BEST OF WEEK: SILK SPECTRE #1—Wow. This is a triumph, right here. Get as bent out of shape as you want about the fact that it even exists, but taken on its own merit, this is a damn fine comic book that succeeds in every place where last week’s MINUTEMEN fell short. This is a story that sheds new light on a character at a crucial turning point in her life while in no way contradicting all that we know has come before. Unlike last week, these are not beats that we’ve all extrapolated from the original over the years, but instead a new narrative that is actually engaging and exciting all on its own. And what art from Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts. Gorgeous work. She rocks the classic nine-panel grid hard throughout the entire issue, inserts a couple of vertical double-panel shots just to be cheeky while paying due deference to Gibbons’s groundbreaking camera work, particularly in the opening scene. My favorite part of the entire issue are the little one-panel imaginary asides when some almost-involuntary image pops up in Laurie’s head and Conner renders them in this really cartoony style that is completely at odds with Gibbons and would have been terribly out of place in the original but works perfectly here. And the colors are beautiful throughout. I really loved this issue and can’t wait for the next one and am sorry that there are only four of these instead of six. Still really just stunned by how excellent it manages to be on every level.
BATMAN #10—All this time, I’ve been waiting for Morrison to follow up on the old EARTH 2 graphic novel with Quitely that included T. Wayne Jr being Owlman, never in a million years would have picked Snyder to insert the character back into mainstream continuity in a way that feels totally natural and unforced. Via a court of owls, even. This one too is top-drawer work from everyone involved, Snyder’s intricate plotting and pitch-perfect narrative captions, Capullo/Glapion/FCO completely destroying every page, this book has consistently hit such a ridiculously high level of quality every single month since September. Bruce contemplating the sunrise while absent-mindedly twirling the twin shell-casings of the bullets that killed his parents is powerful powerful imagery. Alfred’s answer to the mystery of their murder is perfect. And the final revelation is surprising but doesn’t feel like a cheat. And of course imbues earlier issues with all kinds of meaning for subsequent rereads. Next month is going to be a hell of a thing. Surely when the dust settles after the first year of The New 52, this title will stand head and shoulders as the absolute best of the batch.
BATMAN & ROBIN #10—Another impossibly strong issue from Tomasi/Gleason/Gray. Great shot of the family posing for the portrait. As much as the crew on the preceding issue killed it, there are almost just as many classic character moments here. That line about every year being a souvenir works so well, but is only a prologue for more Damian greatness. The kid has completely taken over this book. Can’t believe how much he’s won me over as a character. If only he and Valeria Richards could go a’courting in a few years. The centerpiece of this issue is yet another iteration of Damian versus Tim. Why is it so easy to root for the little bastard?
FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. #10—I was certainly concerned about Lemire clocking out, but know that this Kindt fellow is a buddy of his and apparently been in the mix behind the scenes here since the beginning, so was more than willing to give him a shot. Really glad I did, as this issue is almost an improvement on what’s come before. As a single, Lemire really only managed to top it a couple of times. We do maintain artistic continuity with Ponticelli/Faucher/Villarrubia delivering the scratchy pulp goodness that have perfectly complemented this title all along. That two-page spread of Untroplolis is staggering, brilliant work. I am a huge fan of the Time-Sniper business being classified. We don’t need to know, so much better that way. And the cloudpacks should totally bleed Kirby Krackle in their wake. I really thought I’d be out the door with Lemire, but this book is going stronger than ever. Here’s to another year’s worth of S.H.A.D.E.NET updates and achingly poignant and terrible Byron quotes.
CONAN #5—DC really knocked me out this week, I had to take a break and get it together, even, but then returned to this serious business right here. Somehow this arc is better than the first three issues with Cloonan, which, I mean things like physics and all the other sciences should make something like that impossible. This Harren fellow is out of his mind and also conjuring up full-blast stellar magnitude from Dave Stewart. This is the best issue of this series yet and what’s come before has been nothing short of stunning. There might be the best Conan splash page of all time contained right here within this book. Certainly one capable of standing next to any other all-time greats.
THE MASSIVE #1—Just a real strong opening issue here. Wood has been around the block a time or two hundred, successfully brought a 72-issue run into harbor, along with giving NORTHLANDERS the premature send-off that it deserved. So there is absolutely no learning curve here in terms of narrative, we get gripping in medias res balanced with the perfect amount of expository infodump. And I’ve never seen Kristian Donaldson’s work before but he’s a pro, strong storytelling composition and pacing. Real interested to see where this is heading and grateful for yet another ridiculously strong new series. CONAN, PROPHET, GLORY, SAGA, THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS, it’s been quite a year.
THE AVENGERS #27—Noh-Varr VS the Kree + Thor gets out and pushes the ship from out of a freefall into the heart of the sun. Bendis & Simonson. There is Kirby Krackle on exactly ten of the twenty pages in this comic, and most of those others are covered in solar flares and seething cosmic energy that just happens not to have Kirby Krackle, I guess because maybe someone thinks that it shouldn’t or can’t be on just every page? Half of them felt about right to me. What great fun for Bendis on his homestretch, here. Just to see sequential pages of Simonson Thor again is a thrill.
FANTASTIC FOUR #607—Yet another shot of Hickman greatness. The team accepts an invitation to Wakanda and we get a one-page retcon that undoes that ridiculousness about all the vibranium going inert and T’challa’s economy tanking. You can’t do that to the Black Panther, son! Hoping Camuncoli/Kesel are going to stick around for the end of Hickman’s run over here, they’re a good fit. God, I’m so so sorry that he’s leaving, still really won’t let myself believe that it’s true. It’s going to get pretty pathetic around these parts in about four months.