INFINITY MAN AND THE FOREVER PEOPLE #2 — Jesus, that is a hell of a way to frame a first page! And they even go the AMBUSH BUG route two pages later, a classic callback, of course that’s not really Darkseid just looming over Dreamer’s sleeping form in a non-astral completely physical sense. Giffen returning to a New 52! teration of his thirty-year-old gag makes a hell of a compelling opening. And reminds us that Darkseid can, very very occasionally, be funny. Then, I dig how Didio manages the ensemble one-by-one introductions in not quite as clunky a fashion as The One True King threw down back in the day, even working in a genuine revelation with regard to Big Bear’s place of birth. And the sudden subplot about Vykin having a romantic attachment to Mother Box is pretty funny. This reads as a bit decompressed for a single, we had the entire last issue to get to know the cast and take this entire one to maneuver them into place to actually form the titular character, who doesn’t appear until the last page, but I’m definitely enjoying the ride and how well Didio/Giffen manage to channel the Kirby krackle into the present day and am of course on board for as long as this one lasts! Taaru!
GRAYSON #1 — I have never been much of a fan of Dick Grayson’s solo adventures. Which is actually a bit of a conundrum to me, now that I think about it. He’s always been one of my favorite characters, ever since I was a little kid. I mean, when I was four, I wanted to grow up to be The Boy Wonder, you know? But the stars never aligned for me to devour 150 or however many issues of NIGHTWING when they were coming out. Though, of course I loved him in what I’ve read of the legendary Wolfman/Perez NEW TEEN TITANS run and the brief time that Morrison scripted his adventures with Damian in BATMAN AND ROBIN already holds some serious real estate in my heart for all-time great runs. All of which to say, I’m in no way the best barometer for how well this series stacks up to previous iterations, but I can say that I dug the hell out of this. The writers manage to combine just the right amount of gripping espionage action with succinct little character beats to make this feel like a story that could only be starring this particular character. And as usual, Mikel Janin (three weeks in a row now I’m saying this!) shows up and knocks the lights out on interiors with dynamic fluid movement and beautiful acting through body language and facial expressions. And any fan of Morrison’s run has to appreciate these guys setting the premise with Dick as the undercover Agent 37 in Spyral. I’m definitely curious to see where this is heading.
FUTURE’S END #10 — Um, that is some goofy banter between Masked Superman and Lois. Intentionally so, I’m sure, it just certainly plays weird. You’ve got to love Tim spotting Bruce’s Deathless Tonga Death Strike from across the bar when Terry throws it. It’s funny that the outer-space crew was just Hawkman and Amethyst this week, but we’ll allow it. And bringing Barda into all of this can’t be a bad thing. Who else could Jan Kirby be? So many Kirby name-checks lately!
BATMAN ETERNAL #14 — Well, no one can accuse this series of spinning its wheels! I love Tim’s reaction, it rings so true. And but did he really not know that Harper was creeping up on him last week? I did not get that at all, thought he was just being cute. Fabok knocks another issue out of the park as we reload for the next horrible thing that I guess will be at Arkham before we head over to the inevitable Blackgate riot. They seriously better not be trying to set up killing Gordon, though. You have to give him at least a couple of arcs in the present-day title, Snyder! If we ever make it back!
DETECTIVE COMICS #33 — Had to score the Steranko cover, even before the trash-talk. As for the interiors, Manapul/Buccellato's art has quite possibly never looked better. Which is really saying something. But, I’m still having trouble sinking my teeth into the characterizations of all these random characters. No one except Bullock is landing for me. And then they go and do something borderline unforgivable by invoking TRUE DETECTIVE in a giant panel with the lightning crackling behind our guy. Batman comics shouldn’t name-drop modern zeitgeist explosions, I don’t feel like. Especially when the guy creating that other thing is writing the pants off of what’s going down in this iteration of Gotham. And pretty much everything else, to be fair. But, come on. Gotham City is the last place that anybody needs to be thinking about old Rustin Cohle. And shit, now I’ve got to watch all eight of them again.
AMERICAN VAMPIRE: SECOND CYCLE #4 — Snyder/Albuquerque are still seriously tearing it apart in this second volume with no sign of letting up. They even make you fear for the adorable little monsters! The art remains a tour de force. Really, the only negative thing that I can say about this is that it’s such a whirlwind dervish that I’m positive this will read better in trade. But it’s not like I’m going to pull up now and start waiting for it. Also, it does seem unfortunate that the Hep-V plotline from this final season of TRUE BLOOD has also apparently spontaneously generated over here round these parts (last night’s cliffhanger was the very same as this one, even!), but I’m sure there’s room enough for both of those stories to be told in this big old bad world.
STAR WARS #19 — We’re introduced to Leia’s old best friend, who’s been undercover for years, spurring our main crew out of their upper-level positions with Rebellion and out into the dangerous void of space for a rescue op. More importantly, Carlos D’Anda returns to the fold. I was afraid that he was out of the picture, but it’s nice to see his quality illustrations return before Dark Horse has to shut this glorious operation down.
DAREDEVIL #005 — Waid fiiiiiiiiinally lets us in on what’s been the deal with Foggy this whole time and, no surprise, it’s a terrifically fun romp executed to sequential perfection by Samnee/Rodriguez, as ever. I initially rolled by eyes at Foggy/Waid opening with the THE USUAL SUSPECTS paraphrase, but of course they more than earn it by issue’s end.
FANTASTIC FOUR #007 — I couldn’t imagine what could be so horrible, but I think the scale of the secret and Ben’s reaction to the revelation fits the scope of this book perfectly. More than almost every other superhero title that has sprung up in the wake of this world’s greatest comics magazine, this series has always been first and foremost about the way that the characters interact with one another, and the way this latest tie-in reverberates through is no exception. Kudos to James Robinson. Though he does have Reed saying “From who?” at one point, which completely threw me out of it, the big brain knows well enough to use the object of the preposition “whom” in the objective case every time. And Leonard Kirk and Karl Kesel continue to throw down absolute justice on every page of present-day adventure with Dean Haspiel and Nolan Woodard on hand yet again to lend that extra bit of krackle to the flashbacks, all colored in the popping palette of Jesus Aburtov. We don’t get Sue beating the hell out of the Avengers, as the cover promises, but this one right here is certainly a quality read.
ALL-NEW X-MEN #029 — X-23 shows up in time to be enough reinforcements to tip the balance just enough in our guys’ favor in the rematch against Baby Xavier. Which is all well and good but then Cyclops has got to go and draw the line against killing THIS Xavier and the reset button gets pushed again at the end, it looks like. Which is a little frustrating, but just another day in the life, I suppose. Far FAR more heartbreaking is the very sudden news that this is apparently the art team’s last issue. Can this be true? Of course, we wish them well and kudos all around for them going on to what’s got to be a higher profile (or at least more mainstream) assignment depicting Sam Wilson’s adventures as the new Captain America, but I have got to say that if Bendis has been the brains behind this series, then Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger, and Marte Gracia have been its beating heart and soul. Really, the main reason I even gave the first issue a shot amidst announcements of elevated price-points and double-shipping was their stunning cover, and then of course I was hooked. This has been one of my very favorite Marvel titles amidst a linewide roster that is jam-packed with serious talent and creative firepower, and I am going to miss them on this title very very much.
BEST OF WEEK: AVENGERS #32 — Man, it was past three in the morning, I had been tearing it up with the Fourth Coven in the Cattle Baron’s suite at the Driskell for the better part of the evening, and I was both sorely underprepared and in exactly the right frame of mind to experience Hickman bringing adult Franklin Richards from the far future back into our lives again. What an imaginative slice of glory this issue is. There’s actually barely even any conflict to speak of and it doesn’t even matter, we’re just grateful to be along for the ride as Franklin walks and flies Cap, Natasha, and Star Brand through the distant future and basically shows them how awesome everything is. Hickman has always excelled at that kind of accelerated bleeding-edge almost-plausible hyper-science that Morrison and Ellis have broke ground on down through the years, and this issue is probably the best example of that in his Avengers run so far as he has Franklin describe for us in detail exactly what it means to have an Avengers World five millennia in the future. The only hiccup actually has to do with that number. At the top of the issue, we get the standard “BETRAYAL +_____ YEARS” tag with the number of years this time being 5,045. And the issue is entitled “Five Thousand Into The Future.” So that’s all straightforward enough, but then early on in the issue, Franklin very clearly tells Steve that it’s 4,103 years into the future, or “four thousand, one hundred and three years, actually,” all spelled out there like it should be in-dialogue. So what gives? I thought he might just mean that’s the interval since their jump from last issue, but by my count they were only a total of BETRAYAL +470 YEARS at that point, so even that reduced number should have been 4,575. Where did those missing years go? That’s a pretty prominent piece of plot to have a discrepancy with. Am I the only one who cares? Probably? At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, because this issue is a captivating glide through a future that’s full of wonder and hope, a positive futurist outlook that’s a refreshing break from the usual post-apocalyptic fare featuring Yu/Alanguilan/Gho’s strongest interiors on this title yet. And just when you think that Hickman can’t dig any deeper, he manages to land the Groot tie-in/punchline just in time for 8-01-14. Thank you, indeed.