Monday, March 18

DC Comics – March 2013 – New 52 Month 17

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

The first of my “leaner, meaner” monthly round-ups of DC Comics. One change I'm also making is that now my linked reviews just go to the wonderful Comic Book RoundUp website that pulls together and links to multiple reviews and gives an average overall rating based on them. They usually include the individual reviewers that I generally go to for each “family” of books, plus a lot more. If an issue I'm including has a page there, that's what I'm linking to.

Do we really need another month's worth of the stupid Arrow banner across the top of the covers?

In other “news” ...

Saner heads ultimately prevailed at DC as it was recently announced that the “WTF” “event” will not be so billed. If I may editorialise, whoever thought that would be a good idea in the first place should be fired. I don't often say that so bluntly, but come on!

And now to the comics....

Earth 2 #8
Lazy Sunday”

What's Steppenwolf been up to these five years? Well, raising (and corrupting) his foster daughter, Wonder Woman's daughter, Fury, who comes off as a fusion of Big Barda and Lashina.

Worlds' Finest #8
Hunt and Be Hunted”

Still loving this series, and now Batman knows Damian's been up to something on the sly....

Action Comics #16
The Second Death of Superman”/ “Future Tense”

Damn you, Grant Morrison! Snake Sensor?! – Not that I disliked that 1990s iteration of Princess Projectra, but damn it, we don't need another wrinkled Legion of Super-Heroes continuity! My head spins … and that's even before I read the issue! Man, I'm going to hate seeing Morrison go … luckily, he was recently announced to have not one but two issues to finish this story off. But I do pity Andy Diggle trying to follow him....

Detective Comics #16
Death of the Family: Nothin' But Smiles” / “Pecking Order”

Okay, I am generally enjoying Detective 'way more than I was since Tony Daniel's gone … but this issue did something that totally jerked me out of any level of suspension of disbelief:

There's just so much wrong on so many levels beyond the simple grotesquerie – medical, practical, and so forth. It's just plain dumb. How the hell is the kid enunciating the words he's speaking, specifically any consonants that involve the lips he no longer has? … Which of course also brings the question of how the now faceless Joker speaks with no lips?!

Batwing #16
A Blind Eye Sees Red”

With this issue, Fabian Nicieza gets to chart his own course, and it's immediately better. But it's only for a couple of issues, because Gray and Palmiotti have already been announced to take this book over. I stopped preorders effective next month, I think, but I'm considering beginning again with G & P.

Superboy #16
H'El on Earth: Triggers!”

Not a bad issue, but what really happens except Superman and Superboy get zapped off to who-knows-where? Well, we get to see some better Justice League action than in their own book, and Batman is 'way past plan “B” in his planning. But H'El continues to do a number on Supergirl's psyche, the real weakest link in this arc.

Batman #16
Death of the Family: Castle of Cards” / “Judgment”

The Batman as the Joker's king, eh? … just order the wannabe court jester to do the right thing and kill himself, all right? Here's the first of our Joker-presents-the-characters-with-something-on-a-platter cliffhanger endings – which most Bat-titles end with this month.

Batman and Robin #16
Death of the Family: Cast a Giant Shadow”

See? – How does the Joker suck a straw with no lips?


Batgirl #16
Death of the Family: Collision – Part Three: Ceremony”

James Jr. shows up, briefly appears to be helping Batgirl as she attempts to leave the Joker at the altar, but then betrays her … and she wakes up to be presented with a covered platter by the Joker.

Legion Lost #16
Last Stand!”

Finally, it's over. And with a typically confusing mess that seems to erase any developments that have occurred in this series except that the Lost Legionnaires are still in the past. Damn. Despite the cover, it tries to end on a “hopeful” note, “Never the End.” Right.

Justice League #16
Throne of Atlantis, Chapter Three: Friends and Enemies” / [“Shazam!”]

More workmanlike progression of the story. I just wish Johns still had the ability to deliver a good issue rather than a piece of a story. And don't get me started on this awful reimagining of Shazam. Here are my notes: “Sivana and Sloth incarnate set about awakening the other Deadly Sins, while Billy gets his butt kicked by Black Adam, but manages to switch back to Billy and hide behind a dumpster, cowering in fear. Yes, it's that bad. See last month's rant....” This is so heartbreaking having just read Ordway's Power of Shazam. Much less looking at any of the great Fawcett originals.

Superboy Annual #1
H'El on Earth: Lost Horizons”

This is a surprisingly well-written character piece loaded with penty of action, as Superboy and Superman seem to forge a bond that will hopefully endure, amid a great deal of “banter” that has both of them learning something about themselves by seeing themselves as in a mirror. I guess I need to shed my impression of Superboy as innocent of history and culture; I guess his virtual life included an education, which makes sense. I like that Superman admits he's not entirely clear on why he has his powers. Why would he be?

Supergirl #16
H'El on Earth: Fast and Faster”

Okay, I think I'm getting what H'El's real or at least backup plan is … to play Adam and Eve (or Kryp and Tonn?) with Kara at the beginning of Kryptonian history. Eewwwww! That “revelation” comes at the very end of the issue. I love Flash's reaction upon encountering Krypto – “Superman has a dog?,” and see some of the likeable Supergirl in her reunion with Krypto. The prologue confirms for me that the horn from Superman #1 is what has now called the Oracle. But the less I say about the ridiculous hyperbole in the epilogue the better.

You know, I don't dislike this as much as reviewer Anj, and think his dashed hopes for his beloved character is leading him to overreact a bit, but he's right, this crossover ain't all that, and a large part of it is the role of Kara.

Batwoman #16
World's Finest IV: Serpent's Homeland”

This is quite a literate, textually-dense book, and with JHW3's beautiful (if often cryptically complicated) art, it's one of the best books out there. There's quite a bit of inner'loguing from multiple characters. It actually takes time to read. We finally get insight into the master plan, to shed children's blood to resurrect Ceto, the Mother of All Monsters, and also Bette Kane back in action, in a new costume, going up directly against “Scythe” who almost killed her.

Catwoman #16
The Black Diamond Probability: Battle in Black”

Apocalyptic multiverse time-continuum-destroying damage” – I think I'll make that my new catch phrase. It's about the only good thing in this book. I don't like Eclipso, so I automatically don't like this story part of DC's multipronged effort to bring him into the New 52, but beyond that it's a stupid story. Catwoman somehow manages to pull back from being seduced by the Black Diamond, but I frankly can't tell you how or why I should care. I've quickly developed such an antipathy for Ann Nocenti's writing that I'm dropping this book, Bat-family or no.

I do like that phrase, though … even if it's not enough to make me stick around.

Birds of Prey #16
Lights Out”

This is something of a transition issue, partly the violent introduction of Strix (Latin for “owl” since she's the female Talon that Batgirl has taken under her wing) that initially goes bad, partly because of the ill-timed advent of Condor, who wants into the team and may be horny for Black Canary – although she warns him that joining the all-girl team may result in questioning of his manhood – then they follow up a lead to the reappearance of an opponent from Birds of Prey #0, whereupon Canary's power goes wild with perhaps deadly results for Starling (NOOOOOO!!!!!).

Strix really reminds me of Cassandra Cain's initial appearance … is she the New 52 version?

Nightwing #16
Death of the Family: Curtain Call”

One of the things that I like (when it's done right) in these types of tie-in issues is the different perceptions of the threat and of the characters themselves we can see. For instance, here the Joker considers Nightwing to be the biggest threat to “his Batman” because Nightwing is always sure of himself but also because he is the “Bat” who has the most faith in people.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #16
Death of the Family: Family Matters”

On the other hand, this is basically a throwaway issue in a series I haven't normally been getting … but since James Tynion whatever-his-number-is is coming on as writer (part of the Snyder circle), I'm about to be giving it a shot.

Of course, one could argue that the idea of Killer Croc being Roy Harper's AA sponsor is in itself worth the price of admission.

Aquaman #16
Throne of Atlantis, Chapter Four”

Well, I didn't see that coming (although maybe I should have because of the modernist tendency toward deconstruction). Vulko as the villain? – and it only very slowly dawns on the characters in this issue. … Actually, I had already wondered what Aquaman ultimately asks: Why does Orm need to place explosive charges to sink Boston if he's got that mystical spear thingy? Of course, they are in the middle of a running battle without the time to really sit back and think about these things! We do get to see Batman acting typically cool, calm, and collected as he's trapped helpless (is Batman ever truly “helpless”?) at the bottom of the ocean in a coffin-like pod having to be carted around by Aquaman. And Cyborg gets an upgrade that apparently means he's going to be breathing like Darth Vader from now on.

There's another annoying typo: Mera calls Aquaman “Aruthur.”

Legion of Super-Heroes #16
Choose Wisely”

The election issue … Do they still have readers participate in Legion elections? If so, I missed the call. Anyway, that's just one thread, individual groups of Legionnaires discussing the election and other personal issues, while the Legion Espionage Squad – mainly Chameleon Boy and Shrinking Violet – discovering that Validus is not really still imprisoned on Takron-Galtos. The unexpected result for leader: Phantom Girl.

Superman #16
H'El on Earth: A Fistful of Sticks”

Not a whole lot changes.

Talon #4

Calvin Rose's battle with the Butcher of Gotham changes everything for his girlfriend Casey's organization and looks like it may set up a new status quo with his reunion with her and her little girl Sarah, back in Gotham “where [they] belong.” Which all will keep this title on my radar.

Batman, Incorporated #7
Belly of the Whale”

A bunch happened in this issue, but mainly Batman ends up sunk inside a safe while Batman, Incorporated looks like it's been decimated – and we get heartbroken confirmation from Squire that Knight is indeed dead, and she blames herself. In the end, “Leviathanized” children attack Gordon and Nightwing, and after a fair amount of focus on Damian and Alfred in the Cave, Alfred connives with him in disobeying Bruce and heading out … all the latter foreshadowing what's going to happen next issue....

Batman and Robin Annual #1
Batman Impossible”

A great issue, showing just how much Damian has grown as a character from the one-note snot-nosed little bastard he was in the beginning. Damian sends his father on a scavenger-hunt vacation around the world, centered on the Wayne family heritage, while he himself dons a version of the “Batman 666” garb and hits the streets of Gotham. It ends on a wonderful note of trust and acceptance between father and son.

Batman: The Dark Knight #16
Touch of Crazy”

The beginning of a new story arc. Hopefully it will be better than the last one was overall. And it looks like Bruce's Ukrainian pianist girl friend can't take the … uncertainty? … of being Bruce's lover.

There's still no reason I can see for this superfluous Bat-book.

Justice League Dark #16
The Death of Magic, Part 2: Night of the Hunter”

Things are starting to come apart, both in the other universe and in “ours.” Frankly, this story arc is not doing anything for me yet.

So, Deadman's dead again … and nothing's changed. He's Deadman.

Teen Titans #16
Death of the Family: Gotham Runs Red”

Concurrently (I think, more or less) with Red Hood and the Outlaws #16, this focusses more on Tim and Jason in a cage-match for the Joker's “amusement.” Various little vignettes include the intro of the New 52 version of Raven, in typically repulsivised costuming.

Joe Kubert Presents #...




I, Vampire #16
Title to be added”



Smallville: Season 11 ….
Title to be added”



Cheers! … and Thanks for reading.

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