Blackest Night: Batman No 1 (of 3)
Word on the street - the e-street - is that Blackest Night was originally going to be a more self-contained event in the style of Sinestro Corps War but that the success of that last ring-based series led to it being expanded somewhat. I don’t know how true that is or whether this comic would exist regardless - Bruce Wayne’s skull is after all an important and apparently tasty participant in all of this, after all - but DC’s recent spate of luck at producing crossover comics that don’t enrage me seems to be holding.
It’s been hinted at before, but this is the comic that conclusively states that it’s not just super-powered folks that are being brought back by the black rings. Whoever is guiding these things is determined to mess with people, so we’re going to see a lot of dead parent Black Lanterns, which will probably include poor old Pa Kent.
This issue also features Deadman vs. Deadman’s corpse, which is keen to see and I guess indicates that whatever is going on here is purely physical in nature. (Hey, I’m piecing together a mystery! I love when that happens!) So DC’s small cadre of crime-fightin’ ghosts ain’t going nowhere, phew.
Finally, a couple of observations: firstly, they seem to have buried Bruce Wayne naked. I mean, I know that he was just a skeleton, but not even a pair of shorts? And secondly I think that they should adopt the Silver Age practice of putting a big red ‘II’ behind Dick Grayson Batman’s bat-symbol. It would really help me speed up the “which Batman am I reading just now?” process, because sometimes it’s hard to figure out. Wait, one more: I understand keeping, say, Killer Frost’s corpse under lock and key so that someone doesn’t steal it and make an army of cold ladies, but why the hell were they bothering with these guys? So that nobody reverse-engineers the astonishing ability to enjoy stealing jewels? So that North Korea doesn’t develop ventriloquism? Because twins are really close to clones? Bah!
ZOMBIE WATCH (as always, minor spoilers): Deadman, Earth-2 Superman, Martian Manhunter, the Dibnys, the Hawks, Blockbuster II, KGBeast, the Trigger Twins, Magpie, The Ventriloquist (best Black Lantern so far, I reckon), King Snake, Deacon Blackfire, Abbatoir, The Flying Graysons, Tim Drake’s parents.
Red Herring No. 1
This has the potential to be a really good time. I admit to not quite following everything that happened in this issue, but not in a poorly-written way. I fully expect to be able to piece things together at some point in the series, and that’s excellent - as I said above, I love a story in which I want to spend some brain-juice on the process of trying to figure things out as opposed to just observing the procedure of someone else solving things. Who wrote this thing, anyway? David Tischman, eh? Well, keep up the good work and I shall keep shelling out the sheckels. Entertain me!
So many questions does this book offer: Why are folks after Maggie MacGuffin? Who is the mysterious Red Herring? What’s up with Meyer Weiner? Why does everyone in this book have such a fantastic name?
Phillip Bond and David Hahn make things look real pretty, too - lots of fun character design and such. Man, Wildstorm is starting to become a hotbed of delight, although I’m gonna pass on that WildC.A.T.s stuff they’re hawking at the back (as refreshing as it is to read a DC comic without Magog lurking within).
Adventure Comics No. 1
Hot DAMN, Mr Johns.
First off, I recently reallized that I really like Superboy. Old school Superboy was just the perfect expression of the wackiness of the Silver Age while the clone version was an entertaining jerk in his own series and then an even more entertaining jerk-transitioning-to-okay-dude in Young Justice and then an interesting basket case (aiee! I'm half Luthor!) and then a corpse. But a heroic corpse, and one who got out of the corpse game just in time to avoid showing up in the ZOMBIE WATCH. Johns has done a pretty damn decent job of synthesizing the two: SB's living in Smallville, he's got the dog, he's got a blonde girl, he's got a youthful scientist traipsing about. But he's still half Luthor, and he's worried about it. I think that this is going to be big fun, and Johns is about to rake in some bucks for DC with Blackest Night so hopefully he'll be given free reign.
And don't even get me started about the Legion backup. I think... I think that both Quislet and matter-Eater Lad are going to be showing up. You don't even comprehend what that means to me.
Blackest Night No. 2 - I'm liking it! Still! And as long as fewer people are dead at the end as were at the beginning I shall continue to do so.
ZOMBIE WATCH: Hawkman, Aquaman, Deadman, Hawk, Dolphin, Tula, that poor sap Pariah, the dang Spectre, Tempest, Green Lanterns galore, Hawkgirl, the Dibnys, Firestorm. A few guys I didn't recognize.
R.E.B.E.L.S. No. 7 - Contains both the best picture of rogue Guardian of the Universe Scar ever (key point of greatness: she is not vomiting) and the most unnerving shapeshifting that I’ve seen in a while. Also the first comic that has actually presented the Gil’dishpan (the aliens that look like corduroy tubes with one little arm) in anything like a formidable light. “Going to war, the Gil’dishpan.” indeed! Just a thoroughly fun series.
The Red Circle: Inferno One-Shot - I have no idea who this guy is, but it’s okay because neither does he. Wait, I’ll look him up (look up, look up) Huh, I really had never heard of him before. Well, this version of him is like, if Captain Marvel were on fire and had a biker 'stache, which isn't a bad deal. Hangman’s in this one too and he looks much better! Not so beefy! Next week: The Web, which is the one that I’m looking forward to.
Batman No. 689 - Still fun. Some good Dick ‘n Alfred time, some fun bat-technology and an enjoyable Two-Face. And Two-Face’s Smart Goon has survived another issue! Who wants to start a pool on when he dies?
Red Robin No. 3 - I’m still torn on this comic, but I might just be tipping in the direction of liking it. I mean, sure Tim Drake is acting wildly out-of-character, but this issue makes a pretty good case for why he might be doing so. There’s a nice attention to detail across the board, in fact - at one point the Wild Huntsman shows up and I think “Awesome, the Wild Huntsman! Hey, isn’t he dead?” and Tim asks the same question on the next page. So I’m locking up the Nerd Rage and letting this comic speak for itself for a few more issues. Plus the cover looks fantastic. Plus plus, even though Tim’s getting involved in Blackest Night: Batman there’s no hint of Black Lanterns here, which is dashed good form.
Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers No. 4 (of 4) - That was a fun little series, although I guess that Lockjaw kicking Thanos’ ass is going to stick in some craws (“Noooooooooooo! This is worse than Dazzler beating Dr Doom! Please tell me there are robot Thanoses!”). Looks like there’s going to be an ongoing series in 2010 - don’t know if I’m going to push my luck there, especially as the Presidential Dog (as a Canadian I am not required to know its name) looks to be a recurring character. I like Barack Obama as much as the next guy who isn’t a Republican, but as far as circulation-boosters go he ain’t no gorilla-on-the-cover (mental montage: Batman having to hold the Living Barack Bomb off the ground to prevent him from exploding; Animal Man vs. the Mod Obama Boss). His dog ain’t even half a gorilla.
Werewolves on the Moon vs. Vampires No. 3 (of 3) - You know, this was a blast from start to finish. Just pure fun. Sure hope there is a second, as teased.
The Unwritten No. 4 - Man, are you guys all still reading this? You should still be reading this. It has not gotten any worse. To the contrary, in fact: it just keeps getting better. This is the super violent issue, though, if that's a problem for you. Really rough stuff.
B.P.R.D.: 1947 No. 2 - It grows late, so I'm going to keep the rest of these short. This is a fantastic series, some of the best BPRD ever. Giant toads!
Booster Gold No. 23 - Both halves: so good. Zatanna wears fishnets even in a post-demonic-apocalyptic future, in case you were wondering.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape No. 4 (of 6) - I will figure you out, Escape! I will figure out what is gooing on and why I like you so much!
I also picked up Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross this week. I can’t praise that man enough - the Atrocity Archive is one of my favourite things ever - and heartily endorse this tale of intrigue in a society of robots long after the extinction of humanity. Except for the cover, which is just as bad as I’d heard (and I’d heard that it was one of the worst cover ever - here’s a link) and makes me ashamed to be seen reading it in public (not that I don’t read it in public, I’m just ashamed). Oh, that the old tendency of publishers to release Canadian editions of books with the British cover instead of the American still held true!