Scott Reviews The New 52 (And Other Stuff Too!) – 01.10.12
Sorry for the lateness, but life happens. Another week, another new title to be added to the pull-list.
Scarlet Spider #1
Marvel’s Point One special was kind of dogshit, but the Scarlet Spider section was intriguing as hell and he’s got the best tagline in comics now. All the power, and none of the responsibility indeed. Oddly enough, the last time that finances and crappy stories led me to dropping my comic habit, it was Ben Reilly getting killed off that was catalyst. Luckily they didn’t exhume the body for this new series, instead going with a repaired and perhaps less sociopathic Kaine.And this was EXACTLY what I was looking for. This was a very cinematic comic, complete with opening credits like a movie and big widescreen setpieces. Kaine, healed up after Spider Island and on the run, finds himself in Houston killing bad guys and learning that webshooters are pretty cool. One quick shave and haircut later and he’s smashing trucks to save little old ladies. Turns out that jumping onto a speeding truck from the top of a building has a bad effect on the driver. Much like the origin story in the movies, the hero doesn’t jump into the tights quite yet, which leaves it feeling like something out of the Ultimate line. Also, it’s not really Kaine, since the look is now different, the costume will be different, and his powers have completely changed. So it’s not really ideal for us nostalgic Clone Saga nerds, but damn if it wasn’t a tremendous #1 issue and (re)introduction to the character.
Green Lantern #5
Geoff Johns continues to pump out addictive comic book junk food that I can’t stop buying despite myself. So yeah, the cliffhanger from last issue, with an army of pissed off Korugans armed with Green Lantern rings against Sinestro, kind of fizzles away as you’d expect, but then we get into the meat of the issue. Hal and Sinestro travel back to the big yellow lantern again because Hal apparently didn’t do whatever he was supposed to do properly last time. And Sinestro makes a slightly ominous remark about how Hal getting his molecules rearranged didn’t do anything HARMFUL per se, and you just know that one is gonna get explored pretty quick. So mission accomplished, and Hal gets dumped back on Earth with a ring and this time his quest is to find a lantern to charge it with. And meanwhile, the Guardians are readying their third wave of cosmic police, who will pretty much murder all the Lanterns once and for all and start fresh. OK then. Somewhat surprisingly, the status quo was not restored at the end of this first story arc, as Sinestro is still a full-fledged Green Lantern and not a terrible person all things considered, and Hal is definitely not Green Lantern again. I’m still interested…DAMMIT. I want to drop this book and I just can’t.
This one I of course have no desire to drop, ever. It feels like this book and Flash are duking it out every month to see who can raise the bar higher for amazing artwork, although Batwoman is still winning the actual writing contest. Here alone, there’s an amazing bit of artistic trickery from Williams, as the Batwoman sequences are “filmed” in a photorealistic style with dreamy details, and then when we move to Kate Kane’s apartment suddenly the artwork turns into clean and brightly lit “normal” artwork. It’s such an amazingly jarring change that I had to go back and make sure it wasn’t a different artist doing the Kate portions. We wrap up the spooky ghost story portion as Batwoman works through her grief about her dead twin sister and beats the baddie through love. Totally not how Batman would deal with it, but she’s a different sort of person. However, it turns out that there’s a bigger organization behind The Weeping Woman, and not coincidentally Cameron Chase and Mr. Bones show up to blackmail Kate into working for the DEO to chase that criminal organization. Again, I don’t think Batman would have made that particular play, but that’s why he’s the goddamned Batman. Considering what a great series Chase was before it got brutally cut down by cancellation, I’m all for recreating it with Batwoman as the new star, because there’s a lot of potential for fun storylines here. This title continues to impress.
On the other hand, I still don’t know why this book even needs to exist. We’ve already got Batwoman and it’s not like this Barbara-as-Batgirl thing is leading to stories that are intrinsically more interesting than they would have been with her as Oracle. In fact, now she’s just a generic ass-kicking superheroine again, which I think is far less interesting. Gail Simone tries to add all sorts of little touches of weirdness to this new arc, as we meet a mind-bending villainess named Gretel who controls important people into reciting “338” over and over and killing people. Bruce Wayne is also one of the controlled, which means that it’s yet another guest appearance by the hardest-working Batman in comics next month. Pretty soon “The New 52” will only refer to the amount of Bat-books on the shelves every month at the rate they’re going. This is all fine, a totally passable superhero comic book, but the elephant in the room still remains: How did Barbara go from wheelchair-bound Oracle into walking and gymnastic Batgirl again? And isn’t THAT a far more interesting story to tell than all this other generic comic nonsense? Yeah, she’s got mommy and daddy issues and a spunky roommate and blah blah blah, but she was shot in the SPINE and now she’s up and superheroing again! Tell me that story!
Batman & Robin #5
Speaking of people with daddy issues, this book continues with the, uh, mother of all daddy issues. So to speak. Damian, having been seduced to the dark(er) side by Morgan “Nobody” Ducard, now has to prove his worth. You’d think being trained by the League of Assassins would suffice, but that’s why I’m not the international assassin. Damian is a pretty dark kid already, so it’s hard to get the sense of whether he’s actually falling into Nobody’s spell or if he’s just cynically playing the guy. The other half of the story sees Bruce Wayne reminiscing about the secret origin of Morgan (and his father Henri, who kind of shot up the villain charts after kinda-sorta-but-not-really being in Batman Begins), and it’s actually a pretty intriguing backstory. Spies in love, interracial assassins, cold war intrigue…all good stuff. This is no Batman, but it’s a really good Batman book and would probably be the best one in a world without Scott Snyder.
Stuff I also read without having enough of an opinion to review: Superboy #5, Frankenstein #5, Deadpool #49, Dead or Alive #1 (zombies and cowboys, what more can you say really?) and I’m slowly working through back issues of Brubaker’s Criminal series.
The winner is clearly Batwoman, but I'm totally adding Scarlet Spider to the pull list as well. Good week!
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