Comics I Read: Catching Up #13

Batman 690-694: The silly Two-Face-as-Batman costume at the end of #690 put me off enough that I let the next few issues sit around for a while, but Winick’s ending in #691 rescued it and I’m intrigued by the mystery he set up at the end of that issue. I’m enjoying the Tony Daniel issues more than I expected so far, given that I wasn’t in love with “Battle for the Cowl”. The Dick/Selina scenes and the Dick/Barbara/Huntress triangle are great, and the villains are interesting. The art tends a little towards the overdramatic, especially the last pages of #693 and #694, but overall is excellent.

Amazing Spider-Man 614-616: The ending to Waid’s Electro story is great, and has some surprising permanent changes to Spidey’s (OK, Peter’s) world. Fred Van Lente’s two-part Sandman story is also terrific, featuring the best Jonah/Robbie scene in years as well as showing that doing the right thing doesn’t always have a pleasant result. There is sort of an attempt to explain the various changes in Sandman’s personality over the years, although they don’t come right out and say it, but I don’t think it’ll stick. (Write your own “wet sand” pun here.)

Batgirl 4-5: I love the Barbara/Stephanie dynamic, though of course it’s been proven to work in years of “Birds of Prey”. I also like that this is kind of a Commissioner Gordon book too, and Batgirl’s first encounter with the new Batman & Robin in #5 leads to some great scenes. (Damien: “*sigh* I was really hoping to meet Cassandra. She sounds wonderful.”) It’s also good that they’re not treating Stephanie’s recklessness as “cured”, as evidenced by the ending to #5.

Hulk 18: Surprisingly, I loved this. Instead of the usual Red Hulk goofiness – which to be fair, has been getting incrementally more serious recently – Loeb spends the whole issue on a character study of Doc Samson. It’s terrific, harkening back to some great Peter David stories (like Samson’s evaluation of the team in the first run of “X-Factor”). It also shows that the shallowness of most of the rest of the run is a deliberate choice on Loeb’s part, and I hope he continues to choose deeper stories like this one.

Nova 30-32: These issues are very much set after “War of Kings”, which I’ll get around to writing about soon, but they pretty much tell you what you need to know if you skipped the crossover. I like that Rich is left with a limited number of recruits and a grizzled old trainer – it will be fun to see how that plays out after the current storyline. Nova’s arch-enemy the Sphinx is back in #32 (on the cover, so I’m not giving anything away), and it’ll be interesting to see how the more experienced Nova deals with him now. Supposedly, he and Darkhawk are stuck in a version of 1920s Egypt along some other heroes plucked out of time, most notably Reed Richards, but the nature of the space-time rift created by the war makes me reluctant to take that setup at face value. Darkhawk fans – I know you’re out there, though I’m not one of you – should know that he’s in issue #31-32.

Secret Warriors 9-11: The chronology is a little confusing here: #9 takes place before the “List” issue, #11 after, and I’m not sure about #10. The fight with Osborn’s forces in #9 is well done. #10 is more or less a direct sequel to the original “Ares” mini, covering everything between father and son from then until the present day, pretty much resolving the Ares/Phobos storyline except for one big twist at the end of the issue. That’s left aside for now, as #11 shows that Nick’s plan has more facets that we’ve been allowed to see so far, including a former Scorpio that’s related to him. (Not the one you think, old-timers.)

The Torch 2-4: The plot is kind of clever, obviously leading up to a modern-day Torch vs. Sub-Mariner rematch, but it’s filled with explanations of things that don’t need to be explained, like how “Horton cells” triggered Toro’s mutant powers way back when, and how his mother may have been involved with Horton. (My guess is that Horton will turn out to be Toro’s father, making him and the Torch “brothers”.) I also don’t find the robotic Torch that interesting – he hasn’t regained his personality yet, though presumably that’s coming. There are four issues left of this, and it’s hard to imagine it couldn’t be finished in less. The art, credited to Patric Berkenkotter as “Artist” and Carlos Lopes as “Color Art” (whatever that means), is very good.

Wonder Woman 36-39: I keep putting off writing about this book, because it’s so well crafted and satisfying that I’m reluctant to analyze it and maybe spoil the magic. Suffice it to say that Gail Simone packed more story into a 4-issue arc than I would have thought possible, and yet I still find each character’s motivation believable and compelling. Plus, Bernard Chang and Aaron Lopresti make it look great. Look up the “Warkiller” arc when it comes out in trade (or back-issue bins). You won’t be sorry.

Thor 604-605: If you didn’t know that JMS didn’t write these issues, you’d never be able to tell. I mean that as a huge compliment to Kieron Gillen and Billy Tan – I’ve never read a transition this seamless. The Asgardians used by Doom are truly horrific, and invoked pity in me in a way I’ve never felt for “immortal” characters, and Doom’s manipulation in #605 caught me by surprise (even though it’s completely in character.) Highly recommended, and I’m almost sorry that Matt Fraction will be coming in after “Siege”. (Though I’m sure his stuff will be terrific too.)

Fantastic Four 574: I don’t mind that other artists are needed for this book – we already know from “JSA” that Dale Eaglesham can’t do 12 issues a year – but Neil Edwards seems to be deliberately trying to do Eaglesham’s style here and it comes off looking weird and unnatural to me, like a second-generation photocopy. Fine, have all the fill-in artists you need, but let them draw in their own styles. (For all I know, this is Edwards’ regular style and I just don’t like it, but it sure looks like he’s trying to do Eaglesham to me.) Anyway, the story is excellent as always, setting up Hickman’s next major arc. I can’t remember who was asking me about Franklin’s powers, but that question is definitively resolved in this issue.

Fall of the Hulks Gamma: Another very well written Jeph Loeb issue, especially the Steve Rogers/Rick Jones scenes (yes he appears again), and of course John Romita Jr. is always worth the price of admission. My Red Hulk suspect actually appears in this issue, but the last page forced me to change my mind because I don't believe that even now Banner would willingly kill anyone. (Ask me in the comments for details if you're interested -- I prefer to keep blatant spoliers out of my main posts.)


  1. Nice to see you writing about the current THOR with Gillen and Tan - - it's awesome. Funny that you posted this today - - I was feeling that THOR wasn't get enough attention due to Seige, etc. so I wrote an extended piece last night and turned it in to Captain Blue Hen (because I owed them one). I'll wait a bit before posting it here.
    I'm in complete agreement with your comments. I was shocked that #604 didn't even seem like JMS wasn't writing it - - and doubly shocked by what happens the gods (I didn't know you could do that to immortals!)

  2. Re: FF 574. That was me who asked about Franklin's powers, Jeff due to a particular scene in the "FF: Dark Reign" trade. Glad they cover it. I am looking forward to this in trade.


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