Kevin's Marvel-less Saturday Reviews

Blue Beetle #4
DC Comics
Writers: Keith Giffen & John Rogers
Artist: Cully Hamner

As Infinite Crisis begins to spool away in the rearview mirror, many aspects of the outcome are becoming more prominent. The possible collapse of the Flash monthly title, the rise of Checkmate as a book and an organization, the death of Kon and the alterations within Teen Titans all seem to point to a more complicated and mature type of storytelling. The antidote to such fare? This title has more humor, humanity, and fun than almost everything DC has published since the OYL event. The chemistry between Jaime and his friends has become the jokey/casual thing that teen superhero books strive for (early New Warriors or Young Justice). The hero’s confusion isn’t clichéd or goofy. And the plotting has been lighthearted fun, with a bit of weight to it. This issue, Jaime fights a couple of trees, tells off Oracle, goes to the doctor, quotes Erin Brockovich, and comes out as a superhero to his other friend. It’s a lot of fun, and the gang war and mysterious stranger subplots are chugging along too. The art is more subtle than first glance would make it seem; there’s a lot of nifty stuff hiding out in those cartoony panels.

Score: A

Batman #654
DC Comics
Writer: James Robinson
Artists: Don Kramer

Oh boy. So much promise in this storyline, all squandered. The final confrontation with Two Face was a draw. The villain responsible for framing him comes out of left field and cannot be brought to justice. The Tim/Bruce conversation feels flat and very hackneyed. Other than the fight in the zoo, and the scene inside Gordon’s office, this issue felt like a cop-out or a retread. It puts certain things forward that are good things (Two Face is back, Bruce and Tim are a team again) but the means used aren’t organic enough. The art’s nice (even though Warren White has too many fingers), but it can’t save a disappointing conclusion.

Score: C

52 Week Eight
DC Comics
Writers: Johns, Waid, Morrison, Rucka
Artists: Giffen and Barrows

This installment of 52 was more focused than usual. Most of it was devoted to the Irons clan and Luthor, with a side of space-faring and Ralph Dibny/Green Arrow urban action. It’s certainly enough plot to go on, and since Steel really hadn’t had much of an arc up until this issue, it gives him a way to, dare I say it, evolve? I think his current predicament, combined with his parental stressors, ought to make for some interesting characterization down the line. The designer meta-gene story has all the earmarks of political science fiction and I can’t help but wonder if that can be made to work in this multiplotline weekly format. The art is still great, showcasing storytelling over splash panels. The back-up feature is still trash, but I’m learning not to read it anyway.

Score: B