All-Star Batman #8
Piecing together the mystery that began with Mr. Freeze in the arctic and continued with Ivy in the desert has led Batman to the newest hideout of Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter, who has been supplying the strike team that’s been shadowing Batman with their tech. But, as always, closing in on Tetch takes Batman through the looking glass.
Snyder continues to use a more prose style with this arc; there’s no direct dialogue, and everything in this issue is in the past tense. He also blends in some surrealist and post-modern elements, with only changes in lettering letting the reader know of abrupt changes in perspective from Batman to the Hatter. Snyder also manages to even take the audience for a ride with questions of what’s real and what’s just in Bruce’s head, partly by writing parts of what may only be Bruce’s imagination in the same “everything is connected” style that he has relied on in the past to tie stories together.
Giuseppi Camuncoli brings his bold, thick-lined style to the book, which Dean White saturates with high-key blues and pinks, changing the lighting profile from neon noir to twilight horror as things in Batman’s head go from bad to worse.
Remember some issues ago when Batman one-man-army’d his way through Santa Prisca to get to Bane? In this issue, Bane returns the favor, storming through the inmates of Arkham Asylum to get his revenge on the Bat.
These past couple arcs have been setting up Bane as Batman’s greatest villain, and this issue has him curbstomp almost every other villain in the rogues gallery to prove his dominance. It is admittedly not as fun this time around, as Bane simply isn’t as interesting to watch in action as Batman, and the highlights of the issue all come from all the other villains like Amygdala, Scarecrow, and Riddler reacting to finding themselves in Bane’s path.
Incidentally, why is Maxie Zeus quoting Dante? Isn’t his shtick ancient Greece? I mean, Virgil is in The Divine Comedy, and he wrote about ancient Greece…but that’s a really tenuous connection.
With Lois having forgotten about Jonathan, and even that she and Clark were in a relationship, Superman challenges Mxyzptlk to one last game, and Mxy raises the stakes to double or nothing. If Supes succeeds in getting to the top of his tower, then he can have his son and his life back; if he fails, then he forgets everything. Along the way, Mxy also drops some hints as to the true nature of this Superman in relation to the New-52 version, and a trapped Jon gets help from a different version of his parents.
I really am enjoying how much fun the creative teams on Superman and Action seem to be having with Mxyzptlk, who works as an excuse for the writers to be as meta and self-referential as they want to be, while giving artists carte-blanche to go full Candyland with the settings, and draw Mxy himself with all sorts of fun proportions and expressions.
Green Arrow #19
Having momentarily beaten back the Wild Dog militia, Ollie and Roy take some time to hash out their histories; Ollie’s with Roy, and Roy’s with his brother.
This issue really effectively shows how much Ollie and Roy have matured since they first met. We see Ollie near the beginning of his Green Arrow career, when he was still more focused on the glory than he was in actually saving people, and Speedy was his happy-go-lucky sidekick; and get to compare that to a much more wizened Oliver and cynical Roy. We see how their immaturity caused them to split apart, but also see how maybe they’ve become the sort of people who could work together again, if only Roy would allow Ollie back into is life the same way he wants his brother to invite him back into the tribe.
The Wild Storm #2
The hunt for Angela Spica is on. IO, HALO, and Skywatch – three of the companies/agencies that secretly run the entire world – are after the mystery rocket woman after her debut in the last issue; and that she’s an IO employee using Skywatch tech to save the HALO CEO means that each has a personal stake in finding her first.
The issue cuts between the similarly bare-walled, dilapidated office spaces of the three agencies, a visual representation of how they are more similar than different. Each is also similarly perplexed by Angela, wondering who she is, how much does she know, how did she get the tech, what does she want, etc? Some more familiar names pop-up in this issue, although it still continues the trend of making sure you know this is a completely different story. For us readers, there is still so much more mystery than just that surrounding Spica. The scope of these three agencies is still unknown, nor what their real agendas are; but Ellis’ tightly controlled burn with Davis-Hunt’s meticulous grid layouts provide all we need to remain secure that somebody is always in control here.
Maria wants to send Brigid to investigate a stone circle in Cornwall, England that the FPI wants to use as a cosmic particle detector, and was recently the scene of a grizzly murder; but first she has to convince her.
Brigid, the informatics specialist (and/or hacker) of the Injection team gives Ellis a reason to break out some cool near-future tech, including a contact-lens based HUD for a lapel-pin computer that gives her what is essentially detective-vision from the Arkham games. Brigid is shaping up to be a fun protagonist for this arc, even without the cool toys. Her conversation with Maria lets us know that she’s just as smart, if not smarter, than the other characters we’ve already been introduced to, just as much as a know-it-all, but is also more of a homebody. She spends a majority of the issue sitting slouched in a single corner, telling Maria exactly what she wants done so that its worth leaving her house to go there. What can I say? She’s relatable.
As with most early issues of anything Ellis writes, there is multitudes more we don’t know than we do already, and there’s no telling where he plans to take us in this chapter of Injection, but I’m as excited as ever to go.