New Avengers #52
This book is now getting weird for me. Due to the current lineup, I finally want to like it. And the current storyline has potential, and I do like parts of it, much more than any arc prior in this book. Yet even in the midst of that, Bendis keeps adding his usual tics that I can't stand, and it doesn't allow me to enjoy it as much as I want to. Case in point: Bendis should never write a panel in a team book where the panel has dialogue with no faces to match it to. Because you can't tell Luke Cage apart from Mockingbird based on what they're saying, much less anybody who's actually a closer match personality-wise. Everyone has basically the same voice, and in a book where 75% or more is talking head stuff, that fact really shows up and really grates after a while. Similarly, this issue featured quite possibly the worst written Daimon Hellstrom I've ever seen. Kudos for using him, but good grief he was "off". And I have no earthly idea why Doc Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme. He says he failed...how so? The explanation for this whole la-di-dah is mucho fuzzy, and in my mind at least, somewhat nonsensical.
Anyway, as for the story itself, despite those flaws above, it's enjoyable. Doc tells the Avengers about his and Wiccan's brief skirmish with Hood (flashback scenes drawn by Bachalo; I'm not normally a Bachalo fan, but this stuff looked nice...and I MUCH prefer him to Tan, who I think is just not a good artist). The team realizes that if they can draw Hood out, they can tie him to Norman Osborn and maybe end the Dark Reign, so they decide to help Doc and set a trap. Meanwhile, Hood is freaking out under Dormammu's control and losing it, until Madame Masque comforts him (a pretty nicely-done scene here). And the Avengers fly to New Orleans in a stolen Quinjet (disapproved of by Spidey, and this scene did NOT work for me, for whatever reason) as Hood attacks Daimon Hellstrom who just got done with a terrible fight over the phone with Hellcat.
As discussed above, the story itself is rife with potential, but Bendis needs to kinda get out of his own way a little and just tell it. The art is passable, with the Bachalo scene the strongest point for me. One the whole, I had complaints, but I liked it.
Detective Comics #853
I'll admit it, I'm no big Gaiman fan. I can't get into Sandman, never read Miracleman, I thought 1602 was terrible, and the only one of his books I read that I really enjoyed was Neverwhere. And this story had a LOT to live up to, as it was homaging the Alan Moore classic "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" And it did not live up to that lofty height.
But boy it got close. Batman's wake continues, and as it does, the great detective figures out what's happening...he's having essentially a near-death experience and the lady he was talking to in part 1 is revealed (and it is indeed who probably 99% of the reading population guessed it was). Through their conversation, the true point of Batman, the core of who he is and what he does is realized and expounded upon, in a way that really got to this reader (mainly b/c it's exactly how I've always pictured the Bat). And in the end, yes, Batman does die. Sort of...it's an interesting ending, kind of bittersweet, and I have no idea how it could tie in to any kind of continuity, nor do I care. Much like "WHTTMOT?” it's meant to be an imaginary story (aren't they all?), and it is indeed a wonderfully-told one. And as good as Gaiman's writing here is, I think Kubert outshines him. Some utterly gorgeous images, some lovely homage to past eras, and perfect storytelling for the surreal tale being crafted here.
This is what comics can and more often should be. Not exercises in "how gory can we make it?" or "how can we bring back so-and-so from the 60s?" or "ooo, let's completely ignore established characterization so we can have our heroes fight each other" or "how can we tie this into our next big 'event'?"...it's merely good storytelling, using imagination and wonder and grand ideas and heart. I absolutely LOVED it.
Immortal Iron Fist #25
Another fine effort here by the Fist team. Danny fights the first ever Iron Fist (or does he? OK, yes he does...eventually), the other weapons break free and join the fight against Changming, and they break the seal on the gate and begin to make their escape with the captives. Which apparently is just what Changming wants. Yet unbeknownst to all, Davos is still waiting outside the gate, ready to do the dirty work that must be done...
We get twists, turns, ID reveals, more K'un L'un history lessons, the usual great kung fu action, and a story that just keeps on rocking along. I know you people may not believe this, but other than the art, this book absolutely has not lost a step since Bru & Fraction left. I loved it.