Detective Comics #820
Writer: James Robinson
This installment of Face the Face pushes the mystery towards a solution while furthering the Tim Drake Post-Identity Crisis subplot. After the main story, readers get to enjoy another Jason Bard back-up segment. The strength of the other chapters in this tale carry over to this one; the dialogue, action scenes, and mood propel the story forward in a fun yet not necessarily lighthearted fashion. The flaws of the previous issues also make themselves known here, but in a minimalized way; Robin still looks less heroic in his new togs and some of his fighting poses just don’t work (page 2 especially). Jason Bard, who has one bum leg, disposes of a lethal foe with a jump kick to his opponent’s chin (which should be flat-out impossible for someone who needs a cane in daily life). Beyond the occasional art or plot logic quirk, this is still involving and entertaining storytelling. If this balanced approach is the future of DC Comics OYL, there’s reason to read more DC books.
52 Week 5
Writers: Johns, Morrison, Rucka, Waid
Artists: Giffen, Batista
This is the first chapter of 52 that reveals more than it hints. As such, it’s a quicker read, more straightforward, and less nuanced than the previous month of issues. It’s still intriguing, the plight of the returned space heroes for just one example, but there’s less excitement and more follow-up than before. The story’s gaining complexity and multiple settings seem to fracture it, even though certain themes tie everything in this issue together. The art continues to impress with its excellent budgeting of space. Given how many separate plots and characters must be fit into each week of this book, it’s a miracle they all seem to share the spotlight in a truly ensemble fashion. The back-up Donna Troy interlude is still a waste of paper and the worst thing about this entire experiment. There ought to be more pages of 52 and less unnecessary historical crib notes per installment.
B.P.R.D. The Infernal Machine #3
Dark Horse Comics
Writer: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi
Artist: Guy Davis
This session of B.P.R.D. has everything a horror comic ought to have: surprises, strange interludes, several different monsters, quirky low key conversations, and moody dark art. Kate Corrigan’s situation is made more complicated, her assistant’s more tenuous, and the core B.P.R.D. team members continue to learn about each other over coffee. It’s much more exciting than it sounds. This series continues to outpace its progenitor in terms of content, forward moving plots, and even wit. Like Mischrasse’s homunculi, it seems the greater work of art, more progressive, capable, and refined. Any lover of horror tales ought to try this series.
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Grindberg, Clark
A disclaimer: this in only the second issue of this series that I have read. The only other attempt to follow this book was made last issue because a fellow reviewer mentioned a Flash in its pages. Well, it turns out that character was merely a clone of Jay Garrick and not the real deal, but his appearance forced me to read my second (and far superior) Outsiders issue. While the majority of this book is focused on the team’s intrigue in Mali, the best parts of the book involve its friction with other heroes or groups of heroes. Telling off both the White King of Checkmate and Superman in the same issue grants almost limitless bonus points in this reviewer’s grade book. Writing Nightwing like a true professional, type-A, intelligent and determined leader gains still more. While the rest of the team is still pretty much a mystery to me, I’d read this title over Nightwing anytime. Combine a good read on a favorite character with art that exceeds expectations in the areas of anatomy, perspective, and expressive facial features, and this book was a fun find despite a Francophile simian.
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: Ordway, Ross, Meikis
This issue of JSA continues the book’s odd stagnation. The Gentleman Ghost’s origin gets (ha ha!) fleshed out a bit more, the team is lured into the trap they ought to have expected two or more issues ago, the team still isn’t working as a unit OYL, and everything feels flat. The art still soldiers on, the heavy-lined flashbacks and the poppy present day pencils add what little oomph they can to an uninspired storyline. This arc is really just a filler before the title’s relaunch, so sweating its resolution seems unnecessary. Still, a completist will most likely return for the last segement next month; there probably isn’t another good reason to keep up with this lame duck of a narrative.
Books of DOOM #6
Writer: Ed Brubaker
The final chapter of the most forcefully written mini-series of the year shines as brightly as the other five installments. Doom is written pitch-perfectly, the action feels organic and genuinely charismatic, and the art improves the story by adding just the right details at just the right moments. This book, alongside others like Miller’s Man Without Fear seems to dust off the neglected legacy of a great character and restore his present by illuminating his past. This will most certainly make an excellent TPB. And the double twist ending, while not a complete surprise to Doom enthusiasts, is a great piece of storytelling.