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Magneto #7 – Review

By: Cullen Bunn (writer), Gabriel Hernandez Walta & Javier Fernandez (artists), Jordie Bellaire & Dan Brown (color artists)

The Story: “Are you not entertained!?”

The Review: With the Marauders adequately dealt with, Magneto turns his attention to a series of mutant disappearances in Hong Kong.

As ever, Cullen Bunn’s narration is razor-sharp and highly engaging. While the character is too big for it to be a definitive version, Bunn owns Magneto’s voice. Magneto’s appeal exists as much in the imagined diction of Bunn’s intense monologues as in the more tangible elements of the series.

As for the plot, this is probably the best since issue #3. The scenario is simple enough in its construction to allow full attention to be paid to the underlying complexities and the action is plenty gripping on a visceral level.

One of the most refreshing and frustrating elements of an issue like this is Bunn’s comfort in showing us a sliver of man’s depravity. There’s no need for a complete treatise to be forced into twenty-two pages, but that doesn’t stop the story from showing us simple, true to life monsters. Bunn captures that quality of malice that leaves you asking why, but, of course, you already know the answer.

The art is split between the book’s two major art teams. It’s lovely to have Gabriel Hernandez Walta back again, if only for part of the book, not to mention Jordie Bellaire. Walta’s art is slightly less polished than usual, but it’s a minor quibble compared to the air of seedy power that he provides the issue. The care that Walta puts into Erik’s stubble, his musculature focuses the eye on the minute and the dirty, daring you to engage with the grime and corruption of the setting without crossing into the adolescent revelry that dooms many comics’ attempts to be ‘realistic’.

This issue also demonstrates Walta’s skill with body language, particularly in the shoulders. The fear in the promoter’s nervous precision or the ‘sick of this’ exhaustion in Magneto’s tensed stance or even just the way that Erik crouches over his coffee all add to this comic’s impressive ability to communicate information unconsciously.
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Elektra #4 – Review

By: W. Haden Blackman (story), Michael Del Mundo (art) Marco D’Alfonso (colors)

The Story: Which assassin will have the better family reunion?

The Review: If there’s someone who fits the definition of antihero, Elektra does. Her methods are unapologetically brutal, her objectives not always for the greater good. In times past, she’s even been outright villain, I believe. Therefore, it’s important, for those of us who want to continue enjoying this book without feeling bad about ourselves, that we get a solid sense of where her morals land, so we’re not just getting entertainment out of a killer satiating her killer’s instinct.*

Indeed, that could be Blackman’s very purpose in kicking off the series with an arc involving a whole bunch of assassins. They provide the comparative framework we need to understand how Elektra places on the scale between good and evil. Putting her side-by-side with Bloody Lips seems particularly useful because they have the common ground of deep family tragedies in their past. The more similar two things are, the more profound their differences.
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Uncanny X-Men #23 – Review

By: Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Kris Anka (artist)

The Story:Alison and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

The Review: Last month Uncanny X-Men’s first arc came to a rather definitive end. We saw the resolution of the vast majority of the title’s plot threads including Mystique’s rule of Genosha, Dazzler’s imprisonment, Hijack’s dismissal, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s war with the New Xavier School, and the overarching Sentinel plot. Given this significantly cleared agenda, it’s not surprising to see an Original Sin banner proudly flown across the cover.

Event tie-ins are frequently frustrating issues, but for any readers considering waiting for the next “real” story arc to begin, Uncanny X-Men #23 is worth picking up. “The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier” is a thematic tie-in at best with not a single mention of the events of “Original Sin”. Even if it were connected to “Original Sin”, this is barely a part of the “Last Will” story. Despite the unambiguous cover, this issue has a clear purpose and that’s hooking readers and setting up the first slew of new conflicts for the book’s second ‘season’.

In this role, as something of a ‘soft pilot’, the book is pretty great. Bendis provides the much needed fallout from last issue’s events, rededicates himself to interpersonal drama, and introduces multiple new plot threads.

One of the best things that Bendis does in this issue is step back and give the title a dose of perspective. We’re all able to accept some pretty wacky things while still holding a comic to some standard of logic and realism, but Bendis has his cake and eats it too by reminding us just how crazy it all is. The results are humorous but make enough sense in the characters’ world no to distract from the story. While one example from She-Hulk has been getting a lot of attention, the best one comes in the opening pages as Bendis reminds us of what it means to be an ant among gods.
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Teen Titans #1 – Review

By: Will Pfeifer (writer), Kenneth Rocafort (artist), Dan Brown (colorist)

The Story: Like many a teen protagonist, Cassie Sandsmark’s story begins racing to catch a bus…

The Review: Though the title remains inexorably linked to some of the most beloved stories of their eras, the latest volume of Teen Titans was something of a disaster. The N.O.W.H.E.R.E. story never really caught on, Trigon’s introduction to the New 52 squandered its potential, and a time-traveling attempt to reinvigorate the series left many readers frustrated. With Scott Lobdell’s complex mega arc concluded, DC has seen fit to relaunch the Teen Titans with Will Pfeifer at the helm. Will it be enough to revitalize one of DC’s most beloved franchises?

Well thankfully, Teen Titans #1 is not accurately represented by its rather obnoxious cover. Those worried that this would be a twenty-first century repeat of the original hip, happenin’ Titans can put those concerns to rest. There aren’t any ham-fisted references to social media or attempts to be particularly topical, instead the issue focuses almost entirely on action. We literally meet our villain in the issue’s third panel and Pfeifer wisely chooses to use the excitement to introduce us to the Titans in action.

Unfortunately our villain leaves something to be desired. The addition of a competent, non-sexualized female master planner to the DCU is appreciated, but our nameless antagonist remains fairly generic throughout this issue. The universal media broadcast and speeding hostage situation are classics of the genre, but there’s not much to set this caper apart from its fellows. Honestly after facing down Trigon, Deathstroke, and Brother Blood this kind of seems like a downgrade for the Titans.

Pfeifer does a solid job of sketching out the basic relationships between the Titans, but there’s a certain absence of joy. While it’s partially Red Robin’s stern management style, this is a very distant, businesslike team of teenagers. Admittedly Beast Boy feels a bit more youthful but, for the most part, there’s a lack of passion that feels off for a teen superhero team. And while I expect that later issues will show us a little more interpersonal interaction, small things like Raven explaining her powers to Gar make these Titans feel like strangers to one another. Admittedly, it seems like the groundwork is in place; the opening panel of Wonder Girl seems to hint at bigger things for her down the line and the implied relationships between Beast Boy and Bunker and Red Robin and Raven, respectively, are intriguing. However, it’s odd that the first issue only shows up phantoms of what may yet be, rather than what is.
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The Wicked + The Divine #2 – Review

By: Kieron Gillen (story), Jamie McKelvie (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: As you can well imagine, the devil doesn’t take kindly to being imprisoned.

The Review: Not to get too socio-political, but I think current affairs of recent weeks teach us that humans have awfully short memories, which explains why history so often repeats itself, which is to say we may all be doomed. You’d think, if something repeats itself often enough, we’d learn a little something from it each time and at least make some progress. More frequently, however, we end up practically starting over each time, learning the same lesson only when it’s too late.

Fortunately, repetitions in fiction are easier to keep track of. It doesn’t take an English major to recognize that if something is cyclical, you’d best be alert for constants, so as to better observe the changes. In the case of the Recurrence (the centennial appearance of gods that forms the premise of The Wicked + The Divine), our constant is Ananke, the elderly woman with the eye-mask who greets the gods when they return and bids them farewell when they depart.
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Ms. Marvel #6 – Review

By: G. Willow Wilson (writer), Jacob Wyatt (art), Ian Herring (color art)

The Story: She’s the best at what she does and what she does is squee.

The Review: Our little Ms. Marvel’s growing up so fast. It seems like just last month she was still in origins stories and all of a sudden she’s already having her first superhero team up!

With the Inventor still looking for her, Kamala is slowly coming into her own as a hero. It seems like our bird/brain villain’s shadow is everywhere in Jersey City and it immediately sets up a tense and interesting status quo for the series.

This issue confirms the identity of the Inventor hinted at last month and establishes him as a perfect foil to Kamala. One part Kingpin, one part Ultra-Humanite, the Inventor walks the same line between the comical and the competent as Kamala, though he leans towards the later. If this were any other comic, his appearance could easily have been a scene-stealer, but this is Ms. Marvel.

G. Willow Wilson continues to build upon the groundwork she’s laid with Kamala’s character. She’s much more confident as a hero and has more opportunities to demonstrate her intelligence and bravery. I particularly love one moment when Kamala shows off her knowledge of physics as she tries to figure out how best to use her powers and it’s all the better for the frantic, dorky way she implements the idea. Indeed, despite a significant upswing in her competence, Ms. Marvel is still the lovable, everyman character we met half a year ago and Wilson knows how to draw the humor from that as well as how to endear the character to her audience.

There’s a rule of writing that says that, if possible, you should put your character in the most extreme situations possible, the ones that most stridently reveal their character. For a fangirl like Kamala, pairing her with Wolverine is just such a situation. The very sight of him reduces comics’ most beloved new heroine to doge speak!
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Robin Rises: Omega #1 – Review

By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Andy Kubert (pencils), Jonathan Glapion (inks), Brad Anderson (colors)

The Story: Invasion of the body-snatchers.

The Review: Superhero deaths and resurrections have become so commonplace nowadays that I do believe an unwritten etiquette has developed regarding the proper amount of time that must pass before publishers and writers can start thinking about bringing a character back from the dead. From my completely unscientific observations, it seems the mourning period is somewhere between one-and-a-half to two years, give or take a few months.

And what do you know, it’s been just about a year and a half since Damian Wayne was pincushioned to death in Batman Inc. #8, and now we have a storyline titled, quite explicitly, Robin Rises. There’s a possibility Damian might not come back—the title emphasizes it’s Robin who’s rising without specifying which one—but whoever picks up that red, green, and yellow mantle, it’s Damian who’ll carry this story along. Let’s hope for a good one, at least.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #36 – Review

By: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz (story), Mateus Santolouco, Mark Torres, Cory Smith (art), Ronda Pattison (colors)

The Story: There are some rats even Splinter can’t stand.

The Review: As someone who considers himself a militant moderate who’d rather avoid unnecessary confrontation whenever possible, I always appreciate seeing characters who handle conflict appropriately. I wouldn’t like it all the time, of course; there wouldn’t be many stories if all problems end on a smile and a handshake. But it lends credibility to the characters when they tend to react with reason rather than hostility.

Take Splinter, whose entire personality is based on his Zen attitude toward everything. You respect him not only because he’s ostensibly the wisest figure in the series, but because he respects everyone else. Humility is as rare and powerful a quality in fiction as it is in real life. He doesn’t resent Leo’s less than total support for his plans to confront Shredder, nor does he dismiss his son’s concerns out of hand. By having Splinter take Leo’s objections seriously, Eastman-Curnow-Waltz avoid needless drama while still lending tension to the story.
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The Legend of Korra S03E06-07

By: Katie Matilla & Tim Hedrick (story)

The Story: Family, the ties that bind and gag.

The Review: There was a long period, starting in Season 1 and gaining steam in Season 2, when it looked like Korra might turn into the least likable character in her own show—which would have been awkward, to say the least. You could forgive her hot temperament, impulsiveness, and pride, but her tendency to trust her enemies before her friends displayed such a severe lack of common sense that you couldn’t help feeling her position as avatar was ill-deserved.

But her spiritual experiences last season have done a lot to polish her personality and give her some measure of wisdom. She’s humble enough to freely admit her inability to metalbend, sensible enough for Tenzin to take her advice seriously, likable enough that even when she has the occasional outburst, she seems passionate rather than nauseatingly self-righteous. All this evolution is conveyed through Janet Varney’s centered voicing, which keeps Korra sounding firm and strong, but with gentler delivery.
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Superman/Wonder Woman #10 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Pascal Alixe (art), Paulo Siqueira (pencils), Hi-Fi (colors)

The Story: Lois always did want to conquer the world.

The Review: A shared universe can be a headache in more ways than one. Every single time a major crisis happens in a single title, there’s this mental effort you have to make to keep from wondering why no other hero in the universe notices. This is especially the case when the hero or heroes in question don’t seem to be handling the situation particularly well. What? Everyone else is so busy handling their own problems that they can’t be bothered?

That’s what’s so puzzling about this whole Doomed storyline. Superman’s been turned into a killing machine, an entire metropolis has fallen unconscious, so why is the League and every other A-list hero not on deck, especially since Superman isn’t there? Why does it suddenly seem like the world has no other resource except Wonder Woman, Steel, and Lana Lang? This is a difficult logistical problem to ignore, but Soule clearly would prefer that you don’t think about it at all.
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Daredevil #5 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story), Chris Samnee (art), Javier Rodriguez (colors)

The Story: When Daredevil isn’t enough to save the day, we need Foggy Nelson!

The Review: In the superhero world, much as in real life, it’s the lot of the supporting characters to be overshadowed, overlooked, marginalized by the heroes they support. The heroes can’t get along without them; how often do you see our costumed protagonists triumph thanks to the timely save or quick thinking of their faithful companions? Yet these brave men and women are rarely gratified by public admiration, even though they take relatively greater risks in involving themselves.

No one exemplifies this hapless lot better than Foggy, the very definition of everyman: average looks, flabby, intelligent, prone to fear and bravery in equal measure. As if he hasn’t already suffered enough as Matt’s best friend, now he faces the prospect of having to completely abandon his normal life for one as a hidden invalid. That’s a raw deal, any way you look at it.
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The Legend of Korra S03E01-05 – Review

By: Tim Hedrick, Joshua Hamilton, Michael Dante DiMartino (story)

The Story: Suddenly, being an airbender is a whole lot less special.

The Review: So for all those who thought that maybe I Dropped this series, my sincerest apologies. I hate to turn bar prep into my personal scapegoat for all my failings, but you have to admit, it’s a good one. Indeed, it wasn’t until commenters Daniel and Del Keyes mentioned it—thanks, pals!—that I remembered there was such a thing as Legend of Korra. Seriously, my reaction was something along the lines of, “Oh, yeah…”

I picked a real bad season to forget about the premiere, too, since the show came right out the gate with three episodes, and seems set to follow a two-episode-a-week schedule from now on. So just like my bar prep, I have a lot of catching up to do. To get started, let’s do as the show does and get the return of the spirits out of the way first. It’s exactly as disruptive as you’d expect, with vining habitats randomly popping up across Republic City, but since the show can’t exactly revive the spirit-human conflict without becoming repetitious, there’s not much anyone can do about the situation except deal with it, albeit sullenly.
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Justice League United #3 – Review

By: Jeff Lemire (story), Mike McKone (art), Cam Smith & Guillermo Ortego (inks), Marcelo Maiolo & Andrew Dalhouse (colors)

The Story: Dealing with a traumatized child is a lot easier if you have psychic powers.

The Review: Last month, I suggested that Justice League United may be the least enjoyable part of Justice League United, which I meant only partly in jest. Acknowledging that team chemistry is probably a difficult thing to generate from scratch, it must be said that the JLU has very little of it. That’s not totally unnatural, given how new the team is and how unformed their personalities are, but it does make for a duller read, and there seems to be little improvement in that respect on the horizon.

Lemire’s so distracted with carrying the plot forward that we get few interactions among the cast in the first place that isn’t exposition-related, and what few we do have rise to a very tepid degree of liveliness. After Kara socks Lobo into the stratosphere, Buddy remarks, “Wow. Nice punch, kid.”

“Hey, what about my arrow?” Ollie complains, referring to the shaft he just earlier put into Lobo’s shoulder.*

Buddy, unbothered: “Meh.”
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Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #31 – Review

By: James Roberts (writer), Atilio Rojo (art), Joana Lafuente (colors)

The Story: Was it Megatron? In the Rod-Pod? With the Fusion Cannon?

The Review: Remarking upon the main cast of Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye, one bot famously observed that, “as far as I can make out, all you do is argue, crack jokes, and get sidetracked doing pointless, silly things that only you find amusing!” It may hold a scant thirty issues and an annual against the full history of the Transfomers brand, but MTMTE has carved out a well-defined niche as a place where the brand can indulge its sense of humor, its talkative nature, and its love of narrative experimentation. If you need proof, look no further than More Than Meets The Eye #31.

“Twenty Plus One” is a classic bottle episode, a television term for a dialogue-heavy story that takes place in a single location with few guest stars or visual extravagances. The idea was pioneered and perfected by the original Star Trek in an attempt to stretch the budget for other, more effect heavy episodes. Despite their pragmatic origin, bottle episodes are frequently an opportunity for character-building and significant conflict thanks to the difficulty of holding audience attention and their similarity to staged theater. Thoroughly enamored with the trope, James Roberts conducts the issue like an old-time murder mystery, paranoia, prejudice, well-timed power outages, and all.

Stuffing twenty Autobots(?) into close quarters allows Roberts to call upon the myriad tones of MTMTE all in one issue. Fittingly, the best elements of this story are generally the highlights of the series: a blurred, honest line between comedy and drama; a complex but easily followed plot; razor-sharp dialogue; and a contemplative approach to the social and political aspects of being a Transformer being notable examples.
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Detective Comics #33 – Review

By: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato (storytellers)

The Story: Annie Aguila discovers what’s brought the Kings of the Sun to Gotham.

The Review: Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been crafting a tonally fascinating but somewhat scattered run on Detective Comics. There’s a lot going on in this series right now, but it’s felt more like a number of little stories than a cohesive statement. With some luck, we’ll look back on this issue as the place where that started to change.

While this is actually not a big issue for plot progression, it is an issue full of dramatic shifts that are sure to play out in next month’s conclusion and possibly beyond. Interestingly enough, a number of these shifts don’t involve Batman, who remains something of a static character here. Instead, Manapul’s stated interest in Harvey Bullock continues to be one of the greatest draws of the title. While we don’t get anything quite as wonderful as the character redefining scene from last issue, we’re learning a lot about Harvey this month: his faults, his methods, his charm. As Detective Bullock and Batman converge on the same case, the tension is strong and the personalities larger than life. That said, it’s interesting to note that Bullock is actually further along in his investigation than the Dark Knight, compliments of Jeb Lester. Perhaps even more interesting is Bullock’s insistence that, unlike Batman, he’s a real detective, despite his highly questionable methods of information gathering. This pairing definitely has legs.

On the other side of things, the Kings of the Sun finally escape the gravity of their own iconography and make a bold break for true characterhood as their leader, Holter, makes a startling declaration. Admittedly, I think that Manapul and Buccellato could have done a better job of clarifying the Kings’ out-of-towner status or at least foreshadowing things a little better in previous issues, but those choices are in the past and, while they weigh on this issue, there’s a natural poetry to the shape the story is taking that makes you want to accept the rules it’s laying out.
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Grayson #1 – Review

By: Tim Seeley & Tom King (story), Mikel Janín (art), Jeromy Cox (colors)

The Story: Grayson—Dick Grayson.

The Review: I’m no comic book history expert, so I can’t tell you about the actual origin of superheroes according to such niceties as facts. But I like to believe that among their closest ancestors is the spy. The idea of a person meting justice while living an apparently normal life is such an integral part of both that it’s not hard to think of them as arising from a common nucleus. So if one decides costumed vigilantism isn’t one’s thing, spywork seems like a natural alternative.

It’s thus not entirely surprising to find Dick muttering into earpieces and adopting codenames now that his public outing has made being Nightwing impossible. Besides, playing secret agent seems right up his alley. Not only is he more than qualified, skill-wise, he’s got the daredevil charm that’s so essential to the modern spy. As he dons a blond wig,* tries out his Russian, and acts out the douchey American tourist to perfection, you can tell that he’s thoroughly enjoying himself, so maybe you should, too.
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Green Arrow #33 – Review

By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)

The Story: Ollie gets to experience the joy of having an annoying little sister.

The Review: When the DCU relaunched, the idea was supposedly that we were in a sparkling new world, with the characters living out their early superheroic histories before our very eyes. Going by that theory, you assumed that in the first few issues of Green Arrow, Ollie had only recently started going about town in his emerald hoodie. The introduction of Diggle thus creates a slightly awkward pre-history to this early period, one even odder since Ollie never gave a hint of its existence before now.

Lemire tries his best to reconcile these two eras in Ollie’s vigilante life, using the death of his mom as a sensible dividing line. But from a character development standpoint, there are redundancies. Lemire goes through a great deal of trouble playing out Diggle’s disgust with Ollie’s indolence after his mother’s death, accusing him of being a “self-absorbed, spoiled little rich kid with a lot of fancy toys.” Given that Ollie resumed the Green Arrow identity by the first issue of this series, Ollie must have taken those words to heart. But then what should we make of his self-loathing remarks about being a spoiled kid in practically every issue of Lemire’s first arc on this series?
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Fairest #27 – Review

By: Mark Buckingham (story), Russ Braun (art), Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: Even a fox loses his charm once he turns human.

The Review: And we’re back! It’s been several months since the abysmal Mice and Men arc, and if I had any doubts at the time whether I was doing the right thing temporarily Dropping the series, I have none now. I’m in a much better spirit of mind than if I had forced myself to buy into Andreyko’s wandering, inconsequential storyline, and eager to check in with the less pressing side of the Fables universe, especially as we’re winding down to the series’ conclusion.

Since I’m still woefully deficient in my Fables history, I can’t confirm whether Prince Charming’s promise to provide glamours to all non-humanoid Fables was ever established before this issue, but it does lead to a solid plot for the Fables that tend to be overlooked. It’s true they don’t get enough respect; that will happen when you look like a walking sunflower in breeches or cat with a bonnet or some other anthropomorphized creature in medieval costume. Kind of hard not to see them as comical even when they have very real grievances.
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Swamp Thing #33 – Review

By: Charles Soule (story), Javier Pina (art), Matthew Wilson (colors)

The Story: Jonah proves to Weeds and Wolf that sex is more rewarding than scheming.

The Review: I might have said this before—in fact, I’m almost certain of it—but one of the best things Soule did for this series was introduce us to specific members of the Parliament of Trees, then include them as part of Alec’s supporting cast. Alec has always been a decent, likable protagonist, but the additions of Jonah, Lady Weeds, and the Wolf have given Swamp Thing layers of human intrigue between its supernatural mysteries.

Almost all of that intrigue is generated between Weeds and Wolf alone, not least of all because they have such dramatically different personalities. Wolf prefers to play the long game, slowly breaking down Alec until the final stroke can be delivered. Weeds would rather eschew this Machiavellian approach for a more direct attack. It’s not hard to figure out whose plan will carry the day in the end; it’s just amazing that Weeds goes along with Wolf for as long as she does.
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Earth Two #25 – Review

By: Tom Taylor (story), Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Pete Pantazis (colors)

The Story: If you’re going to break your father’s heart, you might as well kill him.

The Review: As I read through this issue, it suddenly occurred to me that for a big, gushy superhero series that’s been around for over two years, we’ve had surprisingly few displays of superheroic power. A couple come to mind—Alan’s duel with Solomon Grundy, Marella’s airborne whirlpool—but for the most part, it’s the enemy that’s done most of the showboating. No wonder morale has been so low; it’s hard to hold out hope when all the major moves come from the other side.

And no wonder that as our heroes get bolder, more aggressive with their powers, the more you think Earth Two may stand a fighting chance after all. I’m not just talking about the war against Apokolips; I’m talking about the chances of these characters rising to the same level as their peers on Prime Earth. It’s easy to think of Earth-2′s Wonders as cheap riffs and knock-offs of more famous characters, and thus inferior product. The only way to break out of that perception is to stand tall and proud on their own laurels, and they weren’t going to do it by constantly fleeing Darkseid’s forces.
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Action Comics #33 – Review

By: Greg Pak (story), Aaron Kuder (art), Wil Quintana (colors)

The Story: As if Doomsday isn’t enough of a problem, now there’s mass narcolepsy going on.

The Review:
Last time we visited this storyline, I said that I was on the verge of giving it up, a proposition I was only half-joking about. I just couldn’t bear the idea of buying three comics a month for however long this arc lasted, knowing I wouldn’t really enjoy them. At least with Transformers, I only kind of knew I wouldn’t like it. But after dropping Batman/Superman, economic considerations aren’t as pressing anymore, and admittedly, Pak’s starting to take the story in an interesting direction.

Don’t get me wrong; the Doomsday Superman stuff is incurably dull. There’s little psychological gold to mine from Clark’s mental war with his Doomsday conscience; it’s your typical angel-devil set-up, but with superheroes. You also doubt that Clark will ever fully succumb to his destructive urges because once he does that, even involuntarily or by accident, it’s over for Superman—either that, or everyone, including Clark, will need to have a short memory. You might as well flip the page every time you see a craggy-faced Clark.
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The Woods #3 – Review

By: James Tynion IV (writer), Michael Dialynas (art), Josan Gonzalez (colors)

The Story: You know where you are? You’re in the jungle, baby…

The Review: As The Woods #3 opens Principal Beaumont is giving an impassioned speech. He swears his dedication to the cause and promises to protect his students. The first page is barely over and you’re already sure that Beaumont didn’t write his own speech.

The Woods #3 shows a deft mixture of character work and plot progression. As our attention shifts back towards the adventuring party and into the darkest parts of the school, we’re seeing the characters as individuals. This remains the series’ greatest strength. While it’s admittedly hard to believe that none of the teens have the utter freak out that the situation deserves, the least composed of them quietly panicking or merely welching on heroic actions, the woods are revealing their character in a way that many such scenarios simply fail to do.

Adrian Roth doesn’t get the kind of screen time you might expect this month, but he has a single moment that is bound to change the dynamic of the series going forward and immediately puts him back in the spotlight. Likewise Ben continues to be my favorite character by a long margin, displaying an equal and opposite reaction.

These are big moments that you expect, but one of the most crucial moments, in my view, is a quiet one, easy to overlook. When Adrian makes his choice, one character questions him, but they don’t press the issue. Tynion is a smart writer, one who obviously considers issues in a way that acknowledges the power of compliancy. It’s the sturdiness of Tynion’s writing that makes The Woods, the sense that he has given this the thought and the empathy it needs to thrive.
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Batman/Superman #12 – Review

By: Greg Pak (story), Ken Lashley (art), Tom Raney (pencils), Jamie Mendoza (inks), Jason Wright (colors)

The Story: The trip to Earth-2, Part 2.

The Review: I’m starting to realize that this title might not know what it’s talking about. The series has meandered so much that it’s been hard to make sense of where it was going. Since the first arc, we’ve had one tangential disappointment after another: a forgettable storyline with Mongul, a forgettable crossover with Worlds’ Finest, a forgettable filler issue with guest writer Jeff Lemire, a forgettable tie-in to a most unwelcome Event…you get the picture.

This issue’s return to Earth-2 seems like a desperate attempt to pick up from the only successful plotline the title has ever had, but even here, there’s not much excitement to be had. Bruce and Clark, deprived of any ability to actually interact with the parallel world, have little to do except watch helplessly as things go further and further south for their counterparts. It’s a depressing experience, certainly, but not exactly a learning one.
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Daredevil: Road Warrior #1 – Review

By: Mark Waid (story), Peter Krause (art), John Kalisz (colors)

The Story: If you can get in trouble in winter Milwaukee, you can get in trouble anywhere.

The Review: Because we all love to discuss writing technique on this site, let’s talk about first-person narrative. Frankly, outside pure prose fiction, the first-person very rarely works. As a delivery mechanism for exposition, it’s largely unnecessary in any medium with visuals, and as commentary, it’s mostly redundant and distracting if the dialogue and acting is good enough. The only reason you’d keep a first-person narrative in these cases is because the audience really, really wants to hear it.

As Waid proves with Matt Murdock, you can only get that if the narrator himself is just that charismatic. Matt’s internal voice is crafted with such natural, likable care and he blends humor and sensitivity in near perfect measure. Best of all, Waid uses it to capture things that the spoken word and visuals can’t, which is saying a lot when you consider how strong his dialogue and artistic collaborators are. The joy of Matt’s narration is he only grows richer in character rather than wearisome over time, and his personality always comes through even when he’s essentially just dropping essential information:

“[I]f I could see the things that come at me in this job the way sighted people see them…they’d probably stop calling me, ‘The Man Without Fear.’ Or even ‘Daredevil.’ They’d probably go with ‘Matt Murdock, the idiot who keeps picking fights in really dumb places.’”
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Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #4 – Review

By: Kaare Kyle Andrews (story & art)

The Story: Kung-fu foreplay is best foreplay.

The Review: When we first met Brenda, her slender blondness (and the fact that she wound up cuddled in Danny’s bed) made it natural for us to think of her as an entirely passing character. Lately, though, it’s clear that Andrews has bigger plans for her beyond a one night stand. I personally wonder if she’ll outgrow the journalist-girlfriend mold which so many other women have already defined: Linda Park, Vicki Vale, Iris West, and, of course, the mother of them all, Lois Lane.

If Andrews insists that she fulfill this somewhat stereotypical role, at least he makes her seem fairly competent doing it. Compared to the giggly fangirl of the debut issue, Brenda is much more perceptive and dedicated to her work here. As Danny recounts a sickeningly sweet memory of his father, Brenda comments a bit ambiguously, “You make him sound like a good man.”

Danny continues. “He was gentle and kind and warm…”

“But that’s not the truth.” It’s a good psychological read that makes it seem like Brenda will have a much stronger bond with Danny than you might think.
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