BEST OF WEEK: SUPERMAN #41 — I love every page of this. I really for the most part enjoyed the first arc by Johns/JRJr, but this is just some next-level business. Terrific opening three-panel sequence that we never even catch up to (and that will probably be the end of the arc?). And then we’re back to the soon-to-be-expired status quo, Clark as a reporter with only Jimmy clued in on his secret identity. It’s nice of Yang to provide us at least one adventure of the big guy having an adventure with his best friend before Lois blows the door wide open. I love the line, “Superman is here. DAMN.” That is, indeed, the correct reaction. We get a quality adventure with Jimmy running support before our hero rocks the serious solar-flare vision, which was terrific, but I can’t believe there was not a single dot of Kirby krackle to be found anywhere on that page. I mean, that was a decision, right? Couldn’t be an accident and, respectfully, it was the wrong decision! No sweat, though, the following two pages with Lois bring us right back into rhythm. I dug her repeating Jimmy’s “anonymous tip” motif and even that line about people with secrets not sleeping at night, usually that kind of retro-hindsight reader-foreknowledge line doesn’t work for me, but this one completely landed. An interesting hint that maybe she taking the whole thing personally is a principal reason for the outing, perhaps. And then, frankly, an alarming back half of the issue. Nobody wants to see Superman blackmailed! This is another interesting wrinkle, though. Maybe this leads to Clark having Lois blow the whistle on his secret identity with his blessing? Solid set-up here. Romita/Janson/White continue the dynamic work that they executed in the first arc, but it’s Yang who really shines here, showing up with a dramatic and exciting script that highlights the first superhero’s strengths while boldly carrying him into a new era. Recommended for one and all.
BATGIRL #41 — Oh, BurnsideGirl, we missed you so much. Stewart sits out on the layouts, but Tarr has got it more than under control with a fellow named Lopez assisting on backgrounds. We open with a follow-up to all of that Mother Electric business, which is a fine way to introduce the new Bat-status-quo before cutting to the meat of this series, the interpersonal interactions between the cast, most notably welcoming James “Dad” Gordon to the fold. It’s true about the clean-shaveness, so much of Gordon is apparently his mustache and glasses, it’s a little hard to believe. No black borderlines in the panels or word balloons, was that a thing in this book before the break? It really stands out here, lending a softness to the scene of father and daughter while also really making Lapointe’s washed-out palette of several yellows and greens stand out. And of course, Stewart/Fletcher are wise enough to give us exactly what we want for a cliffhanger, the situation implied by the cover. A welcome return to form, but I really can’t wait to see What Happens Next.
GRAYSON #9 — Oh, how I missed Dick so much. Now, they’ve got me doing it. That’s a pretty sad opening page there, how’s our boy going to get out of this one, Mr. Malone? An interesting upgrade on the Spyral hierarchy while Seeley/King take the meta-dialogue winking to another level entirely. If you’re looking us in the collective eye and having to ask, bro, no, you’re probably almost certainly bi-sexual. The one misstep, I am seriously not okay with Dick referring to him as “Bats.” Maybe this has already happened in this series once before? It is not cool. Might have been when he was twelve. I’m going to need a translator for those last couple of pages. All praise to Janin once again for drawing the absolute hell out of this, the man is an art-beast who should never be let out of his cage but fed very well and treated with all love and kindness.
THE FADE OUT #6 — I feel like that Dottie Quinn is maybe kind of a bad apple. Don’t really trust the squint behind her spectacles. Not quite buying Charlie as this beachcombing lover-man all of a sudden. There’s really not too much to this as a single when you go through and try to find a lot to talk about, but that’s owing to how well the creators manage to get out of the way and just tell the story, whether through words, lines, or colors. They’re some of the best working today.
EMPIRE: UPRISING #3 — That old Tumbril is not a nice fellow. Xanna’s arc is definitely playing out to be the most interesting thus far, though she’s certainly had the most on-panel time, so maybe that’s not fair. It’s, I don’t want to say, “nice” to get Golgoth time for more than a single scene. Rewarding? Chilling? Waid/Kitson/Sotomayor continue turning in quality work.
DAREDEVIL #016 — This run has been going on for several years now, so it’s definitely a big deal for Wilson Fisk to finally show up on-panel. Waid and crew do a good job injecting the opening scene with enough give-and-take and enmity to capture the reader’s immediate interest, as many times as we’ve seen Matt, if I may, stare down the Kingpin. Samnee/Wilson knock that Page Six splash of the many artistic deaths of Matt Murdock out of the park. And Foggy and Kirsten’s mutual sigh on the following page, oh, they both love Matty so much. And but everything seems to be circling round the drain all of a sudden! “NEXT: FINALE PART 1”? I hadn’t heard that Waid was moving on, but I suppose that’s what’s happening. Well, sad but it should be a rip-roaring curtain call.
UNCANNY AVENGERS #005 — The End? I think Remender might actually potentially be done with these people. Which is a little bit bittersweet, this ends a line of excellent serial storytelling he’s been doing in the Marvel Universe that has been unbroken since UNCANNY X-FORCE got going quite a few years back, now. I was definitely a bit lukewarm on this arc while it got spinning up, but it finished strongly enough that I feel good about the whole deal. Maybe I’m just a sucker for the Vision & the Scarlet Witch. But aren’t we all? Amidst all the reasonably blatant editorial set-up (Here comes another Evolutionary War! The twins have a dark secret!), Remender brings his characters to the end of their time with him and provides a satisfying coda for at least Wanda, though I expected a little bit more for Rogue. But everything ends, as they say.