While mulling over the pros and cons to selling his life story for a boatload of cash, Daredevil has his first run-in with the progeny of the Purple Man (who despite throwing himself in front of a trolley car is feeling much better now). The format of the issue involving Foggy warning Matt against dredging up painful memories which might destroy the happy life he’s carved out for himself only to have the Purple Man’s children do exactly that is a little too convenient. One of the strengths of Mark Waid’s take on Matt Murdock is he hasn’t been haunted and overburdened with his dark past (except when he was gaslight by the Coyote during the low point of Waid’s run). Returning Daredevil to a more grim title may not necessarily be the best thing for his character or Waid’s work on the series.
The only real surprise of this issue is the survival of the Purple Man. Will he and Daredevil form an unlikely team-up to stop the out-of-control children or will the villain be to busy savoring the fresh hell his kids are putting Matt Murdock through? Worth a look.
Rocket Raccoon #4 wraps up the two ongoing stories of the series as Rocket comes face-to-face with both the other raccoon who has been framing him for murder (who turns out to not be a raccoon at all) and the army of pissed-off princesses who he each saved, dated, and unceremoniously dumped.
The reveal that Blackjack O’Hare is actually the one who has been masquerading as a Rocket lookalike feels a bit like a cheat, but Skootie Young’s final page means there’s still quite a bit left of this story to explore and Rocket, whether he knows it or not, is not alone. The use of O’Hare also ties back into Rocket’s bizarre comic past and the planet of Halfworld where both crazy creatures came from.
Rocket beating down his angry exes provides quite a bit of fun as well as the comic’s second ongoing story arc comes to a close with a battle royal which Rocket stumbles out of victoriously. Worth a look.
With Power Girl and the Huntress returned to their own Earth, and the latest issue of Worlds’ Finest turning its attention away from the heroines, I decided I’d give Earth-2 a shot. Despite the fact it concerns a dystopian world still fighting armies of Apokolips, I was pleasantly surprised in this character-driven story centered on the relationships of Kara, Helena, Thomas Wayne, Red Tornado, and Val-Zod. Whether intentional or not, the current feel of Earth 2 (with a black Superman, elderly Batman, and robotic Lois Lane) feels more like the early days of Marvel’s Ultimate line than the New 52.
Carrying on the tradition of Worlds’ Finest, Earth 2 #27 has multiple artists splitting the work. Thankfully, the art meshes reasonably well in telling to story of the foursome’s battle against an army of demons while focusing on reunions none of them ever expected. Once returned to their own Earth I had planned to turn my attentions elsewhere, but despite being stuck in a world I care little about this issue tempts me to continue sticking with Helena and Kara’s adventures… at least for a little while longer. Worth a look.
In an issue that teases possible serious repercussions for both teams of X-Men going forward, Cyclops reluctantly agrees to help Wolverine‘s team and S.H.I.E.L.D. stop Matthew Malloy before the mutant is overcome by his restored powers no longer kept in check by the recently deceased Charles Xavier.
I’m always a bit squeamish when comics rely on the introduction of a new super-duper-awesome hero/villain as a plot device to effect change. Someone as powerful as Malloy simply inserted into the existing universe creates all kinds of problems that Marvel Comics may not be prepared to deal with. Don’t believe me? Look up the Sentry‘s Wikipedia entry.
Cyclops’ decision-making at the end of this issue (after the heroes where routed easily by Malloy) offers Scott Summers the opportunity to further his own mutant agenda (even if it may very likely push him down a super-villain path which he has teetered on ever since the fracture of the team). Worth a look.
Born out of an unpublished Superman script that was never published, Kurt Busiek’s “Wish I May…” examines the tragic super-hero/super-villain relationship between teen hero Starbright and his high school nemesis Simon Sez. With a pair of different narrators, both looking back from the future, the structure of Astro City #16 is more complicated than your average comic book put the pay-off is certainly worth it.
Dealing with themes of heroism, bullying, sexual identity, revenge, rebirth, redemption, and the tempestuous crucible that his high school, Astro City #16 delivers by looking back on a single day with the hero and villain declared a truce in order for both of them to get what they wanted (if only for 24-hours).
The result is another great addition to the current Astro City series, a heartfelt message to those still struggling to find themselves during adolescence, and a hero in Starbright who I hope to see much more of in the future. Must-read.
DC Comics’ decision to end Stephanie Brown‘s days as Batgirl reinstating Barbara Gordon as the character with the launch of the New 52 never sat right with me. First, despite loving writer Gail Simone‘s work, I don’t want a gritty Batgirl comic. Second, Stephanie brought a youthful energy to the character that had been lacking for years. And third, Barbara Gordon (handicap and all) is a far more interesting character as Oracle rather than a role she outgrew years ago (long before being confined to a wheelchair).
The comic gets a new direction with Batgirl #35 that effectively de-ages the character and creates a more lighthearted world for her to live. Throw in a kick-ass new low-tech costume, a guest-appearance from Black Canary, and Babs fighting the mother of all hangovers to recover her stolen property, and the creative team of writers Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr, sell me on the concept fairly early. Do I still wish it was Steph under the cowl and Babs behind the computer? Absolutely, but at least this version of Batgirl has a little of her youthful energy and a slightly less dingy world to explore. Worth a look.
The three-issue mini-series resumes as Grendel continues to grab control of the city’s various crime families and bring them under his banner while ruthlessly killing any who stand in his way. Grendel vs. The Shadow #2 also gives us the first meeting between the pair which both Lamont Cranston and Hunter Rose will think long and hard about in the days to come as each has apparently met an adversary they may not be able to defeat.
Despite the $6 price-tag, Matt Wagner again delivers with a terrific double-sized prestige comic pitting the iconic hero against Wagner’s greatest creation. Following the battle, much of the comic is set aside for each man to contemplate his enemy. Hunter Rose also continues to make a professional splash in his new home, and charm a crime boss’ daughter as well. And Grendel gets the best of The Shadow not once but twice. First, despite his defeat, he survives and escapes their initial encounter (something few villains can brag about accomplishing). And second, he immediately recognizes Cranston as the man behind the scarf setting up another battle in the final issue. Must-read.
[Dark Horse / Dynamite, $5.99]
Along with the continuation of Reynard‘s storyline in which Meghan discovers the truth about her new lover while on the run, Fairest #30 features multiple mysteries on the Farm where Clara and Wilfred are on the case to discover who stole one of the Glamours from the Pumpkin House before the lottery, why someone would vandalize the Beehive, and just how the two cases are connected.
Although Reynard’s storyline continues to sputter on following the series of misunderstandings that put the two on the run (foreshadowing another run-in between the fox and the woman’s family), the mystery involving the dragon in the form of a raven and a diminutive policeman delivers a far more interesting B-story in which the pair eventually narrow their suspect pool, connect both crimes, and arrest the Fable responsible.
Despite the fact that the theft is narrated from the culprit‘s point of view, Mark Buckingham makes the story work not revealing the truth (in proper mystery fashion) until the final pages of the issue. Worth a look.
Quidditch time! Okay, so it’s not exactly wizards flying on broomsticks, but the latest issue of Morning Glories reveals that the school does have its own original sport for the students with specific rules and outcomes already predetermined. It’s Towerball time!
Focusing mostly on Guillaume who maneuvers himself to be the captain of the Blue Team (the team destined to lose), Morning Glories #41 continues showcasing another kind of effort the students use to fight back against the teachers and the mysterious Headmaster who has decreed that Red Team will always win… so what happens if one year it doesn’t?
I’ve got to say after 40 issues I’ve been on the fence about continuing to pick-up the intriguing, but meandering, series, but this issue sold me on the title for a least another month. Bring on Towerball! Worth a look.
Tying in to the new Flash television show, The Flash: Season Zero offers storylines set in the Flash/Arrow universe. Promised to include more costumed villains, the comic has another advantage by being able to better hide the show’s mishmashed fabric costume of the hero that looks far better on the printed page than in High Definition.
Set just one week after the “Pilot” episode, Barry Allen takes on a Strong Man whose strength and invulnerability leave the hero with a busted ankle and a pair of cracked ribs (luckily he’s got that quick-healing factor).
Although the hero is far from victorious, the first issue does a solid job in reintroducing the characters and events of the “Pilot” while expanding this version of the Flash’s Rogues gallery with some colorful new villains. I haven’t been picking up the Arrow comic, but this one has a definite chance to remain on my pull-list as long as it keeps it’s $3 price-tag. Worth a look.