Now in it’s fifth month, Avengers vs. X-Men is beginning to become a little tiresome, and the evidence doesn’t come quite as perfectly as in Avengers #29, an issue that focuses on Rachel Grey and the Avengers’ attempt to sway her loyalties in efforts to retain a powerful psychic soldier of their own. If that sentence wasn’t enough evidence that writers are now grasping for straws when it comes to AvX side-stories, I don’t know what will. Seriously, Avengers #29 is so bland and full of unnecessary plot that even the die-hard event readers will have a tough time justifying this issue’s existence; I understand this event is supposed to be affecting the Marvel universe on a grand scale, but where are the random bar brawls, or the anonymous vandalism directed at each team? Marvel could have made this whole crossover far more visceral and impactful, and Avengers #29 is the exact opposite of these ideals: it’s long, boring, and useless.
Rorschach is Brian Azzarello’s second attempt at bringing readers a decent Before Watchmen series that isn’t stuck in 1960s stereotypes and thought processes. Rorschach’s adventures are far more interesting than those of Eddie Blake, but unfortunately, Azzarello simply can’t seem to write an impactful story set in this universe. Rorschach is about our titular ‘hero’ going after a serial killer murdering whores throughout the city – instead of attempting to give Rorschach more characterization, Azzarello is content with simply giving readers more of the same. We already know that Rorschach doesn’t like whores or killers, so why do I need to read a series that just reiterates these facts over and over again? (Here’s a hint: I don’t).
Captain Marvel #2
One big problem with characters that are anything other than white American males is that they’re expected to be ambassadors for their respective ‘minority’ group – African-American heroes tend to have race-related story arcs, teenagers get stories that emulate their awkward emotions, and women have to feminists, fighting for the greater good of women everywhere. There’s nothing wrong with these practices, per se (diversity is usually a great thing), but they limit the scope and potential these characters have by forcing them to tackle such specific issues. Hence, my major problem with Captain Marvel so far has been Kelly Sue DeConnick’s insatiable need to connect Carol Danvers to heroic women from the past, something that really isn’t necessary for such an already-strong character. I want to go on record saying I really, really, really enjoy Captain Marvel – the art is fantastic and the narrative pacing is great – but it’s still finding it’s wings, searching for a voice for Carol that’s not simply “strong female” and “girl power.”
After four rocky issues, Green Lantern Corps comes around with the conclusion to “Alpha War”, an arc that saw the trial of John Stewart for the murder of a fellow Lantern, a lot of Guardian vagueness concerning the Third Army, Guy Gardner being Guy Gardner, and now, the end of the Alpha Lanterns. Green Lantern Corps #12 picks up from last issue with the Alphas facing a massive reprogrammed Manhunter golem, but slowly turns its attention to the emotional aspects of being an Alpha, and where those who investigate their peers stand when it comes down to what is right and what is wrong. While the rest of the Alphas are dedicated to their fight, Alpha Varix starts questioning their actions and soon becomes an ally for the Corps, sacrificing himself in the end to save the brotherhood he loved so much. While I wasn’t impressed with most of this arc, Peter J. Tomasi really stepped up his game this month and brought a great conclusion that actually achieved emotional resonance and made me excited for upcoming issues.
Red Hood and The Outlaws #12
(Lobdell, Green II)
Focusing all of his plotting efforts on Superboy and Teen Titans has made Red Hood and The Outlaws Scott Lobdell’s best current series by far, where instead of worrying about cryptic, grand enemies, Jason Todd, Roy Harper and Starfire are involved in more character-driven stories that have built them up as people instead of a group of faceless masks. We’re right in the middle of the current arc – where Starfire drags the boys into outer space to answer the call of duty from her home world of Tamaran – as the gang prepares for an assault on the surface of the planet to confront the Blithe, the alien species responsible for Tamaran’s enslavement. The story itself is minimalistic and fun, but Jason Todd is starting to lose his personality; while the first eight issues highlighted Jason’s fractured mental state and how he interacted with the rest of the world, he’s becoming just another Batman ally, one who talks about “innocents” and “duty” a bit too much for my taste, especially after being a fan of his more dour behavior for the past year. Fortunately, Blackfire – Starfire’s sister – is introduced in these pages, showing that the Tamaranian sisters have a solid relationship unhindered by past transgressions or rumors from across the galaxy.
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have been banging out a new issue of Saga every month since February, and the quality, scope, and grandeur of the series is palpable. As the end of the sort-of ‘Act I’, Saga #6 doesn’t really answer so many questions as much as it brings closure to Marco and Alana’s first major hurdle: escaping the surface into outer space. Prince Robot IV’s future is alluded to, as he informs a high-ranking government agent that the Wreath high command is aware of the half-breed baby, leading to the agent informing IV that he’s got to complete his mission before coming home – a goal IV has had since the first issue. Now that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are taking a much-deserved two month break, it’s time to start rereading all six current issues all over again!
(Green, Johnson, Asrar)
The initial six issues of Supergirl threw a lot of plot at readers – Michael Green and Mike Johnson did a adequate job mixing the Worldkillers story in with Kara Zor-El’s personal conflict against herself and the alien world she finds herself in. Now- after beating the Worldkillers at their own game, finding a new Irish friend, and warding off the evil presence of Black Banshee – Supergirl takes some time to revisit Kal-El, who approached her and was rebuffed way back in issue two. In extended scenes fleshing out Kara’s trip to Supes’ new ‘ice fortress’, then down into the depths of the oceans, Green and Johnson do an incredible job with inner monologue, something many creative teams for the ‘New 52’ have tried and failed at producing effectively. Simon Tycho makes his second appearance (his first was back in Supergirl #3, when he attempted to convince Kara to be a lab rat) as someone doing anything and everything in his power to get to Kara, and it’s amazingly creepy.