Kevin's Anti-Nightwing Saturday Reviews

52 Week Twelve
DC Comics
Writer: Waid, Rucka, Morrison, Johns
Artist: Giffen Barrows

This week in 52 readers are treated to a lot of Black Adam, with a side of Ralph Dibny and Montoya/Question mystery goodness. This book is beginning to excel on both sides of the periscope. On the macroscopic end, the arcs (five at least) are puttering along and are satisfactory in and of themselves, despite the fact that some aspect or other of the overall story is skipped each week (no Steel this week). On the microscopic end, each weekly installment is jammed packed full of careful nuances; this week for example, we get Montoya using a meditating Vic Sage as a bottle opener and a copy of The Life Story of the Flash. The art really is the most balanced ticket out there, a good combination of dramatic layout, excellent anatomy and settings, but without the preponderance of splash panels that would slow down so many plotlines. Oh, and the horrible back-up feature has ended in favor of Post-IC character profiles. This is a tough book to beat, week in and week out. But then, how many weekly books are out there?

Score: A

Nightwing #122
DC Comics
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artist: Paco Diaz

This book is just not at all what readers want or expect from it. The setting may be forgivable (Blüdhaven being irradiated and all), but an A-list character like Dick Grayson only gets one mulligan a round. How unfortunate that this title has also been burdened by an incursion by the former/future Red Hood Jason Todd, himself regressing to a more heroic role for no particular reason. There is also yet another substandard throw-away metahuman chippy for our protagonist to fawn over temporarily, as well as some truly hokey villains. Wrap all that up in an unbelievable denouement featuring short term borrowed hyper-ingestion skills and a goofy telegram, and this book has completely lost the direction that earned it thousands of fans. It seems painfully clear that if readers want adventures featuring a capable urban avenger, they ought to read Outsiders instead. That book even has superior artwork!

Score: D

Blue Beetle #5
DC Comics
Writer: Giffen & Rogers
Artist: Duncan Rouleau

This title continues to intrigue. Jaime is a likable levelheaded young protagonist. The El Paso setting is being used to better and better effect as the title evolves. The metahuman cast-off element has been seen before (most recently in the X-titles after House of M) but it’s different enough here to not feel forced or copycat. There’s enough action in each issue to keep things exciting and while the mysteries inherent in the armor have barely been explored, it’s a hook to keep readers sympathetic with our young hero and it’s very effective as such. The strange case of the kidnapped baby made this a fun ride, despite the jarring guest art. Next issue the white-haired biker subplot meets the mysterious armor subplot; it’s just one more thing to look forward to.

Score: B

Batman #655
DC Comics
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Andy Kubert

The whole rotating creators concept seems a gimmick to me. Putting the most renown writers and artists on hot properties can work, if they have a flair for the material, or it can horribly backfire like Claremont’s “Tenth Circle” over in JLA. Luckily for all concerned, Morrison has a flair for the bat. Kubert gets to skip the whole urban noir vibe for swinging London, which suits his vivacious nearly animated style much better. To Kubert’s credit, his new uniform Robin doesn’t suck, and considering how banal the new design is, that’s a real accolade. The vigilante bat monster angle (isn’t there an easier way to trouble the Caped Crusader, like cybernetic thugs, weapons, venom?) isn’t very convincing here, but it might get more interesting further along the storyline. The set-ups and Alfred/Bruce banter are much more well done, rescuing this issue from the hokey schlock that is found in Nightwing.

Score: C

Astro City Special #1
Wildstorm Signature Series
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson

Woo-hoo! A new issue of Astro City, this particular jaunt was almost ten years in the making and it was so worth it! All the cool hallmarks are there: smart characterization, far out but believable plotting, meaty narration, and Brent Anderson on the keyboards. Every issue of this highly irregularly published series proves that comics can be a meaty art form, and this one doesn’t disappoint. This self-contained story proves to all those not on the bandwagon that this title is the high watermark for the medium. Infidel is both a great villain and a perfect arch-nemesis for the populist self-sacrificing Samaritan; learning all about him, through his own eyes, was a treat.

Score: A