Dr Manolis Vamvounis writes for Bleeding Cool;
What happened this week in comics!
I didn't have the heart to spoil this last week, but in the shocking finale of BATMAN & ROBIN #7, Damian gives in to the goadings and threats of a defeated and incapacitated Morgan Ducard, driving two deadly fingers of kung-fu right inside his brain, killing him instantly (or so I gather, unless next issue is a very special episode of Gotham's Anatomy). The implications of this, Batman being brought to deal with the murderous actions of his own son going against the very fundamental #1 rule of his crime-fighting family, makes me shiver in anticipation #geekgasm
In BATMAN #7, Batman uncovers the secret identity of the Talon, the agent of the ancient Gotham society, the Court of Owls, as… Dick Grayson's great-grandfather, preserved and resurrected through the wonder of made-up science and drugs, with Dick Grayson himself as the intended latest sleeper agent of the Court, meant to be groomed for the mantle of the Talon since childhood. It seems spandex was always in Dick Grayson's future.
What's with the whole punching business, you say? That's Batman's fatherly way of shifting out the false tooth implant containing the Court's resurrection metal hoodoo. With his GODDAMN BAT-FIST. Not that fond of the tooth-retcon, but I'll look the other way in favour of the great new mythology and Gotham City history that Snyder has been setting up.
In JUSTICE LEAGUE #7, we finally get introduced to the bureaucrat-astic DCNu Steve Trevor (and Etta Candy) as the book finally jumps 5 years forward to the present! Geoff Johns wants to examine the an angle of super-heroes as Gods or Government that we haven't seen since Squadron Supreme and the Authority, while on the other, when it gets down to the action, it's seven of the world's most powerful superheroes against some poor generic mutated jerk who has kidnapped his ex-wife. Hardly worlds-shattering stuff there. This would seem too small a threat for even Superman on his own to be called in to deal with. You know, because he's probably too busy rescuing cats off of trees.
In the SHAZAM backup, we get our first look at the DCNu Billy Batson and he's a RIGHT BRAT! Geoff Johns loves to tease the readers and pull a good bait and switch, or two, or three… No Captain Mar– SHAZAM action yet, but I enjoyed this first taste of the rebooted mythology, it felt very "back to the basics", but under a more modern aesthetic.
WONDER WOMAN #7 gives us two snazzy additions to Azzarello and Chiang's modern reinterpretations of the Greek Gods for the DCNu, with Eros, the hipster god of love, bling-tastic golden pistols and all, as well as the grotesque Hephaestus, complete with arms made of crackling hot ember, supportive leg braces, a hulking troll physique and blacksmith attire. Stunning. Couldn't they have let Chiang or Cully Hamner design the new DCNu line?
The story itself sees Wonder Woman making a revolting discovery about her culture and the Amazons' cruel tactics of procreation: seducing passing sailors, raping them for their seed and then killing them, while finally (and most shockingly) disposing of any non-female children that they give birth to nine months later. Male children that Hephaestus then takes under his care as… slaves? Wonder Woman has an understandable reaction to all these developments, and Azzarello has more twists and a revelation of profound depth and controversial social commentary that I won't spoil here. This is consistently the best book out of the New 52, and the only one to really justify the continuity reboot.
I'd post an image of the super-cool new Spider-Armour (meticulously fashioned from cardboard boxes with the Sinister Six's names on them and styrofoam for added crime-fighting efficiency) from AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #682 but I wouldn't dare incite the Wrath of Slott. Trust me, it does look funky.
This one exchange from UNCANNY X-MEN #7 showcases everything that's going to go wrong with the much-hyped AvX crossover. The issue features a very forced team-up between the Uncanny X-Men Extinction team and the adjectiveless Avengers with the objective of rounding up a large group of oh-so-murderous alien prison escapees. See, Wolverine is on one team of Avengers, Storm is on another, Storm and Wolverine are on opposing teams of X-Men, Spider-man and the Thing are both in the Fantastic Four, yet on different teams of Avengers… It's all a hot mess. I miss the good old days where everyone kept to their own teams, or at least one team at a time.
In AVENGERS X-SANCTION #4, Hope Summers goes full Phoenix for the first time and burns away Cable's techno-organic virus and his cyborg-ness leaving behind one sexy bear daddy specimen. -ahem- The entire painful Cable vs the Avengers thing from the last three issues is revealed as a sneaky plot by Cable's mentor Blaquesmith to protect him… by having him get pummelled into a coma? The whole series makes no sense even by Jeph Loeb Ultimates/Shatterstar standards. Feel free to chime in the comments section though.
In the final issue of GENE
RATION HOPE (#17), Martha (the loveable Brain in a Jar from Morrison's run) strikes out against the tortured flesh-artist-turned-fascist Kenji for leading her on and giving her a flesh-tech body grown out of his own rib, with the hidden dubious agenda to take advantage of her beautiful brain. Boys suck. And then they go boom. I was initially skeptical of the Martha-Kenji romance and her sudden bodification, but it all wrapped up nicely (and by nicely I mean horribly and explosively) in the end, leading to this sappy, poetic and heart-breaking crescendo.
In X-FACTOR #233, Madrox is back from the dead (again) after the entertaining last few issues of reality-hopping madness, and is celebrating with some post-resurrection coitus with the grown up Layla Miller… on his mortuary slab! How sturdy ARE those things?
In NEW MUTANTS #39, in an unexpectedly effective horror story, the team is infected with a flesh-virus that is slowly and horribly mutating them into a single hive mind and body, leaving the unaffected Warlock as the creepily over-compensating leader of the group. Abnett and Lanning (much like Zeb Wells before them) are really capturing that elusive charm of the original 80s book and breaking the norm by allowing their characters to grow and expand into new relationships and behaviours, out of their 80s nostalgia bubbles.
In HELLBLAZER #289, Constantine is clawing his way up from the grave, back from his second season in hell, while the newly wedded Mrs Constantine falls prey to the machinations of the First of the Fallen, giving dear old dad the ole' push into the sewage canal, killing him instantly, and one cliffhanger away from selling his soul off to the devil to bring him back. Milligan's run on the book has been the most exciting and constantly-challenging in years.
In THUNDERBOLTS #171, Songbird gets roofied by a hot hawaian floozie, has her head shaved and surgically tampered with by a mad starfish-spliced scientist, while a sea-urchin mutated creature is… licking her toes?!? WTF Parker? The book with its current creative team is on a roll for the first time in ages, but the frantic gazillion-times-a-month shipping schedule is getting a bit ridiculous.Artist Kev Walker is doing the best work of his career and finally earning the acclaim he deserves.
In ROCKETEER ADVENTURES VOL.2 #1, Peter David and Bill Sienkiewicz re-imagine the Looney Tunes characters as the Rocketeer (=Ducketeer) and (even more disturbingly) evil space Nazis. In tutus.
In the final (sob sob) issue of TINY TITANS, #50, Art Baltazar and Franco take a moment to boast for a great run well awarded, and a shelf full of shiny trophies. AW YEAH TITANS!
In CROSSED: BADLANDS #1 Garth Ennis returns to his sorta zombie apocalypse (where the afflicted undead are of the super-intelligent sadistic psychopath and constantly horny variety) with a new team of survivors, including PRINCE HARRY, and a whole new level of sick depravity.
Finally, over in the CROSSED: WISH YOU WERE HERE webcomic, one of the Crossed "zombies" is raping a dolphin through its blowhole while shouting for his mommy. Kinda puts things in perspective.
(and while we're in the subject of unnecessarily graphic violence in comic books, back over in the UN-rated UNCANNY X-MEN #7, the oh-so-evil new villain whatshisface, proceeds to walk a defenseless little boy out in the snow and EXPLODE HIS HEAD OFF ON PANEL! It's one thing to tackle mature themes in your books, and a whole different thing when you go out of your way to make your flagship books inappropriate for kids.
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