It’s not surprising that Tom King knows how to write a gripping war diary, but it is kind of incredible how well he can put one in Batman’s voice using Gotham as a backdrop.
After having meetings with the Joker and the Riddler, Gordon is told that both sides’ top priority is killing Batman; and each side sends their top assassin to get the job done. Deathstroke and Deadshot are both gunning for Batman, but find each-other first, causing a fight that lasts five days and ends hundreds of lives in the crossfire. And while the entire story is told in flashback, this is the first time in the story that it sounds like Batman has an actual episode of PTSD; his narration of events becoming aggravated, repeating “five days,” over and over, still having trouble getting over the carnage.
In this arc, King has gone out of his way to note how Batman remembers the fine details of this story, giving every victim in the second issue a name, devoting another entirely to Kite Man. In this one, we finally see the actual impact of all of this on Batman himself, the emotional scarring the War left on him – why he still remembers all of it so vividly.
Jeezus Christ. I thought last issue was a mess of intention and execution, but this one blows it out of the water.
After spending a third of a page telling Jon about the importance of free speech, and doing a half-assed job of it at that; it’s a return to the tour of war memorials. Clark and Lois take Jon to the World War II memorial, where they tell him about the two theaters of war, without mentioning the Holocaust or the Atom bomb, of course; and then to the Vietnam memorial where they neglect to mention the draft riots or Americans burning down villages. And then, after touring Gettysburg National Military Park, where slavery is once again never brought, but the Kents do meet the decedents of a union soldier who died and whose body was never recovered – Superman literally FINDS THE DUDE’S 154 YEAR OLD SKELETON, WRAPS IT IN AN AMERICAN FLAG, AND DROPS IT OFF AT THE FAMILY’S HOME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT.
HOLY FUCKING SHIT. WHAT IS TOMASI ON THAT HE THINKS THIS IS OKAY!?
PLEASE, NEXT ISSUE, CAN THINGS GET BACK TO NORMAL!!
Ending on a good thing though, Jorge Jimenez’s variant cover for this issue is fantastic, and everything Superman should be about. Pick it up if you can find it.
Green Arrow #28
Green Arrow goes to Metropolis to warn Lex Luthor that the Ninth Circle will be coming for LexCorp, since Lex refused their offer to join. And, not incidentally, a spree of suicide attempts starts all over the city. Luckily, Metropolis has another hero that looks out for everybody.
This story keeps on getting better and better. Despite Lex Luthor being a major character in the issue, there are no villains – no fighting. Green Arrow tells what he has to tell Lex, and then, noticing the suicide attempts, helps Superman prevent any of them from becoming successful. It’s an issue of Superman and Green Arrow, and eventually Lex Luthor, all teaming up to save people from making the worst decision. And in doing so, the issue still illustrates its economic-political point, that capital is nothing without the inherent worth of people’s lives giving it meaning; that its people, not money, that have real value and power.
Ferreyra’s Superman is the most Christopher Reeves inspired version of the character in comics today – although that might just be because he draws the costume as a soft looking, muscultature smoothing material rather than a second latex skin; and basically recreates the “You’ve got me but whose got you?” scene for an entire issue. The issue also seems to happen entirely right before sunset, giving everything a hopeful golden glow.
Now I’m really hoping that this team gets to work on a Superman title, because they nailed it.
Black Bolt #4
Once again trapped by the Warden, this time in a room where the air is being drained out, Crusher and Black Bolt take what might be their final moments to reminisce on the decisions they’ve made to end up here, and bond over uncommon histories.
A lot of this comic is about Crusher Creel; how he was raised, how he started boxing, fell into crime, got his powers, etc. Crusher has played audience surrogate for the past three issues, reacting to the strangeness of Black Bolt’s life and mannerisms approximately how we would; and this issue finally fully humanizes him – giving him that past and his own emotional anchors.
And then, after making us, and Black Bolt, fully sympathize with Crusher, including a scene where he tells BB a joke so bad it makes him laugh in the face of death; Ahmed pulls an ending out of nowhere that punches us swiftly and surely in the gut. Like, Saga levels of final page gut-punch. It’s a cruel final page, and I kinda love Ahmed for it.
Katie wakes up in a cage in the fight club from last issue, but on the bright side, she found Anna’s father! But, on the dark side, again, she’s being forced to have a cage match with a dude who can Human Torch himself.
I’m still enjoying Hawkeye, but it’s the sort of book that’s consistent enough issue to issue, not really any huge ups-and-downs in the drama, where it’s looking like a good candidate for trade-waiting. It’s the sort of book, like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, where every month I basically have the same things to say about it; but unlike USG, doesn’t deliver the sort of jokes that work on their own outside the story to make each issue worth picking up individually as they come out.
Escaping from the phantom grasp of the Cold House, Brigid and Emma return to interrogate Kerwick about everything she’s been hiding from them about the moor.
Warren Ellis wrote recently in a newsletter that this arc was his take on Doctor Who, and except for the fight sequence where Brigid and Emma kill two guys using a box cutter and a screwdriver; I can totally see it. Brigid uses her wearable computer, Sheela much like a sonic screwdriver, and seemingly has a contingency plan for any situation, no matter how weird. Meanwhile, Emma fills the role of The Doctor’s companion – new to this strange world, but up for anything.
The Injection itself also makes a reappearance in this issue, having been pulling Kerwick’s strings the entire time, and every appearance it manages to get both, more affable and scarier – a bit like Ellis himself.
Sex Criminals #20
Well, this fun comic about sex and some weirdos who do it that usually makes me laugh for the entire issue just gone and broke my heart, it did.
A series of miscommunications lead to bad decisions that culminate in every meaningful relationship in the series falling apart. Like melting icecaps, the cracks formed gradually through these past issues, and in this one things finally break off. And what stings is how real it is. Like, I’ve made the same poor decision before, recently, and multiple times with the same person. Because as much as we like to think that we improve as a person with every relationship we make, a lot of us don’t; and just keep making the same mistakes because we tell ourselves that this time it’ll work out alright.
And I hope that it works out alright for the characters in this dumb story about weirdo sex too. And maybe, because it’s fiction, it will.