Jeff’s Comics Review, 8/19/09 releases, Part 1

Batman: Streets of Gotham 3: Kind of a “moving the pieces around the chessboard issue”, but in a good way as Dick and Damien try to keep Hush/Bruce Wayne under control and Black Mask, Zsasz and Penguin work on their plans. Some great dialogue too – Damien’s reaction to the “superstitious and cowardly lot” line is priceless. The Manhunter chapter shows Kate being resourceful without her equipment, though she does need a last-minute rescue from a familiar face.

Blackest Night: Superman 1: Unlike the other BN tie-ins so far, this doesn’t key off a specific scene in the main book instead featuring Superman and Superboy in Smallville. However, it does contain the worst kept secret of the year as the Golden Age Superman finally appears as Black Lantern Kal-L. I was surprised by who he brought with him, though (but I should have expected it.) Of course, James Robinson does a great job, even making a very clever and subtle point about Superman’s personality via the “emotion vision” from the Black Lanterns’ point of view.

Batgirl 1: I won’t give away the new Batgirl’s identity here, except to say that it is a different character in the uniform and you’ll find out who it is right away. Smallville TV writer Bryan Q. Miller gives Cassandra Cain a good reason to retire, and the new girl is intriguing enough that I’ll stick around for now. Barbara Gordon is also around, and I look forward to seeing more of her. Not a spectacular first issue, but a good one with lots of potential.

Supergirl 44: We’re in crossover mode this month, but even though most of the issue is devoted to pursuing the New Krypton assassin Sterling Gates still finds room for the tension between Kara and Lois and for a Cat Grant subplot so regular readers won’t be disappointed. (Though you won’t be able to make much sense out of this if you’re not reading all the “Codename: Patriot” chapters.)

Power Girl 4: Apparently this is going to stay a “cute” book, which I think is an odd choice for a character that’s usually had a hard edge, but Amanda Conner’s so good at it that I can’t really complain. It’s not quite as whimsical as her Supergirl strip in “Wednesday Comics”, but it will probably appeal to the same audience. The new Terra, also a Palmiotti and Conner creation, seems to be sticking around as a sidekick.

Brave and the Bold 26: The story featuring Milestone character Xombi and the Spectre is good, but already being familiar with Xombi I can’t judge whether this is a good introduction to the character or not. Not that it matters, since DC apparently doesn’t have any plans to use any of the Milestone characters besides Static (and him only barely). It’s a shame because in it’s day, “Xombi” was as good a supernatural horror/fantasy book as anything Vertigo has ever put out. Hopefully the Milestone trade paperback reprints will get around to it at some point.

Superman Annual 14: Even non-Legion fans will appreciate James Robinson’s history of Mon-El’s homeworld Daxam, which reveals some surprising ties to worlds we’re already familiar with. It touches a little on Mon’s arrival on Earth, but presumably Robinson’s leaving the details of that for Geoff Johns’ “Secret Origins”. Artist Javier Pina does a terrific job on a story that stretches from Earth all the way across the universe and back.

Dark Reign: Mister Negative 3: This was a good miniseries and I liked the origin story this issue – which has an unexpected tie to a pair of existing Marvel characters -- but I’m not sure it definitively answered the question about whether Negative’s two identities are aware of each other.

Out of time for today. More tomorrow.

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