Hello, and welcome along to yet another edition of my comics review column, where, as the title indicates, review all of the comics I pick up in a given week. It’s simple, but it works.
This week sees All-New Marvel Now continue with the launch of the new She-Hulk series, as well as big new storylines in Superior Spider-Man and Thor: God Of Thunder. There’s also the beginning of the end for Fatale, a special flash-forward issue of Batman and more exciting developments in Green Lantern Corps and Superman/Wonder Woman.
You can click the links to head to the individual Outhouse forum threads and join the heated debates, but most of all, enjoy ‘em!
Superior Spider-Man #27– ‘Goblin Nation’ is finally here, and Dan Slott is delivering on all of his promises here, on everything that’s been set up over the previous 26 issues. We are getting an epic confrontation between Spider-Man and Green Goblin and a fitting end to this superior era.
The issue begins after a month-long time-skip, with the Goblin Army wreaking havoc across New York, and SpOck at a loss as to what’s going on, and why his surveillance isn’t working. An entire area of his ‘grid’ is shut down, and when he goes to check it out, it’s the Brooklyn Bridge, and it’s been daubed with the Green Goblin symbol… SpOck now knows that it’s the Green rather than Hob variety that he should have been worried about, and this leads to a trip into his memories to work out just why Goblin chose this particular bridge.
Most Spider-Man fans know that this was the place where Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy, and the ghost of Peter Parker knows that too, as he sees Otto accessing that part of the mindscape. Peter needs to try and keep hidden from Otto, and he does so by diving into one of Ock’s memories, where he sees his birth. Peter is trying to hold on to his own identity, but this scene ends with him fading away again. We all know that Peter is coming back soon, but this was a surprising twist, and it opens some interesting possibilities for how he’ll actually come back. Is he going to change all of Otto’s memories? Take them over like Otto did his?
Back in the ‘real’ world, SpOck is desperately trying to tinker with his Spider-Bots and work out just why they aren’t detecting the Goblinds. Anna Maria reminds him that he’s supposed to be running his own company now, but he brushes her off. It looks like Parker Industries is going to flop, and that could have serious implications for when the real Parker is back, his life is going to be so fucked-up, I can’t wait. The TV is on in the background, and it shows Mayor Jonah still supporting Spider-Man in public, but we also see that he and Alchemax are very close indeed to finishing their new Spider-Slayers, and from the dialogue, it looks like these will be a major call-back to the originals, as Jonah wants his face on them.
There are so many threats hanging around SpOck right now that it’s hard to keep track of at times, you’ve got Green Goblin first and foremost, then Jonah, then Peter Parker’s return and also Captain Watanabe’s attempts to arrest him for Carlie’s disappearance. Watanabe appears in this issue trying to get Sajani to tell her where Peter is, but she honestly has no idea.
SpOck works out that the problem with the Spider-Bots is due to the one piece of tech he didn’t develop, the facial recognition that Uatu Jackson invented. I’m not sure I like the fact that Superior Spider-Man’s downfall here isn’t actually his fault, but I think Uatu is a great supporting character and it was good to see him again. He and Spider-Man work out how to find the source of the signal jam, and Spidey heads underground for a long-awaited face-to-face with the Green Goblin.
After an initial show of force with his henchman, Gobby actually wants this to be one on one. His stooges leave, and it’s just the two of them across a table. Goblin reveals that he knows Spider-Man is really Doctor Octopus, and therefore, since they aren’t actually enemies, there’s no need for a fight. Green Goblin wants to partner up and have Otto be his second after they’ve conquered New York. But of course, SpOck is having none of this, from the very start of this story, this has all been about Otto Octavius’ ego, about him wanting to prove he was smarter than Spider-Man, that he was, well, Superior. No way will his ego allow him to be somebody’s second. Spider-Man smashes the table, and it looks like we’re going to get the big fight right away! Except we aren’t, as when Gobby tries to fry Spider-Man with his lighting, we see that this wasn’t actually Spider-Man, but a solid hologram a la Stunner.
It was awesome to see that plotline resurface here, and it just demonstrates how this has all been an incredibly well-done lengthy story from Slott. Every issue and moment has mattered, and at the end of it, we’ll have a 34 or so issue story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Spider-Man mocks Gobby, saying that he’s way too smart to go into his secret lair alone, but it’s Green Goblin who has the last laugh. Spider-Man’s lair is no secret, and this issue ends with an attack on Spider-Island from all of the various Goblins, which leads to the island exploding. Oh yes, it’s all-out war now, all the cards are on the table, the gauntlet has been thrown and things can only get bigger. And as I’ve said, even when Spider-Man defeats the Goblins, there’s still 3 more enemies out to end him.
The art here comes from Superior regular Giuseppe Camuncoli, who does his usual sterling work. I especially liked the scenes set inside Otto and Peter’s shared mindscape, where he did an awesome job at emulating the likes of Steve Ditko and John Romita, who drew the original stories Otto was remembering.
The end is nigh for Superior Spider-Man, but it’s going out with a bang (literally) and as I said, when all’s said and done, this will stand the test of time as a complete story that has changed Spider-Man forever.
Thor: God Of Thunder #19– Esad Ribic returns to the pages of Thor for the start of another interesting and exciting story that looks set to rival ‘The God Butcher’ in scale. Jason Aaron’s run on the Thunder God really does show no signs of slowing down.
We begin out in space, with Thor visiting dead planets and worrying that this might happen to his beloved Earth. The reason for this new environmental concern from Thor presumably comes from his new love interest, SHIELD Agent Roz Solomon, who first appeared back in #12 and makes her return here. Roz is on her first mission, investigating why a bunch Whales are fleeing a conservation area at a rapid pace. Roz discovers that they are being chased by a group of huge Whaling Submarines owned by Yashida Industries (who are of course run by the Silver Samurai, this story feels much more connected to the Marvel Universe than previous ones, and more than that, it feels like a continuation of what Aaron did in Wolverine). Roz tells them to stop, but they open fire on her, destroying her flying car/submarine and leaving her out in the open water. Luckily for her, Thor comes in to help out. Or it might not be luck, it might be because Agent Coulson prayed to him. I really enjoyed the dialogue between Roz and Coulson in this issue, I could hear Clark Gregg saying those lines, and both the character and Aaron seem to be having a lot of fun with Roz and Thor’s fledgling relationship.
Thor stops the submarines fairly easily, but as soon as that’s wrapped up, Coulson informs Roz about a new situation that needs dealing with. It’s here that we are introduced to the big villain of this atory, Roxxon and their new CEO, Dario Agger. Agger gives a big speech about how now that Roxxon is independent again, they can get back to what they do best, which is improving the planet and saving the world. It’s a good speech, and it’s clear from it that Agger is bad news. He reveals his new plan to /save the world’, which is to mine Ice from Europa, one of Jupiter’s Moons and use the water that comes from it to give the whole world clean, fresh water. Roz butts in and takes Agger to task, asking how much he’s going to charge for his moon-water, and also reveals that Roxxon themselves are responsible for a lot of Global Warming and melting the icecaps. They are causing it, and then profiting from it, which is pretty dastardly, and shows the Europa mining project up as a scam. Agger maintains a legitimate front, and even claims that there’s nobody else out there who knows what’s best for Earth other than them. This of course, is Thor’s cue to arrives, as he drops a chunk of ice that dwarfs Roxxons. I loved the splash-page that shows how Thor got this (by punching a Frost Giant in the face naturally).
I also liked seeing Melita Garner show up here as a reporter covering Agger’s press conference, she played a role similar to Roz’s in Aaron’s Wolverine run, so it was quite amusing to see them interact with each other. Agger is still trying to save face, and tries to befriend Thor, but he’s having none of it, so the Roxxon chief is forced to leave with his whole plan scuppered. Back on Roxxon Island, we see that Agger is more than just an evil CEO, he takes off his glasses and starts to transform into something, we don’t know what. From the cover to this issue, I would guess that his college nick-name ‘The Minotaur’ was in fact literal. I’d be excited to see Thor go up against some Greek Mythology, if only for the possibility of a Hercules team-up. Thor and Roz agree to work together to stop Roxxon, but Roz refuses to join Thor in Asgardia to discuss it over mead, but rather wants to meet over coffee in the morning. I wonder how long Aaron is going to delay this coupling? It’s certainly refreshing to see a God not hold all the power in a relationship.
The issue ends in the far-future, with Old Thor and his Granddaughters wandering the desolate wastes of Earth, and Thor lamenting what went wrong. The present scenes here show Thor start his quest to preserve the Earth, but here we see that he fails, so what goes in between? It’s going to be exciting to find out. But it’s not like this epilogue isn’t important in it’s own right, as frickin’ Galactus shows up. We’ve got Roxxon in the present, and Galactus in the future, how crazy is that?
As I said, Esad Ribic returned with this issue, and it was a welcome return, his painterly, European style fits perfectly with a title that has just as many fantasy elements as superhero, and he, along with colourist Ice Svorcina deliver a comic where every page just looks great. It’s not just the epic splash-pages though, it’s also the subtler things like Agger’s facial expressions that convey his true contempt for the world. Everything here looks like an iconic piece of fantasy art, hell, Galactus is only a silhouette, but it still works incredibly effectively.
This was a brilliant start to the new story, and if any of you guys haven’t been reading this book, now is the time to jump on board.
She-Hulk #1– Another All-New Marvel Now title launches, and this time it’s one of my favourite characters in all of comics, She-Hulk. I’m a big Shulkie fan, and in fact, I would say I prefer her to her more famous, incredible, indestructible cousin. Dan Slott’s run with the character is one of my favourite series’ ever, and I also enjoyed Peter David’s more serious run. I fell off track with She-Hulk during the introduction of Red She-Hulk and Savage She-Hulk, but after a fun tenure as a member of the FF, this relaunch takes Jennifer Walters back to what she does best for me, being a superhero lawyer that, unlike Daredevil, actually does some lawyering from time to time.
This first issue reminds me a lot of Slott’s tenure, but I think Charles Soule brings enough of his own take to it that it doesn’t feel like a rip-off. Soule’s sense of humour is different than Slott’s, and most interestingly of all, Soule himself is an actual New York City Attorney, so even though the storyline here is full of made up superhero guff, he knows the actual law behind it, and can make it all feel real, even with a 7-foot tall green woman in the middle of it.
The issue begins with She-Hulk in her day job as an Attorney for Paine & Luckberg LLP, about to receive her yearly review and find out just how big her bonus is. One thing I did notice throughout this issue was that, even when in her day job, She-Hulk was staying green, can she not go back to just being Jen Walters anymore? Did I miss something? She-Hulk goes in for her review in a very confident state of mind, she’s put in nearly 3,000 billable hours after all. But surprisingly, she’s not getting a bonus at all this year. Why is this? Well, she wasn’t actually hired to be an Attorney, she was hired more for her superhero connections, so she could get Paine & Luckberg working with the likes of Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Danny Rand. These two douchebag bosses aren’t valuing Jen as a Lawyer, just as a superhero. She-Hulk is understandably pissed at this, so before they can fire her, she quits, and then comes back in to destroy their priceless Madripoor table with a single finger.
Now without a job, Jen goes to drown her sorrows in a bar, and because this is a ‘lawyer bar’, she is approached by a woman who needs legal help. It turns out that She-Hulk is uniquely qualified to help this woman out, as the man she is trying to sue is Tony Stark. The woman is the widow of Dr Jonas Harrow (an old Spider-Man villain who was killed by The Hood in Bendis’ New Avengers), and Harrow is alleging that Tony Stark stole a key piece behind Repulsor Technology from him. She-Hulk heads to Stark Tower to talk to Tony, but as soon as she mentions the word ‘lawsuit’, she is directed to ‘Legal’, who turns out to be a lone, creepy bald man who pretty much stops Jen in her tracks and tells her not to waste her time with this case. The best scene here was Legal’s history of the various Stark companies, which was not only funny, but true, and shows the kind of accuracy Soule is going for in this book. Most people don’t want to remember Stark-Fujikawa or Stark Solutions, but the law has to, and so does Soule. Jen is not perturbed however, and does decide to go to court, but Legal is once again ahead of her and is able to delay and change the proceedings, mostly because of She-Hulk’s relationship with Tony.
You can see what the clear theme of this series is going to be, and it’s how Jen Walters is able to balance being a Lawyer with her superhero life. She’s fired for not leaning on her connections at the start of the issue, and then when she does try to, it gets her in even more trouble. First, Legal is able to use it against her, and later, after finding an important piece of evidence in Harrow’s garage and taking it back to Tony, she gets into a fight with some Robots. Even fellow Avengers can’t get a face to face when the law is involved. After fighting her way through the Robots (interestingly, this fight is entirely off-panel, there’s almost no action in this issue), Jen finally gets to meet with Tony and show him that Stark Industries really did steal from Harrow and get him to write the widow a big fat cheque.
Earlier in the issue, Legal says he is neither good nor bad, only legal, and that applies to Tony Stark here, he’s not the villain of the story, but his outsourcing was, the person who stole the Repulsor idea in the first place was a corrupt employee he never met and was later fired. Soule is not going to have She-Hulk go up against traditional super-villains here, and that’s very exciting indeed. The issue ends with She-Hulk back at the bar, where she is once again met by Mrs Harrow, who writes her lawyer a generous cheque herself, which allows Jen to set up her own Law Firm where she can just get on with the job.
Javier Pulido’s art is a huge part of why this comic worked, he’s got a great, classic style that fits the more comedic moments perfectly, but he can also do action if it ever comes to that. He gives She-Hulk a lot of personality in her face and body language, and you buy her as both a superhero and an attorney. His layouts are also exciting and different throughout, and, much like Soule’s writing, the attention to detail is spot on, such as the newly-rich Mrs Harrow sporting a trendier haircut at the end of this issue. Kevin Wada’s excellent cover also demonstrates the central theme and conflict of the character, with Lawyer Jen sheepishly walking out of a hole in the shape of She-Hulk.
Make no mistake, this is not a traditional superhero comic, as I said, there is little to no action here. Instead, this is a legal drama in a superhero world. If you liked Dan Slott’s run, definitely check this out, and if you (or someone else you know) is a fan of TV shows like The Good Wife, then this is in that same wheelhouse. I can’t wait to see what future cases Soule has in store for She-Hulk, this issue was only the beginning.
Avengers #26– For various reasons (well, Christmas/New Year and comics not being shipped to the UK) I haven’t reviewed the last 2 issues of Avengers, so it’s good to get back on this particular horse as the ‘All-New Avengers’ storyline continues.
The issue begins with a flash-back to just before Infinity (#17 to be precise), when the Avengers were knocked out by one of The Builders’ emissaries. AIM were to pick up the pieces, and in that issue we saw them take genetic material from the unconscious Avengers. Here, we see what that DNA was taken for, to make new Adaptoids that AIM can send into the Multiverse. After this, we get another flashback, but it’s a bit closer to the present, as the alternate universe Avengers are attacked by these new Adaptoids. This was a decent action scene, but I do find it interesting how slowly Hickman is parsing out details about these evil Avengers. Here we discover that the Wasp has been controlling the Hulk through a remote, which is broken during the fight, allowing Banner to escape. It seems that Hickman only ever does stuff to extremes, in New Avengers, he’s brushing off alternate universes for just a few pages before killing them. In this book, he’s taking his sweet, sweet time in exploring one particular universe’s characters. Is there no middle ground?
This fight ends with one of the Adaptoids breaking Hank Pym’s neck, which explains how he was found at the start of last issue, and the rest of the Avengers retreating. Once we finally get to the present, Maria Hill is still questioning the Avengers’ about their whereabouts, and it was refreshing to see Hyperion and Iron Man easily prove it wasn’t them, and for Maria Hill to never have actually believed it was them. At this point, it’s much more likely for it to be alternate universe versions or clones than for a superhero to actually go evil. Iron Man is able to track down the other Avengers, and they are still in New York. Also still in New York is the alternate Bruce Banner, who finds his way to a safe-house that exists in his universe also, and runs straight into the real Bruce Banner! Two Hulks! Oh shit.
The issue ends with a strange, cryptic scene involving the new Adaptoids, where they decide to change their mission and their appearances, gone are the weird hybrids of different Avengers parts, and in their place is a uniform look featuring a single ring on their face for an eye. They look a bit like OMACs to be honest, but I think the intent is to make them look like the Builder robot that knocked out the Avengers, or I could just be over-thinking it.
Salvador Larroca’s art was strong as usual, I think he works well with Hickman, and whilst I like that subplots from before Infinity are still important, I do feel like this story is a bit of a step-down from the crossover. That was so epic, and this feels kind of throwaway in comparison. It’s still good, and it does have Multiversal implications, but I thought things were going to keep on getting bigger and bigger for the Avengers, not feel smaller.
All-New X-Men #23– ‘The Trial Of Jean Grey’ was already very enjoyable, but now that the X-Men and Guardians Of The Galaxy have met and are on the same page, it’s even better! It’s a lot of fun to see these two groups interact, and what makes it all the sweeter is that the reason for the team-up makes sense.
Bendis kicks things off with the unconscious Scott Summers dreaming of Jean Grey, before waking up on a space-ship full of weird aliens. He’s understandably shocked, and whilst Beast, Iceman and Angel are loving being in space, Scott only has one thing on his mind… Jean.
Jean has of course been captured by the Shi’ar, and we see her come face to face with Gladiator and the rest of the Imperial Guard, who tell her that she’s been brought to them to answer for her crimes, but since she hasn’t actually done them yet, she’s rightfully pissed off. Later, we see Jean interrogated by Oracle, the Imperial Guard telepath, who reads her mind and can tell that Jean has no memory of her crimes, because, as I said, she hasn’t done them yet. Jean yells at her, but all Oracle can say is that she needs to watch her temper. I’m sort of thinking that Jean is going to get so pissed off at the injustice of what’s happening to her that she’s going to go full Phoenix and cause even more damage.
Most of the middle portion of the issue is the Guardians and X-Men interacting and tons of funny Bendis dialogue and moments. I loved Iceman saying talking to Rocket Raccoon made him feel like a Disney Princess, that’s going to pour more fuel on the ‘Iceman is gay’ rumours and beliefs (I personally don’t think he is, but whatever, it was funny). Rocket Raccoon’s anger at being called a Raccoon is continues to be a great running joke as well, although Bendis is probably running the fake swear-word ‘krutack’ into the ground. It’s not long however before the Shi’ar attack the Guardians’ ship, and it’s action stations. Angela, Drax and Groot head out to stop the attack, and just as Gamora is preparing to join them, another ship arrives to help.
The identity of this ship and it’s crew shouldn’t be a surprise, given that this story is all about the Shi’ar, but it is. It’s the return of the Starjammers, and I’m talking the classic Starjammers here. Ch’od, Raza, Hepzibah and of course, their leader, Corsair. Corsair is supposed to be dead, and there’s no explanation for why he isn’t in this issue, but there’s still been no explanation for why Star-Lord isn’t dead, so I don’t mind too much. It’s comics, and having Corsair be alive is a great story decision because he is Cyclops’ father. Young Scott doesn’t know that his dad is alive yet, so it’s going to be fascinating to see how he reacts and what their relationship is like. Hell, it’s so fascinating it’s getting it’s own series!
Stuart Immonen’s art was so good it’s getting boring just talking about it, in an issue with so many (too many?) characters, each one stood out and had personality, and he made a conversation in a dark room just as interesting to read as an epic space dog-fight. His art is key to selling Bendis’ humour, I think under a lesser artist, the jokey lines wouldn’t land nearly as well. Marte Gracia’s colours and Wade Von Grawbadger’s inks are also crucial to the look of this book, with strong lines and bright colours making everything pop. I’m really enjoying this crossover, I always love it when the X-Men go into space, and this is no exception.
Wolverine & The X-Men #41– It’s the penultimate issue of Jason Aaron’s W&XM and the focus of the story is not Wolverine, or Idie, or Quentin Quire or Storm or even Doop, it’s on Toad. Freaking Toad! Toad has been the Janitor of the Jean Grey School since #1, and a reliable supporting comedic presence, but here he takes centre-stage, and it works surprisingly well, as Aaron gives poor old Mortimer Toynbee some dignity and sympathy… before ripping that away and making him a villain again.
This issue made me feel emotions about Toad, which means a) it was awesome and b) we should never speak of it again (I’m joking here). The issue begins with Toad being fired from his position as Janitor due to his betrayal of the school during the Hellfire Academy arc. The X-Men realise they are being harsh, because after all, he did turn back around to their side in the end, but still, it’s Toad, and he’s fired. On his way out, he is met by Husk. We find out that Husk’s swing into craziness is the result of a secondary mutation, and that every time she changes her body, her mind now changes as well. This means that she, unlike Toad, as been forgiven for her betrayal, and also that she has forgotten her romantic relationship with him, which is all kinds of tragic. Husk tells Toad that there must be some reason she fell for him, and that she still wants to get to know him, so they agree to meet for coffee later to talk.
But before this can happen, the X-Men are called into action when Max Frankenstein and Manuel Enrique, the two Hellfire Club kids they’ve enrolled in the school escape and send a bunch of robots to attack Westchester and cover their escape. I’m a big fan of these new (although they aren’t exactly that new any more) Hellfire Kids and I loved how their plans to escape were screwed because neither of them could drive yet. They might be evil geniuses, but they are still children. Toad shows up, and they think he’s there to stop them, but he isn’t. He challenges Manuel to shoot him, but when he can’t, Toad attacks him, leaves him for the X-Men to find and heads off with Max Frankenstein, missing his date with Husk, who even in the midst of robo-carnage, still goes to the coffee shop.
Toad’s reasons for leaving are also pretty darn sad, he’s afraid that if Husk gets to know him again, she’ll see him for what he truly is, a villain. Manuel is telling this to Husk, who is the new JGS Guidance Counselor, and whilst she starts crying, she soon rips off her skin and just… forgets. Man, it’s just sad all round. The issue ends with Iceman and Wolverine realising that it’s not easy being the Janitor, so to compound it all, they never should have fired Toad in the first place! I can’t believe this issue made me care about Toad, but it’s great that it did. I wonder where he’ll return? Amazing? Or in Latour’s run on this book? Hmm.
Pepe Larraz and Todd Nauck both deliver strong art here, but as usual, I’m not a fan of two different artists drawing the same comic without a good reason (like flashbacks or whatever). It is always awesome to get some Nauck are though, he should have been on this title sooner. Only 1 more issue of this title (which is Marvel’s highest-numbered book if you can believe that), I’m sad to see it go, but it is ending well for sure.
Kick-Ass 3 #6(of 8)– After being on the out-skirts of this third volume of Kick-Ass for most of the previous issues, Hit-Girl finally takes centre-stage in this over-sized story, and it’s no surprise that it’s just as over-the-top and silly as you’d expect from a Hit-Girl story. Which means that it’s over-the-top and silly in the very best way.
The bulk of the issue is taken up with Mindy McCready being interviewed by her psychiatrist in Prison and seeing flashbacks to her early days of training with Big Daddy. We see her do ridiculous stuff like jump onto a moving train and go to a hardware store to buy all of Big Daddy’s equipment, but there’s a serious (well, a serious as Kick-Ass can get) as we see Hit-Girl attempt her first kill. And I say attempt, because she’s actually unable to pull the trigger at first. Hit-Girl is so OTT that it’s easy to forget she’s just a little kid, so I liked seeing a little bit of vulnerability here. Big Daddy’s method of getting Mindy to finally kill was interesting, as he let himself be over-powered by the Sex Tourists they were trying to kill, and made it look like they were about to kill him, which meant Mindy had to kill them in order to save her dad. It really is fucked-up how badly Big Daddy raised her, but it does make for entertaining comics.
Part of me does think however that the only reason Millar included these lengthy flashbacks was so that Nicolas Cage could reprise his role as Big Daddy in the Kick-Ass 3 movie if that happens. I wouldn’t be averse to Cage returning, he was the best part in the first film for sure.
As much as these flashbacks seem to be about Hit-Girl’s dad, they actually about her mother, as she is watching all of this through the glass, and the psychiatrist is leading up a meeting between the two of them so that Mindy can be ‘cured’. This however backfires, as hearing about her daughter’s exploits has had a profound effect on Mrs McCready, and she praises her, telling her to carry on crime-fighting and never give up. These attempts to cure Hit-Girl have just made her mother crazy along with her. Of course, you aren’t really meant to think Hit-Girl is crazy, that’s the interesting dichotomy of this book, you’re never sure if the heroes actually deserve that label, or if they aren’t just nutcases.
After this, it’s time to check-in on the other characters, as we see Todd (in his role as Ass-Kicker) get hunted down and shot in the ass by the Mafia, whilst the corrupt cops who kick-started this hero-hunt just sit back and watch. Dave is worried about not hearing from his best friend so he goes out to look for him, and crucially, does it out of costume. He has his Kick-Ass stick, but is in plain-clothes, which is smart, he won’t get shot at. It’s surprising, but Dave Lizewski has definitely matured in this series. The issue ends with Hit-Girl feeling reenergised by her mother’s support, and preparing to escape, but before she can do so, she is injected with a paralysis toxin by the guards, and in walks Red Mist/Motherfucker with a loaded gun. Is he going to just shoot her in the head? I wouldn’t put it past Millar. Only 2 issues left in the Kick-Ass saga, and anything is fair game I would say.
Romita Jr and Palmer’s art was great as ever, I’m only just used to him drawing creator-owned books and now he’s off to DC! Crazy.
Batman #28 – Scott Snyder takes a break from ‘Zero Year’ to tell a story set in Batman’s future (I can barely remember the last time I read a story set in Batman’s present) that serves as a teaser for the upcoming ‘Batman Eternal’ weekly series. Before reading this issue, I wasn’t planning on picking up Eternal, but now I am, so I guess you have to put this down as a success as Snyder, along with co-writer James Tynion IV and artist Dustin Nguyen set up a lot of interesting mysteries about what’s going to happen in Eternal as well as making major changes that really make me want to find out what happened in between now and the future.
The setting of this story is Gotham City after some sort of disaster that’s led to all sorts of trouble, there’s some kind of disease that’s killing people, and the Police are enforcing a curfew, which is how this issue begins, as Harper Row is picked up by the cops for being out at night. Before they can beat the shit out of her, she says a code-word, and is taken to an underground nightclub ran by the new ‘Kingpin’ of Gotham. Harper tells the people there that she needs help to cure her brother of this mysterious sickness, but they know she’s lying, as the codeword she gave is out of date, and she’s in deep trouble. Harper has an ace up her sleeve however, and she presses a button, turns off the light, and when it comes back on, the goons have been beaten up by Batman!
Yep, what we’ve all suspected for a while has come to pass, Harper Row has become a superhero and joined forces with Batman. She even has a Nightwing-esque costume, although her name isn’t Nightwing, it’s Bluebird. I’m very interested to see just how Harper becomes Bluebird, and it looks like it’s a quite complex story, as she and Batman seem to have a frosty relationship, and she says she’s been training with his other sidekicks, rather than Batman himself. It looks like in the aftermath of ‘Death Of The Family’ (which has been bungled by immediately going into the past) Batman has built a new family, including Harper, and someone else back in the Cave running the computers. What happened to Alfred and who is this mystery person? Batman and Bluebird take out some more goons, and are generally a pretty good team, but then the new Kingpin arrives, and it turns out to be Catwoman.
I had pretty much guessed this from the name and theme of the club (The Egyptian, and it’s full of cat statues) but it’s still interesting to see how Catwoman has gone from being a member of the Justice League and an ally of Batman’s, to the overall leader of Gotham’s criminals. This is probably the first time in like, 15 years when she’s been a proper villain, which is cool too. Batman and Bluebird have infiltrated Catwoman’s club because they know she has in her possession the ‘key’ that can supposedly save Gotham and (I guess) stop this disease from killing people. Catwoman takes them to her vault, and this key turns out to be not a what, but a who, and it’s the return of none other than Spoiler! I’m not really a fan of Stephanie Brown, so I wasn’t amazed and excited by this, it was more of a raised eyebrow. I think the use of this character here makes a lot of sense actually, she knows a lot of secrets, and her name is ‘Spoiler’, it’s pretty clever.
Dustin Nguyen’s art throughout this issue was excellent, he’s always been a good fit for Batman, going back to Judd Winick’s (underrated) run, and I really like the design of Bluebird’s costume.
Overall, this issue was an intriguing teaser for Eternal, I want to find out how Harper Row became a superhero, I want to know what cataclysmic event has fucked up Gotham this time, I want to know why Catwoman turned back to villainy, and I even want to know what’s up with Spoiler. I don’t know if I have room in my budget for a weekly series, but I’ll at least check out #1.
Justice League Of America #12– Man, it is taking freaking forever for Stargirl and Martian Manhunter to get to LA. I mean, I understand why they’ve been attacked by supervillains all along the way and have had lengthy flashbacks, but still, this story is dragging, and compared to the main Forever Evil series and the other tie-ins, it’s just kind of boring. I don’t mind getting an insight into Stargirl’s origins, but not at the expense of what should be an epic crossover.
So, we begin with Stargirl deep underwater, after being shoved down there to drown by Despero, she fights her way back up to try and find J’Onn, who has been beaten to hell by Despero. The fight between these two characters was actually well done, with Despero winning not only through superior strength, but also by playing with J’Onn’s mind and making him see his dead Martian wife. Despero flies off, leaving J’Onn for dead too (he really should stick around and see these things through, both of the heroes he thinks he’s killed survive).
J’Onn lies there and tells Stargirl about a story from Martian History, about a hero who went off to fight a monster who had been terrorising a village. He was attacked by the horned beast and pinned to wall, and rather than cut himself free, this hero saw that the monster was trapped as well, and he sacrificed himself to save everyone else. This story serves as a metaphor for Stargirl’s actions at the end of this issue, as she flies off on her own to stop Despero and stop Firestorm from exploding, but the thing I found interesting here was the name of the monster in J’Onn’s story, ‘Erdel’, which if I remember right, is the surname of the Scientist who brought J’Onn to Earth from Mars in his origin story. Is this a coincidence or is J’Onn just making this up to inspire Stargirl? He certainly seems convinced at the end that she’s going to save the day and that the heroes are going to win, but I don’t really share his confidence. Stargirl is caught up in a fight with Despero before she can stop Firestorm. It’s not all bad, I do want to see what happens next issue.
Throughout the issue, Stargirl continues her flashbacks, and we find out what the dark memory she’s suppressing is. Thankfully it’s not that she was raped by the shadowy super-villain, but instead we see that, after he beat her up, this villain went to her home, attacked it, and (presumably) killed her little brother. It’s the one circumstance where the death of a kid isn’t the worst possible story outcome!
Like previous issues, this was a bit of an artistic mish-mash, with 3 different pencilers involved, but it was saved by the fact that they were each drawing different sections of the story. Eddy Barrows drew the main story, Tom Derenick Stargirl’s flashbacks, and RB Silva did J’Onn’s story, so it worked out pretty well.
This has been an odd storyline, and I think you can tell from this review, which veers from being negative to positive within one sentence, that I’m not too sure what to make of it, it’s good to have such a narrow focus on 2 important characters, but it still feels out of place and odd in the context of the crossover. I don’t know!
Superman/Wonder Woman #5– Charles Soule’s excellent week continues, first the debut of She-Hulk, and now another great issue of Superman/Wonder Woman! I really don’t understand why people are still hating on this book, it’s just solid, traditional superhero comic with plenty of exciting action and compelling characters.
The issue begins on Themyscira, with Wonder Woman going back there to talk to the statue of her mother about her relationship with Superman, and how she’s struggling with, for the first time in her life, not knowing what to do. Superman has his own problems, and they are a bit more physical, as he’s under attack by an alien monster that Zod has set on him, and now both Zod and Faora are free on Earth. From the end of last issue, I had mistakenly thought that Faora was dead, but she isn’t. What she is, is a little crazy, as she flails around mindlessly, even attacking Zod. Superman chases after them, and calls Batman to tell him what’s going on, and also to not get the rest of the Justice League involved, as this is his mess. Batman tells him to call Wonder Woman, but Superman is reluctant after their disagreement. Bats is pretty great in this scene, as he sets Clark straight, if the world is in danger, he needs Wonder Woman’s help, he can’t let everything be destroyed just because he’s arguing with his girlfriend. Batman tries to get in touch with Diana, but because she’s on Themyscira, he can’t reach her.
Faora manages to wake up from her daze, but as soon as she does, Superman is there to try and stop both her and Zod. But they aren’t having it and just start beating him up, two Kryptonians are better than one. On Themyscira, Diana makes her way to the entrance to Tartarus, which the Amazons are supposed to protect, but in their absnce, it’s been opened, and something has escaped. This leads to her fighting a big red lizard monster, which is always fun, but the main purpose of this fight seems to be for her to be without her lasso, as she uses it to force the Tartarus doors shut.
Wonder Woman puts her boots back on, and immediately starts to hear Batman’s messages (is her communication device in her shoes? That’s weird) and so flies off to help Superman, who is outnumbered and outmatched by Zod and Faora, as even if he’s able to corner Zod, that just leaves Faora free to attack innocent civilians. Wonder Woman arrives and is able to balance the fight out (I loved the knee to the face she gave Zod) but without her lasso, she isn’t able to restrain Faora, so we end with a bit of a Mexican standoff, Zod has his hand around Superman’s throat, and Wonder Woman has hers around Faora’s. The only solution that can end without someone dying right there is for each side to let each other go, which is what happens. This was only a small teaser of the bigger fight that’s yet to come, and I can’t wait.
Tony Daniel’s art continues to be top notch, the action scenes here were crisp and exciting and he gets the smaller moments too, like Wonder Woman’s face when she’s preparing to leave Themyscira once again. This was a more action-focused issue than previous SM/WW’s have been, and the subplots around Cat Grant and who leaked the relationship to the public are absent, but I didn’t mind, this issue delivered straight up action and excitement.
Green Lantern Corps #28– The Green Lantern books continue to burn through storylines at fast clip. I thought the hunt for Von Daggle was going to be a long-term subplot, but nope, thanks to Hunger Dog, John Stewart has tracked him down by page 5 of this issue! I am really enjoying these titles at the moment, and it’s great to be surprised again and again by where the writers are going. Van Jensen takes over as sole writer here, but the book doesn’t miss a beat (as I suspect he was doing the majority of the heavy lifting even when Venditti was being credited).
The story begins with Von Daggle, who is desperately trying to buy some kind of illicit substance, that at first appears to be drugs, but from the end of the issue I know think is the radioactive energy that Durlans need to keep transforming. I didn’t know this tidbit about Durlans, and that info could be key to stopping the threat. Daggle is soon accosted by John and his former-villain deputies, Hunger Dog, Fatality and Bolphunga, but he’s not easy to keep captured. We find out that Daggle can’t really use a Green Lantern ring, as every time he transforms, the ring stops recognising him and flies off to find a new host, so even though John’s brought it for him, he can’t use it. John tells him that he should come with them, because if he doesn’t, the Durlans will come for him, and there’s no 3rd option, but Daggle disagrees and transforms into a big-ass monster and tries to escape. John and his deputies are eventually able to get Daggle tied up, but only after he impersonates Bolphunga and then runs out of radioactive energy. But of course, as soon as they get him, a group of evil Durlans show up to claim him and set up what should be an epic fight next issue.
Back on Mogo, the main development involves a character who was once a major player in the GLC book but has been forgotten lately in Soranik Natu. She is feeling depressed about what’s happened lately, both her home planet of Korugar and her adopted home of Oa were destroyed, and now she’s believing that maybe she, like every other previous Korugarian Lantern, is cursed. Salaak tries to console her, but before he can, some mysterious villains show up and kidnap her, sending Salaak crashing down to Mogo, where he interrupts Jruk’s dinner. Iolande sets off to look for her with another Lantern and another cadre of former villains, but who is it that’s kidnapped Soranik? Well, it’s none other than Arkillo, the last surviving member of the Sinestro Corps! I can’t imagine that he has anything good planned for Sinestro’s daughter.
We also see the launch of the new Green Lantern crypt, including a memorial for Kyle Rayner, who is of course not dead, so it looks like that plot is developing somewhere interesting too.
This was another strong issue of GLC, the main battle with the Durlans plot keeps on getting better, and now you’ve got Arkillo back in the mix too, I love how many threats are out there now for the Lanterns, it really does feel like the whole universe is against them. Bernard Chang’s art was excellent as always, and I liked the interesting colour choices made by Marcelo Maiolo too, with many crucial panels throughout the issue being coloured just in red and white, which really made them stand out and grab your attention as moments worth remembering.
Fatale #20– The final story arc of Fatale begins, as Ed Brubaker flips the script a bit, and for the first time we get inside the head of Jo, rather than just see her through the perspective of the various men she’s had under her spell. This decision to finally change focus to her really works, as we start to get a few more answers about her past, and see what is really motivating her and gives a sense of true finality.
The issue begins with Jo killing a bunch of those red-cloaked cultists over-layed with a perfectly-picked quote from Nietzsche. We see that Nicolas’ escape from prison has messed-up whatever her plans were, so now she’s had to change things up, and is also slipping back into her bad ways, allowing herself to use her powers on men again. One random hook-up causes her to start remembering her past, and we see her various attempts to commit suicide, none of which (obviously) took. There’s a dark humour to these panels showing her trying to kill herself, but really, it’s there to once again demonstrate her dire situation.
Jo is looking for Nicolas, and she uses some kind of demon powers to track him, but that only makes her easier to find, drawing another red-cloak. She kills him, but in another brilliantly fucked-up scene, he’s brought his young son along with him, who, even though he’s a kid, is still brought under Jo’s spell. It’s really disturbing to see him paw over her and call her ‘pretty lady’, and the fact that Jo has to push a little kid out of a car and leave him out in the middle of nowhere is equally dark. Jo’s powers have catastrophic effects wherever she goes, and this kid will probably end up like Wulf from the previous arc did.
After this the focus moves back over to Nicolas, who is chained up in the basement of Lance/Nelson, who hasn’t sacrificed him yet because the time isn’t right. Brubaker and Phillips depict the grimness of Nicolas’ imprisonment really well, and it’s bleak, violent stuff. Nicolas is able to get one hand free, and is about to escape when Nelson stops him and starts to beat the shit out of him, which is when Jo finally shows up. This stops Nelson in his tracks, as he’s done all this to get her back, but Jo, horrified at seeing what he’s done because of her, does another creepy demon trick, and kisses him, reducing him to a gibbering wreck on the floor. She and Nicolas escape, but Nelson’s fate reminds Nicolas of something… the state he found his father in when he had him committed to the asylum! Yep, it looks like Jo is the person who drove Nicolas’ father insane, so even though we are finding out more about her, there’s still plenty of mystery to go around. Maybe Jo will end up being the villain of this story rather than the heroine? Femme Fatales are meant to be bad after all, and even though Jo is much more sympathetic than most of the archetype, she’s still bad news.
This was another typically excellent collaboration between Brubaker and Phillips, they are such a good team, with the art perfectly complementing the story. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but I love the way Phillips and colourist Elizabeth Breitweiser seem to draw and colour Jo differently from the rest of the book, she’s cleaner, brighter, it emphasises how otherworldly she is. There’s only a few issues left, and I can’t wait to see how this epic all ends, and to revisit it before moving on to ‘The Fade Out’.
Uncanny #6(of 6)– The final issue of this first Uncanny mini-series (I thought it was an ongoing, d’oh) wraps up Weaver’s incarceration nicely and sets things up for a very interesting second story arc indeed.
Andy Diggle picks up right where he left off, with Deacon Styles waging a one-man assault on the Cadre Compound, and using his unique abilities to turn them against each other. I loved the scene where he makes all of the guards kill one another, so dark and twisted, you can tell Diggle is having fun just pushing superpowers to places mainstream books won’t go. In the midst of the chaos, Maggie is able to escape, and she frees Weaver. Rather than leave, Weaver asks her about the Wolf that he’s been seeing, and, just as he assumed, she’s been seeing it as well. It turns out that Styles planted this in their heads, and has been using it to track their location. The plan was for them to be captured all along, and for them to lead him here.
Weaver works out that Styles must be here for the occupant of the other cell, which he and Maggie unlock, to find Morgan. Morgan claims Styles is the most dangerous man on the planet, and he should know… they are brothers. Morgan demonstrates his abilities to help Maggie and Weaver escape, he has electrical powers, and uses them to start an armoured car, and our heroes are in the wind. Morgan also knows Weaver’s real name, so he’s certainly going to be an important character. Styles is furious that his brother is gone, but he takes his frustration out by killing the rest of the guards and leaving himself alone with Doctor De Santos, the head guy at this compound.
The issue ends with a mysterious woman arriving in the aftermath of Styles’ attack and being debriefed about what’s gone on. She then reveals herself to be… Weaver’s mother! Man, that’s a hell of an ending. She mentions having the ability to remotely wipe people’s brains, so I imagine that’s what happened to Weaver. Could this be a Planetary type situation, where Weaver, like Elijah Snow, is being drawn into a conspiracy and secret world he himself was a big part of?
This was a great ending to an exciting first arc, if you’re a fan of Andy Diggle’s previous works, definitely pick up the collection in time to jump on for Season 2. It’s the perfect meld between his realistic stuff like The Losers, and his superhero work. Aaron Campbell’s art is also great, it’s very realistic, so it grounds the more out-there elements very well. This doesn’t look like a sci-fi book, but it is.
Normally I couch my pick of the week in ‘probably’ and ‘I guess’ or just pick more than one comic, but there’s none of that this week, my favourite was definitely She-Hulk #1, just an awesome first issue for one of my favourite characters and a writer who is rapidly climbing up the list himself! Check it out.
Join me next week for a look at the penultimate issue of Animal Man, more Punisher, some King’s Watch, the return of the Metal Men in Justice League, three different X-Men books and oh yeah, the final issue of Daredevil! It’s gonna be a good one.