This week, a number of the DC Universe books end with the maiming or killing or someone close to the main character – by one of the main characters. I won't tell you which, obviously. Why not collect them all?
Captain Atom #4's artist, Freddie Williams excels this issue, his art style loosening up even further, so when people, things are destroyed by radiation, by energy, whatever, they just fall apart, they crumble, and you can just feel the debris under your fingernails. It's a rather disturbing feeling for a comic book like this, even as it seems to revamp Dr Manhattan rather than Captain Atom.
Blue Beetle #4 does a grand job of taking the teenage experience and ramping it up. Here, it's the reaction to the tattoo. Except that the tattoo isn't just teenage hijinks, but the manifestation of a semi-symbiotic weapon suit that is constantly at war with it's host. Or, you know, growing pains.
It's not often that a mainstream superhero comic book promises to give you the secrets of life itself. Even if they're from the devil himself. But then that's DC Universe Presents: Deadman #4 all over. Oh also, the structure of the universe, God and his angels as comic book publishers and bullpen employees, with the devil as freelance creators is in there too. But mostly it's a literal rollercoaster ride through a variety of people's realities and some answers as to ow everything ties together. Whether you can trust the answers, well that's a very different matter.
And yes, as predicted Babs is back in Birds Of Prey #4. Not for a while though, you get a big proper usual-Birds fight in a train, as these relatively altruistic villains fight… what they are basically unable to. Minds, those controlled elsewhere and those controlling their own. All very 24-meets-Inception. Little bit on the dull side though. Sorry.
There were hints in the last issue, but with Thunder Agents #2 we are most definitely in Planetary area, as we look at the first encounter between the subterranean people and humans in the sixties. This could well be the book to flesh out the history of he new 52, if it is allowed to. Superman may be the first public superhero and Batman the first hidden one, but the Thunder Agents are carving out an era before that, one that the seventies managed to hide. A bitchy, sarcastic present, contrasting with an an idealist and naive past. Maybe this is the 1963 Annual we never got?
We move from war torn Darfur to clubland London without skipping a beat in Wonder Woman #4. Some people might not be surprised by that. Well, they do have gods of conflict in each. And it's all just human action to them, there's nothing really to distinguish them. Only Wonder Woman can give a human perspective to it all. Or half human at any rate. This is Garth Ennis' Phonogram. And I mean that in a good way.
Supergirl #4 is probably going to be the origin of Mr Tycho – or whatever he becomes. Because it's one thing to be an evil megalomaniac with delusions of grandeur.. that may not be delusions. But it's another to hold a grudge against a supercharacter in particular which makes you theirs, only theirs. Well, looks like Supergirl got hers now. And he's only going to use it to his advantage.
In Batman #4 we learn, and I quote, "In Gotham, there is an old legend, a nursery rhyme about the Court of Owls. A group of men who, the rhyme goes, rule the city from the shadows and enforce their will by means of an assassin named the Talon, a highly trained killer the Court keeps hidden in bases around the city." First, Gotham must be a really depressing place to grow up as a kid, second, this seems a very specific rhyme, it probably goes on for several verse and third, I wonder what it uses to rhyme with Talon? We get a snippet of the rhyme at the end, but I want the whole thing.
In Green Lantern Corps #4 we discover, amidst the epic cosmic battles, and references to epic tales of millenia past, just how far the DC relaunch goes into reboot. As Guy Gardner fails to recognise one of his JLI teammates. And I feel a hollow ache.
Batman Odyssey #3 continued its tale of the Underworld… and it's starting to get a little more literal here, as Deadman suddenly becomes solid. How much of this is a scientific curio and discovery, and how much is this a legend of Hell made real?
Red Hood And The Outlaws #4 is further evidence that Scott Lobdell is bringing three very separate styles to his three very separate books. I prefer Superboy, but dammit if this hard edged, spiky, silliness isn;t engaging, even on a surface level. It's possibly the most nineties of the books, echoing early Whilce Portacio work in its storytelling. And it even has "last issue" captions from editor Bobbie Chase. But what this issue will be most noticed for is a change to Starfire. Maybe even one that might address the issues some have had with her previous portrayals…
Batman Incorporated: Leviathan #1 This is literally two-and-a-half issues of Batman Inc that were knocked out by the DC Relaunch and have reassembled themselves into this stitched paperback form. And it's really nice. For some of you, just getting Stephanie Brown back in the Batsuit will be enough, but Cameron Stewart and Chris Burnham take us back to the prelaunch Grant Morrison as if we'd never been away, and both their work is unmatched here. It's like we have a Chris Bachalo crossed with Chris Sprouse to start, a clean, clever, very readable style with cartooniness embedded, followed by… well, Frank Quitely via Phil Jiminez. It's a heady mix of schoolgirl riots, psychedelic sixties secret agent trips… and the actual identity of Leviathan. Don't be fooled by previous previews… 8-)
And a promise of more Batman Inc to come in 2012. Wrapped up for continuity's sake? Balls to that.
So we have Batgirl in Nightwing #4, Batgirl in Birds Of Prey, a Batgirl in Batman Inc… you may have realised, folks, that Batgirl is quite popular right now. This issue opens as the movie The Dark Knight though, lots of thin widescreen panels, car chases along
Chicago Gotham's streets, under bridges, bikes, cars, the lot. But this is far more of a relationship comic, with Nightwing's women on a collision course.
The criticism of Catwoman seems to have reduced of late. By virtue of the book being a good read, with strong characterisation, a very expressive art style, and they seem to have moved away from Selina getting her tits out wherever she can. We have a story of loss, of friendship, of responsibility and saving one's own back despite all that. Anyone still not picking this up because of some poor reviews of Catwoman #1 is wrong. I can prove it with graphs.
Legion Of Superheroes #4 has clearly felt left out, while charges of sexism have been thrown at the likes of Red Hood, Catwoman and Voodoo. Well, with this issue, it seems to want a bit of that for itself.
Justice League #1 has big big battles with a certain Apokolyptic figure on the way, with double page and single page spread… but also plenty of Justice League bickering. Guess which bit is better?
Book of the week? Catwoman #4. Yes, I thought it would be Wonder Woman too, but there you go.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics in London, You should go, it's really nice.