice when needed.  In this issue, writer Paul Levitz takes the training of Chemical Kid to the next level.  With Element Lad also being incapacitated by the Braalians, Chemical Kid has to truly go it alone if he and his unconscious mentor are going to survive.  Levitz OWNS the Legion of Super-Heroes title.  He didn’t create the title and he isn’t the only person to write this panoply of characters, but he’s the one that made the Legion what it has become and a series worth reading.
  • Red Hood and the Outlaws #14 begins with the Outlaws coming back from Starfire’s homeworld, Tamaran.  Superman intercepts them, and the first explored connection outside of the Superman Annual of the “Thirteen” several months ago is made.  Supes and Starfire are just two parties in the overall plot alluded to as the “Thirteen Scions of Salvation.”   With this issue, two members are brought together to at least contemplate the ramifications of what is going on.  The second half of the story, considering Jason Todd’s figureheading of the title and the times surrounding the other Batbooks, was inevitable.  The Joker makes his play at the former boy wonder with a giant, symbolic sucker punch.  Harkening back to the zero issue two months ago, writer Scott Lobdell revisits the twisted past of the two characters that he re-engineered.  The Joker MADE Jason Todd through a very sick social experiment, and like he has been doing often in the main Batman title, recreated the catalyzing event to get Jason’s attention.  What comes in the next two issues promises to be bleeding edge storytelling.  I am on the edge of my seat, waiting.

    A REALLY Twisted Joke

    “A REALLY Twisted Joke”
    or
    “Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One . . .”

  • Blue Beetle #14 has Jaime Reyes and his scarab Khaji-Da going to the Scarab homeworld with fellow Blue Beetle, Khaji-Kai.  Tagging along is the Mayan chieftain, Sky Witness, who was the last to wear the scarab, Khaji-Da.  This title is beginning to wrap up and the stakes are rising.  The zero issue of this title from September told of the first host that Khaji-Da attempted to meld with and that young woman, centuries older, is solicited to be making an appearance in the next two issues: Lady Styx.  Evil incarnate, it would appear that for Jaime its out of the frying pan and into the fire.
  • Supergirl #14 brings us chapter three in the “H’el on Earth” event.  Following Superman #13 the Maid of Steel is forced to really look at the reality of Superman’s blood relation to her and the destruction of not only her homeworld, but her very way of life.  Enter H’el, who offers her a chance at the renaissance of their shared culture and those they love.  This very well could answer the question of how Superman (in Superman #0) and Superboy (in Supergirl #0) could have been present on Krypton in their current forms shortly before its destruction.   Following last week’s Superboy #14 this issue also shows the fate of Kon-El after his run in with H’el.  Next week Superman #14 resolves the ending of this issue as well as advances the crossover event.
  • Nightwing #14 does so very much in this one issue.  Harkening back to the zero issue of September, this issue continues the two part reunion of Lady Shiva, the peerless assassin who also happened to be Dick Grayson’s first opponent in superheroics, with the first Robin.  Well, she is back and it would seem she is gunning for Sonia Branch (nee Zucco), daughter of the man who killed Dick’s parents, but also financier of his Coney Island-esque “Amusement Mile” project.   Obviously there is some conflict in his emotions there.  The events of this issue also tie into the Penguin, who across the Bat-books has been waging turf wars and seizing up Gotham through legitimate and illegitimate means.  And as one would expect from another major thing going on across the Bat-books, this issue is also a tie-in to the “Death of the Family” event with the Joker paying a visit to an old friend of Dick’s.  Things are starting to get real.
  • DC Universe Presents: Black Lightning & Blue Devil #14 has the same tone as the other arcs in this line, setting up new characters and premises from the past DCU into the newly rebooted one, but its a little lackluster for me.  Perhaps its because I never really cared a lot about either character, but this one, though so similar to other arcs, doesn’t resonate with me.  Still, its worth picking up if you want to watch a universe being reborn from the ashes.
  • Wonder Woman #14 is an issue about the children of Zeus.  The origin of Siracca is revealed, as is the identity of that massive, face-eating behemoth that emerged from the ice of Antarctica.  Both children of Zeus, wronged by the gods and fueled by anger, their pain is palpable.  From the beginning of this run, writer Brian Azzarello has portrayed a soap opera of the familial quarrels of the gods that is nothing short of a . . . well, a Greek drama.  All of this segues nicely into that mold put forth by Azzarello.  What excites me, however, and throws a total curve ball to the aforementioned Greek mythological framework is Azzarello’s insertion of the New Gods of New Genesis into the works.  I am very excited, as I feel that Geoff Johns really fouled up the Apokalips invasion, as well as its despotic ruler, Darkseid.  Here’s hoping that Azzarello does better.

    The New Gods

    The New Gods

  • Sword of Sorcery #2 continues to impress.  Starting with the third installment (owing to its intro as a zero issue) of Amethyst, more and more mysteries clarify and  the series settles into a very engrossing medieval fantasy treat.  In the gem world of Nilaa, there are several noble houses that are ruled by families representing various gems.  Princess Amaya is the heir to House Amethyst, as well as another house, which we learn of in this issue.  We see House Citrine in this issue in great detail, as well as introduction to houses Onyx and Turquoise   House Diamond, which we were introduced to last issue, continues to be an intriguing kingdom fraught with internal discord and intrigue.  Those internal divisions promise to have great weight to the future of this title and our protagonist, Amaya.  I really love this feature.  The backup feature of this issue is the Beowulf story, as re-imagined in a retro-medieval futuristic amalgam by writer Tony Bedard.  Also on its third installment, Beowulf has awoken from his cryosleep and has been brought to the hall of King Hrothgar where the legendary warrior faces the bio-engineered Grendel.  Going through to its conclusion we meet Grendel’s mother in this issue, as well as ponder how this post-apocalyptic future ties into the larger DCU.  This entire book was a pure delight to read for those who have a penchant for the fantastical and adventurous read.
  • The Unwritten #44 finds Tom Taylor descending into the world of fiction, a giant discordant mess after the wounding of Leviathan, on his way to the world of the dead to rescue his insubstantiated lover, Lizzy Hexam.  The brunt of the issue is focused on his journey through the wreckage of the fictional word, torn asunder by Pullman, just as Lizzy was by the same villain.  With the wounding of the Whale, the denizens of this realm have fallen into hard times and danger has become much more prevalent.  Mike Carey and Peter Gross are geniuses of the highest caliber and I eagerly await the resolution of the crazy ending of this issue next month . . .

Such a good week of books, that have me clamoring for their successors next month.  Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Greeen Lantern: The New Guardians, and Red Hood and the Outlaws at the forefront.

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 #14:  Drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Matt Banning & Sandau Florea

Batwoman #14: Art by J.H. Williams III, Colored by Dave Stewart

Green Lantern: New Guardians #14:  Art by Andrei Bressan & Amilcar Pinna, Colored by Nei Ruffino

Red Hood & the Outlaws #14: Art by Pascal Alixe, Colored by Blond

Wonder Woman #14: Drawn by Tony Akins, Colored by Matthew Wilson, Inked by Rich Burchett

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