This was a rather light week on my pull list. Only a couple things came out and even fewer of merit. Obviously Batman is one of my top monthly picks right alongside Superman/Wonder Woman.Nightwing, Green Lantern Corps, and Superboy have been quality titles. Coffin Hill is hanging by the thinnest of threads, falling short of the other titles in Vertigo’s new lineup of titles. However, The Royals comes out this week, also from the Vertigo Comics imprint, presenting a very intriguing concept. Here’s how they stacked up:
Batman #28has writer Scott Snyder taking yet another break from the current storytelling to tell a tangent story that introduces his Batman Eternal series which hits stores in April. While the unexpected hiatus is annoying after last issue’s tense cliffhanger, the story is intriguing and whets the readers appetite for what to expect from this weekly title, out in two months. Beginning with Harper Row on the mean streets of Gotham after an imposed curfew, she is caught by the cops and taken to a very swanky night club. From here Scott Snyder introduces the atmosphere Gotham is living under. Some mystery condition has beset Gotham, viral or other, that necessitates a cure which the owner of this club has sole access to. The club’s owner and kingpin of the Gotham crime underground is another intriguing twist that maintains Snyder’s reputation as one of the emerging Batman writers of the new millennium. For me personally, there were two elements of the plot that excited me and put my frustration at not getting closure from last issue’s cliffhanger to bed. The first one comes in the form of Harper Row. Harper was introduced by Snyder early on in the rebooted Batman title and then slowly brought to the forefront. She is an incredible, alternative young woman that is intelligent, quick witted, and tough as nails. It was really looking like she was going to be the new Robin following the heartrending departure of Damian Wayne. This is not the case, and while Batman said he wouldn’t allow her into the fold, she does enter the fold in a Robin-esque role, but not under the nom-de-guerre of Batman’s Boy Wonder legacy, of which two girls were once a part. That actually works well for me, because Harper is very different from the other kid sidekicks Batman’s worked with. She is an alternative teen with dyed hair, a septum piercing, and a very distinct style. For all their differences in social class, background, and motivations, Dick, Jason, Tim, Damian, and Barbara all seemed to be different shades of conventionality. Harper is a bird of a different color, both figuratively and nominally with the heroic identity she dons in this issue. What I think really hits for me with Harper is that vast majority of young women I know that are hardcore into the Batman titles are remarkably similar to Harper, not really mirroring Barbara or any of the other female members of the Bat Family. Harper is just really cool and a perfect fit in the re-imagining of the Batman mythos. Apropos the mentioning of female members of the Bat Family and batgirls, the second element of Batman #28 that got me giddy was the introduction of Stephanie Brown, current Spoiler and “once and future” Batgirl, to the New DCU. Dustin Nguyen provides art on the book and does a great job capturing the darkly elegant underworld of the criminal elite in this issue. It’s like a blast from the past back to his days on Batman: Streets of Gotham. Overall a really great issue that has me primed for Batman Eternal.
Enter Bluebird . . .
Superman/Wonder Woman #5 continues the title in the vein with which it began last October. Superman and Wonder Woman are very similar, but also very different. The title has been very Super-centric, having mostly dealt with Supes and his pantheon of characters, i.e. Doomsday, Cat Grant, and Zod and Faora. While there was a shirt interlude of Superman going toe-to-toe with Wonder Woman’s dickish older brother, Apollo, her world has been in the background for most of the previous four issues. In this we see her visit Themyscira to “speak” with her mother and sisters Amazons whom the gods turned to stone. She looks to them for counsel considering her attempt to reconcile the differences between her worldview and Superman’s. It’s really fascinating, because if you look at each from the other’s perspective you see diametric differences that almost cast the other in a questionable light. Wonder Woman comes from a proud race that exalt their strength and extraordinary qualities. Clark comes from a humble Midwestern upbringing that espoused moderation and humility. Seeing eye-to-eye is a struggle that they both wrestle with and Wonder Woman’s journey to do so is very honest in this issue, exposing her inner virtues as well as some not so flattering prejudices. However, while these musings go on, Superman is fending off General Zod and his recently emancipated lover, Faora, whom Zod pulled from the Phantom Zone at the end of last month’s issue. Once he is rejoined by Wonder Woman, you get a “mirror darkly” collision of two couples, one altruistic and noble and the other sinister and brutal. That is not the only difference, however, as Superman and Wonder Woman are not well suited to fighting side by side, but Zod and Faora are as one and fight like linked appendages of a single body and mind. Working as they are it becomes clear that Superman and Wonder Woman need to regroup. The writing and art on this book are superb and at the top tier of any books being put out by any comic company. Charles Soule is amazing and Tony Daniel’s artwork is some of the best being produced. This title is well worth the cover price for anyone that like Superman, Wonder Woman, or good character driven comics.
Nightwing #28 is a beginning of the end for this title. With only two more issues before its conclusion writer Kyle Higgins is starting to wrap up the final notes of his narrative of Dick Grayson’s journey as Nightwing. Tony Zucco, his parent’s murderer, is finally in prison and Dick concludes his associations with Sonia Branch, Zucco’s daughter and ambiguous love interest to Dick. The parting is bittersweet, because while Sonia is a high power businesswoman who isn’t always straightforward, she is a good woman who has always looked out for Dick and I think genuinely cared about him. With Nightwing’s revealing to the world that Zucco was alive and part of a corrupt mayoral administration in Chicago Sonia was let go of her job as a bank executive, owing to the bad press. These developments leave Dick in a state of ennui that quickly transitions with the sudden murder of a couple that live in his building. The couple’s daughter, Jen, had stumbled across Nightwing’s paraphernalia in Dick’s room and discovered his identity. After her parent’s death she asks Dick to help and tells him she knows he’s Nightwing. He tries to pretend that she is imagining things, with disastrous results. The dynamic become almost the same as his when his parents were murdered and he tried to get Batman to help him. However, with the imminent cancellation of the title it’s not likely this relationship will reciprocate his with Bruce Wayne/Batman. Kyle Higgins has been on this title since the first issue and terminates with next month’s #29 issue. It’s a shame that he wasn’t able to make it through all 30 issues of the regular series, but unfortunately that is how the cookie crumbles. His run has been solid, character-driven, and a keen, thoughtful look into the life of Dick Grayson. His excellent writing has kept me reading the title, despite Dick being the the most “vanilla” Robin in my opinion. Higgins made me care, and for those that love Dick I can only imagine how great this series has been. It is uncertain what the future holds for Nightwing, but for two more months we’ve got him. Here’s hoping they are a good two months.
Green Lantern Corps #28 begins an arc entitled “The Hunt for Von Daggle.” With the larger event of the Durlan crusade against the Green Lantern Corps looming large over the GL family of books, locating the person of Von Daggle becomes a key front in the supremacy of that conflict. Daggle is a Durlan that broke from the Ancient’s control and became a member of the Green Lantern Corps years prior. Now in deep cover and gone to ground after the fall of the Guardians, he is a person whose loyalty could turn the tides of war in favor of those with whom he chooses to align himself. Obviously the Durlans are not his favorite people to begin with, and though he would be welcomed back with open arms should he choose to return, why would he? Conversely, the Guardians (rot in Hell) were equally awful and exploitative, leading him to break ties with the Corps after the fall of central authority. Robert Venditti and Van Jensen have been working closely to tie the two core books of the Green Lantern line close together and the universal landscape they paint is quite troubling, in the best way possible. The Corps is facing a MESS! The Durlans have blindsided them with devastating blows. They stuck deep at the heart of the Corps’ sense of security, blowing up their central command center on their new homeworld, Mogo, and vastly, striking numerous Corps chapterhouses throughout the 3600 sectors. Even more devastating, a Durlan impersonating Hal Jordan revealed to the Universe that the rings the various Lanterns wear drain the universal reservoir of light and that the Green Lanterns will not cease to use their rings, but stop anyone else from draining that same energy they are squandering. Their plan is genius and it leaves the Green Lanterns with both feet knocked out from underneath them. These devastating blows may have been a death stroke, but for two serendipitous developments: 1) the turning of the Corps worst enemies against their Durlan benefactors in favor of the Green Lanterns, and 2) the existence of Von Daggle, who could tell them all they need to know about taking the fight to the Durlans. Jensen and Venditti have made the Green Lantern books once again a family of titles worth reading.
Coffin Hill #5is a series which I want to get behind. Lord knows Inaki Miranda’s art is awesome. The plot in a hypothetical way is very good. I mean if I were to make a rough synopsis of what is going on currently in the title, the backstory, and the general concept it sounds great. I think Caitlin Kittredge is just having difficulty making it come off. Eve Coffin is a hard protagonist to relate to, because Kittredge has given us little in the way of understanding her. She was an angsty teenager who was raised in affluence as part of the venerable Coffin family of Coffin Hill, apparently descended from a fable witch of “Coffin Hill.” Her and her friends cast a spell in the woods in 2003, but apart from her waking up afterward and finding her one friend naked and covered in blood and the other completely MIA, we don’t know anything about what happened. She became a cop in Boston, got shot by someone who Kittredge heavily infers has a history with Eve. Do we know that history? Not at all. Whenever there is something that could possibly shed light on who Eve Coffin is or why we should cut her slack for her annoyingly angsty demeanor, Kittredge pulls the “dog treat” away to tease us. Eve’s surviving friend, Melanie, has woken from her decade long coma, but fallen victim to a demonic possession. This is an interesting, though slow moving development. What is lacking is something for the reader to latch onto. Perhaps all these story elements are best held off until a later date, but again, if you withhold substantial bits of exposition from your readers like the proverbial dog treat they will eventually bite your hand or just lose interest and wander off. I can’t say that I can strongly recommend this title to anyone. Right now it is horrendously plotted and shoddily written.
The Royals: Masters of War #1 launches yet another groundbreaking Vertigo miniseries. The Royals: Masters of War begins in 1940 during the height of the Blitz. Britain’s royal family live opulently behind the walls of their palace while the rest of the country endures of the horrors of the the war with Germany. However, in this world, due to divine right and purity of blood, the royal families of the world have superpowers. Writer Rob Williams creates a very intriguing alternate reality with The Royals that hones old superstition and traditionalism into compelling storycraft. In the history of his series, the French and Russian Revolutions, as well as other depositions occurred specifically because the powered Royals had forgotten their place and lorded their powers over the unpowered masses. The current king of England was born without
The Old Order
powers and spread the rumor that his three children were born without them as well. They were not, which sets the stage for our story during Britain’s critical moment in WWII. Royals DO NOT participate in warfare. This is a modern gentleman’s agreement that is honored, regardless of whether said royal has powers of not. King Albert is weak, his eldest son and heir to the throne, Prince Arthur, is a debauch wastrel, with a mean streak when he has imbibed. The king’s twins and youngest children, Prince Henry and Princess Rose, are raised with their heads in the clouds and only small whisperings of the conflict at large. Deciding to venture outside the walls of the Palace both witness the full horrors of the German bombing of their countrymen. For Henry it is far too much to bear and he clandestinely enters the war, downing scores of planes with his bare hands. With this GIANT breach of international etiquette the floodgates are opened for the remaining Royals to enter the fray. The artwork by Simon Coleby is very somber and robust, almost seeming like Edwardian paintings, which adds a good deal of ambiance to the title. Rob Williams’ writing is austere and candid, paying the respect to the British Crown one would expect, but the honesty of the characters that live under it. Just a fantastic beginning to a very promising new series from Vertigo.
The New Order
A light week, but a very decent batch of excellent comics.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Batman #28: Drawn by Dustin Nguyen, Colored by John Kalisz, Inked by Derek Fridolfs.
Superman/Wonder Woman #5: Drawn by Tony S. Daniel, Colored by Tomeu Morey, Inked by Sandu Florea & BATT.
Green Lantern Corps #28: Art by Bernard Chang, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo.
Royals: Masters of War #1: Art by Simon Coleby, Colored by JD Mettler.
This first week of March brings together a very decent batch of comics to kick off the month’s crop. Superman #17 concludes the massive “H’el on Earth” event, Green Lantern #18 brings the “Wrath of the First Lantern” into the Realm of the Dead, Green Arrow #18 strides on towards redeeming the title, Swamp Thing and Animal Man FINALLY get their true conclusion to the “Rot World” crossover, and Before Watchmen: Rorschach also reaches its conclusion. So much ending and so much marching on. Here it goes:
Superman #17 was a little late, but delivered a blowout finale to the “H’el on Earth” crossover event. At issue’s beginning NOTHING is going the right way for the heroes of Earth. H’el’s craft has been fueled by the Sun’s electromagnetic field, which if not returned immediately would cause our solar system to collapse in on itself, ergo the Oracle arrival to witness the death of our world. A high paced, thrill-a-minute issue, there is very little that can be said that doesn’t spoil the amazing events chronicled and concluded within. What can be said is that the Justice League here is written head and shoulders above the team’s portrayal in their flagship title by Geoff Johns. It’s almost like comparing a college thesis to a first grade science report. Maybe now that Lobdell is on the verge of leaving Red Hood and the Outlaws he can take over Justice League and salvage it like he did Superman. Lobdell truly shows his brilliance throughout this “H’el on Earth” event and artist Kenneth Rocafort draws it gorgeously in his incomparably style. Literally, there is nothing that resembles is artwork in detail or in the surreal ambiance it elicits. Truly A-grade material.
Green Lantern #18focuses almost entirely on Hal and Sinestro’s current exile in the “Dead Zone.” There have been little snippets alluding to the fate of the two Lanterns after being sucked into the black ring at the end of the Green Lantern Annual this past August, but this issue finally reveals what the Dead Zone is, why they are there, and what its relevance to the existence of the First Lantern are. As these last issues of the four Green Lantern titles progress, it is getting more and more apparent that the end is nigh. The fundamental forces of the Universe are the enemies that dog our heroes as they progress toward that apocalyptic event that will be Green Lantern #20, out this May, and the end of the Green Lantern Universe as we’ve known it since 2005. Simon Baz and Sinestro find their places in the coming showdown with Volthoom, the First Lantern, but Hal’s is perhaps the most frightening. In the aforementioned Green Lantern Annual there was a prophesy in the Book of the Black that Hal Jordan will be the greatest Black Lantern. This issue caps off on the precipice (literal and figurative) of his fulfilling that prediction. Geoff Johns started this series from Rebirth like a rocket and it’s still soaring high with this phenomenal issue. Series artist Doug Mahnke, who has been on the title since 2009 is absent this issue, replaced by Adrian Syaf, who draws the real world segments, and Szymon Kudranski, whose eerie art style aptly provides the Dead Zone portion. Overall the issue tantalizes and informs in wonderful, captivating fashion.
Detective Comics #18accomplishes two monumental things. Firstly, and to lesser degree issue-wise, this installment of Detective Comics tells us that DC is playing for keeps with the death of Damian Wayne last week in Batman Incorporated #8. It comprises a very small part of the plot, but the small scene of Bruce visiting the grave of his son is very powerful. This is a man who buried his parents at a very young age, and now as an adult man scarred by that traumatic event and having dedicated his life to preventing such tragedies from happening again, he has to bury his ten year old son with whom he was just beginning to bond on a level I doubt he has since losing his parents. Writer John Layman hints all of this beautifully in a mere two pages comprised of nine panels. Brilliant. The rest of the issue is dedicated to the aftermath of the Penguin’s part in the “Death of the Family” storyline. Whisked away by the Joker, Penguin has been away from his empire and his holdings for a little too long and left them in the overly capable, but equally untrustworthy hands of his chief lieutenant, Ignatius Oglivy. Layman presented in the first issues of his run the establishment of himself as Gotham’s favorite son once again. With that image, he keeps Batman at bay, preventing him from bringing punitive action against Penguin for his part in the Joker’s plot. However, with his wealth and holdings withdrawn he is not able to evade Batman in the ways he had previously enjoyed. Oglivy and Batman constitute two rivals whose indefatigability finally break the Penguin as he has never been broken before. For those who view the Penguin as a keystone Batman villain, this first arc by John Layman tells a massive Penguin epic that promises to be one for which he will be remembered for years to come. In the backup feature with art by guest artist Henrik Jonsson, Victor Zsasz gets his origin told for the first time, cementing his place in the New DCU canon. Integrally tied into his origin is the Penguin, playing a part in his ruination that led him into the psychotic breakdown that lead to his obsession with chronicling his kills. Their past and Penguin’s current state of vulnerability waxes ominous for Oswald Cobblepot in future issues of Detective. Time will tell where and how far the Penguin will fall.
Requiem for a Robin
Before Watchmen: Rorschach #4was, in my opinion, a little bit of a let down. The series had promise as a blunt, hard edged look into an episode of Rorschach’s life that best exemplified his core essence. Maybe that was the point and it just goes to show how pointless and nihilistic our modern society is. Azzarello started the series out with a killer of women called the “Bard” carving poetry into the dead bodies of his victims. On the other side of things, Rorschach goes up against a criminal kingpin called “Rawhead” owing to the massive scarring on his head from Vietnam. In between fights with the underworld, Rorschach meets a cute waitress at his favorite all night restaurant, the Gunga Diner and they make plans to go on a date. This waitress, Nancy, is approached by a man we know immediately to be the Bard at the end of the third issue. Logically one would assume that there would be a connection, even a tertiary one, between Rawhead and the Bard so as to facilitate the two things happening at the same time. Azzarello does not deliver on that and it is rather trite and arbitrary, which may be realistic, but is far from literary or cinematic, making the story fall apart at the end with little to walk away with. Lee Bermejo doesn’t disappoint throughout all four issues and is the only consistently quality factor.
Swamp Thing #18 is the true conclusion to the “Rot World” event as well as Scott Snyder’s run on the title. Scott Snyder is the one who truly got this series off the ground and imbued it with the genius that made it the success it was. Creating with Jeff Lemire the idea of the Red to go alongside the concept of the Green which Swamp Thing has served since the 80’s, as well as taking perrenial Swamp Thing antagonist Anton Arcane and molding him and his into the avatars of a third force, the Rot, Synder has reimagined and reinvigorated what was once an incredible title into an even more complex, engaging series. With the help of the Parliament of Rot, Swamp Thing and Animal Man are sent through a portal through the very fabric of death itself back to before Anton Arcane finished his bid to turn our world into Rot World. In this way, Alec Holland is returned to Abby before her uncle can kill her. And by that same token he is able to actualize in her the potential for which she was born and that which will prevent the Rot from inheriting the Earth. This issue was truly spectacular, with both triumphant events readers have been anticipating for almost two years and tragic events they’ve been fearing to witness. Scott Snyder crescendoes with this final issue of his run, nailing it down and assuring the continued survival and success of the title while also adding his name to the list of visionaries who have been custodian of it, namely Len Wein and Alan Moore. Artist Yanick Paquette also concludes his run on the series, which was another factor that led to its success. His floral panels made in nonlinear layouts made the title free flowing and organic looking. His depiction of Abby Arcane was both strong and sensual which taken with Snyder’s writing made her a captivating heroine. Paquette also drew the warrior king version of Swamp Thing which quite frankly dwarfs anything that had come before it. This run, now ended, was one that will have its legacies and be remembered as one of the best runs on this very underutilized property.
Death Never Looked So Beautiful
Animal Man #18was less of a conclusion to “Rot World” than its sister issue in Swamp Thing. Buddy Baker, the Animal Man, is sent back by the Parliament of Rot, like Alec Holland, to the moment that would precipitate the downfall of the Red. In so doing he saves his daughter, the true avatar of the Red, but loses something ewually important to him. Jeff Lemire is staying on the title so he does not wrap up his story with this issue, so perhaps it didn’t have that dynamite ending, but it also was the weaker of the two titles. Also Steve Pugh’s art has never been anything to write home about. This will probably be the last single issue of this series I will buy.
Earth 2 #10returns to the realm of Nabu and the revelations of Khalid Ben-Hassin’s past concerning the Helmet of Fate, housing the power of Nabu. Wotan has been hired to obtain this artifact for an unknown group and kidnapped Khalid as those with him at the time, Jay Garrick and his mother, to be used as hostages to assure his cooperation in procuring the Helm. On the other side of the world (hard to say) Alan Scott mourns the death of his boyfriend, Sam Zhao, and learns that his death was not collateral damage, but actually the reason for the deadly train crash. Writer James Robinson maintains his reputation of excellence with a very engrossing plot that is its own self contained universe and continuity. Nicola Scott’s art continues to be gorgeous, making the characters spring from the page. Well worth the read.
Worlds’ Finest #10is very much likened to Detective Comics #18 above, as it continues its ongoing plot while at the same time taking a moment to pay tribute to the departure of Damian Wayne. Though they met only briefly, Helena still felt like Damian was her little brother and his death pangs right alongside the deaths of her mother and father, the Catwoman and Batman of Earth 2. But, as Batman taught her when she was still Robin, one soldiers on. Helena breaks into Michael Holt’s laboratory after the aforementioned industrialist and ex-boyfriend of Karen Starr (Power Girl) sent a mercenary group to Karen’s island laboratory/home. While Huntress employs stealth and planning, Power Girl unleashes a biblical list of calamities upon a handful of Holt facilities with careless abandon that imperils the lives of scores of people. The end brings about a curve ball that may prove enlightening considering all that has transpired between the two Earths. Paul Levitz is amazing, truly, and Kevin Maguire renders his script (solo this month) with his usual ease.
An Older Sister’s Lament
Batwing #18picks up from the tense cliffhanger from last month’s installment with the Chinese mercenary, Sky Pirate, “nuking” Batwing’s hideout and the civilian side of Batwing, Police Inspector David Zavimbe, facing off against his former childhood friend, Racheal Niamo, now the mercenary named Dawn. This issue shows the cost taking a stand against corruption can have in an environment as corrupt as the Congo. David Zavimbe is facing off against hell as he tries to prove that justice can’t be bought or traded for any price. With only one more issue to go in his run on the title Fabian Nicieza is pulling out all the stops and making this a must read title on the periphery of the core Bat-books.
Green Arrow #18gives us the second issue of the new and improved Green Arrow title. Oliver Queen has been dealt a really rough hand. His company has been seized, he’s lost his wealth, he’s been framed for the murder of his father’s friend and the corporate regent of Queen Industries, Henry Emerson, and what’s more, he’s been marked for death by a black archer known as Komodo with ties to both the island he was marooned on as well as his father’s past. In this issue we learn the identity of Komodo as well as a little inkling of what he is after. In the meantime, Oliver gets more hints as to his father’s past that by no means come anywhere close to answering the most pressing questions facing him. Only the eyeless mystery man, Magus, knows what is truly happening and as is usually the case with such enigmatic figures, withholds information, telling Oliver to go to Black Mesa, Arizona to get the answers he seeks. Another departure from the first sixteen issues, is the descent into rock solid reality. The events within have consequences that cannot be written away nor held at bay. In this issue especially, writer Jeff Lemire shows that he is playing for keeps with dark, horrific events precipitating a very ominous future for the Emerald Archer. Jeff Lemire is in rare form with these first two issues and Andrea Sorrentino’s art finds a complimentary place with a title in need of its stark, shaded lines.
Komodo Claims Another Green Arrow Ally
Phantom Stranger #6continues on the the Stranger’s quest to locate his kidnapped family. His first stop last issue was an all out brawl with the Specter. This issue has him going to Las Vegas in search of them and getting involved in a card game with the three sons of Trigon: Belial, Ruskoff, and Suge. The main body of the issue is like a telecast of the World Poker tournament. The story reveals the characters of the demonic brothers as well as the Stranger himself through their playing of the game, but doesn’t advance the overall plot very far. The ending, however, is quite intriguing and terrifying if one is a fan of the series. Dan Didio has done a very good job of taking this nebulous, very alien character from the DC pantheon and re-imagining him in a manner that both maintains his integrity and makes him relatable to the reader at the same time. With the Trinity War on the horizon this series promises to be a keystone title in the future of the New DCU.
Smallville: Season Eleven #11continues the “Haunted” story arc with Clark and Bart attempting to find the answer to the Black Flash and how to stop the Speed Storms that are springing up in Bart’s wake, killing innocent people. The duo go to meet Jay Garrick, the old member of the Justice Society, and the first speedster of the modern era. His forecast for what is to come in not encouraging and all signs point to the death of Bart to allay the death toll. But of course Clark will find a way. On the other side of the Multiverse, we go to Earth 2 and see how Chloe Sullivan from that world is the sole survivor of so many other meteor freaks. Also how, despite his relationship with Lois Lane, Chloe seduced Oliver Queen. Between the two of them, they may even be able to topple the super-powered despot, Clark Kent, aka Ultraman. Bryan Q. Miller keeps the Smallville series alive not only adding to the mythos of the show, but building upon it and answering questions posed in its early seasons, seemingly left to the wind with the cancellation after Season 10. And yet it goes on, and brilliantly so.
Legends of the Dark Knight #6presents three more tales of the Dark Knight. The first one written by Jeff Parker and entitled “Gotham Spirit” shows Batman putting down a liquor store robbery. Reading it one wonders why you even bothered. There is nothing poignant or out of the ordinary about it. Maybe that’s the point. You can’t always have a Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze, or Joker causing trouble. Sometimes its just procedural. That may be the point, but it wasn’t really what someone picks up a comic to read. The next story written and drawn by Michael Avon Oeming tells of Batman fighting a dragon in the sewers beneath Gotham. Yes you read that correctly, a real, honest to goodness dragon, complete with scales, teeth, and leathern wings. Only the fire is missing from this mythic beast. However, its not quite as mythic as it seems, but rather engineered by a man for Killer Croc. Croc wanted something that was his that he could love and would love him in return, like a man and his faithful dog, so he could salvage something real. Even Batman can’t help but be moved by the pathetic nature of Croc’s wish. The third and final story in this issue has the Penguin hiring a supernatural old man to take out his competition. From his white suit to his full on albinic pallor, this man is perhaps one of the most unsettling characters to grace a Batman comic, and as the story progresses that assertion is proved ten times over. Even Batman doesn’t fully grasp the horrors he represents. That Batman can withstand them proves that the Dark Knight is a master of his own inner terror. As ever, hit and miss vignettes for the mythology of Batman, but well done.
So ends the first month of March with an encouraging handful of truly excellent comics.
Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to any of these images and give credit to those whose work they are.
Green Lantern Annual #1: Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Colored by Hi-Fi
Detective Comics #18: Art by Jason FAbok, Colored by Jeromy Cox
Swamp Thing #18: Art by Yanick Paquette, Colored by Nathan Fairbairn
Worlds’ Finest #10: Art by Kevin Maguire, Colored by Rosemary Cheetham
Green Arrow #18: Art by Andrea Sorrentino, Colored by Marcelo Maiolo