AVENGERS #7—Mm, maybe I just have an anti-Red Hulk bias, or, really, a pro-time travel bias, but between the two, coming off the first arc, this one fell a little bit flat for me. Also, the Hood? When I bailed out on the last volume of NA, it was all about Dr. Strange, Brother Voodoo, and the Hood. Here we are a year and a half later and . . . yeah? Hell, maybe this means Kang will show up next over in NA, which would be charming. But this issue, this issue, I don’t know, maybe eight pages of Parker Robbins getting a single Infinity Gem just isn’t justified? And it kind of bugged me the way he pulled it over on Reed Richards. Seems like dude would have failsafe protocols written even for Infinity Gems. Powered by his own Infinity Gem. The one that embodies power. Infinity Gem. All right, we’re done. A bit of a dip for this title this month. Maybe Bendis will make me love Red Hulk next time out. I can’t wait, that would be a trick on the level of retro-justifying CIVIL WAR with that CONFESSION one-shot.
X-FACTOR #211—Well, good, we couldn’t hang out with all these Asgardians for so many months and not have the big guy put in an appearance to help shut them down. I like the way the eye-talian fella (or lady? I guess Emanuela doesn’t seem that ambiguous) drew Longshot. More solid monthly fun from PAD. I long for the return of his zany recaps.
MORNING GLORIES #4—These covers really are glorious. Maybe I mentioned this last month, but particularly after four more weekly doses, this one’s really starting to bleed into TOWER PREP for me, and suffer for it. Where is the smoldering Dubba-Bee (WB) charisma of Ian Archer? Especially when the teachers talk about Headmaster. I mean, come on. They’re going to have to show the guy in this one soon just so I can maybe try not to think about the actor running Tower Prep every time someone utters the title/name. It doesn’t matter, though, of course this book’s got me on its side for another year+ just for the page of Hunter being glad he saw how L O S T ended before being about to drown. Too, I liked the way this book was put together, the paper stock, the feel of the cover. It wasn’t quite as, I don’t know, professional? as books from the Big Two, but I got some weird visceral charge from feeling the weight of the thing in my hands. Monthly singles, baby!
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #7—Loved how Mon-El dealt with Earth-Man (is it two words? I kind of think it’s got that Spidey hyphen. Let’s just say it does for the moment). Was the back-up story better than the lead? Cinar continues to deliver quality work, but I really enjoyed this Portela’s pages as well. And those colors, perfect for Naltor. And I’ve always been a huge Braniac 5 fan. It will be interesting to see what’s up with this Professor Li. Oh, new DETECTIVE pages! I want to look. But will not. Guess it will be out soon. So all you Morrison haters can have your linear non-subtextual Batman procedural. Unbelievers!
BRIGHTEST DAY #14—And welcome to the Geoff Johns hat trick. That guy certainly knows how to stay busy. Not so insane that he bailed out on ADVENTURE. Weeeell, Bruce Wayne finally came back, and he’s back and he’s back. Of course, we’ve got to fold him into this one, too, though it’s pretty much a feint on the level of Cornell’s fun with Luthor and Death last month over in ACTION. Reis destroys that opening double-page splash of Deadman. Having someone say “You’re dead, man,” while taking a shot at him, though, that’s unforgivable from guys with as much experience as Johns and Tomasi. I mean, one of them should have realized and battled the other one into submission not to let that one through. With the flashing back, I thought old Boston Brand might actually be toast. This one was an interesting diversion to open up the second half of our program. Does that last page mean that Bruce is showing up over in GENERATION LOST next week? His dance card is full.
GREEN LANTERN #59—Why is Johns’s SCREAM award on the other two covers but not this one? Do they believe that GL fans do not fit into the Spike demographic? Au contraire, marketing department! May I present Ryan Reynolds & Blake Lively? The redemption of Black Hand is an interesting move, the contrast between him and Hal. The funniest part of this issue is how Barry uses Superman & Batman as bogeymen, which I think anyone would totally do, given this any number of other situations. Even better because, yeah, Bruce is so sooooo busy this week, he’s totally on the way to talk to you, Hal, but just had to finish up with Boston Brand and the White Lantern ring, then check in with Booster Gold or someone about Max Lord, then reboot it in the cave with the sidekicks before grabbing Selina Kyle where it counts and hauling her off to Japan. And Clark, he’ll be here just as soon as he finishes walking.
But, I don’t know, Flash as Parallax, this book is starting to feel like a continuity ouroborous, just eating itself, its own back issues, until there’s nothing left. Mahnke is still a pleasure, of course.
FLASH #6—Meanwhile, in his own book, Johns & Manipul bring the first arc to a perfectly satisfying close. I was a huge fan of this from day one, and it never let me down. Paradoxes that didn’t unravel the story. Solid character beats between Barry and Iris. And a Reverse-Flash task force trying to erase crime from history! What’s not to love? I was so on board, I didn’t even mind that the last two pages turned into a commercial for next summer’s Big Event. It might actually be great. It was fun to see the Morrison Batman on a couple of screens in the 25th century, but I’m not sure what kind of a paradox it is for Luthor and Death to be talking. Maybe a Vertigo/DC thing? Karen Berger knows.
BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN: THE RETURN; BATMAN INCORPORATED #1—It seems foolish to split these up, as they feed right into each other. That opening sequence pretty much chewed me up and spat me out, I honestly didn’t know what was going on until the old bastard bat flew off for the safe cave, and then I recognized the stately manor and was really all of a sudden fighting back tears. “And in this cave, there was a wealthy young man.” Brrr. What a way to open up the new era. And the script tells us that this was the same bat that got Bruce back in Miller’s DARK KNIGHT? You say apophenia, I say genius! Sometimes, everything does fit perfectly together. Finch annihilates that two-page spread of the Batcave with the sidekicks, what an incredible piece. I’m just, I can’t even be objective or really even critical about this, feel like it’s being written for me, Bruce and Damian coasting down in their Bat jet-suits, their opening lines to each other, just pitch-perfect characterization. I’m a little unclear, though, on the last page, was Bruce sitting in the cave listening to a feed of what happened? Or Leviathan’s transmission? Don’t quite understand that last jump cut. It will doubtlessly all make more sense in two years. Morrison sure uses a lot of second person in his scripts.
And what of the first issue of the new Morrison franchise, Todd? Did you give it a chance? You had to, it has Batman in the title. Opening up this new take on Brave & the Bold-style storytelling with a Catwoman team-up was an unexpected move. It never occurred to me until now that I think Morrison has completely ignored her for the past five years of his run. But now, just the minute Bruce is back in circulation, it is game on, indeed. I like how she sits around his penthouse in her underwear drinking champagne out of the bottle while he presses the bench. That sounds about right. And of course she reads Japanese. Paquette’s lines are so so clean, it’s great that Morrison opens this one up with another new villain, and my favorite part is the questions at the end echoing the old TV show cliffhangers. With the new issues of DETECTIVE and BATWOMAN still not even on the rack, it feels like one of the best times to be a Batman fan. It’s just going to take a little adjustment, scaling down from all this gorging on Morrison, four issues in three weeks, now we’re back down to one monthly title. Alas. Alack. Onward!