Not a lot of patterns to pick out from this week's batch. Supergirl still struggles to cure cancer, Raven gets a boooyfriend, the Atom gets introspective, Scarface finds a softer lap, House of Mystery changes its forwarding address, Mother of Champions goes on over-breed and BKV informs us that Bush sucks-- well, read on:
ALL-NEW ATOM #23
(Rick Remender / Pat Olliffe)
'Inside Out' part 3.
Remender takes a 180 degree turn from Simone's funny offbeat sci-fi to a pure pulp oddity sci-fiction. The Atom travels inside his blood sample to rescue his friends who got eaten by a germ he enlarged from his blood and let loose in Ivy Town. Odd huh!
But wait: they've been trapped there for 8 years? Is that an alien landscape inside the Atom's blood? It took 3 issues, but I'm officially sold on the new direction of the book, I'm biting hard into the horror under-tones, the building mysteries, the beautiful Ladronn covers and the heavy exposition pseudo-science talk.
CROSSING MIDNIGHT #18
(Mike Carey / Jim Fern / Jose Villarubia)
'The Sword in the Heart' part 2. One short breath from the finale and Mike Carey lets loose in a blood-bath battle of epic proportions. The tragedy that is at the core of the book is still staggering: a girl (granted divine power over knives and all sharp edges) has lost her memories and is pitted to kill her twin brother (with the divine heritage to cancel out any magic with a touch), who she believes to be a ruthless killer wearing her face to taunt and confuse her. The absence of a proper inker still hurts the art after the switch to digital inking, even though Villarubia's color palette is always unmatched in the industry.
DETECTIVE COMICS #844
(Paul Dini / Dustin Nguyen / Derek Fridolfs)
The sizzling new Ventriloquist gets an extended -and tediously wordy- origin story in the form of a massive info-dump to tied-up hostage Bruce Wayne. I'll be honest, I skimmed through most of it, but it still made for an impressive re-introduction, and a villain I'd definitely like to see more of in the future. The Zatanna-Batman romance on the other hand... I'm glad it's over, and it still doesn't make sense in the greater Bat-continuity sense as Wayne has been dating Jezebel Jet for a year now in the Morrison title. Between her and mother-of-his-child Talia, I'd have hoped he had his hands full.
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #1
(Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges / Ross Campbell & Luca Rossi)
'Room & Boredom' part 1. Yeah, that sums it up nicely...
A relaunch of DC's classic horror anthology. Now, there's a weird confluence afoot. House of Mystery used to star the biblical Cain (while his brother Abel acted as narrator to the sister title House of Secrets, also later relaunched as a Vertigo series). The Cain & Abel comics characters are more familiar to people through Neil Gaiman's Sandman and later the Dreaming where they were both regular cast members.
Now HoM is relaunched, Cain does play a small part, but the House itself is taken from him, and transformed into... well, essentially the core concept of the World's End inn from Sandman. An inn where travelers stumble open and the only currency is stories and mysteries.
The framing inn sequence takes up most of the issue, weaving in and out of a confusing chase narrative about a girl with the house's blueprints. I didn't make sense of it the first time through, and honestly didn't care enough for the writing or the art to go through it again. The real pull of the issue comes near the end with the actual Mystery of the issue (by Bill Willingham and cult favourite artist Ross Campbell (WETMOON)), starring a girl who moves to a town populated by insects, sets her home, gets married to one and well... it's definitely worth the cover price just for these 5 disturbing pages, the amazing pay-off immediately following them in the inn setting,and of course the stunning Sam Weber cover. I hope the stories become more focused in future issues.
INFINITY INC #9
(Pete Milligan / Pete Woods)
'The Bogeyman' part 2. News of this title's cancellation with issue 12 surprised noone; the fault lies squarely on DC editorial for this turn of events though. Saddling the title with an amateur artist for its launch, switching to a different artist and a forced superhero corps look half-way through (these costumes are so 90s it hurts) and failing to promote the book in the slightest throughout its short run.
Meanwhile, Milligan has been working his usual magic, piling up the weirdness and creating a cast of intriguing psychiatric headcase super-teens: an annoying jock manifesting his nervoses as identical copies of himself, a stuttering boy who transforms into a super-powered woman, an approval-seeking girl who cuts herself to cut the world around her, and so forth... The super-Freuds!
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED #45
(Alexander Grandet / Scott Cohn)
Gorilla Grodd, blackmail, power-dampeners... yadda-yadda. Worth a look if only for your weekly Good Girl Mary Marvel and Booster Gold fix. Also, check out the powerless Superman riding the elevator:
(Peter J. Tomasi / Don Kramer & Rags Morales)
'Freefall' part 5.
Forget the unavoidable Nightwing-punches- crooks- in-the-subway -train sequence. Leaf through the Dick-Talia morals and politics exchange. Do buy this issue for the wonderful examination of the Great Ten's 'Mother of Champions' which opens the issue. A super- heroine who never ventures into battles; instead she accepts one arranged suitor after another in order to give birth to litter after litter of super-powered fast-aging children who fly blindly into battle and to their deaths. A shocking and tragic narrative that's easily the highlight of this week's DC batch.
RANN-THANAGAR HOLY WAR #1
(Jim Starlin / Ron Lim / Rob Hunter)
A space epic mess, jumping constantly between Rann, Earth, Hardcore Station and ThroneWorld, picking up crumbs from 52, Countdown to Adventure, Rann-Thanagar War and Mystery In Space. Sheesh. Why not just give Starlin an ongoing series and let him run crazy in space?
Very wordy and convoluted in places, falling in tangled DC continuity traps (a scene with Robin excusing Starfire from Teen Titans duty to join the space mission is a sweet gesture -- only that Starfire hasn't been with the TT for years, and has just started appearing in the new Nightwing-led Titans mess of a title), struggling under the weight of the immense cast and guest-stars (9 headliners, plus the JLA and the Titans!)-- but still full of Ron Lim in his prime (not since X-Men 2099 have I enjoyed his work so) and some fun gems such as Starman's approach to Bizarro.
(Kelley Puckett / Ron Randall & Drew Johnson / Ray Snyder)
'Way of the World' part 2. Supergirl gets through another painful lesson in... wait for it... the Ways of the World! Sneaky title there. Fervorously trying to cure a young boy's cancer, she first seeks out Resurrection Man and then the villain doctor Tektite. Sadly, more punching than philosophizing this issue, although the wordless image of the patrolling Superman is still as haunting as Supergirl's naive questioning to the man who can't die: 'Why aren't you the happiest man I've ever met?'.
EX MACHINA #35
(Brian K. Vaughan / Tony Harris)
'Dirty Tricks' part 1.
Finally caught up with most of the title, seeing as how it's the one remaining source fo rour monthly BKV comics fix. The new storyline sees Mayor Hundred preparing for President Bush's visit to NYC. The Ex Machina last-page twist? A super-powered bike rider parachutist starting a super-slur campaign in the mot delightfully BKV way.
Hooked yet again.
(Marv Wolfman / Damion Scott / Robert Campanella)
Relentlessly wordy, even at leafing-through speed.
Raven gets deeper involved in her new life as a high school student life, she meets a booooooy she liiiiiikes and tries to figure out who is gunning down her schoolmates, and why she keeps having prophetic dreams about it. But mostly this issue, she talks to a boy and has a seance. Wolfman is clearly reaching to mkae Raven relatable, but that defeats her main appeal as a mystery/shady character. I refuse to trash the art for yet another month. It is what it is.