The awesome run of DC’s flagship comic continues, and I’m going to be sad to see this version of Superman going away in a few issues. Clark Kent is a bedraggled reporter, ambushing big business tycoons on behalf of the little guy, and it feels like such a fresh take on the character. We also get some backstory on the history of Krypton here, as a flashback-within-a-flashback reveals that it was destroyed by a mysterious planet-killing creature, who is now on Earth. And possessing John Corben, who is obsessed with getting Lois Lane back for himself with the help of a suit of armor. The glee that young Superman does his job with, even to the point of showing disregard for a truck that nearly gets totalled as a result of him trying to stop it from hitting an innocent, feels like the Golden Age Superman. Older and wiser Superman might have just whisked away the kid before he got hit, but young and stupid Superman just goes for the dramatic destruction instead. Never mind the goofy armoured Jim Lee version, give me this one.
Animal Man #3
This is a pretty weird series thus far, and now it’s getting more heavily into the horror aspect. Buddy and Maxine are still trapped in The Red, and learn that the Animal Man powers actually came from the animal dimension, rather than aliens as previously thought. We also discover that Maxine is the chosen one of sorts, kind of like the Neo of the creepy super-powered animal set. Unfortunately there’s also creepy super-powered animals terrorizing the Baker family, and this stuff might just creep you the hell out if you’re the squeamish type. This is a seriously atmospheric and horrific comic at times, totally unlike anything else you’re going to find in a mainstream DC comic today outside of Vertigo. The dude with his face folding in on itself will probably give you nightmares for a few days, at least.
This has been a pretty underrated series thus far, although it hasn’t fallen into the “blow away surprise” category, more of a competently executed comic book with a character that I don’t really have much personal investment in. The building backstory, with the Zawimbe brothers murdering an entire army division as children, is interesting stuff, and leaves you wondering if there’s more to David than Batman’s gifted toys. This issue is mostly a big fight between Batwing and Massacre while Thunder Fall is dying, and that gives this one more of a filler feel than it probably should have. The Watchmen-style story about Massacre hunting down retired superheroes and beautiful artwork are enough to keep me coming back, but hopefully Judd Winnick doesn’t burn out before the character gets established enough to carry things without the Bat-connection.
Detective Comics #3
I’m starting to wonder why we need so damn many Batman titles at this point, especially since Detective feels so inessential. As most people guessed, the mutilated Jim Gordon from the cliffhanger of issue #2 wasn’t actually Gordon. Batman actually does some detective work in Detective Comics and discovers the rather underwhelming secret of The Dollmaker, leading to the dumbest cliffhanger I’ve seen in a while. I’m not finding it actively offensive or anything, but the guy who sews together other people isn’t exactly a thrilling storyline for me. You have to figure that they’ll keep throwing talent at what is another flagship title for the company, and the artwork here is certainly easy on the eyes. But I’m going to give this another couple of issues to get a lot better, because Scott Snyder’s Batman is currently knocking it out of the park and I really only need 2 Batman titles at most.
Justice League International #3
People busted on the first couple of issues, but Dan Jurgens is finding a groove with these characters now and it’s nice light entertainment. Given the thin characterizations of the first issue, it’s nice to see Jurgens doing the old “divide the team to deal with multiple enemies” storytelling technique, and that gives us a chance to meet n’ greet everyone for a couple of scenes. Booster Gold seems to be on a more straightforwardly heroic arc here, rather than the backdoor heroism that was his last solo title (RIP), but that’s to be expected from the guy who created him. Hopefully a moment like Batman giving him props for his leadership won’t get flushed away by future writers. This book feels like a throwback to the 80s JLA title, which earns a lot of fondness from me. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but that’s not what the intention is anyway. It’s comic book comfort food, basically, with my favourite characters (why not just throw Wally West in here, too?) and one of my favourite writers.
Speaking of my favourite writers, Keith Giffen continues his fun and goofy tribute to Jack Kirby with a book that came out of nowhere and became one of my most anticipated. Kevin Kho continues having a really bad week, getting cyber-stalked by supercomputer Brother Eye, and ends up in prison as a terrorist for reasons that are only known to Eye. As it turns out, he was needed to deal with a budding supervillain who basically runs the prison from his cell, but Maxwell Lord’s Checkmate group gets involved and a giant brawl erupts. Much like JLI, this isn’t attempting to do anything above its own level, and it’s a heck of a fun book as a result. Plus kudos to whoever has to come up with new titles that spell “OMAC” every month.
So everything was basically pretty good this week, but Action Comics #3 is the clear champion as usual.