BATMAN #30 — Is it possible that Capullo/Miki/Plascencia managed to crank up the art on this issue? I wouldn’t have thought so, but these pages seem that much more beautiful. Capullo, in particular, what a force. So, it only took a year of real-time for us to learn why this has been called “Zero Year.” Ha ha, NOTHing to do with Frank Miller at all, no sir. Snyder has certainly recast Edward Nygma into a topical and much more formidable villain. It will be interesting to see where he winds up in this arc and how that relates to his present-day status. The simultaneous solution to the crossword puzzle at the end was a pretty forced beat, but I guess as long as you’ve got Batman & Jim shaking hands, life is good.
BEST OF WEEK: BATMAN AND WONDER WOMAN #30 — The Brave & the Bold Hunt for Robin continues! That is a pretty hilarious beat, the way that Bruce defuses the initial conflict with Aleka by doing his best to channel more testosterone than what she’s got pumping out, there. It is interesting for Peter Tomasi to have Bruce incorporate his son’s trademark *tt* on the following page in response to the revelation of Diana’s rebooted origin. Does anyone else always, no matter the context, hear the words “You will be,” in Yoda’s voice? Maybe it’s just me. While on the surface, this is a relatively straightforward tale of Batman trying to get back his dead son’s corpse from the boy’s grandfather, the juxtaposition between the hero and his nemesis’s opposing goals establishes an overall theme of parental regret that does a great deal to augment the aching loss that both the fathers and the reader feel in the absence of their fallen children. And then Tomasi blindsides you at the end with the comparison between the kid and the Neekta creature. Poignant material amidst the fisticuffs on Amazon Island, all of which Gleason/Gray/Kalisz masterfully render.
BATMAN ETERNAL #2 — It wasn’t until picking up this title this week along with the regular Snyder/Capullo series that I realized that “Zero Year” is such a beast, they had to go ahead and create a new series just to get me a Snyder-scripted Batman story that takes place in the here and now. The true test of this series is going to be how well it maintains quality after the creative team gets shaken up and the A-team gets benched, but this second issue has no problem maintaining the strong momentum generated by the fist installment. Jason Fabok continues to tear it up. That is a hell of a spread of the family on Pages Two and Three. Fox Manor made me laugh, is that a new joke? And is Dr. Phosphorous invoking the name of Starfire’s evil sister? Though it’s going to fall flat for newcomers to The New 52, we end with a beat that’s a pretty serious moment for long-time readers, one that is ominous news for our own Selina Kyle. Which is all well and good, but I am ready to move on to the near-future of BATMAN #28, with Harper as sidekick and Stephanie Brown as an on-panel character. Maybe next week!
WONDER WOMAN #30 — That is one hell of a cover by Cliff Chiang. Not to be outdone, Goran Sudžuka & Matthew Wilson bring the absolute justice for the double-page spread on Pages Two and Three. “Hera, it might be best if you left the island,” has got to be the understatement of the issue. Diana makes a shrewd political move during her speech by asking all of the Amazons to become mother to Zeke. And another hell of a last page. Azzarello needs to quit playing around!
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #2 — Serious escalation. Snyder/Albuquerque continue to slam out the action in this new volume at an accelerated pace that is as propulsive as it is gripping. I had a bad feeling about old Calvin just as soon as he showed up. Really digging this, not sure if absence made the heart grow fonder or they used the break to craft a more compelling narrative, but at the end of the day, all I want to say is thank you very much.
THE UNWRITTEN: APOCALYPSE #4 — Nice to see Ryan Kelly pinch-hitting on layouts for half the issue. When Wilson mentions them being in a crisis on Page Five, I was definitely retroactively wishing that there had been red skies on the previous page. Because why not? I dig Lizzie’s foreplay dialogue. To the point, my dear! Page Ten is another tremendous example of Peter Gross pushing form to see what new shapes he can bend his pages into. Tommy definitely makes the right call with the wooden population there, I think. As macabre as it might be. Splinters on the old will are a dealbreaker. I loved Sue dropping “frumious” as an adjective. But was surprised to feel a strong sense of melancholy when Tommy promises to meet his companions in class later. Which is a neat trick, Carey has done very little character work with the relationship between Tommy and his in-book cohorts, but the archetypes are functioning as an emotional shorthand, both standing on the shoulders of and symbolizing all relationships of this type that we have experienced in other stories, all stories.
MORNING GLORIES #38 — Twenty-eight pages for regular price, SupaEisma continues to deliver the goods to an adoring public that’s still probably not grateful enough. Ike is probably my favorite character of the cast and, leaving out whatever that says about me, it’s of course going to be good news that a little more than half of this issue focuses on him. And isn’t even a flashback! It’s like I hit some sort of Ike-lottery or something. The way Spencer doles out hints and plot-point movement months and months later makes me wonder if he’s got some kind of fractal graph, using numerology to determine certain storytelling beats and reveals, not unlike what David Foster Wallace had going with INFINITE JEST back when. Are we really supposed to believe that this series is going to run for 100 issues and not 108? As for the big surprise reveal at the end, my money is not on reincarnation but this being the appearance of the character before (s)he got shot in the head.
UNCANNY X-MEN #020 — Oh my goodness, this book looks incredible. Six inkers do a pretty excellent job blending in to an amalgamate style. Or maybe Bachalo’s just such a force, he makes it easy on everybody else. This certainly has to be one of the most gorgeous pencil/coloring jobs of the month. Narratively, it’s probably the wrong month for Bendis to speculate about internal corruption within S.H.I.E.L.D., though who knows how far ahead he was working. And you’ve got to appreciate the return of Lubbock’s own Fred J. Dukes to fiend on some MGH and then guard “disco bitch” Alison Blaire. Okay, but wait, at the end, I’m going to have to go back and check the timelines, but is this supposed to be at the end of #018? This feels like at least the third time lately an issue has ended with Cyclops freaking out and suddenly dealing with uncontrollable optic-blast shenanigans. Which I could get used to being a thing, if that’s how we’re going to roll. Everyone starts getting nervous on Page 19, shuffling around, casting concerned glances Scottie’s way, then turn the page and . . .