Batman Annual #1
One of the better annuals to come out of DC recently, this book is an anthology of holiday themed Batman stories by Tom King, Scott Snyder, Paul Dini, Steve Orlando and Scott Bryan Wilson.
King shows us the history of the current Ace the Bat-Hound, Snyder gives Batman a silent night, Dini returns to Harley Quinn, Orlando has Batman protecting a Christmas village, and Wilson sees Batman investigate a mysterious gingerbread smell.
Being sincerely holiday themed, these stories are all a bit lighter than usual, which I can’t say I mind at all, and there are more moments of levity here than in almost the past year of Batman. I always appreciate a dog story for one, and all of these stories, like most great holiday specials, remind us of the promise of the season: kindness, patience, good-will; which are ideals that are very superhero adjacent.
It’s a *cute* collection of Batman stories. Definitely not for every fan, but a treat for those open to it.
Superman Annual #1
After noticing that the land around his farm is dying, Superman investigates only to find Swamp Thing investigating him. Swamp Thing tells Superman that he – or rather, his vibrating at a different dimensional frequency than everything else – is creating a disturbance, and that Superman has to either leave or be cleansed.
I like this story perfectly well, except for the weirdness of the resolution. Thematically, it’s fine, having Superman finally accept this new Earth as his home and his role as its Superman is beautifully told and illustrated. But all of the stuff about the vibrational frequencies and Superman’s rate of solar absorption and all the other comics-science mumbo jumbo confuses what’s ultimately an emotional conflict. It feels like this is a story made to fit the extra size of an annual rather than a story that needed the extra room to be told, thus the mumbo-jumbo and the extended fight between Supes and Swampy that has no character-based reason to continue as long as it does.
Ms. Marvel #13
This issue is a tragedy.
Not that it’s a bad issue, albeit a little preachy at times; but it’s too late. It’s an issue about voting in US elections that came out 22 days after election day. It features a Trump parody that with ties to a fascist group that, despite cheating, loses the election in the face of record high voter turnout.
Ms. Marvel shows us the beautiful dream of representative democracy that we decided to violently wake up from.
Prince Robot has nightmares about his failures as a father and a man that he thinks only Alana can cure, Marko’s lookout on the battlegrounds of Phang remind him of the first time he killed, and Gwen gives the Wings a weapon that could destroy Phang.
This is one of those quietly dark issues of Saga, one of the ones where nobody dies, but you know that doesn’t mean they’ll survive, either. In her narration, Hazel describes her family as a rope, and we’re seeing it fray more and more, with the toll of endless running and war getting ever and ever greater.