As DC is want to do when there are five Wednesdays in a month today sees an odd assortment of issues released.
Animal Man Annual #1
Written by Jeff Lemire
Pencilled by Timothy Green II
Inked by Joseph Silver
Coloured by Lovern Kindzieski
Lettered by Jared K Fletcher
Cover Travel ForemanThe cover is a bit of a cheat, leading the reader to jump to a false conclusion. This issue doesn’t see the current Animal Man and Swamp Thing fighting the Rot, instead we get the tale of a previous collaboration. Onto that shortly.
In a bit of brief respite Maxine convinces Socks to explain a bit more about the Red the Green and the Rot. Into this very nicely presented bit of world building and background we get the story of Jacob Mullins, who was the equivalent of Animal Man in 1894. In Canada. This means Mounties (woo). There’s an intervention by that era’s Swamp Thing, and it’s interesting to see the interplay.
It’s a nice stand alone story that serves to expand the world very well, without being a keystone that’d be a problem to miss.
Batman Annual #1
Written by Scott Synder and James Tynion IV
Art and Cover by Jason Fabok
Colours by Peter Steigerwald
Letters by Sal CiprianoIt’s a surprisingly dark opening, all things considered, that sees the genesis of young Victor Fries’ obsession with the cold.
Following his run in with Red Hood and the Outlaws, Mr Freeze has been moved to Arkham where there’s clearly no better time for a psychologist to have a chat with him. A remarkably well informed chat, given the speed of events. Although I have missed a piece or two of the Night Of The Owls, so I can’t talk from a bastion of confidence.
Fries was originally a Wayne employ, where he worked in the cryogenics department, and tried to find a way to revive his wife. Bruce Wayne wants to close down the cryogenics department, and from there you can pretty much guess the drill. Lab accident, superpowers, villainy (profit).
Unsurprisingly Fries makes an escape attempt (within only a handful of hours of being captured.) Why don’t they just chain all the villains to a wall and have Batman play wack- a-mole, beating them unconscious as they wake up.
This leads to interruption by Nightwing and Robin suggests a weird timeline to things, and then Batman gets a look in, as the man who is always right, but this is very much Victor’s issue.
The character is a different one from the Freeze of old, as there is a twist to the familiar tale.
The Ravagers #1
Written by Howard Mackie
Art by Ian Churchill
Inked by Norm Rapmuno with Ian Churchill
Coloured by Alex Sollazzo
Lettered by Dezi SientyThere’s a bit of artistic licence on the cover for Dr Fairchild, which is a shame given how, mostly, sensibly she’s rendered inside.
Following on from Teen Titan #10 Warblade and Rose Wilson are in pursuit of the escapies from Harvest’s facility, and are fully prepared to kill them. To demonstrate this point there’s a few expendable extras. As possibly given away by the cover the “two dozen kids” Caitlin escapes with aren’t going to last long.
There’s a lot of tension within the group and no one really trusts each other, which is wholly understandable given the mix of jailers, not rally evil scientist, tormentors and victims. It’s not a mix of people that are going to bond instantly even with the dramatic circumstances.
Dialogue and art is good, and there’s a vein of humour in there as well. It’s a good first issue, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.
The New Deadwardians #3
Writen by Dan Abnet
Art by I.N.J. Culbard
Colours by Patricia Mulvihill
Lettering by Travis LanhamChief Inspector George Suttle goes into Zone B, where he is dangerously out of place, and a little off balance. The existence of zombies and vampires is commented on with the line “Yet we are so alike in our lifeless lives. I am eternal and sentient. They are enduring and mindless. But otherwise we are all equally dead” which sets the tone for this issue, as we see the living’s reaction to a vampire in their midst. This issue gives us the other side of Deadwardian London, where the humans live segregated from the vampires, with the majority in the working class Zone B, travelling to work in Zone A, before returning at the end of their shift. There’s opportunist and resentment, and saddle on that is the added problem of George being an officer of the law, something apt not to make him friends of many folk.
The issue mixes things together nicely, moving the investigation forward while also given the world more depth and really making clear some of the divides within the class system with the Undead inserted into the pyramid of privilege.
Skipped To The End…
Animal Man continues to impress month on month and the Annual keeps up this track record. Batman feels a bit hit and miss, as does the Ravagers. New Deadwardians is keeping my interest, and I look forward to seeing how the cliff hanger is resolved.