BATMAN AND ROBIN #35 — Bruce’s Orphean quest into Apokolips continues. Gleason/Gray/Kalisz drop the serious ruckus on the five-page opening scene that sees him raining down justice on a gang of parademons. But, as great as that is, it’s even more fun to watch the gang of sidekicks sneak back into the Bat-Cave and band together to trick Cyborg into Boom-Tubing them to their mentor’s aid. I dig Jason’s “Ping Pang Poom” comment, but Kate’s subsequent “Who’s the idiot?” quip is even better. A pretty economical two-page scene with her, nothing but housekeeping, really, but a logical step before so many members of the family go off-world. But that is some cold-blooded shit, their dialogue while poor Vic is voluntarily strapping himself in to help out. And but how great is Alfred’s retrofit of Damian’s suits for the trio? This is another perfect slice of sequential narrative, completely satisfying on its own merits in episodic form even while pushing the main story along and leaving the reader ravenous for the next installment. Keep them coming, gentlemen!
BATMAN ETERNAL #28 — I do not like Jason calling him “Bats.” I wonder if the Moffat Building is a DOCTOR WHO shoutout. Have I said that before? And maybe it’s got something to do with this week’s THE WALKING DEAD Season Five premiere, but I’ve got to say, as soon as dude cocked back that baseball bat, I was totally flinching, Selina-as-The-Don-in-#35 ads notwithstanding. Meghan Hetrick and Romulo Fajardo, Jr.’s art really stands out in that scene in the Moffat Building, particularly in the close-ups of Selina. I love the tones on her face. But isn’t this the second or third time she’s brought up pole-dancing classes in this book? Let’s move on, already. But, man. As soon as Jade’s uncle pulled the trigger, you knew what was going to happen. So awful. Killer last panel (see above). For once, the ad placement opposite the last page is perfect. Another great issue of this weekly, going strong now for over half a year already.
FUTURES END #24 — This one was all right. A little bit coasting. Funny to have Angie all over Katar. Nice to see Scott and Barda back together even while expositing a bunch of carnage that we missed. The big hitch with this series is that I don’t give one great goddamn at any point when Superman shows up. Which means something has gone quite horribly wrong. Who can save us now?
FABLES #145 — Still loving the cover-as-first-page gag. That is certainly a strong three-page opening with Snow & Cinderella. Clever of Willingham to tack it on to the front of the issue “out of turn” and then just kick it into the main narrative. I assumed that we’d just get two pages of Roberson at the back. But the real trick is, setting that opening scene a week in the future and then winding the clock back for the Rose/Bellflower vs Bigby fight sets us up to know that the ladies are safe but that, hey, maybe Bigby’s about to get taken out of play with five issues still left to go. It’s a canny bit of narrative stagecraft. Willingham is so good. As are all of his cohorts, still, after all of these years.
SUPREME: BLUE ROSE #4 — The plot thickens pretty substantially here as we follow Doc Rocket away from Diana Dane and head over to the Hotel Krohme, which used to be the headquarters for a superhero team but is now apparently a bar where you can get a glass of quality rye whiskey. There, he meets Zayla Zarn, who relates that the generation of a Supreme is basically an inevitable occurrence that takes place whenever the world needs an “extremely energetic actor in human affairs.” However, all of this destabilizes the continuum and necessitates a continuity revision. But the last time that happened, something really screwed up, and it looks like the next eight hundred years are going to be a massive Dark Age. Unless something happens, presumably. Old Zayla did not seem terribly optimistic on that point. But, there must be hope! Professor Night is as wonderful as usual, but then we get a flash-forward to c. 2100 featuring “late human render ghosts” that is some pretty out shit, as far as these things go. Warren Ellis has considerable stones putting this out there. It is diamond-hard sci-fi, very much deserving of its Lynch-inspired title. There’s a narrative in here somewhere, but every time you think you’ve got your mind wrapped around it, it slithers away through some inverted hyper-dimensional triangular apparent non-sequitur that might mean everything in hindsight. Tula Lotay’s work is beautiful again. I never would have thought that anyone would be able to step to Moore’s classic run from fifteen years ago, but this is doing the job just fine.
TREES #6 — This book remains a very interesting study in restraint or really almost premise avoidance. It’s kind of a wacky trick. Here, we have this really solid set-up of these trees, giant towering alien ships that landed ten years ago in several major cities and that have just hung out there doing God knows what for all this time and don’t seem to consider human life worthy of the least bit of consideration. With that established, Ellis swerves all the way in the opposite direction from mythology or world-building and instead zooms all the way in on his cast for some in-depth character interaction. The majority of this issue is devoted to Chenglei dealing with the emotional aftermath of last night’s orgy with Zhen and friends. This is a complicated situation requiring several pages of hashing it out with his transgender uncle because Zhen is also transgender and Chenglei has been thinking that he was bi-sexual but now having completely fallen for a beautiful “girl with a cock” is kind of messing him up. Ellis never loses sight of the emotional core and writes honest relatable dialogue that manages to play as fairly universal even to straight folks who are comfortable with their initial gender and have not yet had the chance to participate in an orgy (never say never, young one!). Ellis’s beats do a bit more work here than usual, but Jason Howard still shoulders the bulk of the heavy lifting, really magnificent work on every page. Seems like there are only one or two more of these before they go on break, but I’ve enjoyed the relatively quiet introspective ride thus far.
DAREDEVIL #009 — Man, just in time for Halloween. These purple kids are horrifying. I dig the interaction first thing between Foggy, Kirsten, and Matt, the way that Waid bounces their dialogue off one another feels completely unforced and natural. Nice gag with Kirsten compressing “terse.” But all of that gives way to the main event, Matt vs. Killgrave’s offspring, which Waid choreographs to perfection. It’s like the guy’s been writing comics for nearly thirty years or something. And of course Samnee continues to rain down the destruction, more than ably abetted by Matthew Wilson. This one is still as great as they say, kids.
FANTASTIC FOUR #11 — Things continue to deteriorate for our intrepid quartet as Reed gets a pep talk from Wanda, Jen & Wyatt meet to discuss how bad everything is looking, Ben takes a shower in prison, Sue makes it back to Reed, and then someone who surely isn’t Barney Barton tries to fill Wyatt full of arrows but is stopped by a friendly neighborhood cameo. Robinson keeps everyone in character and Kirk/Kesel/Aburtov are turning in some A-list art. These guys aren’t garnering enough praise for the quality of their work.
UNCANNY X-MEN #027 — It is a such a joy to get Bachalo back on interiors, this book never really feels right without him. He takes a break from coloring his own lines this time (which maybe should be the deal for always if that will necessitate less fill-ins?) with Jose Villarrubia and Rain Beredo stepping in to provide work that manages to pop and maintain an even subtlety throughout. Old Matthew Malloy proves as formidable as Bendis has been Bendis-speaking us that he is as he manages to add a notch to the count of helicarriers that this book has swatted down from the sky like nothing more than a pesky housefly. The turn at the end isn’t quite a plot twist, but it’s exactly the way Scott would play it. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. Doesn’t Bendis know you’re not supposed to introduce formidable new mutants until the timeless evil of Fox Studios can be quashed? Shouldn’t the editors have nipped this whole thing in the bud before Bachalo ever got eyes on the script?
AVENGERS·X-MEN: AXIS #2—More good fun to be had here as Tony’s Sentinels kick the teams’ collective ass all up and down. I like the voice that Remender gives him in the first-person narrative captions, but the deal about Tony’s mental journal detailing everybody’s weaknesses is a biiiiiiit “Tower of Babel” for my taste. Did anyone think Young Nova was going to get his ruin smote upon the mountainside? The falling-for-Rogue thing seemed like a kiss of death, but I guess they’re not going to sacrifice him quite yet. If only readers had cottoned to Jeph Loeb’s random reboot of the character! Come to think of it, Remender has no problem doing a pretty straight cover version of AMAZING #33 with Tony on Page 12, there. That dude has a thing for reprising his favorite iconic mighty Marvel moments! Great deal with Magneto bailing. I still don’t care about Alex and Jan. At all. Pretty much anytime someone calls Nightcrawler “fuzzy elf,” that’s all it takes to get me all misty and nostalgic, apparently. And maybe it’s just coming off tonight’s previous issue, but that last shot of Magneto’s Eleven (apparently recruited in MAGNETO #11, natch!) reeeeeeally looks like Bachalo drew it. Kubert & Martin certainly tore it up, throughout, it must be said. Sorry to lose them next week, but of course Yu and friends will certainly crush it.
NEW AVENGERS #025 — I am wild for the premise of this crew as just the straight-up bad guys of the Marvel universe with Tony still completely M.I.A.. I mean, the old deal about how the most timeless villain is a hero in his own eyes? How are you going to get more compelling than Reed Richards leading a team of the smartest people in the world to save it from itself? I’m definitely onboard with all of these shenanigans. It’s testament to how interesting the dynamic is, not much happens besides the guys getting set up in an old pre-Fury S.H.I.E.L.D. hideout (paaaaaaaging Dustin Weaver) and then just hanging out there on the other end of the line while Cho gets captured back in AVENGERS #035. That’s pretty much the whole deal, and it’s riveting. Kev Walker’s style is a bit looser than the insane realism we’ve come to expect on this book from Deodato and Schiti, but it’s also quite reminiscent of JRJr., so who’s going to question that DNA here in the glorious old 616? That’s some cold shit, though, Sue interrogating Amadeus. You kind of get the feeling that she knew they were being monitored and was just letting Reed have it via remote. Cold, Sue.
BEST OF WEEK: ANNIHILATOR #2 — Very nice balanced symmetry from Irving in these first few pages of Spass & Nomax, here. Morrison has really hit upon something here with the notion of the biography of a character beamed into the writer’s head as a data bullet brain tumor with the only hope for survival being that the writer has to tell the guy’s story. I love how Irving cranks up the art and washes out all the colors during the story-within-a-story screenplay scenes. Morrison plays up the interplay between writer and protagonist to comedic effect. It is good fun to hear Max going on about Act Three or demanding to know “what happened next.” Just realizing a funny trick here, Ray not only introduces Jet Makro the Arch-Annihilator in his script because it’s the end of Act One, but by issue’s end, that very individual makes planetfall, crashing into the Hollywood sign (and seriously, the colors that Irving drops on that last page alone are jaw-dropping). But on the previous page, Max tells Ray that he is “absolutely the bad guy.” All of this at the end of the second issue, which is about where the proper first act of this series is apparently landing. Morrison has been all about the meta- for twenty-five years, but it’s exciting to observe him kicking it back and forth on so many simultaneous levels. I saved this for the end in the headlining slot but probably should have paired it with SUPREME: BLUE ROSE in hindsight. Serious business, all around.