Comics I Read: Catching up #6

Blackest Night 5: It was fun to see all the Lantern Corps representatives together, and I liked the way Johns played with the expectation of what would happen when they were combined into white light. The Batman scene confuses me since he’s not dead (and Nekron seems to acknowledge that he’s a fake), but presumably that will be explained later. (Poor Tim Drake is going to have an even harder time convincing everyone Bruce is alive when they’ve “seen” him as a Black Lantern.) The ending reinforces my ideas about which side of death everyone will end up on when this is over.

Brave and the Bold 29: OK, this is more like it. JMS is still trying to make a point, but it’s a subtle one – well, as subtle as anything with Brother Power, The Geek in it can be – and since it’s all told from Bruce’s point of view (including some nice flashbacks with his parents) it doesn’t come off as preachy since he’s learning a lesson instead of trying to shove one at someone else.

Amazing Spider-Man 611-613: I am getting tired of Deadpool, but I couldn’t help but like #611 by classic Deadpool writer Joe Kelly. The story is funny, and it actually has some relevance to the current Spidey story arc. Starting in #612, Mark Waid and his “Potter’s Field” artist Paul Azaceta are doing a great reimagining of Electro. Max Dillon was always a working-class guy, and in the first two parts of “Power to the People” Waid makes him a folk-hero of the anti-Wall Street, anti-bailout crowd. It’s a genius idea, and Azaceta’s gritty, street-level artwork fits the story perfectly.

Superman 693-694: Mon-El’s confrontation with General Lane in #693 is enlightening, both in the way it changes Mon’s self perception and in how it shows Lane’s motivation and what he’s accomplished so far. The conversations between Mon & Superboy and Mon & Ma Kent (and indirectly, Pa Kent) in #694 are great, and I like the new costume and the reasoning behind it. (But I don’t like the pose or the coloring on the cover of #694.) There’s also another secret Legionnaire in #694 – I’m starting to wonder how many of them are left in the future.

Hulk 16-17: There’s improvement in these issues, as the Red Hulk is forced to be on the defensive from the Red She-Hulk and maybe reevaluate his mission. It’s more interesting to me to have an idea of what’s going on in his head instead of just watching him punch Watchers, but since we still don’t know who he is we don’t have full access to his thought process and so the book still doesn’t 100% work for me. (But it’s a step in the right direction.)

Punisher 11: So, it’s the infamous “FrankenCastle” issue. I admit I’m still having trouble wrapping my head around the concept, but it is well done so far and I like the idea of Frank having decisively lost to Osborn’s forces rather than incredibly beating super-powered opponents month after month. That said, I’m not sure I particularly care about the fate of the monster community living in the Morlock tunnels, but the effort is worth supporting until I decide if it’s for me.

Dark Avengers: Ares 1-2: I’m glad I read these together because after #1 I was going to rant about doing yet another version of the confrontation between Ares and his son, but after reading #2 (without giving anything away) it turns out not to be what I thought. With my neurotic continuity issues aside, I liked Kieron Gillen’s story of the God of War leading a band of American soldiers. It’s told from one of the soldiers’ POV, and #1 is heavier on the dark humor of Ares’ training regimen while #2 is more about what he’s teaching the soldiers in more subtle ways. I probably should have waited for the ending to write about this, but it’s good enough to recommend based on what I’ve seen and Gillen’s earned enough trust that I’m not worried about the ending being unsatisfying.

Dark Avengers 10-11: Norman and his team are starting to unravel already, and then they’re faced with a powerful menace – powerful enough to handle the Sentry -- that we haven’t seen much of since the Beyonder/Secret Wars days. We also start to get a look at what makes Norman’s #2, Victoria Hand, tick. I don’t have much to say about this story yet, because so much depends on the ending Bendis has planned – is this just an interlude before “Siege”, or will it have a lasting effect on the characters?

Dark X-Men 1: The “Captain Britain” team of Paul Cornell and Leonard Kirk is back to tell the story of what’s left of Norman Osborn’s X-Men team. Oddly enough, the most stable one of the group is Mystique and her struggle to reign in her colleagues is fun to watch. The story’s a little more serious than “MI-13”, though it still has it’s light moments (“Inventory of items destroyed by Omega: #2: Statue of beloved former mayor and his dog.”), and I’m intrigued by the 90’s X-character that returns at the end of the issue. (Which is really no secret, but I won’t give it away here just in case.) Cornell is one of my favorite writers, as you know, and I wasn’t as blown away by this as I was by “Dark Reign: Young Avengers” but I liked it more than enough to keep reading.

Batman/Doc Savage Special: As the beginning of Brian Azzarello’s pulp hero reimagining, there were a lot of expectations for this book that I’m not sure it was possible to live up to. It’s one of those quasi-period pieces (like the early “Batman: The Animated Series”) where there are cell phones and TV news, but also airships and men who wear suits and a young Batman that uses guns. There’s a lot to like here – Savage has always been an intriguing character to me, and his interactions with both Bruce Wayne and Batman are well written – but it doesn’t quite get above a slow burn where maybe some real excitement was needed. (Phil Noto’s art and the decision to color it in washed-out tones didn’t help.) I also wonder whether the series really needs Batman in it (except to sell copies of course). On the other hand, Rags Morales’ sketches for the ongoing series look amazing and this wasn’t a bad start, just not a great one. I can’t say you should run out and get this, but I’m still planning to check out the regular series in March.

Son of Hulk 15-17: And so Paul Jenkins’ story of Hiro-Kala, the (maybe) other son of the “Planet Hulk” Hulk, ends for now. Although there are some sci-fi elements, this is mainly a sword-and-sorcery epic of the type that usually bores me. But that’s a personal bias, and even though it’s not my cup of tea I think the book was well done and I liked the Galactus scenes in #17 a lot. It looks like this continues next in “Realm of Kings”, not in “Fall of the Hulks” so I guess they’re staying away from Earth for a while.

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