Welcome to our recaps of DC Comics’ latest issues. Ray is the prototypical DC fan. It takes a great deal for him to give up on a title. I’m the one who tends to have the quick hook, especially for titles are are just ‘meh.’
This week, the Bat-kids keep chugging along in Batman and Robin Eternal, the Secret Six get wet in a terrific issue featuring Aquaman, Martian Manhunter‘s many selves argue with each other about saving the Earth in a great whacked-out story, and the original Teen Titans try to get back together in Titans Hunt.
On the bad side, the title character of the Telos gets the most random origin ever, the aptly-named Doomed closes its run, and Jimmy Olsen gives in to the Dark Side in Earth-2 Society.
Batman and Robin Eternal #7 – James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Genevieve Valentine, script, Alvaro Martinez, pencils, Raul Fernandez, inks
Ray: 9.5/10 (Book of the Week)
Corrina: Buy the Series.
Ray: I was waiting for this series – which has been consistently strong since it started – to truly wow me with an issue. Valentine’s first issue as the script writer does just that as it turns the spotlight on Cassandra Cain and Harper Row and their growing friendship. The team is a bit splintered, as Tim Drake has gone off the grid and is following his own leads – accompanied by Jason Todd, who tries to get the young genius Bat to open up about his issues with Dick and Bruce in his own snarky fashion. I’ve really enjoyed the interaction with these two in this series, even though it’s a pretty clear indication that we’re wiping out their previous hostility. The flashback segments continue to show us how Bruce got closer and closer to Mother in the past, but they’re brief.
The meat of the issue is in Harper and Cass’ undercover mission for Dick. It seems Mother is picking off her former children, cleaning up her loose ends one by one, and last on the list is a Prima Ballerina in the Prague ballet. Dick is on Mother’s radar, so he decides to send in some lower-profile operatives – Harper and Cass. Harper is hilarious in this issue, basically serving as the fast-talking partner to the taciturn Cass, and it’s fun to see Cass slowly come out of her shell.
However, the best scene of the issue is easily the two of them at the ballet, in a stunning two page spread of the way Cass sees motion. Pre-52, Cass wasn’t just mute – she literally understood motion as language, and it seems like that’s stuck around here. I’m really glad to see that. Cass is a very easy character to misrepresent or underestimate, and Valentine has not done that. Things move fast from there, with Cass and Harper coming under attack from Ballerina assassins and Dick coming face to face with Mother. This is the rare issue that is able to do an equally great job with action and the quiet moments. Maybe the best of the series.
Corrina: This is definitely the issue that Cassandra Cain fans are going to want to own. Cassandra’s origin as the child of a famous assassin trained since birth to murder has been somewhat co-opted by Damian Wayne but where she differs from Bruce’s son is, as Ray said, her ability to read motion and body language to the point where it’s nearly a super-power. It’s actions that reveal the world to her, not words, and having her attend a ballet works beautifully. All credit to Fernandez and Martinez on the artwork.
I could happily read this comic if it were simply Harper, Cass and Dick Grayson, and I could do without the flashbacks that are playing out Mother’s origin and Bruce’s first encounter with the Big Bad of the series. That’s because the flashbacks make it harder to follow a comic already juggling multiple plot lines. I suppose it’s inevitable, too, that I should prefer one plot over the others, and my dislike of Jason Todd is showing. Perhaps it’s time to shake up that pairing. I’d be fascinated to see Todd’s cynicism paired with, say, Stephanie Brown’s optimism.
Martian Manhunter #6 – Rob Williams, writer, Eddy Barrows, pencils, Eber Ferreira, inks,
Corrina: Brilliant SF. Buy It.
Ray: This series is completely insane, in the best way possible. What started out as a sci-fi thriller where the hero died at the end quickly turned into a mystery involving an odd group of characters who were all secretly the same person. Now things have turned around again into an epic sci-fi adventure where the big events and spectacle rival those in some event comics.
This is an issue full of great visuals and shocking reveals, as the nature of the various alters is finally revealed and the deck is shuffled in a big way. As a massive beam of red energy bursts through the Earth and Mars attempts to revive itself on Earth, the plane where Wessel and Mr. Biscuits are riding with the creepy Toby hits turbulence. As the heroes try to keep the peace, Toby’s true nature is revealed – as the imprisoned form of the villain Malefic. He forces the plane into the beam, as on the ground the rest of the alters debate whether to go through with the plan – to use their power to merge with the beam and bring the Living Mars into existence once again at the expense of Earth.
On the ground, a new martian being, formed from one of J’onn’s alters, emerges – the Pearl, who looks a lot like a sleeker version of J’onn. And out of the plane group emerges J’onn’s new form, a distinctly more alien version of the iconic hero. And he wakes up into a new Mars that seems to have taken over Earth, only to be confronted by The Pearl, Wessel, and Mr. Biscuit, who have survived and are determined to put Earth back the way it was. It’s probably the most complex book in the DC line, and one of the best.
Corrina: John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake’s late 1990s Martian Manhunter series established J’onn maintained multiple identities across the globe. Go read it if you can find it. I’d be shocked to find out that the creative team for the current series hasn’t read it, considering the appearance of Malefic.
But even if you haven’t read it and even if you’ve never read a DC Comic, this series works as a terrific SF story, exploring themes of isolation, betrayal, and moral choices as only SF can do, by having a consciousness split into multiple beings arguing with itself and its literal evil twin.
I have no idea how long the series will last but it will be remembered as a classic.
Secret Six #8 – writer, Gail Simone, artists, Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick
Corrina: Buy It, especially for Aquaman fans.
Ray: Secret Six goes big this month, as the quest to save Black Alice enters the magical corners of the DCU in epic fashion. The opening segment involves cavemen being tormented by Cthulhu and a bunch of his fellow old Gods, opening the issue in creepy fashion. We then cut directly to the battle in the hospital, as Big Shot battles off the assassins sent to target Alice and tries to keep her new surge of power from destroying the hospital. Alice’s powers are used really well here, as she keeps adding new layers onto her powers and appearance, creating a really creepy effect.
Meanwhile, Catman’s squad plays mini-golf with Etrigan in a hilarious segment until the mysterious Children of Arion – an Atlantean splinter sect – comes to explain the nature of the threat. It seems there are four ancient stone pillars around the world that control the source of Alice’s power and threaten to unleash the old Gods back into the world. Black Orchid and her fellow attackers want them protected, but the Children of Arion want them destroyed. The two sides unite, leaving Alice with Scandal and Ragdoll while Jeanette joins the Six on the mission, as they head to the site of the first Pillar – Atlantis.
After a brief battle with Aquaman, the first pillar is destroyed – and the Secret Six apparently with it. Just in time for the Children of Arion to reveal themselves as the old Gods reincarnated. I don’t think this issue is quite the best of the run, as this book tends to be best when it’s about the smaller moments and the oddball characters, but this issue is a lot of creepy fun nonetheless. And good lord, those monster designs! Simone likes to give us nightmares.
Corrina: All hail the art team for not just those terrifying Cthulhu monsters and Black Alice’s transformation but also for the claustrophobia imbued in the panels that take place underwater. Not to mention an Aquaman, all in black, who looks more regal and kingly than ever.
But perhaps the best, and most subtle work, is being done with Big Shot’s rubbery and changing appearance. This Ralph Dibny is an entirely different character than the silly detective I’m used to reading. It’s a subtle nod to his detective origins that instead of appearing as a Sherlock Holmes-style detective, he’s now straight out of detective noir, complete with fedora and wise-ass dialogue. I’m becoming fond of Big Shot. He’s the heart of this version of the Secret Six.
Doctor Fate #6 – Paul Levitz & Sonny Liew, storytellers.
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: This series was a little slow until now, but last issue kicked things into a new gear as Khalid made a deal with the mad God Anubis to heal his father’s eyes – only to have Anubis backstab him as mad gods like to, and blind him instead. As Khalid’s parents try to figure out what happened to mysteriously heal him, Khalid struggles with blindness and finds out that his powers come with a unique twist – he can see perfectly well when he has the helmet on, but goes right back into darkness when he takes it off.
This leads him to hole up in his room as the city goes from bad to worse. His friends try to contact him, but the condition in the city is reaching critical mass as Anubis tightens his grip. Soon the entire world is being consumed in Anubis’ firestorm, and Bastet comes to pay a visit to Khalid, to convince him to face off against Anubis one more time.
Khalid does and quickly finds himself overwhelmed. Once Anubis is actually angry, the issue takes a turn for the creepy as the evil dog shows exactly what an angry God can do. And soon enough, Khalid is dead, swallowed into the land of the dead within Anubis. But before anyone freaks out, this was previewed into the solicits! Khalid’s next adventure will take him into the land of the dead. This has been a deliberately paced, creepy comic from the start, and it seems to be entering an exciting new stage. Really hoping this comic picks up in sales, because it’s definitely unique enough to deserve a long life.
Corrina: Ray says this comic is deliberately-paced. I’ll point out that this is the sixth issue and it’s the first where the new Fate finally battles Anubis head-on. The flooding has existed since the beginning, Khalid has said ‘no’ to Fate several times and the last few issues have churned in place. That’s too bad because this title is a great reimagining of a classic DC hero.
But, there’s hope. This issue is a good jumping on point for new readers, as the foes battle and Fate, indeed, gets sent to the land of the dead.
Meantime, Khalid’s parents are feeling much better now that his father is recovered, leading to some sexy times not often seen for older characters, especially in superhero comics. I hope when this first arc is over, we see more of Khalid’s interactions with his family, as that was one of the best parts of a similar comic, the new Blue Beetle.
Bizarro #6 – Heath Corson, writer, Gustavo Duarte, artist, guest artists, Tim Sale and Dave Stewart
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: Hail and farewell to another hilarious miniseries featuring one of DC’s least threatening villains, along with Batman. I’ve been a huge fan of this miniseries, especially with the odd meta approach it takes to bringing in guest artists – such as Tim Sale in one page of Superman this issue. When we last left off, Bizarro had found out about Jimmy’s book deal and flew off, leaving him alone in the desert.
Now, Bizarro has returned to Metropolis and is causing panic again, while Jimmy is wandering through the desert looking for civilization. What he finds, though, is King Tut and Daughter. The former still thinks he’s a chicken, while the latter is looking for revenge. They take Jimmy hostage and call out Bizarro, who shows up with the entire cast of odd heroes they’ve teamed up with in this series. The area 51 monsters, Chastity Hex, and even Kevin the Chupacabra, who brings his whole team of aliens with him. The final battle is exactly as funny as you’d expect, and there’s a ton of great easter eggs.
In the end, Jimmy and Bizarro resume their road trip to Canada, only to be turned away at the border but with a great scrapbook for their upcoming collaboration on a book! I’m far from the biggest Bizarro fan, in fact, I found almost all Bizarro stories to be annoying, but this won me over in a big way. I’m really hoping that Corson and Duarte get another go at this character one day – or any title, really. This has been one of the most unique and entertaining books in the DC slate.
Corrina: Me am hate this book. Me do not want people to buy this book because it is the worstest serious book on the stands, and because it features my leastest favorite characters ever, and has the bestest known characters in the DC Universe that people hate the mostest.
Note: If you find that even mildly amusing, you’re the perfect audience for this fun book. But my poor attempts at Bizarro-speak don’t convey the fun of Duarte’s cartoonish art that makes even the oddest-looking characters, like Kevin, fun on the page. Plus, even if you don’t catch all the obscure DC references, you can appreciate how much Corson is doing with subverting the tropes of various types of road movies, from comedy to horror. Look for this collection.
Harley Quinn #22 – writers, Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti, artist, Chad Hardin
Corrina: Buy It.
Ray: A new arc begins for Harley, with a duo of missions for the Harleys now that she’s back in New York, and it looks like a promising start. In the first segment, the evil Russian grandma who was assassinated via Rhino Horn in the early issues of this series is back, resurrected as a killer cyborg by her grandson, and she’s out for revenge. Her first target? Sy-Borg, Harley’s elderly Jewish cyborg buddy. His great-niece, who is one of the Harleys, teams up with Harley to get him back.
The second mission is distinctly less funny and more life-threatening, as Mason, Harley’s love interest,who is doing time in Rikers for accidentally killing the Mayor’s son in a bar fight, finds himself targeted by his fellow inmates on the orders of some mysterious ringleader. The mayor seeking revenge? Some enemy within the jail? No way of knowing yet, but when his mother’s efforts at getting her son protected fail miserably, she calls Harley in to stage a prison break. It’s an all-around entertaining issue, with some great one-off moments involving Harley and her team of Parakeets, among other things. The similarity to Deadpool continues to be really strong here, but I think that’s a good thing overall. I don’t feel like this book is quite as strong as it has been in past arcs, but it’s still one of DC’s most consistently entertaining books.
Corrina: Ray is doing better than I am to remember the previous plot arcs featuring the evil Russian Grandma and Mason. I like the series best when it’s poking fun at various superhero storytelling conventions, like the heist/hostage double-cross arc in Hollywood. However, there’s something to be said for grounding Harley back in New York and surrounding her with the supporting characters that made the beginning of this run so much fun.
But what makes this series go is Harley’s wide-eyed optimism that always seems to be juxtaposed with her murderous impulses. She genuinely cares about some people and wants to protect them. Of course, those people might be someone locked up in jail for killing people, but, hey, Harley’s heart is in the right place, and I’m definitely on her side versus evil Russian grandma.
Also, Harley’s talking beaver is back.
Of course it is.
Titans Hunt #2 – Dan Abnett, writer, Stephen Segovia, artist
Corrina: Buy It. (Hey, look, Donna Troy! Maybe the real one?)
Ray: This is a twelve-issue miniseries promising to completely revamp the Titans universe for the new DCU, so it’s a pretty ambitious book. It’s also easily the best writing a lot of these characters have gotten in the new universe (looking at you, Donna Troy and Roy Harper), but I do have to say it feels a bit too leisurely at this point.
Aside from Dick Grayson, most people are just wandering around as weird things happen to him and they wonder about them. That aside, the character work is pretty excellent. Roy Harper, not surprisingly, is having the hardest time dealing with the growing idea that something is wrong. When he encounters a group of police officers who notice him behaving erratically, the confrontation quickly escalates until he finds himself under arrest for about three dozen felonies. Mal Duncan is busy getting an interview with a major magazine, until his pregnant wife Karen (who it seems was never a superhero in this version, which is a bit disappointing) notices an odd, creepy shadow figure lurking behind in him at the Oscars.
Gnaark, meanwhile, quits his job at a convenience store and heads off on a mysterious mission. Grayson gets the most page time this issue, as he meets with Alfred to discuss his encounter with Garth last issue, then seeks to lure the Atlantean into the open. Garth reacts about as well as you’d expect and is out for blood against Dick – until Donna Troy randomly shows up to confront one or both of them. This series is still very much in the stage-setting phase, but I’m intrigued. Which is more than I could say about these characters for a long time.
Corrina: I adore Alfred, who gets the best and most snarky lines this issue. Alfred: “I can see how that would be a problem.” Dick: “Really?” Alfred: “No, but it’s years since I expected to get a satisfactory sense of elucidation from people operating out of this cave.”
I disagree with Ray about the slow pacing in that events seem to be moving at a good clip this issue. After his research on Atlanteans, Dick goes after Aqualad, instead of being called away on something else. Plus, there are more hints of what’s wrong with Roy in his hallucinations. (Are they hallucinations or another Titan?) The old-school DC fan in me is also thrilled to see that someone remembered Gnaark, the time-lost caveboy Titan. One would think he’d be the last character to work in a series like this but he’s one of the most intriguing simply because he’s a blank slate and therefore can become anything the creative team wants.
Plus, a Donna Troy sighting! Please let this be the real Donna, and not that weirdly murderous and lost creature in Wonder Woman.
Calling this series the best Titans series in a decade isn’t saying much, given the lows that’s it’s fallen into, but Hunt is certainly the most promising storyline for these characters I’ve read in a long time.
Green Lantern: The Lost Army #6 – Cullen Bunn, writer, art and color, Jesus Saiz,
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: Not so much a conclusion as the end of act one, this miniseries mainly serves to set the stage for Tom Taylor jumping on board soon. However, there are a few intriguing moments, especially in the end. After last issue’s massive prison break, the Lanterns find themselves on the run from the desperate Lightsmiths, who are in then process of terraforming Mogo. They meet up with another group of stranded Lanterns in the lost universe, led by Simon Baz (who I am glad someone remembers exists).
My big issue with this comic is that the first half of the comic is basically one big jumbled fight scene of multiple armies going head to head. However, once Mogo is transformed, things get interesting. It turns out that Mogo is now capable of harnessing – and maybe producing – energy from all the colors of the spectrum. Lanterns who get hit by beams coming out of Mogo find themselves transformed into a new color of the spectrum. And as they fight off the Lightsmiths and head to what they think is home, they find a portal in the Source Wall – only to see it sealed off by none other than Hal Jordan himself. So it seems like Hal and John will have it out when they next meet. The ending has Krona and Relic conspiring against the Lanterns, to no one’s surprise. It’s an entertaining enough comic, but I’m hoping the next miniseries will capture the huge scale that GL is capable of even more.
Corrina: I’m not certain what this miniseries was supposed to accomplish other than reestablishing John Stewart’s history to be in line with his animated portrayal. That’s a good thing but aside from the prison break that dominated this issue and last issue, all the characters have done is meander around the universe trying to get home, and deciding to let this universe be destroyed. Not very heroic of them.
A five-line summary of how this group had spent time wandering around in this universe, looking for home, and found numerous other Lanterns would have sufficed instead of a miniseries. And I still haven’t figured out what the Lanterns “stealing all the light energy” with their rings mean. How does that work? It’s one piece of comic book science that I can’t follow. So, yeah, not a fan, but then I’m not a big Green Lantern fan, in any case.
New Suicide Squad #14 – Sean Ryan, writer, Philippe Briones, artist
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: A decent issue, as we get into the new status quo of the team on the run with Waller. When we last left off, Amanda Waller clued in to the fact that Vic Sage was working with the villains and cut off communications, leading Sage to detonate the bombs attached to the team. Naturally, the bombs didn’t go off because then we’d be out one Harley Quinn. Waller, never one to do anything without planning first, had disconnected the bombs before she went rogue. When the team finds out about this, they’re thrilled – and decide to celebrate it by trying to kill Waller, naturally. Waller doesn’t seem overly concerned with this.
I’ve got to say, while the characterization in this book isn’t usually terrible, I don’t really get Ryan’s Harley Quinn. It’s an oddly brittle, fragile version of the character that seems totally at odds with the one we see in other books. The assault ends when Waller reveals that the bombs can’t be detonated remotely anymore – but they’re tied to her vital signs, giving the team no choice but to keep her alive and work with her. Meanwhile, Vic Sage recruits an ally of his own in Black Manta. This is a decent start to a new arc, but arcs in this book tend to drag in the long run. A new creative team is coming on soon, and I’m looking forward to Seeley putting his mark on the book. The Suicide Squad has the potential to be a great book with the right direction.
Corrina: Query: why didn’t Waller say she’d transferred the control of the internal bombs to her in the first place, thus sparing us the completely pointless scene of having the other Squad members try to kill her? I guess so the comic could show how badass Waller is? But that’s trying to hard. I’m also not sure what to think of Vic Sage as the one plotting against them, being familiar with his history as the Question, and his past as a reporter. Him being a covert government operative under someone else’s control is just an odd choice. I suppose he might be pulling a double con. I hope so.
In any case, this comic isn’t doing anything for me, overall.
Action Comics #46 – Story, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuker, words, Pak and Scott Kolins, art Scott Kolins.
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: I’ve felt for a while that Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are doing the best work with this new Superman status quo. They get Superman a lot better than most writers. But that aside, I didn’t feel like this issue really worked. When we last left off, Superman was attacked by Wrath’s shadow-demons, and seemingly possessed. He’s keeping his mind for the time being, but the shadows seem to have some sort of corrosive impact on his sanity. He tears apart the lab and frees the prisoners within, going on the run with them, but then stalks off to hunt down Wrath as she resurrects an army of shadow monsters possessing ordinary people to fight him. Lee tracks down Superman to help him as Wrath attacks, and Wrath unleashes her secret weapon of a shadow-possessed Frankenstein. Superman and Frankenstein, both in the thrall of the shadows, fight until the shadows take over Superman more and more and it seems like he’s lost to the madness.
It feels to me like Superman gets taken over by sinister forces a lot lately, and Wrath isn’t the most intriguing part of the new Superman status quo to me. Still, I’m hoping this series will get back on track next issue.
Corrina: As much as I’ve hated this premise of a half-powered Superman without his secret identity traveling around the U.S. picking up the pieces of his life while an unknown foe (Wrath and Vandal Savage) attempt to wreck it completely, I can’t deny this creative team has been doing good work on the individual stories.
Unfortunately, that streak ends with this issues, which is all about angry Superman punches things as Wrath invades him. Perhaps it’s meant to hint that his angry characterization in this entire story has been due to Wrath’s influence. If so, that’s a good reset button for when this is all over.
Please be all over soon.
Telos #2 – writer, Jeff King, pencillers, Carlo Pagulavan & Igor Vitorino, inkers, Jason Paz, Marc Deering, & Sean Parsons
Corrina: Arak? What the heck?
Ray: This had one of the worst debuts of any main line DC series that I can remember last month, at #115 on the charts – only offbeat books like GI Zombie debut at that level, and this is a direct spin-off of the last DC event. I think most of it can be chalked up to the fact that of all the things most people cared about in Convergence, Telos wasn’t one of them. This issue tries to give us a reason to, but it’s probably a little too late for that. In between the main plot, we get flashbacks to Telos’ origin. It’s like some odd cross between Conan the Barbarian and Silver Surfer, as Telos is some ancient alien warrior, son of a powerful chief, who struggles with his father’s expectations until he day Brainiac comes to his planet to harvest them.
Telos offers himself up and becomes Brainiac’s Herald of sorts. That takes us up to now, when Telos finds himself infiltrating Colu in search for Brainiac’s daughter, and winds up teaming up with Captain Comet and the cast of long-forgotten DC series Threshold, including cranky cyborg Captain K’rot. They battle a lot of robots and eventually fight Validus of the old Legion comic. It’s pretty much a hodgepodge of past DC space comics, without a compelling lead character or clear ties to the rest of the DCU. Just a puzzle.
Corrina: Some of DC’s creative choices with their new comics have been odd and turned out amazingly well, like Omega Men and Martian Manhunter. And some of them are good debuts which promise more, like Titans Hunt and the new series with Lois and Clark.
Then there’s this confusing puzzle of a comic, which seems determined to drive new readers away by focusing on the least interesting aspects of his origin. Plus, it seems to be tossing random things into the origins just because. Ray doesn’t sound like he remembers Arak, son of Thunder, but I remember him as a Roy Thomas/Ernie Colon creation that attempted to be DC’s Conan. I liked Arak’s comic but there’s no reason he needs to be drawn into this story. It’s like Conan became the Silver Surfer.
Doomed #6 – Scott Lobdell, writer, Javier Fernandez, artist
Corrina: It’s Over, Right?
Ray: Speaking of titles where I don’t know what DC thought the hook for this title was going to be, the adventures of Teen Doomsday come to an end this issue with the first cancelled series of the new wave. Reiser, Superman, and Alpha Centurion (who is secretly Reiser’s possessed roommate) find themselves up against another, much bigger monster than the one Reiser becomes. The bulk of the issue is them fighting this generic Kaiju and eventually killing it.
When that’s done, Alpha Centurion gets ready to kill Reiser because his mission says he has to kill all monsters, but Superman sucker-punches him and tells Reiser, who’s slowly getting the ability to speak in monster form, that he’s giving him one chance to use his powers for good. At which point Aunt Belle’s dog goes missing, and Doomsreiser finds it and gives it a ride home on his monster back. This book is sort of an odd hodgepodge of Hulk and Spider-Man, and while it could have been fun, the execution just wasn’t there. Alpha Centurion is appearing in Teen Titans again, but that’s by the same writer. Other than that, I doubt we’ll be seeing any of these characters again.
Corrina: There were bound to be some misfires with out-there creative choices. This is one. Now it’s over. That’s good.
Earth 2: Society #6 – Daniel H. Wilson, writer, Alisson Borges, artist
Corrina: Hey, a female artist. That’s good. Not much else is.
Ray: Man, I don’t even know what’s happened to this book. It feels like such an abrupt slide, both in terms of the title and in terms of the characters’ world, and I can’t help but feel that this title was doing incredibly well until it got hit with event-itis. It seems like every issue, another fan-favorite heroic character winds up being given a random heel turn. Last issue was Jimmy Olsen, who is now the mad god Doctor Impossible and the big bad of the new world who murdered Terry Sloane.
Yes, that’s right, Jimmy Olsen is the big bad. He’s backed up by Johnny Sorry, a new female Anarky, and Hourman. That’s right, iconic heroic JSAer Hourman is debuted here as a Miraclo-obsessed criminal who serves as muscle for the big bad. I don’t know why the decision was made to make everything about Earth 2 as dark and depressing as possible, but it seems like there’s really no bottom. Among other scenes in flashbacks, Helena Wayne gets her face scarred by an exploding Source Vault, and Hourman waxes poetic about revenge. The last functioning friendship in this world, between Power Girl and Huntress, seems to be on the fritz too. There’s just very little to care about in this issue, and very few characters who remain likable.
Corrina: One note: I liked the artistic designs for the new characters, even Doctor Impossible, but this concept is long past the point of promising us a new take on Earth-2 and has become a pointless fight among heroes and former heroes over a world that is ill-defined and seems to be cursed with trouble and tragedy.
I’m so bummed at the wasted potential.
Batman ’66 #29 – writer, Jeff Parker, art by Dean Haspiel and Jonathan Case, 8.5/10
Two stories by Parker with art by Haspiel and Case, and they’re loosely connected but read well on their own. The first one deals with a massive prison breakout led by the criminal matriarch Ma Parker, who quickly breaks out her sons from the men’s prison along with several of Gotham’s top criminals. The thieving family causes Batman no small amount of trouble, but Batman and Ma Parker wind up finding common cause in an attempt to stop her kids from drowning after a crash, leading Batman to find an unusual way to stop her from breaking out again – having them all share a cell at Arkham, like a family.
It’s an amusing look how this kinder, gentler Batman solves things. The second story focuses on Catwoman, one of the breakouts aided by Ma in the previous story, as she winds up on a reluctant partnership with Batman to save Robin and Batgirl from the remaining criminals. This title doesn’t deal with Catwoman too often, but she has a fun dynamic with Batman. These two stories are perfect representations of the series, and this title is seriously going to be missed after next month.
Batman: Europa #1 – story by Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello, layouts, Guiseppe Camuncoli, pencils and finishes, Jim Lee.
Corrina: Don’t Buy It.
Ray: This mega-delayed miniseries was originally supposed to be a Jim Lee project with fully painted art, but that clearly never happened. It’s now arriving co-written by Matteo Casali and Brian Azzarello, with art by a combination of Giuseppe Camuncoli and Lee. It looks fine, if not nearly as distinct as it was originally solicited to be. The art is clean and detailed, but the story, while fine, is a bit generic. The issue opens with a fight between Batman and Joker as they both seem to be dying, and then flashes back to a fight between Batman and Killer Croc, as Batman clearly seems to be suffering from an illness. He returns to the Batcave, where a hacker takes over the systems and warns him that he’s been poisoned with a deadly virus. Tracing the virus to Berlin, Batman travels to Europe where a surprising amount of the issue is devoted to the history of the city, before Batman tracks down Joker and a hostage of his who may know something about the virus.
After Batman and Joker fight, Joker reveals that he’s dying from the same virus, and the two enemies are forced to work together. This Joker feels very pre-Flashpoint, not nearly as creepy as Snyder’s version – which makes sense, given that this story was likely written several years pre-Flashpoint. It’s an odd, intriguing relic to an older DC, but on its own, not likely to be a classic.
Corrina: I hate Joker/Batman team-up stories for the most part and this story does nothing to make me change my mind. I also wonder at the odd choice of Batman tracking down a cure for himself. Batman seems to work best when he’s concerned for the welfare of others. I’m not sure he’d drop everything to go find a cure, unless he could justify that by thinking such a villain has to be stopped before he infects others.
The opening sequences as Bruce battles Killer Croc exists just to show off the art teams’ skills and while those skills are self-evident, it wasn’t a promising start to this tale. Perhaps it will read better when collected in trade.
Star Trek/Green Lantern #5 –
Ray: This miniseries is reaching the end of its run, and after a promising start it sort of feels like it’s petering out a bit. All the pieces are in place, with various Star Trek villains finding themselves in possession of rings from the dark side of the spectrum and led into battle by iconic Lantern villains. The Enterprise and the surviving GL forces do battle with them, with Sulu getting ahold of a synthetic White Lantern ring and joining the fray. Then, of course, the main attraction arrives, in the form of the resurrected planet Vulcan, powered by Nekron. The biggest problem is that we’ve been told since the first issue that this was coming, that Nekron survived and was going to raise a new army of Black Lanterns – and the whole point of the miniseries has to wait until the last issue to actually be dealt with. Given that, I can’t really see this having a satisfying conclusion with only one issue to resolve things.
Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #4 – 6/10
Jason Todd’s descent into madness continues, as Joker’s torture of him enters a new phase in the flashbacks. Turning his “Care” over to Harley Quinn, Joker changes strategy from physical torture to mental torture, subjecting Jason to a series of experiments that are designed to change his loyalty from Batman to Joker and get him to see Batman as his enemy. This includes pitting him against Catman and Blockbuster dressed as Batmen, pushing Jason until he kills one of them.
In the present day, Jason seeks out Harley and takes over her criminal operation, blackmailing her into turning her hauls over to him. I’m just not sold on this version of Jason, finding him overly complicated when the current main line version works just fine as is. Tomasi’s excellent on Detective, but I don’t think he has enough to work with for six issues here.
Ray Goldfield is a writer/editor for Grayhaven Comics, as well as the author of two novels currently in editing. He’s a comic fan for over 20 years, particularly of DC and Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans in particular. Now that Cassandra Cain is coming back, he will not rest until DC greenlights a Young Justice: Season Three comic.
Disclaimer: GeekMom received these comics for review purposes.