Wednesday, February 6

DC Comics – Feb 2013

Reviews, commentary, general reactions, and random notes on the DC Comics that were released during December that I received near the beginning of January. Caution: Spoilers ahead! [Link to previous month.]

Possibly the biggest DC Comics-related news from the past month is that Warner Brothers appears to have pretty much won the court case that began long ago when the Siegel and Shuster heirs tried to recapture the rights to Superman that the creators signed away to National Comics 'way back at the dawn of modern comics history, attempting to nullify a deal the heirs themselves had subsequently concluded with Warner Brothers, who now owns DC: I'm no lawyer, and I have no idea if this means this long-enduring mess is now over for good – my bet would be not given the nature of litigation and the astronomical worth of the property, but maybe I'm wrong. Regardless of the tough issues surrounding creators' rights – and there are deeply-held convictions both ways – that in itself would be best, in my opinion.

Beside that, there was also news that Keith Giffen's tenure on Legion of Super-Heroes will last only two issues, which seems quite a sudden and unexpected change of course.  So much so that it's a bit worrisome.  Paul Levitz seemed to delight in the prospect of working with his old cohort again, and I thought he had more clout than that.  There's plenty of other indication that editorial at DC is in shambles ...

... None more so than the supreme bad judgment and worse taste that was just announced a few days ago that the comics coming out in April will be branded "WTF Certified": It does not stand for "World Trade Federation," either.  That is juvenile and offensive.  I can hardly wait to explain it to my wife when she sees my comics are all "WTF Certified."

As my son would say, "SMH."  Let's look at some comics....

Earth 2 #7
Heaven Sent”

In the aftermath of the Battle of Washington DC, the Earth is recovering quickly and the new Wonders are the talk of the world. Hawkgirl tracks down Alan Scott, who is having a hard time dealing with the death of his lover, but who is no more willing to join any “team.” The World Army's rapprochement with Sloan places him on the same command level as Khan, who continues covert operations against his new “partner” with the help of Dodds and the Sandmen. The latter recover Michael Holt – the refugee from the main DCnU Earth (does it officially have a number? – I don't think it's Earth 1), who has undergone a bit of an attitude adjustment since last we saw him (issue #1?). Sloan is also continuing his effort to develop his own “New Wonders.”

The art this time is by Yilderay Cinar, still great and perfectly fitting this story that is, honestly, continuing to interest me more than most of the rest of the New 52. A couple of questions/comments … Why are they making the new android Red Tornado obviously female? – Why either specific gender? – I notice (and this may have been revealed previously) that Hawkgirl is now Kendra Munoz-Saunders, apparently a clone of Tomb Raider's Lara Croft in her civilian identity.

Worlds' Finest #7
Family Matters, Part Two”

Page 1 - Art by Kevin Maguire
That is some great art on p. 1. I love that scene, especially how in that bottom panel you can see the sadness, longing, and jealousy in Kara's eyes, that Helena has found a familial connection in this new world (embodied by Damian's and Helena's interlaced fingers) that she herself longs for. Will this redouble her determination to find a way home to Earth 2?  For what it's worth, she can, however grudgingly, acknowledge that “[M]aybe [this world has] done a better job preserving this jungle than we did at home … Looks like the gorillas are pretty content.” We find out that Kara will tan, however long it might take her other-dimensional Kryptonian skin to do so, and that the main DCnU has its own African cult leader and child-soldier militia terrorist Joseph Kony. And, yay, the child-soldier's honking big blaster doesn't blow off her clothes, which I figured was happening when we get the full-page panel of her being blasted. I guess they've decided there can indeed be too much of a good thing, even naked chicks.

But the issue is not all Kara … Once again we have separate stories as Kara on the one hand and new sort-of brother-sister team of Damian and Helena follow up two leads as to who's been stealing Wayne Industry's money. Kara is in the Congo when she encounters the aforesaid child-soldiers – not Joseph Kony's but she has seen Kony 2012 – wielding aforesaid honking big blaster, which is Apokoliptian. And then the children and the satellite dish she was investigating are Boom Tube'd out of her grasp – but she has the weapon she captured as proof that Darkseid is involved on this Earth to show Helena. … Who already knows. With Damian, Helena encounters in a snow-covered landscape first a pack of super-wolves, then manages to recover some data from their own target satellite dish, then is attacked by an Apokoliptian man-wolf. In the end, Damian must tell “Father” about the Apokoliptian presence on Earth, but agrees to leave Helena's existence out of it. … And the inevitable and-man-I-want-to-see-it meeting of sort-of father and daughter is put off....

I'd just be repeating myself to say how much I love this title.

Action Comics #15
Superman at the End of Days”

Well, this is about to be as fractured a write-up as is time itself in the story, which is … well, no other way to put it but “pure Morrison.”

We get to see Clark's prom night, and him talking with Ms Nyxly and getting the full story on Mxyzptlk and Vyndktvx, before last issue?, a flash-forward to a future show-down with the Anti-Superman Gang. We find out that Superman doesn't drink – that ain't new – that her 5th-Dimensional words sometimes come out with such thunder that they make his ears bleed (but wouldn't they then destroy Metropolis at the same time?). Reading along, I immediately perceived that the “million-pointed multi-spear” has something to do with the Multitude. It seems that Jor-El's and later his son's successful resistence of the Multitude thwarted the designs of Vyndktvx, who is now taking his revenge on Clark's whole life at once. Ma and Pa Kent died in a truck crash, instigated by Vyndktvx, on the night of Clark and Lana's prom. It seems that in this 3rd-Dimensional life Ms Nyxly has three wishes: The first brought her to this world and reunited her with Mxyzptlk for a while. The second erased Clark Kent's “death” a few issues back. The third – oops, she's killed before she can wish it. And in the climax Superman is challenged across all the time of his life, on the rooftop cradling Mrs Nyxly's body, at the prom having just learned of the death of Ma and Pa, and in the future seeming defeated by the Anti-Superman Gang – “THERE YOU ARE!

And next, we're promised “The Second Death of Superman” (my emphasis).

I'm like the guy in the Sonic commercial – Whoaaahhhh ya hah! My mind is blown!

And that's not all …

For My Next Trick...”

is a short study of Mxyzptlk and Nyxly … Ferlin Nyxly, whom Anj recalled as a 1970s-era villain. Mxyzptlk's greatest trick? – having a son.

Detective Comics #15
Death of the Family: The Dirt Nap” 

This issue takes place after Batman #14. The Penguin must go away due to his encounter with the Joker in the back-up of that issue. He leaves Ogilvy in charge, but as I'm sure we all saw coming, Ogilvy himself is angling for control as “Emperor Penguin.” Ogilvy digs Poison Ivy up from where he had left her buried alive, and makes a deal with her to work together. But the main battle in the issue is Batman against Clayface. Batman figures out how Ivy was controlling Clayface, even constructing false memories of a life and marriage together in order to secure him as her back-up. In breaking Ivy's hold over the monster, he seemingly breaks Clayface. It's well complemented by the second feature....

Love in Bloom”

which gives the background on Clayface in Arkham Asylum, being courted by Ivy's false letters of love. This is what Clayface remembers, his rage building, until he leaves the Gotham sewers bent on revenging himself on Poison Ivy.

Oh, this is so much better than that crap Tony Daniel was giving us for the first year or so!

Batwing #15
Lost and Found”

Even though this is a new writer, Fabian Nicieza, whom I normally like, I've lost so much interest in this series that I've already dropped it from my pre-order. Maybe I'll keep getting it digitally, maybe not. With the given that Nicieza's working at a handicap at least for this issue, finishing off a pre-existing arc, there's nothing here to keep me coming back. The conclusion of the Father Lost story, thank goodness, and not before the police woman all but discovers David is Batwing, but even that's not enough to make me look forward to the next issue. I'll read it if I get it, probably get it digitally if I don't, just to get a better idea of a more Nicieza Batwing … but this title is in real danger of falling off my radar completely.

Superboy #15
H'El on Earth: Shattered Steel!”

Well, this is a bit of an unexpected treat. I always liked Roger Robinson's art in the early 2000s on Gotham Knights. He provides the bulk of the pages here.

In order to save Superboy, Superman takes the stricken clone to his arctic Fortress of Solitude, remotely consults both Cyborg and Dr Veritas in his efforts to stop the deterioration of his three-stranded DNA (human-Kryptonian-unclassifiable), but ultimately he himself hits on the idea of garbing the lad in his own Kryptonian armor (donning one of his old tee-shirt and jeans sets from early Action Comics). Superboy is saved – but his powers then go wonky. Meanwhile, H'El continues his subversion of Supergirl, who has let her longing for her homeworld's restoration basically drive all critical reason from her mind, then leaves her to go attack Superman and Superboy in the Fortress.

It's interesting – and I hadn't noticed it before – that H'El's backwards “House of El” \S/ is not visible when he is with Supergirl.

Batman #15
Death of the Family: But Here's the Kicker”

Page 1
Whoa. I must say that is one creepy-looking opening page. I haven't liked the idea of the flayed-face Joker ever since he … uh … lost face … in Detective Comics #1. But here – and in last month's Batgirl as well, it makes for a downright frightening visual.

Opening and closing with a parallel inner'logue by Bruce, we get some insight into his physiopsychological attempts at “reading” the Joker. It depends on interpretation of pupil dilation, but as you might imagine, the Joker's eyes … well, in Batman's words: “His pupils stay fixed, tiny points of blackness, the eyes of someone who hates everything, everyone. // Eyes that let in no light, that see through the darkness, stare into you, each pupil a tiny black pearl fixed in space. // A bullet coming at you. Eyes that say he's more than a man, eyes that say he knows you.” I maybe would have expected likening them to a sharks' eyes, but this is maybe as disturbing. And it gets … more so.

It might have ended up being more effective if the revelation at the end of this issue hadn't been telegraphed in some of the crossovers.

Anyway, the main conflict here is between Batman and his associates, assembled in the cave, who now have plenty of reason to believe that the Joker does know their identities, and who only now learn that Batman has always had reason to believe the Joker discovered the location of the cave in one of their early encounters. We get a new explanation for the giant Joker card, implicitly a continual warning to Bruce of the ever-present danger, actually subconscious since he will not admit, seemingly even to himself, the very real possibility. Bruce argues that setting the Bat-family against each other is exactly what the Joker wants, and by turning on him they are playing right into his hands.

Oh, and the Joker has had control of Arkham Asylum for a long time right under Batman's nose.

At the end, we get The Revelation – Batman's inner'logue again: “So now, Bruce, … tell yourself he's just a man, like you. // Prove it to yourself. // Stare back at him, into those damn eyes. Stare into them until he flinches. // Until you see them work like human eyes. Until you see the pupils change. // It happens all of a sudden, just a tiny shift, but there it is. You stare back and you see it. The smallest flicker in the pupils, but still. And you say to yourself, see? Beneath it all he's just what you thought he was. // A man. // And ignore the fact that what you saw those tiny pupils do was expand. Expand for you after you stared back long enough. Ignore the face that what you saw those black points expand with … // … was love.”


Were it not obvious that the Joker has forced his way inside Bruce's head, the cover brilliantly makes it explicit!

Red Light, Green Light”

The Joker and the Riddler in Arkham. What is it that the Joker shows the Riddler at the end that rattles him so?

I must say I'm enjoying this story arc much more than I did the whole “Owls” thing. This was a great, complex issue, with easily the creepiest Joker I've seen ever. And that's including Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight.

Batman and Robin #15
Death of the Family: Little Big Man”

This takes place immediately after the main story of Batman #15. Damian has been left in the cave, ostensibly to hold the fort. He's incensed that the “Wing, Reds and Girls” are out there – even though “They pointed their fingers at him” while he, Damian, was “the only one who stood by him.” Notice it's “Wing,” Nightwing; “Reds,” Red Robin and Red Hood; “Girls,” Batgirl and – ? – I think we see how Damian views his “brothers” in the “family.” Heh.

Anyway, obedient as always, Damian undertakes to find Alfred. He tracks him to the zoo – and ends up captured by the Joker who proceeds to mentally torture him until he identifies his and Batman's greatest fear being responsible for the other's death. Giving rise to the cliffhanger of a Batman-clad figure to attack Damian.

Some people don't like this title. I do. After the first story arc, which ultimately did pay off but almost lost me along the way, I've found it consistently good and definitely the title that strives most to track with what's happening in the main Batman title. This issue also refers quite a bit to the events recounted in The Killing Joke, solidifying those events in some form being part of the current continuity. Wasn't it a circus in the original? Because I definitely got the feeling this zoo was meant to be the same place the Joker tortured Jim Gordon.

Page 8
And the upside-down Joker-face is at once even more creepy and horrific than that first page of Batman #15, and downright hilarious!

Batgirl #15
Death of the Family: Collision – Part Two: Engagement”

I'm finding this issue hard to summarize, so I'm just fleshing out some of my notes. Batgirl ends up having to play along with the Joker in order to save her mother. In an intermittent flashback, the Joker (face intact) torments his psychologist in Arkham. James is apparently not working with the Joker but rather manipulating him. Right. I'm going to love seeing how well that works out for Junior! Visually, he reminds me a lot of Elijah Wood's character from Sin City.

Demon Knights #15
In: The Moment of Forgetting”

The storytelling in this issue provides interesting visuals with intermittent flashes of the violence of battle popping in here, there, and yonder in the midst of the main narrative. It's quite cinematic. Merlin revives, the rain of Avalon washes away all enchantments and sends the invading armies packing. With Arthur, the wizard forges the Demon Knights into his Watchers for the Storm (e.g., Stormwatch) and sends them back to Earth … where they go their separate ways. We find that as in legend, Merlin does age backwards, but it's not steady, rather in bursts. Oh, and Etrigan is reunited with Jason Blood.

There is a lot in this issue, which suddenly wraps up all the first arcs – the next issue will take up thirty years later. Without Paul Cornell. I was already losing interest in it, and with his departure I think I'm dropping back to digital, perhaps even wait-for-trade.

Team 7 #3
The Black Diamond Probability, Mission 1.3: Darkness Rising”

Is it just going to be more cryptic unhelpful BS you've been giving us?” I agree, Slade.

The Team makes it to Sentinel Island and Slade ends up possessed by Eclipso. Other stuff happens along the way, but I'm just not into it and may even set aside the one more pre-ordered issue I have coming. I'm outta here....

Legion Lost #15
Heroes Die!”

Continuing the battle of the Lost Legionnaires plus the Ravagers plus Harvest and his goons vs. the invading aliens. Wildfire's containment suit is destroyed, and for maybe the first time there is in-story acknowledgment that the loss of the suit doesn't kill him, but that here in the past there is no way to get him into a new suit, which means he's consigned to a sort of formless limbo. Really horrible if you think about it. Gates has a crisis of confidence and therefore I'm sure he will be key to victory in the end – next issue. Captain Adym has a plan but risks killing millions here in his past to save quintillions in the future. Nobody wants to go that way except Harvest, who turns on his own allies, like I didn't see that coming.

Just one more issue to suffer through.

Hopefully the loss of this second Legion title will lead to at least a marginal increase in the rather lackluster sales on the main title, if only from elimination of oversaturation. I'm not terribly optimistic about that, however, because I wonder how many non-Legion fans such as myself – who were already getting both just because they're Legion – were getting just this crappy title and would then be motivated to try out LSH.

Supergirl #15
H'El on Earth: Into Kandor”

Although on the cover Supergirl should be able to see the backwards \S/ on H'El's chest, nowhere is that the case inside. That's obviously a story point. The cover is, of course, not part of the narrative, but rather a sales tool.

Back in her own undersea fortress, Supergirl continues to be duped by H'El. It's got to be that, or this has turned into a character I can't really like. It's hard enough watching her be fooled.

Can't really like” goes a little too far … for now.

Anyway, she remembers a friend she left behind on Krypton. H'El returns from Superman's Fortress and takes her there, continuing to work on her. He sends her into Kandor, where he projects an image of himself as he supposedly once was, claiming that he himself cannot enter Kandor. Why? Is it even true? He manipulates her into taking Kandor's power crystal. I'm tempted to call it the omegahedron. Kara encounters her comatose friend, and the possibility of saving her tips Supergirl into finally submitting to H'El's plan, sealed with … a kiss.

Yeesh. Creepy as all hell. Accommodating the fact that this is an emotionally vulnerable young girl who has gone through a lifetime worth of trauma in a very short time only goes so far.

I'll never be able to unsee that image. Thanks, DC.

Batwoman #15

Unless I'm missing it on the typically artistic but hard to follow first page where the credits are wound along the spiraling body of a serpent, there's no individual chapter title for this side story of Maggie Sawyer confronting her own demons and managing a little victory by keeping one of the desperate parents from becoming a martyr. JHW3 only provides the art for the framing first and last pages, which are designed to complement each other while setting the context for Maggie's momentary reverie during the moment when Batwoman and Wonder Woman are dropping out of the sky into Gotham City.

Birds of Prey #15
Sayonara, Katana”

Finally, we find out the Daggers' nefarious plot. They set the bomb to devastate Yokohama and implicate Katana in the genocide. They intend to die with her knowing that her name will be forever reviled. But the Condor discovers them, and separately he and the Birds arrive to share in Katana's final battle against the Daggers, which ends with Katana chopping the bomb in half and averting the tragedy. Okay. Somehow her victory over the Daggers' leader renders his underlings impotent (not that way – or rather, I don't know...). The Birds leave Japan, but Katana stays in her homeland (setting up her appearance in her own new book and – one way or another – in Justice League of America). Black Canary is still having sensations and runaway powers that she associates with her “long dead” husband Kurt Lance. Back in Gotham City, Batgirl proposes a new member to replace Katana … the female Talon from her own book and annual. Starling figures, “Crap. We're dead.”

Catwoman #15
In the Zone”

After her encounter with the Joker, Selina is acting more reckless. She takes a commision to break into some archives, where she seems to become possessed by Eclipso. Oh. Him again. Yay. Other than that gist, I don't know. It was a confusing mess that I'd just as soon forget. If I honestly took anything away from this issue to forget.

Andrew Asberry's review cited below makes for far better reading.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #15
Death of the Family: It Only Hurts When You Laugh”

This crossover is doing its job from a marketing sense at least, in that it's getting me to buy titles I otherwise wouldn't. I'm still not getting everything branded “DotF” – I'm still avoiding Suicide Squad – but this issue, like last, is better than I would have thought given how bad the first issue was, and the fact that the writer is still Scott Lobdell.

Incidentally, there is a change in writer coming, and when Scott Snyder's cohort James Tynion II comes along, I may well add this title to the pre-order list.

Anyway, this issue takes place sometime after Batman #15, which means that Red Hood #14 does also.

Jason, naked but for a towel around his waist and holding an overdosed girl in his arms, is confronted by Harvey Bullock and the GCPD. Naturally, he resists arrest, and the towel proves to be amazingly adherent as he flits here, there, and yonder and manages to fight his way to freedom. On the Outlaws' island base, we're treated to Roy's technobabble as he works on their ship's “flux capacitator” (I guess the extra “-at-” makes it a space ship rather than a time machine) and Kory's continuing promiscuity, although she doesn't come across as quite the goldfish-minded simpleton that she did in issue #1. Their exchange is quite humorous, actually: Kory, “When I first met you, I wanted to lie with you just to shut you up. / Now, all I want to do is listen to you talk and share your genius with me.” – Roy, “'Genius'? / Okay, I'll take that.” – “And I, you.” Yowza.  … Jason has gotten away from Harvey and his cops, all right, leaving his girl friend in their care – he knows Harvey's a stand-up guy and will get her to a hospital – but then walks right into a trap by the Joker, is captured and tormented toward the end of convincing him the clown's been part of his life from the very beginning, long before he ever became the second Robin. Finally, he's dropped into a pit where there is already the unconscious Red Robin. Harvey quickly puts evidence together to perceive that Jason's been set up and uses the girl friend's cell phone to redial its last call to “J/First Class,” telling him so. Roy and Kory intercept the call and come running to Gotham City (her back in her basically pasties attire, yeesh) but divert in response to a call from Batgirl to help the Teen Titans who are also confronting the Joker's minions.

Nightwing #15
Death of the Family: Cleaning House”

It's clear by now that despite Bruce's protestations, the Joker does know their identities. Just the fact that the Batman showed such a lapse of judgment is, I'm certain, going to be a major take-away from this story arc. How can his associates put their faith in him again?

Chuckles comes for Dick through Haly's Circus. He kills the clown Jimmy, breaks her out of Blackgate, Jokerizes her, and ultimately she dies fighting Nightwing. In her final moments, briefly lucid, she expresses her sorrow for all she did. Then he finds written on her abdomen a message regarding the Joker's planned Big Event at Amusement Mile, with entertainment to be provided by Haly's Circus, whom he believed he had already sent safely away.

Earlier, Dick had also tried to get Sonia to leave Gotham, but she stayed. They end up kissing – but Dick pulls away again, unable to get out of the shadow of her father's crime.

Legion of Super-Heroes #15
Once Upon a Dream”

Is this a throwaway issue? Were it any other writer than Levitz I would say so. But he tends to play for the long game, and plot developments here will probably pay off long after I've forgotten this issue. Well, except for the Legionnaires fighting dinosaurs.

Glorith is mysteriously transported to 31st -century Barcelona, which is brilliantly described by Mon-El as “Totally beautiful and bizarre … An ancient religious temple, grown to cover a whole city. // Long story about the architect, and – / no...” That last is when he catches sight of the temple-city overrun by dinosaurs.” Portela captures the astonishment on his face very well.

From Wikipedia
The “temple” would be the Church of the Sagrada Familia, the centerpiece of the work of 19th -20th -century architect Antoni Gaudi í Cornet. From Wikipedia, s.v. Barcelona: “Especially remarkable is the work of architect Antoni Gaudi, which can be seen throughout the city. His best-known work is the immense but still unfinished church of the Sagrada Familia, which has been under construction since 1882, and is still financed by private donations. As of 2007, completion is planned for 2026.” I guess they miss that target … by about a thousand years! … Portela's magnificent double-page spread when Mon-El and Ultra Boy fly in reveals a believably extrapolated cityscape of a millennium hence. Well, “believable” … except for the dinosaurs....

Anyway, it turns out that Glorith is unintentionally serving as the focus of a major time storm that the Legionnaires are forced to deal with by putting out fires (pun intended – one is time-shifted medieval villagers about to burn “the witch” at the stake) – and fighting dinosaurs – until they figure out what's going on and Glorith constructs a shield cutting herself off from the temporal fluxes. The issue ends with them clueless who might have been behind the incident, however.

I'm betting it will have something to do with the new Fatal Five, because that's what's coming up, which we are reminded of by the Legion Espionage Squad meeting and starting to think laterally regarding their ongoing unsuccessful search for Tharok and the new Fatal Five.

And did I mention the Legionnaires fight dinosaurs?

Justice League #15
Throne of Atlantis, Chapter One”

Well, “Shazam” is on the cover as part of the group shot. Is he going to become part of the JL in this story?

After a pretty much useless waste of a first page, a US ship's missiles mysteriously bombard Atlantis. In retaliation, the Atlanteans implement war plans designed by Aquaman himself. The first strike is to send tidal waves striking the US coastal cities of Boston, Gotham, and Metropolis. Superman and Wonder Woman are continuing their – or are on another – date, with Wonder Woman getting a lesson in the use of simple glasses to create a secret identity, and spring into action to save some people. Superman is busy when he witnesses Vulko save Lois. Aquaman is with Batman in Gotham, having come to consult with his detective colleague (it's clear they're not friends) regarding the mystery of fish fleeing (from where?), like before the Trench event which opened Aquaman #1. 

Page 10
In addition to the wasted first page, there are several full-page splashes. This story had more pages than usual, but it felt shorter than usual. It was definitely overly decompressed.

Ivan Reis' debut on art, however, looked as stunning as I've come to expect from him.  I especially like Mera's sleeveless costume here, reminiscent of her classic 1960s garb.

Shazam, Chapter 8”

Billy and Freddy are still pigging out on the money they acquired when last we saw them. Billy seems to be a magnet for nefarious activity, and witnesses some kind of apparition in a storefront window, warning him of the coming of Black Adam … just in time for speak-of-the-devil to appear, ready to throw down. Through the dialogue before that, we find that saying “Shazam” doesn't cause Billy to change, but rather just calls down lightning. Huh? Are there any damn rules and – dare I use the term?, 'cause I sure as hell ain't gonna say “continuity” – consistency with what has always been part of the definition of the character here? If you're going to take an old, extremely beloved character like the original Captain Marvel and so transmogrify him that nothing is recognizable anymore, why not just create your own damn character? Or would that take too much work? It is, after all, easier to destroy than to create.

Countdown #47
Final Crisis #3
Geoff Johns should be barred from ever touching Captain Marvel again. This is that bad.

Oh my God. I just had a horrible thought. What happens if he decides to go ahead and make Mary into … well, what would he call her? Mary Shazam? We've already had one of the most wholesome characters in comics history perverted beyond all recognition a few years ago (was it by Grant Morrison?) as “Dark Mary Marvel.” I never want to see anything like that again.

Annotation and Commentary: To be added.

Aquaman #15
Throne of Atlantis, Part Two”

So it's “Part” here and “Chapter” in Justice League. I call authorial and editorial FAIL.

Maybe the flood in Gotham City is not as deep as it appears a first glance. Maybe the Bat Signal was ripped off the roof by the tsunami and is falling through the water on the first page when it looks to be at least several yards beneath the surface. In any case, I bet this event is never even referenced in the Bat books. Ditto Metropolis in Superman and Action. DC “Universe” my ass.

This issue sees increasing friction between Aquaman and the Justice League, as they demand he bring Orm in. When the brothers' confrontation doesn't look like it's working out that way, the League jumps into action. And Aquaman strikes back.

These two first chapters – er, parts – of “Throne of Atlantis” are okay, but still nothing fantastic – and irksome in certain respects. Paul Pelletier is definitely a worthy successor to Ivan Reis, however.

Superman #15
H'El on Earth: Because I'm a Scorpion”

Well, this issue definitely has the funniest laugh-out-loud line of any this month – Superboy's reaction upon meeting the Flash. Superboy: “Wild – Are you, like, Man Flash?” – Flash: “What? Who would ever call himself 'Man Flash'?” – “Well, I know this kid … uh –”

Superman and Superboy have a prison consultation with Lex Luthor that has a creepy Silence of the Lambs vibe to it. Luthor drops hints as to Superboy's origin; either he knows more than he's letting on or he wants to seem like he does. I bet on the former. Our heroes must get into the Fortress of Solitude before H'El uses the alien tech there to destroy the Solar System to provide the power to go back in time to before the destruction of Krypton. Ultimately, Superman calls the Justice League his side – for the very first time ever, according to Cyborg – to aid him in a desperate attempt to penetrate the Fortress.

I'm generally liking Kenneth Rocafort's art more and more. But here it's hard to tell whether Lex Luthor's face is scarred, presumably from some past encounter with Superman, or if it's just an illustion of Rocafort's style.

Batman, Incorporated #6
Garland of Skulls”

It's the custody battle from hell! – Bruce vs. Talia in a deadly war of wits over the fate of Damian, punctuated by plenty of obstacles she's throwing at him. The others are listening from the Cave, where Jason raises Damian's ire by dissing “Batcow.” The members of Batman, Inc. whom I thought were killed in the blast last issue were not. But Squire was almost killed, and Knight may indeed be dead by the end of this issue....

Batman: The Dark Knight #15
Cross to Bear”

Here are the unedited notes I made as I sat contemplating this book before starting the read it. “Don't even want to read it … So why am I buying it? OCD truly a disease...”

Page 1
I steeled myself and read it anyway – and I actually enjoyed it. It's the best of this Scarecrow arc by far even if it's based on possibly dodgy medicine. I'm not that kind of doctor, but really? – spraying a crowd with blood that happens to contain antibodies in order to inoculate them against a bioterror disease? … … … Really? But the art is especially striking, most of all the sumptuous view of Bruce's bedroom on page 1. That's the room of a multi-millionnaire! 

The resolution of this interminable (at least it seemed so) Scarecrow arc (finally!) sees Bruce nearly sacrifice himself for the city. And there is a fitting twist at the end when Scarecrow's backup plan to get right back out of Arkham again backfires on him.

Finch is a great artist, no question. The problem with the past several issues – this series as a whole, to tell the truth, hasn't been the art. Of course, as of next issue, Finch is leaving and this arc's writer is staying....

Justice League Dark #15
The Death of Magic, Part I”

Tim Hunter and Zatanna appear in a forest. Zatanna finds her magic has been amped up as they immediately come under attack by some king of enforcer from an organization called “Epoch.” They suddenly are swallowed up by the ground where they find various magical beings to be in awe of the “Hunter.” Back in Nanda Parbat, the others manage to activate the Books of Magic to open a portal to the same (doubtless otherdimensional) destination, but each experiences the revelation to all of their true inner self – Black Orchid transforms into some kind of purple Swamp Thing-like creature; Madame Xanadu appears to be her true age of over a thousand years; Constantine is manifestly quavering in fear; and Boston Brand (Deadman) is “ALIVE! // [He's] REALLY ALIVE!


oops, never mind … He's really dead. … The enforcer is taking a much more aggressive stance against these newest interlopers. He's been upgraded and is determined that these will not elude him as well.

Mikel Janin is back on art, and his Zatanna remains delectable. I'm enjoying Jeff Lemire's writing as well.

Teen Titans #15
Death of the Family: Teen Scream”

While Red Robin is held captive by the Joker, undergoing his tender loving care, he provides the inner'logue as the Teen Titans meet Batgirl from whom they get their marching orders. Searching for Red Robin, Kid Flash inadvertently spreads Joker toxin throughout Gotham City, infecting its population. The Titans are forced to fight the people while trying not to hurt them, then Arsenal and Starfire appear to help them, dovetailing with the last page of Red Hood and the Outlaws #15.

On p. 18, is that Kurt Lance amping up Black Canary's powers even as he seems to be affecting Kid Flash's? – the panel with Canary refers the reader to “Check out Birds of Prey #15 for what's happening,” and that's the only thing I can figure.

Joe Kubert Presents #3 of 6

We get the second part of what looks to be at least a three-part tale of “The Redeemer: The Reckoning.” Even though it's pure Kubert, I didn't care for the first part and am holding off on reading this second (and maybe subsequent) chapters until I've got the whole story in front of me. Another of Sam Glanzman's U.S.S. Stevens memoirs appears in “Snapshots.” Kubert's own pencilled (?) tale of a boy on a whaling ship, “Spit,” gets a continuation from the first issue. And Brian Buniak gives us a third chapter of “Angel and the Ape” continuing their investigation as to who might have killed the client they'd succeeded in keeping from killing himself. Reporter Noel Kurt sure looks a lot like Lois Lane, doesn't she...?


I, Vampire #15
Here Comes Your Man”

I'm a bit disappointed that this title has been announced for cancellation, with its last issue being #19, I believe. It has been one of the surprisingly good series to come out of the New 52, although its sales have always been weak. I'd hoped the good sales that resulted on the trade collection of the first story arc would save the monthly, but it was not to be so. I will miss it.

And apparently we're not even going to get Andrea Sorrentino's art on the last few issues. Not that Dennis Calero's is bad. He does an able job duplicating the style, but it's still not the same.

I'm not sure if they'd established it before and I just missed it, but the Bennetts were the Lords of Glastonbury. Glastonbury is a cool place, significant in Arthurian as well as Christian legend.

In this issue, John, Mary, and Deborah conjure up the ghost of Andrew's former coachman, and thereby Mary discovers an unpleasant truth regarding her and Andrew's separation centuries ago. The Cain – Andrew's sire – appears, as human as is Mary herself. There is a reference to Mary having cavorted around for centuries totally naked, which is definitely how she was drawn in her vampire state. Meanwhile, Andrew and Tig attack the Van Helsings on their home turf, penetrating all the way into the vampire hunters' pocket dimension armory.

Talon #3
Sting of the Past”

Even though I've decided I really like this title, I think I'm scheduled to get the next two issues digitally. This is a difficult hobby to change your mind on! In New York City, Calvin makes contact with Casey, the woman whom he loves, went rogue for, and ultimately left in order to protect her. She's been busy. She's put together a big network saving people from all kinds of evil organizations like the Owls. She proposes an alliance with Calvin (and Sebastian, whose system she hacks) to heist a bank containing the Owls' treasury. But it all goes bad when the Talon guard suddenly recognizes and grabs Calvin. This is a surprisingly good book.

Human Bomb #1 of 4
Chapter One: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”

A US military unit in Afghanistan is captured and turned into programmed sleeper human bombs, but something about Michael Taylor's physiology renders him able to control his own explosions and survive others. He discovers this when a member of his old unit appears at his construction job at Ground Zero among a wave of explosions across Manhattan. Uncle Sam and SHADE are seeking Taylor. 

It's another Palmiotti and Gray Freedom Fighters character, reimagined, with good art by Jerry Ordway, but something about this issue doesn't click with me like Ray and Phantom Lady did. For one thing, I just don't find the main character engaging like those were right out of the gate.

Smallville: Season 11 #29-32
Haunted, chapters 4-6”

Clark gets a glimpse of Bart's speed demon and takes him to start searching for Jay Garrick for some expert advice. Lois gets a clue who's holed up in Lex's mind. And Chloe starts a memory dive into the head of her dead doppelganger and sees Lois killed.

Effigy, part 2”

With Batman's help, John Jones puts clues together to realize that the White Martian has been stalking him. They barely get to Jones' apartment building to interdict an attack that his neighbors are right in the middle of. Batman hears the White Martian call Jones a murderer – which Jones acknowledges. As to time frame, a television news story makes reference to a phenomenon that has been occurring in the main “Haunted” story, so this must be happening concurrently.

Reviews: To be added.

And, that's it for this month. Cheers, and Thanks for reading!

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