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Another ginormous week for Bat-fans.  Which is more than fine with me!  Let’s get to it.

Batman #31

Batman 31

The final act of “Zero Year” is continuing to show us that the superstar creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo bravely walk the fine line between embracing the best of the best in terms of past stories and carving out their own unique vision of an iconic and almost untouchable character.  This issue features what might very well be the very first team-up adventure between Gotham’s terrific trio: Batman, Jim Gordon, and Lucius Fox.  They do so to take on the Riddler and take back their city.  Capullo’s visuals have never been better, and he really showcases his talent by having an entire issue that takes place, uncharacteristically, in broad daylight.  A witty back-and-forth battle of wits between Edward Nygma and Batman is witnessed by the whole city via block-wide TV screens and when Batman pisses off Nygma by telling him he’s not even close to knowing who he is behind his mask, he swallows his pride, gets rid of his shit-eating grin, and simply drops him into a pit full of lions.  But he’s Batman, so he defeats them, embarrasses the villain, and saves the day (thanks to Gordon’s heroic last-minute one-man rescue mission).  So we’ve got two more issues left to put the city back together before the Batman we know and love makes his “true” debut.  And if this issue is any indication, we’re in for a grand finale unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.  But I would be remiss if I let slide the most powerful scene so far in this entire event, though: the math problem, the obnoxious teacher, and a young vandal in the form of Bruce Wayne?  That was beyond powerful.  Well done, guys.  Keep it up!

 

My Rating: 5/5

 

Superman #31

Superman 31

Don’t let the lack of an additional logo on the cover fool you: the “Doomed” saga continues with this issue, introducing a few new ingredients to the already stellar concept.  Superman asks for Lois Lane by name, wanting to clear his name with the media.  Unbeknownst to him, she’s all Brainiacy in secret.  Which, of course, is less than helpful when it call comes right down to it.  Superman admits to Lois (and therefore, the world) that he didn’t actually defeat Doomsday, but is somehow actually transforming into him.  Dr. Ray Palmer and Cyborg are helping the best they can with all of the science-related stuff.  Lex Luthor and Batman are bickering and one-upping one another in regards to what is best for the world at large and Superman respectively.  And there is a poignant scene with Lois and Wonder Woman, the two most important women in Clark’s life.  We even get a hint at things to come with a reference to the top-secret trip to the Phantom Zone (and the various people who came back from said prison).  But nothing much can really be accomplished this issue because Superman has a vision of the Teen Titans in trouble, escapes (because, as he even says: “There is no place on earth, no force anywhere, that can keep me from doing my job.”  But when he arrives and “saves” the young crime fighters from a villain they obviously had under control, they all back away at the orders of Red Robin.  Because, you know, Superman isn’t quite right.  And is actually sort of terrifying.  I can’t wait to see where this goes next.  Scott Lobdell, Ed Benes, and Jack Herbert did a great job with this chapter.  And five issues in, it’s still going strong.

 

My Rating: 5/5

 

Nightwing #30

Nightwing 30

After the events of the soon-to-be legendary Forever Evil finale, we get a mash-up issue extravaganza that is one part epilogue, one part prelude, and all parts awesome.  Rising DC stars Tim Seeley (who I am so glad is finally working for my favorite company) and Tom King set up the upcoming Grayson series in a unique, albeit not-exactly-new-reader-friendly way: he tells a three part story.  Now, I have to admit: I love this type of storytelling when it is done right.  And these guys are good enough writers that they totally pull it off.  But it’s bravery is actually part of its strength, when it comes right down to it.  He starts us off not with Dick Grayson, but rather, Dr. Leslie Thompkins (in, I believe, her New 52 debut).  She is caught in a web (sorry, terrible but necessary pun) of lies, deceit, and danger as she reveals that she might have accidentally revealed Batman’s origin and true identity to the mysterious organization known only as Spyral.  We then flash to a scene with Alfred mourning Grayson’s death and basically being told to move on and let it go by a harsh Batman.  Meanwhile, we see that he is in fact not dead, but actually training for a mission that will save the superhero community once and for all: infiltrate the very group that Leslie fears.  We get some great fight sequences between Bruce and Dick and some excellent dialogue that really fits their characters and their respective motivations.  But the best part of the issue is the lead-in to the next ongoing title: where we see Dick Grayson embracing his inner super spy and taking out various baddies all over the globe and finally being recruited (by a very Huntressesque-looking woman) to the organization in the final pages.  A strange way to end a series, but a great way to build interest in a new one.  All in all, I loved it.  Some might not care for the narrative risks, but true fans will embrace and enjoy the varied art styles of Javier Garron, Jorge Lucas, and Mikel Janin.  Pick this issue up.  It’s going to be hard to find once Grayson #1 hits the stands and sells out.

 

My Rating: 5/5

 

Secret Origins #2

Secret Origins 2

The new stories behind the world’s greatest heroes anthology comic makes another great attempt to bring in readers by putting their very best character in the spotlight (and on the cover).  That’s right.  This issue includes the secret origin of Batman.  Wonderfully written by Ray Fawkes and beautifully illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, we get another glimpse into the final fateful walk down Crime Alley that made young Bruce Wayne into the man he was destined to become.  But it does so by putting a slight twist on the events themselves.  We hear Dr. Thomas Wayne’s final words with the man in shadow, somewhat of a risky move on Fawkes’ part.  “Tell me what you want” becomes a new mantra of sorts for a broken Bruce and not-yet Batman.  The training montage and the references to the events of “Zero Year” are well placed, but it’s really the simplicity of the words and the strength of the narration that prove Fawkes was a good choice for such an important story.  And Nguyen’s artwork is perfectly suited for such a tale.  Jeff Parker and Alvaro Martinez make me reconsider putting Aquaman back on my pull list with their excellent interpretation of the character’s origin.  But not even a great writer like Scott Lobdell or an excellent artist like Paulo Siqueira can save Starfire from being a boring character.  All in all, this is a 2/3 great issue, but those two stories really are near perfection.  Do yourself a favor and pick it up.  The Starfire story is well done, just not anywhere near the quality of the Aquaman or the Batman ones.

 

My Rating: 4.5/5

 

Catwoman #31

Catwoman 31

The continuation of beautiful and fun covers by Terry and Rachel Dodson are a pleasant surprise month-in and month-out for this series.  The unfortunate lack of spirit in terms of how Selina Kyle is written on a monthly basis, however, is less than exciting.  Writer Ann Nocenti needs to go.  We are two parts into the current storyline involving thieves, temporary alliances, back-stabbing double-crosses, and an altogether yawn-fest.  Mirror Master is a fun addition to the cast, albeit temporarily, but it still feels like DC is just letting this title go through the motions.  Ever since Judd Winick left, it’s been lacking something.  The artwork of Patrick Olliffe is pretty good, but nothing can save a bad script from just making it a groan-worthy entry on a resume.  The loose ends are not quite tied up yet, so we’ve still got another part or two until things can play themselves out, but the one saving grace (besides the great covers) is the cliffhanger ending: Selina unofficially working alongside the Gotham Police Department is an intriguing premise.  Hopefully it adds a little spark to an otherwise dull comic in the issues to come.

 

My Rating: 2.5/5

 

Batman Eternal #8

Batman Eternal 8

It is official: Hell has frozen over.  John Layman takes over writing duties (along with the assist from Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley) and doesn’t completely ruin the momentum of the weekly Batman title.  It’s a far cry from great writing, but the artwork of Guillem March helps add a sense of urgency to the pages.  We start off with five wasted pages of Batman being showed being a badass, which we already know to be true.  Then we move to Jason Bard as the central character of the issue, which was a nice change of pace.  And I have to say, I’m liking him more and more.  (Kudos to Layman for writing some good cop dialogue between him and Bullock.)  We get some grumpy Falcone action (with a super creepy exchange between him and Tiger Shark), leading us to a showdown on the rooftop of the Gotham Police Department between the new less-than-good-Commissioner and the Dark Knight.  But before those events, we are treated to another teaser of Stephanie Brown and her awful parents, culminating in a death toll that attracts both Bard and reporter Vicki Vale to the crime scene.  Later, on the rooftop, Batman is saved by a seemingly bumbling Bard, proving that he was handpicked by Gordon for a reason.  But we’ll have to wait and see what said reason is, because Batman is following a lead to Hong Kong, where a sexy woman is watching him enter a Bat-free zone.  Who is she?  I’m sure we’ll find out soon.

 

My Rating: 3/5

 

The New 52: Futures End #4

Futures End 4

This whole issue seemed like a hodgepodge of unrelated stories that are just grasping at straws to connect.  The saving grace, however, is that all of the stories (if removed and separated from one another) are all actually well done and intriguing in their own right.  Series writers Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Jeff Lemire, and Dan Jurgens are joined by artist Aaron Lopresti in another installment of the confusing but enthralling weekly DC event comic.  As the cover suggests, Frankenstein meets up with Amethyst, who is now working for S. H. A. D. E. (and Dr. Ray Palmer) on a way to save the world and prevent the death of Stormwatch from being in vain.  Then we see Tim Drake (with a knee brace) on a morning jog with a ladyfriend and witnessing the debut of Batman Beyond on the big screen, all being watched by Lois Lane.  Then we’ve got a scene with some D-list villains planning to rob Mr. Terrific.  And finally, we are brought back into the world of Grifter as he continues to fight his one-man war against all potential alien invaders, but this time around he gets bested by the likes of King Faraday who, if the events of this series are being completely truthful, is less than heroic.  Like I said, a lot going on, and individually all of these events are fun and have a great deal of potential, but a little more linking would be nice.  I’m assuming that will start happening in the next couple of issues.  If not, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.

 

My Rating: 3/5

 

Suicide Squad #30

Suicide Squad 30

The final issue of Suicide Squad is actually more of an epilogue to Forever Evil (and Justice League of America, to be completely honest) and a lead-in to the New Suicide Squad series debuting in a couple of months.  Sean Ryan writes and Andre Coelho draws an above-average issue that still comes off a little bit like a lackluster finale.  The characters on the cover (excluding Deadshot and Black Manta) don’t even appear in this issue.  Not a lot of closure there, which is disappointing.  But the new status quo of both the Squad and their leader, Amanda Waller, is quite amazing.  Seeing the Wall put in her place by, well, everyone, was fun to see.  And the fact that Deadshot has the utmost faith in the American government that he’ll not only be released, but be put back into the Squad was bordering on hysterical.  The best part, though, was when Black Manta goes ape-shit and gets himself arrested (after a Presidential pardon, no less) for the sole purpose of joining the new Squad.  That’s right.  He wants to be a bad guy doing bad things for the good guys.  He needs a purpose.  So consider me interested in seeing where this goes next.  Why it’s renumbering with a new number one is beyond me, but I’ll bite.  See you all when New Suicide Squad #1 hits the shelves.  It’s got a lot to live up to.

 

My Rating: 3.5/5

 

And there you have it.  Agree?  Disagree?  Looking forward to some cancellations, endings, and new beginnings?  Let me know your thoughts!

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