Batman: The Dark Knight #11
After a mediocre initial story arc, and a “Night of the Owls” chapter that didn’t actually feature Red Robin fighting a Talon at all – like the cover of the issue promises – Greg Hurwitz has stepped in to bring Scarecrow into the ‘New 52’ with style, and he does so in spades. Unlike the increasingly doom-and-gloomy Scarecrow pre-reboot, Hurwitz’s take on Jonathan Crane is rooted in pure insanity – he gleefully kidnaps children and exposes them to his fear gas, mimicking his own father’s tactics years prior. The eighth page is a striking and apt example of the feeling Hurwitz achieves, in this case mostly because of David Finch’s artwork: (in three panels) a child is on a teeter-totter, then Scarecrow can be seen in the bushes, and finally, the child is gone. It’s a subtle, yet explosive point in the issue that leads to even more ridiculousness – Scarecrow’s hyperbolic needle gloves really push the crazy point across – culminating in the best issue of Batman: TDK to date.
The Flash #11
(Manapul, Buccellato, To, McCarthy)
11 months into the ‘New 52’, and The Flash is finally getting a little less convoluted and little more character-driven. While Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have been having fun putting Barry Allen through the revamp ringer – he’s in a relationship with Patty Spivot instead of Iris West, the Rogues have been retooled as much more deadly foes, The Flash is blamed for a mass power outage in the Gem Cities, etc. – the series thus far has been somewhat light on real character development. Sure, we get to see Barry trying to balance his civilian life and his career as the Flash, but it always felt somewhat dry until this issue. A candid conversation between Captain Cold and Barry – as he has started a new life as “Al”, a bartender at a Rogues bar in Keystone City – makes each character much more relatable than they’ve been in previous issues, a welcome breathe of fresh air from a series that’s been stuck in a single gear for a while.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #11
(Bedard, Kirkham, Batt)
In an era of comic books that demands larger, more comprehensive arcs, it’s sometimes hard to make an individual issue stand on it’s own feet, especially considering it’s placement in the arc as a whole – Green Lantern: New Guardians #11 suffers from this “filler issue” syndrome, wherein most of the events that take place in the issue are either a continuation from last issue, or a set-up for the events of next issue. Filler episodes of TV shows are some of the most boring, and even thought the New Guardians take on Larfleeze this issue and Sayd the Guardian reveals that is was she who stole the multicolored rings and manipulated the New Guardians into existence, this issue fails to really be engaging. The most interesting moment of the issue is when Larfleeze destroys the corporeal construct of Glomulus, the rotund alien that’s been traveling with the NG’s since the first issue and developed a friendship with Kyle Rayner. And sure, Glommy was a character that’s been around a while, but he wasn’t all that important, and the fact that a major fight between members of every Lantern Corps – as well as B-story panels of Invictus destroying the planet Aello in the Vega system – doesn’t incite more excitement is a problem.
Justice League Dark #11
Jeff Lemire continues his fantastic run on Justice League Dark this month with big revelations, cool magic stuffs, more John Constantine. Felix Faust and his Demons Three have been giving the JLD a hard time for a few issues now, so Constantine barters his way into the Black Room to retrieve a few items to help them stop the mad wizard before he can gain access to the room himself. Lemire is taking his time with this story, as it’s poised to set up some major changes for magic in the ‘New 52’, including the appearance of Timothy Hunter, a character created by Neil Gaiman who hase the potential to become “the greatest mage the world had ever known”, as well as the inevitable moment when the Black Room becomes a toy store for DC’s magical villains. Usually, plot-driven arcs get under my skin due to the lack of true character development, but “The Black Room”s purpose as a prelude of sorts to upcoming events gives it a pass in light of future potentials.
National Comics: Eternity
(Lemire, Hammer, Donovan)
For it’s ‘New 52’ reboot, DC endeavored to include more titles grounded in realism, including Blackhawks, Men of War (and it’s subsequent replacement, G.I. Combat), and James Robinson’s “Savage” run on DC Universe Presents. With National Comics: Eternity, writer Jeff Lemire presents a tale of Chris Freeman, a police coroner with the power to bring recently deceased persons back as ghosts for 24 hours in order to solve their own murders, allowing them to find closure and move on in the afterlife. While the origin and basic set-up remain the same, Lemire puts his own, dark spin on Kid Eternity, bringing him into the 21st century with a story about Darby Quinn, a seemingly innocent murder victim who is revealed to have been shot in self-defense by his young female tenant. Lemire’s use of modern criminal procedure style to bring Kid Eternity back into the fold is genius, and while the twist with Quinn’s innocence is somewhat expected, the resulting meeting between Chris and a mysterious man who knows about Chris’ abilities is completely captivating and leaves me only wanting more (why is this only a One-Shot?!?!?)