by Aaron Einhorn
Every week Aaron goes to The Laughing Ogre in Columbus, Ohio and spends far more money than his wife would prefer. He then comes back here and writes about the comics he reads that he thought were noteworthy. This isn’t everything he picks up, just the things that he feels merit discussion – either for being really good, or for having something really wrong with them.
Lots of #1s Note: A glance at the list of books being reviewed will show you something interesting – all but one of the titles being reviewed this time around is a #1. Part of this is because of DC’s New 52, although the list is less dominated by them than last week. Again, there were thirteen titles in the New 52, and they just weren’t all that interesting to me. I knew I’d be getting the Lantern titles and Batwoman, and Mister Terrific was my only hope for the JSA, so that’s why they’re there. And, of course, it would have been criminal not to discuss Miles Morales’ first issue. Please, remember that while the “stunt numbering” comics are an interesting read, there was a lot else good on the stands this week. Please, check out some non #1′s when picking up your comics, and don’t just hit the big two. Now, on to the reviews!
The first new issue of Batwoman picks up right where the old Detective Comics storyline left off. This may be a disappointment to fans who were expecting a massive restart thanks to Flashpoint, but for fans of the Rucka/Williams run in Detective, it was a welcome development. Kate Kane is still the Kate we know, she’s still the former army brat, she refers to her costume as a uniform – not a costume, she still has the same look (seriously, J.H. Williams III art just gets better and better), she’s still a lesbian, and her relationship with her father hasn’t gotten any better since discovering that Alice is actually her sister.
We meet a new villain in this issue, we see Kate meeting with Batman (presumably Bruce, not Dick), Bette gets demoted from Flamebird to Plebe, Mr. Bones from the DEO sends Cameron Chase after Batwoman, and the artwork just gets prettier from one page to the next.
It isn’t the strongest title on the shelves this week. But it is quite good. And it is easily one of the prettiest. It’s well worth your cash, and for those who feared Greg Rucka’s departure, fear not. Kate Kane is in good hands.
Fear Itself #6
When we left the heroes at the end of Fear Itself #5, things were dire. Spidey had left. Thor had fallen. Cap’s shield was shattered. And Tony Stark was in Asgard. This is where the worm turns. To be sure, things are still bad. After all, the Serpent is now almost entirely rejuvenated. Much of the U.S. has been decimated. Heroes are dying. And all of the bad things previously mentioned must be dealt with.
But what we get here is heroic deeds, heroic acts, sacrifice and pure will in the face of annihilation. Steve Rogers faces down Odin. Thor decides that he is a Man – not a God, and chooses to return to Earth to stand by his friends, even if it kills him. Stark completes his arsenal and immerses himself in molten Uru. And Peter Parker returns to battle after he gets confirmation from Aunt May that saving the world is what he is meant to be doing.
I still find the characterization of Peter and Steve off in Fraction’s hands. I don’t know if it’s a case of him not understanding the characters, or if it’s simply a result of the rush to get the plot points into the issue. But Fear Itself is a significant step up from last month’s issue, and it has me looking forward to next month’s finale.
Green Lantern #1
Much like Batwoman, this comic series pretty much ignores the fact that Flashpoint had happened. Again, if you’re a fan of where the series was before, this is a Good Thing. If you’re expecting something new, it very much isn’t. It does bring up potential continuity issues, but we’ll burn those bridges when we get to them. Because this issue is pretty awesome.
We’ve got two parallel stories going for most of the issue. First, we have Hal Jordan on Earth, without his power ring, without a job and without a purpose. Hal manages to pretty effectively blow every opportunity presented to him, from employment to romance and it is really, really easy to see why he and Carol will never completely work-out. Meanwhile, the Guardians are dealing with the Sinestro problem. Sinestro has been given a Green Power ring at the conclusion of Brightest Day, and no one – not Sinestro, not his Corps, not the Guardians, not the GL Corps is happy about the idea. Through the issue, we see how each of these factions is dealing with this development. And the final page brings the stories together as Sinestro and Hal try to figure out how best to get the Green ring off of Sinestro’s hand and back on to Jordan’s.
It’s finny, it’s well written and it meshes the cosmic story with the local Earthbound dealings. It’s exactly what we want from Geoff Johns. Doug Mahnke’s faces look a little off in this issue, but the story carries me along so well that I didn’t care.
Mister Terrific #1
At last we get to one of the New 52 this week where we have a restarted character. And in this issue we are introduced to the relaunched Michael Holt. He’s still an incredible martial artist, scientist, businessman, inventor and superhero. He calls himself the third smartest human mind on the planet, and that’s probably fair (and to be honest, I’m hard pressed to think who number 1 and 2 would be).
Mr. Terrific has the same origin as well. He still lost his wife due to an accident, which pushed him towards atheism. He’s still an activist and a very liberal-minded hero. And he still has some sort of relationship with Karen Starr.
Now, we do not discover whether or not Karen Starr is still Power Girl. We don’t know if she’s Kryptonian, magical or what. She may be an ordinary human. But she still has the same look, and it’s possible that she and Michael are romantically involved. It’s also possible she will become Power Girl moving forward. Time shall tell.
The final twist to the issue possibly turns everything we know about Michael on its head. I don’t know whether or not that will play out straight, or whether there’s an angle to Michael’s actions. What I do know is I will be happy to read the next issue.
The shame of it is that while Eric Wallace’s script is amazing, the artwork from Gianluca Gugliotta falls short. Michael’s face doesn’t look the same from panel to panel, the action sequences lack urgency, and while I find that I like the new Mister Terrific, I don’t like his costume design in the slightest.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1
It took me far longer than I like to admit to write this review. And part of that is because nothing I can say can possibly compare with the issue itself. Much like he did with Ultimate Spider-Man #1 ten years ago, Brian Michael Bendis manages to introduce us to Spider-Man without once giving us a glimpse of the hero in the costume.
Miles Morales is very much not Peter Parker. He has both his parents. He isn’t a scientist. But he is a good kid and a smart kid and one who wants to do the right thing. He also happens to have an uncle who is probably destined for an unfortunate fate – although in this case, that uncle is the Ultimate Universe’s version of the Prowler.
Surprisingly, Miles’ powers aren’t going to originate from Peter’s blood and Ben Reilly, which was my suspicion. Instead, it will come back to an Oz-affected spider bite, although in this case it may not be the same type of spider. And we’ve already seen that Miles will have some new and different abilities.
But again, what makes this issue amazing is that Bendis takes his time. Miles gets bitten, and we see the first signs of his new powers, but the issue is all about learning who Miles is. What makes up his family dynamics. What gives him the perspective on life he has. The context is a bit unclear, but it’s fairly safe to assume that this issue actually occurs before Peter’s death, and that it will take Peter’s death and Miles’ reaction to it to put Miles in to the costume.
And if it continues on half as strong as this issue? I’ll be happy to go along for the ride.
Meanwhile, in Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #523 we get the conclusion to the Hate Monger arc, see one American Panther fall and another one rise, and prepare for a retitling as next issue becomes Black Panther: The Most Dangerous Man Alive, Daredevil #3 concludes Hornhead’s conflict with Klaw, Fear Itself: Hulk vs. Dracula #1 puts the Worthy-Empowered Hulk against Dracula’s entire vampire nation – with poor results for the undead, and the introduction of the Forgiven, The New Avengers #16 recruits Daredevil to the team, Red Lanterns #1 gives us an Emo Atrocitus and a Red Lantern revolt and Spider-Island: Spider-Girl #2 has Anya team up with the Hobgoblin and the Kingpin to stop the Wasps, at the urging of Madame Web.
Thoughts? Disagreements? Want to offer up ideas on what books you’re reading this week? Let us know in the comments!