Get your hot Blue Plates here! Well, your lukewarm Blue Plates anyway...good bit of mediocrity here.
This really suffers from "fill-initis", which I especially bad considering this book hasn't really had anything that good to need fill-ins between in a long, LONG time. Wein tries his best here, mixing a pretty good concept (expanded Royal Flush Gang) with a decent if by-the-numbers origin sequence for Amos Fortune and the original RFG, and tries to mix some humor in through Plas and Firestorm, but this still suffers from being a bit too generic. It's a throwback story, but it's so bland that even a throwback fan like me thinks it's a bit too boring. I don't feel the characterization here like I did last issue, the threat just doesn't seem that great, Amos and Roulette's contest isn't fully shown properly (they mention it's being run for an audience, but we don't know who), and it just skips around too much without really getting into why we should care. I really liked Len's first issue of this arc, but this one falls dreadfully flat.
As for Derenick's art, it's typical Derenick. Standard, solid superheroics, but nothing splashy. It won't change your mind about whether you normally like him or not (I do). On the whole, I was disappointed.
The one book I got really excited about today did not disappoint. Bru and Lark finish off their Kingpin arc and their run in grand style, as we learn that the King who returned in this arc wasn't necessarily Wilson Fisk. Bru mixes a bit of Master Izo's "origin" with some Hand history and some Matt Murdock history (sweet Janson art) to show us just what kind of wheels have been turning behind the scenes here, and just how long they've been turning. Meanwhile in the present, Matt (with a little help from his friends, even some he wasn't expecting), makes some hard choices and foreboding sacrifices to save his friends and stop Owl, Kingpin, and Lady Bullseye. I'm generally against heroes taking darker measures and using deadlier tactics, but one of my favorites, DD, finally got pushed too far here and appears to have crossed the line. And Bru made me actually like it. The treatment he gives the Owl is especially brutal, and probably deserved.
In the end, Matt's machinations put him on top for now, in a unique place that should lead to all kinds of fun (for us, but probably not for Matt) stories coming out of this issue, as evidenced by Diggle and Tan's backup previewing The List. Add in a sweet Nocenti (who's still got the goods on examining just who Matt is and why he does what he does) and Aja (channeling the hell out of Mazzuchelli) backup, and a reprint of one of Frank Miller's most famous DD issues, and this all adds up to a total win. I loved it.
BN Superman #1
As much as I loved the BN Batman first issue, I found myself a bit under whelmed by this one. Part of that is probably because I'm not following any of the S-books, so a lot of the background stuff we see with Supes and Supergirl is lost on me, but otherwise...meh. They've basically given a black ring to a guy (Kal-L) who's WAY too powerful, and writing around that just comes off contrived, especially considering the whole purpose of the Black Lanterns is to kill and make more Black Lanterns. Yet for some reason Kal-L and his partner (Stewie Griffin's favorite thing in the world, a dead Lois) choose to play with their prey when they had easy kill opportunities on Connor, Krypto, and especially Ma Kent. It's basically the equivalent of "monologuing" or "elaborate death-trapping", and in the context of the overarching story, it rang false to me.
But, Barrows's art is nice, BL Kal-L is pretty badass, and I admit I was surprised by BL Lois. But in the end, this is gonna have to get a WHOLE lot better. I didn't particularly like it.