Having recovered from being stabbed, Riddler declares that he will kill the Joker. Joker demands Carmine Falcone to kill the Riddler before Riddler gets the chance. And the war begins in earnest, with Batman, for once, steps behind.
The issue begins with Bruce narrating (to Selina), giving the biographies of people the Joker had murdered, and through the entire book, every casualty is given a name and a sentence of characterization. King refuses to let these victims become just mooks in the wake of the supervillians war. And it shows how much this failure weighs on Bruce. He remembers all of them.
Meanwhile, Gotham’s worst choose their side, willingly or through coercion. The worst is yet to come.
Janin and Chung’s art is impeccable, recalling Bolland in certain Joker scenes, and further making all these characters feel like flesh and blood rather than just cartoon casualties.
We’re back to peak Superdad in this issue, as Clark tries to teach Jon how to use his powers responsibly to keep the world safe from threat. But Jon wants to do things his own way.
I’m a sucker for anything with good dads, and this issue is an adorable dad story. Jon is rambunctious and young and itching to be a hero, and Clark is having trouble focusing that without being smothering. And I have bottomless appreciation for Clark not being a perfect father right of the bat, because it isn’t something you can solve with powers; it requires goodness and practice.
Green Arrow #26
Ollie tracks the Ninth Circle to a mountain range outside Seattle – now Star City – where the wildlife has been infected with the Speed Force. And the disruption the Speed Force summons another hero, the Flash, to help deal with the issue.
Unfortunately, this issue isn’t as strong as its heroic team-up might lead you to believe. It’s not bad, but coming off the series’ last arc, this issue feels too light – almost frivolous – until a penultimate page reveal points our heroes towards their next goal. It feels like a one-and-done type story that’s being stretched and squeezed between the end of the last arc and the beginning of the next one, and consequently, this issue doesn’t feel like it had room to justify its own existence as, essentially, a segue.
I’m of two minds about Byrne’s art in this issue. I’m a big fan of bold, saturated, cartoony styles, but this art is begging to be animated, and because it isn’t, it feels lifeless, frozen in place. The art in this book doesn’t so much imply movement as it feels like keyframe art minus the other 21 frames a second. I honestly might have liked this issue better as a five minute short than a single-issue comic.
Following from last issue, Kate confronts her father, who looks 20 years too young, and is in league with Madame Masque. And, in a parallel story taking place a few hours afterwards, a beaten and tired Hawkeye investigates into a new case of a young girl’s missing father, which takes her to an underground fight club.
I’m about as equally vulnerable to daddy-issues stories as I am to superdad stories, so consider this issue another win in my book. I like how Kate immediately spots the parallels between her relationship with her dad, and what she sees appearing to happen between her new client and her father, and how that weighs down on her through the issue. Also, like last issue, we’re seeing a Katie struggling to keep it together. She’s physically beat, over-tired, emotionally drained, and is past frayed on the edges to full-on out-of-it. Katie needs a rest, but feels like she can’t stop moving, and it makes her sloppy.
Black Bolt #3
Crusher’s escape plan continues, mostly as intended, with each prisoner – Black Bolt included – doing their part to break out, free other prisoners, and kill their jailers.
Ahmed’s story is propulsive and scant, reaching a state where the plot becomes lost behind organic interactions and reactions between characters. In only three issues, the characterization is so strong that this issue barely feels plotted at all, as though these characters actually existed and were making their own choices. Black Bolt as Crusher’s rivalry is one of the best relationships in comics right now, each coming from diametric backgrounds, but also each having gained a respect for the other.
Ward’s art, again, steals the spotlight, this issue with how it plays with pink and blue contrasts. The contrast creates natural focus points, drawing your eye forward through the issue, the pink a neon light at the end of the jail’s tunnel. Ward also even gets to show us his version of a Kirby machine, and it’s an absolute stunner of a thing.
Uber: Invasion #7
The Americans deploy a secret weapon to use against Battleship Siegfried during the attempted invasion of Detroit.
That’s really the entire plot of the issue, which acts as basically a single-scene climax for this first part of Invasion. The allies bring out their best bet for taking down a Nazi Battleship, and within two minutes of comic time, which is extended to last most of this issue, we find out whether or not it works.
I won’t spoil here exactly how the issue stretches out those two minutes, but the dramatic tension pays off spectacularly. Every “second” hangs pregnant in the air, with the debriefing-like narration making the entire issue feel like a second-by-second play-by-play; as though we were scrubbing footage frame-by-frame to witness the exact turning point in this war.
And, of course, the book doesn’t shy away from its parallels to the actual World War II, specifically towards the treatment of African American soldiers, like the Tuskegee airmen.
The Wicked + The Divine #29
Baal and Ami recruit Laura to try and track down Sakhmet after she slaughtered all those people in that orgy last issue, which takes them through a talking tour of the rest of the Pantheon.
This is actually a really cool way to start the arc, as it basically reestablishes where all these characters are at the moment. Baal, Ami, Woden, Dionyus, Minerva, and the Norns are still trying to work out what the Darkness is and a way to stop it, which Sakhmet’s slaughter interrupts. When Laura, Dio, and the Norns go to the Underground to ask Morrigan if she’s been hiding Sakhmet, we find out that Morrigan still holds a grudge against Laura for her sleeping with the currently missing Baphomet; and convinced that Morrigan has done something to him, Dio decides to wait in the underground until Morrigan releases him.
Meanwhile, Laura herself is still living in an hedonistic daze, bounding from bed to bed, party to party, and god to god, frustrated by others involving her in the things they care about, like the end of the world. In a way, it returns things to how they were in the beginning of the series, with Laura as an outsider to the goings on of the Pantheon; only now, instead of wanting to be part of it, she tries her best to ignore them.
Months after the New Years incident, Lottie’s life has returned to normal mostly. Her, Normgirl and Cutegirl are having their regular Hater’s Brunch when Cute’s twin shows up, revealing her real age, name, and other details about their childhood. Then, at a meet-up, Lottie runs into Caroline’s cute younger brother, who asks Lottie to reconnect with his sister, who she apparently hasn’t spoken to since New Years.
Another first issue of a new arc that gently refamiliarizes readers with the characters and status quo. Maybe it’s just because of the hiatus, but Lottie even seems slightly more likable in this issue. Her disdain for most other people, including her fans, is still there, but we also see that she appreciates what she means to her fans, and – even if it’s just to get closer to her brother – she does reach out to Caroline, who has been in a malaise since we’ve last seen her.
Lottie is also helped by comparing her to Cutegirl, who is taken down a few notches in this issue by her twin sister. Better by comparison is still, technically, a type of better.