Secret Six #10
Gail and Nicola begin a new arc here, and the humor is reined in a bit. The creepy factor is not, however, as we get some really bad, bad guys introduced. Our band of baddies get hired by a group of slavers to work security at a place called Devil's Island (unaware at first of their new employers' stock-in-trade); it's a pretty nondescript plot until we learn the head baddie, Mr. Smythe, has the Amazon Artemis under some sort of control, and even he answers to another, a man known only as Mockingbird (which seems to be the real reason the Six took the job).
The typical creepiness, action, and strong character work (particularly Scandal and Bane) are all evident here as always, and Nicola's art is equal to her usual greatness. But the humor's a bit lacking, and the Six's actual place in the plot needs a bit more explanation. Not the best issue of this series, but a solid arc-starter. I liked it.
Batman & Robin #1
Hmmmmm. I actually thought it wasn't as bad as I expected, but it's also nowhere near as good as Morrison's Kool-Aid Brigade will have you believe it is either. It truly was a first issue, as it's all introduction. New readers and old alike can pick it up quick and jump right in. We introduce the new Dynamic Duo. New bad guys. The new Batmobile. New Bat-gadgets. The supporting cast (Alfred, the Commish and Bullock). Everything gets a page or so and then boom! On to something else. But for all that, the story flows pretty well. Morrison avoids the weird trippiness and just goes into "get on with it" mode from the opening gun. And truthfully, that's when I like him the best.
My only real complaints story-wise revolve around characterization, and none of that's awful. Dick's a bit more whiny than I hoped but less than I expected, so I can deal. Damian needs to be crowbarred and blown up immediately, and I don't know why Morrison has such a hard-on for this little punk, but that was also expected, so I knew what I was getting into (I just still hate the little bastard). I did think his calling Alfred "Pennyworth" was equally a nice touch by the writer, and just one more reason to hate him, if that makes sense. But mostly, the lack of any real characterization for the villains irked me. How am I supposed to care about them if they're just standard "freaks"? But other than that, no major complaints.
As for the art, well...I don't like Quitely. Never have, probably never will. His storytelling skills are great, his layouts are great, his scenery is great, and I'll admit the new Batmobile, while not my favorite, is mighty cool. But his people just look like crap, and there's no way of getting around that for me. It's a stylistic thing, if you like his tuff normally, you'll love this. If not, then you won't. It's that simple.
In the final analysis, it's OK. I think the biggest problem is, it's supposed to be SO MUCH bigger and better than merely OK. This is DC's biggest franchise, by one of its biggest creative teams, in a big "event"/relaunch. And it's merely an average superhero comic. That does not bode well for DC, at least not in my opinion. Anyway, despite that doom-and-gloom opinion, I liked it well enough.
This is our "one side gets the upper hand only to be dealt a crushing blow in the end" issue, as Vulcan sees how badly the Kree are beginning to wipe the floor with the Shi'ar. He then gets paid a visit by Talon (from the Darkhawk/Ascension stuff) who vows to help change that. Meanwhile, Gladiator is helping Lilandra reclaim the throne, and Crystal and Ronan discuss Black Bolt's strategy and contingencies should the War take a turn for the worse. All appears to be leading toward a Vulcan defeat/cease-fire under Lilandra, until the end, when a disguised Raptor and the few Shi'ar council members loyal to Vulcan interrupt Lilandra's open show of coup, and attack Lil, Gladiator, the Starjammers, and Lil's followers, ending the issue with a savage, terrible death of a long-time Marvel character. As if it hadn't already, stuff's REALLY going to hit the fan now.
As per usual, DnA and Pelletier have crafted a near-perfect comic here. There's not much more I can say. I LOVED it.
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