Fashionably later, but at least pipping the next releases, here is last week’s comics. While a fuller selection than the last lot, I’ve been left slightly let down, which meant this review has dragged. I’ll explain below…
Batman & Robin
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E.
Penguin: Pain And Prejudice
The Incredible Hulk
Thief of Thieves
Valen The Outcast
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ardian Syaf and Vicente Cifuentes
Cover by Adam HughesThe Gretel arc comes to a conclusion this week, which makes for a nice, punchy two issue story, that benefits from this rather than being dragged out further. There’s a nice dynamic between Batman and Batgirl, and a few more pieces of Barbara’s life after “The Killing Joke” get fleshed out.
Written by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman
Art by Amy Reeder and Richard Friend
Cover by Amy ReederThe change of artist is a shock to the system this month, with a more traditional comic book style replacing the gorgeously rendered artwork seen previously. It’s a change that has really put me off my stride. While the book retains the same style of panel layout it’s such a shame to see the art shift when the style was becoming integral to the story telling. Last issue there was bleed over between the styles as Kate’s life and her Batwoman alias slipped over and it worked really really well. And while there is some attempt at this it feels very much a pale imitation. I’d much rather have waited another six months for the story to continue with J.H. doing the art than this. The story continues well, as Kate works alongside Chas, continuing to follow the leads from the first story arc, but there is a feeling that the extra layer the art added is missing.
Written by Kyle Higgins
Art by Joe Bennett and Art Thibert
Cover by Simon BisleyIt’s more catch up this month, as we get to see Deathstroke’s relationship with his son from a slightly different perspective. There is still the ridiculous action, and Deathstroke manages to come out levelling the playing field, if not victorious, but the final page offers yet another twist in the story.
Demon Knights #6
Written by Paul Cornell
Art by Diogenes Neves and Oclair Albert
Cover by Mike ChoiAnother fantastic issue from this series as the siege begins. There’s action aplenty, but there is still space made to keep fleshing the characters out. There’s loss on the side of the Knight’s but not in the form you’d expect, and moral dilemmas to resolve. There’s no feeling that the outcome is set in stone, and it’s freeing. Barring a handful of characters you survive into the later DCU the feeling that anyone could die adds a tension to the story.
Green Lantern #6
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Mike Choi
Cover by Doug MahnkeAnother artist change, and once again not for the better (in my opinion). Hal gets to prove his worth without the ring, while Sinestro continues on his path as Green Lantern, battling his former yellow corps members. Hal seems to finally be free on the Lanterns, but it looks like a state of affairs not set to last.
Legion Lost #6
Written by Fabian Nicieza
Art and cover by Pete WoodsThe team’s encounter with the Martian Manhunter leads to confrontation (as always seem o be the way of things in comics) before an agreement is reached. There are some nicely done action scenes and the reintroduction of one of the characters presumed dead since the first issue added a different feel to the book. So far I’ve been impressed with the series, but it needs to find another gear next issue.
Resurrection Man #6
Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Art by Fernando Dagnino
Cover by Ivan Reis and Joe PradoMitch SHelly’s stay in Arkham is a pleasingly non conventional look at the DCU’s most singularly awful containment facilities. Kept drugged up to the eyeballs Mitch is treated as just another standard patient, who’s only aspiration is to kill himself- he claims it’ll prove the existence of his powers, his doctors aren’t quiet so sure. This makes for an interesting story, that moves away from the dark view of the character we got last month.
Suicide Squad #6
Written by Adam Glass
Art by Tom Raney
Cover by Paul RenauldThe most disturbing single page panel I’ve seen for a long while this month. To echo one of the characters “Since when does Harley have a transvestite goon squad?”
I’m enjoying the sheer spectacle of Suicide Squad, if nothing else. I can’t tell if it’s the morbid fascination of a car crash TV or something more genuine. It’s hard to pin down anything that makes the series worth recommendation, and I wouldn’t recommend it as such. Very much a try it and see series, out of all the 52. The ties to the larger DCU are clear as Harley attempts to retrieve the Joker’s face from Gotham. Quite how that’s going to go down, we’ll see next month.
Written by Scott Lobdell
Art by R.B. Silva and Rob Lean
Cover by Shane Davis and Jonathan GlapionMore punching first, questions later this month as Superboy runs across Supergirl. A surprisingly equal fight all things considered. Picking up from the end of Teen Titans #5 Superboy is at odds with NOWHERE and sets out to take them down at last. Next month promises to be good with Superboy and Rose Wilson facing off.
Batman & Robin #6
Frankenstein: Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #6
Mister Terrific #6
The Huntress #5
Written by Paul Levitz
Art by Marcus To and John Dell
Cover by Guillem MarchA gorgeously done covert assault on the residence of asylum seeking former dictator Inshallah that paints Huntress as both more than capable, but balances this with a level of fallibility that means she doesn’t feel as tediously omnipotent as Batman. With one issue to go it promises to have been a stylish if slightly empty mini series.
Penguin: Pain and Prejudice #5
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art and cover by Szymon KudranskiSadly this issue sees the end of what has been a spectacular series. I’m not all together sure what is going on on the cover, but it does look awesome. The Penguin launches his grand assault on Gotham, while Batman tries to stop the attacks at their source. There’s some truly nasty business perpetrated by Oswald, and Batman gets some of his best scenes when not apparently present (you’ll understand when you read it).
It’s violence and revelations this month, as we find out who separated Hulk and Banner (with adamantium chainsaw brain surgery (a sentence I thought I’d never write))
Certainly the maddest comics you’ll read this week, if not this month. It’s hard to say more without spoiling it, but I’m really enjoying he Hulk story line going in this direction rather than a series of increasingly more impressive foes being punched (*cough* Red Hulk *cough*). Quiet what will happen with Bruce and Hulk will be interesting to see develop.
More deaths this week as the toll from the chemical attacks rises. Sadly feeling a bit like filler, the Judges are still on the backfoot, even as Mega City One goes into lockdown.
Grey Area- Feel the Noise Pt 2
“Exploding goddamn heads” The ETC are tasked with going into the alien rock festival and “ask them to turn the music down”. This isn’t going to end well. Communication without voices is handled very nicely (think how difficult doing a comic is without voice bubbles and while still needing to move a story along).
Nikolai Dante- The Wedding of Jena Makarov Pt 6
A narrow escape for Dante as he effects his escape and the revolutionary army begins its assault. Meanwhile the wedding continues. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see how things pan out next week.
Absalom- Ghost of London Pt 4
More of London’s horror filled past crawls out the woodwork, as Absalom visits his former boss, and the others pay a visit to a very private bar to break some heads and try and find the man at the centre of the trouble.
Strontium Dog- The Project Pt 6
The hunt for answers continues, as Johnny and Middenface get one step closer to whoever has put the bounty on their heads. The voices Johnny is hearing are getting more insistent, and next week promises some revelations.
Thief Of Thieves #1
Written by Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer
Art by Shawn MartinbroughA cracking first issue that balances introducing characters with leaving an awful lot still in the air. The opening scenes are brilliantly paced, with the reader not being quiet in enough on the theft to know how things will work out, which adds to the story. We get a demonstrative lecture on stealing cars and a final page that blows apart whatever status quo was being built. All in all a very good first issue.
Valen The Outcast #1&2
Written by Micheal Alan Nelson
Art by Matteo ScaleraI was initially sceptical of this series, but it has picked up with issue #2. Set in a a fantasy world the Valen (fighter), our titular hero, is a former King, bought back to life by necromancy, and fighting against the sorcerer who raised him from the dead. Sadly not everyone believes him to be rebelling against his creator’s will and he faces prejudice on his travels. Accompanied by Zjanna (mage) and Cordovan (rouge?) he travels across his former kingdom to face his maker. Shot through with violence, horror, internal armour, lenient risk assessment, and burning pigs I’m impressed so far.
So what’s the best of the week. For the 52 Demon Knights comes out far and away on top, with Batgirl second, and Batwoman a disappointing third. The other books in the 52 are probably more of a question of personal taste than anything else but all continue previous form, with the exception of Green Lantern and its art change. Pain and Prejudice finish nicely, while Huntress feels as though a 6th issue may be a stretch. 2000AD lacks the punch of previous months overall, but Nikolia Dante and Absalom shine as bright as any bigger name stories. Hulk continues down its own insane path and your mileage may vary following it. Thief of Thieves and Valen are both good, in very different ways and it’ll be interesting to watch them grow in comparison to the books from the big two.