Wednesday, July 31

DC Comics – August 2013, New 52 Month 22

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

The online previews of the DC solicitations which will appear in the August issue of Diamond's Previews catalog (and therefore solicit items mostly on-sale during the month of October) appeared while the days of July were still in single digits, earlier than I ever remember. Not sure why so early, but you may see them here (link).

News that dropped during the period I was reading this batch of comics included George Perez's announcement of what he had cryptically referred to when I was talking with him in Houston (link). It turns out he is going to Boom! Comics (link). He's the second creator in as many months that has left DC for Boom! – Paul Jenkins (last month) also was headed that direction, and although Perez's announcement is not filled with the vitriol some others' departures from DC have been, he has clearly been dissatisfied with the corporate culture that increasingly prevails at DC. That was clear both of the times I've had the pleasure of meeting him, and comes through clearly albeit graciously in the linked interview. It's DC's loss, is all I can say.

There have been other creator departures announced from titles I'm getting. Jeff Lemire is reportedly leaving Justice League Dark after Trinity War wraps up (link), and I may use that as a point to drop back to waiting for trade, and Mahmud Asrar is off Supergirl (link). Neither appears to be acrimonious, thank heavens – but Justin Jordan's quick departure from Superboy is reputed to be because of creative differences (link). Comic Book Resources' forums has an interesting thread with fans debating the issue of heavy-handed editorial issues (link). I think it's a case of where there's smoke, there's fire, and there's been plenty of smoke of late. It saddens me.

Finally, last week (17-21 July) was San Diego Comic Con. I honestly didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it, and haven't in the couple of years since DC stopped podcasting its sessions, but the announcement of Man of Steel 2 being a Superman / Batman movie to come in 2015 made perhaps the biggest splash (link). Looks like it will be going virtually head to head with Marvel's Avengers 2 … that's gonna be a tricky thing to pull off. I hope they can. I know I'm looking forward to it. The Grumpy Old Fan over at CBR has a good perspective on how they should balance the characters (link).

Enough news, on to the comics....

Batman/Superman #1

Hmpf. I remember when the previous team-up book came a decade ago. I was all into Batman at the time, and I wanted that book to be “Batman/Superman” rather than “Superman/Batman” – now I wish this one gave Big Blue priority. But the Dark Knight sells better – that's why there are more Batman titles than there are books in the New Testament, almost. Ah well.

I will say this book is pretty, with Jae Lee on art – and interesting, too, especially the first part with the years-ago real first meeting between Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne, and a double-page spread of the two characters' relationships with their fathers. And Greg Pak continues the storytelling practice that I identify with Jeph Loeb of the “dueling inner'logues.” It's too early, though, to tell if the story will be worth another ongoing title. I've expressed my thoughts last month that maybe they should do a rotating team-up book called The Brave and the Bold, but I guess that wouldn't garner the sales that Batman/Superman did, at least for this first issue. It seems like a tale of demonic possession of probably Apokoliptian origin – a Boom Tube seems to break through from Earth “1” (or is the main DCnU now Earth “Prime”?) to Earth 2, and I wonder if the villain could be DeSaad.

Earth 2 #13

Speaking of Earth 2.... This issue has two narratives going. In the first, Captain Steel goes into the Rio de Janeiro Fire Pit and returns haggard, broken and babbling about something called the “Red Lantern” which, if it escapes, will destroy the world. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl continues to investigate Sam's death, and finds that he was somehow involved in contraband Apokoliptian tech. She fights Apokoliptian warriors astride Apokorats, repulsing them with the unexpected aid of the new Batman, who tells her to follow the clues to Kanto the Apokoliptian Assassin. Continued goodness.

I've been continuing my reading of Injustice: Gods Among Us, and I'm getting more and more confident that Tom Taylor is indeed a worthy successor to James Robinson when he leaves in just a few issues. The issue dealing with the effects on Billy Batson of what Shazam is doing as an ally of Superman is just one in a series of amazingly insightful segments of that weekly digital tale. If he can bring the same game to Earth 2, I'll be satisfied.

Action Comics #21
Hybrid, Part 3: More Than Human” / “The World of Krypton, Part 2: Dissension”

Continuing the more recent retrospective of just one year ago, Superman figures out how to dissociate the Hybrid into its constituent victims, but then Luthor shows up in armor to finish him off. Luthor indulges in typical villain-blab – and Lois gets it all on her iPhone! Superman of course eventually defeats Luthor. I do wish we'd seen how Luthor got the scars on the side of his face that are apparent in his present-day appearances, but maybe there's still more to the story of how he ended up in remote solitary confinement. I think we see Clark first meeting Jon Carroll.

In the Krypton backup, Lara defies the rebels in the midst of the military coup and makes her escape, wondering to whom she might turn now for help even as the same rebels show up at the ancient underwater city to take Jor-El into custody.

And so ends Diggle's brief association with Action Comics, it seems. Not bad. I think next issue Lobdell brings the title into the present and makes it part of his story that's currently being told in Superman.

Detective Comics #21
Shadows and Ghosts” / Man-Bat in “Territorial”

Playing out of the zero-issue of almost a year ago, Bruce Wayne's long-lost paramour from his days training in the Orient turns up as an assassin. He defeats her, but she disappears. The epilogue shows that she was sent by Ra's al Ghul. Harper Row again plays a role, jumping from Snyder's Batman over to Layman's Detective, which I guess is good if she's going to continue in the stories now that Batman has jumped into the past for the next year. But with the introduction of Carrie Kelley in Batman and ????, we have two young women vying for sidekick status – does anybody doubt that's the direction this is going, especially in the case of the latter? Anyway, it's only a week after Harper's last appearance got her a bloodied nose from the Bat-jerk and orders to cease and desist, this time she earns his grudging approval since she realizes she's not going to cease and desist.

In the Man-Bat backup, it turns out Langstrom's serum is only temporary, and both Kirk and Francine are trying to return to a normal life. But he's becoming addicted, transforming himself more and more often, until he's now worried that he may be the perpetrator of some gruesome murders beneath the Trigate Bridge where he usually hangs out as Man-Bat.

In the second story, there is a cross-reference via a radio news story about the murder of Natalya Trusevich (last month's Batman: The Dark Knight). One of the resources I check out pretty frequently trying to figure out how all these Bat-books fit together (for eventual binding purposes) is The Real Batman Chronology Project (link). For a reason I haven't sussed out yet, Collin states that the first story takes place “two days before the death of Natalya.”

Superman Unchained #1
The Leap”

Okay, just to get it out of the way … I HATE THIS TITLE! Not the comic, but the title, Superman Unchained. It makes about as much sense as calling a comic The Avenging X-Men or The Uncanny Avengers … … ...What? Ahem....

Anyway, I would have preferred something both meaningful for the character and timely. Like, say, Man of Steel. Or even, to parallel Batman, Superman: The Man of Steel. “Unchained” sounds like it would be more appropriate for, say, the Hulk – or in DC, perhaps Hawkman as he's currently portrayed, basically as a crazed maniac. The sense of being out of control, cutting loose. That's not Superman.

Having gotten that off my chest … It's by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee. Which means it is both well-written and pretty. But even that is marred by a needless quarto fold-out that really does nothing to add to the story. Well, it's there to emphasize the size of what Superman is up against ... but how are they going to print this in a collection and have little-bitty Superman even be visible?  How am I going to bind this issue when and if I finally get to that point?  Nevertheless, it is a great first issue.

The story is in three acts in which we see Superman stopping satellites falling out of space – kicking us off with suitable super-action! – and confronting Lex Luthor; Clark Kent interacting with Jim and then Lois on the phone and finding something weird about the eighth satellite's fall; which Superman investigates and is fired upon by an American sub while General Lane is secretly working on a project to harness the “real Superman,” an energy being working for – or under the control of – the US government. That's all book-ended by a prologue in which a Japanese boy at Nagasaki four months to the day before the second atomic bomb fell (surely it couldn't be that Snyder and Lee goofed on the date, right...?) witnessing a devastating bomb that is really a man, and a double epilogue showing us that Perry White has the boy's binoculars seventy years later, while a fishing trawler pulls a man from the sea whose eyes are burned out but who gasps out a request to be taken to Lois Lane....

Jim and Lois both seem to be really chummy with their now-rival ex-fellow employee Clark Kent, and Perry seems too okay with them sharing news ledes. Sure, they can be friends, but the news industry is cutthroat. Superman frets that no one else on Earth could possibly stop that eighth satellite – what about Supergirl? Or is this during the time she's off-world?

Overall, great stuff – but do we really need a new Superman title at all? I say it's not that Superman has too few titles as it is – it's that Batman has too many! Couldn't this team have taken over Action Comics or Superman? Sure, it's excellent as one would expect of Scott Snyder, but can Lee keep up? How quickly will we see a substitute artist?

Snyder and Lee definitely have plans, though – the 24-page story (I guess – or do the two quarto folded pages translate to eight pages of story making it a round thirty pages?) is followed by a several-page interview with the creators.

Justice League of America #5
World's Most Dangerous, Chapter Five” / “The Martian Manhunter”

This is a somewhat better issue. Of course, Catwoman was really the Martian Manhunter, so being shot in the head didn't hurt so much. The JLA fights the Secret Society, but it's essentially a draw. The Society gets away, but Trevor now believes the JLA can work as a team, which is a radical change of mind on his part – that was manipulated by Waller, who goads him to declaring it by threatening to disband them now. Man, she's sneaky. On the last page, we see that something has happened to Dr. Light.

In the backup, we learn more about the Martian Manhunter's past, including that he was no longer brought here against his will by an Earthly science experiment gone bad but rather came hunting the Earthly telepathic parasite Thoth who destroyed his Martian race. He's literally a “Martian Manhunter.”

It's not better enough to change my mind about dropping this title, but it is a better issue.

Worlds' Finest #13
Hide and Seek”

This issue is basically a long running battle with Desaad's Hell Hound – from the Securities and Exchange Commission, where Helena is aggressively interrogating an agent as to how Holt Industries pulled off a hostile takeover of Starr Industries, to Helena's Alexandria, Virginia, safe house, until they manage to electrocute it. Don't worry, Desaad's busy making more.

Karen is worried, however, that she's getting weaker on this Earth. The girls are unsure whether Desaad is from this universe or their own, but he has been unaware there was anything out of the ordinary about her. Did his involvement with Holt come only after she left (sometime during the Mister Terrific series, when even the reader didn't know who she really was, IIRC)? I keep thinking, why haven't their recent exploits caught more attention from other metas?

I am disappointed we've seen the last of Kevin Maguire's and George Perez's art on this series, but Robson Rocha does a well enough job.

Superboy #21
State of Decay”

Superboy, his new buddy Dr. Psycho, and Krypto confront the monstrous Decay – who turns out to be a HIVE-weaponized schizo-psychotic projection by a little girl. It's a good issue – Superboy uses his brains to subdue her without hurting her, then and Psycho determine to stop HIVE from doing the same to other kids. Sounds like there's a natural confluence of purpose with Superboy's other pals, the Teen Titans.

Unfortunately, see the news above that Jordan has walked off this title.

I do wish they would get Superboy out of the TRON getup and into something different … say a black tee shirt and blue jeans...?

Batman #21
Zero Hour – Secret City: Part One” / Bruce Wayne in “Where the Hell Did He Learn to Drive?!”

This is the beginning of what I think is a twelve-issue retcon retelling of the origin of Batman in the New 52 Universe. After a prologue set six years ago in what looks like a dystopian wasteland version of Gotham City (imagine that), we jump a further six months in the past to six weeks after Bruce Wayne returned to Gotham City in secret, still attempting to leave Bruce Wayne legally dead – which is immediately blown by the appearance of Uncle Philip Kane. What is the significance of the Robin-symbol on Bruce's cap? We get some intriguing history of the Waynes and Kanes. Edward Nygma is somehow involved with Wayne Industries (which immediately makes me think of Batman Forever, and that is not a good thing). The Red Hood gang introduced in the 0-issue a year ago is terrorizing Gotham's upper class, including Wayne Industries. In a further flashback of young Bruce and his father, Bruce is already fighting against the constraints of his identity, is going to use a prototype 3D mapping ball to map the caves beneath Wayne Manor. It's an interesting issue, and I do want to see more of Snyder and Capullo's take on the oft-told story.

In the backup, nineteen-year-old Bruce learns evasive driving skills from a South American thief/cop-killer, then leaves him for the authorities in Rio.

Batgirl #21

Gee, thanks, Mom – You know that Dad's vowed to bring Batgirl in for supposedly killing my psycho homicidal brother, who tortured you and me, and that I'm Batgirl and I saved your life, and yet you're leaving without interceding for me – abandoning me again! No wonder I'm a wreck!

Nevertheless, Batgirl manages in this issue to track down and defeat a new metahuman female Ventriloquist, saving her latest victim. There's also a bit of a cameo via phone by Nightwing, and to be fair Barbara must be trying to go on, since she evidently arranged a date – which she promptly forgot about until he showed up.

This issue is somewhat better, but it still needs to resolve this Batgirl vs. Commissioner Gordon thing and improve the overall tone – make it not so depressing.

Nightwing 21
Co$t of Living”

Dick escapes the Prankster's trap just in time for the cops to show, but they both get away – and then Dick cuts a deal with the prankster to help him track down Tony Zucco. It appears that Zucco is now happily married with a kid, and they all skedaddle before Nightwing gets to him. Oh, and in the end Nightwing betrays the Prankster, living up to the letter but not the spirit of their agreement. Dick's roommate Michael gets a camera from a crime scene which I bet is going to lead him to putting two and two together. In a seemingly unrelated prequel, we see the last (?) mask in Chicago “several years ago” killed by an unknown assailant.

Constantine #4
All My Friends”

This is a “Day in the Life” transitional issue in which Constantine visits various of his “friends,” dealing with blowback from issues #1-3 and hearing Zatanna allude to the coming Trinity War. In the New 52, Constantine has never met Superman, Batman, or Lex Luthor.

It's always good to see Zatanna. I don't like her tattoos – I do not like tattoos on a lady, ask my wife's niece – but I guess they stand to reason in today's world

Justice League #21
Shazam! Conclusion”

Actually, for all my fulminating against this reimagining of one of the most beloved characters in comics history, this final part is not half bad. It does seem that I was wrong exactly how Billy would share his power with his five foster brothers and sisters. Instead of combining into “Captain Thunder” as in Flashpoint, they become five other multicolored Shazam kids, of varying strengths and perhaps different powers. It's not precisely clear, but it is good to have a sweet version of Mary Marvel back after “Dark Mary” in her last couple of years. I'm sure this is not the end of Black Adam – in fact, he's already billed as one of the titles in Villains Month. We do get Mister Mind – where'd he come from?

On the pretty sure bet they're going to a series of some kind, I find myself surprisingly willing to give it a try. But I will always miss the charm of the original Marvels.  And if they can't be called "Marvels," I'd prefer "Thunders" to "Shazam"!

Supergirl #21
Be Careful What You Wish For...”

Kara has an immature parting with Siobhan, in which there is of course enough immaturity to go around and it goes both ways, then she steals some kind of space motorcycle from Dr. Veritas and heads off into space, still slowly dying of Kryptonite poisoning. She is lured to some king of collector/preserver world that obviously has to be more than it seems, as evidenced if by nothing else (and there is plenty of something else) by the cliffhanger appearance of the Cyborg Superman.

I'm already missing Mahmud Asrar's art. Diogenes Neves has a similar style but less polished. I'm most dismayed that there are only hints here of the clever writing that so impressed me last issue. I hope Michael Alan Nelson regains his footing quickly.

Regarding the cover (which is by Asrar, and apparently will continue to be for at least a few months) – DC, get over the “wrath of Supergirl” bullshit!!! I'm tired of it!

Batman and Batgirl #21
The Bargain”

This issue takes place after the death of James Jr. and Barbara's tearing off her emblem – which Batman has a problem with. But before we see that, Barbara has a one-sided secret confession to James Sr. – by which I mean he doesn't know she's there, can't hear her – then the main plot concerns her confronting Batman about his out of character actions of late. She ultimately offers to become the new Robin if that's what he needs. Apparently it's not – he drives her out of the Cave in fury. I don't really care for the art on this issue –

Batwoman #21
Interlude III”

Well, as the title says... This issue features Killer Croc, who's found a home with the dead Abbott's were-people (etymologically, that formation is redundant, but I don't know what else to call them). They want him to avenge Abbott by killing Batwoman, but Batwoman, Maggie, and whatever-Flamebird's-called-now trounce him. When he gets away, he kills the were-eagle (now that formation works, etymologically speaking) who sent him on basically a suicide mission, and prepares to move the “tribe” out of Gotham City.

Funny inner'logue when he comes upon Batwoman and Maggie lip-locked – “Okay, I didn't see that one comin'.” Francesco Francavilla's pulp-noir art works here.  I've heard word-of-mouth that J. H. Williams III will not be doing interiors for this series any more, and that Francavilla's taking over.  It will be a different feel, but I can live with that.

Birds of Prey #21
Talon vs. Talon”

This issue is still before Batgirl #19. Strix is attacked by Calvin Rose, who ultimately cannot bring himself to kill her. He despairingly tells her all, whereupon she sets off with him with a purpose, to be continued in Talon #9. Meanwhile, Batgirl, Black Canary, and Condor search the building. Condor reveals his name to Black Canary – Ben – along with the fact that he loves her.

Red Hood and the Outlaws #21

By issue's end, the three outlaws have gone their separate ways – Jason essentially captured by the League of Assassins, Roy with an enemy called Essence who is working against the League but promises to get him into their headquarters, and Kori is trying to put the pieces together to see the whole picture, instinctively not trusting Essence. Roy's long time psychiatrist is Hugo Strange, whom Kori is warned is betraying them.

Legion of Super-Heroes #21
Endings – Part One”

The end minus two issues.... 

The Legionnaires and their battles against the new Fatal Five minus one converge on Metropolis, except for Invisible Kid and Polar Boy who are still in the Ghost Dimension, and things look bad. Ultra Boy is incredulous that Phantom Girl would have abandoned them. Tharok demonstrates control even over Brainiac 5's force field belt, and the Fatal Five minus one are on the verge of dealing a killing blow when Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl appear.

Aquaman #21
Death of a King, Chapter Three: Confrontation”

Okay, so Mera was sent from the Bermuda Triangle kingdom of Xebel, where she is the Queen and daughter of the last king, to kill the King of Atlantis … three years ago? I hate this New 52 crunched time line! Anyway, at the time she was betrothed to Nereus, not married, but he doesn't see the difference. He does not take her 'splainin' it to him very well.  There is an excellent 3¼-page introduction to who Aquaman is. He's still chasing the Scavenger, but that chase is beginning to look like a distraction. What happened to Dr. Rhodon's face? – is it an effect of the surface bomb that provoked the Atlantean attack several issues ago? Arthur gets news of Mera's abduction and races away. Tula and her companions leave Atlantis defenseless to attempt a rescue of Orm from Belle Reve. Nereus attacks the “traitor” Mera with similar water powers, the the Ice King attacks and freezes them all. Aquaman makes his way the Xebel, and then we get a quick one-page montage of multiple cliffhangers: The Ice King freezes Arthur and declares himself the First King of Atlantis; Tula and company make their way ashore in South Louisiana to rescue Orm; Dr. Rhodon inadvertently triggers a tracking device in the Scavenger's victim; And the Scavenger attacks defenseless Atlantis.

For all my disenchantment with Geoff Johns overall, I really am liking this title. I am a little worried that the solicited cover for #24 shows a shirtless, bearded Aquaman (although Annual #1 which comes out a week later seems to show the iconic golden-mailed, clean shaven appearance). I guess I could take his doffing the mail shirt (why?) and growing a beard if he doesn't then grow his hair long and shaggy like in the '90s-'00s. And please, God, no harpoon-hand!

Superman #21
Don't Mind If I Do”

We are introduced to the new Insect Queen of HIVE, which tries to steal Hector Hammon's megalocephalic body from STAR Labs, but only succeed in triggering another mental outlash in which Hammond briefly connects with every Metropolitan except Superman, causing them to manifest various aspects of Superman's personality. Which is all interesting enough in its own right, but the really shiny part of this issue is Clark's inner'logue as he goes about putting on a show of a normal life, and why that's necessary. Here's Scott Lobdell at his best (he's often not), and Kenneth Rocafort's art complements the story equally well in this quieter part as well as in the more “super-heroey” parts. Superman is finally, in its latest few issues, in its rightful place among the best titles of the DC line-up.

Batman, Incorporated #12

And suddenly everything shifts. As Batman has an extensive fight with the Heretic, others discover the bigger picture. Talia gains access to the Cave for a final confrontation – just after beheading the Heretic, a clone of Damian and therefore Batman's other son, which I think Bruce had figured out. Look out, Talia!

Talon #9

Calvin Rose and Strix fake her death using another Talon's corpse, which gains Rose time to continue service to the Court in hopes of helping Casey and Sarah. He manages to slip Casey a lockpick in a kiss before being dispatched to Santa Prisca to eliminate Sebastian Clark, Bane, and company. There he confronts Sebastian, but is attacked by one of Bane's venom-mutated monsters. Meanwhile, Casey manages to get loose enough to use a false tooth to transmit a message to her allies.

It's a good story although I don't know how sustainable a series with an undead hero can be if his undead state has any real meaning beyond him moaning about it. It doesn't seem to make any real difference. The substitute artist is disappointing.

Batman: The Dark Knight #21

In the wake of Natalya's murder, an enraged Batman fights his way through the Mad Hatter's thugs and psychotic tea-induced hallucinations to almost kill the Hatter. Ultimately, however, Alfred manages to talk him down and he saves the Mad Hatter from drowning. A month later, the Bat Signal has been repaired – it looks like it's been taped back together – and Batman responds to a a call although Alfred had hoped he would at least take some time off.

Justice League Dark #21
Horror City, Conclusion: Die, Die, Die, My Darling”

This issue begins with an image of the JLD impaled on pikes twenty years in the future – Destiny's vision, but Madame Xanadu also sees the future and sees love between herself and Deadman. Dullard me finally gleaned Flash's real purpose in this story arc, to provide an outside, more traditionally super-heroic perspective on the mystical/magical “members” of the “Justice League Dark” (who don't like that name, and don't really consider themselves “members” of anything – and yet as Flash observes, they work together). His inner'logue works on a two-page spread that drives that purpose home … until the last bit. It turns out that the House of Mystery is itself a sentient being, and that Deadman has the power to possess it, proving key to their victory. And that Madame Xanadu is indeed Dr. Destiny's mother – though she will not disclose the identity of his father. She also proves reluctant to acknowledge her own vision regarding Deadman.

I will say again that Mikel Janin's art is beautiful and atmospheric – perfect for this book. Jeff Lemire is reportedly leaving, but I find myself still tempted to get it for the art. Or, more likely, I'll just be sure to get it in the trades. I do wish DC's trade program was quicker getting them out, though.

Teen Titans #21
The Brothers Trigon”

The Titans battle the brothers of Raven, seeming to win – then Big Daddy Trigon shows up and … He. Is. Pissed. The fact that I've never liked Trigon stories in the past, the execution of this one is sometimes excellent, sometimes confusing. It's typical Lobdell. We see that Amanda Waller is also working behind the scenes to contain knowledge of the event, though, which is an interesting sideways addressing of the problem how normal people could go on with their daily lives with such events happening on a routine basis. How aware of those events are the population at large?

* * *

Smallville Season 11 Weeks 54-58
Hollow, Parts 1-2 of 4” / “Olympus, Parts 1-3 of 12”

In the first two parts of a four-part side-story dealing with Tess and Lex, we begin with a nice scene between Tess and Emil Hamilton. There is an undercurrent going on that I interpret as an emotional bond, at the very least on the part of Emil, from when he and Tess had sex at one point during the final TV season. Granted, they weren't quite themselves in that episode, but I'm sure it left an impression on them. And it is very apparent in this story that Tess experiences emotions in this her disembodied state. How would you carry on a relationship with a sentient computer program? There could be some interesting storytelling here. But Emil's more immediate worry is about Tess's programming going all “Henshaw” on them.

That's not the main plot of this side-story, though. It's Tess continuing to deal with her condition and feelings toward Lex, who killed her body. We see her hacking in and observing as Lex discovers that there was a ship that appeared way back during the first week's segment, which crashed in Smallville under cover of those events. But as he and Otis are leaving LexCorp, Tess traps Otis in a revolving door and Lex is confronted and beaten by disgruntled former employees – Tess observes this as well, does nothing, choosing not to call 911. One has to wonder if she is going down a dark path here … indeed “going Henshaw.” Subsequently, she spies on Lex in the hospital, and almost tampers with his pain medication prescription – until she's distracted by a fire to which Superman cannot come. So she networks in to control a helicopter and crane to save the lives of a trapped little girl and her father, giving birth to a new mystery hero in Metropolis. Meanwhile, Lex orders the ship that crashed in Smallville to be brought to him, whatever it takes.

In the main sequence of stories, beginning a twelve-part story, we begin with a flashback twenty years ago when young Diana of Themiscyra finds a boy, Steve Trevror, the sole survivor of a plane crashed just offshore of Paradise Island. In the modern day, Senator Martha Kent – who looks quite a bit older than last time we saw her on TV – is approached by Director Bones of the DEO, but their meeting is interrupted by an attack in which the grown-up Diana appears from nowhere to protect Martha. I've got to say that the Smallville design aesthetic makes Bones look possibly even creepier than he does in the comics! Clark and Lois come to Washington DC to investigate the attack on Senator Kent for the Daily Planet. There is a conversational reference to Connor, who is now at Jay Garrick's new “gifted” school – I was just wondering the other day why there had been no mention of Clark's “brother” in this series; well played, Bryan … By the way, Garrick's “school for gifted students” is in San Francisco … I wonder if it's shaped like a “T” …? Hey, did we know that Lionel had helped get the Kents an identity for Clark way back when? It was probably revealed at some point, either when I had dropped out of Smallville or I just forgot. There's a funny bit where DEO agents complain to Bones that they have been trying to consult with a certain individual in London, but “he keeps swearing at us and turning agents into frogs”! – That has to be John Constantine, and I'm hoping this allusion means he'll be showing up before too long in the virtual pages of this series. Anyway, when Clark goes to meet Director Bones, he's met by DEO Agent Steve Trevor. …. (Part 3 of Amazon actually didn't come out until 2 August, but I included it because it will be necessary to fill out the collected issue.) Lois tracks down Diana atop the National Cathedral while Clark gets a tour of the DEO's under-the-Mall headquarters.  Then there is a notification of an incident -- Lois and Diana have been attacked by supernatural creatures, which they fight well until Superman shows up and cleans house, closely followed by Steve Trevor and the DEO.  Apparently Lois has some history with Trevor, in addition to the flashback of the children Diana and Steve on Themiscyra -- when Trevor was discovered by Queen Hippolyta and the other Amazons.  We do find in a tag that the current Big Bad is Faust.

Reviews:  Hollow TBA  - Olympus

That ended up being a remarkably detailed write-up for Smallville Season 11 … but it's worth it. I'm loving this series, looking forward to it every week. In my humble opinion, it's among the best titles being produced by DC. Long may it continue! I'm still puzzled by the hiccup that was the last segment of “Argo,” but evidently it can't be explained as I speculated, by a new dictate toward shorter overall stories.

As I've mentioned, I'm also working on catching up on Injustice: Gods Among Us, but I'm holding off on any real review until I'm reading contemporary weeks' releases. I'll probably be there in the next couple of weeks.

And that's it for this month. Overall, I think it was a better month than last.

Cheers! – and Thanks for reading!

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