Batman Incorporated #3
While last month’s Bat-outing from Grant Morrison was interesting for it’s historical context, an issue dedicated to Talia al Ghul was the wrong choice for a second issue in an already over-complex and intricate title, and after being pushed back due to the events in Aurora, Colorado last month, Batman Incorporated #3 finally gets its day in the sun. Grant Morrison pens the return of Matches Malone – Bruce’s gangster alter-ego that hasn’t been seen/used for years – in Batman’s ongoing investigation into Leviathan and it’s growing stranglehold on Gotham City. After a debut issue that only raised questions about everything, and last month’s Talia-centricness, it’s nice to see an actual plot emerging from this series. Oh, and Damian has a new alter-ego: Redbird.
Before Watchmen: Doctor Manhattan #1 of 4
If you have been following Before Watchmen at all, it’s quite possible you understand the black-and-white situation being presented to us readers: each mini-series has it’s own chance to succeed, but unless it blows our socks off (like Minutemen), it’s not really worth the time or effort. Watchmen is such a mainstay, and so many people know the story that these prequels are having a hard time giving readers any new information worth giving. Doctor Manhattan #1 sits in this category as a series too mired in it’s own bombast and philosophical mumbo-jumbo to really be engaging or interesting for a broader audience – unless you understand time travel mechanics and quantum theory, you’re mostly just reading about a big blue guy who’s having an identity crisis. I understand what J. Michael Straczynski was going for – a sort-of ‘larger than life’ take on some of humanity’s most basic questions – but it comes off as sappy and derivative.
Captain America and Namor #635.1
Though Captain America and… just finished up it’s arc with Iron Man, Cullen Bunn throws us WWII-era Captain America fans a bone with Captain America and Namor #635.1, a ‘point one’ issue that details Cap and Namor facing the Kraken, an ancient weapon tied to the history of Atlantis that can unleash unspeakable power and destruction. The Thule society takes center stage in an episode that’s meant to hearken back to those days – the days when Captain America and Namor fought side by side instead of standing against one another, when the bigger picture was more important than petty arguments. Overall, I really enjoy this look back on Cap and Namor’s WWII days – it’s a time period that’s often referenced and flashed-back to, but rarely used in actual arcs. I’m a big nerd for Namor, so seeing him at a time when he wasn’t so completely “holier than thou” is a refreshing treat. (BONUS SENTENCE) The only thing that irked me was how Cap explains that he’ll be fighting right beside his men the entire time they’re engaging enemy forces, then he just runs off to help Namor without so much as a “Thank you, Sally.”
While Grant Morrison takes Superman to the weirdest corners of the character’s world over in Action Comics, Dan Jurgens has been slowly getting Superman back on track after George Perez’s abysmal opening arc. Splitting up the Man of Steel’s adventures into two-issue, easier-to-swallow stories has be excellent for the character and his growth – though some of these minor baddies might seem redundant or uninspired (our inter-dimensional friend this month looks like a poor man’s Predator), they serve to build Superman’s ‘Rogues Gallery’. Without a lineup of adversaries, what would our Big Blue Boy Scout do all day? One of my only real complaints (and this is really for the ‘New 52’ as a whole, not just this issue) is that Superman doesn’t look young at all; instead, he actually looks far older than he should, like he’s just about to celebrate his 40th birthday. Overall, Superman is slowly transforming from one of DC’s most forgettable series into a high-quality title that does it’s job: telling stories about Superman.