Last week, I talked about some of the books that star the lesser-known DC characters need more love. That’s even more evident this week, as Martian Manhunter, Titans Hunt, Poison Ivy, Secret Six and Doctor Fate come out this week with good issues. Yet Ivy is only a miniseries, Doctor Fate’s sales have bottomed out and the rest aren’t doing the sales that their quality indicates they should.
Then I read that the seventh issue of my fangirl favorite, Titans Hunt, will be written by Scott Lobdell, who wrote the awful Doomed and made a mess of the regular Teen Titans title. Worse, it appears the book will be ending the month after. Nooo…..
Which brings me to why readers may not be buying these quality books: if their cancelation is inevitable, why get invested in these characters? A cynical way to look at it but given that DC has a habit of using its lesser-known characters as cannon fodder in crossovers, understandable. But, I have to say, ya’ll are missing great stories.
As always, I’m joined in the recaps by Ray Goldfied, where we have a serious disagreement about an issue of Batman that includes a big turning point in the life of the new Bruce Wayne.
Happy comic reading!
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #1, written by Amy Chu, pencils by Clay Mann, inks by Seth Mann
Corrina: Everyone loves the Joker most of Batman’s villains but I’ve always the female antagonists more interesting, starting with Catwoman. However, Poison Ivy is in a class by herself, a villain motivated not by money or power but by scientific curiosity and her strange ability to commune with plants. She’s creepy and I had no idea if she would make a good protagonist. But she does, mainly because all her many facets are on display in this book, from her fascination with science to her boredom with humanity and, even, surprisingly, her relationship with Harley Quinn.
I’d not expected I’d be so intrigued but I am. That bodes well for this miniseries.
Ray: I’m a sucker for stories about villains trying to turn over a new leaf. They can be dark, like Magneto’s accounting for his violent past in Cullen Bunn’s run, or lighthearted like Riddler’s Detective agency in Paul Dini’s books. This new Poison Ivy miniseries seems to fall right in the middle of that spectrum, and delivers an entertaining story in the process. When we open, Ivy and a friend of hers are in Africa to obtain a rare specimen of an ancient long-lived plant, only to be accosted by local soldiers. Ivy makes short work of them and the plant returns safely to her new base, the Gotham Botanical Gardens, where she works as a scientist under her mentor, Dr. Luisa Cruz.
The Gotham Academy kids drop by for a tour, and we see Ivy settling into her new role as a research scientist – until a more noticeable visitor shows up. It’s Harley Quinn, who isn’t quite sure how she feels about her girlfriend’s new direction in life. I felt like anything here involving Harley was probably the weak link. I enjoy their banter and it’s always fun to see them beat up goons together, but the conflict felt very forced. Harley’s done the secret identity/normal job thing in her solo title – in fact, it’s the main thrust of her book – so her questioning of Ivy’s decision to go back to her old line of work was weird. And Ivy throwing Joker in Harley’s face just felt like a way to force a breakup. But Amy Chu has a great voice for Ivy, and does the perfect balance of smart and sinister. The issue ends with a sudden death that sets up an new miniseries involving the mysterious genetically engineered plants that Ivy’s been working on. There’s a few rough edges here, but it feels in line with the stronger work done on Poison Ivy, and I’m glad to see her finally get her spotlight.
Titans Hunt #4, Dan Abnett, writer, Stephen Segovia, pencils, Art Thibert, inks, Scott McDaniel, adult coloring book variant cover.
Corrina: My Titans!
Corrina: I can’t separate my inner fangirl from my reviewer self with this one, so..::My Titans, SQUEE::
That out of the way, I’m not sure how to rate this. If you loved the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans, there’s a great chance you’ll enjoy this book. If you’re interested in any of these characters, well, they’re back and it’s great. But having all the characters back without plotting would be a waste and this book is far from that. The Titans might not remember who they are but they are tired of being manipulated and want answers. Another aspect I love: including the more obscure Titans, like Mal Duncan, and bringing back Hawk and Dove.
Yet, Scott Lobdell, the scourge of the Titans since the new 52 began, is somehow assigned to write issue #7 already. My inner fangirl is now crushed. Move along, nothing to see here anyway.
Ray: A few quibbles aside, this has been very clearly the best Teen Titans book we’ve gotten since the New 52. So, naturally, we’ve just found out that it’s been trimmed back to eight issues from twelve, and it won’t even be finishing with the same creative team. Depressing. This solid issues makes it even more so, as Dan Abnett gets us further into the intriguing mystery surrounding the former Titans. We open with a flashback to the mysterious battle that they fought together in years ago, and then head back to the present as Dick, Garth, and Donna all find out that they’ve been sharing the same dream. I do feel like these three characters are stuck in the same groove a little too much – Garth threatens violence, Donna gets ready to fight, Dick tries to stop them from destroying the whole town – but it’s good to see Donna as a not-serial killer, so I’m forgiving. I’m also really enjoying Roy and Gnaark’s odd buddy comedy/road trip, as Gnaark works to keep Roy from falling off the wagon as they head towards their destiny. The really interesting stuff this issue, though, has to do with Hawk and Dove, and Herald, as Herald becomes the first Titan to come face to face with Mister Twister, and we get some interesting hints as to the fate of the first Dove. These are actually characters I don’t have much investment in, so it’s a pretty impressive feat that I’m so intrigued by this comic. It’s a shame it seems like it’s unlikely to finish strong.
Martian Manhunter #8, Rob Williams, writer, Eddy Barrows, penciller, Eber Ferreira, inks
Corrina: If They Don’t Save the Earth, There Will Be No More Biscuits!
Corrina: I love this arc, with MM realizing he’s been sent by Mars proper as a weapon against Earth and refusing to give into his programming. In many ways, the series harks back more to H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds than DC’s previous Manhunter stories. That means it takes a large group to stop the Martians, including all of Manhunter’s many selves. That hits a snag when some of the selves are ambivalent about saving Earth over Mars but then Mr. Biscuits remembers where those tasty biscuits come from, and we’re on a roll.
If I have one complaint with this issue is that it feels like a next-to-last chapter: pieces are put in place for the big confrontation and we find out what happened to all our characters but the story doesn’t move forward that much. But I’m so glad this title stuck around long enough for us to get that conclusion.
Ray: This issue opens with a spectacular shot of the destruction of Olympus Mons on Mars, as the destruction of Earth and Mars gets ever closer. On Mars, J’onn meets with some of his acolytes, while Agent Wessel is locked up and tries to get the truth out of the now-adult Alyssa as to how they wound up here. Alyssa’s story is pretty reminiscent of the classic trope of how you make a small child relevant to the story by aging them up via magic/sci-fi means, but this new Alyssa is still an intriguing departure from the innocent version left behind. Then things get crazy, as Ma’alefa’ak emerges and seeks to hunt down J’onn and finish the job. He attacks with a giant Martian war machine, and quickly overwhelms J’onn, while Alyssa soon answers with her own giant war machine. That’s right – we’re headed for some classic giant robot action next issue! Meanwhile, Mister Biscuit leads a daring prison break along with the rest of J’onn’s alters when they notice a mysterious child watching them. This is still some really intriguing hard sci-fi, and one of the most unique books in DC’s stable. I’m really hoping it lasts past twelve.
Secret Six #10, writer, Gail Simone, artists, Dale Eaglesham and Tom Derenick
Corrina: Hey, Look, Superman!
Ray: This arc finishes very strong, as the Six go up against some of the biggest heroes of the DCU to save the life of Black Alice, and we learn some incredibly creepy things about our young sorceress. Oh, and did I mention Cthulhu or something like him appears in this issue? The Six are well on their way to destroying the pillars that are controlling the flow of magic into this world, and killing Alice in the process – but destroying them has the potential to destroy all magical beings in the process. As heroes like Deadman start to fade from existence, Black Alice has made the fateful decision to ask Scandal to kill her for the greater good. Deep under the earth, the Secret Six are attacking the last pillar, when they face off against the last defender of Magic – Superman, who has been deputized by Zatanna to handle the situation. The Six actually put up a pretty good fight – and even Ventriloquist gets something to do for once – but it’s actually Ralph Dibny, who appeals to Superman based on their past friendship, who gets in the best moment. Back at the base, Scandal agrees to kill Alice – only to fail when the…something lurking inside Alice since the accident comes out, heals her, and makes very clear that it has no intention of going anywhere.
This is a really creepy and intriguing development for Black Alice, and sets her apart from the original pre-Flashpoint version. This arc has just been a blast, and a great reintroduction to the magic side of the DCnU. I’m hoping that this serves as a launching point for a relaunch of JLD down the line as well.
Corrina: In some ways, this is more of a Superman issue than a Secret Six issue and that’s kinda good because he’s the Superman we remember, not that alienated loner starring in the current Superman books. He’s been called in by Zatanna to stop the Six from destroying more pillars. But the Six want to save Black Alice’s life and don’t care about the rest.
And, then…Simone pulls one of her patented plot twists out at the end which completely rearranges the story and makes the Six’s care for Alice into yet another tragedy that they’ve bumbled into with good intentions. Wanting to save a teenage girl is good, people! Uh, except when she’s not a teenage girl at all but a nasty, psycho demon. These guys. Even when they want to help, they can’t. In many ways, that makes them more relatable that heroes like Superman.
Batgirl #47, Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, writers, Eleonara Carlini and Moritat, artists
Ray: Lot of stuff to like in this issue, and a few things I have some quibbles with. Last issue was a great spotlight for Batgirl and Spoiler, and set up a huge array of new plot lines that made it look like Barbara’s life was being hacked by a mystery enemy. There were two segments in this issue that I loved. The first was Barbara’s meet-up with her dad, who is still sporting the bruises from his last encounter with Mr. Bloom. For some reason, I really love the idea of a father and daughter concealing their secret identities from each other, but this issue has a lot more meat to it, as Barbara and her father compare notes on the corruption within the GCPD that may have ensnared her.
I also loved the team-up this issue between Batgirl, Spoiler, and adding Harper Row this issue as they break into a GCPD base to get intel proving that Barbara’s information was stolen. These three have a really great dynamic together, and this makes me think that Brendan Fletcher would be another fantastic choice to launch a new Birds of Prey title with the Gotham Girls at the fore. However, a few subplots in this issue didn’t quite click with me. I could not be less interested in Frankie’s war with their short-term roommate Greg, and Frankie resorting to physical violence over a misunderstanding seemed rather out of character. And while the plot of some mysterious techno-entity hacking Barbara’s mind and influencing her thoughts is intriguing, I tend to prefer this title when it’s light and breezy, as opposed to dark and spooky. Still a very strong issue – this continues to be one of the best reinventions of a key DC title we’ve seen in a while.
Corrina: Any issue that is going to have Barbara and Jim Gordon having coffee together is going to be one I enjoy, though from their conversation, I had the impression that Barbara, at least, knew what Jim has been doing. Jim would have to be dense not to know about Barbara as well but, being Gordons, they instead talk about Jim’s lack of mustache.
I agree with Ray that the team-up to infiltrate police HQ was great, especially Babs’ line about being able to navigate the place in the dark. But I also agree that Babs worrying about her mind being manipulated seems like a call-back to an earlier plot. Twisty plot arc haven’t been this book’s strength–the relationships plus Babs’ smarts have been.
Batman #48, Scott Snyder, writer, Greg Capullo, pencils, Danny Miki, inks
Ray: Book the Week
Corrina: Good But Enough of the Joker!
Ray: There is no one out there who gives better nightmares than Snyder. As Superheavy heads towards what’s likely to be an epic conclusion in #50, this issue brings both split plot lines to a head as they intersect in horrific fashion. Clearly, the headliner this issue is Bruce Wayne’s reunion with the Joker, who went through the same “process” that he did – healing all his injuries and leaving him with no memory of who he used to be, essentially a blank slate. However, some things never quite go away, as Snyder’s amnesiac Joker remains incredibly creepy, meeting Bruce on a park bench and discussing their mutual state, tying it into a rather creepy story about a Gotham lake, and eventually breaking down into a suicidal mess. This is the least threatening Joker’s ever been, and yet somehow no less disturbing. Meanwhile, the quiet menace of these scenes are the complete opposite of the main story, as Mr. Bloom’s war on Gotham reaches its apex. He’s captured Jim Gordon (who spends most of this issue as a bloodied hostage) and amassed an army of followers who have each taken one of his “seeds”. His master plan becomes clear, as he wants to take down Gotham’s society and restore it to the natural chaos of the plant world.
I’ve got to say, it’s a minor detail, but the way Capullo’s art of Bloom’s “face” changes from issue to issue, with the flower opening more and revealing the horrors within, is such a brilliant flourish. And Bloom’s monologue calls back to just how much hate has come to dominate our political discourse lately, with him speaking to the grievances of everyone in Gotham. Some understandable, some less so. His master gambit is to leave a thousand seeds hidden around Gotham in random locations, setting off a frenzy as ordinary citizens grasp for the power to act on their anger and hate. This comes home to Bruce and Julie’s shelter in a horrific segment, finally giving Bruce the push he needs to return to Wayne Manor – and in an incredibly dramatic moment, demand Alfred take him to his cave. If I have one complaint, it’s that this issue didn’t feel like Jim Gordon’s story at all. It’s very clearly Bruce’s. But it’s as brilliant a Bruce Wayne story as I can remember.
Corrina: I’m much less fond of the metaphysical Gotham and the hints that Bruce Wayne is its chosen knight, than I have been in the detective Batman, which explains part of why I enjoyed Gordon Batman so much.
I’m just not into the Joker and Batman having a conversation about who they are on a park bench, even if the Joker is as creepy with a human face as he ever was with chalk-white skin and green hair. Props to the writing, it just didn’t hit me. The last panel, with Alfred weeping as Bruce asked about his cave, should have been emotional but given how inevitable it was, I just shrugged. Maybe I’m just jaded because I’ve seen Batman replaced a few times and Bruce always comes back. However, this all sounds churlish because Snyder and Capullo have put together a definitive run that will stand with O’Neil/Adams.
Doctor Fate #8, Paul Levitz, writer, Ibrahim Moustafa, guest artist
Ray: Now that the war with Anubis is over, Khalid is able to get down to business and learn how to be the new Doctor Fate, and I was really glad to see this issue dial back the action and focus on his growing pains as a hero. The pressing threat, of course, is the destruction left by Anubis’ flood, and the metropolitan area is still very much a ruined wasteland – a familiar sight to anyone who lived through Sandy or Katrina in recent history. Khalid does his best to fix the damage, but quickly finds his efforts misunderstood and is branded a threat. However, his clever efforts to fix a bridge that’s holding up most of the recovery efforts wind up winning over many people. One thing I noticed about this issue is that it seemed like the religious references in this story were much more overt than they were in other issues, with more explicit discussion of his role in terms of Islam, and the introduction of a Jewish former Professor of his who seems to be becoming a mentor. It took me a bit by surprise, but I’m glad to see more comics handling religion in a respectful way. I was less enthusiastic about the plot line involving protestors at the UN, including a friend of Khalid, but then few comics are able to handle thorny issues like that effectively. Still, this is a fascinating coming of age story for a very unconventional hero, and I’m glad DC took a chance on this book.
Corrina: Just after being sent to hell has to be a perfect time for Khalid to look into his faith. We just had an arc with Egyptian gods, so the focus on present religion made perfect sense from that angle, especially with Khalid questioning what his next steps are, with little guidance for the right path. I also enjoyed Khalid’s efforts to use his power to rebuild, instead of fighting a supervillain. The kid was going to be a doctor and that aspect of him is starting to come through in this issue.
Robin, Son of Batman #8, Ray Fawkes, writer, Ramon Bachs, artist
Ray: Yet another abrupt creative team shift without much promotion, as Fawkes and Bachs take over for Pat Gleason. In the aftermath of Robin War, it’s time for Damian to face his worst fears – returning to the Bat-cave so that Alfred can give him a haircut. I suppose no one suggested one of those mall salons where the kid can sit in a little race car while the stylist works? To pass the time, Alfred asks Damian to tell him one of his stories from his redemption quest. This one takes him back to the temple of the Bloodless Blade, where he stole an ancient sword from a mysterious monk. Now he plans to return there to return it, but the monk gave him a warning, that when he returned he would give twice as much as he took. As Damian, Maya, and Goliath return to the scene of the crime, they encounter an army of ninjas before confronting something far more threatening inside – their potential future selves. Damian is met with an Al Ghul acolyte assassin, while Maya faces a revenge-crazed maniac in her father’s image, and Goliath encounters a scarred war-beast. There’s some really good visuals in this issue, and Bachs has a fun, energetic art style, but the story follows the path of the installments we’ve seen before, and doesn’t have quite the emotional depth of Gleason’s run. It’s certainly not bad, and the framing sequences are a lot of fun (although has Damian ever dealt with what’s going on with his dad), but I’m definitely going to miss Gleason on this book if he’s gone for good. He’s still listed on the credits for the next two issues, so we’ll see.
Corrina: Alfred cutting Damian’s hair. Adorable. Alfred mothering Damian, also adorable. Fawkes rarely writes bad stories and this is both a good one and a one-in-done tale that encapsulates what drives Damian. Having spent a year being an assassin will mess up any kid. What particularly has messed up Damian is that enjoyed it at the time.
Sometimes Gleason’s panels tended to jump around, throwing me out of the story. This is a more straightforward story and while Ray didn’t feel an emotional punch, I did.
Batman & Robin Eternal #16, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder, story, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly, writers, Andrea Mutti, Roger Robinson, Goran Sudzuka, artists
Ray: Another solid issue of Eternal from the Hacktivist team, as we move into the second half of the series. For the second issue in a row, we don’t get any appearances by the Gotham Girl Gang, which always makes me sad, although I will say that Jason and Tim’s adventures in the Church of St. Dumas are plenty entertaining. Tim has been captured by the evil St. Dumas, while Jason has been subjected to a dose of concentrated fear gas that is making him relive his murder at the hands of the Joker. The twist being that in this version of the vision, Jason gets the drop on the Joker, a power fantasy that will remove fear from his mind and make him a loyal soldier. It’s Tim who is really the star of the issue, though, as he manages to play on Azrael’s doubts about the master he serves and get him to switch sides, and then plays therapist to Jason to pull him out of the illusion and face his fear of what really happened in that confrontation with the Joker.
It’s odd seeing Tim as the only person who Jason really trusts, given that pre-52 they were the only members of the Bat-family who had no love lost for each other, but taking this as a new continuity, this title has managed to create a rather convincing bond of brothers between them. Azrael manages to give the Bat-boys time to escape before seemingly perishing, but even Tim doesn’t seem very convinced, knowing they’ll see him again. The present-day segments are very good, although the past segments showing us the lead-up to Batman committing the issue one murder for Mother…well, I’m sure it’s a fake-out, but it’s still a bit uncomfortable to watch Batman prepare to commit a murder by gun. This title still isn’t missing a beat, and I’m looking forward to next issue.
Corrina: Yeah, fake out with Batman. If that’s meant to be intriguing, it didn’t do the job because I brushed it aside. I was more interested in Azrael’s realization that his entire life has been a lie than Tim and Jason’s struggles. Maybe I’m more familiar with what haunts Jason or maybe because I wanted to know more about this Tim Drake and he remains the most unknown of all the former Robins in this story.
Still, easy to see why Jason and his death at the hands of the Joker was center story in this issue. It’s a turning point in the Bat-mythos. Azrael, however, is new and this was his new origin, and I’m intrigued with his powers and his fall from faith. Or perhaps he has faith and now he wants to attack those who misused their power. Either way, I hope he’s back in the series.
Harley Quinn #24, Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, writers, Chad Hardin, artist.
Ray: I was expecting more out of this issue after last issue’s cliffhanger. It seemed to set up the rather intriguing scenario of Harley breaking into her old haunt of Arkham to rescue Mason, but instead this issue is just all set-up for that plan. Harley’s first move isn’t to head to Arkham, but to barge into the Mayor’s office looking to confront him over what she’s sure is his plot to get Mason killed. However, the Mayor denies everything, while making clear that he doesn’t care what happened to him. It’s actually the Mayor’s shady aide Cecil who is behind everything, and he deputizes a group of generic goons led by a Hulk Hogan look-alike to kill her and her gang. Harley dispatches them easily, and then proceeds to send a message to the Mayor by sending the goons flying into his office via catapult. Harley sure does like her catapult. That diversion aside, she makes her plan to break into Arkham and rescue Mason – where the Joker is waiting for her. I know DC is playing a little looser with continuity lately, but this still seems like a fairly glaring omission, given that this version of the Joker seems to actually be pre-Flashpoint. Harley hasn’t really delivered a bad issue yet, but this one was far from one of my favorites.
Corrina: Given my distaste for the Joker, I was happy to see that confrontation put off for an issue. The strength of this series has always been Harley’s collection of misfits. She cares for people, in her own weird way, and it’s generally the type of people no one else will give a damn about.
So I loved the Harleys and the circus banding together to defend their home. I was less in love with the idea Harley can just waltz into the Mayor’s office and no one notices and informs the press, and the bit about using the Mayor’s goons as human cannonballs made me wince. Sometimes, this title just goes too heavily into violence for me.
Superman/Wonder Woman #25, Peter J. Tomasi, story and words, Doug Mahnke, penciller, Jaime Mendoza, Jonathan Glapion and Scott Hanna, inkers.
Corrina: The Impossible Happened. I Liked This Issue.
Ray: What’s this? A very good issue of Superman/Wonder Woman? Indeed! And I think the biggest reason for this is because it doesn’t focus on the relationship between the two lead characters, and is instead a rather compelling Superman story. When we last left off, Superman had been left seriously wounded after his battle with Bend and his minions, and now Wonder Woman has taken him to the home of the Gods to ask for healing. They agree, but only if he passes a series of trials set up by the various Gods. This turns into an interesting way to bring Superman face-to-face with all the forces that have been haunting him since this storyline began. Artemis takes him on a hunt through a dark forest in search of a quarry – his Clark Kent self. Strife puts him through a gauntlet of all the people who have rejected him since his identity was revealed, and Hephaestus gives him the opportunity to leave it all behind and board a new rocket that will take him to another planet where he’ll be appreciated. It’s an intriguing look at what drives Superman and how he’s able to rise above it. Then it all crashes down with Eros’ segment, which is a bland recap of his relationship with Wonder Woman and his plans to propose to her.
Having completed his trials, Superman is restored to health – but the Gods reveal that they’ve made him fully mortal. Does this mean they’ve stripped him of his remaining powers? We’ll see. This issue makes me think that Tomasi has the potential to be a great Superman writer in the upcoming two-month story – but that this run so far has just been another example that this relationship just doesn’t really work.
Corrina: Why did I like this? Because it was focused on the inner character of Superman and he suddenly turned from the angry loner back into the classic Superman. I give Tomasi full credit for an inventive use of the gods that were a high point of the Azzarello/Cliff Chiang run on the Wonder Woman title.
Is the romance believable this issue? Not even close but I can well imagine Diana, as a friend, pleading for Superman’s life in front of her gods. It’s a great use of the two mythologies, working together. Too bad it had to end with such a dramatic pronouncement and too bad it had to reference Clark’s idea of proposing to Diana. They don’t work together that way, DC! Stop, please.
Sinestro #19, writer, Cullen Bunn, pencils, Brad Walker and Neil Edwards, inks, Drew Hennessy and Jonathan Glapion
Ray: This comic pretty much delivers exactly what you’d expect – non-stop action as the newly expanded Sinestro Corps go into battle against the Pale Bishop’s army. This deranged former Guardian is devoted to purging the world of emotion and has brought his war to Earth. Last issue saw Sinestro recruit countless new soldiers into his army, including several of Earth’s greatest heroes – and some of its greatest villains, including Black Adam and Scarecrow. I wish we saw more of Scarecrow in this issue, because his role as a Yellow Lantern in Blackest Night was fantastic and I’d love to see more of that unique creepiness. Unfortunately, a little too much of the issue is devoted to generic fight scenes with a new breed of zombie lantern, punctuated by moments of excitement such as Saint Walker finally returning to the fray and supercharging the Sinestro Corps, or Black Adam singlehandedly taking on an army. And next issue promises to finally bring Sinestro one-on-one with his nemesis. This issue pretty much served its purpose nicely as a bridge issue in a big arc, but I’m hoping the next issue after this – which has Soranik Natu as the focus – gives us more of an opportunity to delve into some of the characters.
Corrina: The Sinestro corps must save the world from a menace they brought to it. This issue was notable to me for Sinestro’s self-doubt. A little more of that in earlier issues and I might care about what happens to him. Instead, he’s mostly been an insufferable, righteous bore.
All props to the art team for all the epic battles they had to draw, even if they were generic, they all looked great. I just wish they’d been in the service of a good story.
Wonder Woman #48, Meredith Finch, writer, David Finch, penciller, Scott Hanna inker.
Corrina: Meh. (Which is an Improvement Over Previous Issues.)
Ray: This issue feels like filler, even though it’s by the regular creative team. David Finch is even on art, but it’s all in service of a done-in-one story that takes a break from the story involving the Gods to reintroduce a forgettable old-school WW villain, Doctor Poison. Here she’s reinvented as a Russian refugee who is out for revenge against the world for the death of her parents. So she has been developing powerful neurotoxins that she plans to unleash against world leaders at the G8 summit. It’s a fairly generic plot, made more amusing by the fact that she plans to deliver her toxin via what looks like an Amazon delivery drone. Diana heads to London to stop her plot, derails the drone, and then chases after her while she poisons random people and turns them into PCP-addled attack zombies. She eventually chases down Doctor Poison and captures her, giving her a generic lecture about how she stands against war and terrorism. The art is fine, but it seems like the splash pages get bigger and more random towards the end of the issue, making it seem almost like shortcuts to get the book finished. I’m sort of puzzled by the fact that the last two issues have had very little to do with the big events two months ago, although it seems like next issue will jump back into it, as Zeke has some sort of mysterious illness on Olympus.
Corrina: Filler is better than some of the awfulness of the past issues, such as the main antagonist being a whiny mess. Doctor Poison could have been more interesting. (At least to me since I like scientist villains. See Ivy above.)
But the attempt to tell the story by starting it in the middle of the action falls flat and she ends up being yet another blah character. I’ve given up expecting anything from this series.
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #2 – writer, Brian Buccellato, art by Juan Albarran, Xermanico, Bruno Redondo
I lost interest in this comic over the last few seasons, as it descended far too much into a generic fight comic for my tastes. However, this season seems to be off to a strong start, as an increasingly desperate Superman tries to hold on to his empire. He’s in the fight of his life against Doomsday when Bane enters the fray to tip the scales – in Superman’s favor. Bane is a pragmatist and has some admiration for Superman’s rule, and wants to be on the winning side. Superman’s decision to bring Bane in causes anger among his allies, and tensions in his relationship with Wonder Woman. Meanwhile, we’ve got some interesting subplots as Catwoman’s efforts to play both sides land her in a very dangerous spot, and Bizarro shows up, confused and lost in the middle of nowhere. Overall, it’s a lot more intriguing than it’s been in a while, and I’m hoping this series will finish strong.
Batman: Arkham Knight Genesis #6 – written by Peter J. Tomasi, art by Dexter Soy.
It’s the last issue of this tie-in – and the last Arkham Knight comic as a whole, as the main series has concluded as well. While the characterization of Jason Todd is pretty strong, this issue’s weak point is that it feels like the most glaring example of how this book has stretched a decent four-issue story to six. We’ve seen how Jason Todd escaped Arkham and reinvented himself as Batman’s worst nightmare, and his reunion with the Joker doesn’t hold much impact. He then heads down to the Batcave one last time before putting his plan into effect, and it feels like we’ve heard Jason talk about these themes – his anger over Batman abandoning him, his belief that he can be a better Batman – many times before. It’s just a fairly forgettable comic, which makes me think that prequel comics are pretty much always destined to fizzle out. You can’t tell a compelling stand-alone story if you’re supposed to stop before the action really begins.
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.