Comic Reviews 12/7/16

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Batman #12

After Catwoman’s betrayal, Batman once again has to infiltrate Santa Prisca and get into Bane’s throne room.

This issue is clearly in response to issue #10, with Batman writing a letter back to Selina elucidating the shared experience that draws them together. This narration makes up close to every word in the book, all of it a monologue straight from Batman.

In a way, it’s Bruce defending his raison d’etre by owning the ridiculousness of Batman, how silly it is that a billionaire dresses like a Bat to punch crime in the face. And through that, he puts into relief his attraction to Selina, a woman who took the term “cat-burglar” at face value. Of course it gets melodramatic at parts, but that’s honestly to be expected from superhero comics, especially Batman. He’s definitively un-subtle about who he is.

And all of this plays out over Batman at his Batman-iest. Reading this issue is almost like watching speed-run an Arkham game, showing us every step in how Batman methodically races towards Bane, expertly dodging, weaving, punching, kicking, and grappling-hooking his way through Santa Prisca a second time.

 

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Nightwing #10

Dick Grayson moves to Bludhaven, in part to distance himself from the complexities of his time as a spy for Spyral and the Owls, in part to find out who he is under the mask, and in part to defend the up-and-coming city from the darkness that still lives between its neon lights.

It’s weird when a return to something from 20 years ago feels fresh in a comic book, but Nightwing has been out of Bludhaven for so long at this point that having him return to his own city to become his own man is kind of exciting.

And already, Bludhaven is presenting Nightwing with complexities he didn’t expect. The line between good and evil there isn’t as bold as he was hoping, and he again finds himself confronting people living in a gray area.

 

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Green Arrow #12

Oliver Queen, Dinah Lance, and Diggle settle into their new lives as full-time vigilantes by putting their finishing touches on a new tree-house HQ outside Seattle. Meanwhile, the city comes to terms with the return of their personal Robin-Hood, and while many people are thankful for the Green Arrow, there are a few who’d prefer to see him villainized.

I still adore this series dedication to being one of DC’s more light-hearted ongoings, even if by the end of the issue, things take a bit of a darker turn. We’re seeing heroes who really enjoy being heroes in spite of all the trouble it brings them. We’re seeing a couple that can kick-ass, and are unashamed to talk about cuddling. And, we have a return to a Green Arrow who is an unabashed liberal; defending poorer neighborhoods, standing up for the homeless, fighting abusive police, and *convincing* CEOs to make charitable donations.

 

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Superman #12

Lois visits the Editor-in-Chief of Hamilton’s local paper, but their talk is interrupted when Frankenstein bursts through the wall and attacks the EiC. Lois helps them escape, but as Frankenstein continues to chase the “Outcast,” it’s left to Superman to save them.

This issue feels messy in that we’re not really given a good reason for the story to be happening until the ending reveal. Like last week’s Superman Annual, this feels like a fight-scene for fight-scene’s sake. However, I am happy to see Lois continue to kick ass, and there was a fun scene where Superman gets an assist from a dairy-farmer with a shotgun.

This issue isn’t a bad fight, but it feels like the actual story was an afterthought.

 

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Shade the Changing Girl #3

Loma continues to try to adjust to her new life as Megan Boyer, which means re-learning how to swim. Unfortunately, she doesn’t have many friends around to teach her. Meanwhile, on Meta, Lepuck tells a couple more people about where Loma is and what happened to the madness vest.

Loma has to come to terms with the fear she’s facing in her new body, her inability to fit into her new life, and now, with the fact that before she possessed her, Megan was a bully. It’s interesting, having a character wake up to suddenly realize everything about her must change. Also interesting is seeing how her sudden change is affecting everyone else around her – people are unsure who she is anymore and how to behave around her.

The raw emotion of the situation, appropriately enough, is conveyed almost entirely through poetry and meditation. But, as impressively as this series articulates emotion, I’m still unsure of where the story is. I know how Loma feels, but not exactly what she wants out of her life as Megan, which makes it difficult to understand why she’s putting herself though everything she is.

 

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Avengers #2

With most of the Avengers trapped in Limbo due to Kang killing them as babies, the only hope for all of time is for Hercules to find where Vision hid baby Kang before the other Kangs do.

This book looks amazing, but an overuse of white backgrounds and neon effects make some panels a little hard to look at, like the pages themselves are almost too bright – which, admittedly, is really impressive.

Other than the art, nothing really grabs me from this book. It’s a solid enough team book, but there’s no real edge, no melodrama, nothing that really makes me want to keep reading about these character’s exploits on this team.

 

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The Clone Conspiracy #3

Spidey and Gwen escape from NewU, and have to rush over to Horizon to rescue Kaine, clone!Gwen, Anna Maria, and the Horizon scientists from Rhino and the new Electro. And then Peter finds out something surprising about the Jackal.

This issue is a low point in the arc. Spidey and Gwen escape NewU almost too easily, and are too late to really deal with Rhino and Electro. And then the last third of the issue is just a build-up to the ending reveal. Our protagonists feel out of control of the story, but not in a way to further build the threat of the villain. It’s not an outright bad issue, but more than previous pieces of the story, it feels transparently like moving characters around to set them up for a climax instead of characters organically taking actions to further the plot.

 

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Moon Knight #9

Marc Spector confronts his three split personalities, telling them that none of them or their lives are real, and that he needs to take them back now. Not all of them take this well.

This issue feels a lot shorter than it is, and overall feels kind of light because once it begins everything that follows is a foregone conclusion. The book telling us that none of the events of the past few issues really mattered takes a lot of the air outta things, you know, to the point where it’s hard to care about Steven Grant, Jake Lockley, or Space Marc Spector losing their “lives” to rejoin the real Marc.

But it’s also a part of the bigger story that had to happen. Marc had to – more literally than not – collect himself, before confronting bigger threats. It’s less of an anti-climax and more of an ante-climax, a bit of room before the real climax.

 

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The Wicked + The Divine #24

A bit of a slow beginning for the new arc of WicDiv. Laura rings in the New Year with some sex, and then heads over to join Cass at Valhalla to find out more about the machine Ananke had Wodin build, and then Woden shows up asking for some trouble.

The pantheon feels like their wandering a bit. With Ananke gone, nobody’s really sure what the Gods are supposed to do anymore, including them, so they’re mostly behaving how they always have. It’s an issue that really does feel like waking up on January 1st. Everything is the same, but feels newer, a world of possibility you’re too hung-over to really take advantage of until the 3rd.

 

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Uber: Invasion #1

Almost supernaturally timed, Uber: Invasion #1 is here to scream in our face that it can happen here.

This is a very atmospheric first issue, with no main characters, what’s primary job is to introduce the concept and the tone. It’s November 1945, and the Nazis use their superhumans to start a ground invasion of America, and it will get very very ugly. The White House believes that they can turn the tide in Europe. They are wrong. They believe they know the number, location, and status of all the superhumans. They are wrong. They believe the war cannot come to America. They are wrong.

This will likely not be an easy comic book to read, especially considering the people actually moving into the White House next year. But, hopefully, showing an a fictional Nazi invasion of the US might help some readers wake up to what’s going on around them.

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