The Savage Hawkman began with a dark, deep, detailed mystery. But no one seemed to like that, so it turned into something brasher, with broader brush strokes, and far less subtle to the extent that the Deadpool-alike Pike in this issue event starts explaining the plot halfway through their conflict. And after the silly fight that begins this, we see how Hawkman is going to be dragged, pretty much literally, into the Wildstormness of DC, fighting against the Daemonites for Thanagar… it's not what this book was. But it is what it is going to be. In two months of course…
Superman gives us a semi-Cold War take on the Russians finding their own Superman to combat the American's version. Except, naturally, they go about it all the wrong way and it backfires, leaving Superman trying to put the pieces back together again. And give the Russians a scolding. What started as a clever mix of tones and styles, telling the Superman story on this comic, has had all the interesting edges filed off of it, so that even what should have been a really interesting political story about superheroics, the arms race and the artificial attempts to recreate what comes from the human spirit, end up as a dumb morality tale and it's a pity. There was more in here to tell.
Hawkman has issues with his armour, Wonder Girl really has issues with hers. What with Blue Beetle, maybe they should all get together and do their version of "Armor Wars"? Teen Titans has gone down the road of the biggest threat being a member of their own team, corrupted, but at least exists with a more novel twist – or at least from a different plot, the one about having to become what you hate most in order to do what is necessary. It's bouncy, it's got a bit of science vs religion, but it's failed to have the freshness of Superboy or the quirkiness of Red Hood, it's basically been Lobdell's "other" book. It's okay, sure, but would you miss it?
It's a question you might be asking of Voodoo, which has gone from sexploitative Species-style strippers to Saturday morning cartoon monsters, with a little extra blood, in a year, with only a zero issue left, and promises that Voodoo, or at least one of her, will appear in Grifter. The duel identity was one of the only ways to get around the problem that the main character was, basically, a spy for the bad guys, so she had to be changed, within and without. So we have Priscilla, Stripper Of The Desert Vs Voodoo who looks like she's right out of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles over the right to, well, exist, basically. Some of the problems may be the colour, which has taken Sami Basra's Adam Hughes-like lines and knocked them back to much that that lose their impact and intricate detail. This issue only emphasised that problem.
The Flash also uses colour to knock back lines, but here it's used to thrilling effect, to move the Flash and and out of the solid reality he, and others are in. Every issue seems to have tried to innovate at least one thing, this issue, it's using colour to fade out a world and let the super speedsters do their thing together, while also keeping an antaogonist at arms length by browning out her blacks. It comes nowhere near to Batwoman for innovation, but it does seem to be one of the few New 52 books that genuinely tries to do something new.
Batman: The Dark Knight has been a wild, bold, flailing, irresponsible beast of a comic, throwing one hulk against another in an effort to outsplash the very splashiest aspects of Greg Capullo's Batman. This issue however, takes that to a more insular level, with Finch showing how he can deliver smaller scenes as well as big, as the new Scarecrow gets inside Bruce's head and brings out the nasty fears. Yes, it's back to the death of his parents, this time however rather than enjoying the Zorro film as we have often seen it, Bruce had a very different reaction. And it's one that may well feed into the next Zero issue… while so many books seem desperate to slip past it.
All Star Western has done a fine trick of keeping Jonah Hex in and around Gotham, with the original Arkham, Mayor Cobblepot and a Wayne great-grandfather showing how handy he is with a pistol, even the early stabs at the Court Of Owls, making it more of a Batbook than, say, Batwoman. It just hides itself very well – and possibly too well. It certainly hasn't diluted the Jonah character, indeed it's given him even more reason than usual to be grumpy, as as a result a much better read too. I do hope they keep him here, where he can moan, grumble and shoot things. It's the Jonah way.
Fury Of Firestorm has been a mess, pretty much from the start. While there is a core idea of worth here, two superbeings the result of irresponsible and frankly criminal nuclear activity, that together create something worse, this comic has struggled with disparate directions, repeated differing combinations of supertypes into other creatures and a comic that stopped talking about the issues of energy generation and government complicity in moral outrages, and trying to reconsile a monster book into being a superhero book, or vice versa, and failing.
I, Vampyr is not a book I've enjoyed either, convoluted vampires, by way of the Roman Empire, that seemed repetitive and dull. This issue however is a revelation, with Stormwatch on hand and being written better than they ever have in their own title. Suddenly Stormwatch seem to have the old Authority vibe back again, they are witty and aloof in the face of danger, take everything in their stride, and gee the audience up while doing so. The vampires get up to their scheming, fighting, games of war, while Stormwatch try to just get on with it. And maybe head to a bar afterwards. It's a far more fun read that usual and evidence that writr Josh Fielkov may have other strings he'd be better at adding to his bow.
Green Lantern: New Guardians is… colourful. Yes, let's go with colourful and leave it at that.
It's weird, you try and get used to this version of John Constantine, flying magic houses around the multiverse to get his superhero chums about, and then you get hit with the realisation that this is the same Constantine, who at a different time also teamed up with magicians to save a world and suddenly the two aren't so different after all.
Justice League Dark has had an inspired uplift of late, and while it is still easily mocked, the comic now seems to be more aware of that and actually having some fun with this magical superheroics by committee concept.
And I am too.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics in London.