Batman and Two-Face #26
“The Big Burn pt. 3- Ignition”
Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Patrick Gleason (artist and cover)
With all the generous praise that’s rightfully been heaped on Scott Snyder’s Batman and the “Zero Year” storyline, it’s perhaps been overlooked that Peter Tomasi’s story “The Big Burn” is maybe the best story of his run on the Bat-books. The story tweak’s Two-Face’s origin for the “New 52” DC Universe, tying him to an Irish mobster name Erin McKillen, who was both Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, and Two-Face’s first major indictment in his past life as Gotham’s District Attorney. McKillen is one of the more interesting new characters to crop up in the “New 52”, and transposing the hoary old question of “does Batman make his own enemies” onto Two-Face – who in a sense both created and was created by McKillen – is a neat trick.
I’m also really loving Patrick Gleason’s artwork on this title. The action is kinetic without being garish, and he his muted, understated visuals really shines in the book’s quieter moments (like Bruce and Erin’s unorthodox dinner date that opens this issue). Moreover, there’s an added appeal in that it doesn’t look exactly like all the other DC Comics out there right now, and anything that stands out from DC’s house style right now is a welcome respite.
Harley Quinn #1
“Hot in the City”
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (writers), Chad Hardin (artist). Covers by Conner and Adam Hughes
Following the #0 prologue from last month, the new Harley Quinn series sends the antiheroine to New York City, where she finds a new life as the owner of an apartment tenement filled with professional freaks, while working day-jobs as a social worker and a roller derby competitor. Meanwhile, someone has put a huge bounty on Harley’s head, and now she’s being by every assassin in town. That’s a lot to cram into twenty pages, but rest assured, it’s also not very good.
This is, of course, the Harley Quinn that ‘starred’ in the abominable Suicide Squad relaunch, an this is a series that was previewed by a “Forever Evil” one-shot where she killed dozens of innocent children, so we’re coming at this series from a point where it’s utterly impossible to feel any affection or sympathy for her as a character. It’s painfully obvious that DC wants Harley Quinn to be their version of Deadpool, but not only have they completely missed the point of why people latched on to Deadpool and made him a big-money character, DC has changed Harley so much in the process that she is completely unrecognizable as the gal who stole fans’ hearts in the early 1990s. Despite the considerable talents of Conner, Palmiotti and Hardin, the new Harley Quinn is complete trash. This isn’t the Harley Quinn fans knew and loved- the adorable pixie with the doomed obsession with a monster who could never love her back, whose peppy optimism was balanced with her tragic fate. No, this is a one-dimensional sociopath in bad Juggalo makeup, and I’d rather read almost anything else.
Tony Bedard (writer), Yildiray Cinar (artist). Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli
After reading Harley Quinn, I wouldn’t have thought it’d be possible to be less enthusiastic about a DC comic, but, well… “New 52” Supergirl versus the atrocious new Lobo… so here we are.
What can I even say about this? Tony Bedard isn’t my favourite writer, but you can’t really fault him for writing Supergirl as a mopey and immature brat, when that depiction is essentially an editorial mandate. Yildiray Cinar does a bang-up job on art duties, but even an excellent drawing of New Lobo or that asinine Supergirl costume is still just a well-polished turd. And while the idea of pairing two very different survivors of dead races is solid enough, but it’s wasted on these particular iterations of the characters.
The problems with this issue are best summed up with the last page cliff-hanger, which is played for drama but falls flat because the ‘bad’ situation being teased is really just what nearly every reader wishes would happen. It’s a clear and obvious fake out that will be hand-waved away next month, but that’s a shame, because if it paid off precisely as it’s made to look to, this book should win an honorary Eisner.
Trinity of Sin: Pandora #6
Ray Fawkes (writer), Francis Portella and Staz Johnson (artists). Cover by Julian Totino Tedesco
Tying in to the “Forever Evil” storyline – or more specificially, the “Forever Evil: Blight,” I dunno, sub-storyline? – “Precious Little” teams Pandora with John Constantine, Swamp Thing, the Nightmare Nurse and the Phantom Stranger, as the mystical quintet tries and fails to take on the embodiment of all evil, Blight. This is a neat little diversion to the main “Forever Evil” storyline, similar to how Marvel’s “Secret Invasion” was handled in Incredible Hercules a few years ago, when Herc and his buddies decided that instead of fighting the Skrulls directly, they’d take on the Skrull’s Gods. I like the idea that some heroes have higher priorities than fighting super-villains, even at a time when the Crime Syndicate has effectively taken over the world.
I enjoyed this comic a lot more than the last two (even if that isn’t saying very much). I still can’t really come up with any reason to care about Pandora herself, and Blight is a rather one-dimensional villain, but all the other characters are fun, especially (as always) John Constantine. Francis Portella’s artwork is excellent, though mid-issue fill-in pages are a huge pet peeve of mine, and Staz Johnson’s style is just different enough to pull me out of the story. But hell, at least when I finished this comic, I didn’t want to use it as kindling in the fireplace, so that’s something.
As an aside, the contents of this issue in no way relate to the story described in the official solicitation a few months ago. I’d say I’m surprised, but DC hasn’t bothered with accuracy in their advertising for a long time. It’s still annoying though.
Indestructible Hulk #17.INH
“Humanity Bomb pt. 1”
Mark Waid (writer), Clay Mann, Seth Mann and Miguel Sepulveda (artists). Cover by Mahmud Asrar
First things first… JUST F—ING CALL IT ISSUE NUMBER 17. How f***ing difficult of a concept is that? Christ almighty…
Right, now that I’ve got that out of my system… this comic is great. Bruce Banner is poised to save the day by solving the problems of “Inhumanity,” but Iron Man and his Avengers buddies manage to screw the whole thing up. It’s a fun story that underscores one of the main themes of Indestructible Hulk, that being the apparent futility of Bruce Banner’s attempts to do right by a world that won’t let him be the hero he has the potential to be. At the same time, it also progresses the series-long rivalry between Banner and Tony Stark, one of the best dynamics in comics today.
Beyond that, there’s not much I have to say. The story is good, the art is great, Iron Man’s a dick… if this comic isn’t on the top of your pull list every month, you’re doing something wrong.
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #3
Brian Buccellato (writer), Scott Hepburn and Andre Coehlo (artists). Cover by Declan Shalvey
On the run from the Secret Society, the Rogues have landed in GothamCity, which is in the middle of a civil war between the inmates of Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Penitentiary. That’s one hell of a pitch, completely deserving of a miniseries all its own, but instead it’s being shoehorned in to the second half of the current Rogues’ story. Still, one takes what one can get, and this issue delivers a lot in twenty pages, including the promise of an even more interesting match up next month.
Once again though, there’s that damned mid-story switch in art styles. Is it that no one can make their deadlines at DC? Are pages being returned midway through production? Is this a horribly misguided marketing ploy? And to be fair, the same thing happened in this week’s Indestructible Hulk, but at least Miguel Sepulveda and the Brothers Mann have complementary styles. Meanwhile, Scott Hepburn’s and Andre Coehlo’s artwork don’t gel together at all- it seriously looks like they’re each drawing completely different characters. I can’t even begin to fathom who at DC thought this was a good idea.
Justice League of America’s Vibe #10
“Clean Out Your Desk”
Sterling Gates (writer), Derlis Santacruz (artist). Cover by Brett Booth
Another week, another cancelled series, but you know what? This one wasn’t half bad. The fact that Sterling Gates actually got me to care about Vibe, who historically was one of the worst characters in the history of the DC Universe, is nothing short of incredible. He built up a unique set of characters and conflicts that far outshone any expectations I might have had for this series, and even though this was never high on my reading list, I’m sad to see it go.
This issue wraps up Vibe’s quest to save Gypsy and to prevent her mother Mordeth’s invasion of Earth. It also establishes a new role for Vibe to take going forward, which really is how ever series should end, to give future writers a reason to revisit the character. I’m impressed that this issue is so upbeat and hopeful… I mean, sure, the series still ends with blackmail and discussions of needless death, but it’s still a DC Comic, I’ll take what I can get.