BATMAN #34 — Mmmm, Snyder only offers co-plotting, Capullo’s nowhere to be seen? So, this is the first all-the-way fill-in issue of this series since the relaunch. I was a bit nervous opening it up, but Matteo Scalera has been ripping it apart over on BLACK SCIENCE, so I was cautiously optimistic. And it’s solid. A well-paced done-in-one introducing a new villain. I kept waiting for Scalera to cut loose while admiring his restraint but then was really happy to see that last page. Bro is going for it! This one didn’t blow me away, but the bar for this title is so high, just a solid thumbs-up means the fellas did fine work.
BATMAN ETERNAL #19 — Strong work from Emanuel SImeoni as the two teams close in on their various objectives while Gordon goes all Rorschach in the middle of a riot, as is his wont. I have to say, though, did anyone turn the page from that last shot and think that Batman was straight diving out of this book and back into multiversal Morrisonian insanity when the house ads kicked in on the next page? That was a beautiful moment for me.
FUTURE’S END #15 — What an unfortunate opening page. I really hope it turns out to be Guy Gardner or someone in there and our boy has just been off planet searching for the detritus of Krypton for the past five years. Wait, that would make no sense because we know all of that’s kryptonite. WTF, Bryan Singer, that shit didn’t make even the slightest bit of SENSE! At any rate. This Superimposter and Lois take up the first third of the issue with their weird Chemistry’s End, then Hawkeye is awesome for a few pages, then Slade presses Grifter up against the wall and still refuses to call him “kid,” then Mr. Miracle gets a scene! Then a Kirby Celestial shows up? But maybe he’s not giant? Whaaaaaaat?
BEST OF WEEK: SEX CRIMINALS #7 — More greatness from Fraction/Zdarsky. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned before how well the fourth-wall-breaking expositional narration works for this book. It totally suits both characters’ voices and makes them come even more alive for the reader than if they were merely participating in their on-panel adventures and ignoring the reader like everybody else. And thanks for the “Small Wonder” reference, I did actually need that. Jon’s tenth grade odyssey through his school paused in Cumworld was a beautiful sequence. Wow, the sentences this book makes you type. You’ve got to love the combat shot of Jon attacking the dude in the basement with the dildo. This continues to be one of the best books on the rack and easily the best letters column, sorry, SAGA.
ZERO #10 — Another really impressive achingly slow burn, here. Man, the difference of powering through Volume 1 in one sitting and picking up these next five in singles is much more pronounced than I even suspected. Michael Gaydos is on deck this month, a very good stylistic fit. It’s certainly an eyebrow-raising first page, after waiting this entire time since the end of #5, we’re back to the UK in 2038 with the kid still holding a gun to the back of Edward’s head, but then right away we get the nugget of trivia that there was a “The Switch” that happened when Edward was 32. Which I think puts it in 2022 when this one takes place? I don’t have dude’s birth-year committed to memory but sounds good to me. At any rate, our boy is retired in this 2022 flashback and seems to be living a good enough working-man’s life in Iceland when he encounters a girl (a girl with two arms, unfortunately) who informs him that the bum he just tried to give money to is an actor in a currently in-production play, only the actual village is the setting, and it all gets pretty SYNECDOCHE, NY really quick, though with maybe the Lynch meter dialed up a couple of ticks on what Kaufman had going there, but I actually started losing focus on the pages in front of me at this point because I apparently still have some unresolved grief about Phillip Seymour Hoffman overdosing, isn’t that just always the way?
STAR WARS #20 — It sure is a shame to see this one go. Terrific to get D’Anda back on interiors for the last two-parter to complete the circle at any rate. This is a sweet way to go out, even though the story doesn’t really dive as deeply as I’d prefer to cap off this run. Page Seven, I guess Seren mitigates it a little bit later when she says that her R4-unit was the only one she could talk to for all of these years, but that entire Page Seven is just straight exposition, her narrating the deal to this droid while failing to directly address. It reads pretty clunky while simultaneously looking so purty. I guess we could chalk it up to aping the archetypal Lucasian “wooden dialogue” and go from there. I love that when Luke takes the controls and closes his eyes, my brain involuntarily starts playing the swells of Williams’s “use the force” music. That is a real nice little sequence to have here at the end, a perfect little microcosm of how great this entire book has been, which actually runs all the way through to the last panel. Well, I enjoyed the hell out of this series. The art was almost always breathtaking, and while Wood fumbled the ball with twenty-first century slang much more often than I would have ever guessed, the characterization and plots split the difference between feeling both captivatingly new and tonally consistent with all that has come before, how much each one of these characters has found their way into our imaginations and into our hearts.
STARLIGHT #5 — Ha ha, okay, things go from desperate to worse, all the chips are done, only Duke can save us! Can’t believe Millar didn’t just straight rip off the Wolverine ending from the Hellfire Club sewer in UNCANNY #132, “Now, it’s my turn.” Parlov/Svorcina knock it out of the park again, the deceptively simple art style is doing most of the heavy lifting of making this book the fun ride that it is.
ASTRO CITY #14 — Another quality issue from the usual suspects. This one introduces an older lady who scavenges the robotic detritus from various giant robot battles and repairs the parts until they can join her robot museum/junkyard. Which is, of course, a perfect premise to hang a couple issues of this series on. There are a couple of times when she’s remembering the good old days and then she stops her own internal monologue, referring to herself in the second person before she can go too far, remember too much. It had me wondering if she was actually a robot herself? That’s certainly a twist I could see popping out at the end of next issue. If that dang greedy nephew doesn’t ruin everything first!
FANTASTIC FOUR #8 — OH! Okay, it was totally worth waiting a couple of issues for Sue VS. The Avengers just as long as we made it here eventually. Really wanted to see Leonard Kirk draw that, so, very fortunate. Kirk/Hanna/Aburtov really seem to step it up this issue. The art has been exceptional since this volume debuted, but the lines in this one just seem a little bit cleaner, the colors pop that much more. And it looks like the kids are finally going to do something! Yes! Go in there and save that Dragon Man.
ORIGINAL SIN #7 — Marvel writers have seriously got to stop using “literally.” Just stop 86 it altogether. Otherwise, this is another pretty solid affair. Everything’s coming to a head. Deodato/Martin blow it up yet again. I didn’t realize there were variant Art Adams covers until this issue, though! A pity. It’s too bad that Marvel feels the need to break stories in the modern news cycle so far ahead of them actually starting to happen in the issues themselves, rather than be shocked or surprised or however I might otherwise have been affected, when Fury whispered to Thor, all I could think was, “Oh, get out of the way for Lady Thor.” Giving the story away that early makes it too easy to see the strings.
ALL-NEW X-MEN #030 — Bendis weathers the loss of his artistic A-team well by bringing in frequent collaborator Sara Pichelli, who of course knocks it out of the park and Gracia is good enough to stick around to at least provide the continuity of some of the best coloring in the business. A full third of this issue is devoted to Warren & Laura going out, starting shit, and then having post-coital talk, which doesn’t sound that great, but Bendis delivers. The deal with Jean & Emma this issue is PERfect, and what fanboy in this day and age doesn’t think Kitty/Star-Lord is the greatest new couple this decade? Keep hustlin’, Bendis.