Villains Month is over and October ushers in a return to the deferred storylines of August. Right out of the starting gate there are some fantastic issues that prove the power and momentum that DC and Vertigo have built over the past several months. Forever Evil, Action Comics, Detective Comics, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Batman: Black & White, and Trillium really bring it this month in action, intrigue, and history altering glory.
- Forever Evil #2 continues with our Earth’s decent into chaos as the Crime Syndicate of America from Earth-3 take it for their own. In the literal shadow of their advent, our world’s darkest minds flock to them in droves to get what bounty the CSA will grant them in return for their service–Malum Aeturnus–and those few heroes left alive rally to meet the Syndicate in battle. The most intriguing case between these two camps is perhaps the most dangerous man from Earth-1: Lex Luthor. Opening this issue, Lex delivers a very thought-provoking interpretation of Darwinism that sets him apart from both the opportunistic villains and “cowardly” masses that accept drastic change idly. In this way he either proves his mettle as humanity’s savior, filling the position he begrudged Superman for occupying these past several years, or simply demonstrating his intractable individualism and anyone that tries to cast their shadow on him. In this case, the shadow cast is both literal and metaphorical. As ever, you want to hate him until he does something very noble, at which point you then want to love him until he come full circle to being despicable yet again. Either way, his goals in toppling the CSA from their haughty perch and prying their hegemonic grip from humanity’s throats forces him into the role of protagonist. His competition is getting slimmer and slimmer as Forever Evil progresses and heroes fall left and right. Between Justice League #23 and Forever Evil #1, the Crime Syndicate dropped the entire Justice League, and seemingly the Justice League Dark and JLA, leaving Earth without their greatest heroes. Next, in the opening movements of Forever Evil #1 the first protegé of Batman and most senior surviving hero, Nightwing, is subdued and captured by Owlman. After that the Teen Titans, basically the junior Justice League, step up to the plate only to fall to the wayside. I won’t spoil the surprise, but they too fall short of matching the Syndicate’s mettle, and really are defeated by only one member of the evil cabal, leaving Luthor as one of the top contenders to take down the Earth-3 invaders. However, in the periphery other “villains” from Villains Month are stepping up, showing their innate humanity or their inability to be cowed by the whims of others. Black Adam rises in Kahndaq and the Rogues have the Syndicate’s forces in Central City on their heels, so on at least three fronts there is hope. However, the real threat to the Syndicate, made very clear in this issue is themselves. As ever, Ultraman (evil Superman) has to be the biggest, baddest guy on the block and lords his perfection over the others, Owlman (evil Batman) schemes in the shadows and secretly cuckolds the Earth-3 Krpytonian by sleeping with his wife, Superwoman (evil Wonder Woman). Johnny Quick (evil Flash) and his lover, Atomica (evil female Atom), are uncontrollable forces of destruction that do not play by anyone’s rules, least of all Ultraman. Power Ring (soooort of evil Green Lantern) is perhaps the greatest question mark as he is a terrified weakling that so far hasn’t done anything and doesn’t want to. In any event, the evil Justice League of Earth-3 are the greatest threat to themselves, with conflicting plans for our world, conflicting philosophies in general, and outright vendettas against each other. With the end of this issue there are some crazy reveals that beg for the third installment and keep the reader on their toes. First and foremost, David Finch’s art is superb and his harsh lines belie the evil nature of the subject material. But beneath the very heavily inked lines there is a subtle, gentleness and beauty that shines through. He was the best choice to render this script visually. I have been very antagonistic of Geoff Johns’ writing since he began the New DCU two years ago and mismanaged title after title that he has written, such as Justice League, it’s SHAZAM! backup feature, and a few others I won’t pontificate upon. However, this series gets back to what he does well: villains. Sinestro, the Rogues in The Flash, Black Adam in 52. These are all characters that were two-dimensional at best that he made into complex, compelling antiheroes. This series features the concept of eternal darkness and absolute evil and shows by contrast the natures of the DCU’s villains. Many pale in comparison, and like Lex, show signs of valor despite their many, usually glaring flaws. Forever Evil is marketed as the first imprint wide event and it deserves to be. This is a title that will live on and in some ways validate the atrociously wretched job Johns did on the first arcs of Justice League.
- Action Comics #24 picks up the second part of the “Psi War” storyline after the events of Superman Annual #2 and Superman #23. So far, it has been revealed that Brainiac left some hidden mementos when he attacked Metropolis in Action Comics #1-7. After abducting a segment of the city and shriniking it, he altered twenty people within, who became an urban legend aptly called, “The Twenty.” The Twenty were mentally enhanced to test the augmentation of humans to fit a very specific purpose: providing physical hosts for the digitized “souls” of Brainiac’s extinct race, the Coluans. In the aftermath, Lois Lane is transformed by one of the Twenty into such a vessel shortly before being launched out a window and put into a coma. From there we were introduced to the “Queen,” a nubile blond bombshell that bathes in a golden liquid, seemingly generated by the psychic drones in the H.I.V.E. One such drone, the escaped Dr. Psycho, was first seen in Superboy. Also from Superboy is the reinterpreted, reintroduced character, Psycho Pirate. In the past, Psycho Pirate was a masked man whose bizarre harlequin mask gives him the ability to exploit people’s emotions. This time around the mask he wears is an artifact called the Medusa mask, which true to the imagery its name elicits has numerous psychically generated snakes coming off of it. The mask allows this man, also a member of the Twenty, to control not just the emotions but also enter the mind of any person on the planet he wishes. At the end of Superman #23 it is the Psycho Pirate that rescues Superman from the Queen and the massively disproportioned Green Lantern villain, Hector Hammond. He takes Supes into the main chamber of the H.I.V.E. to show him the collection of psionic slaves the Queen called her “Swarm.” The Swarm was what she was going to use to enslave humanity for the second coming of Brainiac. Psycho Pirate was one of those slaves, kept in a place of honor with several other members of the Twenty. It is his goal to free all of them, but to break the hold the departed Queen has on them Psycho Pirate needs more power than he and the mask he wears allow him. That is where Superman comes in. Superman’s enhanced biology also allows his mind enhanced psionic output, even though the Man of Steel doesn’t know how to utilize it. He’d help out the Psycho Pirate if he asked, but of course that would be too easy. Instead Psycho Pirated lives up to his name and takes what he needs by force. The psionic snakes from the mask bite into Superman at various points on his body like asps and inject him with venomous visions of some of Superman’s darkest fears: humanity turning fully against him, his adoptive parents the Kents despising him, and never leaving his dying homeworld of Krypton. Through these intense visions and horrifying sights Psycho Pirate feeds off his emotions, as his former self, pre-Reboot, used to. Though Scott Lobdell is given cover credit, it is actually Mike Johnson, who also wrote Superman #23 (“Psi War” Part 1), who did the honors on this one. It’s hard to say whether “Psi-War” is Lobdell’s “brain child” (pun intended) or Johnson’s, considering that Johnson has written the only two official installments with no internal credits or nods to Lobdell, but Lobdell wrote the prelude in Superman Annual #2, so . . . Either way, the writing and set up are stellar, as is the artwork depicting it, rendered by Tyler Kirkham and Jesus Merino. Superman had a ROUGH start at the beginning of the New 52 with some atrocious storytelling, but Action Comics, Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl are all top-notch titles at present. This issue encapsulates all of that incredible innovation perfectly.
- Detective Comics #24 concludes the “Wrath” storyline begun three months ago, but held up by Villains Month. Beginning with a slimy business mogul named E.D. Caldwell attempting to buy out Wayne Enterprises, Bruce Wayne has to contend with that situation leaving Batman to deal with a hi-tech cop killer called “Wrath” who bears a likeness, albeit greatly intensified and armored, to Batman. Of course, these two antagonists in Batman’s life are one and the same and Caldwell wants to gain WayneTech weaponry to add to his arsenal in his crusade against the Gotham City Police Department. This concept, it turns out, is actually a redux of a character first created in the 80’s by Mike Barr and resurrected in 2008 by Tony Bedard. The character’s name was Elliot Caldwell and his parents were gunned down by Gotham cops leaving him with a burning rage for Gotham’s finest. In this way, the mirror-darkly image of Batman called Wrath provides a polar opposite version of the Dark Knight. Batman does have many nemeses that are opposite to him in some way, the Joker’s manic escapades being the most obvious. However, Wrath is literally the flip version of Batman’s birth. Young Bruce Wayne’s parents were gunned down by a criminal named Joe Chill and through the trauma that event evoked in his young mind he was set on an inescapable course to punish criminals and stamp out criminality. Caldwell saw his parents gunned down by police at an equally young age as Bruce and as a result he grew up with a festering hatred for police and law enforcement, constantly seeking vengeance to assuage that child’s anger. In this issue Layman makes the cops that killed Caldwell’s father corrupt and the slaying of his father unjustified. In this way, he isn’t just a straight psychopath, but a boy with real, valid grievances that are twisted by “Unbridled Wrath,” which also happens to be the title of this issue. Though he is subdued in this final issue of the arc, the damage incurred during his rampage is considerable and his defeat gives fodder to future villainy with his introduction at the end to another up and coming Gotham mega-villain. John Layman and Jason Fabok knock this issue out of the park with some intense storytelling that is both powerful and resonating.
- Green Lantern #24 begins the MASSIVE “Lights Out” storyline, not to be confused with the “Blackout” storyline coming up in Batman and throughout several DC titles. Though the character Relic has only been in comics five months, he has already cemented himself as one of the most titanic characters in the Green Lantern mythos. He first appeared in the tail end of June’s Green Lantern: New Guardians #21 and from there crusaded against White Lantern Kyle Rayner, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, and the newly emancipated Templar Guardians under the auspices of “saving the universe,” though failing to elaborate on that point. So great was his belief in his righteous cause, he went to the new homeworld of the Blue Lantern Corps, Elpis, and laid waste to it, the Blue Lantern Central Power Battery, and the Corps itself, leaving Saint Walker the last surviving Blue Lantern. Representing Hope, the Blue Lanterns have had their faith pushed the breaking point. First the Reach destroyed their original home on Odym, forcing an exodus to Elpis. Now the seemingly unstoppable Relic has destroyed their new world and them. Their hope is undiminished to the end as they give their unconscious chief Lantern, Walker, to Kyle and Carol and stay behind on their world to hold off Relic as long as they can and sacrifice their lives to maintain . . . Hope. As stated, Relic was very terse about his motivations throughout his initial interactions in our universe. With his appearance in Green Lantern #23.1 we get his entire history and a clearer picture of his motivations. When living in the universe that preceded the Big Bang and the creation of our current universe Relic was a scientist whose brilliance and council helped the “lightsmiths” co-exist and govern that universe. There was always tension between the various lights and he worked to keep the peace, but also came to realize that the light they so wantonly used was a finite resource, the depletion of which would result in a cataclysm of untold proportions. His words went unheeded and indeed the universe collapsed in on itself and was forced to begin anew with the advent of our universe. He somehow was protected in the anomaly from which he emerged in Green Lantern: New Guardians #21 and upon emerging realized that he would need to stop the “lightsmiths” of this universe to prevent history from repeating itself. Being that he was shunned in his universe, he eschews the possibility of explaining his actions to the new light-wielders and merely enacts his plans. He destroyed the Blue Lanterns. With this issue of Green Lantern he descends on Oa and the Green Lantern Corps. The fight proves to be just as futile as that which the Blue Lanterns provided. The question of defeating Relic isn’t even posed, but rather asking whether the Green Lanterns can survive him. Robert Venditti seems to be the architect of this “Lights Out” concept and considering the material that he had to follow after Geoff Johns’ blowout finale of a legendary eight year run, he is really bringing his A-game to the table. This is perhaps the biggest thing that has EVER occurred in the Green Lantern titles, even bigger than Johns’ “Wrath of the First Lantern” storyline, which itself was unprecedented in scale. Billy Tan’s artwork keeps pace with the monumental events chronicled within, emoting the tragic wonder and epic grandeur of all that is happening in the Green Lantern universe. They promoted this event by saying, “Nothing will ever be the same again! Trust us: WE MEAN IT!” That trust is earned with the unbelievable events of the last two pages of this issue. If you are a Green Lantern fan, READ THEM!
- Green Arrow #24 does not disappoint. This issue picks up after the September hiatus with Ollie Queen on his way home from Vlatava after saving the enigmatic Shado from Count Vertigo’s dungeon. During that month off writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino used Villains Month to give a look into the past of Green Arrow’s newest nemesis. With Vertigo’s past now revealed, Lemire sends Ollie and company back to Seattle only for them to run back into the path of the Eastern European dictator. After their last encounter Vertigo’s distortion device ruptured GA’s inner ear, essentially throwing off his balance and his aim, taking a hero whose main skill is archery and invalidating it. What is left? Even his closest friends and allies are dubious as to whether he has anything viable left that could allow him victory over Vertigo. This issue is written as though Ollie were a real person and Lemire his biographer. Ollie is flawed and fallible, but has deep wellsprings upon which he draws in times like his current predicament that make him worthy of his own comic title. He may be an effete rich man, but he doesn’t solve his problems with money. At least he doesn’t anymore, after DC put a competent writer on the title going onward from issue #17. Lemire also writes the supporting cast of characters with equal complexity. Shado is a prime example in this issue. Previously, she has always been depicted as a very veiled, Zen warrior embodying eastern philosophy, the feminine mystique, and complete oneness with the martial arts. In short, she is a fox-like character that is always a step ahead of Ollie and most other characters and rarely caught off guard. This issue continues that depiction to a point, but stresses that she is an acolyte of the Arrow clan, meaning a master of archery. Lemire has set up a group called the Outsiders (not the previous Batman created group pre-Reboot) that are comprised of heirs to the various disciplines: arrow, sword, axe, spear, fist. Shado is an unparalleled archer. When she comes up against a true practitioner of the Fist (also a rebooted character from DC’s past) she is shown to lack true mastery of the other disciplines and is revealed to be human and have very real weaknesses. It’s the humanizing aspect of his storylines as well as the mythologies that spring from them that make this series soar. One thing also that separates this title from others is the way it adhere’s to the surrounding climate of the DCU. Villains Month was enjoyable, but a total ratings stunt to sell more issues and get people excited about buying comics they normally wouldn’t. The month-long PR event was jarring to most series, causing a MAJOR disruption in storytelling, but not for Green Arrow which took it and used it to seamlessly continue the title’s forward momentum. Next month there is another imprint wide event called “Blackout” taking place around the “Batman: Year Zero” storyline in the Batman title where apparently there is a massive blackout in Gotham six years prior when Batman first dons his cowl and all the titles are going back and having “pre-hero” versions of their respective protagonists living their lives through this blackout and miraculously being in Gotham during it. Again, jarring and implausible. Before this issue’s end, Lemire has already set events up in such a way that you’d believe that Batman was having a “Blackout” event because of Green Arrow and not the other way around. That’s talent! In the realm of visuals, Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork was meant for a title like this and his Green Arrow is the only one I want to look at for the foreseeable future.
- Batwing #24 depicts Luke Fox’s continued trials and tribulations while donning the Batwing armor. It’s not just being Batwing that is difficult, but balancing that life with a full family life. Bruce Wayne has a very detached life, allowing him great anonymity to fit his nocturnal lifestyle. Luke is a part of a very loving, close-knit family and distancing himself from his family when they are in need is not an option. Following his father, Lucius Fox’s kidnapping and his subsequent rescue, Luke finds himself torn three ways. Batman and his allegiance to the Batname force Luke to follow-up on the assassin Lady Vic, sent by an enigmatic client to off some “bats.” His family need him close as they recover from mechanized assassins blowing up most of their home and abducting Lucius. His former girlfriend Zena’s father passes away and needs his support as she copes with her loss. A veritable labyrinth, but somehow in this issue Luke navigates it. I am beginning to forgive this title for its abrupt about-face. I maintain that it is complete nonsense to take the Batman of Africa and bring him back to the United States, and Gotham no less, where there are literally dozens of costumed vigilantes, and 75% of them in the Bat-family. However, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are doing interesting things with Luke, so for the time being I will hold back my indignation and acknowledge that this is a very well written Bat-title.
- Earth 2 #16 reaches a fever pitch. Writer James Robinson is only onboard for a few more issues and he is pushing his story to the limits. The war between Steppenwolf and the World Army has begun and despite the size of their force, the World Army finds themselves on the losing side. Steppenwolf almost singlehandedly defeats the brunt of the World Army invasion force. On the sidelines the World Army “supers” (Atom Smasher, Red Arrow, and Sandman) meet with the independent wonders (Green Lantern, Flash, and Doctor Fate) on the outskirts of Dherain. They initially fight it out until the three “Hunger Dogs” of Apokalips (Bedlam, Beguiler, and Bruutal) step in and wipe the floor with all of them. When this issue returns attention to them, they awaken from this beat down bruised, but alive! The question on all of their mind, “Why were they spared when they could have easily been killed and taken out of the game?” There is no answer expressly given, but in the meantime they get back up and attempt to evacuate civilians from the war zone after the World Army officially calls a retreat. Green Lantern goes to take out his rage on Steppenwolf and buy his friends some time. Steppenwolf isn’t going to be taken down, or at least not by Alan Scott. He SOUNDLY defeats the Green Lantern raising the question of whether Scott will survive this round like he did the last or if this is the end for Earth’s Green Guardian. However, in his gloating of this day’s victory Steppenwolf DOES meet his end and the identity of the person who takes him down and the rationale behind it is what cements this issue as a MUST READ for the month and possibly the ENTIRE series! James Robinson is riding the clock on this one, coming to his end of his run very quickly, and he is making every second count. As ever, Nicola Scott’s artwork contributes mightily to the impact of this issue and the series thus far, on which she has been on from issue #1 and drawn the majority of issues with only a handful of exceptions. This series definitely needs to be read through the end of Robinson’s run and possibly further.
- Swamp Thing #24 returns Alec Holland, chosen Swamp Thing, back to his investigation into the identity of the man called “The Seeder.” Since Charles Soule has taken over the title he has focused on the divide between Holland’s humanity and his duty to the Green. These two motivations tear him in two different directions, often causing existential crises which he must navigate very carefully. The Seeder represents the greatest threat to that, because while his endeavors are altruistic, i.e. creating verdant oases in the middle of arid desert granting people an end to hunger, Swamp Thing must shut them down and rob those people of the life-giving means that are a godsend to them. This seems callous, but the Green is a balance and such works throw that balance off. If the Green is exploited in such a way, causing forests to grow in a desert, elsewhere a bed of seaweed that sustains an ecosystem will die or a grove of trees in the wetlands. It is a very hard job, but Swamp Thing is forced to execute it to maintain harmony and balance, even at the cost of human lives and great suffering. The Seeder comes forth and we find out that he is none other than Jason Woodrue, noted botanist and in previous DC continuities a sort of male Poison Ivy, who actually was the villainess’ mentor. Here he was given his strange powers by the Parliament of Trees in exchanged for saving the life of Alec Holland, who was murdered by Anton Arcane, as seen in Swamp Thing #0. He was not given full power over the Green, as Alec was, but a more rudimentary ability of manipulating seeds to do what he wished, hence his name. Swamp Thing and the Parliament come together to put an end to his hijinks, but when he fights back against both, they see how powerful Woodrue has become, even without full mastery of the Green and decide to have a tournament between Woodrue and Holland to see who should be the Avatar of the Green. Writer Charles Soule has taken this title into a new direction that is logical, but very much unique from Snyder’s run on the title. This issue the regular artist, Kano, is replaced by Andrei Bressan, whose art I have always loved, but which takes a very new style here. It might be that he has a different inker or colorist, but his art in this issue does conform to the themes and overall mood of the Swamp Thing title. There is a little bit of Bernie Wrightson in the way Swamp Thing is rendered, paying homage to his origins and rooting the series deeply in the aspects of the character that are eternal.
- Batman: Black & White #2 provides yet another round of truly excellent Batman stories rendered in stark black and white with plots that are anything but, from the writing and artistic talents of Dan Didio, J.G. Jones, Rafael Grandpa, Rafael Albuquerque, Jeff Lemire, Alex Nino, Michael Uslan, and Dave Bullock. In Dan Didio and J.G. Jones’ story “Manbat Out of Hell” we have the narration of a child talking about how their father made them feel safe, making the monsters that lurked in the dark go away juxtaposed over images of Batman interceding as the Man-Bat, Kirk Langstrom, breaks into a second floor window of a foster home. Batman fights the “villainous” werebat, pulling him off the man inside in front of two horrified children. When his subduing of the creature is met with increased horror from the children Batman realizes that they are Langstrom’s kids and the man he “saved” was an abusive attendant that preyed upon those same children. The narration was Langstroms children talking about their hero who protects them from monsters: their dad, Man-Bat. Didio’s story is infinitely complex and touching, showing how appearances often belie reality and true virtue and villainy. Rafael Grandpa’s story, “Into the Circle,” tells of the Joker setting up a heist with a motley crew of small time Gotham hoods on stately Wayne Manor. Seemingly straightforward, Grandpa throws a major curveball in the final five panels. His artwork is what truly electrifies the story, taking an understated, subtle plot and adding intrigue and enigma that tempts the reader from panel to panel. His art is hard to categorize, but has a simultaneous harshness and gentility within the very same lines. Simply fantastic. Rafael Albuquerque’s story, “A Place In Between,” takes Batman into the underworld on the ferry ride through the River Styx. As it progresses Batman is confronted with his greatest sins as he tries to cope with the reconciliation of his intentioned goals and the actuality of his past actions. Spoiler Alert: He isn’t dead, nor is this real, but Albuquerque gives thoughtful perspective to the reader and the Dark Knight as to the “success” of Batman’s mission and what things weigh on his conscience. Albuquerque’s inkwash illustrations are truly gorgeous to behold as you go on the ferry ride with the Caped Crusader. Jeff Lemire and Alex Nino’s story “Winter’s End,” is an excellent companion to the Didio/Jones story, “Manbat Out of Hell,” becasue while in the former story the reader is tricked into thinking the narration of Langstrom’s daughter is Bruce talking about his dad as his hero. “Winter’s End” is narrated by Bruce, talking about the last winter he spent with his father before the tragic events that severed them forever. In his recollections he talks about how safe his father made him feel, despite how scared he should have been. The narration is put over the current day adventure of Batman into the heart of a man-made blizzard by Mr. Freeze imperiling the life of Commissioner Gordon. The actual events of the story are so-so, but the backstory of Bruce’s childhood is what really impacts the reader. The final tale of the Batman, Michael Uslan’s “Silent Knight . . . Unholy Knight,” is rendered visually by Dave Bullock as though it were a silent film. In it a serial killer called the Silent Knight, dressed in medieval armor and wielding a sword attacks families of three just like Bruce’s in an attempt to call out the Dark Knight. It works. Uslan scripts the story exactly like a silent film with mostly pantomime panels that visually tell the story with only the occasional caption panel with barebones dictation to relate what cannot be conveyed visually. Bullock’s artistic style mimics that of Darwyn Cooke and evokes the glory of the Golden Age Batman, really nailing the necessary ambiance of the original Batman. Taken altogether, these stories paint a broad picture of who Batman is, what he represents, and the many things he embodies to a wide range of people throughout the world and over time.
- Trillium #3 returns to the flip book format of the first issue (sort of) and segments the two journeys of Dr. Nika Temsmith from 38th century and William Pike from 1921. Nika is drawn back into her time and quarantined after being “rescued” from the Atabithian village where she ate the trillium flower and passed through the pyramid emerging in our world a few years after WWI. With the sentient virus, the Caul, entered into the solar system the human refugees have sought shelter in the vastness of space and the military have tabled Nika’s negotiations with the Atabithians in favor of raiding their villages and taking the trillium crops that could provide humanity with a vaccine the Caul cannot adapt to. This would in essence destroy the Atabithian species, as they rely upon the trillium flowers for their own existence. To save them and to save humanity, Nika must escape captivity by her own people to prevent more than one apocalypse. Meanwhile, in our “recent” past William is rejoined by his brother, Clayton, after Nika goes back through the pyramid to her time. Of course Clayton does not believe William’s stories and as a result attempts to blow a hole in the sealed entranceway of the Aztec temple to prove there is nothing strange behind it. The confluence of events brings forth an ending that defies expectations and takes the imperativeness of the plot to unimaginable levels. Writer/artist Jeff Lemire is a genius, and his visual storytelling compliments his written work perfectly. The use of flipped pages to demarcate past from future can be jarring at times, but creates a much more believable experience demonstrating the strangeness of the tenuous link between the two disparate time periods. This series is what the Vertigo imprint was founded to print. Such a series is the quintessence of what Vertigo comics have been, currently are, and (God willing) shall be until the end of human civilization.
- Hinterkind #1 is yet another debut in the new wave of Vertigo titles. This series also has a post-apocalyptic feel to it. Human civilization as it has been known has ceased and the planet has reclaimed its surface from us, like any landlord whose tenants have abused the leased property. The urban jungles of New York are taken over by a literal jungle growing over the streets and buildings and creating new ecosystems where wild animals reign free. In one of the beginning scenes, human survivors hunt a Zebra in lower Manhattan. Humanity has developed isolated colonies throughout the country that are linked only by radio. The opening scene shows the Albany colony falling to an unknown force. Following this the doctor of the Manhattan settlement, Asa Monday, decides to make the two month trek to Albany to ascertain what happened. Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis are revealed to have gone dark, just like Albany, making the fall of each all the more suspicious and worth investigating. His niece, Prosper Monday (the huntress that killed the Zebra at the beginning) wishes to go with him, but is denied. Upon finding out that her best friend, Angus, has grown a rat tail inexplicably the two depart the colony anyway to see what is going on in the wide world. What they find are even more incredible wild beasts like Ligons (lion/tiger hybrids), but what’s more, mythical beasts such as ogres and giant gothed-out fairies. Writer Ian Edginton says that in essence he wants to tell a post-apocalyptic fairytale that makes legends realistic and show that humanity isn’t the dominant species on this planet and maybe never was supposed to be. The series continues the tradition of upholding the promise of comics as an intelligent artistic and narrative medium. Edginton has me hooked for at least another issue, if not many more down the road.
- Vertigo Presents: The Witching Hour was perhaps the greatest disappointment from Vertigo in some time. In the past when they had done topic anthology books like Ghosts, Time Warp, Strange Adventures, etc, they have gotten innovative creators to come onboard and spin poignant, entertaining short stories. Looking back on those previous books, I can bring to mind several stories that resonated deeply and blew the mind of those reading them. Jeff Lemire’s story about the death of Rip Hunter wasn’t something that spoke to the nature of reality, but it was deeply moving as to the nature of the human nature. Gail Simone wrote a fantastic short story about candy that could transport people to their most perfect moment and the sweet, but finite nature of memories. Witching Hour has almost none of the aspects present in the previous Vertigo anthology books. Whereas before, there were well-known comic writers and artists producing stories, or indy creators bringing their A-game, this collection features stories from mostly indy writers that are topical at best and convoluted at the worst. There isn’t even an adherence to a theme. Ghosts featured stories about . . . ghosts. Time Warp wasn’t strictly about time-travel but also the concept of the passing of time. Strange Adventures dealt with space travel and human exploration in the final frontier. Witching Hour begins with some stories about witches, but then there are stories about a mission to Mars and a woman with a parasitic spider in her brain. What?! Vertigo is slipping a little . . .
So ends the first week of October and the first in four weeks of resumed storylines in the regular continuities. I will miss the fun Villains issues, but it’s also nice to have old “friends” back with the resuming of continuing plot arcs. Can’t wait for next week’s batch which include the oversized issue of Batman #24 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It promises to be good. See you then . . .
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Forever Evil #2: Drawn by David Finch, Colored by Sonia Oback, Inked by Richard Friend.
Action Comics #24: Art by Tyler Kirkham & Jesus Merino, Colored by Arif Prianto.
Green Lantern #24: Drawn by Billy Tan, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Rob Hunter.
Green Arrow #24: Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo.
Earth 2 #16: Drawn by Nicola Scott, Colored by Pete Pantazis, Inked by Trevor Scott.
Batman: Black & White #2: Art by Rafael Grandpa & Dave Bullock.
Trillium #3: Art by Jeff Lemire, Colored by Jeff Lemire & Jose Villarrubia.
Hinterkind #1: Art by Francesco Trifogli, Colored by Cris Peters.