Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 11/6/13

round upLook, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, Drew and Patrick discuss Forever Evil 3Green Lantern 25Batman Black and White 3, Action Comics 25 and Detective Comics 25.

slim-banner4Drew: You know you’re reading a Geoff Johns-penned event when the previous two issues (and the entire previous event) can be summarized in a single page, which is exactly how Forever Evil 3 begins. Like much of Johns’ big event writing (which seems to be the only type of writing he does anymore), this issue is largely content to move the pieces around the board, though things actually seem in place to build some momentum at the issue’s close: Batman and Catwoman are striking out to rescue Dick Grayson, while Lex Luthor’s team of rebelling villains has perhaps grown large enough to take on the Crime Syndicate.

My biggest problem with this issue is that it still finds the DC Universe in origin story mode — or more specifically, origin story retelling mode. Lex Luthor wonders out loud why Ultraman would want to avoid the sun, frustrating anyone whose ever read any pre-relaunch Ultraman appearances. Or any of his appearances in the New 52. Or that origin story retelling Johns already wrote for him last month. There’s nothing more boring than watching an “intelligent” character figure out something the audience already knows — especially when that something will likely be a lynchpin for the plot.

What do you think, Patrick? Were you able to find more here to sink your teeth into, or did this issue feel largely pointless to you, too?

Patrick: I wouldn’t say pointless. If I’m seeing the plot-machine clearly enough, what I’m seeing is sorta ugly and selfish on a creative level. Johns has always been about expanding the mythology of the characters he works with, but I’m starting to get the suspicion that this is driven by his desire to craft the heroes per his specific imagination. Remember how Forever Evil 1 had us asking why Glider wasn’t with the Rogues and why Mirror Master was able to appear in the real world? Buccellato and Manapul’s next Flash-related issue addressed those concerns, so we quieted down, but now Johns has taken away Captain Cold’s super powers. It’s as though Johns knew he was going to use the Rogues again and said “I assume they’re in the same condition I left them in 2010.” It’s selfish and non-collaborative and I don’t like it.

On the subject of Geoff Johns, in Green Lantern 25, Robert Venditti makes his first strong statement about what the franchise will be like in a post-Johns era. (Some day, we’ll be able to talk about an issue of Green Lantern without mention Johns, but it is not this day!) Lights Out was a very standard sort of affair for the ring-slingers: there’s a big threat, the individual corps don’t want to team up, they do anyway, victory, sacrifices, blah, blah, blah. Issue 25 sees Hal Jordan announcing that the Green Lanterns will be policing emotional spectrum usage throughout the galaxy. Naturally, they will be using green light energy in order to do this — rendering his perspective hypocritical at best and fascist at worst. And that’s exactly the kind of bold statement Green Lantern needs to craft a novel and relevant identity in the DCU. Historically, Green Lanterns represent “the man,” but this is the first time in a decade that this idea has been rearticulated in a way that resonates honestly. From this point on, if there’s something shady behind the Green Lanterns’ agenda, it’s based on the thoughts, emotions and actions of human characters — and that’s so much more interesting that “evil Guardians.”

Drew: No kidding. As uncomfortable as it may be to watch one of DC’s most respected heroes slip into this kind of proto-fascistic hypocrisy, it actually fits perfectly with Hal’s impulsive nature. More importantly, it doesn’t feel totally one-sided. While Johns seemed content to simply having the Guardians curb-stomping puppies and freebasing baby angel tears, I can actually relate to where Hal is coming from — he has the power to change the Universe for the better, and he’s trying to do it the only way he knows how. I wouldn’t expect a story that comments so openly on both sustainable energy and gun control to be so entertaining (or so even-handed), but Venditti does a great job of keeping all arguments pretty reasonable.

Speaking of multiple perspectives, Batman Black and White 3 finds several heavy hitters in the writer’s chair. The issue kicks off with a fun scene from Lee Bermejo where a Robin in training (I got Jason vibes, but it could be Tim, or even the New 52 Dick) struggles to live up to impressing Batman. Other standouts include a Marv Wolfman story where Batman has to prove Joker’s innocence, and a complete deconstruction of Batman, comics, and art in general, from writer/artist Rian Hughes. My favorite though, has to be Paul Dini’s “Role Models,” with finds Ivy and Harley rescuing a girl from an abductor. It’s as charming and efficient as Dini’s work on Batman: The Animated Series, with a bit of the feminist edge that shows up whenever he writes Harley and Ivy. In short, it’s a nicotine patch for anyone still looking for more B:TAS episodes — amongst the highest praise I can think of for a Batman story.

Patrick: I was supposed to mention Earth-2 17, because it’s the first issue of the series written by Injustice: God Among Us scribe Tom Taylor, but it seems like Taylor took the reigns from James Robinson mid-climax. There’s an evil resurrected Superman fighting a slightly-less-evil resurrected Batman… it’s just as bonkers and I remember Earth-2 being, but with a lot more coherent dialogue. I still don’t really have anything to say about it… so let’s check in on some of the Zero Year titles that came out this week.

Detective Comics 25 follows the adventures of a young Jim Gordon as he wrestles with massive corruption on the GCPD. Sound like Batman: Year One? It sorta is. But John Layman actually lays out a neat story presented achronologically, relying on the emotional through-line to drive the issue’s momentum. This issue feels like a worthy companion to Snyder’s Batman Zero Year, and there’s even a fun connection between the Red Hood gang and the Black Mask gang, ingeniously folding one more baddie into this telling of Gotham’s history.

Then there’s the much more tangentially related Action Comics 25. I really like the way Greg Pak writes young Superman: he’s even taken a few cues from Snyder’s Superman Unchained, exploring how Clark can use his powers to effect things on a huge scale. In this issue, he tries to create a wind and water vortex to “break the hurricane’s back.” It’s a silly idea, and it totally doesn’t work, but I loved reading Clark’s thought-process. Aaron Kuder draws an attractive, energetic Superman and imbues the whole book a sense of excitement. Plus, there’s a great visual gag where Clark gets so worked up that he types his laptop to smithereens! Hey, guys, are these Zero Year tie-ins sorta fun?

slim-banner4The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

8 comments on “Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 11/6/13

  1. Seriously, any guesses on which Robin that is in the Batman Black and White? He’s going under cover to attempt to buy some drugs, and does it with a familiarity (and leather jacket) that makes me think of Jason. Moreover, he packs himself a secret pocket knife, which doesn’t really feel like a Tim move. Still, the tough-guy street thug thing could just be a really competent performance by Tim (the dealer does peg him for a studious kid), and the motorcycle kind of throws me off a bit. Now that Dick’s training also happened when he was a late teen makes it possible it’s him, too, but I see much more compelling evidence for Jason or Tim.

    • I’d have to read it again to tell you, but one thing I’m quite sure of is that you should ignore new 52 continuity for Batman B&W, as far as I know, even though they’re mostly not meant to fit into continuity at all, all the B&W stuff takes place in a pre-52 universe.

      Sticking with Batman, Detective was good but not great but at least it genuinely tied into zero year, and the nod to Batman’s rescue of James Jr. off the bridge in year one side by side with the rescue of Jim Sr. in here was a cool touch.

      Action Comics for me was a useless tie-in. That’s not to say it was a bad Superman story, but it could have taken place literally during any storm at any given time in the universe and it would have changed absolutely nothing; to me this is just DC cashing in on Batman/Snyder’s popularity by tagging everything they can with his name or his events.

      Lastly, I really hope that Forever Evil actually “changes the DC universe” as they say it will, because frankly, I’m reading it mostly to see what will change and how, and not so much because I find it enjoyable. I suppose though that if Dick’s identity reveal isn’t undone that will make a big change, especially considering that from there on, it doesn’t take a Lex Luthor to deduct everybody else’s identity in the Bat family.

  2. It’s not Taylor’s fault, as the twist was laid down by Robinson before he left the book, but the return of Superman (and to a lesser extent, a Batman) over in Earth 2 is bothering me. The cast of that book is big enough as it is without adding in heroes we can already read about in a billion other books–I wanna see more Jay and Alan and Hawkgirl.

    Also, this issue was REALLY violent, like, approaching Johns levels of gore. Nicola Scott is a brilliant artist but I don’t really think gore is her forte and I hope we don’t have to see too much more of it.

    Oh, and hey, Earth 2 has resurrected Lois Lane in the guise of Red Tornado. That’s…certainly unexpected.

    • I perfectly agree with you. We know that Superman and Batman are big names that help selling some more covers, but, as you pointed out, we see them everywhere. Jay, Alan and Hawkgirl, on the contrary, can be seen only in Earth 2, so at least in that series they should be in the spotlight.
      I think that DC writers didn’t fully understand how much potential some of their supporting characters have. Stephanie Brown, Grifter, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold… all these characters have been used far less than their due since the reboot started, in my opinion.

    • The issue was violent, but it’s about on par with what I expect from Taylor given the his work on Injustice. A handsome hardcover of those comics comes out… this week – maybe next week – and I’d recommend it for anyone who wants this sort of “what if” story with the DC characters. BUT: a big inciting incident is Superman punching clear through Joker’s chest and killing him. GORE.

  3. I’m curious to see who the Green Lanterns who plan to enforce order without using their rings plan to do so. They’re still wearing their uniforms, which are sustained by the ring’s power in the first place, plus…how are they going to get off of Mogo and back home without using their rings? I don’t think they’ve thought this through.

    I found myself a little frustrated at Hal throughout the issue, but this is probably still the most engaging Green Lantern has been in ages. There’s actually real issues to comment on now and there’s finally more going on in the book than just building up the next galaxy-spanning threat, and I’m interested in what that means for Hal and the others. For once, a new “everything changes” status quo change that actually appears to have been worth the effort!

    • I feel like the message got muddled a bit in Hal’s first target being Kol-anj. Like, even if we were returning to the status quo, she’s a murderer fugitive from the sciencells — she’s going to be hunted down no matter what. I can’t wait to see Hal stepping in to ruin shit totally unprovoked. That’s when this commentary will really get some teeth.

  4. Forever Evil #3 wasn’t all that bad. We got some good syndicate material and the injustice league meeting up, and an adorable scene between bizarro and lex luthor. It’s not about the big story, it’s about the characters.

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