Green Lantern: New Guardians #30
“The Godkillers pt. 3 – How the Gods Kill”
Justin Jordan (writer), Diogenes Neves and Brad Walker (artists). Cover by Walker.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t think of anything interesting to say about Green Lantern: New Guardians right now. I’ve only followed the series sporadically over the past year, but whenever I read an issue, it feels like just more of the same, an episodic and perfunctory jaunt from one problem to another, with only the most minor of characterization or growth. And while Kyle Rayner certainly has a vocal fan-base, his current characterization is so bland and middle of the road that he just can’t carry this title on his own, and Carol Ferris is often reduced to nothing but set dressing.
This issue sees our heroes and the Templar Guardians battling the fanatical but silly-looking Godkillers, who have targeted the Okaaran deity X’Hal (a character I will forever irrationally hate, only for her terrible pun name). There’s lots of yelling and punching and a sequel-bait ending and oh my god I just don’t care. Nothing about this comic offends me, but I could not feel less involved with the story, or less connected to the characters. Sorry… I’m out.
Christy Marx (writer), Robson Rocha and Scott McDaniel (artists). Cover by Jorge Molina.
The Birds of Prey are threatened by both moral quandaries and ninja assassins, as Ra’s al Ghul makes his move against the mysterious Mother Eve. Black Canary must choose between her team and her husband, while Condor is presented with a Faustian pact to remove the biggest obstacle in his path to Black Canary’s heart. It’s a solid set up – which unfortunately falls apart, with one of the least satisfying endings in recent memory. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this book a lot more than Green Lantern: New Guardians, but I was left cold by both the way the Birds ultimately dealt with Ra’s, and with how Black Canary’s decision was completely justified by issue’s end, removing any sense of pathos or internal struggle. Everything’s just wrapped up in too neat of a package, in a way that doesn’t feel at all like an organic resolution to the story. Nice art though, and I can’t totally dislike a comic with this many ninjas in it… so call it a wash, I guess.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #30
“The Big Picture pt. 2”
Wil Pfeifer (writer), Rafael Sandoval and RB Silva (artists). Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli.
The problem with this series, as it has been since its inception, is that all three of its protagonists are so utterly repellent, no amount of rehabilitation or creative team shake-ups can make them likable. As such, unless you’re a huge fan of early-nineties Image Comics team books (or Eli Roth movies), there’s very little enjoyment to be found in reading about the douche bag trio.
The story this month begins with Arsenal trapped aboard Starfire’s spaceship, which has been purloined by some nefarious alien hijackers. Red Hood has a plan to save him – a needlessly circuitous plan, which is further complicated by his and Starfire’s need to be completely antisocial asses. The conflict in this issue is primarily driven by its protagonists ignoring several simple ways of dealing with a problem, and instead choosing the worst and most self-destructive solution possible – something I like to call “One More Day syndrome”. It’s not just annoying, it’s borderline insulting to the reader’s intelligence. Then again, this comes from the writer of Amazons Attack, so I guess I shouldn’t expect much better.
Powers: The Bureau #9
Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Michael Avon Oeming (artist and cover)
There was a time that Powers was one of my favourite comic series, at the top of my pull-list every month. Since the book’s inception, both the story and artwork have been consistently top-notch, and the audacious crudeness and over-the-top violence were always entertaining. Eventually, the erratic shipping schedule caused Powers to fall off my radar, and by the time The Bureau was launched, I had consigned the title it the status of “I’ll eventually get it in trade paperback.” I think this issue won be back over though, for one simple reason – Michael Avon Oeming’s amazing Rob Liefeld “tribute” splash page.
That’s worth my four bucks all on its own.
Justice League United #0
“Justice League Canada pt. 1”
Jeff Lemire (writer), Mike McKone (artist and cover).
So, as a Canadian comic fan, I guess I pretty much have to review this one.
The first issue of Jeff Lemire’s much-ballyhooed relaunch sees the remaining members of the Justice League of America begin their transition to North of the border. Which is a natural move, if you think about it… spend enough time fighting supervillains, and suddenly socialized medicine looks pretty good. This change is brought about by way of a mysterious alien incursion that involves the New 52 debut of Adam Strange, and an appearance by (ugh) New Lobo.
As cool as it is just to see Justice League running around my hometown of Toronto (to say nothing of their trip to Moosonee, of all places), this comic brings more to the plate than simple novelty. Jeff Lemire once again proves himself to be one of DC’s MVPs, with a great first issue, filled with both action and humour (even if it does feel like he’s only using Animal Man and Green Arrow because Booster Gold and Blue Beetle weren’t available to him). Similarly, Mike McKone’s artwork is as impeccable as always, providing exactly the clean and expressive style this series needs. If it weren’t for the appearance by Faux-bo (who is notably absent from the cover), this issue would be just about perfect. AS it is, it’s an excellent start to a fresh new creative direction, which I’m sure will no way be retconned or cancelled inside of twelve months.
Batgirl Annual #2
“When Pamela Gets Blue”
Gail Simone (writer), Robert Gill and Javier Garrón (artists). Cover by Clay Mann.
Generally, I consider myself to be a big fan of Gail Simone’s work – I’ve often cited her as one of the most consistently excellent writers today – but for some reason, this year’s Batgirl Annual just didn’t work for me. If I had to put my finger on why exactly, it would be that two of Simone’s usual strengths are playing against one another, those being her sense of humour and her willingness to tackle darker subject matter. Usually, she finds a good balance between these elements, but in this case it added up to whiplash-inducing tonal shifts.
The story opens up with some fun (and bizarrely flirtatious) interactions between Batgirl and her BFF Black Canary and frienemy Poison Ivy. Eventually, the clever wordplay gives way to excessive melodrama, before going right off the rails with such cheery subjects as mutilated corpses and domestic violence. By issue’s end, we’ve taken another right turn, with an oddly uplifting epilogue, which despite being built to in earlier vignettes, feels tacked on and out of place compared to the main narrative.
There’s still a lot to enjoy about this issue – Simone’s dialogue and pacing are as high-quality as one would expect of her, and the artwork by Robert Gill and Javier Garrón is excellent. For whatever reason though, this comic felt too disjointed for me to enjoy.