Killer boots, cut-off jeans of vengeance, wall-clinging heels, twirling moustaches, ear fingers, finger eyes, evil mini-skirts and Hypno-Pollen! DC's having a good week, read all about it:
BIRDS OF PREY #117
(Sean McKeever / Nicola Scott / Doug Hazlewood)
Matt Morrison coined it first: 'Darrrk Vennnngeance' is the new 'Leroy Jenkins'! Misfit officially joins the main team as she flies solo (and in unparalleled style) to save Manhunter from her freakshow kidnappers.
COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS #1 (Paul Dini & Keith Giffen / Tom Derenick)
That's it? After 52 issues, countless hopping around alternate realities and following inane personal oddysseys, our 'protagonists' have failed to play but a minor part (mostly audience) in the climax of their grand adventure. In this epilogue everyone gets a page to look back at what's happened to them, and embrace their new stations in life: for Jimmy, Jason, Harley, and Holly it means no change at all; for the 'Challengers' it's a fake new status quo 'monitoring the monitors' which makes zero sense power-wise in the big balance of things, and even less (is that minus?) sense considering who's involved and how they're already attached to other team projects; I guess Piper and Buddy Blank are the only ones who got out of this with any promise left in them.
Just look at that cover. Is there a more boring assemblage of characters imaginable? Have we been made to care for any of these people? Now that's it's officially over, and DC can no longer evade with statements like 'wait and see' we can officially announce this project a dud and a waste of everyone involved's time and effort (readers and creators alike).
(Bill Willingham / Mark Buckingham)
'Skullduggery' part 2 (of 2). It's Cinderella: Super-Secret Spy, kicking ass and taking names! I wouldn't have believed this particular fairytale princess capable of this level of action and espionage, but she proves me wrong here with her mod outfits, impressive roundhouse kicks and deadly use of -wait for it- footwear.
SECRET HISTORY OF THE AUTHORITY: HAWKSMOOR #2
(Mike Costa / Fiona Staples)
How is Jack Hawksmoore currently my favourite super-hero. How does this happen? How do you take someone with a seriously 'Warren Ellis'-class weird super-power and flat personality and make him into this amazingly relatable, intriguing noir super-detective, who has affairs with cities, has buildings for pets and investigates a crime scene by asking the floor how much the murderer weighed.
I don't care if everything else Wildstorm publishes gets cancels, please give this guy and creative team their ongoing series.
THE SPIRIT #16
(Sergio Aragones & Mark Evanier / Paul Smith)
The star creator of 'Leave It To Chance' and one of the most influential X-Men artists of the 80s. It's a treat to see new work from Paul Smith (a mini here, some fill-in issues there). After Cooke himself, I can't imagine a more suitable artist to pick up the regular duties of the Spirit book. The series offers self-contained stories feauring Eisner's legendary character, in a contemporary setting, but losing none of the charm that made him so popular in his original landmark series. This issue involves the murder mystery of a movie star during the shooting of a war movie, and has the Spirit infiltrating a Hollywood studio with all the intrigue, sex scandals and silly masquerades one would expect to follow.
(Grant Morrison / Ryan Benjamin / Saleem Crawford)
Batman stories today don't get more classic than this.
The cliche setting: the hero in his civilian identity, the girlfriend (jet-setter Jezebel Jet), the villain ('the Fiend with Nine Eyes': the blindfolded terrorist leader who sees through the tatooed eyes on his 9 remaining fingers), a public setting (penthouse restaurant with exclusive clientelle). It all leads beat-by-beat, with perfect timing, to the iconic reveal in the ending in an unforgettable sequence. Bravo. I've included the final pages to push my point across:
DC SUPER-FRIENDS #2
(Sholly Fisch / Joe Staton / Horacio Ottolini)
So... they actually call themselves the 'DC Super-Friends' in the story? Oh, I just feel mean picking on a kids' comic! It's Super-Heroes versus Dinosaurs let loose in NYC! Solid action for younger readers but nothing to really interest anyone over 13. Check out the way cool Super-Friends Membership Pledge Card though!
DEATH OF NEW GODS #8
(Jim Starlin / Jim Starlin / Art Thibert)
Well, this makes little to no sense. Superman bears witness to the battle between Darkseid, the Source and the mute spirit of Orion (who's supposedly died a few issues ago? no idea). In the end Darkseid escapes alive, Orion is still mute and there's an intriguing new status quo for the two planets of the New Gods.
Meanwhile over in Countdown the last few weeks, the long-boiling hunt against Darkseid was decided with first Jimmy Olsen, then Superman and finally a very talkative, alive and berserker Orion going up against him, ending in Darkseid's death.
So, um... What happened? Was it an editorial mix-up? Did one issue come before the other? Is Darkseid alive or dead? Is Jack Kirby really spinning in his grave?
(Dwayne McDuffie / Ethan Van Sciver)
About time! The JLA title has been treading water since Metzler's departure, with the wedding, the tedious Injustice League story and then yet another Salvation Run faux-tie-in. This issue finally shows promise: McDuffie is on his feet providing a significant vignette starring Wonder-Woman checking in on the Flash's leave of absence from the team.
There's almost too many highlights to list here: the ultimate 'Flash extinguishing a fire' scene (with actual beat-by-beat pseudo-scientific reasonings), Flash's internal monologue making himself and Diana more relatable as characters (capturing the awe that someone like Flash, a former Titan/third-generation hero, would feel towards a major-leaguer like Diana), the 70s-tastic Queen Bee and her mindless bee-headed drones, and just about any intimate close-up panel featuring Van Sciver's staggering Wonder Woman. Seriously, it had a worse effect than Hypno-Pollen (how cool, btw).