Each week, I and long-time DC reader Ray Goldfied look at the releases from DC Comics. He’s more amenable to giving new storylines a chance and I have a quick hook. But when we agree, that means a creative team is doing something exceptional, and that’s the case this week with Batman #43, our Book of the Week, which earned a rare 10 from Ray and my enthusiastic “Buy It!.” Another highlight this week? DC Comics Bombshells #1, a World War II take on some of our favorite DC heroines.
Batman #43–Book of the Week. Scott Snyder, writer, Greg Capullo, pencils, Danny Miki, inks
Corrina: Buy It. Now.
Ray: It’s rare I give praise like this, but this is genuinely one of the most amazing comic book runs we’ve seen in a long time. It’s not over yet, but I could easily see it falling in the modern elites with Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern run and Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four.
And in taking on this challenging new status quo, Scott Snyder has risen to the challenge and given us a new run that’s both thrilling and emotionally complex. We open with Bruce Wayne meeting with Jim Gordon, who tries to get his help with Batman’s old technology, to allow him to go off the grid and escape Powers Corp’s oversight. However, Bruce makes clear that he’s left that part of his life behind and leaves with Julie Madison. We get the truth behind Bruce’s return from Alfred, who has been spying on Bruce with Clark Kent. In an incredibly powerful segment, Alfred reveals the full chain of events. Bruce died in those caves with the Joker, and his body was found days later. But when Alfred showed up to collect his body, it had healed courtesy of the Dionesium.
However, this had the effect of rebooting and rewriting his brain, leaving him without his memories and all the scars and pain he carried around with him. Alfred filled him in as best as he could about who he was and what he had done for Gotham, but Bruce decided he couldn’t go back and wanted to help Gotham in a different way now. Alfred believes that this Bruce is essentially what Bruce could have been if things had gone differently, and he has no interest in disrupting that.
I’ve got to give Snyder massive points here for coming up with a completely new hook for a replacement hero story, much like Jason Aaron did in Thor last year. He also manages to call back to the Batman cloning device from the Detective Comics anniversary issue, as one of Bruce’s unfinished projects.
Jim Gordon’s story, meanwhile, takes him to the headquarters of Mr. Bloom, where a tense battle involving some enhanced minions and a tankful of mutated horned sharks ensues. Gordon winds up trapped deep underground in a furnace in the cliffhanger, and Duke Thomas seems to be in some trouble as well, as his distrust of Bruce leads him to steal the seed of Mr. Bloom that Gordon gave Bruce. The final scene has a face-off between Penguin and Mr. Bloom, where Penguin has one of his goons kill the upstart crime-lord – only for Mr. Bloom to reveal his true form and impale Penguin with his fingers. This seemingly reveals Mr. Bloom’s true identity as Dr. Death from Zero Year, but there may be a swerve here. Either way, every scene of this comic is packed with excitement and great writing, and you likely won’t find a better DC comic this month.
Corrina: This is the third time Bruce Wayne has been replaced as Batman in his regular monthly comics. Each time, it was clear that the status quo would be restored soon. Azrael was too much of a newcomer too and too violent to last. Dick Grayson was destined to go back to being Nightwing, both times that he replaced Bruce under the Cape and Cowl.
I suspected it would be the same this time, that Bruce would heal and Gordon would put aside the Robot Batman suit. Or I did until this issue, when I read Alfred’s tale of Bruce’s literal rebirth. There’s something so attractive about the idea of a Bruce Wayne without psychic wounds, a Bruce who can embrace another path and not be haunted by the gunshots that ended his childhood and forever changed his life. He’s still a hero but in an entirely different way. I want to see who this man becomes, just as I’m curious about how Gordon reshapes the Batman mythos to be his own version of the protector of Gotham. I’m pleased to see he doesn’t trust the tech provided by Powers Corp., and equally certain he’ll escape the deathtrap.
Oh, and Greg Capullo deserves all kinds of credit for the emotions, particularly with Gordon’s face, and Alfred during his story, and the moody panels with the snow, and then a shout-out to the colorist, as the colors change to bright and shiny as Alfred brings the “new” Bruce home.
This is an entirely original take on the Batman mythos and I didn’t believe that was possible. I also believe it’s superior to the runs Ray mentioned, if only because this tale is so…human.
DC Comics Bombshells #1 -Marguerite Bennett, writer, Marguerite Sauvage, artist
Corrina: Buy It (Especially if you’re a Kate Kane fan).
Ray: DC’s digital-first comics have always been a mixed bag, telling stories from outside of the mainstream continuity with varying success. Right out of the bag, this World War II-set female-centric adventure title may be the best of the lot.
The creative team of Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage wastes no time in throwing us into the setting, starting with a version of Kate Kane who is equal parts baseball star and vigilante with all the men of Gotham off at war. After easily handling some thugs at a game, she’s half-heartedly pursued by Officer Maggie Sawyer – who also happens to be her girlfriend. Interesting and exciting to see an LGBT hero in a 1940s-set comic.
The story ends with Kate being recruited by Amanda Waller – in a WWII pilot’s outfit – for a secret mission, and we’re then off to the second story, where Steve Trevor is captured after an Amazon attack on his planes. It seems collateral damage from the air skirmishes in the war have been hitting Themysrica, and the Amazons want blood – with Diana being the only one willing to hear his side of the story.
The final story focuses on Russian versions of Courtney Whitmore and Kara Zor-El as teenagers enlisting in an elite Russian fighter pilot squadron. However, after running into disaster in the skies, Kara’s secret is revealed and their lives are in danger from their own countrymen. Overall, an incredibly interesting alternate world. I could have seen this as a prestige format Elseworlds released during the ’90s.
Corrina: I know some have been fans of the Bombshell covers but I’ve been indifferent to them, as I tend to be indifferent to most cover gimmicks. However, this comic is all that Ray says it is. It’s fun, fast-moving, features a Kate Kane that readers who fell in love with the character will recognize instantly, and manages not to mess up Wonder Woman.
However, when I realized the third story featured the Night Witches, I was head over heels. These lost heroes of the Soviet Union did, in reality, fly in wood and canvas *biplanes.*
I’ll be buying more of the Bombshells.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #3 -Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV, writers, Ming Doyle and Vanesa Del Rey, artists
Corrina: Buy It
The creative team of Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV – along with guest artist Vanessa Del Ray, who covers John Constantine’s punk years in flashbacks this issue – are doing an amazing job of bringing Constantine back to his roots as a detective who is neck deep in horror and seediness, and tends to destroy everyone he touches. Constantine is still reeling from the loss of his (dead) best friend Gary when he runs across another old friend of sorts.
Years ago, he and Gaz met a pair of women, Veronica and Georgie, and Constantine quickly got them involved in demonic affairs. Years later, Georgie is a specialist in supernatural affairs for Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and she and Constantine wind up sniffing around the same case involving an orgy where every participant died at the moment of ecstasy. It’s exactly the kind of creepy, lurid case that Constantine is perfect for. However, Georgie’s hostility towards John is soon explained by the fact that Veronica is dead, likely because of what John introduced her to. The issue’s got a twisted sense of humor, especially in one scene involving a punk musician incubus, but overall it’s creepy, tense, haunting, and pretty much perfect for a John Constantine book. The Hellblazer is back, and it’s great to see this title get back to what originally made it a hit.
Corrina: This series would get me hooked on this world, even if it were the first time I encountered Constantine. I found the flashback/present day setup a little bit overused lately in fiction, though it works well here. Still, there are time when I want to know what’s wrong with linear storytelling?
But I disgress. There is some forward movement on Constantine’s quest to discover who’s killing the ghosts that surround him, and I enjoyed the villain of the piece but I expect many things in this comic are not as they seem, and we’ll discover that down the line.
Green Arrow #43 –Benjamin Percy, script, Patrick Zircher, art.
Corrina: Buy It? If you’re a Green Arrow fan.
Ray: This title has been through so many creative changes over the years that it’s hard to keep track, but none of them have made any impact besides the fantastic Lemire/Sorrentino run. Ben Percy and Patrick Zircher’s run seems to be following in that title’s footsteps, and so far it’s off to a very strong start.
Seattle has gone to hell, with Aaron Zimm – a former associate of Ollie’s – unleashing an army of police drones on the city that are hunting and killing even petty criminals. Meanwhile, his associate, the sadistic, racist Nightbird, is going on a killing spree with impunity. Green Arrow’s attempt to stop Zimm last issue ended with him captured, and Emiko soon disobeys her brother’s orders and heads into battle alongside wolf-dog George to rescue him. Emiko and Henry Fyff are the real scene-stealers this issue, as they bicker hilariously on their way to rescue GA.
I was a bit surprised by how quickly the villains fell apart this issue. It was satisfying to see them turn on each other over fairly petty differences in their approach to racist evil, but it was a bit abrupt and I’m sort of surprised Nightbird in particular didn’t make it out of this arc alive. Still, as a Green Arrow story and an introduction to the new status quo, it’s a big success. Also, I can’t be the only person who notices that Green Arrow now has a snarky teenage sidekick and an injury-prone dog. Sound like another archer we know?
Corrina: It was the art that sold me on this issue, reminding me of some of Michael Lark’s best work in Gotham Central–atmospheric to the point of noir. Unfortunately, I’d hope this would lead to a more interesting reveal than a villain using robot drones. That seems almost too obvious.
I’m still not sure who this Oliver Queen is. Sure, the old Oliver was a smart-ass, sometimes smug, hot-headed Crusader but he had a consistent characterization. I’m not sure who this new, rebooted Oliver is. Is he the Batman-like crusader of the Arrow series? Is he like Clint Barton/Hawkeye, as Ray suggested? The story is great but Oliver is so far more unknowable than his city or his villains.
Gotham Academy #9 -Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, writers, Karl Kerschl, art.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This is a very interesting title, in that it feels like there’s always twenty different ongoing plots hanging around, but the title doesn’t feel like it’s in a rush to resolve any of them, instead choosing to hang around, reveal things at its own pace, and concentrate on character development and case-of-the-month stories. It’s refreshing, almost like a CW drama as opposed to a standard comic book.
The issue opens with Olive being surprised by the rest of her “mystery squad” as they investigate a new monster on campus, this one seemingly a werewolf. However, Olive can’t focus too much on that as she’s preoccupied by the discovery of her admission file, which contains some disturbing reveals about why her mother wound up in Arkham and what the school officials think of her. It’s really interesting how many classic Batman villains are hanging around the school, from Kirk Langstrom and now Hugo Strange as the school psychiatrist. The action picks up a lot when the kids chase the werewolf, who turns out to be the football coach and another one of Dr. Milo’s unfortunate experiments using the DNA of Man-Bat-boy Tristain. The ending has Olive’s frenemy Pomeline reveal she knows more about Olive’s mother than she let on, and the possible arrival of a major new villain. It’s one of the most unique books in DC’s stable.
Corrina: The book has a unique look and unique characters, students who have been affected by Gotham as much as their parents or other residents. The artwork is crazy good as the Academy itself seems to be alive, much like Hogwarts in the movies. And the cast is winning, as they struggle to understand the happenings around them, and figure out their place in the world. It’s a comic I would happily give any pre-teens and up, whether they were familiar with DC Comics or not. I was glad to see at one mystery resolved, however, instead of a plot thread hanging around the place. Sometimes, the plotting is too clever for its own good.
Batman/Superman #23 -writer, Greg Pak, art, Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
Corrina: Buy It (Especially for Lois Lane fans)
Ray: The tense working relationship between the depowered Superman and the new Batman continues to develop as they find themselves on opposite issues with each having a good point. That’s always my favorite type of hero vs. hero slugfests. Batman is trying to transport a Waynecorp Artificial sun safely to a containment vault before the subterraneans claim it to power their city, and interviews with Perry White and Lois Lane make it clear to him that Clark Kent can’t be trusted if he thinks he’s doing the right thing.
This is much more a Superman story than a Batman story, though, as we primarily follow Superman into the tunnels of Subterranea. Greg Pak does a great job of covering his new fear as he realizes just how mortal he is, and there’s a number of a great scenes where he meets the humans now living among the Subterraneans – including some escaped Metropolis Penitentiary inmates seeking a fresh start. However, he plan to go undercover as a guard backfires when he’s captured by his commanding officer and accused of desertion. Even Ukur, the de facto villain of the arc, gets more character development as he’s revealed as a ruthless but devoted leader filled with guilt at not being able to provide for his people. However, that doesn’t stop him from escalating things with the reveal of his new ally – Aquaman. The issue ends with the set-up for a Batman vs. Superman showdown, and while I would like more of Batman’s side of the story, there’s no question that Pak is delivering an entertaining read.
Corrina: This is the first story with Superman’s new status quo of being partially powered that I actually enjoyed. The creative team has been doing good work but it’s also been working with a plot element that holds it back. That’s still true this issue as Ray points out, because Superman gets little character development. (You know, this would make a great story with Wonder Woman in the lead.) However, the nuances of the situation, with Ukur more than a mustache-twirling villain, and Jim Gordon and Lois Lane having a chat about the nature of Superman’s heroics put it on the “should buy” list for me. Especially since I enjoyed this take on Lois a great deal.
Superman: Action Comics #43 –story, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, words, Pak, art, Kuder
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Greg Pak has been telling a fascinating, down-to-earth story in this title as Superman returns to Metropolis to find his old block’s resident making a stand against a ruthless police Sargeant carrying out a personal vendetta against Superman. This issue is also strong, but takes a sudden turn for the bizarre at the start when Superman punches Sgt. Binghamton – only to see his face split open and reveal him as one of the shadow demons that he was battling last issue. It’s an interesting reveal, but sort of takes away from the villain’s character in that he was never human at all.
As the monster tries to order his officers to attack Superman, residents of the block like Dante and Lee enter the fray, backing Superman up until the police finally see reason and switch sides, helping to drive the monstrous Binghamton away. However, in the aftermath Superman finds that his apartment has been ransacked by anti-alien extremists, and decides it’s best that he leave. He gives a powerful speech to the residents of the block, asking them to carry on for him and protect people in his absence. Meanwhile, the Mayor is trying to get to the bottom of these events and questions some of the officers on the site.
There’s one female officer who still stands by Binghamton – only to be shocked when the Mayor reveals herself to be one of the shadows as well, and it’s only Superman that stands between her and being devoured. What is up with these shadows? There’s a lot of interesting stuff in this issue, but it feels like how good it is heavily depends on the answers we get at the end of this arc. Still, very intrigued.
Corrina: I remain less intrigued by “street” Superman, though I readily agree that his friends and neighbors standing by Clark as the police move in is a terrific sequence. I’d hoped this was going to be a layered story about the uses and abuses of power, in a fictional re-enactment of what’s going in with the racial divide in American cities. But the reveal of the main police officer as a shadow demon undercuts that motif, and makes it just another story of “police as pawns of evil.” That’s disappointing. (Though I hear Fox News wasn’t happy with the other angle.)
Beautiful artwork, however, especially in the sequences with the shadows. Creepy.
Catwoman #43 -Genevieve Valentine, script, David Messina, art
Corrina: Buy It? If you’re hooked on this arc. Not a good place to start, however.
Ray: After a few issues where the pacing was losing my interest a bit, things pick up a lot this issue as a number of ongoing plot lines reach their apex. Selina has settled in well in her role as mob boss and guardian of her neighborhood, winning the hearts and minds of the locals with an open party even as she wins a lot of Black Masks’s free agents over to her side. She even encounters the “new” Bruce Wayne when she briefly takes refuge at his shelter, and has a short but intense battle with the All-New Batman.
But Black Mask is planning on making a move, and Eiko – along with her new apprentice, Spoiler – is planning to stop him. However, Black Mask anticipates her arrival, and in a tense battle sequence, cuts her down with a bullet and sends Eiko plummeting down to the streets below. Antonia, seemingly Selina’s closest advisor, betrays her to Penguin in a shocker. In the cliffhanger, we see the wounded Eiko being dragged to safety in the sewers by none other than Selina’s old ally, Killer Croc. The plot seems to be speeding up in a hurry, and it’s taken on the tone of a great mob thriller with some superhero elements.
Corrina: It seems churlish to complain when the majority of this run has been stellar with a fresh take on Selina and what she wants to do with the rest of her life. It’s also become clear that Selina is essentially a loner, and she’s called out on that by her main “lieutenant.” So I don’t expect the mob angle to last after this story is wrapped up though it’s been a fascinating ride.
However, sometimes the panel sequences undercut the story and I have to re-read several times to understand exactly what’s happening. In this case, I wasn’t entirely certain why Spoiler seemed to abandon Eiko after she was shot by Black Mask, nor why Selina herself seems so indifferent to everyone around her. It’s a pose that’s quickly seeping into the rest of her actions.
So, churlish as it may be, I find myself wishing this story would get to its point, if not next issue, soon.
Starfire #3 –Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Emanuela Lupacchino, pencils, Ray McCarthy, inks.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: I’m really enjoying Conner and Palmiotti’s new take on Starfire, bringing a lot more of the light and energy of the cartoon version that was lacking for a while. The new supporting cast is strong, and Starfire’s malapropisms and misunderstandings add some really amusing scenes.
I never thought a scene where Starfire goes grocery shopping could be as funny as it is.
I will say, though, this series has a bit of a tone problem in some of the threats it’s pitting Starfire against. The hurricane of the first two issues was a strong start, but now we have a mysterious beast pulling innocent people into the ground and spitting out there bones, and a shipwreck survivor named Soren Hook who boards a passing vessel, gains their trust, and then proceeds to slaughter everyone on board. The light of the rest of the issue and the darkness of these scenes makes for an odd read, but it picks up towards the end of the issue as Starfire goes to a bar and meets the bartender, who claims to also be fairly new to Florida – but when the beast attacks, reveals that she knows it from “down south”. It’s Atlee, the fan-favorite Terra and Power Girl’s former BFF, now filling that role for Starfire.
Hoping for more of this dynamic, less of the violent stuff.
Corrina: I sat down to have fun reading this issue and then two beach-goers are promptly eaten and there bones shown on page. Eww…and then there’s Soren Hook, who seems to be a far too gory villain for the tone of this series. Perhaps the tone imbalance will straighten out next issue.
The joy of this comic so far has been the everyday scenes, such as the grocery shopping, and Starfire’s interest in customs that confuse her. She’s not afraid to ask questions and has yet to master metaphor. I love that the series is set in the Florida keys, which adds a sunny atmosphere. Terra AKA Atlee was a nice surprise.
But agreed with Ray on toning down the violence.
Justice League United #12 -writer, Jeff Parker, artist, Travel Foreman
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a series take such a dramatic turn in tone from one creative team to another as this one. Under Jeff Lemire, it was a fairly optimistic adventure series that reintroduced us to the Legion. Now, only two issues into Jeff Parker’s run, it’s about a constantly changing squad of hero teams facing existential threats – which in this issue, includes some pretty twisted body horror on a floating island in the ocean.
Travel Foreman’s creepy art only helps to accentuate the connections to Lemire’s Animal Man run, and the setting reminds me a lot of “The Red” from that book. There are a lot of characters running around here, including some who haven’t had much to do since their series was cancelled, like Etrigan and Poison Ivy (who is getting a new series soon). It’s tense, creepy, and visually interesting, but my biggest problem here is the use of Swamp Thing. He’s trapped early on in the issue, and seemingly sacrificed to destroy the island in the end. Poison Ivy says she should be able to resurrect him, but that’s still some serious misuse of the most powerful hero in the DCU. It’s a creative, creepy issue in a lot of ways, but the tonal shift from the first run is kind of awkward.
Corrina: I cannot deny that this is a creative story. But the problem is, as Ray noted, a lot of main characters running around and that the pair that know the most, Alanna and Equinox, haven’t been fully developed enough to be the linchpins for this constantly shifting creative team. I’m thrilled to see two new female superheroes, it’s just that they’ve become lost in these one-in-done teams and missions and their independence is undercut by the fact they seem to be taking orders from Adam Strange who’s trapped in an inter-dimensional…thing. There’s just not enough here to hold my allegiance. I’d hoped that they’d focus on the overall issue with Strange and instead, we’re veering off into this.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters #1 -written by Bruce Timm and J.M. DeMatteis, art by Thony Silas
Corrina: Watch the film?
Ray: After a trio of one-shots introducing us to the darker heroes of this world, the main miniseries begins as we see how the world has changed once they’ve asserted themselves as the powers in this world. There’s a significant time jump, as they all know each other and have established relationships. Batman and Superman are friends, with Superman helping Batman to keep his hunger under control, while Superman and Wonder Woman have a tense relationship after a failed romance years ago.
We see how Superman first announced himself to the world, resolving a hostage situation with extreme bloodshed and creating fear around the world. The main conflict of the issue stems from Jackson Alpert, a reclusive billionaire who has developed a medical process that creates “Forever People”, a group of immortals immune to illness, injury, or aging. As the League confronts Alpert’s group of Forever People bodyguards at his base, they’re invited in to see the process for themselves – and experience it, if they wish. Superman, seeking more power, undergoes it – only to have it go painfully wrong. Batman, meanwhile, is seeking answers and it leads him to someone with ties to the commune we first saw in Wonder Woman’s special. I’m not as fond of this issue as I was of the first two one-shots, but there’s quite a few intriguing plots here.
Corrina: I’ve enjoyed all three one-shots, even the Wonder Woman one that Ray didn’t enjoy, but this first issue of the main events is too packed, with too much happening and all of it so fast that it fails to build suspense. I’m so disappointed, especially after being impressed by the prequel stories. Also, the art seemed a slight step down from those in the one-shots.
I may take a step back from this comic and watch the film, which my son insists I have to watch right away because “it’s awesome.”
Star Trek/Green Lantern #2 -written by Mike Johnson, art by Angel Hernandez and Paul Pope
This is one of the rare crossovers between properties that really works, because the reason for the crossover feels organic and it’s being used to do interesting things. Last issue, the Enterprise crew discovered Ganthet’s body on an alien planet, where it had landed eons ago. Experiments on the rings he was carrying – one of each sent out a beacon that brought Hal Jordan to confront the Enterprise. It also sent out the rings to worthy people across the universe. Uhura was given the Star Sapphire ring, Chekov wound up with the blue ring, and Bones got the Indigo ring, although he maintains his English unlike most of them.
The yellow ring, however, went to the ruthless General Cheng, who attempts to use it to destroy the Enterprise and is only fended off by a combination of the crew and Hal. As they compare notes, we find out where the other two rings went. The red ring went to Gornar, where a jealous prince plans to use it to overthrow his father and take the throne. Meanwhile, the orange ring – only the second ever given out – heads to Romulus, where it goes to a Vulcan refugee arguing that the time has come to begin colonizing and exploiting other worlds. Looks like this story just gained two new villains. And speaking of villains, General Cheng retreats, only to come face to face with a new threat – Sinestro, looking to bring his new Sinestro Corps member under his control. Lots of interesting stuff going on here for fans of either franchise.
Corrina: I leave this one to Ray, as it wasn’t a review copy DC sent. Sounds like it might be a lot of fun for fans of both franchises. And anything with Pope’s art can’t be all bad.
Earth 2: Society #3 -Daniel H. Wilson, writer, Jorge Jimenez, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy
Ray: This title has been a rough read from the start, with all the changes it’s made to the characters, most of them seemingly pretty cynical. Alan Scott has been submerged into the ring, becoming less human by the minute. Power Girl and Val-Zod are now sworn enemies for some reason, only able to briefly work together when Red Tornado is able to calm them down so they can fight Terry Sloane’s terraforming machine.
Speaking of Red Tornado, she narrates the issue and is easily the best part, as we see how she continues to struggle with her humanity and found purpose in the aftermath of planetfall by helping to reunite families. However, the title continues to suffer from an extremely dark art style that makes it constantly seem like it’s nighttime. The ending reveals that Terry Sloane is already dead and there’s a traitor on the loose which…is kind of what I’d expect from a book this dour. It’s a shame, because this universe had so much promise.
Corrina: I enjoyed reading this, mostly for the Lois Lane/Red Tornado narration but this restart of the Earth-2 series has made plot decisions that, as Ray noted, seem pointless. Instead of a tale of survivors building a new society and how their techniques differ, which would have made for a good science fiction read, there are heroes being unpleasant to each other for no reason, random flashbacks meant to intrigue but annoy instead, and it’s three issues in and I still don’t know why they had to take a positive idea of starting a new society, crash half the refugee ships and start with tragedy instead.
Red Hood/Arsenal #3 -Scott Lobdell, writer, Denis Medri, artist
Corrina; Don’t Buy It.
Ray: This is an amusing title, pairing two of the most irresponsible, sketchy heroes in the DCU as they try to make a living and get a reputation in the hero community. Well, at least that’s what Jason’s goal is. Roy is just trying to make the money. This issue, he blows all their good will with their fixer boss by going public with his “Rent-A-Bat” service that basically advertises that Jason will come over and kick you’r problem’s butt. They’re quickly hired by a shady criminal organizer who wants them to work for his boss, “Underbelly”. They follow the mission to try to expose the villain and come across a crime boss made of some sort of white ooze with countless little heads attached, and then kill him in violent fashion, but not before he re-forms once or twice. The dialogue is good, but the title loses me a little when it slips into gross-out mode. Still, the new dynamic of Jason and Roy allowing themselves to be hired by criminals so they can ambush them has a lot of promise.
Corrina: This is an annoying title in which I’m supposed to find the banter between Jason and Roy amusing, and their situations darkly funny.
I don’t. I find them stupid and annoying and not the least bit interesting. I guess fans of Roy/Jason slash might find something of interest here.
New Suicide Squad #11 -Sean Ryan, writer, Philippe Briones, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It
Ray: I’m still finding this new direction for the Squad pretty interesting, as the core three of Deadshot, Black Manta, and Boomerang are embedded deep within a radical sect of the League of Assassins that has taken over a town and turned it into a terrorist base. Black Manta is quickly going native, having disappeared Boomerang for disobedience and being all too into the terrorist’s raid on a nearby base manufacturing synthetic Lazarus serum. With Amanda Waller not wanting to compromise the operation but needing to stop the destruction of the base, she sends the rest of the team in to stop her moles while allowing them to escape back to their mission. However, Black Manta’s increasing obsession with the goals of the people they’re supposed to stop threatens the life of both sides. And man, Reverse Flash really is the most incompetent guy on this team, isn’t he? It’s kind of hilarious. Not a bad issue, but it feels like it’s starting to spin its wheels a bit as we’re essentially in the same place as we were in the first issue.
Corrina: Ray find it interesting but…he still only gives it five and a half stars. That’s one way to tell he has more patience than I do. I like the setup of this new mission but it quickly seems to have devolved from tense spy thriller with villains in far over their heads to one big fight fest, with the motivation of the other side somehow lost in the shuffle.
Also, these people can take down Reverse Flash? That’s some serious firepower and seemed out of place.
Arrow Season 2.5 #11 –Marc Guggenheim, script, Joe Bennett, pencils, Craig Yeung, inks
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: A fairly generic penultimate issue to this series, as Ollie finds himself up against the Mirakuru-enhanced Caleb, the deranged son of a man whose life his father ruined. The main problem is just how generic Caleb’s plan is. He’s kidnapped Laurel to lure Ollie to Queen Manor so he can watch her die before he burns the place down with Ollie in it. He ambushes Ollie, ties him up, and lights the place on fire with them in it, but naturally Ollie gets free and the two brawl in the burning mansion. I will say that I liked Laurel coming back and stabbing Caleb to give Ollie a bit of an edge, but other than that the issue is just sort of bland. There’s worse comics out there, but this was probably the most forgettable one this week.
Corrina: Laurel, go away, I’ve got this. Okay, Laurel, sure, stab him, but then go away again. I’m down on Arrow the show after last season. This story is fine but, as Ray points out, fairly generic.
All-Star Section Eight #3 -Garth Ennis, writer, John McGrea, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy.
Ray: I don’t think I can remember a comic this distasteful out of the big two in years. Garth Ennis has always been someone who pushes the limits of good taste, but the difference is that in things like The Boys, the extreme and graphic stuff had a point. And in things like Hitman, the extreme humor was…well, funny.
The main story in this comic is extremely repetitive – the goons of Section 8 attempt to recruit a JLAer and botch it horribly. This issue, they set their eyes on Martian Manhunter, who is actually intrigued at the idea of helping to lift up this d-list team and agrees to join. Meanwhile, the weird mouth-demon Baytor is dressed as a Nazi and talking in german for some reason, and Bueno Excellante is in a love triangle with a talking monster tapeworm over the pile of organs Guts. When the tapeworm challenges him to a duel of his choosing, Bueno chooses…something obscene and apparently violates the Tapeworm for hours. Martian Manhunter walks in on this and flies off in horror. That’s the plot. We’re supposed to find this funny, or interesting. Well, I didn’t. I just felt sort of ill.
Corrina: Ray did better than me. He read the whole issue. I flipped through and tossed it aside. It’s just an unpleasant comic full of unpleasant, unfunny people and situations. Ennis is capable of great work.
This is not even close to it.
Ray Goldfield is a Writer/Editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. A comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received the DC Comics for review purposes.