Tuesday, October 23, 2012

EXTRA! EXTRA! (OCT 17-23, 2012)

Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4 of 6
(w/p) Cooke

Minutemen #4 continues Darwyn Cooke's absolutely phenomenal take on the group that fought crime before the Watchmen formed by way of two stories - one focused on Comedian's time on a Japanese island during World War II, the other about the death of Silhouette. While Brian Azzarello tries in vain in Comedian to make Eddie Blake a relatable character, Cooke manages to do so with ease by placing the Comedian in one of his first morally ambiguous situations that changes the way he views war and the world. Silhouette's part of the issue is really more about Nite Owl Hollis Mason's relationship with Silhouette and how her death affects him and the rest of the Minutemen. This is truly the best title of Before Watchmen, and honestly, one of the best titles of 2012 - while I'm still generally skeptical of the entire prequel notion (see every other BW series besides Ozymandias and Silk Spectre), Minutemen directed by Darwyn Cooke has the potential to be an ongoing series...if only.

GRADE: 9.5/10

Blue Beetle #13
(w) Tony Bedard
(p) Ig Guara
(i) JP Mayer

Blue Beetle #13 picks up after the events of Justice League International Annual #1 wherein Brother Eye forced O.M.A.C. to transport Jaime Reyes to home planet of the aliens behind the scarab technology, Reachworld. Similarly, it's best to have read Blue Beetle #0 as well, seeing as the central antagonist is none other than the mysteriously resurrected corpse of Sky Witness, the man who wore the Khaji-Da armor before Jaime. And instead of finding an all-out brawl between Jaime and the Reach as expected, I found something even better - a Reach solider who desires autonomy after achieving self-thought for only a moment while fighting Blue Lanterns on Odym. Not only does this plot promote inter-title cohesion in creating a more complete DCnU, but it shows that the universe is not a static place that doesn't change - even alien cults like the Reach have mutiny within their ranks, and change doesn't always have to happen only for the good guys.

GRADE: 8/10

Catwoman #13
(w) Ann Nocenti
(p) Rafa Sandoval
(i) Jordi Tarragona

While this issue might be fashioned as a "Death of the Family Prelude", it's really not that at all, which means that I basically read an issue of Catwoman for no other reason that to read an issue of Catwoman, and in the 'New 52', that's kind of lame. Don't get me wrong; I'm sure there's an avid fan base for a Selina Kyle who over-sexualizes everything, looks like her skin fuses with her leather jumpsuit, and who can't seem to grow as a character. Unfortunately, I am not part of that fan base, nor have I ever really thought that Catwoman was a strong enough character to warrant so much focus. Anyhow, Catwoman fights (another) rich kid from Gotham who thinks the city belongs to them - it's not inventive, there's no 'twist' anywhere, and the connection to Scott Snyder's Joker-centric event is virtually non-existent (you wouldn't see it if you weren't looking).

GRADE: 5/10

Nightwing #13
(w) Tom DeFalco
(p) Andres Guinaldo
(i) Mark Irwin and Raul Fernandez

Nightwing doesn't cross over with "Death of the Family" for a few more months, so for the time being, Tom DeFalco is taking over with art by Andres Guinaldo to tell a tale about Nightwing and Lady Shiva - one of the most lethal assassins in the entire world. Nightwing #13 makes as much of a reference to the Joker as Catwoman #13 does, yet Dick Grayson's title get's no "Prelude" kind of treatment - who knows what goes on in the minds of DC editors. Dick is forced to track down Shiva on his own since the rest of the Bat Family is otherwise occupied, and it doesn't seem to go so well. By the end, Dick realizes he's been played in a game of bait-and-switch, surely leading to a more vengeful tone for Nightwing in coming issues.

GRADE: 7.8/10

Red Hood and The Outlaws #13
(w) Scott Lobdell
(p/i) Timothy Green II

The Outlaws wrap up their cosmic adventure as Starfire and her sister, Blackfire, take on the invading Blight and drive them away from Tamaran. In all honesty, Red Hood and Arsenal don't do a whole lot this month besides get in the way of Kori and Kom's fight with the Blight leader. Red Hood and The Outlaws #13 is mostly about tying up all the loose ends from this arc - Kori and her sister make amends for past sins, Jason Todd manages to keep his date alive despite getting caught in an alien war, and Roy Harper lives to narrate another day. It's the final page that holds omens for the coming months, ones that connect to RHatO #0 released last month.

GRADE: 7/10

Supergirl #13
(w) Mike Johnson
(p/i) Sami Basri

This might be the most disappointing issue of Supergirl to date - there's a lot of talking, some one-sided fighting, and a coincidental conclusion that isn't very satisfying at all. This is the first issue without Michael Green co-writing with Mike Johnson, and it shows; the fight between Supergirl and Tycho (the multi-billionaire from the first issue, only now with shape-shifting superpowers) really feels quite meaningless, as Tycho hasn't been seen or heard from since the debut issue, and because he doesn't seem to have any purpose in taking Supergirl, especially since he can speak Kryptonian now (somehow) and can communicate with her. The whole "story" feels like a big letdown, the only upside to which is a revelation about Kara's space-pod at the bottom of the sea. Beyond that, this issue really isn't worth reading - best wait for "H'el on Earth" to start next month.

GRADE: 5/10

Wonder Woman #13
(w) Brian Azzarello
(p) Tony Akins
(i) Dan Green

While the past two months of Wonder Woman have brought a lot of shock and awe - first with the tease of the New Gods in WW #12, then with a classic tale re-envisioned in WW #0 - this month's issue focuses on bringing some new conflicts into the lives of Diana and her companions. The goddess Hera has been made mortal, so she's hanging with the posse now, the gods on Olympus have to figure out who is going to usurp them all, and Diana's next step is finding another of Zeus' children to aid in the quest to restore Olympus to it's former glory. Brian Azzarello has such a distinct trajectory for Wonder Woman that this issue doesn't feel like filler, even though that's what it mostly consists of. Obviously, we're all waiting for the New Gods to show up because it's the New Gods and that's just freaking amazing - however long it takes Azzarello to get there will be agonizing, but it will be fun nonetheless.

GRADE: 8/10

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