Category Archives: Comics

SJW! You HAVE to see Suicide Squad this weekend. Here are 9 reason why.

1. Suicide Squad is by far the most diverse super hero movie released to date. Primary cast include 4 women, 3 black people, an Asian, and a Latino. I wrote about comparing diversity in this to other franchises here– (Diversity in Comics Movie Roundup) a few months back. It was the most diverse super hero team at the time and I forgot to count the Mexican American El Diablo.

2. #Feminism!: You insisted that anyone who didn’t shell out for #Ghostbusters was a sexist, racist, misogynist pig. Guess what? Suicide Squad, as noted above has four powerful, diverse women at its core. That’s the same number as in Ghostbusters, ladies! Any think piece supporting the poorly reviewed financial flop that Paul Feige foisted on us also instructs that we MUST support a film that puts Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Cara Delevingne, and Karen Fukuhara into starring roles! By comparison to get to this many heroic women in the Avengers franchise we have to add two movies together and count one character twice (Maria Hill & Black Window from Avengers and Black Widow & Scarlet Witch from Age of Ultron).

3. Firsts for Super Hero Movies: Remind me who played the black female lead in any Marvel Cinematic Universe film. It’s ok, take your time pouring over IMDB, I know they have 13 films, so this may take a while. Find her yet? No, because there hasn’t been one, nor will there be one until Black Panther, which will be the 18th film in the line.

Viola Davis steps into the role of Amanda Waller (like Sam Jackson’s Nick Cage only instead of the easy route of uniting heroes, she picks out really bad dangerous people and uses them to benefit the US). Waller has been a fixture of the Suicide Squad in comics since always—as integral to the team as Deadshot or Captain Boomerang, only actually more so. You can have the Squad without even its most storied members. Without Waller pulling the strings? Never happened. Davis’s turn as “the Wall” will be the first starring role for a black woman since Halle Berry’s ill-fated Catwoman and it comes in the DCEU’s 3rd release. Not its 18th.

You can repeated the above exercise for the first Latino hero (not even one slated to appear in Marvel), for Asian hero (yes, Guardians of the Galaxy has the aliens Drax and Gamora played Asian and Latina actors, but portrayed as aliens and dressed in makeup approaching infinity. By comparison, El Diablo and Katana are Latino and Asian characters played by Latino and Asian actors.)

4. Intersectionality: This piggy backs on points 2 and 3 above, but remember that #feminist theory about the experiences of doubly marginalized people? The four women in the film are a mentally ill white female, a mentally ill bisexual white female, a black female, and an Asian female. Ladies! You can’t get more victim hierarchical than this! Compared to Ghostbusters with 3 cis white females and one broadly played black female stereotype (which, can we just say Viola Davis’s Waller will definitively NOT be?) it’s pretty clear that Suicide Squad not Ghostbusters is the true #feminist mea culpa of the summer.

5. Race shifting to promote diversity: Suicide Squad sees Will Smith cast as Deadshot, a traditionally white anti-hero. Where are our think pieces praising this brave choice? If Smith is too big a star to merit support for this, what about Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s turn as Killer Croc, another character that could easily have been portrayed by a despised cis white male? Not one, but two characters have been given to actors based on I am only assuming their acting chops without regards to race. Where are our blog posts praising their ingenuity?

6. First Man on Man kiss in a super hero movie: Yep. Jared Leto’s Joker kisses another dude. If you don’t go see this movie it can only be because you’re a #homophobe! Come on, SJWs! You aren’t secretly, homophobes, are you?

7. Non-heteronormative characters: Did I mention above that Harley Quinn is bisexual? Another first to have a non hetero lead in a super hero movie here. Unless you are denying the experiences of bisexual women here!

8. Even Minor Characters feature diversity: Scan the IMDB page. Even in minor roles we have blacks, Asians, and Latinos.

9. Every excuse you could use to not go, applied in equal measure to #Ghostbusters: Bad reviews? Check. Produced by a Major Corporation? Check. Directed by a man? Check! There is no weaseling out of this one, ladies and gender non-specifics! Suicide Squad also had not one, not two, but three GOOD trailers compared to the travesty that was the Ghostbusters trailer.

So, Social Justice Warriors! Are you with me? Are you on your way to see David Ayers and DCEU’s Suicide Squad this weekend? Are you prepared to write reviews where you boldly declare “Women can be super villainous anti-heroes, Suicide Squad is good, get over it?” Are you ready to buy tickets and then not use them to prop up this paragon of Social Justice?

Or are you just hypocrites? Do you just want me to suffer through a #Ghostbusters remake I didn’t ask for, didn’t want, that looked bad, and whose creators went out of their way to insult me while you sit at home and skip diverse movies because they comes from DC/Warner Brothers or aren’t “quippy” like Marvel/Disney movies?

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December DCU Stack

As always, this is a review post– I review all the DCU books from the current month that I received in my week four shipment; there will be spoilers for these books.

The “Robin War” story line definitively took over this month, adding books to the stack and pushing some titles up the list (partially artificially). That said, it was really good cross over which I definitely enjoyed.

From first to worst for my current stack, this month– and now to the books!

Grayson #15: This is the second part of Robin War. It features a “Robin School” where Dick, Jason, Tim, and Damian training the massive number of other Robins, and picking out their best few (spoiler, our friends from “We Are Robin” are all the top recruits). We also get each of the former/current Robins take on what Batman says being Robin is all about– Investigation (Tim), confidence (Jason), suffering (Damian), family (Dick). Really great issue; of course it underscores that having Dick in a random gray spy suit still makes no sense and why can’t he just be in Gotham and be Nightwing again, but it took the top spot this month for the first time in its solid run.

Robin War #1: The kickoff to the Robin War event, we get the set up of a (very) young Robin accidentally killing a robber and a cop. Then we get Duke Thomas arrested and being a real Robin by breaking out of the back of the police cruiser. We get some more exposition about the “Robin laws”, and then our friends from “We Are Robin” who– apparently– are the “Middletown Robin Cell” (who knew!) speaking to a large gathering of Robins. Then Damian kicks all their asses. then mecha-Batman shows up and Damian has to fight him too. Then we get the rest of the former Robins in town and the dual set ups of the Batman sanctioned Robins training the new kids, and the Talons being behind the whole thing. Also, the (really) young Robin from the beginning gets killed by a Talon. As event books go this one set up a lot and worked really well.

JLA #6: We get back toe Bryan Hitch’s epic tale of Rao after the Martian Manhunter focused fill in issue. I have to say that I am glad they decided to drop a fill in issue instead of using more artists to get this story done faster– these big panels are just great and I like that Hitch is being allowed to tell his story, even though it caused some delay.

Aquaman is fighting some of Rao’s followers in Atlantis, and Superman is fighting Rao himself (and getting his butt handed to him in the Fortress of Solitude). Then we see Flash in the past where he is working with an “Infinity Corporation”– I think these are the same scientists who had the dozens of dead Supermen in the first issue?

The Rao’s dudes push Aquaman to the trashed Olympus where Wonderwoman is, and shocker– they blow it up more. We see a massive explosion of red that covers a two page spread, then cut to GL in the ancient past of Krypton where the big reveal is the Infinity Corporation building Flash was in in 1961 here 250,000 years ago on Krypton.

This is unfolding pretty slowly (especially with the delay), but its nice to have a Justice League story that isn’t on an infinite loop of crossover/event machine.

Batman #47: Jim Gordan shows down against Mr. Bloom, having to take out his own mech-suit, but manages to fritz Mr. Bloom’s seeds. Then, with Bloom in tow his Bat-Train-Mobile gets ambushed by more Mr. Blooms and oh, by the way Bruce Wayne remembers that he is Batman. Then the Joker shows up. Who knows where this is going next, but it feels finally like it’s finally building toward something and the story felt much more cohesive than the last few issues where the Bruce Wayne stuff was so very out of place.

I have a feeling this is going to read really well in the trade, but some of these individual issues have just not held up as a single piece of work. Similar to the kind of problem that Alan Seppinwall has been pointing out in Television– TV being made for the binge without regard to episodes as coherent pieces of entertainment/art by themselves.

Detective Comics #47: A Robin War only entry to the stack; part three features most of the Robins (all of them except Dick in fact) in prison, while Dick goes after/convinces to help Jim Gordon/mecha-Bat. There’s also some good talking between Robins in the jail. Then Gordon/Grayson charge off and oh yeah, Talons are here. A slower issue but the Grayson/Gordan relationship is too good to pass up– since these two have known each other as Commissioner/Robin and then Commissioner/Batman, and now as Batman/spy it has a lot of play there.

We Are Robin #7: Robin War part four here; we get more Grayson/Gordon, and then we get a “fight” between Red Hood and Red Robin– not a real fight as they illicitly work together to free the captured Robins, but it was pretty satisfying to get Jason vs. Tim. Biggest problem dragging this issue itself down a bit– we barely get any of the usual “Middletown” Robin Cell– a little Duke Thomas, and them in the backgrounds. Still a good issue, but barely connected to the characters that are usually in it. Of course, since “We Are Robin” as a concept could touch on any Robins, and if it has a long run will inevitably feature other characters than the few we have been getting in the first arc (since the movement as depicted in Robin War is MUCH larger than I realized in this book to date) it still kind of qualifies as fitting.

Robin Son of Batman #7: This issue (part five of Robin War) finally features the Robins fighting the Talons. Robins vs. Owls if you will. I’d have liked a little more of that through this entire crossover, though what we get is solid. It also has Dick bursting in on the Court themselves, and shocker– its Lincoln March (again). Then the big reveal– the Court no longer wants Dick as their “Gray Son” because they now have Damian (the more killing Robin) to fill the role. This is the cliff hanger that leads into Robin War #2– which isn’t in my stack till January, so I have to wait a month for the conclusion. Overall I rate “Robin War” a success for sure though.

DK III The Master Race Book Two/ Dark Knight Universe Presents Wonder Woman #1: So we have Carrie Kelly being questioned by the comissioner which seems pointless– why she let herself get caught only to later escape, ect, ect is all just a blur. Why she wants people to believe Bruce Wayne is dead when he isn’t is completely obtuse here. Then we get Ray Palmer and Lara Kent/Supergirl and they are de-shrinking Kandor. Palmers succeeds and poof– a bunch of Kryptionians now full size! Then, one of them– their evil leader we will assume, shrinks Palmer and steps on him. So now we know what “The Master Race” refers to, as a city full of Kryptonians seem poised to conquer the earth. Then there is the reveal that Bruce Wayne is (predictably) alive. Decent book, but having half of it seem completely pointless capture/escape really knocks this prestige project down a rank.

The mini was again, more fun than the big book. It features Lara training against Wonder Woman. The end line “I’m not like you. . . I’m Kryptonian” seems to tease that Lara is going to join the evil Krypton guys in their plan to take over the world, which is pretty disappointing. I’m tired of people wearing the S not being the good guys, but whatever. This is a mini, so of course if you have bought the first two you are going to finish it out, and it has a big prestige push– but I don’t think this is living up to even Dark Knight Strikes Back, much less Dark Knight Returns.

Secret Six #9: This feels a bit better than the last few issues of the series. We open on some Justice League Dark types talking about how awful Black Alive is; then we get the end of the Catman/Aquaman battle which of course finishes when Porcelain smashes the pillar they were here to smash and they teleport out. Then its off to Perdition, so everyone dresses in old time-y clothes, except Strix who wears a purple prom dress. The Stryx humor was really solid this issue. Then they kill another pillar, but also squash the cthulu thing that the pillar was keeping locked away. Then the last page cliff hanger has Black Alice asking Scandal Savage to kill her (for the good of the universe of course). A good issue to get this book back on track after a few muddled runs recently.

Cyborg #6: The end of the techno-sapiens story line. Vic uses his new “regeneration” protocols to cure the computer virus that is making them so nasty. Problem solved, they fade away/deactivate and only a few escape to another part of the multi-verse. Then the big reveal that Vic can now regenerate and be basically human (or human appearing), but that he is not comfortable looking this way and revealing this to anyone yet. Seems like a good character direction to head in here, and this has been a good run for a character who has been long overdue for a long running solo book. I can only hope that sales, or the cross marketing desire to push Cyborg for the upcoming movies keep this one in the publication schedule for a good long time.

Midnighter #7: The first 2/3rds of this book is a pretty brutal fight with Prometheus. Hard to really describe, but its the kind of bloody, brutal, vicious violence we have come to expect from this book. Then we get some “putting life stuff together” pages, and Deadshot which I assume sets up the next story line. Sidebar on that– Deadshot is EVERYWHERE right now. Or Deadshot and Harley Quinn. The Suicide Squad hype machine is in full effect. I’m not complaining– we are getting some new Deadshot collected editions for which I am greatful, but maybe we don’t need him in every single title over the next few months?

Second side note– Midnighter is hovering down under 10K in sales, towards 7K– hoping this book keeps going because it is a definitive success artistically and deserves to flourish despite low sales– so if you haven’t checked it out– do! Its really, really good, and is still currently the only solo title from either DC or Marvel headlined by a gay male hero.

Batman Beyond #7: In the first post-Brother Eye issue we get Barbara Gordon (now in her late forties or fifties or something) working with Tim Drake to fix the Batman Beyond suit. Why Tim, who fought crime without a super high tech suit thinks that Batman is dead without it, but go with it. He gets the suit up and running, punks some Jokers, and then Terry McGinnis’s little brother (reminder, Terry went to the past [but still in the future from current timeline books] and died there trying to stop Brother Eye [but failing] which is why five years from now Tim is in 35 years from now with old Barbara Gordon.)  For the record, explaining the complex set up for this book does never get old! Glad to have a Brother Eye-less issue. Seems like the book is finally, 7 issues in, heading towards what we wanted when it launched.

Catwoman #47: New creative team here (Frank Tieri writing and Inaki Miranda on art, plus Eva De La Cruz on colors) and while I am sorry to see Genevieve Valentive/David Messina/Gaetano Carlucci go (whose last series on this book was basically a masterpiece), the new direction/set up here is interesting. Seems that the book is taking a turn toward burglar Catwoman, leaving the mob politics behind. Though the setup also includes an old fence of Selena’s being murdered and her set up. I’m looking forward to some heist action, and I’ll stick on the book for now at least.

Aquaman #47: Overall forgettable issue; some Justice Leaguers and Arthur are fighting both Thule guys and current Atlantis, then Mera escapes. I had this issue rated fairly high before the Robin War books all stole the top third of the ratings, but this arc has been troubled at best, and nothing here really stood out after the fact.

Deathstroke #13: We get the finish of the prison break in story here– Catwoman Harley Quinn (see above about Suicide Squad being everywhere), and our boy Slade versus prisoners, prison guards, and a bad guy I’m not familiar with named “Snakebite”. Rose isn’t in Blackgate, and Snakebite escapes, so the quest to find his daughter will continue next issue. Decent start to this arc, but I like it less than the last one that pulled me into this book. Hard to say if Deathstroke will remain a fixture in my stack— especially after realizing how thick my stack has grown as of this month. Its possible that as Robin War falls out of the lineup it will thin down a bit (I’m not adding any of the books I didn’t already have that I picked up this month for Robin War going forward, but I did recently add both Action Comics and Superman to the pull list.) Also, I know a few of the books in my stack are minis/maxis (Titans Hunt and DK III) so they will naturally fall out as well, at a minimum I am still in on Deathstroke for now.

Teen Titans #15: Against a back drop of the Robin War, the Titans square off with Professor Pyg who the end teases is now working for Brother Blood, so a new school Batman villain plus a classic Titans villain that works as a really good pairing. This issue suffered badly from being a tie in. If we had just a bit more of the core story and ditched the tie-in panels it would have been more clean (which for a book that borders on hard to follow recently would have helped). The tie in stuff didn’t add anything to this issue, and didn’t add anything to the Robin War event. I’d say anyone who is not a Titans reader regularly and dropped in because it said Robin War on the cover were probably pretty frustrated.

Red Hood Arsenal #7: A Robin War tie in that I picked up solely because of the tie in. And again, its split and barely touches on the crossover storyline. Here we get some good Tim/Jason stuff about following Dick and then Jason as Robin, but it was just a few pages and then an absolutely unconnected story where Arsenal and Joker’s Daughter (I guess she’s in this book now) fight some circus freaks. Decent book, but another miss on the tie in, and not enough to bring me onto this book, despite my general like of both the title characters.

New Suicide Squad #15: Here we get Waller and crew busting into a corporate facility that is all tied up in the Vic Sage attempted Squad takeover. A lot of this issue is talking heads of Waller squaring off with some white lady we’ve never seen before, but whose part of Leviathan I guess? Yeah, too much talking heads here. Also the last few issues have tried to humanize Parasite, but yeah not really buying him as anything but muscle– especially when his story line is being powerless and passed out and not talking.

Titans Hunt #3: We start with Gar Aqualad fighting against Donna Trois and also trying to strangle Dick Grayson to death. They eventualy find a Teen Titans clubhouse, and all have memory problems. Then Roy Harper drunk in jail gets shot at by Caveboy, and catches the arrow– because apparently he forgot that he is Speedy and didn’t know he could catch the arrow despite all the running around with Red Hood he’s done in the new 52? So confused on everything here still. Hopefully issue four starts to make some sense.

Justice League #46: Wonder Woman and some of her side are fighting against Apokolips guys (after a reminder that everyone is gods now), and then Aquaman and Wonder Woman almost kiss out of seemingly nowhere, but oh hey, Superman is an angry evil god now and that leads into Grail (the spooky half Amazon half-Darkseid chick) getting the anti-life equation and becoming the “Goddess of Anti-Life”. So many problems with this confusing, muddled story line, but toss into the mix handing out the mcguffin that Darkseid has searched for unsuccessfully for 100 years randomly to his even eviler daughter after he’s dead.

Gotham Academy #13: So there’s a random really lame looking Robin at the Academy (since this is a Robin War tie in) who finds Zombies in the Greenhouse. Then Riko from We Are Robin is here, and gets caught by the Academy Girls, and then there’s a green Zombie and Maps is trying to save Riko when she gets arrested but Damian shows up and talks her out of it. Pretty meh, all around, like all the tie-ins have been this event. I guess bad tie-ins, good main book or something like that. Needless to say, although I liked the first trade when I checked it out from the library, I’m not jumping onto Gotham Academy anytime soon past this tie-in issue.

Martian Manhunter #7: This book is troubled. Super confusing issue; we have Martian Manhunter fighting the now Martian looking Pearl, and other parts of him are still here, but we are on Mars, and the little girl who was with Mr. Biscuits is grown up now, and there are Martian tanks? Definitively the bottom running book in my stack and its holding on for continued purchase by a string. I think the sales numbers agree, and I don’t expect this one to continue (and unlike Dr. Fate and Midnighter, I don’t really hope it gets a reprieve.)

November DCU Stack

I’m hyper late with my stack review this month. I was distracted with my civilian job and with finishing the first draft of my first novel!

That said, I decided that its better late than never, so I am going to publish it now (just a week before my December stack ships.)

 

SPOILER ALERT– I’m going to review all the DC universe comics from my November pull list. I get my comics off DCBS so I receive them in the final week of each month.

As always, from first to worst in order!

Midnighter #6: Steve Orlando’s run on the only gay male DC hero with a solo title comes in at the top spot this month. This makes it the first repeat choice in my stack (Midnighter #3 also took top honors).

This issue sees M sharing thanksgiving with his new boyfriend, battling multiplex, then eventually going to the hometown where Midnighter’s boyfriend’s father has been targeted, apparently by homophobic thugs.

Of course, in the end, its a super villain. The fight scenes are visceral and bloody, the relationships are touching, and the betrayal is brutal and affecting.

This is still a cape book at heart, so we know intellectually that Midnighter isn’t going to die and that there will be issue #7, however, this was an excellent cliffhanger and a perfect continuation of a great series.

 

Catwoman #46: As good as Midnighter was this month, VIctoria Velentine, David Messina, and Gaetano Carlucci’s Catwoman nearly took the top spot a second month in a row.

This issue ends the story line that has been running since Issue #41. We have a series of falling outs– Antonia Calabrese and Eiko, Eiko and Stephanie Brown, Stephanie and Selena, then finally Selena and Eiko.

Eiko, no longer a Catwoman and now head of the Hasigawa family executes a bloody sweep of all the smaller Gotham families. The clearing of the board leaves three major players with a tenuous peace– Hasigawa with Eiko at the head, the Calabrese with Antonia at the lead, and Forster Lane (Penguin’s crew).

Selena discovers that Antonia is safe, having been tipped off by Eiko to seek refuge with Penguin. There is a tender moment between Antonia and Selena as they both reaffirm the value of family, then a heart breaking momet with Eiko and Selena seeing each across the roof tops, then finally Selena rolls out of town on her motorcycle, heading off to, presumably, a new story arc.

We Are Robin #6: The Robins square off with a Talon in what is I am sure the first shots of the “Robin War”. Duke gets shot, and the Robins eventually get saved by Alfred who reminds them that they need to start wearing masks. All around good issue. Good interplay between the Robins, and a good fight with the Talon.

Robin Son of Batman #6: This might be the highest I’ve ever rated this title. The meat of this issue is Damian talking to Talia, but the best stuff centers around Damian’s relationship with Goliath (his bat-dragon pet). We see Damian slaughtering Goliath’s family, then crying over the tiny runt of a bat-dragon, then in the present Damian releasing Goliath and leaving him on Al-Ghul island to be free. Finally, Robin is heading back to Gotham, and he leaves his mother a very threatening note on the way out.

Grayson #14:  This issue features Grayon, Tiger, and Ladytron sneaking into a German Spyral facility. We find out that Otto Netz created both Spyral and Leviathan to constantly face off against each other, and that both his daughter are in charge of the organizations respectively but also probably creepy clones/mind transplants as well. Its good to start to get some of this stuff explained, but this Spyrol stuff is starting to wear long in the tooth a year and a couple of months in.

DK III The Master Race #1/ Dark Knight Universe Presents the Atom #1: Look, DK III has no hope of holding up to the original, but its still a decent outing. We get mysterious text message scroll about the Bat being back in an abhorrent dialect of texteese, then a glimpse at Wonder Woman defending some people in I guess, the Amazon? Then we get Lara who is Wonder Woman & Superman’s daughter at the Fortress of Solitude, where, oh by the way Superman is just sitting there frozen solid. Alive? Dead? No clue, but Kandor wants some help from Lara. Oh, then the person in the Batman suit is the female Robin and she says Bruce Wayne is dead. So, who knows where this will go?

The included Atom book definitely drug the rating of this package up a few spots. We see Ray Palmer, who by the way I miss seeing as the Atom since he’s been absent for what seems like a decade in the DCU proper fighting what looks like a Dinosaur, but of course its just a lizard in a cage in his lab. Then a little guy comes in and says something unintelligible to him. This is a guy from Kandor and Lara has brought it along and they want Ray to un-shrink them. This seems 100% more interesting that the Batman stuff in the main book.

JLA #5: We get a fill in issue for the 5th issue, so instead of the story of the first four issues we get Martian Manhunter fighting a Martian bad guy of some sort. For a one shot issue, its pretty good. J’onn stalks his opponent in Japan then fights with the shape changing creature. This really makes me wish that we could just get a normal Martian Manhunter book. If this had been issue five of the Martian Manhunter on-going, I can’t help suspecting that book would be in a better place.

Deathstroke #12:  Finally firmly lodged in my stack, this issue features Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad en tow. Deathsroke is breaking into Belle Reve to look for his daughter (Rose Wilson, sometimes known as Ravager). Pretty good fight between Slade and Black Manta here, and this feels like a good Suicide Squad issue, which seems odd to run into in a Deathstroke solo book, but I’m still along for the ride.

Doomed #6: The final issue of Doomed is here, and we finally get to see Reiser in action. He and Superman and Alpha Centurion take on some Doomsday monsters, and a massive Doomsday monster. The Alpha Centurion threatens to kill him, and Superman knocks AC out, and lets Reiser go. We get the hint that Doomed will show up in Teen Titans, which is nice, I liked the character for all the no where his solo book went.

Titans Hunt #2: Still not sure where this is going; we have Arsenal drunk driving cross country, we get Cave Boy (whoever that is) living in a grocery store, and then Grayson (in his spy clothes no less) researching in the Bat Cave. Oh and by the way, I don’t think any of these characters have ever met in the New 52. We also has Mal Duncan and his pregnant wife or girlfriend in the mix, then at the end Aqualad and Donna Trois show up to fight Grayson. So, total confusion still! But it was interesting, and I like these old Titans.

Teen Titans #13: This issue features the Titans and the Elite squaring off in a prison with some inmates mixed in. I think they were here to get Superboy originally? Or some of them to get Superboy and others to stop them? I don’t know, Dr. Psycho is here too. Then Power Girl gets huge, beats up Manchester Black. Then Alpha Centurion shows up with the obvious insinuation that they are going to fight him next issue. I still don’t really know who is on and who is off this team, and its pretty confusing all around.

New Suicide Squad #14: Waller and crew’s out and about on their current mission. This focus of this issue is whether or not the neck bombs are connected. They are, but Waller took control of them away from the control center (good thing since they were blown at the end of last issue). She for some reason lets herself get roughed up a bit before telling Harley, Deadshot, and Boomerang that if she dies they go off. The bait and switch was pretty obvious and doesn’t seem to add that much to this story, which is why this book probably slipped so low this month.

Doctor Fate #6: The flood continues into its sixth issue; this issue Khalid goes to face off against Anubis. The fight is confusingly drawn; good art overall but the story telling breaks down here and bit and the super slow pace is starting to drag. Hopefully next issue brings this to a conclusion because its really time that we should see Dr. Fate facing some different challenges.

Secret Six #8: This issue is a little down; Black Alice is still beset with magic crazy illness and there are some white gates that are holding out Cthulu monsters that the Six are going to knock down, but oh yeah every magic and remotely magical character in the entire DCU is out to stop them. One of the gates is underwater, so Aquaman is there to fight him. The best part of when the ladies on the squad sit down to watch as Catman and Aquaman fight. Then, there are some bizarre Cthulu people stapping out of their skin who I guess we will fight next month. This book really shines when it features the team interacting with each other, but sometimes there just isn’t enough of that stuff there, still feel like we barely know a few of the newer characters, and we are left leaning on the previous iteration of the book for Catman’s personality in a lot of ways. I think that Deadshot is really the missing ingredient that made that book work so well for so long. Mr. Big Shot is the obvious non fitting piece here. Stryx is great, but as a silent character can’t be the heart of the team, and with Alice sidelined that leaves Catman, Big Shot, Porcelain, and Ventriloquist to carry the team– but Porcelain is still very much a blank slate. We know nothing about her except that she’s a trans woman. I know this is a lot of words about a book on its 8th issue that’s been pretty good so far, however the allure of this book on solely nostalgia for the previous run will only last so long if we don’t get some more attachments to the characters that are actually in this series.

Batman Beyond #6: Tim finally takes down Brother Eye. Hopefully now this book can go into the kinds of places that I wanted to see it go when it was first solicited.

Aquaman #46: Wonder Woman and Aquaman fight with King Shark and the rest of the fake Atlantis squad sent to hint for Aquaman. Some good stuff here, but really a pretty in between feeling issue. The art has corrected itself to DCU standard, so that’s a positive but this is another story line that is starting to wear a bit think with very little movement going on.

Batman #46: Gordan Batman is fighting Mr. Bloom this issue, but there are also some pages with Bruce Wayne frolicking in the shower with his girlfriend and Duke Thomas (one of our Robins from We Are Robin, but with an awful helmet which I hope to god is not the design they go with for his costume) sneaking into Penguin’s iceberg hideout. Which one, why does Penguin have an iceberg hangout, and two why is Duke Thomas sneaking in there, and three why is that happening in Batman when the current Batman has no relationship with any Robin, much less Duke Thomas. Also, as we know from Catwoman Penguin’s hideout is Forster Lane and features tunnels under Gotham which is way cooler than this iceberg thing. Probably the worst issue of Snyder’s Batman I’ve read; really, really weak month here.

Martian Manhunter #6: The split personalities story line continues here. We finally see one of them emerge as a Martian, then there’s something that’s supposed to bring back Mars (by destroying Earth of course) and then they all go into it and it happens and J’onn is whole again, but he has the other personalities in his mind and has to put Earth back together again now. This is a stark contrast to JLA #5 which is how you tell a good Martian Manhunter story, which this is not. 6 issues in and I am not sure how long I want to stay with this book; now that Doomed is cancelled and Robin Son of Batman has righted itself, this is the weakest book in my stack pretty consistantly.

October DCU Stack

Well, Catwoman made my normal pulls this month, but Deathstroke still was missing– not sure if that’s because I didn’t order it or if it was bumped to next month. Ironically, by the time Deathstroke makes my normal stack the storyline I wanted to pick it up for may be done. The addition of Catwoman and the new Titan’s Hunt brings my stack up to 17 DCU books this month, with the potential for 19 when Deathstroke and Omega Men which I intend to add come in.

So let’s get to it! As always, DC Universe books are rated from best to worst in my stack.

Catwoman #45: The current run of Catwoman has been really strong, but this issue pushed it to a new level. The mob war story line continues to develop here. Last issue Black Mask killed new Catwoman Eiko Hasigawa’s father. We open with the two squared off at the funeral. We get some great interactions throughout– Eiko & Black Mask, Selena & Eiko, Penguin & Calabrese & Black Mask– for n issue with a lot of talking, it felt like this was action packed and kept moving. All the building that the last several issues have put in are paying off. If you are a fan of the Gotham TV show, this Catwoman run is for you. The Penguin here is the best of the Penguin character from the show, (except in his look) and that’s the best part of that show. The plot and story are just great, and the art this issue really popped. I hadn’t particularly noticed it one way or the other the last few issues, but it was really working now– highlighted by the two page silent chase and fight between Selena and Black Mask. I’m not great at separating colors/inks/pencils, so I will give the shout out to all three artists– David Messina (pencils), Gaetano Carlucci (inks) and Lee Loughridge (colors)– really great stuff to go with Genevieve Valentine’s writing.

Dr. Fate #5: Paul Levits & Sonny Liew’s great work continues in issue five of the new Dr. Fate. With Lee Loughridge on colors here as well, the art from the series has been constantly striking and of high quality. Sonny Liew’s cover here is excellent as well, though it seemed very disconnected from the issue itself. The flood story seems to wrap up and morph into another story with a big twist at the end. We finally see Khalid square off against the Anubis jackal.

Cyborg #4: The first of the three books this month which I had double doses of due to late shipping last month. We get a lot of information here about the cyber-bad guys that are coming to destroy apparently everything. We also have the Metel Men guest starring. There’s something very Silver Age-y about the Metal Men which I find charming, and which offers a counter point to the pretty dark story line here. Overall, a good book.

We Are Robin #5: We are back to the main story here instead of the single character spot lights we have had the last few issues. The Robins are starting to question whether they should really be following the random messages that “the Nest” has been sending. So the Robin’s eventually meet up with Alfred whose been organizing them. Another great issue from this great series. I am really hoping the “Robin War” cross over that’s coming doesn’t derail this book.

JLA #4: Bryan Hitch’s epic tale continues both in the present where the Kryptonian God Rao has come to Earth and in the past on ancient Krypton where Green Lantern has been thrown. In the past we find out that Rao is really an old dude whose been siphoning power from his followers to get young again, and in the present we find out that the Rao conversion squad prophets will force convert you if you aren’t willing to submit, predictable set up for the inevitable “Rao’s really a bad guy!” that the “powerful being arrives and fixes all the world’s problems” story type, but Hitch is executing it really well so far. He’s juggling the many Justice League members well, and has done a good job splitting them up to keep them all engaged where as sometimes in big team books members tend to get lost on the page– theoretically present but not acting. This split time-line solution is working, and its heartening to see that the editors are letting these story lines stretch to their own ends.

Midnighter #5: This issue features the wrap of the Russian vampire story featuring Grayson that started last issue. Grayson and Midnighter take on the Russian Genetic manipulator whose using God Garden tech to weaponize folk lore monsters. The partnership between the two develops– this is the third or fourth issue between their two books that the pair have teamed up (or fought), and there is some definite character chemistry between them. We also get some good character building on Matt, Midnighter’s boyfriend. Steve Orlando has been doing a great job mixing action with character advancement throughout this run. The fight scenes this week weren’t as visceral as they have been in earlier issues, but the double edged character development is worth it.

Grayson #13: This month we get the name of the mysterious Agent 0 who has been mucking up Grayson’s life recently. We also see Grayson and his partner Tiger/ Agent 1 serving as paid security on a ship and fighting some pirates. The real treat here is the cover which is just god damned sexy. The shocking revelation is that the big bad of presumably this whole Grayson as spy set up is Luka Netz– and she has apparently been watching Dick since his earliest days as Robin.

Secret Six #7: Now that we are un-shackled from the initial story arc, this issue sets up the next story arc in which Black Alice’s powers are going crazy and threaten all mankind by unleashing some super evil Titans or something. This sets up the Secret Six to be fighting against all the magic using characters in the DCU– both bad guys like Felix Faust and Klarion, and good guys like Zatanna and Swamp thing are working together to try to stop what’s going on by killing Alice. Its a really good set up issue, but its still a set up issue– I’m looking forward to where this is going though. The other half the issue dwells on Catman trying to get the girls to play sports– to predictable results. These are not the kinds of characters to play sports. Overall, a fun issue.

New Suicide Squad #13: Another great kick off issue for a new run. I’m not entirely sure how the last story line ended?  I guess Black Mantra just stayed in whatever country that was with the terrorists and the rest of the Squad peaced out? The Squad this issue seems to be made up of Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quin, Parasite, and Amanda Waller in field mode. No sign of Reverse Flash or Manta, and their names aren’t on the panel for the cranial bombs so I am assuming they won’t be featured. Starting in media res on a drug deal, and the predictable Suicide Squad antics ensue. I wonder how long we are going to keep the “New” in the title of this book– its more than a year in now, and more than half the squad are long running stalwarts of the Squad dating back to the very first runs– Deadshot, Boomerang, Waller. I don’t really now what’s so new about it, but it was a good change of pace from the previous very confusing story.

Aquaman #45: This issue features Aquaman in space– he’d ported here at the end of issue #44. The art here was much less distracting than its been in some of the last few, and the story line is starting to build. You wouldn’t think that Aquaman in space would be a good fit, but I’m also really kind of pumped for this, its something that I at least haven’t ever seen before. Issue #44 was a really good issue of this book, and this issue has a lot of leftover good will from the back to back reading. Its a shame that 44 shipped late because it would have been near the top in my September stack had it been ranked.

Titans Hunt #1: I really don’t know what to make of this book. It seems to be setting up a story about the classic Titans line up in the past and them uncovering it somehow in the present. Of course, in the New 52 these Titans were never Titans– Aqualad, Robin, Donna Troy, Arsenal, plus Caveboy, Hawk & Dove, and Herald. Its an odd mix of characters and I’m not sure where its heading, but I pull listed this because I thought a classic Titans/mid-2000s Outsiders would be fun, and it looks like it could go some interesting places.

Martian Manhunter #5: This story is still confusing. Most of the characters present here are all Martian Manhunter, or aspects of him, or something. Hard to get too attached or interested in characters that you know aren’t really characters. I’d much rather have just seen an actual Martian Manhunter book instead of whatever this is that we are getting in this book. Mr. Biscuits is about the only bright spot here.

Doomed #5: Doomed is playing out the string here. This book features Superman and Alpha Centurian and then a lot of big info dumps about Doomsday and then we get the actual Doomsday showing up at the end. This book showed some promise early on, but its death sentence was swift and its sales have trailed off to less than 10,000 with this issue so I don’t see any reprieve like Omega Men got. At least next issue’s Doomsday fight can hopefully send it out in style.

Batman #45: I didn’t think this issue was bad when I read it, but that was early in the stack and since then nearly every other book bumped it down. The Jim Gordan as Batman stuff is pretty good here, and throughout this run. The other half of this issue, however, with not Batman Bruce Wayne is just un-bearable. I get it, he’s here and he is going to be Batman eventually again, but just like the ghost Peter Parker in Superior Spiderman was the worst part of that book, Bruce is just an anchor on this book We could have found out about the machine a few issue ago, then had his go completely away for five or six issue until it was time for him to come back. Here he’s just a bad B plot that seems pointless.

Justice League #45: Darkseid War continues. We get Bat-Metron, Flash merged with the Black Racer, Superman on Apokolips Juice. All the Justice League members are getting powered up to God status to set up some final fight between them and the Anti-Monitor. It wasn’t until reading these last two issues that I realized that this is just a continuation of the original continuous cross-over that started in Trinity War over a year ago. I dropped Justice League back then when I realized that crossover lead directly into the Forever Evil, which then led directly into this event (since Anti-Monitor destroyed their world, ect.) I’m still pretty fatigued on this kind of mass cross over event.

Robin Son of Batman #5: Damian heads back to the League of Assassin’s stronghold to get more stuff to return where he is ambushed by Talia. Confusing art has returned this issue and it seems like the writer’s got bored with the set up for the series and wanted to fast forward it by introducing a reason that Talia sent Damian to get the stuff he stole in the Year of Blood in the first place. This book has been really up and down the last few issue, but this was a clunker.

Batman Beyond #5: Still fighting Brother Eye in the future, but this time there was some actual progress for Tim Drake and crew. They use Jim Gordan’s Bat-mech suit and Bruce’s kryptonite ring to kil the Superman zombie, and the Atom-like character kills the Wonderwoman zombie as well. Seems like there is going to be some push back against Brother Eye and hopefully this will go to less hopeless places in the future, but I am skeptical. When a Batman Beyond book was announced I was excited, but this is not the book I was hoping to get.

 September Stack late ships: Aquaman #44, Cyborg #3, Justice League #44

October Stack late shipping: Teen Titans #13

Non-DCU Books: Low #10, Black Magick #1, Sandman Overture #6, Adventure Time #45. Munchkin #9, Munchkin #10, Teen Titans Go! #12, Adventure Time Fionna and Cake Card Wars #4

The Arrow-verse Show’s Its Racist Streak

The DC TV Universe (the Arrow-verse if you will) features two, and soon to be three shows has been on a hot streak. Arrow is going strong in season four, the Flash is a hit, and later this year Heroes of Tomorrow will come on.  Additionally, up till now, they have done a great job of introducing minority characters.

Arrow has John Diggle as a primary character, and featured Katana last year. Arrow smartly race shifted Iris West (and her Dad) to add diversity to the cast, and also has Cisco Ramon aka Vibe to bring a Hispanic character into the main cast as well.

I just spent two paragraphs praising these two shows and the characters which they’ve brought in already, and last night’s episode of the Flash actually does expand the diversity of the cast by adding an African American half to Firestorm (I refuse to write F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. ever again after this.)

There is a catch though.

The character we get here is Jefferson “Jax” Jackson, a former high school football player who had his knee destroyed by the particle accelerator. This is where the racist streak comes in.

A little back story on Firestorm. Originally Firestorm was a merging of physicist Martin Stein and high school quarterback Ronnie Raymond (both white). In more recent years Firestorm has been a merging of former high school quarterback Ronnie Raymond, and super smart science student Jason Rusch (an African American).

So the folks at Warner Brothers have done two things here– first, they swapped Ronnie Raymond who in both the 80’s original Firestorm and the modern Firestorm is an athlete and made him a physicist instead.

Then they have taken the super smart Rusch and replaced him with an athlete– a character they invented out of whole cloth who has never appeared in the comics (and basically co-opted Cyborg’s origin story of bad thing happening at football game he is star athlete of.)

The implication is obvious– white people get to be superheroes because they are smart; black people get to be superheroes because they are athletic.

Yes, they went out of the way to say that Jax was smart, good grades, ect. They blundered through here as well– oh he’s smart, but not smart enough to go to college without a football scholarship. Never mind that the straight A’s and the commensurate ACT or SAT score that comes with that level of intelligence results in academic scholarships which, when combined with federal student aid, can finance college. Jax is black; no football no college.

But you might say, there was also the smart scientist black guy in this episode! So the racist implications can’t be intended, right?  No, quit wrong. The smart, scientist black character immediately turns out to be a villain. If he can’t be Firestorm, he’s going to use his own abilities which he doesn’t have to combine with another person to use strictly for revenge/murder/evil. Hewitt is a caricature at best here, and doesn’t win them any points for seeing beyond stereotype.

We will be seeing a lot of Jax in Heroes of Tomorrow coming up later this year. There is still time for the character to grow out of stereotype mode and to be a fully developed character. I can’t help wondering, however, why the writers felt the need to create a new African American host for Firestorm and leave Jason Rusch, a character with 10 years history in the comics, on the shelf.

September Stack: DCU

I’m desperately late with my September stack article. I’ve been dealing with a serious bout of writer’s block recently, and it struck even deep enough to keep me from reviewing my September DCU books like I usually do. I figure, better late than never though so just a few short weeks before my October stack ships I will bring you September!

Cyborg #3, JLA #4, Justice League #44, and Aquaman #44 were all bumped to next month’s shipment; Catwoman and Deathstroke weren’t added to my pulls on time since I had picked up last month’s issues in shops.

SPOILER ALERT— I am going to assume you’ve read your stack for the month and discuss spoilers.

Again, as always, in order from best to worst:

We Are Robin #4: This issue we ride along with “R-Iko”/ Riko Sheridan. The art mimics the old school 70’s dot coloring which works really well for this issue. R-Iko gets an assist from her idol, Batgirl, and the two have a moment. It was a great issue and it let us in on the world of one of our protagonists. We also get a two page spread in the back that gives us the details on our five (nee 6 including the deceased Troy) Robins, who we will assume are going to be the main characters going forward (Duke Thomas, R-Iko, Dax, Robina, and Dre-B-Robbin).

Grayson #12: This is a really nice character piece that puts Grayson back in Gotham. There is a page with his interaction with each member of the Bat family that feature’s dialogue from the past history of Dick and each character. He meets up with the de-Batmanned Bruce, with Jason, Tim, Damian, and of course Barbara, and then they pull a heist to disable the Spyral tech that scrambles faces. This sets up the reveal of Grayson versus Agent Zero for next issue.

Batman #44: A nice one of story that flashes back into the earlier days of Batman (Bruce’s) crime fighting days. The Jock art here is really nice, and this was a really good self contained story.

Dr. Fate #4: Same great art, and the continued trials of Khallid. Here we find out he intends to anglicize his name as “Kent”, which has the obvious connection to Kent Nelson, the previous Dr. Fate. We then get some good learning as Kent goes on a spirit quest to learn more about his powers. This issue is hurt a bit because the pacing on this book is starting to feel stilted– four issues in and not a lot of action yet. If I were reading this along with 5 and 6 which, presumably, will have the climax and conclusion of this flood storyline in a trade it wouldn’t feel so slow, but at issue four I usually expect a little more. That said, I am in on this book for a lot of reasons.

New Suicide Squad #12: I’m still a little lost on why the squad is where they are and what is going on. The best part of this issue lies in two series of panels with Harley and a group of presumably orphan children. First she entertains them and seems to win their love. Then she kills some guys in front of them and generally horrifies them. The look on her face of confusion is pretty priceless. That said, I am ready for this particular mission to be done and a big old reset to be hit. I won’t lie, I prefer the Squad to solve, or at least explode any given op in fewer issues than this one has taken– particularly since I am not sure who the sides are or what the stakes are.

Midnighter #4: This month feels like its Batman family infested– lots of Batgirl, and lots of Grayson. Might just be the books I read, but we get Grayson guesting here in Midnighter and they team up to take down a club that sells the chance to kill “Vampires”. The vampires are really homeless people who have been infected or bitten or whatever for the express purpose of selling the chance to kill them. Good fight sequences, and some good banter. Not a lot of character development for our hero, but a solid issue.

Robin Son of Batman #4: Robin and Nowhere are in Alexandria (I believe?) hunting for something in a lot pyramid of some sort. Deathstroke shows up, as we knew he would, thinking that Nowhere was her father. Then, Damian buys him off to go away. Yep, Damian just gives him 5 million dollars to not kill them and leave. Strangest solution to a super-hero/super-villain interaction I have ever seen. There is a really nice two page spread with a fight that features Rabin vs. Deathstroke in a series of 8 images of their fight silouette style in the center across both pages. Its one of the best panels from the entire stack and really works.

Secret Six #6: Conclusion to the initial storyline, the gang in fights and takes down Mockingbird/Riddler. A pretty good issue overall, but this story-line needed to be done, and the stuff with Mr. Big/ Ralph Dibney and Sue leaving him for Riddler just isn’t working for me. I like the crew that’s been assembled and I am looking forward to Simone moving these characters forward and giving them some purpose.

Martian Manhunter #4: We see our three Martian Manhunter fragments exploring their abilities. Mr. Biscuits and our FBI agent Manhunter take on the Martian Maneater (a really big ugly Martian thing) while this Arabic agent Martian Manhunter fights some white martians. Her part features what I am assuming is a mental image of the normal J’onn we know asking her things like, “What if you blew them up?” Then she says, “yah, cool” and it happens. I see where this fragments of J’onn’s personality thing is going, but I am not really sure how interesting it is in the end.

Doomed #4: This issue features our friendly neighborhood monster fighting then talking with Wonder Girl. This series has been announced as being cancelled, so now the book is doomed in more ways that one. It was an interesting if strange concept that if we were being honest, probably was never going to last but I am committed through the end of the run. Maybe our guy Reiser can see some use in a team book of some kind and get another chance after he’s more established as a character. More likely, December’s issue 6 will be the last we ever see of Doomed.

Batman Beyond #4: How this book wasn’t announced to be cancelled I am not sure. More fighting Brother Eye in a hopeless future. I feel like I am hate reading this thing almost now. I probably need to just drop it from my future month’s orders.

DCU: August DC Stack

Its month three of the new “DC You” lines, and I’m back again with my ratings and thoughts on my August stack. This was a pretty good month, somewhat lackluster on the action across the entire stack but it brought a lot of explanations and a lot of books that were almost cut have earned themselves temporary reprieves. Since I get my stack on preorder that means I am committed through issue #6 of all the new lines (except Cyborg which is a month behind).

There weren’t a lot of standouts on the top end here, but the bottom of the stack was a lot lot better than last month. This was a big month for explanations, and let me tell you– that can go a long way towards keeping interest up. The in media res openings of these books just did not hold up, there was too much confusion in some of those first two issues– especially in books like Martian Manhunter, Doomed, and Robin: Son of Batman.

Anyways, onto  August’s stack!

The Top Side:

Midnighter #3: This book continues to be strong. The pop outs that they use to show Midnighter

s powers working are really working for this, and the book really seems to move. The focus on Midnighter’s personal life, both his former relationship with Apollo and his new relationships have been very honest, open explorations into the psyche of a man with no real past, or no normal past at least. So far through 3 issues this one has been consistently in the top of the stack so I am excited to keep going with this.

We Are Robin #3: The reveal at the end of who is running “The Nest” is not earth shattering, and the other major “surprise” of this issue feels hollow, as has been pointed out elsewhere, because we don’t know most of these Robins anymore. But the art is still good, and we are starting to get more insight into those that (I assume) will be the main characters. Duke is on screen here, but not the focal point which lies more with “Shug-R”, a bubblegum chewing robin who spends this issue behind her computer and dealing with her mom. The scrawl of the I-chat style crawl of the Robin’s chat really works. The art is great, and I am looking forward to getting to know more of the Robins individually, which I will assume is coming. The cover is great again too.

Grayson #11: This issue we get Grayson fighting what appears to be himself. We get classic Nightwing fight chatter, paired with the retro sixties style. This issue ends with Dick heading off towards Gotham, which I think signals the coming end of this book. He’s left Spyrol now, blown his cover, and now he’s going home, so I won’t be surprised if this wraps up in a few issues and we get Nightwing back thereafter. But this has been a good almost year run, so I may be wrong on that.

Cyborg #2: Cyborg is a month behind the rest of the DC You books, but finally getting Vic Stone going home, dealing with his father, and being on his own is good. We haven’t hit a single fight yet in this, but the looming computer aliens are out there. The glimpse of what’s going on in Detroit with cybernetics is interesting enough. The end of the issue seems to set up Vic meeting the enemies that’ve been shown through the first two issue. All in all, its good to see Cyborg/Vic getting the spotlight.

JLA #3: Bryan Hitch’s epic tale continues to expand here; the Justice League are split off– Flash is in the past on Earth, GL in the past on Krypton, Wonder Woman off somewhere in Greek God world, and Batman and Superman on Earth dealing with the Kryptonian God Rao. I like where its going so far, and the art is great– very quick reading epic sweep.

Dr. Fate #3: The tale of our new Dr. Fate and the flood continues. This issue we see Khalid learning his powers a bit, while also a glimpse further into his home life with the introduction of Akila, who wants him to dump his current female companion for a “proper girl”. The art is great and different, and I am still stoked about the new Fate, so I really hope this one keeps going.

The Middle of the Pack:

Secret Six #5: A bit of a don issue. Catman fights against “Mr. Big” who we find out who he really is, and the gang finds out that he’s been tipping off Mockingbird (who we already knew was the Riddler (and already new Mr. Big was tipping off). Really not a lot happened here, but it filled in some background.

Batman #43: We get a long conversation between Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon (so much words on such a small panel), then Clark Kent + Alfred, then Alfred’s long explanation of what happened when Bruce came back after the last arc and why he’s not Batman now. Then half way through we finally get to see Jim Gordon in action outside the mech-suit, going up against the new “Mr. Bloom” villain’s buyer (a gang who have had horns surgically implanted on their heads. . .) All in all a decent issue, but heavy on the exposition.

Catwoman #43: A late add to my stack. The mob plot is thick in this one, and we get Selina, plus another Catwoman (Eiko Hesinga, a mob bosses daughter), plus Spoiler. Needless to say I am in. I picked up #42 and #43 at the shop, and have added Catwoman ot my pull list for the time being (and grabbed clearance #41 off DCBS). This was good enough to pull me in on a book I have never bought in issues before through a lot of different versions, so there is that.

Teen Titans #11: Its a prison break-in/break out heist. What more could you want? I mean, I would like to have the real Conner Kent/Kon-El Superboy back (with no John Kent future clone involvement), I’d like to have Raven in a costume that isn’t so awful, and I’d like to know why half the Titans are evil/working for the Elite now, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Its a decent issue if you can look past the nagging issues of some of the bad characterizations or costume. At least we have Bunker, right?

Deathstroke #9: Another late add to my stack. Superman on the cover for some reason can still make me pick up another book, despite not reading any current Superman titles. Funny that he never has powers in his own books, but is always fully powered everywhere else. . . . Anyways, here we get a fight then team up set up with Deathstroke versus Superman. Deathstroke is apparently already working with Wonder Woman to kill a crazy evil Titan. And the sword is pretty cool, so I will stick around at least through this story line.

Trouble-some Issues: 

Aquaman #43: Another issue heavy on exposition, but it was much, much needed here (whereas in Batman they could have left it out for a lot longer time before explaining anything about Bruce Wayne.) We get the backstory on Thule which is the now returning other dimensional city that threatens Atlantis. We also get the reveal on why Mera has been such a jerk to Aquaman lately. The art is jumbled, two different styles neither of which are very clean and which seem very disjointed. Like, I don’t understand why the entire background is brown for half the issue? Is the sky red? are they under water? (That’s a no, but some you know, sky for reference would help a lot?) I like the story here, but it is actually pretty hard to follow through the art they have used, and having two different artists (one for flashbacks and one for current time line) only adds to the confusion.

New Suicide Squad #11: I’m confused here. There are two different sets of mercenary/para-military guys besides the Squad themselves, and I am just not sure who is who or what is going on. I might try re-reading several issues to figure this out, but its a sign of bad storytelling to leave the reader this confused by what is a substantial part of this issue. I’d also like to see more of the Suicide Squad in the Suicide Squad book, which we’ve barely got here. A really down issue for what has been a pretty good book through ten issues.

Doomed #3: Finally someone understands our hero talking when he is in his Doomsday form. Its an inter-galactic monster hunter who looks like a little kid, but its progress. We also get some of the teen angst of his now much more complicated life. It reminds me of some of the best Peter Parker angst from the old days, which is good. This issue tickled a bit of a nostalgia spot for me with the re-introduction of the Alpha Centurion, a character originally from the 90’s Zero Hour event. This Alpha Centurion instead of being a gladiator taken away for two thousand years by aliens appears to be a powerful being channeled through a belt that gay teen Roman (no last name given). Its good to see some Zero Hour characters getting run, even in different forms. This issue certainly bought Doomed some rope to stay in the list.

Robin: Son of Batman: I’m still not sold on Damian. The story telling here is much, much cleaner. We get some of Damian talking to the young girl who is the new N.O.O.N.E. This is starting to go places that seem redeemable.

Martian Manhunter #3: The obvious “Mr. Biscuits is Martian Manhunter” reveal is here, but we also find out that J’onn has split hismelf into multiple bodies. This story line is still confusing, but its starting to coalesce. Now we have the other Martians sending beasties after him. Hopefully we will get back to the real/whole J’onn at some point here.

Justice League #43: I might just be weary of the Geoff Johns “big Justice League at War” story line– this feels like so much the same. We went straight from the Justice League War/Darkseid invasion storyline, to Trinity War, to this new “Darkseid War”. I’m just fatigued by this style of story telling I guess. We get to see more of Batman on Metron’s chair as Bat God, and a lot of standing and talking before everyone ports on over to Apokolips and we get the big face off with Anti-Monitor and the new evil Amazon versus Kalibak and Darkseid, with minions all around. Its a really nice two page spread that stands out with Wonder Woman and Mr. Miracle in the foreground (just their hips). Then Superman getting help from Luther, and we have a “no sun- no powers” thing, and Supes gets dumped into one of the big Apokolips furnaces and comes out as Evil Crazy Superman. Because making one Justice League member be corrupted by the power of the New Gods wasn’t enough, we know have evil crazy Batman God AND evil Crazy Superman God! Wow. . . I did not realize how little I care for this storyline until typing this.

Batman Beyond #3: I don’t know what else to say about this issue. Still in the future, still fighting Brother Eye. Now Tim Drake has accidentally led Brother Eye to the previously secure Neo-Gotham. I don’t know how much fighting OMAC cyborgs I can take and keep coming back for more. This book has none of what made Batman Beyond a great cartoon, none of what made Tim Drake great as Robin or Red Robin, or what would make him great as Batman. Its just so depressing and nihilistic, and firmly in last place out of every book in my pull list.

Non-DC Pulls: Low #8 & 9, Manhattan Projects (Sun Beyond the Stars) #2