Born out of an unpublished Superman script that was never published, Kurt Busiek’s “Wish I May…” examines the tragic super-hero/super-villain relationship between teen hero Starbright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.
The six-issue mini-series continues with the battle stalled and the surviving battlefield warriors dealing with the alien squid invaders whose high-tech weapons and giant tripod robots prove nearly impossible to stop.
With Usagi warning the closest village of the oncoming danger it falls to Jotaro and Gen to lead the remaining forces in hopes of slowing down the aliens’ destruction and stopping the creation of more giant robots whose path of destruction have already begun to claim several lives.
The third issue of Usagi Yojimbo: Senso is heavy on action and features the death of a well-known character. It’s the second alien rocket, however, which crash lands right the middle of the village Usagi is attempting to evacuate that is the more immediate problem for the rabbit ronin if he has any hopes to surviving. I can’t wait to see where the future adventures of Usagi Yojimbo go from here. Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $3.99]
I’m not going to lie, Detective Comics #35 suffers from the absence of the creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Taking place inside the Gotham airport, Bruce Wayne‘s flight is halted by an out-of-control 747 crashing into the terminal in an emergency landing.
Batman’s choice to open the plane and investigate turns out to be the exact wrong move as the Dark Knight Detective spreads the virus that killed all the passengers on-board into the terminal and perhaps beyond. When and eco-terrorist claims responsibility for the attack it’s obvious Batman has only a few hours left to live to solve the mystery as the villain doesn’t want ransom but only to watch the people die.
Of the guest team, I’m a little more impressed with the writing of Ben Percy than the art of John Paul Leon, but that may just be my expectation to see Manapul’s exquisite art and getting a far different style. I’m on the fence about picking up the conclusion to the two-issue arc or waiting for Manapul and Buccellato to return. For fans.
When Splinter‘s deal with Old Hob is brought to light it creates a rift in the recently restored family. As Donatello refuses to part of the vendetta against Shredder with the larger threat of the Krang invasion looming Splinter leads Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo to discuss Hob’s plans of a growing mutant army and meet his two latest creations.
The issue also continues Angel‘s training in the Exo-Suit (which draws the attention of a curious observer foreshadowing a possible new friend for the arctic fox?).
Donnie’s departure is unexpected but certainly makes sense from the his point of view weighing the severity of threats against the Turtles and the world. Along with a cameo from Pete and teasing the return of Rocksteady and Bebop in next month’s issue, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #38 introduces Herman and Mondo Gecko who despite their looks (and lack of training) have been well-armed to be a part of Hob’s army. Of course just how far Hob plans to take his mutants-first crusade, and how long Splinter will support him, will have to be seen. Worth a look.
As the mini-series moves past the halfway-point, the group of displaced heroes battle the robot versions of themselves created by the League of Extraordinary Villains. Although hopelessly outnumbered by the robotic duplicates, Samurai Jack, Ben Tennyson, Dexter, Bubbles, Blossom, and Buttecup manage to hold their own. Eventually Aku stops the battle by threatening the homeworlds of each of the heroes should they refuse to surrender and allow their consciousness to be copied, altered, and installed in each of the warriors making the robotic army unstoppable.
Although the latest issue continues to keep Mojo Jojo on the sidelines, the reveal of Aku’s true plan and threat against a world Mojo has no intention of letting be destroyed before he can conquer it, convinces the Powerpuff Girls’ arch-nemesis to switch sides and (GASP!) play the hero?!
The latest issue delivers on the action and off-beat humor (such as Dexter using the severed-head of a Buttercup bot to fight off his attackers) and is certainly worth a look.