Supergirl goes to Sky High? New writers K. Perkins and Mike Johnson start Kara’s latest adventure with another attempt to live among humans by attempting once again to carve out a normal life. Of course that soon goes to hell when Supergirl is abducted by an exclusive school for super-beings and put through a series of test to determine whether or not she is worthy to join.
The first offering from the new team is a mixed bag. Although I enjoyed the art by Emanuela Lupacchino, choosing to put Kara in armor defeats the purpose of the character and, as I’ve said with the New 52 Superman, is akin to putting Chewbacca in a fur coat. It’s not only completely unnecessary but it looks ridiculous.
Both her short stint as a super-barrista, including another argument with Clark (when will these two be NICE to each other?), and her testing in space continue the trend of an angry young girl whose rage (sadly) may not have burnt out during her stint as a Red Lantern (its only saving grace). I’m far from sold on the book’s new-ish direction which lacks the wit, humor, and style of the new Batgirl. Hit-and-Miss.
The latest issue of The Fade Out turns its attention away from the murder of starlet Valeria Sommers (for the most part) and the troubles of screenwriter Charlie Parish to focus on Valeria’s replacement Maya Silver. Troubled by a scumbag of an agent and a dangerous ex-husband, Maya has finally hit the big time by stepping into the role vacated by Valeria’s death.
Although most of the issue is dedicated to Maya, several pages are presented from the perspective of studio owner Victor Thursby, a somewhat lost soul still seeking the unbridled lust of his youth and obsessed with the dead starlet which leads to an awkward moment between the studio head and the dead woman’s replacement.
Although I’m not enjoying The Fade Out as much as Velvet (or the best issues of the now complete Fatale), writer Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue to keep my interest by shining a light into the dark corners of post-WWII Hollywood and continuing to slowly build out the world of Victory Street Pictures. Worth a look.
While trying to restore her lost data and make amends with the now homeless Black Canary (who coincidentally disappears in time for all the action), Batgirl is targeted by a pair of obscure-anime-obsessed fans who steal a pair of prototype motorcycles and begin causing havoc on the college campus. The new creative team continues the youthful energy of last month’s comic while revealing Batgirl’s latest enemies have a benefactor with wealth and computer skills (Calculator?) pulling strings from the shadows and targeting our plucky heroine with every move.
My only disappoint with Batgirl #36 is the fact that neither the flashbacks to Barbara’s past nor the investigation into the anime lead to Barbara eventually defeating the evil duo as she simply beats them using her usual skill-set. Batgirl #36 is a good example of where the new New 52 series gets into trouble by trying to make Barbara appear younger and inexperienced but still include her lengthy history and experience (which comes and goes as need-be). Despite these issues it’s still pretty darn entertaining. Worth a look.
Atomic Robo: The Knights of the Golden Circle #5 wraps up the latest Atomic Robo mini-series with the hero’s newest worst plan to stop the invincible cyborg army of Baron Heinrich von Helsingard and his Basilisk war zeppelin. (Sounds awesome, right?!) Although victorious alongside Doc Holliday and U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves our time-displaced science-adventurer doesn’t survive the final battle. Knowing his energy reserves were low, Atomic Robo had a plan in place to return his remains home at the right time, however a little neglect and bureaucracy in the future has left an all-important crate and its contents sitting untouched for more than a hundred years.
It’s not every issue of Atomic Robo in which you get to see our hero die, although the state of his remains keeps the door open for his return to the present (or perhaps near future?) as soon as the crate is discovered. Who exactly opens the crate, now that Tesladyne has been shut down, however, opens up new possibilities for what kind of world Robo will find himself in, and what kind of Robo readers may find, once our hero is brought back to the world of the living. Worth a look.
[Red 5, $3.50]
Only two issues in the latest series featuring the original team of the Guardians of the Galaxy begins to stall. Although Guardians 3000 #2 ends on an interesting note involving a Tony Stark reference, the events of the latest issue don’t do much to push forward the near-identical (but now less interesting) series of events from the first issue. Plus we don’t get any dimensional swapping meaning we’re left with a version of the Guardians with a female Starhawk and no Aleta that just feels wrong.
Featuring plenty of action, the second issue suffers from the same roid rage muscle art from Gerardo Sandoval that hurt last month’s issue. And when he attempts to tone down that style characters often look oddly stretched as if they are standing in front of a fun house mirror. I gave the art in the first issue a pass because I was so happy to have the Guardians back, but with this issue no missing three of its core members (the real Starhaw, Aleta, and Nikki) while dragging its feet while developing its reality-bending plot it feels less and less like the team I know and love. Hit-and-Miss.
Continuing the events from Justice League United Annual #1 half the League faces off against both the Legion of Super-Heroes and the Cadre who want to get their hands on Ultra the Multi-Alien. And if that isn’t enough the other half of the league (Green Arrow, Animal Man, Supergirl, and Stargirl) has to deal with the villainous Byth and the brainwashed Hawkman before the mad scientist can transform young Ultra into a universe-destroying weapon.
The action allows the latest issue to highlight the powers and limitations of a questionable number of characters all in one book (and I’m always okay with Stargirl getting to kick a little ass). Starting the second-half of the Ultra arc in the annual was a bit of a dick move on DC’s part as those who missed picking up the issue may struggle a bit for why everyone (including heroes from the future) seems to be fighting over killing, controlling, or worshiping an awkward alien kid, but even for as messy as it is the story still holds together (although I have doubts whether it can continue to do so for three more issues). For fans.
The conclusion of what if? tales such as Grendel vs. The Shadow are usually the weakest piece of the story, not for fault of the storyteller but simply because the end must reset back to the status quo without allowing either iconic figure to be truly beaten (or killed). Even with these limitations writer/artist Matt Wagner manages to end the three-issue mini-series in style giving us two final confrontations between Hunter Rose and The Shadow.
Of the pair’s individual tales Grendel’s works better as Hunter Rose finds himself pulled into the nostalgia and romance of his time-travel adventure only to realize the truth almost too late. The subplot of Margo Lane‘s possible departure doesn’t work as well simply because at no point are we sold on the possibility of her actually leaving Lamont Cranston.
In the end both warriors are bloodied and battered but Grendel, despite his hurt ego to go along with is injuries, manages to return back to his own time. His inability to find any mention of his adventures in the past suggests Grendel’s journey wasn’t just through time but also through an alternate dimension where crime does not pay. Worth a look
[Dark Horse / Dynamite, $5.99]
Investigating the bizarre animal sightings and attacks around Central City, the Flash goes to the circus in The Flash: Season Zero #2. Thanks to the help of Cisco, Caitlin, and Harrison Wells, links the odd break-outs at the zoo, the bank robbery by a strong man, and an attack of snakes inside a skyscraper all back to the circus which just happened to be pitched outside Central City at the time of the accelerator explosion likely imbuing several performers with unexpected powers.
Much like the show, the comic continues to inject humor into the proceedings such as the Flash being forced to think outside the box to wrangle up a group of chimpanzees and failing yet again to offer an explanation for his absence during the Flash’s heroics that doesn’t make him look like a boob.
Although we don’t get a traditional Flash comic villain, the grouping of the circus freaks (and their evil clowns) led by the villainous Nathan Bliss adds to the danger as the Flash will be forced to take on multiple meta-humans at once for the first time. Worth a look.
Shifting its attention back to the title character, the latest issue of Velvet involves the hunted spy returning to London and breaking into the very super-secret spy organization which has been scouring the globe for her since she was framed for the murder of an old friend.
Although we see the actions Velvet Templeton takes once she has broken into the headquarters of Arc-7, the reasons behind those actions is still largely a mystery. Velvet risks getting captured and having to deal with Agent Roberts (who wasn’t fooled by her plan to clear the agency by strapping a fake bomb on its director inside the building’s parking garage) all to make a single phone call. I’m curious to learn just who the man in the back of the van is and why he is worth such an effort.
Providing action, suspense, and a few more breadcrumbs to the larger mystery at play, Velvet #8 doesn’t disappoint. Worth a look.
Set around a campfire where Rocket Raccoon has been telling young children tales of his exploits, Rocket Raccoon #5 showcases Groot telling a story Rocket doesn’t want to share. Although limited in his exposition, we witness the events unfold through a series of panels which inform us of why Groot thinks so highly of the adventure but also why Rocket would rather forget the entire disappointing enterprise.
With every piece of dialogue, signage, and narration all being the same three words writer/artist Skootie Young delivers an unexpected adveture involving a treasure map, robot army, space adventure, high-stakes gambling, the retrieval of a mystical sword, a floating castle, mermaids, giant monsters, and a prize which is far from what Rocket expected. Simply put, it’s amazing.
Forced into telling a story nearly all through its art, Young delivers a campfire story that may bewilder (most) of the young campers but turns out to be the series’ best issue so far. Must-read.