All-New X-Men #2
While the first issue of this series wasn’t the big spectacle many predicted, All-New X-Men #2 fills that void by offering up the first encounter between the original five X-Men and the current state of the world. There’s still a lot left to be explained (about the space-time continuum’s continued existence, Hank McCoy’s desperation, current-Cyclops’ whereabouts, etc.) but that’s not what this issue is about. Instead, Bendis takes his time to flesh out the sudden juxtaposition of the younger Cyclops, Jean Grey, Angel, Beast, and Iceman against the arguably dystopian future they’ve come to experience. There’s a lot of raw emotion this issue, and it’s definitely enough to make me hungry for more, which is more than I can say for the first issue. Now that we also know that Bendis will be writing Uncanny X-Men when it relaunches in March, it will be even more interesting to see how he’ll incorporate what’s going on in All-New X-Men with UXM.
(Johns, Woods, Perez)
Now that “The Others” is all finished up, Geoff Johns is moving Arthur Curry right along into “Throne of Atlantis” that will cross over with Justice League and will feature the League up against the ‘New 52’ Ocean Master, a.k.a. Aquaman’s brother. Aquaman #14 is a prelude to the event, and wears the title well by planting the seeds for at least four different plot lines going forward. Even though there’s a lot of story here, it’s still just set-up for the actual event, so by the end of the issue, there’s a feeling of incompleteness that I just couldn’t get over. Aquaman is still one of DC’s strongest titles, but this issue definitely left me wanting for more.
Batman Incorporated #5
Grant Morrison is blazing through Batman, Inc. with one amazing issue after another, bringing us to Batman Incorporated #5 which takes readers into the future of Gotham after Batman is dead and Damian Wayne has taken up the mantle. It’s a horrific future, one in which Gotham has been overrun by a super-contagious strain of the Joker serum, turing everyone into grinning raving lunatics. Part of what makes this series so palpable is Chris Burnham’s artwork — he manages to make you thoroughly uncomfortable while keeping your attention nonetheless. Just like most visions of the future, this might not happen, but if Morrison’s predictions come true, DC’s got some pretty bleak times ahead.
The Flash #14
“Gorilla Warfare” continues this month as an army of intelligent apes invade Keystone City while their leader, Grodd, has captured the Speed Force for himself and can now keep up with Flash. It’s a terrifying visual — a massive, hyper-violent ape with super speed — that really acts as the focal point of the issue. Grodd was insanely powerful before he got speedy, and now he simply lays waste to Barry while his troops attempt to fell the Rogues who have become quite the formidable fighting team when the pressure’s on. The Flash #14 moves the series in the right direction by bringing Solovar back into the mix and entertaining the idea that Grodd’s insane quest for power might not be all that insane.
And just when I thought I could handle Scott Lobdell after Superman #13, he goes ahead and puts out Superman #14 to remind me that he just doesn’t know how to write quality comics anymore. Superman #14 squanders all the mystique and genuine characterization that the previous issue had established — for some reason, Lois is angry at Clark still, Supergirl is just plain bratty, and H’el himself is little more than a generic villain wrapped up in what looks like a new villain just because the name wasn’t used prior to the ‘New 52’. This guy is just Zod…or any other Kryptonian that’s come to fight Supes over the decades, and it’s really disappointing to see so much hype over so little.