EXTRA! EXTRA! (DEC 12-18, 2012)

Batgirl #15
(Simone, Benes)

While Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s main “Death of the Family” storyline is a vehicle for a much scarier and focused Joker, the model of car seems to be different depending on the title you’re reading–last week’s Batman and Robin #15 was incredible, but while this week’s Batgirl #15 adequately conveys the story, it falls flat more than once. It feels like Gail Simone really doesn’t know what to do with Barbara and the Joker together besides dredge up Barbara’s feelings of anger and rage, which wouldn’t be out of the question normally, but this is supposed to be the sort-of king of all Joker stories (in recent history, at least), and I supposed I just expected more from Simone after a poignant and suspenseful 14th issue. Also, a lot of what was set-up last month in Batgirl #14 doesn’t really move forward so much as stays stagnant while the Joker waxes poetic about the hardships of life; not the most interesting use of panel space, but not totally boring. If you ignore the flashback scenes (which I’m sure will be important down the road, but show no indications of being so here), Batgirl #15 is a passable issue that builds upon the greater “DotF” narrative, but only a little bit.

GRADE: 7/10

Fantastic Four #2
(Fraction, Bagley)

After a fun and energetic first issue, Matt Fraction effectively hits the breaks this month and gives readers yet another full issue of build-up to the Fantastic Four’s voyage into multidimensional space that’s just kind of boring. As well as Fraction writes, it’s a bit off-putting to see such utilitarian use of dialogue and narrative–Ben Grimm screaming at Yancy Street seems over the top, Reed and Scott Lang’s scientific discussion has no emotional core, and the origin of Darla Deering as a member of the Fantastic Four is very, very weak. Obviously, things pick up next issue, as Reed launches his family into a portal at the end of Fantastic Four #2, but it’s just annoying to have to wait yet another month to see Marvel’s First Family on their ridiculously awesome adventure. A ‘slow burn’ story isn’t bad, but this issue just feels like filler.

GRADE: 7/10

Green Lantern Corps #15
(Tomasi, Gleason)

“Rise of the Third Army” is becoming more and more of a misnomer because none of the GL titles are actually dealing with the rise of this Third Army, and Green Lantern Corps is a prime example–instead of focusing on the Corps fighting this monstrous parasitic force, Tomasi is focusing on Guy and John exclusively, giving them more personal stories when they should be at the front lines of this incursion. Yes, I know, the Guardians are sneaky and all that, but we’re talking about GUY GARDNER, who normally doesn’t take crap from anyone, and JOHN STEWART, who’s got years of military experience telling him something is wrong. Yet, I like Green Lantern Corps #15, and the story of Guy and his family is told extremely well, it just feels superflous and unnecessary–why do I need to know so much about Guy’s father (he’s been in three issues so far)? The Third Army seems less like a universe-threatening force and more of an annoyance off in the corner of the of narrative, and if that’s how it’s supposed to be unfolding, then it’s doing so in a clunky and unbecoming manner.

GRADE: 6/10

Iron Man #4
(Gillen, Land)

Things are looking better for Iron Man (not literally, as Greg Land’s artwork is pretty underwhelming), as Kieron Gillen puts Tony in his ‘Heavy’ armor this week for a trip to France to find yet another illegal Extremis virus. Deep in the catacombs of Paris, Tony must fend off a legion of Extremis-infected women who’ve been stripped of their personality and humanity, effectively making them mindless killing machines. Tony’s ethical dilemma over killing people who are effectively dead already is a testament to Gillen’s ideals, but the concept struggles to come across smoothly, and the entire issue suffers from a lack of emotional depth. I’m a big fan of Kieron Gillen, but Iron Man has been fairly disappointing since it’s fantastic first issue.

GRADE: 6.5/10 

Superboy #15
(DeFalco, Silva)

“H’el on Earth” hasn’t been too understandable, so far–H’el himself doesn’t have much of a backstory beyond claiming he was Jor-El’s assistant, the narrative has been somewhat choppy and fragmented, and the three members of the Super family seem to have weirdly different personalities depending on the title you read. Fortunately, Superboy #15 hits all the right marks by focusing on Superman and Superboy while leaving H’el out of the picture until the very end. The main point of this issue is to show Superboy effectively inheriting Superman’s Kryptonian armor, as it’s the only thing that can possibly save Superboy’s life after H’el’s fatal beating. While I still despise Tom DeFalco’s inner monologue for Superboy, the narrative is a lot stronger this issue than in Superman or Supergirl, and that’s saying a lot for a series that’s struggled to find it’s footing since day one.

GRADE: 7/10

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