Nov. 13, 2013-Jan. 15, 2014

It has been a criminally long time since I have been able to sit down and interact with my comics in the form of writing this blog and externalizing my thoughts and appreciation for this incredible medium.  With this post I hope to highlight a few of the issues that I have loved in that interim and get back in the swing of reading my comics and writing about them to illuminate their content to others, but also myself.  So here goes:

  • Batman #25 tells the story of the Blackout in Gotham, but oddly enough doesn’t deal with the Riddler at all or explore the consequences of what he did.  Instead, writer Scott Snyder uses the Blackout as a way of the emergent Batman finding an environment in which his skills and innate qualities find fallow ground to root themselves.  Without the Blackout, Batman might have had to try harder to ingrain himself in the collective awareness of Gotham as a force for good and not just a crazy nutjob in a bat costume.  However, as mentioned before, the Riddler is put on the back burner after blowing the Gotham City power grid and submerging the city into chaos in the midst of an impending tropical storm designated “Rene.”  In his place, Batman sleuths a rash of bizarre . . . occurrences . . . in which victim’s bones grow uncontrollably like trees, bursting out of their bodies and leaving the carcass draped atop like a Christmas tree angel.  With some inadvertent tips from future police commissioner James Gordon, Bruce learns that the serum used was designed by a former Wayne Enterprises scientist, Karl Helfren, aka Doctor Death.  When he probes into Helfren’s past, Bruce also learns of an accomplice that will surely shock readers.  The issue is certainly shrouded in mystery, beginning with a brief two page cut to US soldiers in Nigeria finding a door in the ground hidden in the middle of an arid plain and ending with those soldiers dead and their trucks on fire.  How those scenes are rectified with  the main narrative is an intriguing question.  In the backup feature, Snyder and his protegee James Tynion IV write a tale of the Blackout told from the perspective of the average person, in this case a very young Harper Row and her little brother Cullen.  The two kids don’t have a mother and their father is a two-bit criminal and absentee parent, so it falls to them to look out for one another.  Cullen is scared, but Harper (who grows up to be a burgeoning electrical genius) makes a lamp for her brother to push back the darkness.  It’s not easy, but she’s able to overcome when the needs arise.  She tell Cullen that there are people out there that see fear and darkness and rise up to push these forces back and help those that are also scared.  It’s a brief yet poignant commentary on the superhero ideal and what breeds heroes.  Also noteworthy is Andy Clarke’s gorgeous artwork that creates a beautifully stark ambiance of Gotham life.  It goes without saying that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, with the added help of James Tynion IV and Andy Clarke, are making this book one of THE comics to pick up.

    What Makes a Hero?

    What Makes a Hero?

  • Superman/Wonder Woman #2 brings on the much anticipated continuation of last month’s meteoric first issue.  In Superman/Wonder Woman #1 writer Charles Soule delivered a very intimated and thoughtful examination of the relationship between two titanic figures of the DCU and the inherent hurdles they have to leap constantly in order to be together and understand one another.  If that was all the issue was it would have been worth the cover price, but Soule and artist Tony Daniel had far more in store for us, releasing perhaps the greatest surprise appearance of the year: Doomsday!  With Supes busy quelling a storm brought about by the monster’s advent, Wonder Woman finds herself going toe-to-toe with the abomination that in a different continuity killed her boyfriend.  Not something to be trifled with.  As this issue opens the Kryptonian horror delivers a sound beating on the unprepared Wonder Woman until it mysteriously phasing out of reality.  When Superman hears her story he immediately knows what the thing was from Diana’s descriptions and realizes that the seals on the Phantom Zone, a temporal extra-dimensional Kryptonian prison, are wearing thin meaning incursions by Doomsday and the other unsavory menaces imprisoned within might occur more frequently.  In order to prepare for the coming battle with Doomsday, should it reappear, Wonder Woman takes Superman to Mount Aetna to meet Hephaestas and commission custom armaments.  While there Supes also meets Apollo and Strife.  Apollo doesn’t make the best impression, following the very haughty modelling of Wonder Woman writer Brian Azzarello.  I know I am not alone in my dislike of Apollo, which is what makes his encounter with Superman so rewarding to readers.  Apollo is a very overconfident, arrogant ass and while he is IMMENSELY powerful, his being the sun god puts him at a unique disadvantage against the Last Son of Krypton.  One almost feels sorry for the jerk.  Almost.  With their order placed and one Olympian force fed a five fingered slice of humble pie, the stage is set for yet another mouthwatering introduction of a classic Superman character.  Soule and Daniel have this series locked down.  Soule’s writing is topnotch and shows a true love and respect for both the eponymous characters.  Superman is a humble farmboy with powers far greater than ordinary men and Wonder Woman is a proud and noble woman from a proud and noble race of myth.  Every word, every gesture, and every reaction is quintessentially appropriate to each.  Tony Daniel has been one of my favorite artist since he and Grant Morrison took on the Batman title.  As a writer I have enjoyed his work as well.  The man is a consummate professional and whether or not he has any say in the actual writing of Superman/Wonder Woman alongside Charles Soule, his ability as a writer no doubt helps him interpret the scripts to convey minutely the gravity and grandeur of the worlds this book is bringing together.  Wonder Woman and Superman come from two very elaborate time honored mythologies that Soule and Daniel are combining like true professionals.  This first run of the series is off to a commendable start.  If they can sustain it, this could overshadow the actual series of both characters.SupermanWonderWoman2-1

    The Hubris of Gods.

    The Hubris of Gods.

  • Batgirl #25 came off a little lackluster for me.  Dealing with the life of Barbara Gordon, it’s hard to figure out what the purpose of this issue was supposed to be.  It’s already established that Gotham was effed during the “Blackout” and in this tie-in Barbara is put in charge of her little brother, James Jr, while their dad’s at work.  He tells her to “mind the homestead,” but while he is gone the Gordon kids are forcefully evacuated because they are in a flood zone.  In the process young Miss Gordon sees how a disaster can turn regular people into savages.  The point of the issue is more about Gotham than Barbara, which is a little disconcerting.  Normally the Batgirl series focuses heavily on Barbara, which is a credit to series writer Gail Simone’s tenure on the title.  Simone GETS Barbara in a very quintessential way.  Marguerite Bennett penned this one, and I think as a newcomer her writing comes off a little green.  She kind of fumbled the Villains Month released introduction of the character Lobo to the New DCU, and this comic felt equally forced.  The look remains the same with series artist Fernando Pasarin providing art on the issue.  Simone comes back next month with the conclusion of her epic “Batgirl Wanted” arc, which should be worth the read.
  • Green Arrow #26 begins writer Jeff Lemire’s epic “Outsiders War” arc.  In his first arc, Lemire DRASTICALLY altered Oliver Queen’s life, taking away his company, framing him for murder, and clearing the board of a few characters from the initial issues of the rebooted series.  He also introduced the Merlyn-esque archer, Komodo, and the inklings of the larger organization Komodo belongs to called the Outsiders.  In his second arc he introduced the rarely utilized GA character, Shado, unused extensively since her creation in the 80’s by Mike Grell.  Komodo and Shado represent two halves of the life and ultimate death of Oliver’s father, Robert Queen.  With those in the rearview, we now enter into the actualization of Green Arrow’s destiny with Lemire’s third arc, entitled “Outsiders War.”  So far, Ollie has taken down Komodo (relieving the onyx archer of one eye) and on two separate occasions he’s taken down the Eastern European despot Count Vertigo.  Both of these men have strong ties to the Outsiders who themselves have very ominous plans for the Arrow Clan. Now Shado is taking him back to the island to fulfill his destiny by claiming the totem arrow that will grant enlightenment and dominion of those dedicated to archery.  Robert Queen sought the island and combed every inch of it looking for the arrow, explaining the picture that Oliver found of Robert, Komodo, and Emerson on the island in the lattermost’s office.  Shado drags him back and as the issue unfolds Lemire has Oliver slowly relive his time there.  His reticence to return can be summed up by the harsh memories he accumulated while stranded and his shame at being reminded of his past.  Ollie was a vacuous waste of space before being washed up on the island and his initial days there were spent shedding that shallowness and tapping into his intrinsic potential.GreenArrow26-1 Robert had instructed Oliver in archery, which Ollie’d never taken serious and rarely practiced.  Those lessons resurface and the birth of Green Arrow began while Oliver discovered the cost of survival.  The next step will be seen in later issues following Ollie’s capture by mercenaries in ski-masks.  Awakening from his deja-vu, Shado leads Oliver to the cave wherein lies the talisman his father had so desperately sought.  Meanwhile, the Outsiders have sent one of their own, a bear of a man called Kodiak, to stop Oliver from becoming the head of the Arrow Clan by claiming the “Green Arrow” totem.  Jeff Lemire’s hitting this one out of the park with his clear love and respect for the character of Green Arrow and his intricate weaving of a mythos that emanates from Green Arrow, but also through the Green Arrow title.  The Outsiders have figured cryptically into the background of the Katana series, where the Japanese warrior Tatsu Toro wrestles with the Sword Clan.  Whether Lemire came up with them on his own or collaborated with Katana writer Ann Nocenti (from whom he took over the horribly written and conceived Green Arrow title) what is obvious is that Lemire is the one running this ball into the endzone for what looks to be a clear touchdown.  The promise of what the Outsiders represent and the stories that will spring forth from this arc are destined to be comic book gold.  Series artist Andrea Sorrentino continues his tenure on the book adding a realism to it with his pencil and an ominousness with the very stark contrast between light and shadow.  Working together, Lemire and Sorrentino are the ideal team to make Green Arrow one of the best DC titles currently being published.

    GreenArrow26-2

    The Fabled Green Arrow Totem.

  • Green Arrow #27 continues writer Jeff Lemire’s odyssey toward Green Arrow’s actualization in the “Outsiders War.”  So far Ollie has returned to the island on which he was marooned with the enigmatic archeress Shado in tow seeking the totem arrow that bestows enlightenment upon the ascendant to the chiefdom of the Arrow Clan.  The Outsiders (semi-unified cabal of clan heads) desire Komodo to take this position in their midst and dispatch the Shield Clan’s chief, Kodiak, and his Viking warriors to prevent Ollie from his destined enlightenment.  Picking up with the dramatic ending of issue #26, Ollie and Shado have found the Arrow Chamber, but as this issue opens they find that the totem itself is nowhere to be seen.  Ollie is shocked, but Shado, true to her fox-like, Zen nature tempers Ollie’s impatience with existential questions, all boil down to why and how Oliver came to be marooned on this exact island that his father, Robert Queen, had just so happened to be seeking for so long and upon which the elder Mr. Queen was murder by Komodo?GreenArrow27-2  The exploration of these questions is interrupted by the advent of Kodiak on the island and sporadic ’Nam flashbacks Ollie has to the crucible moments of his time on the island.  Issue #26’s flashbacks showed Ollie being forced to master archery in order to feed himself while awaiting rescue from the island.  The completion of that stage of his development ends with him being captured by masked paramilitary forces on the island.  This issue shows the next and most apocalyptic stage of his transition from soft billionaire playboy to cold hunter/vigilante.  The soldiers under the command of an Oni-masked man torture Ollie for over a week until Ollie snaps and in a survivalist act breaks through from his effete past to the stark figure he has become in the present.  While dodging the Shieldlings and regrouping Shado finally steers Ollie into understanding that his destiny wasn’t mere chance, but an orchestrated effort by individuals to guide him to becoming the avatar of archery.  Once this concept sinks in, Oliver’s Oni-masked antagonist reappears and confirms everything Shado said and removes the demon mask.  With the revelation of this person’s identity the absolute truth of their claim is baldly underscored, but more so the implications of who this person is changes everything the reader has come to believe about the Green Arrow title and what its has fought for.  Jeff Lemire is a genius. Unequivocally, he has taken this failing title and made it infinitely poignant, gripping, and one of the ‘can’t miss books’ of the DC lineup.  Called “Batman with a Bow and Arrow,” GA has been a C-list character with no superpowers who has often times been overshadowed by the more super, more overtly heroic characters of the DCU.  Only a few writers have been able to lift him above the camp and ridiculousness that have haunted the character since his inception.  Jeff Lemire has earned his place in Green Arrow history.  Lemire’s collaborator Andrea Sorrentino provides incredible artwork that in no small part makes this book so engrossing and visually stunning. The two look to be on the title for some time and that is good news for comic readers and the Green Arrow pantheon of characters.

    GreenArrow27-1

    The Bloody Baptism of Green Arrow.

  • Superman Unchained #5 is a turning point in this celebratory “Super” series, revealing not only the nature of the enigmatic cabal known as “Ascension,” but also what their overall motivations, prompting their insane actions thus far.  At the conclusion of issue #4 the leader of Ascension told Lois Lane that General Sam Lane was “father” to both of them.  This turns out to not only be twisted hyperbole, but also a straight up lie no matter how you look at it.  One demerit to writer Scott Snyder.  Through the exposition provided by the Ascension leader, Jonathan Rudolph, Lois Lane and the audience are given incontrovertible evidence that this man isn’t merely misguided, HE’S NUTS!!!  The choice of fabled Ned Ludd as the “face” of their movement is apt considering that the group’s aims have been stated to be the downfall of technology with an anarchist rationale behind it.  The self-righteous rhetoric of Rudolph does nothing to rectify the collateral damage his insane venture will rain down on humanity nor does it in anyway come off as anything but uber-petulant and misguided.  Rarely nowadays are there examples of such clear cut psychopaths in leading comic titles.  Usually some sort of ethos, pathos, or logos is there to somehow give a morally ambiguous justification to the “villainy.”  The use of this kind of character is intriguing and either says something very good about Snyder’s writing or something very bad about it.  Snyder is an amazing writer that has risen meteorically to the top of the comic field in a relatively short period of time.  He is also an overtaxed talent that is writing several titles simultaneously, so it could go either way.  The rest of the title features Superman continuing his emerging relationship with the proto-‘Superman’, Wraith.  In order to continue their quest to locate and stop Ascension, Supes invites Wraith into his Fortress of Solitude.  Superman represents an impartial, unbiased, non-jingoist superheroic doctrine.  Wraith represents the exact opposite and has TOTALLY drunk the US military Kool-Aid.  Just being in the Fortress elicits a philosophical debate about alien technology and who should have custodianship of it: an impartial, responsible individual or the armed forces of one sovereign nation over the nearly two hundred others.  Superman has the moral high ground here, but Wraith cuts back with an equally poignant response involving Superman’s supposed “non-involvement” vis-à-vis his alternate persona of Clark Kent.  In this way, Superman represents what the character should embody and Wraith portrays what Supes was made to be like from the 1950’s through to most of the 70’s, towing the company line and representing “Truth, Justice, and the American way.”  Visibly absent from the first four issues is the looming figure of Lex Luthor awaiting the resolution of Superman’s battle with Ascension to pounce on the battle wearied Man of Steel.  Introduced in this issue is a flashback, drawn by backup artist Dustin Nguyen, that details Clark’s encounter with a sauced up, ignorant farmer that finds out his secret and tells him at shotgun-point that he can’t hide.  Though only seen in glimpses and lacking resolution, this flashback underscores brilliantly the constant dilemma Superman faces everyday by living among us as one of us.  Snyder has created in five issues a multifaceted series that expertly explores the character and all the aspects that have carried over from the original issues 75 years past.  Scott Snyder and artists Jim Lee and Dustin Nguyen have tapped into the pure essence of the Last Son of Krypton.
  • Teen Titans #26 finally reveals the story of Bart Allen after two and a half years of continuous storytelling.  We’ve been told in the past that he was a dangerous criminal that was reconditioned and sent back into the past where he would be cut off from the dangerous elements he incited.  Several months ago when the Titans were first thrown into the timestream Bart and his girlfriend, Kiran Singh (aka Solstice), witness his younger self attempting to commit an act of mass murder against the governmental body known as the ‘Functionary.’  Now after returning to his native time he is made to see everything he has forgotten after being taken back into custody by the Functionary.  After looking at his past I am finding it hard to look at him as anything as terrifying as he has been painted out of context.  The son of religious parents belonging to a Christian-like faith called Creationism, his parents were murdered for those beliefs.  He lets his parents die in order to save his infant sister, Shira, and get her away from the Functionary “Purifiers” that are initiating pogroms against his people.  He becomes a thief to provide for his sister and when she is imperilled he becomes a killer.  He finds sanctuary for her in a safe quarter while undertaking smuggling missions in unsafe conditions that normally killed the pilots after three runs.  Bart makes a couple of dozen until his number finally comes up, but when it does he doesn’t die, but rather attains the superpowers that connect him to the Speed Force and Barry Allen.  Then he initiates the rebellion of the Functionary oppressed that led to his capture and exile.  It wasn’t until his attacks almost killed Shira, that he abandoned the rebellion he started and turned himself in to the Functionary.  I have to say that this origin, while very compelling, failed to depict him as a criminal.  At least in my eyes.  Everything Bart did was for others.  He sacrificed everything for his sister and later for those like himself and his sister who were like rats being oppressed and constantly harried for no reason whatsoever except that their existence was inconvenient for those above them.  There was no Justice League or any apparatus to help the downtrodden so he initiated an armed resistance movement to create a better future.  As stated before there was a scene not fully fleshed out where he was going to do something alluded to being an atrocity.  If writer Scott Lobdell wanted to justifiably depict Bart as a monster he should have given more weight to that moment with more details or circled back around in this issue to that moment or one like it.  That isn’t to say that Lobdell is a bad writer.  On the contrary.  This issue made me feel for Bart and actually I am in his cheering section.  He looks at himself as a monster, just like all the others who have knowledge of who he was (or will be), but I don’t see that and I still see a hero who puts others and their interests before his own.  If I could actually talk to the character I would share with him the words of Barry Allen, the first Flash (in the New DCU): “Keep moving forward.”  Lobdell knocks it out of the park with the help of new series artist Tyler Kirkham.  Kirkham’s art is sharp, it’s vibrant, and his rendering of Bart gives fine detail to every evocative emotion the young hero feels, which once again roots the character in Kid Flash’s experience, making them feel exactly what he feels, enduring his pain as he struggles through unspeakable situations and revelling in his rare moments of triumph bore out of near constant suffering.  Thumbs up to both Lobdell and Kirkham.  This issue was worth the wait, if not shorter than such an immense story deserves.

    Doubt Anything Except a Brother's Love.

    Doubt Anything Except a Brother’s Love.

  • Talon #14 marks an end to the status quo under which the series has been proceeding since its #0 issue.  Calvin Rose was made a Talon after being groomed for the task by the Court of Owls as a young escape artist in the famed Haly’s Circus.  He quit after being sent to kill a beautiful security heiress and her young daughter.  Going on the lam with her, he developed a relationship with her, which he broke to protect her from the Court’s endless search for their missing “toy.”  While on the run, Calvin meets a man whose life was destroyed by the Court as well.  Sebastian Clark.  Clark helps Calvin hit the Court HARD, crippling much of their infrastructure.  In this guided crusade against their common enemy, Calvin meets up again with his former girlfriend, Casey Washington, and her daughter Sarah.  Soon after it comes out that Sebastian Clarke did in fact have his life destroyed by the Court, but it was because he was the disgraced head of the Court at the time of Batman’s interference and the fabled “Night of Owls.”  Danger literally lurks in all directions and Calvin is beset with daunting odds.  His immediate challenges include Sarah’s kidnapping and subsequent brainwashing by the Court, Clarke has a plan afoot to raze Gotham, and a serum has been injected into his bloodstream that melts necrotic tissue, i.e. his entire body.  To a lesser extent Batman has harried most of Calvin’s moves, because no one operates in the Bat’s backyard without his say-so.  However, despite the insurmountable obstacles Calvin is very much like the classic Jack Kirby creation, Mister Miracle.  Both are master escape artists, and like Miracle, Calvin will not be deterred by any odds, even if Batman is counted among them.  With the conclusion of this issue the Court of Owls still exist, but they are once again weakened and the more pressing threats to fair Gotham put to bed for good.  Calvin’s main objectives are accomplished, but his journey toward ending the Owls’ reign continues, albeit under new circumstances and with new allies.  Writer James Tynion has taken the concept of the Court of Owls and made good use of it with the fifteen issues of this series he has written.

    Batman Inc Just Got a Little Bit Cooler.

    Batman Inc Just Got a Little Bit Cooler.

  • Red Lanterns #26 after the big fight between Relic and the remaining Lanterns of all colors, the Reds were given authority of Sector 2814, which contains our solar system.  To demonstrate their authority they attempt to take out one of the greatest evils of our Sector in the form of a despot named Marshal Gensui.  Gensui has enslaved the secondary race of his world and used them as slave labor to build a sphere around their sun to harness its energies to use for his own ends.  Going up against the forces of the planet Kormorax the Red Lanterns, under the command of Guy Gardner are in hot water.  Marshal Gensui has made a career of culling rage, using his intimidation tactics and scientific acumen he has pacified the brutalized masses he exploits.  With those same technologies he pacifies the Red Lanterns, the angriest individuals in the universe.  With that taken into account, writer Charles Soule concludes the two issue arc with an examination of the kinds of rage that exist and how each type fits various situations in better ways.  Peter Milligan, the original Red Lanterns writer did this very well in the past, making a point of highlighting tertiary Red Lanterns who weren’t as popular and whose backstories haven’t found their way into past issues.  One Red, the ox-skulled Skallox, was a murder and a scoundrel sent up the river by his boss as a liability, another named Ratchet was an individual living in an isolationist, dystopian nightmare that craved interaction and was imprisoned and mercilessly tortured for years as a result.  Yet again Soule highlights two lesser Red Corpsman and their individual brands of rage to show the strength of each.  Zilius Zox takes a lead role in these issues, but Ratchet once again shines above the rest.  While he and his fellow Reds are in a stupefied, euphoric haze due to Gensui’s crowd control technologies Ratchet is able to throw off the stupor with his rage, despite the most powerfully ravenous Reds being unable.  What really highlights his character, and it a lot of ways finishes what Milligan began in that bygone issue, was the totality of Ratchet’s capabilities.  Ratchet wasn’t a bad guy.  He wanted friendship and comaraderie and his inability to do so was what fueled his rage.  Being a Red Lantern gave him his hearts desires so slowly his rage was subsiding, which meant that he wouldn’t be able to wield the ring, which also meant that the ring would no longer be able to keep him alive as it did all Red Lanterns whose blood is replaced with a napalm fluid of refined hate.  He was dying no matter what happened, and what he accomplishes in this issue not only expedites that end before prolonged suffering, it also made an enduring place in the hearts and minds of his fellow Corpsmen.  Soule inherited a vast legacy from Peter Milligan and has made proper use of it, penning a fantastic series.

So ends an abbreviated catchup to the weeks missed in my absence. Check back to this post periodically as I will probably take on some other issues that are of note.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #25: Art by Andy Clarke, Colored by Blond.

Superman/Wonder Woman #2: Drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by BATT & Sandu Florea.

Green Arrow #26 & 27: Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo.

Teen Titans #26: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Arif Prianto, Inked by Art Thibert & Dan Green.

Talon #14: Art by Emanuel Simeoni, Colored by Jeromy Cox.

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Week 72 (Jan. 16, 2013)

Apart from three issues of the epic “Death of the Family” crossover event in the Batman line of books and the inaugural issue of the Threshold series, this was a relatively light and somewhat depressing week.

  • Batman #16  further evinces just how insane the Joker has become.  Descending into Arkham where the Joker has set up shop, the horrible truth of his activities since reemerging become fully revealed.  Delving through each stage of the Joker’s labyrinth Batman and the reader are keyed into the warped fantasy world that the Joker has constructed around his archnemesis in a really creepy, almost sexualized love affair.  Every facet is symbolized by a feudal archetype, often times based on Arthurian lore.  The armed inmates are Batman’s “knights”, each of his villains a different councilor (Scarecrow the physician, Riddler the strategist, Two-Face the judge, etc.) and a test of pulling an electrified chainsaw from a stone as a sign of kingship.  There is a great deal to the plot, but hardly any way of speaking about it without giving some part of it away.  What is apparent is writer Scott Snyder’s plumbing of the darkest recesses of his mind, as well as some serious slasher and snuff flicks to conceive of this plot, and especially this issue.  Present is definitely “The Human Centipede”, bits of “Saw”, and the Italian film “Salo” which I am not proud to admit that I have seen . . .  Clearly, this issue to me to a dark place I was reticent to visit. 

    The Royal Court of Batman

    The Royal Court of Batman

  • Batgirl #16 delivers the final issue of the “”Death of the Family” tie in until next month’s Batman #17. Barbara Gordon arrives at her “wedding” to the Joker as the mad clown has demanded in exchange for her mother’s safety.  Right out of the gate, you know things aren’t kosher with the situation.  Why the Joker would want to marry Batgirl is perplexing enough, added to what the catch is going to be.  And as of yet, this plot of the Joker’s is the only “Death of the Family” plot that doesn’t go exactly to plan.  The end goal, as far as the major tie into the larger Batman storyline at the end goes to plan, but there is a major hiccup with the appearance of Barbara’s brother, James Gordon Jr.  I love Batgirl and while I don’t believe that the gruesome plans the Joker has for her will come to fruition, she will still have fresh trauma added to the lingering psychological damage he left when he shot her in the stomach, paralyzing her for a time, and the sexual assault he subjected her to subsequently.  Next month’s issue can’t come soon enough.  I NEED closure on this story arc.

    The Wedding of Batgirl

    The Wedding of Batgirl

  •  Batman & Robin #16 showcases a nightmarish and as yet unexplained scenario where, to get his “revenge” on Robin (Damian Wayne), the Joker puts the Boy Wonder up against a Joker juiced Batman in an all out death match.  The issue follows the match between father and son, both formidable in their own right, on a back and forth momentum with the Joker on the sidelines giving color commentary.  Its not largely a story issue, but the visual aspects of two titans fighting one another is more than enough to compensate.  Like Batgirl above, it ends with the Joker holding a platter and the solicitation that it will all be concluded in Batman #17.  Also like Batgirl, I await resolution on this with baited breath.
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #16 is an enigma.  The past couple issues have been “Rot World” tie-ins, with last issue revealing one of the most interesting developments to date.  This issue returns to the real world as we know it with no explanation of how the last issue’s transpirings resolve themselves.  That’s all fine and well.  The answers may lie in the final issues of Animal Man and Swamp Thing’s delvings into “Rot World.”  However, this issue returns to the real world abruptly for what apparently is the final issue of the series, treating the whole thing like business as usual.  Maybe that’s the right call, but staying with the “Rot World” storyline for one more issue not only would make sense considering the lead up that writer Matt Kindt left himself, but would also be a blowout way to end the series rather than this issue, which was disjointed, rushed, and clearly thrown together with no larger plan in mind.  A group of young radicals have gotten their hands on a viral generator that will release a metaphysical pathogen with the power to convert those it touches into monstrosities.  The issue ends.  The series ends.  Nothing really is accomplished.
  • Threshold #1 spins out of Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1, following the “Hunted” in its main feature.  “The Hunted” is a televised manhunt of criminals and individuals found to be undesirable to the reign of Lady Styx in the Tenebrian Dominion.  As of the conclusion to the New Guardians Annual, deep cover Green Lantern, Jediah Cull, is blown and entered into the “Hunted.”   The rules state that the hunted will be give one day (relative to the planet’s solar cycle) of impunity before all citizens of the Dominion are given free reign to hunt them for a bounty correspondingly sized to their offense to Lady Styx.  Caul is given his allotted time and then the fun begins.  The rest of the feature shows Caul, and other “Hunted” fugitives, banding together and beginning the semblance of a resistance.  Caul and a spunky young brunette named Ember band together for a time, evading capture, while across the planet a former female soldier turned hunted, code-named Stealth, meets up with a man named Ric Starr of the Space Rangers, also now a hunted, to discuss an underground movement of survivors within the Dominion who have begun measures to undermine the tracking systems used to hunt them.  There is some really interesting stuff happening here and a VERY decent start to the New DCU’s first official cosmic odyssey. In the Larfleeze backup feature, we are shown a very concise representation of Larfleeze that sums up his entire being quite thoroughly as the living embodiment of pure avarice and then introduces us to a sequence of events that would be the greatest nightmare for a personage like Larfleeze.  Its hard to tell which feature is better.  Both are written brilliantly by the incredible Keith Giffen, with Tom Raney providing very lustrous art on The Hunted and Scott Kolins, the same who provided art for Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual, rendering Larfleeze with his angular, volatile style that so aptly fits Larfleeze’s personality.  This series has great potential.

    LARFLEEZE!!!

    LARFLEEZE!!!

  • Demon Knights #16 ushers in a second stage to the series.  Series creator, Paul Cornell, finished his run on the series with issue #15, and Robert Venditti takes over bringing the series thirty years into the future.  In the far eastern boundaries of Europe Cain, the first vampire, as revealed to us in the atrocious I, Vampire series, begins a reign of terror converting or slaughtering entire communities.  In the West the Demon Knights are being hunted one by one and taken to Moorish Spain.  Though seemingly sinister in nature, the Caliph has a need for their services to end the terror of Cain in the East as he moves his way west.  Bernard Chang remains on art, keeping the feel of the book visually in tact.  Venditti himself does a good job in this first book keeping the narrative close to that of his predecessor, but time will tell if he can maintain its excellence.
  • Superboy #16 presents the Justice League’s effort to retake the Fortress of Solitude from H’el and his protegee, Supergirl.  Batman plans the operation and each member, including Superboy, has a very specific role.  Superboy gets them in, and from there H’el’s control of the Fortress is put to the test.  Flash’s mission is to get Supergirl away from H’el and hopefully neutralize her until the threat to our solar system is ended.  The issue takes a bizarre turn when a portable pocket dimensional prison in Superman’s arsenal goes berserk putting a definite hampering on the JL’s plan.  Also ominous is the reappearance of the giant crustacean looking herald from the first issue of Superman.  The end may be closer than we initially thought.

    The Herald Awakens

    The Herald Awakens

  • The Ravagers #8 is sort of strange, taking place in a rural mountain community in Colorado.  One of Harvest’s experiments used to live there and upon returning becomes a carrier for an infectious radioactive condition that causes its host to explode and infect others who also explode and so on down the line.  Rose Wilson and Warblade go in to stem the carnage in the hopes of preventing Harvest from learning that they allowed the escapee out from under their noses.  This means trying to contain the epidemic and save the lives of as many townsfolk as possible.  To those who have read this series, as well as Teen Titans and Superboy, these two Ravagers being altruistic is the opposite of rational.  But that isn’t the only impossible thing that occurs, as the ending of this issue quite vividly evinces.  Howard Mackie, the series’ first writer, exists stage left and Michael Alan Nelson takes the helm.  He does a good job of maintaining the status quo, and to be honest, until I began writing this review I hadn’t even noticed that Mackie had left.  Also M.I.A is artist Ian Churchill who is replaced by Ig Guara.
  • Ame-Comi Girls: Power Girl reunites writer Jimmy Palmiotti with the character that he seems to love to write.  Unlike the past couple of issues, this one spins a tale independent of the proceedings of the past several issues.  Power Girl is in Metropolis, literally the “City of Tomorrow”, which is a result of her using Kryptonian tech to modernize its infrastructure.  Fighting xenophobic terrorists, she triumphs as an superheroic humanitarian usually does and goes to Smallville to recuperate with the Kents.  While there her cousin Kara Zor-El shows up in a space ship and we are shown that apparently in this universe, Power Girl is Kara JOR-El.  Upon her cousin’s arrival all hell breaks loose on an intergalactic scale (in Smallville no less) and the title finally connects with the previous three issues.
  • Green Hornet: Year One Special #1 resurrects for one special issue the brilliant origin series of the original Green Hornet that concluded two years ago and was written by the incomparable Matt Wagner.  This issue isn’t written by Wagner, nor is it drawn by Aaron Campbell, but the world created by those two in the original series remain alive and well in this new special.  Following a spunky female newsie with an alcoholic dad, we see the exploits of the Green Hornet (supposedly a bad guy) through the eyes of an innocent child raised on the mean streets of 1930’s Chicago.  Its exciting, its nuanced, it feels like an old serial.  This book was a delight to read and it was interesting to figure out just who was the main character, the Hornet or the newsie, Ruby.  Even though it was just one issue, it was fun revisiting this title.

    Green Girl

    Green Girl

This week was a little hit or miss and not as up to par as some of its predecessors.  Still it had some real gems in the bunch.  Next week promises to be much better with Batwoman and three Green Lantern titles hitting the racks, as well as two more “Death of the Family” tie-ins and the concluding issue of Before Watchmen: Minutemen.  Can’t wait.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #16: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO Plascencia, Inked by Jonathan Glapion

Batgirl #16: Art by Ed Benes, Colored by Ulises Arreola

Threshold #1: Art by Scott Kolins, Colored by John Kalisz

Superboy #16: Drawn by Iban Coello & Amilcar Pinna, Colored by Richard & Tanya Horie, Inked by Rob Lean & Amilcar Pinna

Green Hornet: Year One Special #1: Art by Edu Menna, Colored by Marcelo Pinto

 

Week 63 (Nov. 14, 2012)

The second week of November yields three entries in the “Death of the Family” event in the Batman titles.  I am very excited to see what that portends for the besieged Batman and his nocturnal allies.

  • Batman #14 is SICK!  I think that writer Scott Snyder’s going for the prize.  Maybe its because I was feeling under the weather when I read it, but I had to set it down a few times and catch my breath.  I dare say that this might be the darkest Joker I have seen in print.  Even darker than Alan Moore’s Killing Joke perhaps, and that is saying something.  The Joker has a very elaborate web of intrigue set for the Dark Knight and for once he seems to have thought further ahead than Batman himself.  Also, when you reach the end and see what secrets he has unearthed . . . WOW!  Things are about to get really dark for the Dark Knight.  All the power lies with the Joker in this masterful arc penned by Snyder and the outcome is as murky for the reader as it is for Batman himself.  I am anxious to read on as the massive crossover unfolds, but I am reticent, too, because as stated before IT’S DARK!!!

    Harley's Lament

    Harley’s Lament

  • Following up on the heels of Batman comes Batgirl #14, featuring Barbara Gordon’s foray into the twisted schemes of the Joker.  Mirroring the events of the Killing Joke, the issue opens with Barbara talking to her mother on the phone when three armed men wearing clown masks enter the latter’s home and abduct her.  Drawing off the trauma that befell her when the Joker paralyzed her all those years ago, Barbara has to conquer her inner demons and rise to the occasion if she is going to save her mother.  However, the Joker isn’t the the only person with a pony in this race.  Another psychopath with extremely close ties to Barbara’s past intervenes in this plot, though their motivations remain unclear.  Ed Benes draws the the title exquisitely and Gail Simone writes it with a truly twisted touch.  Penning a Joker story of this caliber is a tall order, but Simone steps up to the plate and delivers.  The Killing Joke has become iconic ad she has artfully worked those storied events into her series seamlessly, really utilizing the psychological toll the shooting took on Barbara to create compelling storylines that keep her readers enthralled.  This issue is at the fever pitch of that trend.
  • Batman & Robin #14 follows Damian Wayne, Robin, as he infiltrates the cult, the Saturn Club, by allowing himself to be captured.  Peter Tomasi is pretty much turning this title into an unofficial Robin series and that is alright by me.  Damian is a complex character, blending altruism, narcissism, unbridled malice, Zen, intelligence, and childish petulance into a truly intriguing whole.  I love his character.  What Tomasi also captures brilliantly is the many ways that Bruce and Damian are exactly the same and how that causes friction between father and son.  I guess as an only son I understand the tensions between fathers and sons.  But while Tomasi shows how these headstrong Waynes butt heads, he also shows how much they both love each other and the strong bond that holds them together.

    ,Batman & Robin, Father & Son

    Batman & Robin, Father & Son

  • Green Lantern Corps #14, also written by Peter Tomasi, continues in the “Rise of the Third Army” crossover event throughout the Green Lantern family of books.  The Guardians of the Universe sent Guy Gardner, Green Lantern 2814.2, to escort a peace summit delegation from a war torn sector of space while simultaneously releasing a dangerous criminal from the science cells for the sole purpose of murdering Guy’s family on Earth.  Guy hears of his family’s danger, though not the Guardian’s involvement, and quickly goes to their rescue only to run into the Third Army.  Guy Gardner is the least likable Green Lantern by general consensus, but Peter Tomasi shows in this issue especially how he can have hidden depths that most of us hadn’t taken notice of.  In the background the Star Sapphire, Fatality, seeks out John Stewart, Green Lantern 2814.3, for a purpose that no doubt corresponds to the Zamaronians newly minted alliance with the Guardians, while on Oa, Green Lanterns Kilowog and Salaak begin to find evidence of the Guardian’s malicious deeds.  This title is really heating up and adding fuel to “Rise of the Third Army.”

    FATALITY!

    FATALITY!

  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #14 as a “Rot World” tie in deals with Frank and Velcoro combing the globe for the pieces of the Soul Grinder that Victor Frankenstein hid in the bellies of three beasts called the Collosi.  For the most part this issue was a straightforward story issue.  Our two protagonists seek out and engage the Collosi and little is revealed.  I am a fan of Velcoro and this issue highlighted his character very well.  Matt Kindt is a fantastic writer that has kept my attention on this book when I was considering dropping it.  His talent for the science-fiction/horror macabre is unrivaled by any of his contemporaries.   Alberto Ponticelli has been the series artist since issue #1 and his work has added a continuity throughout its run, as well as the eerie atmosphere that has contributed to the title’s excellence.
  • Grifter #14 follows on the tail of the previous issue with Grifter messing up Midnighter (ABOUT TIME!) and teleporting out of the Eye of the Storm, the Stormwatch HQ.  Midnighter (pompous jerk that he is) follows.  However, the Eye of the Storm’s teleporters are messed up after what Grifter pulled and so the pair are erratically shot from one location to the next, adding even more drama to their cut throat quarrel.  Not the best issue, especially since Grifer didn’t beat Midnighter as soundly for a second time.  I am waiting for this series to get back on track of him dealing with Daemonites, as opposed to ridiculous idiots like the Stormwatch crew.
  • Deathstroke #14 has Deathstroke fighting Thanagarians and learning how to use his Nth metal armor.  That’s pretty much it.  Rob Liefeld wrote Grifter and Deathstroke and both were lackluster in plot.  I like things he’s written in the past, but he’s not really doing a good job at present.
  • Demon Knights #14 is taking the title to a fever point.  The title started with the Demon Knights coming together in the tiny hamlet aptly named Little Spring to hold off the Hordes of the Questing Queen from reaching the metropolis of Alba Sarum.  After defeating these hordes at great cost, the Knights went to Alba Sarum and attempted to get back Merlin’s soul from Avalon to revive the legendary mage from his death, which strangely had something to do with the Daemonites . . . On their way they went to the cursed ruins of what used to be Camelot and fought beside the resurrected Arthur against Morgan Le Faye.  This ended with the Demon Etrigan luring the Knights into Hell.  This issue has their escape from Hell and their final destination of Avalon realized.  However, it also reintroduces the Horde and its evil Queen, as well as the legions of Hell into the mix.  So after EVERYTHING that has lead to this issue, next month’s installment proves to be a battle royale amongst some of the worst that this medieval world has to offer: hellspawn, barbarian hordes, the guardians of paradise, and the Demon Knights.  Paul Cornell is a maestro and I cannot await his last issue on the title that will cap off everything he has climaxed toward.
  • Phantom Stranger #2 was a bit all over the place.  Beginning at Philip Stark’s (The Phantom Stranger) children’s soccer game, Pandora appears and makes known her intentions of reopening the box that got her into trouble in the first place.  Added to that is blowback from the Stranger’s dealings with Trigon last issue, as well as the introduction of Dr. Thirteen, the Haunted Highwayman, and Det. Jim Corrigan.  The lattermost into intrigues as it hints at the Specter making his debut quite soon.  Dan Didio is an amazing writer and he really captures the eerie, mist shrouded world that the Stranger occupies, and certainly aided by the art of Brent Anderson which is itself very sketchy and shadowed.  I don’t usually throw a shout out to colorists, but Ulises Arreola’s pastel palate also captures the feel that makes this book so good.  I am adding this series to my “must get” list.

    Pandora's Box

    Pandora’s Box

  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4 picks up after Adam and Teela are shipwrecked by Merman.  Landing on a seemingly deserted island, they are captured by the forced of Evil-Lyn and subjected to her sadistic whims.  Shockingly, her chief warrior is none other than Man-at-Arms, Teela’s father, and though all parties are subjected to an amnesia imposed by Skeletor, Teela somehow recalls that he is her father and so does Man-at-Arms, sort of.   Despite this aspect, the best part of the issue was Skeletor’s conversations with a skull that I can only imagine is the spirit of Castle Grayskull, which the evil lord is afraid to leave.  This conversation is telling in many ways, and reveals a lot of the past of this series through context clues.  I am enjoying the series, though curious how it will conclude in just two issues.
  • Ame-Comi Girls: Batgirl returns to the world set up in the Ame-Comi: Wonder Woman issue.  In this Batgirl and Robin are Barbara Gordon and her cousin, Carrie, who I just realized as I am writing this is an homage to the Dark Knight Returns’ Robin.  She’s not a red head and  a little bit more glamorous, but I am almost sure that that is what writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were going for.  The plot is kind of crazy as the two are brought into conflict with the quartet of villainesses, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Duela Dent, but the rationale is kind of hazy.  It does reveal a strange element behind the bad girls, which I am positing to be a feminized version of Brainiac.  Steel is also introduced, but as can be expected, its Natasha Irons instead of her uncle John, that bears this moniker.  I liked it, but I think that there is a lot more needed, and thankfully that should come in the next installment about Duela Dent.
  • Suicide Squad #14 is a series I have not read regularly, so I am not as up on it.  However, I will present the pertinent facts and what I have gleaned to be true.  It seems like Harley and Deadshot had a thing going and Deadshot begins this issue deceased in a pine box.  At his funeral the Joker comes back and reinserts himself into Harley’s life.   The relationship is a lot more frightening than it has been in the past, and this issue frames the events of Batman #13-14, quite well as well as setting up a finale for the duo with next issue.  Harley Quinn is becoming a much more interesting, well rounded character and I intend to go back and catch up to this point, because I was thoroughly entertained throughout the whole thing.
  • Superboy #14 takes place apparently after a the three issue arc of Legion Lost, the events of which I am also little hazy on, but the end result being an even greater rift developing between Superboy and Lure.  An already alienated young man is further alienated with only one person to turn to, fellow Teen Titan, Bunker.  While attempting to have some down time with his sole friend, H’el, the enigmatic Kryptonian, makes his first actual appearance.  His interactions with H’el, like Supergirl’s when the two met for the first time, continue to reveal the intrinsic nature and stigma of clones in Kryptonian society.  The ending is slightly cryptic, but no doubt will reveal themselves next week in Supergirl #14 next week.
  • The Ravagers #14 is a really important issue that cuts to the metaphorical heart of the characters comprising the title team.  The Ravagers are the result of the nightmarish entity, Harvest, kidnapping kids from across the globe and making them fight and kill one another to become his warrior elite, the Ravagers.  In the process most have undergone procedures to activate their metagenes, giving them superpowers, but also transforming them into “monsters.”   Physically and psychologically the consensus among the survivors is that they are monsters.  After the Culling event and the mass exodus of Harvest’s victims from the Colony, they’ve had to continue to fight for survival.  This issue has them for the first time gaining some modicum of normalcy, as well as a sense of their own lost humanity.  From this point forward, the tone of the book seems to be on the verge of changing as these kids find themselves and a purpose from all the bad things that happened to them in the past.  This is really becoming a great series.
  • Saucer Country #14 continues to reveal realistic explanations for the various phenomena surrounding UFO mythology.  Men in Black are one of the most prevalent.  In this issue the MIB are explained with the same frankness and thorough detail that Paul Cornell has endowed throughout the series.  While he does give a pragmatic look on the topic, there is still the undertone and the indisputable impression that aliens do exist.  Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #14: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO Plascencia, Inked by Jonathan Glapion

Batman & Robin #14: Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Green Lantern Corps #14: Drawn by Fernando Pasarin, Colored by Gaeb Eltaeb, Inked by Scott Hanna

Phantom Stranger #1: Drawn by Brent Anderson, Colored by Ulises Arreola, Inked by Philip Tan

 

Week 58 (Oct. 10, 2012)

This is a red letter week for the Bat-Books.  With Batman #13 the Joker makes his first appearance since the first week of the reboot over a year ago and as is to be expected, he makes an ENTRANCE!  His presences is felt in all three Bat titles, and his inexorable place assured.

  • Batman #13 starts this week off.  How could it not?  This book has been hyped to the nth power for month’s now, as well as picking up on one of the first jaw droppers of the DC reboot, presented straight out of the gate their first week: the cut off face of the Joker.  Well the Clown Prince of Crime returns to take back what is his.  That is the monumental event this book represents. The Joker is BACK!!!  His attacks are calculated, they are severe, and they are unpredictable.  The fact that Scott Snyder is writing this book is self-evident.  The plot unfolds with great mystique and forethought.  The Joker’s attacks and actions come out of left field, but are rooted deeply in his past and his identity.  When he accomplishes each stage in his plan, Batman puts it together and fills us in as to the relevance.  Snyder has a penchant like the other greats of the industry to mine continuity for the gems that resonate with fans and then fabricate further material to compliment and enrich the original plot points further.  Already he’s setting up an epic joke from the master trickster, and as the last page of this issue alludes, its going to be a really killer.  The backup feature, co-written by Snyder and protege, James Tynion IV, and drawn by guest artist, Jock, is a mere five pages, but explains one of the key events in the issue, as well as sets the tenor of the relationship between the Joker and another integral character.

    From the Mouth of Babes . . . Things Have Changed

  • Green Lantern Corps #13 draws off of the zero issue and has the old foe of Guy’s from his proto-Green Lantern career, Xar, brought back into the spotlight for an integral part in the disintegration of the Corps.  In fact, to put it in the briefest of terms, this issue is the elaborate orchestration of the Guardians of the Universe to set the Green Lantern Corps on the course to its own unraveling.  Guy, the egotistical douchebag, falls for the plot hook-line-and-sinker, but what intrigues is what we can only guess to be a trap set for John.  Still reeling from his murdering a fellow Corpsman, he is given the chance to aid in the resurrection of the Green Lantern he kill before the last one.  It seems like that could be a legitimate possibility, except for the obviousness from the reader’s perspective that its a trap.  That I am dying to get resolution on.  Either way, as the Guardian’s plot unfolds, it becomes more and more clear that there is no going back for the Guardians.  They have to die if the Green Lanterns and sentient life are to survive in this universe . . .
  • Batman & Robin #13 continues to develop the delicate relationship between a father and son who are very stoic, intense, and reserved in their expressions.  The two take a very ordinary father/son excursion into the Earth’s orbit to inspect a Wayne-tech satellite that Batman uses for surveillance purposes.  You know, just the usually stuff.  Their conversation is rather terse, but in the process they talk about some very sensitive topics.  Did Bruce ever love Damian’s mom?  Does Damian even love his mom?  Does Bruce trust his son?   And what’s more, Damian shows genuine emotional growth, though still wears a thick shell.  A supernatural threat erupts more than halfway through the issue, but the main draw of the book is the glance at Damian’s progress as a son, an emerging hero, and as a feeling, moral human being.  I love Damian.  I love this book.  Peter Tomasi is a genius.

    Batman & Son

  • Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2 continues with the exploration of of the quantum uncertainty principle exemplified by Schroedinger’s Cat.  While in the reality we have accepted as established, Dr. Jon Osterman became Doctor Manhattan when he was accidentally locked in the intrinsic field chamber, the first issue of this four part miniseries sets up an alternate scenario where he doesn’t.  Once this dual reality concept is introduced, writer J. Michael Straczynski continues in that vein, initiating further dualities based on the smallest personal choices.  If Jon chooses to dance first with his bride at their wedding then time unfolds normally as it has in our world, Kennedy getting shot and the Cold War ending thirty years later.  If he chooses to dance with her last the presidential assassin is caught, Kennedy lives, Nixon becomes president after him, Watergate doesn’t happen, and nuclear apocalypse ensues.  The general idea that the shockingly bewildered Dr. Manhattan arrives upon is that time is broken.  J.M. Straczynski is a genius and his formatting the story on the basics of quantum physics theorum is nothing short of stunning.  Also aiding in the series’ success is the beautiful artwork of Adam Hughes.

    The Butterfly Effect

  • Batgirl #13 brings to conclusion the “Knightfall” storyline with the follow up to the incredible cliffhanger ending of August’s #12.  For the past several issues writer Gail Simone has made me hate Charise Carnes, but in this issue she manages to make me sympathize with her.  The truth about her family’s gruesome murder is revealed in gory detail, not justifying but explaining her insane plot for Gotham and its criminals.  On the side of the aisle, Simone depicts the ironclad resolve of Batgirl brilliantly.  As we left her on the last page of issue #12, she had been stabbed in the abdomen and was bleeding out.  In spite of that, her sheer will to stop Knightfall’s villainous plot is staggering.  It’s what sets her apart.   What also sets her apart from Knightfall is the mercy she is willing to offer the criminals she apprehends.  That same mercy saves her life.  Following up on her victory comes a maelstrom of past horrors resurrected.  The three previous arcs, masterminded by three separate psychopaths, are coming back to haunt her as a mysterious cabal arranges the release of all three.  But . . . worst of all, is the retelling of a “Killing Joke” . . .

    Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before . . .

  • Grifter #13 does a lot of things.  Firstly, it introduces the team up of Grifter and Voodoo.  I approve.  He also crosses paths again with the crew from Stormwatch.  I hate Stormwatch sooooo much, but on the other hand, writer Rob Liefeld does something that so many writers should have done so many times over: Midnighter gets pwned!  He is such a piece of crap and Grifter really lays into him, wiping that smirk off his face.  Thank you, Mr. Liefeld.  I may not have enjoyed some of the things you’ve done in this series, but you made my month.
  • Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E #13 brings Frankenstein into the events of the “Rotworld” crossover happening in Swamp Thing and Animal Man.  As we have seen previously, Frankenstein is somehow immune to the Rot and not able to be subdued or swayed by them.  This taken into effect, he is drafted by the Red to be their agent and to go to Metropolis for a very dangerous mission that may hold sway over the course of the war.  At the heart of it is the drafting of his creator, Victor Frankenstein, to the Rot, and the device used to by him to create Frankenstein.  This device, the Soul Grinder, is said to be the one weapon that can defeat the Rot.
  • Superboy #13 finds the Boy of Steel forming an uneasy alliance with NYPD detective, Jocelyn Lure, as well as going head to head with the people that employed the psychic villain, Kiva, in issue #12. Once again in this battle for survival, Superboy feels his control over himself waning and a primal anger taking root, subverting his self control.  Both he and Lure, realize that for the greater good of everyone, he has to get answers from the only person who might have them: Caitlin Fairchild . . .
  • Following up on the above title, The Ravagers #5 finds Superboy catching up with Caitlin and her teenage charges as they arrive at the secret facility of Niles Calder.  All the teens, SB included, then find that what Niles has in store for them is eerily similar to what was expected of them at the Colony.  Though we can assume that Caitlin and Niles have the kids’ best interest at heart, the Ravagers’ reaction to their propositions is completely understandable.  There is a great deal of character development across the board.  Niles Caulder is a completely new persona, as he makes his New DCU debut, this time not in a wheelchair and thirty years younger.  The Ravagers all continue to weigh in with their reactions to the hellacious events thrown at them.  Superboy and Caitlin Fairchild, I think, develop the most.  Writer Howard Mackie really takes Superboy back to the existentialist roots he first had in Superboy #1.  
  • Phantom Stranger #1 continues on the road of developing what was and promise to be a very different comic book character.  DC seemed to be an imprint that excelled with characters such as the Stranger.  The Specter also follows in that same vein, as a character with immense power but powerless to wield it the way his heart dictates.  Dan Didio takes on the character presenting a man made to do terrible, sometimes even reprehensible, things and not have him demonized in our eyes.  This issue has him meeting the character of Raven (of New Teen Titans fame) becoming aware of her powers and struggling to control them.  As the Zero issue hinted, her demonic father Trigon makes an appearance and the result is not good for Rachel, aka Raven.  I am excited by the potential for the horrible events of this issue to spin out into a future story line of this or another series.  Dan Didio keeps to the tenor established in the Zero issue, but drops a GIANT bomb on the last page that will resonate for years to come.

    WHAT THE F***!?!

  • Demon Knights #13 resumes the “Avalon” arc where the Demon Knights are attempting to regain Merlin’s soul from Avalon and return him to Alba Sarum.  The problem lies in the treachery of the Demon Etrigan, dragging all of his comrades to Hell in the hopes of achieving an as of yet unrevealed scheme for power.  What makes this issue interesting his how Hell crafts individualized torments for each of the Knights, some more effective than others.  Vandal Savage actually seems more amused by his than perturbed.  Sir Ystin is forced with the dilemma of revealing her gender, which is agonizing to her.  This aspect of the plot, as well as the realpolitiking of Lucifer and Etrigan are what drive the issue on, making it a worthwhile read.  I am very curious to see what Etrigan has in store, as well as how Jason Blood, who himself is also oblivious to his other half’s schemes, will react to it.  Also the Black Diamond is introduced . . .
  • Deathstroke #13 did a few interesting things, but overall was not memorable.  Rob Liefeld continues writing it, with the help of former Voodoo writer, Joshua Williamson, and Eduardo Pansica on pencils.  Liefeld is solidifying a relationship (sexual, if not romantic) between Slade Wilson and Zealot, as well as a continuing conspiracy by his son, Jericho, to kill him.  I love Jericho so I am staying on the title for that, as well as seeing how Zealot is fleshed out in this new DCU.  Both seem very different and ironically polarized.  Jericho usually was pretty even keeled and kind, but here is depicted more harshly.  Zealot was always very abrasive and hardheaded, yet here is a very complex, intriguing woman.  I’ll buy a few more issues before I make any harsh decisions.
  • Team 7 #1 was forgettable.  So far there is nothing about this title that interests me.  Like Justice League has been a team book featuring representations of everyone’s favorite DC superheroes as superpowered douchebags, this title seems to be four of everyone’s favorite nonpowered heroes and three other guys as just plan douchebags.  This title is going to get dropped.  The Black Diamond also is alluded to.
  • Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child #7  concludes the series.  The plot was rather confusing, jumping ahead six years to Dominique as the Queen of the Voodoo Court and her being slain.  Its hard to gauge the impact or meaning of things with that much of a gap.  I mean there were two orphans that Dominique felt she had to save, and then bypass her even finding them, cutting to them being adults.  How are we supposed to know the significance of their existance in the story.  I’m sure that there is a very important reason they are there in writer Selwyn Seyfu Hinds’ head, but it’d really be great if he could share it with his readers.  There was an interesting wrap up to the story, but that wrap up is impotent without a little lead up to it.  I hated this last issue, when I really should have loved it.  Up until the time-warp Hinds gave us in this issue, it was a phenomenal series.
  • Ame-Comi Girls: Wonder Woman is the first issue of one-shots in a series based upon anime versions of DC’s female pantheon.  Starting it off, of course, is the first DC superheroine, Wonder Woman.  It would have been wrong if they had not included her.  Her story is pretty straightforward and follows the origin we all quintessentially know.  Born the daughter of Amazon Queen Hippolyta, Diana butts heads with her mother and tradition and is sent to the world of men as an ambassador of Themyscira. That is the basics.  In this, as with all anime she is skimped out in a very slutty costume.  Considering the prideful and feminist rooting of the character, writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, have fun with it by posing Diana’s objections,  saying “Is this punishment not embarrassing enough that I must also advertise myself as a whore to the nation of men?”  I will admit that I have always like the singlet costume over the various more politically correct iterations involving pants and the like, but her costume in this one is overkill. Its ridiculous.  However, I think that that is the point and a jab at the source material of anime in general.  I was entertained by the over the top storytelling and the anime-esque art by conventional comic artists Amanda Conner and Tony Akins.  I look forward to seeing Batgirl in November’s installment.

    A BOLD New Look

Thus concludes Week 2 of October.  So incredible.  Can’t wait for next Wednesday.

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

Illustration Credits:

Batman #13: Drawn by Greg Capullo, Colored by FCO Plascencia, Inked by Jonathan Glapion

Batman & Robin #13: Drawn by Patrick Gleason, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Mick Gray

Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2: Art by Adam Hughes, Colored by Laura Martin

Batgirl #13: Art by Ed Benes, Colored by Ulises Arreola

Phantom Stranger #1: Drawn by Brent Anderson, Colored by Ulises Arreola, Inked by Philip Tan

Ame-Comi Girls: Wonder Woman:  Art by Amanda Conner, Colored by Paul Mounts

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 40 (June 6, 2012)


Wow, this week’s review was late.  Its been a crazy week, but one that has several mainstays including four of Second Wave titles and the first of the Before Watchmen books, Minute Men #1.  So here we go.
  • Action Comics #10 was outstanding.  Grant Morrison is really weaving a compelling epic concerning the genesis of the “Man of Steel” in this New DCU.  I still don’t  look back fondly on the first issue of the series, but I will admit that it has facilitated something really beauteous in this new arc.  Unlike the balls-to-the-wall, leap-before-you-look Superman, this issue presents a very thoughtful one, whose concern for the world returns to the naive, idealist character of the past.  Unlike the other Super-titles, this one feels the most genuine.  A friend of mine proposed that what was missing from all the Superman books was Clark Kent.  Grant Morrison must have intuited that as well, because apart from portraying a very caring Superman, he really focused on a sainted Clark.  How they frame his virtue is really worth the read.
  • Detective Comics #10 returns to the main flow of the book after last month’s “Night of the Owls” jaunt to Arkham Asylum to thwart the assassination of Dr. Arkham.  Here an armored car robbery perpetrated by a slew of “Batmen” precipitates the entrance of a truly sinister villain with motives hinted at with frightening scientific theory.  We also see the aftermath of Charlotte Rivers’ grievous injuries after the heist at the Iceberg Lounge.  Though its still in the setup stage, Tony Daniel really creates an entertaining book.  In the backup feature, Two-Face goes on a journey of self-discovery and comes one step closer to figuring out the conspiracy against him.  Ed Benes provides art for the main feature, coming over from a guest-stint on Dark Knight last month, and Szymon Kudranski provides art for the backup.  Considering the dark nature of the Two-Facebackup, Kudranski’s stark pencil work really fits.  I like Ed Benes a lot, and on most other books I would love to see his art, but considering the marriage of Daniel’s artwork to his storytelling technique, I miss seeing the two together.    Still really amazing, though.

    Enter Mr. Toxin

  • Batwing #10 is a round the world jaunt of awesome.  Piracy off the coast of Nigeria, kidnapped Chinese physicists, Triads, and a certain Gotham crime boss.  From the shores of Africa, to Beijing, to Gotham, Batwing gets around in this issue, working close with Batman to root out a grave threat to World security.  Somehow the pirates, the Chinese mafia, and the American interests are working toward some larger goal . . . but what is it?  Marcus To continues his stint as series artist after the departures of Ben Oliver and Dustin Nguyen.

    Enter the Dragon

  • Swamp Thing #10 takes the saga of the “Rot” to the next level, returning Abigail Arcane to her human form as well as to her ancestral home in the Swamplands.  Following her resignation as Queen of the Rot, her uncle, Dr. Anton Arcane takes his place as monarch of the Rot.  Through his communications with the Swamp Thing we learn interesting facts about Abigail’s earliest connections to the Rot.  Taking over art duties for this new arc is the incomparable Francesco Francavilla.  Having worked with writer, Scott Snyder, on his Detective Comics run, Francavilla’s haunting, twilit artwork really brings out the eerie quality of the material that Berni Wrightson’s art brought to the original series.

    Swamp Thing & Abigail Arcane

  • Animal Man #10 achieved several things this month, including linking writer Jeff Lemire’s other project, Justice League Dark, to this book.  It also develops further the true nature of the Red and its relationship to the Green, but more importantly the Rot.  Its a good book, but its very much an interim book, awaiting further resolution.
  • Red Lanterns #10 was for the most part lackluster.  Writer Peter Milligan tied this book’s plot to that of his other project, Stormwatch, which unfortunately is floundering.  What was intriguing was how powerful Atrocitus is portrayed to be in the things Milligan allows him to accomplish which have as of yet never been done.  But, yet again, Midnighter didn’t get his ass handed to him, which bothers me greatly.  What’s more, Midnighter KO’s Dex-Starr the Cat.  Ok, being a prick is one thing.  Abusing animals, no matter if they are wearing a red power ring, is quite another.  Someone needs to cut him down to size.  I await next issue with the confrontation of the surviving Red Lanterns and the Star Sapphires.  
  • Stormwatch #1o was of no consequence.  Consider it dropped once more.  No matter how awesome the writer, the title is like black hole.  No matter how much talent is thrown at it, it just keeps sucking.
  • Justice League International #10 was as good as it’s ever been.  The enigmatic villains begin to take on moral complexity, and though they do horrible things, a certain pathos is revealed in their motivations.  Among the heroes moral complexity also is revealed, especially in the case of OMAC.  Connections are explored interpersonally between characters: Batwing and Vixen from their days in Africa, August General in Iron and OMAC due to their life altering conditions, and Guy Gardner and Tora Olafsdottir in love.  This series abounds with rich storytelling and characterization.  I still love it head and shoulders over the actual Justice League title.
  • Green Arrow #1o was a one-shot story this month, drawn by guest artist, Steve Kurth, that really explored the nature of what it means to be human.  A Robot that looks very much like a person is rescued by Green Arrow and in helping her the nature of both their existences is revealed.  Writer Ann Nocenti is what makes this series work for me.  Hopefully she will be on it for some time to come.
  • Earth-2 #2 was a controversial issue and rightly so.  Though it features Jay Garrick in his genesis as the Golden Age version of the Flash, the main thing this issue will be remembered for was its introduction of Alan Scott as a gay man.  I’ll get this out of the way up front.  I am among the detractors of writer James Robinson’s choice to make Alan Scott homosexual.  I do not object on moral grounds, as I have applauded Robinson for his outing other characters in the past, such as the second Starman, Mikaal Tomas, and the Australian character, Tasmanian Devil.  What I do object to is the logic behind the decision.  It was reached because Scott’s gay son, Obsidian, was obviously written out of continuity owing to the complete restarting of the Earth-2 pantheon of heroes.  Because Obsidian was no longer in the title, his father, who was a fully fleshed out character and happily married for years, was rewritten to be a gay man.  I believe in the diversification of characters.  That was what made the mega event 52 in 2006 so incredible, highlighting or introducing a character that represents every conceivable demographic.  However, I think that taking an established character and making the choice to change his sexuality simply because his son who was gay was removed from continuity is a very weak reason.  Other than that, the issue was very interesting.  Another Earth-2 stable character is introduced, as well as Mister Terrific from Earth-1 meeting his Earth-2 counterpart, and the meeting is far from amicable.  A great series thus far.  I am a huge fan of writer James Robinson, so despite my objections to Scott’s makeover, I will hear him out on it.

    Enter the Flash

  • Worlds’ Finest #2 again follows excellently on the heels of Earth 2, chronicling the adventures of the exiled Huntress and Powergirl.  We see exactly how Karen Starr makes her money and an interesting connection between their current foe, Hakkou, and the Apokaliptian invasion of their former Earth-2 home.  There also is raised the question of whether the Darkseid they thought they chased through the interdimensional boom-tube to this Earth is the same one who attack our Earth in the first Justice League arc.  Everything about what writer Paul Levitz is doing so far with Worlds’ Finest is fresh, innovative, and interesting.  I love it so much.  Also it doesn’t hurt to have the stunning pencils of two master artists, George Perez and Kevin Maguire.
  • Dial H #2 continues down the rabbit hole of psychedelia.  The plot is so very reminiscent of the British comics put out by Vertigo in the late 80’s/early 90’s by such young turks as Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, and Alan Moore.   The main character, Nelson, explores more forms including Pelican Army, Double Bluff, Hole Punch, Human Virus, Shamanticore, Rancid Ninja, and Iron Snail.  The main plot is interesting and enigmatic, but even were it not, seeing the different identities explored is truly fascinating.   I know that I will continue reading it for that alone.  What does intrigue me in the plot, however, is the appearance of a superpowered woman somehow tied to the dial . . .
  • G.I. Combat #2 was a little slower this month.  The War That Time Forgot storyline was pretty short and straightforward.  There was very little exposition, yet again.  Just lots of scenes of US and North Korean forces battling dinosaurs with tanks, helicopters, and automatic weapons. The Unknown Soldier  story was short as well, but did bear the seed of an interesting plot following a plot by a terrorist group called Crimson Jihad planning a biological attack using teenaged American sleeper agents.  A good series, but not a great one yet.
  • Night Force #4 makes the hump over the halfway mark and things begin to come together in interesting ways.  The demonic forces we have been witnessing are tied to the American Revolution, explaining the beginning of the first issue’s portrayal of George Washington.  The tie of Senator Greene to the cabal is also revealed as is the further involvement of his wife.  The plot is defined well, but the character drama is truly what captivates in this issues especially with the original Night Force agent Donovan’s last moments on this Earth, as well as a look back by Det. Duffy at the moment of his father’s death.  Marv Wolfman is an amazing writer and he delivers another incredible tale of the macabre in this series.
  • Before Watch: Minute Men #1 was pure art.  Coming off of the controversial Before Watchmen banner that has been maligned by some as heresy and lauded by others as potentially the best thing to hit comics in decades, this first installment does it right on several levels.  Just like there would be no Silver Age Flash or Green Lantern or frankly any DC characters without the oft forgotten Golden Age pantheon, without the Minutemen there would be no Watchmen.  These Depression Era heroes were the pioneers that set the stage for the apocalyptic Watchmen to step up towards postponing or hastening Man’s fate.  And what better hands could the title be than those of Darwyn Cooke.  Cooke excels at retro, pre-70’s storytelling.  He captured the spirit of the Golden Age of comics in his revamp of The Spirit, his homage to the Silver Age in his opus DC: The New Frontier, and the gritty crime genre in the 60’s comic adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker novels.  In Minutemen he takes the characters we’ve briefly glimpse in contextual references from Alan Moore’s opus magnum and fleshes them out into fully realized characters that we can understand and relate to.  If this is what DC has in store for us with the rest of their Before Watchmen titles, then nuts to the haters, and bring it on!!!

    Enter Hooded Justice

  • Smallville Season 11 #2 continues the CW television series into another post television “season” with the storyline entitled “Guardian.”  Introducing the character of Hank Henshaw, future Cyborg Superman, the groundwork is laid down for what promises to be a great series.  Lex is, as ever, complex and morally ambiguous, and the supporting cast of characters from the show return as good as ever.  The malfunction in the Russian space station from last issue is explained and another cosmic catastrophe occurs furthering the question of what dangers lie in space . . .

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

Illustration Credits:

Detective Comics #10:  Penciled by Ed Benes, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Rob Hunter

Batwing #10:  Drawn by Marcus To, Colored by Brian Reber, Inked by Ryan Winn

Swamp Thing  #10: Art by Francesco Francavilla

Earth 2 #2: Drawn by Nicola Scott, Colored by Alex Sinclair, Inked by Trevor Scott

Before Watchmen: Minute Men #1: Art by Darwyn Cooke, Colored by Phil Noto


Week 34 (April 25, 2012)

This week has a lot of titles I have been anticipating for a sometime.  That said I have high hopes for this batch of comics. Though it isn’t always the case, it seems that often they save the best for last.  Well let’s see if that statistic holds up.

  • Aquaman #8 continues in the trend of being rather short, but did some good exposition work on this enigmatic team, “The Others”, that Aquaman was part of before the Justice League.  This issue portrays a very different Arthur than what we have seen thus far in the series.  In fact he is much more akin to the Aquaman we’ve seen in the horrendous Justice League title.  Maybe that shows hope that Geoff Johns will stop writing the latter title in such a horrible fashion.  Probably not.  But this series continues to be good, keeping his reputation as a writer “above water”, as it were . . .
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #8 has evolved greatly since the first four issues and shifted into what the title should be: an in depth look at corpsmen and women who exemplify the various Lantern groups they serve.  Coming off the “Invictus” arc, not finishing it mind you, but coming off it into a . . . intermission . . . the issue also performs a secondary task of playing middleman to the other three Green Lantern Family books.  Primarily this issue pertains to the main Green Lantern title where Sinestro has become a Green Lantern again, disbanding and helping to apprehend his former followers of the Yellow Corps, before being abducted to the Indigo homeworld.  In this eighth issue of New Guardians, Sinestro’s chief lieutenant, Arkillo, goes back to Korugar, the Sinestro Corps homeworld, to find that the Corps is no more.  In doing so, he is then put in the position of determining the fate of those remaining who follow the yellow light of Fear.  The issue also segues Munk’s future participation in the “Secrets of the Indigo Tribe” arc in Green Lanterns well as Fatality’s position between the will of the Star Sapphires and her new team, the New Guardians.  This is a fantastic series.  I am glad I hung tight to it through the awkward burgeonings of the first four issues.

    Beware His Power . .

  • Flash #8 was equally phenomenal, and truly an integral issue in setting the nature of the universe according to the Flash.  We’ve been told about the Speed Force that grants Barry his powers as the Flash, as well as the catastrophic consequences attached to his usage of this fundamental energy.  Last issue, Barry was shown going  into the heart of the Speed Force.  From this inside vantage we are shown the true nature of Barry’s connection to it, as well as how it has impacted the history of our planet and its dominant civilizations.  Three villains are depicted herein, two familiar to any Flash fan and the other completely new and very intriguing.  I won’t spoil the fun by telling you who any of them are, but just know that the two veteran ne’er-do-wells are iconic.  And as ever the issues is written and rendered on the page to perfection by the consummate genius of writer/artists Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #8 seemed kind of lost. It didn’t tie into the past seven issues’ main plot line or resolve anything at all from last month.  The only common thread it followed from those past issues is Commissioner Gordon being harassed by Internal Affairs lieutenant, Det. Forbes.   I think part of the schizophrenia here stems from an interim creative team.  Neither Paul Jenkins or David Finch who started the series’ reboot are involved.  The story is written by newcomer Joe Harris and the art is done by Ed Benes of recent Red Lantern fame. Next month Finch appears to be back as artist, but Judd Winick is taking over writing for this issue only, to be followed afterward by Gregg Hurwitz for at least a full arcs worth of stories.  This was an okay issue, but not up to the caliber that the series has displayed the past seven months.
  • Superman #8 was also a little lackluster.  It accomplished several things, but trailed off on others in disconcerting ways.  It did portray the up in the air, chaotic nature of Clark Kent’s life, while also making him seem oafish and un-super.  Check. It did introduce and explore further the history of Lord Helspont of the Deamonites, giving gravitas to his rebooted character.  Check.  What it didn’t do was give any kind of logical conclusion to the issue.  The action just ends inexplicably and equally inexplicably Superman flies away and the conflict drops off with no resolution.  Kind of a noodle scratcher.  I think I liked it, but I’m not 100% certain.
  • The Fury of Firestorm #8 continues to develop a very compelling world that is very evocative of the one we the readers live in.  While it differs greatly from past runs and interpretations of the series and its characters, this iteration deals with nuclear proliferation in a very interesting tangent where human beings are made into living nuclear arsenals, having more power than all of the nuclear weapons of all the countries combined, added onto the fact that these weapons have human intellect and cunning.  This issue furthers that exploration with the addition of a French Firestorm and a British Firestorm: Firehawk and Hurricane.  The aforementioned Joe Harris, who penned this month’s Batman: The Dark Knight, is the new series writer teamed up with co-writer and artist Ethan Van Sciver.  Both men do a stunning job making this series an intellectual action tour-de-force.  I look forward to seeing what they have in store next month.

    Oh-La-La. France just got "hotter."

  • Justice League Dark #8 finishes off its crossover arc with I, Vampire this week and I have to say that I am glad.  I am not the biggest fan of the “Rise of Cain” story arc, nor I, Vampire, so good riddance on both counts.  I will say that as ever the main reason that this issue was good was writer Peter Milligan.  Milligan has been the heart and soul of this series and sadly this is his final issue, with Animal Man and Frankenstein writer Jeff Lemire coming on board next month for the ninth issue.  You could tell in the tone and the subject material that this was a good bye.  Not all of the cast of characters we’ve seen will continue on to the next arc, but despite that this issue provided a wonderful bookend to Milligan’s work and an ideal setup for Lemire to take over.  The past two issues have been drawn by Daniel Sampere, and done beautifully, but next month artist Mikel Janin will return, bringing a note of continuity from the first 6 issues to the next phase of the storytelling.
  • I, Vampire #8 was the usual claptrap.  It featured what I am sure were supposed to be some mind blowing developments in the plot, but since the writer was unable to generate any substantial connection to or importance of the characters, it was just a major case of “Why do I care?”  This will be the last issue of I, Vampire for me.
  • Teen Titans #8 was really good and really set to work rounding out the characters.  The Titans have been captured by N.O.W.H.E.R.E and what’s more, are being groomed for the impending “Culling”, a battle royale thinning of the young metahuman population by the nightmarish entity known as Harvest and his underling, Omen.  The reintroduction of the veteran Teen Titan character, Lilith, also was interesting, as Scott Lobdell really has an epic storyline for this introductory opening arc.  While these youths are imprisoned and prepped for the Culling, Omen and Harvest probe their consciousnesses and lay bare their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and primary drives.  Red Robin is defined and his significance to Harvest’s plot hinted at, Solstice’s history is finally revealed, and the horror of Harvest revealed at the end.  Next week begins the Culling with the Teen Titan Annual. I am excited.
  • Voodoo #8 continues down a really strange path.  Up until quite recently Voodoo seemed like a lost soul looking for righteousness and redemption, but with the reintroduction of the real Priscilla Kitaen its hard to tell where the plot can go from here.  Unless writer Josh Williamson pulls a “Hail Mary” of story telling, its going to be hard to root for the main character of the book when she is so clearly working toward interests counter to those of her readers.  I’m still invested in the story exactly for that reason and as ever Sami Basri’s art is top notch.  This is a great series, but I pray that all this insanity that we are seeing is facilitating something larger.
  • All-Star Western #8 was the last of the DC books I read this week, which is something of a tradition for me.  I look forward to it every month and I find it a fitting tribute to save it for last.  This month’s installment was worth the wait.  Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti create a very authentic Western ambiance in yet another locale that is NOT classically viewed as the West.  Jonah Hex and his Gothamite associate, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham, are in New Orleans tracking down a criminal from Gotham wanted for the abduction of children among other things, and in the mean time they have been drawn into ANOTHER plot, helping the vigilantes Nighthawk and Cinnamon combat xenophobic terrorists bent on murdering the influx of immigrants to the burgeoning “Big Easy.”  Hex has infiltrated them, but the question remains as to how deep he’s gotten in and whether or not he can come back out.  Moritat’s artwork of the series remains one of the most visually stunning of DC’s new lineup, right there with Yanick Paquette in Swamp Thing and Francis Manapul’s Flash. In the backup feature, also written by Gray and Palmiotti, we are given the back story of the vigilante, Cinnamon, from orphan of murdered parents to protege of a wandering samurai to sultry sidekick/paramour of Nighthawk, whom the backup feature introduced us to in last month’s issue.  Patrick Scherberger provides the art here, and he does it with great detail and strong lines.  This issue all together was capital “Q” quality

    Psychopaths In Love

  • Spaceman #6 continues to puzzle me.  So much so that I’m not comfortable giving my impressions, as those impressions might be based on faulty information.  As I said before, the plot jumps between one time period on Earth and another on the planet Mars, and while I believe Mars comes first I can’t prove that, so I am left scratching my head as to how the two correlate and what significance the Martian material has to do with the main plot on Earth.  Eduardo Risso’s artwork is amazing.  That is the most solid thing I can say about it.  Brian Azzarello’s writing is very nuanced and stylized, but the downside of that is that its almost unintelligible like “Clockwork Orange.”  Hopefully next month I can report something more.
  • Green Hornet #24 brings us into the second of six issues in the “Outcaste” arc, and the stakes are perhaps the highest that they have ever been.  The premise of the Green Hornet is that he and his partner Kato are good guys who masquerade themselves as villains to better combat organized crime.  Well as we saw at the end of issue #23, a very well connected man in Century City has exploited that fact by having a fake Green Hornet kill several influential people, not least of whom includes the Mayor himself, allowing for a political vacuum which could spell big trouble for everyone in the municipality.  Britt Jr has worked hard to live up to the legacy of his storied father in both his role as the Publisher of the Sentinel newspaper and as the dreaded Green Hornet.  Now that he has finally gotten to the point where he feels he can live up to it, that same legacy is jeopardized by madmen.  Along the way friendships and connections arduously formed to aid in his crusade begin to unravel.  This is the start of perhaps the best Green Hornet story to date.
  • Warlord of Mars #17 is on the penultimate chapter of the “Gods of Mars” arc.  I am continually amazed by the skill and fidelity that the series shows to the original Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.  I enjoyed the novels so much I thought it would be impossible for the comics to live up to those very evocative stories and images, yet somehow the Warlord of Mars team has done it.   The key scenes and dialogue are all retained, but don’t feel watered down or condensed. The images are all there in stark, vibrant detail.  These are the “Warlord of Mars” novels in full, translated into the comic medium.
  • American Vampire #26 begins a new two part arc entitled “The Nocturnes.”  As ever, writer/creator Scott Snyder really goes out of his way to make this series poignant and excellent.  Its not just about Vampires in America and what they are, but rather what America is or has been, and how that shapes this emerging species of creature into what we’ve seen.  Along those same lines, what really makes this series fun to read is that it started with two main characters and through the very personal storytelling, created a rich cast of side characters who inherit the spotlight as the series progresses.  This storyline deals with our friend, Calvin Poole, from the “Ghost War” arc ten years later in the southlands of Alabama in 1954.  As a taxonomist, he is the perfect mouthpiece to describe to us the evolution of vampires as a species, and as an African American taxonomist the perfect mouthpiece for the evolution of the American culture in the 1950’s.  Roger Cruz takes over the art for series artist Rafael Albuquerque who is working on the backup features for Snyder’s ” Night of the Owls” in the main Batmantitle.  His style is very reminiscent of Albuquerque’s so the issue fits in very neatly to the overall feeling of the series.

    A New Breed

  • The New Deadwardians #2 is shaping up to be a really incredible series.  It reads a lot like a magical amalgam of the shows Downton Abbey and Walking Dead.  Though they still haven’t used the word vampire, Dan Abnett pretty much has it sewn up that this is what the upper class of Britain has undergone to prevent being eaten by the zombie hoards that have infested their country.  In this new world there is a tenuously balance of power among the “Young”, as the vampires call themselves, the “Bright” (the unaltered humans), and the zombie “Restless.”   As of last issue a murder occurs on one of the Young and the three means of killing the young were not utilized.  So the main question becomes what that means, and how that affects their supremacy over the Bright.  This series is yet another example of giving a series a shot.  I hate vampires and zombies and yet I am all about this series.  If you are a fan of PBS and AMC, read this book . . .
  • Kirby Genesis #7 reaches its penultimate chapter.  This series has been incredible and I am sad to see that it is nearing its conclusion.  As I’ve made abundantly clear in the past, Jack Kirby is one of the greatest geniuses of comics, if not the greatest. AS such, so many of his creations were never given their full due and this series has provided a platform for them to be seen again, or in some cases even get their own ongoing series, such as Silver Star, Captain Victory, and Dragonsbane.  All three are incredible series in their own rights, but this main series featured so many other wonders of the Kirbyverse.  I am further saddened that these other concepts will be put back in stasis again.  The Midnight Swan, Garza Nights, and Galaxy Greens are incredible characters and fully worthy of their own series.  Perhaps they will get them.  In the interim, this issue showcased them all in the vivid artwork of Alex Ross and Jack Herbert.  I  look forward to and lament the release of the eighth and final issue

And so ends the month of April’s array of comics. May promises to be even better with an array of new series coming out as well as several Annuals.   See you then . . .

Illustration Credits:

Green Lantern: The New Guardians #8: Drawn by Tyler Kirkham, Colored by Nei Ruffino, Inked by Batt

Fury of Firestorm #8: Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Colored by Hi-Fi

All-Star Western #8: Art by Moritat, Colored by Gabriel Bautista

American Vampire #26: Art by Roger Cruz, Colored by Dave McCaig