BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN ’66 — Man, I just picked this up on a lark because of my affection for the old series but am adding this to the Pull, no question. Jeff Parker completely nails the actor’s voice of every character, down to the narrator’s exclamations. You can really hear Adam West delivering, “YOU DELUDED FOOL! YOU’LL DESTROY YOUR OWN CRAFT!” Just perfect. And the Dracula window cameo is brilliant. Jonathan Case strikes a fine balance on art, a retro feel that is somewhat cartoony but manages to capture the actors’ respective likenesses without being too photo-realistic. And he even gives us the askew angle on that first Catwoman panel. And but there’s an offbeat follow-up joke to last week’s LIL’ GOTHAM backseat gag, strange convergence. Of course Adam West Batman has a Bat-3-D printer down, that makes perfect sense. This issue is a delight all the way through to the last panel. Cue the theme song.
BATMAN AND CATWOMAN #22 — Tomasi/Gleason/Gray/Kalisz continue to do nothing but murder it, scene by scene. Of course it was a given that the way Bruce and Carrie played off one another was going to be great fun to watch but I’m digging the natural affinity that Alfred has for her, which makes perfect sense. Thespian bonding. Bruce’s past tense, “DIDN’T WE ALL.” non-question is a crushing piece of business. Though that is I guess as bad as it got, the poor guy got off about as easy with Despair as was possible, at least on-panel. Really cool dynamic, teaming up with Selina to save the five-year-old. And of course everybody speaks broken gangster Chinese. Almost two years in, these guys are staying neck and neck with Snyder/Capullo over just down the alley in consistently delivering the most emotionally satisfying and utterly beautiful pages that can be found anywhere in the New 52 or about anywhere else on the rack, for that matter.
BATWOMAN #22 — Whoa, “the president’s drones,” can’t believe that Bones went there. And how horrifying to see Professor Pyg again, if only for four panels. The Murder of Crows out of nowhere was a terrific surprise, hope there’re going to stick around and remain part of the program. Some serious validation for Bette, no doubt. Though I do wish this issue ended with a little more weight, it was solid throughout but the dismount was a bit limp. However, this was the first time I turned all the way to DC’s back page and holy shit, I’m in for four out of those five annuals. Looks like I won’t be floating much savings on this particular fabled fifth week!
WONDER WOMAN #22 — And the Kirby Krackle abounds! I do wish we could have lingered on New Genesis a while longer but it was “improbable imagination overload” while it lasted. Zounds, Chaing/Wilson as just monsters! That splash of Diana descending, alone. I dig Highfather’s redesign, very sleek and apropos relative to what’s appeared in this title thus far. I also like the idea that Orion’s exterior visage is merely a reflection of his interior spirit, an update from the original set-up that is actually an improvement while remaining true to the spirit of the King. Terrific about-face from Orion, the whole gang is almost all back together (with one particularly gruesome exception, of course), and then here comes War with that trademark scintillating Azzarelo wordplay on our way out.
ANIMAL MAN #22 — Steve Pugh continues to tear it up, but then here comes Francis Portela with the crazy European fine linework. Just that first panel alone, what an insane level of intricacy. To say nothing of the following double-page spread. And of course it takes Maxine about two issues of being the boss to happen upon that great idea first popularized by poor, doomed Louis Creed something like twenty-five years ago. “Now, I want to play with yeeeeeew.” You just can’t keep a good mullet down. That particular terrible notion certainly ended as well as it possibly could have.
FABLES #131 — An intriguing title for the arc, the issue certainly didn’t go where the cover implied, but all was certainly made clear by the last page. Funny that Willingham devoted half the issue to the doctor and Miss Duglas with such an ensemble to choose from. You have got to respect the fellow’s forthrightness. The aftermath of Therese’s return was as sad as expected. I guess old Bigby is going to be just fine, after all. And of course Prince Brandish doesn’t have a heart, I could have told you that.
PROPHET #37 — Milonogannis is a one-man wrecking crew! Leaner and meaner than Brother John Atum. There is absolutely no bullshit to be found here, just direct-to-the-jugular science fiction goodness, an individually satisfying short whose contribution to the over-arching narrative will be made clearer over time. Still one of the best series on the rack, right here.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN #18 — We open with a well-conceived exchange about boat-naming between Conan and his son. This whole “everything is perfect” set-up always reminds me of an X-Men dream, so it was a little bit surprising/unnerving to see it reinforced by “wee bairns” in the narration, a phrase that I will forever associate with that daft little Rahne Sinclair. There’s a heavy burden on these “it was all a dream” episodes because of course the only plot they’re driving along is what occurs through the character development that they incite or reveal. This issue, or really, the arc that it concludes, passes that test with flying colors as we bear witness to at least the possibility that one day the roaming warrior’s fires stirring within Conan will quit burning bright enough to allow him as much peace and stillness as possible for one such as he. In other news, I found the letter column quest for the correct way to pronounce Bêlit fascinating. I have personally always pronounced it “Beeh-lee” (long unstressed + short stressed) with that circumflex apparently kicking in my old French learnin’ and causing me to unconsciously silence the “t,” which is never given as an option in the myriad of choices considered by the various experts on hand.
YOUNG AVENGERS #007 — Huh, this apparently came out last week but didn’t get pulled for me until today. C’est la vie! This is the first proper post-pilot-episode all-hands-on-deck issue where we’ve got the status quo firmly established and the entire crew is hanging with one another from the get-go. It’s as great as I expected, am such a fan of what happens when McKelvie & Wilson get together and of course Gillen is by now an old hand at hitting all the various character dialogue interactions and character beats to perfection. As has thus far been the case, Loki pretty much steals every scene as effectively as he apparently has Gillen’s heart. Really digging on this, almost crushing on it harder than Waid’s DD, it’s probably blasphemy to say but there you go.
ALL-NEW X-MEN #014 — All right, I guess we’ll allow that bait-and-switch, it was a bit of a cheap shot to pull back from the Phoenix thing that quickly, but this book is so good, it’s hard to feel cheated by even that. Marte Gracia’s colors continue to be some of the very best in the business, what a force that guy is. Of course, Immonen/von Grawbadger are turning in serious work, as well, it must be said. The double Avengers appearance leading to young frost giant Bobby clobbering Thor with a snowball was priceless, good on ya, Bendis.
FANTASTIC FOUR #010 — Revolutionary Clobberin’ Time! Of course Ben Franklin is a Skrull. That actually makes perfect sense. I kind of wanted John Adams to look more like Paul Giamatti but recognize that as my own deficiency. But seriously, Bagley’s likenesses are excellent, perfectly straddling the line between photo-realistic depection and his somewhat cartoony style. I love how Val is totally not having the soft-sell confession from Reed. And Johnny’s dawning realization. But her line about the irony detector wins for this issue. Old Jason Stackhouse takes a page out of Johnny’s playbook, I’m suddenly realizing. Reed’s explanation for why they’ve been where/when they’ve been was of course well thought out and very cool. Yet another very enjoyable first blast of double-shot Fraction FF.
FF #009 — Who doesn’t love a good pool party? Fraction once again hits us with the inspired notion of framing at least the B-plot within a documentary by the great auteur Bentley-23, a character who it seems to be making a go at stealing every single scene of this run that he’s in. The real development, however, is that the alien-imposter Julius Caesar not only finally makes contact with the team after all of these years but goes ahead and reveals himself and sets them on at least the cusp of their way with the tech and info they need to potentially rescue the original quartet. Which I’m sure is going to happen just halfway through next issue. And Joe Quinones, man, once again does just an uncanny riff on Mike Allred’s art style, of course perfectly aided and abetted by Mrs. Laura Allred’s sublime palette, but it’s a freaky thing where halfway into the issue, I have to remind myself that this isn’t the mad man himself.
AVENGERS #016 — And we’re back with the new New Universe guys. Man, these things come out fast, I feel like Hickman just put them up on the shelf but it’s already been seven issues. That is certainly a pretty picture of all them Spaceknights soaring above Galador. When will those Avengers get big enough?!? They’ve been talking of little else for going on sixteen issues now, not even counting the last page of Bendis’s run. I suppose that it was about time for old Bruce to Hulk out, we were probably overdue for an incident. And Superia appears to have made a full recovery, I thought she was toast. Looks like our crew kind of got their asses handed to them, there. They are not going to have much in the tank when INFINITY comes knocking!