BATMAN #36 — This is a pretty bulletproof scenario, Capullo drawing Batman VS the Justice League. Of course, Snyder’s got to build all kinds of prep-time type business in here, but it’s a little funny to think about Bruce and Ray Palmer just bopping around dead solar systems collecting dead red suns for that one rainy afternoon that Clark is going to misbehave and Bruce is going to have to punch him. That is solid writing, though, making the crucial distinction that Bruce planned to fight the Superman he knows, not the safeguard-free Joker-venom version. The best line of the issue is about who wins in a fight between Batman and Superman: “Neither of us.” Thank you, Scott Snyder.
BEST OF WEEK: BATGIRL #36 — I liked this one even better than last issue. Babs Tarr channels more of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s SCOTT PILGRIM vibe this time out, and this time she’s working over co-writer Cameron Stewart’s layouts, which makes the pages look even more dynamic and engaging than before. Is Jeremy DeGroot’s last name a L O S T reference? All instances of DeGroot and Hanso will I guess forever make me think about the Dharma Initiative. Also, a very strong single-page introduction for Nadimah. That’s where the Pilgrim influence really shows up, the cartoony manga-like exaggeration of the characters’ body language and facial expression. Love that on a mainstream non-alternate-world title. That costume suit-up at the bottom of Page Five is an elegant bit of cartooning, what would be Panel Seven splitting up into five quick-change panels with every single one of those sound effects absolutely essential to the flow. Beautiful work. And good on Barbara parkouring up the tree and brick wall. The tone of this is much wackier than what we usually get out of the Bat—universe. Some folks have remarked that they would be all right with it if it was an alternate continuity, but I don’t see why it’s got to be all heavy gloom and doom every minute that she’s not in the cave with the rest of the family. Solid work building the ensemble just a little bit and really just terrific sequentials throughout the issue. This and GOTHAM ACADEMY really are a breath of fresh air even while the big guy is strong work across the line that’s more tonally in line with what we expect from a Batman book.
BATMAN ETERNAL #32 — As many talented artist who have graced these pages here these last five or so months, and even as much of an admirer of Dustin Nguyen’s as I have been for years across the impressive range of his stylistic spectrum, nobody does it here for me on this series like Jason Fabok. I was really excited when they even announced his mighty DETECTIVE run with Layman, and he knocked that out of the park before jumping right over here with his hyper-rendered intricate linework that really gives these events a sense of import and gravitas. The emotional payoff of Alfred hugging his daughter alone is one of my favorite moments of the series, executed to perfection in just five panels with only a single three-word shot of dialogue necessary because of all the care that Fabok and colorist Brad Anderson are putting into every single shot. And then of course, ha ha, everything goes even wronger. If these boys keep escalating, there’s not going to be enough of old Gotham standing in March to be able to use it as a viable setting for skyscraper urban combat.
FUTURES END #28 — Everyone else hears Michael Giacchino music during all those island sequences, right? There’s certainly something wrong with me, I will be the first to admit. Maybe I’m the only one who still harbors a grudge against the douchebag director who used to go around calling himself McG, but that is an unacceptable sobriquet for Terry McGuinness, full stop. I do love that shot on the bottom of his first page of Bruce in silhouette roaring up from the fire to grab him, though. Probably the panel of the issue here this week. And then he goes ahead and utters some straight Frank Miller dialogue about the old L1 vertebra, hilarious. That’s how you show it’s Batman Five Years Later, people! Get him to talk like the ur-Marv. Also a funny revelation for Terry. No, dude, Bruce has just always been kind of a dick, or at least since he was eight, it wasn’t Brother Eye at all. And this thing with Madison, never has a plot-point pivoted so crucially on a study group. Everybody knows about that group!
WYTCHES #2 — I love the book-within-a-book on the first page, reminds me of Carey pulling that trick over on THE UNWRITTEN (the kid’s name is Taylor, even!). The description of being a parent at the top of Page Seven is almost identical to one I have bounced back and forth with folks over the past half a dozen years. So much the truth. The plot thickens just a bit, and Snyder doesn’t feel like he’s got to dole out too much for the reader in terms of answers, escalating the situation with a whole family’s worth of cliffhangers. And Hollingsworth is producing some really interesting work with the splatter backgrounds all over every page, starting out with the opacity relatively lower at first and then dialing it up as the issue progresses, which of course primes the reader to expect particularly graphic presentations of extreme gore and violence. And no review of this would be complete without at least mentioning that Jock is a beast. Thank you, that is all.
THE FADE OUT #3 — Mmm, everything looks as gorgeous as usual, but I had trouble finding any reason to care about young Maya Silver this month. As talented as these creators are, it feels like they’re just lapsing into doing a SATELLITE SAM riff. Devin Faraci’s essay about Lana Turner and Sean Connery and most of all her fourteen-year-old daughter Cheryl versus Johnny Stompanato, on the other hand, is riveting.
MPH #4 — Duncan Fegredo is really something serious. He makes the sequential storytelling work but then can show up with pitch-perfect likenesses of Reagan and Gorbachev that are downright uncanny. What we have here is plenty of escalation by way of disintegration, and our boy Mad Mark Millar with only one issue left to sell the film rights to Fox or another friendly neighborhood studio. We wish him well, in this and all things.
SILVER SURFER #007 — That Dawn Greenwood is just so cool, man. “Nah, let’s go a little farther.” And what a nice time for a montage. So, this is more like issue #027 if we count all the adventures that have apparently happened in between issues. Dawn’s rapport with Twomie continues to be an inspired bit of character dynamics. This is just a fun book. The fruit pies at the atomic shotgun wedding or the maze on the following page are proof enough of that. And but now Norrin & Dawn are dating! So cute!
BUCKY BARNES: THE WINTER SOLDIER #002 — Good night, I cannot believe the amount of quality that Marco Rudy lavishes on every page. This is some stunning work, to be sure. I wasn’t really a fan of the meter and rhymed verse that Kot selected for Loki’s dialogue, it distanced me from Rudy’s lavish visuals rather than anchoring me within them. This is more than worth the $3.99 price-point for the art alone, but the plot this time out was a little bit skinnier than last month. Here’s to something meatier next time.
AVENGERS·X-MEN: AXIS #5 — Okay, I’m a little bit dense. I do go to some length to avoid copy of what a premise is for something that I’m already going to be consuming anyway, but I love that the main Axis flip deal happened at the end of #3 and then I was just totally confused last issue. Why were the Avengers being such dicks? Okay, now I get it. And it is a very cool elevator pitch. Awakened, indeed. Good on Remender. I do think it’s kind of a fucked up and fundamentally flawed move making Magneto be good now that he’s inverted. I would like it much better if he was a total megalomaniac and everybody was like, “Oh nooooooo, he really has been a hero all this time, just so like misunderstood.” Morrison making Thomas Wayne the only stand-up guy on Earth-2 back in that graphic novel with Quitely is still my favorite time somebody used that trick, keeping it just barely implicit that Bruce’s dad was just a piece of shit back over in Earth-1. But back over on good old 616, I also didn’t realize that the Apocalypse last issue was Genesis all grown up. I probably need to finish up on Aaron’s WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN run, admittedly. Okay. This was a pretty fun issue of superheroes beating up on each other. Even though I swear I’ve seen that a time or two before now.