Quite the haul this week! Let’s dig in! Quick note, though: while I usually try to avoid them, there will be some spoilers this week, just FYI. Admittedly, I won’t be doing any more spoiling than the cover of the comic did itself, but etiquette requires a warning.
Power Man and Iron Fist #1: I love me some Fred Van Lente comics, folks. And this one is pretty good. I’m not sure how much the characterization of Danny Rand matches up to the Immortal Iron Fist series done by Fraction/Brubaker a few years ago, but it’s a fun read with some interesting villains (really, who uses Commedia del Arte anymore? That’s clever. And Don of the Dead? I laughed. Out loud. Or LOL’d, as the kids say these days. God, I’m old). The art’s not bad, though there are a couple of spots (Power Man’s fight with the shadowy guy on the rooftop) that’re kind of hard to follow. This should be an interesting miniseries, though.
Justice League: Generation Lost #19: If Judd Winick just did what it looks like he just did to Blue Beetle, I am going to be royally pissed. Seriously, for as conspiracy theory-ish as the whole “DC is trying to get rid of all their minority legacy characters and replace them with the good ol’ white boys again” chatter you see, there’s a fair amount of substance to the argument: John Stewart and Kyle Rayner (Stewart’s African American, Rayner is part Hispanic, I believe) being replaced by Hal “White Bread” Jordan in Green Lantern, Ryan Choi (Chinese) being offed in a gruesome and wholly unnecessary fashion in the pages of Titans just to prove Deathstroke and his crew are “badass” and make way for Ray “gee, I’m dull” Palmer to be The Atom again (even though Final Crisis used both of them quite well and proved there’s room for more than one Atom in the DCU)…and now Jamie Reyes, the Mexican-American kid who became the Blue Beetle in the wake of Infinite Crisis (easily one of the best things to come out of that whole event; God, the Blue Beetle book was good. I miss it), gets capped in the head by Maxwell Lord? I am not happy. Compound that fact with the art (which is pretty mediocre and has some storytelling problems throughout, not to mention Jamie does not look like a high school kid once he’s in his armor), and this issue just really upset me. Judd Winick had managed to build some goodwill from me with his work on this book, but he may’ve just lost it in one panel.
The Flash #9: We finally get back to the story after a couple of issues of character (villain) spotlights. I do love me some Manapul art, lemme tell ya. There’s not a bad panel in the book. I do like that Geoff Johns is dividing the storylines into “cases,” which fits very well. We’re still not getting much characterization out the returned Barry Allen, but that’s not Johns’s style: he’s about the big plots and the “look at this cool, obscure pit of continuity that I just dug up to play with.” Still, Manapul art. Mmm.
Casanova: Gula #2: Casanova is one of those books I’m starting to think I’m not smart enough to get. I mean, I get the basic bones of it: Casanova Quinn got pulled from his own universe to a parallel universe where his counterpart was a decent guy, and now he’s become a decent guy himself through weird circumstances. And now he’s missing in time somehow. I just don’t get how we jumped from that first sentence to the second one. This issue, though, deals with the missing Casanova only for a bit, choosing instead to focus on his not-so-nice sister (who’s supposed to be dead in this universe), Zephyr, as she goes around killing folks for money. Or sex. Possibly both. Fabio Moon’s art is moody and brilliant, and fits the manic story quite well.
Knight and Squire #5: Jarvis Poker, the English Joker, is dying. But before he goes, he’s going to pull off one last brilliant joke on the people of Britain. We get to see that the “British Batman,” Knight, isn’t really the same guy as our own Dark Knight; no, this guy has a very English outlook on life, and he knows Jarvis isn’t a dangerous guy. There’s some brilliant characterization, some very nice moments, great art, and a twist at the end that I did not see coming that really has me looking forward to next issue. Good stuff.
Batman and Robin #20: This is the first issue of the new creative team, Tomasi and Gleason. Tomasi has a very different voice for these characters than what we’ve seen before; his Damian Wayne is more of an apathetic pre-teen boy here. We’ve seen him in Morrison’s and Cornell’s runs as obstinate, willful, stubborn, and of the opinion that he knows more than Dick Grayson (which, admittedly, isn’t too far off from most pre-teen boys anyway), but never…bored. It’s a bit of characterization that just doesn’t quite ring true, and to an extent almost wrecks the character growth he’s had since his introduction at the beginning of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. Otherwise, the script and the dialogue aren’t too bad; the opening scene of Bruce Wayne watching The Mask of Zorro with his adopted family works well, and Tomasi has already found a decent voice for Dick Grayson. I am bothered by Gleason’s art, though: his figure work is too stocky, too thick. He handles the big action scenes quite well and with plenty of dynamic movement (look at the page where Robin is swinging off the tied-up bad guys in the alleyway over the car as Alfred pulls up), but his art just doesn’t work in the quieter, less-colorful moments.
Birds of Prey #9: Things are getting almost out of hand with Oracle’s plan, as we see the Birds get captured, Black Canary deal with her innermost demons, and Hawk be a complete jerk. The art’s solid, the story is interesting, the characters are engaging…this is typical Gail Simone fare, and that is not a bad thing by any means.
Atomic Robo: Deadly Art of Science #3: This is the…quietest issue of Atomic Robo I’ve ever read. Sure, there’s super-science, references to duking it out with giant robots, and hints of the bigger plot here, but this is a character issue. Robo is getting in deeper with Jack Tarot and his daughter, who has some sort of automaton fetish or something going on, but the bigger part of this issue is given over to Robo’s and Tesla’s relationship, and it’s downright fascinating. Telsa’s really only been a background character to this book (by which I’m referring to the four volumes that have come before this particular miniseries), a shadowy influence that we know set Robo down the path to figuring things out with his brain rather than his fists. It’s nice to get a chance to see how that happened, ’cause our only glimpses of Robo when he was “young” so far have involved him shooting at a giant C’Thulu-esque monster and chasing after gangsters while spouting wide-eyed one-liners. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (believe me, there is nothing wrong with anything in that sentence), we haven’t gotten a sense of how Tesla’s legacy was imparted to Robo. Now we’re seeing it, and it makes a lot of sense. Plus, Tesla is just damn funny.
I also grabbed the trade of The Question: The Pipeline, the backup feature that ran in Detective Comics while Batwoman was the headliner. It actually reads a little too fast all at once like this; as a backup feature, it worked perfectly in little 8-page doses, and having a break in-between issues gave you a sense of the passage of time. Here, things just seem to happen to fast. I also grabbed the first collection of Suicide Squad. I know Gail Simone swears by this book (and possibly got some of her choicer swears from this book), but I’ve never had a chance to read much of it aside from that one miniseries they did several years back, From the Ashes. I’m really looking forward to digging into this title.