Comic Reviews 11/9/16 – DC, Clean Room, and Green Valley

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All-Star Batman #4

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not in the mood for an issue where Batman says that things will get better and everyone will be a hero, but this issue didn’t win me over as easily as previous issues.

Following last issue, Two-Face has minorly blinded Batman with acid, and has Bruce and Duke surrounded with his own group of Talons. This first third of the issue is great, continuing this story’s motif of Batman’s ridiculous preparedness that also plays around with the idea of “being blind as a bat.”

After this opening though, once Bruce and Duke recapture Two-Face, the book gets a little messy. The three find and start flying a plane towards their destination, and Bruce takes the time to continue telling Duke about how he met Harvy. It’s exposition that honestly feels more about moralizing than storytelling; at this point, the past isn’t revealing anything about the story to come.

The issue then abruptly cuts into its third act, with Bruce, Duke, and Two-Face surrounded by new villains in an entirely new location, where some stuff that I swear was already explained gets re-explained along with some more character monologing, and then a non-Batman’s gadgets related deus ex machina.

It feels like, in this issue, Snyder decided to use the inertia from the plot to try and keep things going in the background while he develops the characters and themes a bit instead of using that inertia to push things forward by having characters react naturally. I hope this really is a weak issue and I haven’t just noticed this because of my bad mood right now.

 

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Action Comics #967

Well, the opening to this book, about Earth being killed by a monster we created sure feels relevant right about now. And when aliens come to prevent this future hunt down evil billionaire Lex Luthor for causing it, well…it’s maybe a little on the nose.

After the cold open, we find Clark and Jon in the Amazon, where they discover the missing Geneticron HQ, but are still none the wiser about who transported it, how they did so, or why. Meanwhile, in Metropolis, Lois prepares to interview Lex, but their interview is interrupted by the aliens hunting Lex. Superman hears the distress signal and joins the fray, and gets attacked by the aliens for wearing the S-shield, which they think is Luthor’s sigil.

Other than an early digression where Jon asks Clark why he’s not wearing his underwear on the outside anymore, nothing about this issue really grabbed me. I don’t understand the tiny push in the Geneticron plot if this arc is just going to abandon it as it does in this issue, and so much else in this issue feels like filler between the cold open and the last two pages rather than setting up for a story.

 

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Wonder Woman #10

Leave it to Wonder Woman to be the hero that inspires me to tears.

Etta Candy and Steve convince the military to let them take Diana off-base to acclimate her to America, and they take her to a shopping mall. She’s overwhelmed by the amount of people and noises and smells, finally finds a way to communicate with everyone using the golden lasso…and then a shooting breaks out. And Diana saves the day. The focal point of this issue are three pages that show Diana leaping in front of a black family to block the bullets fired by a white gunman.

It’s a classic Wonder Woman image what’s iteration here doesn’t cost it any power. These pages embody the fantasy of the superhero – the desire to have the courage and power to stop today’s tragedies and protect those in danger. It’s the sort of image that should inspire readers, not necessarily to take a bullet for someone else, but to stand up for them, to become a shield. When you see injustice anywhere, you get in its way.

 

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The Flash #10

Kid Flash botches a rescue and endangers lives because he underestimates a villain, and is only saved when the Flash intervenes. But knowing that KF is getting cockly, skipping school, and running with the Teen Titans without his permission, Flash bans him from superheroing until he can trust him. Of course, this only makes Wally want to prove his worth by showing that he can take down villains without Flash’s help. It doesn’t go well…

I am liking how Kid Flash’s problems come from him wanting to be a hero too much rather than just selfishness or wanting glory or any of that. The problem isn’t that Wally is a bad kid, but that he’s a good kid who doesn’t understand the danger he’s putting himself in yet. It does a good job of sympathizing him and differentiating him from the other kid heroes running around now.

And he does have a point, Barry has a bad secret-keeping habit that aggravates his relationships with Iris and Wally.

This issue also reintroduces the Shade, who is a villain I really only know from the DCAU, but strikes me as someone who could be really cool to watch in comics.

 

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Deathstroke #6

After a solid string of great issues, Priest once again goes into bad habits with an issue that feels like a bunch of disconnected, unmotivated plot threads. At least there’s no flashbacks.

Deathstroke and Wintergreen go on a job to rescue Mathayo from a rebellion, and is still holding Richard – the man who took up Deathstroke’s own contract on Rose – hostage. Meanwhile, Rose reconnects with her brother, Joseph (who died in a previous issue?), and tells her that he’s getting married. For some reason, Dr. Ikon doesn’t like this. .

Priest managed to turn this sort of mess into a great story last time, so I trust he’ll be able to do it again, but it’s very frustrating that every five issues or so of this series there might be one almost incomprehensible one.

The dialogue and art is still great, though. Small victories.

 

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Doom Patrol #3

Casey finds herself at Dannyland, a living amusement park capable of creating and sustaining life, where she learns about her past and gets some answers regarding her weird memories. Back at Casey’s apartment, Cliff, Larry, and Terry have a meeting with a thing from the negative space.

The series keeps on getting weirder, explaining some things while adding new mysteries. Dannyland is a very fun new setting/character, and their relationship to Casey is an interesting idea nugget. I do like the comic-within-a-comic conceit in this issue, with narration boxes being used for straight dialogue, and the homages to classic comic books imagery.

Still, I wish this series were just a touch less up-itself about how weird it is, and would just explain some basic stuff. Like, we still know next to nothing about any character who isn’t Casey, for instance, but they keep on doing shit – unmotivated – and shit keeps on happening to them.

 

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Mother Panic #1

Like a lot of recent #1’s, this one feels like half of a real introduction, like a comic long prologue. And what’s it with so many comic writers nowadays forgetting to give their main characters a real motivation!? Basic shit. It doesn’t have to be big, just enough to get us from one end of the issue to another, but no, every character has to be “mysterious.”

But maybe I’m complaining too much. What is here is at least superficially interesting. Violet Paige is a celebutant that moonlights as…we don’t know if she’s a vigilante yet because WE DON’T KNOW HER MOTIVATION…but she wears a pretty neat looking robot suit with pointy-ears and a cape and hunts down this one guy’s bodyguard because he saw some art. The art in question was produced by an artist that we see kill someone and paint with their blood, so presumably that has something to do with Violet’s mission though no real connective tissue is set up yet. Also the story takes place in Gotham, so Batman’s in it.

The art style of the book is a great fit for the R-rated “fuck Batman” tone the story really wants to capture, with a dark palette and scratchy line-work. But without the backbone of a real story here, it really just seems like edgy for edgy’s sake.

 

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Clean Room #13

This issue isn’t subtle, throwing a full splash of a scarred-up burned face right on page three, which by now should be expected. And of course, it finishes on a comically horrible doozy.

But, for an issue of Clean Room, this book was fairly tame. As one of the first orders of business now that she’s back at the head of her company, Astrid punishes Duncan and Killian for their actions in the last arc. Meanwhile, Chloe tries to return to her normal life in Florida with her neighbors and new detective boyfriend, but Astrid comes knocking.

In a way, there’s a bit of a “getting the band back together” feel to the issue, with characters reuniting after some time has passed, trying to understand changes to old relationships while dealing with new developments. Astrid and Chloe in particular move forward in their strange partnership, with Astrid wanting to make Chloe a more and more essential part of her mission.

 

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Green Valley #2

Well, this issue was a let down. This entire issue feels like it could have been five minutes of a movie, and not even a good five minutes. It’s basically an issue-long transition.

We get a few pages of the Knights of Kelodia, one year after their village was razed, just kind of faffing about. A kid comes asking for their help defeating a wizard and dragons. They argue among themselves about whether magic and dragons really exist and whether or not to help the kid. They settle on helping him and ride their horses to just outside the kid’s hometown. That’s it. This should have been 4 pages on the back of the first issue, not its own thing.

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