Apologies, Readers! Unfortunately, I didn’t plan very well and neglected to write up a bunch of reviews before traveling to Des Moines for the weekend for a wedding. It was a family wedding, and this side of my family is straight from Serbia, so a lot of drinking took place. Needless to say, I was in no state to write anything cogent for a full four days.
“The Others” winds down this month as Arthur leads his team against Black Manta, who now possesses the Scepter whose power sank Atlantis. Aquaman #12 finds Arthur simultaneously arguing with his fellow teammates – who have followed him into the depths against his explicit wishes – while also hunting Black Manta and taking out a huge contingent of soliders. It’s a massive, issue-long undertaking that’s beautifully illustrated by Ivan Reis, who proves his month that he knows this character and the world Johns has written so well. The emotional climax kicks Arthur into fifth gear, as Manta’s murderous hand takes down someone else close to the King of Atlantis.
AvX: VS #5 of 6
While I haven’t really been impressed with AvX so far, this fifth issue has certainly changed my mind – at least to the lengths that I’m now actively looking forward to the final issue, as well as the upcoming A+X series under the “Marvel NOW!” imprint that will feature Avengers and X-Men team-ups in the same style as AvX. For the first round, Matt Fraction and Francis Lenil Yu bring us “Hawkeye vs. Angel”, a bout that wasn’t expected, but proves to show that each character has their weaknesses – Warren Worthington’s being his relative mental youth and lack of experience, and Clint Barton’s lethal nature that hinders him from being the true hero he desperately wants to be (at least, according to Fraction’s Hawkeye.) Round 2 features Avenger Black Panther vs. X-Man Storm, the superhero power-couple that has lasted through thick and thin (or at least all of Marvel’s major events of the past eight years), until the greatest threat to the universe tore them asunder, down to their loyalty to each other over the dedication to their respective teams.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3 of 6
As Darwyn Cooke continues his high-caliber vision of Minutemen, he delves into the darker side of the team, to places he’s merely hinted at in the prior two issues – we see the fallout of Eddie Blake’s sexual assault on Silk Spectre, his self-righteous monologue detailing the team’s unethical behavior (bookending it with “Bunch of fags. Go fu**k yourself,” in reference to Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice’s illicit relationship), and his violent solo career before being brought in by the US government. Also, Silhouette goes after a ring of child molesters, gets shot, and relies on Nite Owl’s civilian persona, Hollis Mason, for help getting home. Cooke has spent a great deal of time, seemingly, mapping out this series, and the deliberate dark-then-darker structure is building toward something greater that’s not necessarily something we’ve seen before. All in all, Cooke again bring the best Before Watchmen offering – in terms of story and art – being the only one worth really getting into if you haven’t started buying all the series’ already.
The Flash Annual #1
With an all-star cast of artists contributing, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccaletto bring the first “Rogues War” of the ‘New 52’ for Flash! In The Flash #12, Captain Cold’s sister, Glider, took over the Rogues from Cold and left him for dead while she hijacked a train and had the Mirror Master transport it into the mirror world. Flash Annual #1 not only fleshes out the current bad blood between the Rogues and Flash, but also features the origins of the Rogues’ superpowers, as well as the introduction to the next major arc for The Flash that will start in October after “Zero Month”. Per usual, Manapul and Buccaletto bring some of the highest quality work to the ‘New 52’ thus far, making sure that another “Flash vs. Rogues” story wasn’t just a rehash of nearly every other confrontation in their pre-relaunch history. Captain Cold teams up with Flash, and the end results lead into something a bit more hairy for Flash and the rest of his enemies.
Superman Annual #1
(Lobdell, Nicieza, Alixe, Rudy, Raney, Torque, Suayan)
It seems that everything Scott Lobdell touches in the ‘New 52’ just seems to go down the crapper. After bungling Teen Titans and Superboy from the start, he’s now sinking his inner-monologue-y hands all over Superman, a series that was just getting better under Dan Jurgens’ watch. Superman Annual #1 brings about the return of Helspont, for no other reason than to show Supes that the Daemonite warlord can kick his ass, and to highlight some of the members of next year’s upcoming Justice League of America. While the Helspont/Superman portion of the issue is less than impressive due to Lobdell’s insistence on using unrealistic inner monologue to convey any and every idea he writes, the parts focusing on Martian Manhunter, Grifter, Starfire, and Hawkman prove as good a starting place as any for the new team of more hardened heroes working for A.R.G.U.S. under Steve Trevor. Mostly, this issue fails at it’s first goal of being a successful Superman story, but achieves it’s second goal of setting up future events with a little style.