With Willow‘s return and Xander preparing to betray his friends to save Dawn, Season Nine moves closer to the finale as “The Core” begins with Buffy, Willow, and Xander heading to the only place on Earth that might have enough magical energy to save Dawn’s life – The Deeper Well.
Angel fans should recognize the name of Ilyria‘s resting place where her sarcophagus was housed, along with those of countless other Old Ones, from “A Hole in the World” (you remember, the heart-wrenching episode where Fred dies – damn you Joss Whedon!). I like the comic bringing back the setting to kick start what looks to be the season’s final arc, and provide another instance of the characters making a bold short-term decision without really thinking out the lasting implications if something goes wrong (you know, Buffy logic).
Buffy and her friends will discover the Deeper Well has not been left unguarded as the powerful entities remaining in our dimension want to protect the power of the Old Ones from falling into the wrong hands (not that something like that will stop the Scoobies from their dangerous plan). Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $2.99]
Every year you can count on Atomic Robo to deliver one of the best comics of Free Comic Book Day. The 2013 issue features out intrepid science adventurer (who just happens to be an atomic-powered robot built by Nikola Tesla) taking on a rogue robot.
Full of humor and action, Atomic Robo Free Comic Book Day 2013 is mostly centered around Atomic Robo getting his butt kicked for most of the issue. Thankfully, he knows to bring back-up. The issue should work for both longtime fans of the comic and new readers who are getting their first taste of Atomic Robo zaniness. For those who weren’t able to get their hands on a physical copy of the issue writer Brian Clevinger and artist Scott Wegener have put the entire adventure online.
The issue also includes a look at a new Red 5 series, Bodie Troll featuring a cute troll with ADHD incapable of scaring anyone. It may not be as good as the Atomic Robo story, but it’s goofy and fun. Worth a look.
[Red 5, FREE]
How can a comic that starts off so well end in the kind of trainwreck that will damage two of DC’s Bat-books for months to come? The latest issue of Batman and… gives us a team-up of a more brutal Batman than we’ve seen in a while with Red Hood who has finally found some peace with his mentor after the fallout of mostly wretched Death of the Family.
The only good thing to come out of Death of the Family was bringing Jason Todd back into the fold. Well, that was short lived. When Batman tries to force Jason to face his death and resurrection, hoping for clues to do the same to Damian, the hard earned respect between the characters is thrown away in a handful of panels (perhaps for good).
Although I think Todd overreacts to Batman’s grief, the result is to push yet another member of the Bat-Family further from the Dark Knight Detective. Batman and Red Hood #20 also offers another appearance by Carrie Kelley looking for Damian, teasing that she’s not going away anytime soon. Pass.
With Fairest #15 writer Sean E. Williams and Stephen Sadowski step-in to tackle a Hindu legend and introduce a new character to the Fables universe. Nalayani is the toughest and smartest warrior of a small village continually under attack by both rogues and wolves.
With her village in desperate need of aid, Nalayani travels to the new Maharajah (who is not what you’d expect). On the way she will make an unusual friend in a Tabaqui, a jackal who proves to be more trustworthy than she first suspects, and will have another run-in with the rogues which will teach the men the errors of messing with a woman known for her skill with a bow.
More off the beaten path than the more recognizable characters of the first few arcs, this opening issue of Nalayani and her story is well told and the art works well. The stylized lettering by letterer Todd Klein leave something to be desired as at times some of the wording is difficult to read, but overall Fairest #15 succeeds in selling it’s latest arc and an intriguing new character. Worth a look.
Derek Dynamo and Super Dinosaur get their first taste of Tyrannosaurus X when the super-powered dinosaur version of Max Maximus battles the two heroes above the Statue of Liberty and all through New York City.
The pair have their hands full with a villain whose at least as smart as Derek and more powerful than Super Dinosaur. In terms of action Super Dinosaur #19 certainly delivers as the entire comic (aside from the scenes shown in Dynamo Dome) are all focused on the fight (and Tyrannosaurus X kicking our heroes butts).
Although Derek and SD win the day (with a little luck and a giant explosion from SD’s overloaded armor), the comic does a good job of setting up Tyrannosaurus X as a legitimate threat in a way that mad scientist Max Maximus never quite worked. Here’s hoping we see much more of the new super-villain in the coming months. Worth a look.
The calm before the storm finds the ronin of Lord Asano scattered across the land working as farmers or laborers, or, as in the instance of Oishi Kuranosuke Yoshio, shaming any lasting respect they might have by playing the role of a town drunk. After months of planning, Kira Yoshinaka has finally been lulled into a sense of security and begins to fire some of his guards and spies as he plans to move into his new palace.
Hearing the news they have been waiting for, the group finally gathers to fulfill their vow to return the honor of their fallen lord and exact their vengeance of Kira. Oishi joins the group, after taking care of a spy who has glimpsed his drunken buffoonery is nothing more than an act, setting up for what should be an action-heavy final issue next month.
Writer Mike Richardson and artist Stan Sakai’s retelling of the classic Japanese legend has been heavy on story and character, but that should change with the series’ finale. (And, even more importantly, it will free Sakai to return to doing what he does best – write and draw Usagi Yojimbo.) Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $3.99]
After discovering the creature masquerading as Michael Holt is actually Darkseid‘s right-hand man Desaad, Power Girl finds herself under attack from all sides as warriors from Apokolips destroy various Starr facilities around the globe, Boom Tube-ing in and out without a trace, and Karen Starr herself is attacked in the press as her carefully created celebrity persona begins cracking around the edges.
Once again we get three artists whose styles only sort of work well together giving the art of issue #12 the kind of inconsistent look readers have come to expect from the series one-year run. It appears we’re going to get much more Apokolips and Desaad for the foreseeable future. I’ll admit this doesn’t excite me, but the Kara/Helena relationship at the heart of the comic continues to be its real focus.
An interesting note, Power Girl here appears in her classic costume (as well as the crappy New 52 version in flashbacks) that was reintroduced in the latest issue of Supergirl. I’m happy to see her back in her classic costume, but I did expect some explanation or acknowledgement of the change.
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The Emperor Penguin storyline comes to an end as Batman battles Ogilvy, the self-proclaimed new crime king of Gotham who stole the Penguin‘s money and operation for his own. Underestimating his opponent, Batman arrives to discover Ogilvy has been busy by combining the stolen Man-Bat serum along with a version of Venom and a little contribution from Poison Ivy to craft himself into a legitimate super-villain threat.
Although I think Ogilvy is made too much of a threat too quickly, the fight between the would be king and Batman works well (even if it does require the Penguin to save our hero). It also gives us one of the better original New 52 villains. Batman makes up for the ass kicking he takes by putting down Ogilvy in short order, but he can’t take away Ogilvy’s short-lived victory.
The issue also includes a back-up story involving Ogilvy’s transport to Blackgate Prison and look at his origins. The story also brutally foreshadows the fact that the new Bat-villain is only getting started. Worth a look.
Ame-Comi Girls #3, which centers around the alternate reality female-centric version of the DCU, introduces a new hero and a pair of villains with the latest issue. Jade, a blind Chinese woman without fear becomes the Earth’s first Green Lantern just in time to save herself, her father, and her brother from an attack by the villainous Flying Guillotine. Chinese officials are delighted to have such a powerful warrior of its own, although they are less than pleased the ring chose “a mere girl” and hope to reappropriate it as a military asset.
In the comics other story Carol Ferris, the first woman to step on the moon, comes across a crashed alien spaceship and (in a version of Hal Jordan‘s origin) discovers a dying alien who makes her the Earth’s first Star Sapphire. The issue also includes Wonder Woman and Power Girl announcing to the United Nations their plans to create a Justice League which will operate under the jurisdiction of Themyscira. The stories begin to converge at the end of the issue when Carol looses herself to her new found power and starts a fight with Power Girl over the affections of Jimmy Olsen.
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What happens when two Supergirls meet? That’s the question Supergirl #19 answers when Power Girl shows up to assist her twin from a parallel world after Supergirl is exposed to a nasty bit of Kryptonite poisoning. Just by touching, Power Girl is able to stabilize the other Kara’s condition allowing the pair of them to fight off Appex, a bargain flunkie Lex Luthor sends to test the limits of the pair’s powers.
There’s plenty of action here as they two Karas kick some ass, and the idea of the pair working together and sharing their memories and thoughts is an intriguing one that I hope the New 52 will play with in the future. The issue is also memorable for the DC finally admitting that one of their costume designs wasn’t getting the job done. By the end of the issue Power Girl will be returned to her classic costume (one done, about 100 more to go) to the appreciation of fans everywhere.
It appears Power Girl is sticking around for another month giving us double the Kara fun which means I’ll likely pick up next month’s issue as well to see where this new friendship is headed. Worth a look.