Happy Baturday, everyone! Before we get started, let me just say that you should all do yourselves a favor and go buy or rent Son of Batman. It’s a fun watch. Different from the source material, but very true to the spirit of the characters and the story itself. Well, there’s that little plug out of the way. Now to the reviews.
Batman Eternal #6
Writer Ray Fawkes takes center stage (along with Batwing and the Spectre) in this week’s issue. Co-writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Tim Seeley help out, along with one of my favorite artists, Trevor McCarthy in a spooky tale that delivers just about as much chaos as the excellent Andy Kubert cover promises. Batwing and Batman team up to take down the Gentleman Ghost, and Jim Corrigan pays a visit to Bruce Wayne shortly thereafter. We then get to see just how much insanity is going on beneath Arkham Asylum in the form of a well-executed cameo by Joker’s Daughter. Then, outside of the Asylum, we see Batwing meeting up with Corrigan to storm the gates and see just what evil lurks inside, while Batman witnesses some vehicular explosiveness in the streets of Gotham City due to otherworldly forces. The artwork is beautiful and perfectly adds to such a supernatural feel. I can’t wait to see Corrigan transform into the Spectre. I can’t wait to see Luke Fox finally get his due (even though his own book is quite excellent). And most of all, it’ll be great to see the potentially terrifying Joker’s Daughter work her evil magic. Maybe even literally. Great stuff!
My Rating: 5/5
The New 52: Futures End #2
The zero issue was fun. The first issue was great. And the second issue was, well, a bit of a misstep. Series writers Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire continue their futuristic tale of superheroics with the somewhat inconsistent artwork of otherwise capable Jesus Merino. We see that Mr. Terrific is not only boring (thanks a lot, New 52), but also kind of a jerk now. Jason Rusch and Ronnie Raymond continue to bicker, even after growing up slightly. And Batman Beyond continues his sassy back-and-forth banter with A. L. F. R. E. D. while he tries to figure out a way to make the best of his bad situation. But a majority of the issue deals with, as the cover suggests, the funeral of Green Arrow. Animal Man gives a decent eulogy, albeit one that seems a bit uncharacteristic. Apparently they grew close in Justice League United. Which is strange, because that’s quite possibly one of the worst comics DC’s put out in years. The issue ends with Red Arrow being punched out by Firestorm, confirming that the two are essentially Guy Gardner with different powers. Then Lois Lane appears, at the very end, with a mysterious letter from Roy Harper, leading to what I can only assume will be yet another plot thread. Which there are starting to be far too many of for only two (technically three) issues in. Come on, guys. Figure out the pacing before you lose us all.
My Rating: 3/5
Worlds’ Finest #23
Speaking of pacing and losing the audience, Worlds’ Finest is by far the biggest culprit in the entire Batman line. “First Contact” ended with the two meeting their “other Earth” family members and deciding to find a way back to Earth 2. Neat. But they’re not there yet. And Desaad is still lurking in the shadows, which he has been doing for what seems like years now. Power Girl is absolutely boring in the New 52 and really serves no purpose outside of her costume and powers. Sad, but true. Huntress is slightly more interesting, and you can really tell that series writer (and character creator) Paul Levitz also feels this way. Her dialogue is a saving grace each and every month. The art team of R. B. Silva and Yildray Cinar is a genuine delight, but the action falls a bit flat with a storyline that is already starting to drag a bit only one issue in. The worst part about this series isn’t the fact that the characters are boring. The worst part about this series is the fact that the creative team and its two female leads seem to just be going through the motions until the next inevitable crossover event. Let’s get this over with and put them back on Earth 2 already. It’s time.
My Rating: 3/5
I am the first to admit that I am absolutely beyond thrilled to admit that I not only bought, but actually enjoyed two issues written by Gail Simone. In a row. I don’t want to jinx it, folks, but I think she’s finally back. Ragdoll, as drawn by Fernando Pasarin, is every bit as creepy and wacky as he was back in the Secret Six days of old. (Also penned, quite well, mind you, by Simone.) Batgirl’s roommate is up to no good and doing some general shenanigans all in the name of social justice when Ragdoll shows up as a contracted killer. Bad deal. We then get a glimpse of the usually-terrible life of Barbara Gordon when she visits her boyfriendish type dude, who informs her that he is suing her dad for shooting him. Neat. Then we get some more fantastic and genuinely terrifying scenes with Ragdoll doing what he does best: stare into the souls of his victims while making comments that walk the line between hilarious and wildly disturbing. Batgirl shows up just in time to defeat him, but goes a bit far with the beat-down, when Ragdoll explains that he wasn’t actually going to kill them. And they were actually criminals themselves. Not to mention, that they were played. To which we are treated with a clever ending with the villain taking his final revenge for being played himself. Good stuff, team. Keep it up.
My Rating: 4/5
Superman: Doomed One-Shot
Thank God. What timing? I literally just did a call for action for good Superman writing. And lo and behold: Here it is! “Doomed” begins with a one-shot that has Ken Lashley finally taking center stage and giving us all an action-packed comic with great visuals to match the writing talents of the rest of the Superman team. Scott Lobdell, Charles Soule, and Greg Pak rock the dialogue and nail the pacing, not to mention the characterization. They should co-write more. Seriously. Good work, guys. Doomsday is scary again. Superman is actually super again. And the reintroduction of Lana Lang is a welcome bonus. It was nice to see her and Lois Lane working (soon to be reluctantly, no doubt) together, while Clark Kent patches things up with Perry White at the Daily Planet… where he truly belongs. We then get a superhero team-up between Wonder Woman, Steel, and Superman himself against the titular monster, which ends in a brutal draw. That’s where the Justice League (and Lex Luthor, surprise surprise) enter the game. Lex suggests that Supes fight Doomsday off-world, which he does, but not before giving Batman a key to the Fortress of Solitude in one of the most heartfelt Superman sequences in recent memory. But things don’t end well, and it looks like Clark’s battle with Doomsday didn’t go quite as well as planned. Those final pages are every bit as brutal as the “Death of Superman” story was. But wait… There’s more…
My Rating: 5/5
Action Comics #31
We didn’t have to wait very long. Not sure if it’s a scheduling error, or someone was late, or what, but we got three crossovers in order this week. Neat! Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder continue the “Doomed” story with some wonderful characterization (something that Pak has been dominating in the last year-or-so) between Superman, Wonder Woman, and Lex Luthor and some beautiful visuals (something that Kuder has been doing since I was first introduced to his work during Villains Month). Meanwhile, Batman continues to be skeptical and awesome, while Krypto gets shot by hunters, to which Superman flips his shit. Literally. He takes out a helicopter and realizes that he’s not as unaffected by his battle with Doomsday as he initially thought. Then we see Steel dipping himself in some metal and being, well, turned into Steel. He’s also got an uneasy alliance with Sam Lane, former General and current Senator and perpetual good guy who wants to take out Superman because he doesn’t trust him. The issue ends with Lana Lang showing Lois Lane up (as she should do… go, Lana!) by showing that she has more faith in Superman than his other former girlfriend does. But should she? According to that last page, it looks like Clark Kent is more monster than hero these days. Whoo boy… This is not going to end well, is it?
My Rating: 5/5
Superman/Wonder Woman #8
Charles Soule and Tony Daniel finish out the third part of this three issues of “Doomed” week. And they do so with just as much action, powerful dialogue, and utter beauty as the first two parts. Flip-flopping between “now” and “later” sequences, we are treated to Clark’s transformation into a monster in the opening pages. The subtle nods to real-life are uncanny, what with Diana’s accent (which is rarely acknowledged, let alone analyzed) and Clark’s utterly despicable comments on her behalf. Clark losing his shit with Cat Grant is understandable. She’s annoying. But with Wonder Woman? Something’s off, for sure. Lois Lane does her dutiful jealous ex-girlfriend job of planting a seed of doubt in Clark and Diana’s relationship… as if it wasn’t already there already. And Batman shows up in a great scene where he and Wonder Woman chat about Clark’s, umm, situation. To which we are hurtled back to the beginning of the issue and we finally get the smackdown we were promised on the cover. Superman VS Wonder Woman is fast and rewarding, albeit a little short. But the biggest moment in this issue is the scene with Batman being told off by Diana. It proves two things: 1) she’s a true warrior and even he might actually be afraid of her and 2) he’s a true friend and even she might actually respect him. Three issues in, and my faith in the Superman titles are officially restored. Great week, team.
My Rating: 5/5
So there it is. Another full week of Batty goodness. Let me know what you thought of this week’s books in the comments below. See you next Baturday!