Gotham Knights #18
writer: Devin Grayson, pencils: Roger Robinson, inks: John Floyd
night, and the Bat's got nobody…
got a bat, and the story begins from the bat's perspective. Even the
flying rodent thinks that Bruce needs to get a life, or at least some
sleep. The two converse in the Bat-cave, until interrupted by a video
call from Aquaman. Lonely on the moon, the Sea King reaches out to his
friend (?), who quickly makes excuses not to talk.
In his efforts
to fight crime in Gotham on this night, however, Batman does nothing
but annoy Oracle and Nightwing. For the first time in a long time, or
at least post-Crisis, Batman actually gets embarrassed by his own behavior.
After kicking around the manor for a while, Batman asks Aquaman to order
a pizza, and come over in his pajamas. Then the two heroes stay up all
night watching SNL and talking about girls they like. Okay, they
really try to retrieve the huge penny that has fallen underwater after
Cataclysm, but it still boils down to awkward camaraderie.
on her personal quest to re-humanize Bruce Wayne, and it works. Many
months ago he fretted that he didn't know himself, and this issue goes
far to remind him. Please, editorial powers-that-be, let Grayson explore
this further, and start paying attention to the man behind the mask.
The back of the
book features a short black-and-white tale from Dave Gibbons and Mick
McMahon, Fat City. It's silly, grotesque, and, of course, out
of continuity. In some ways it's a throwback to the stories of the '50's,
but with a distinct 2000 A.D. spin. Because of its utter lack
of reverence, it may not be to everyone's, ahem, taste. But the lead
story more than makes up for that.
writer: Mark Waid, pencils: Steve Epting, inks: Rick Magyar
The Atlantean super-team
continues trying to make sense of what has happened to their civilization
and Earth itself. Flashing back to the last time she saw her lover,
Capricia leads an effort to raise her sunken city. Of course, evil still
lurks in the deep, and The Negation proves that they're not the mindless
bugs Capricia thought they were. Can the team overcome its internal
differences in time to complete their quest?
like a standard super-team book disguised as traditional fantasy. And
why shouldn't it? Few would argue that Mark Waid writes superheroes
better than most. The characterizations are less shallow than one might
expect, but the book still suffers from a vague sense of déjà vu.
In many ways, it echoes Dave Cockrum's The Futurians. Epting
and Magyar draw the cast beautifully, and it's refreshing to really
be able to tell all the characters apart without having to reference
It's solid. It's
readable. It's on time. It's just not as daringly different as Cross-Gen
Comics would have us believe.
Spider-Man #32 or #130
writer: Paul Jenkins, pencils: Mark Buckingham, inks: Wayne Faucher
Last issue ended
with a nice, old-fashioned cliff-hanger: the mysterious villain Fusion
hit Peter so hard against a wall that he broke his neck. Sad to say,
when Peter regains consciousness, his body still lies at angles that
even he shouldn't be able to achieve. The victorious Fusion hoists our
paralyzed hero and takes him back to his lair. A helpless Peter takes
even more beating. And then he figures out what's going on in time to
The answer, while
probably obvious in hindsight, still comes as a nice surprise. Jenkins
brings back to Spider-Man an element too often missing in recent years:
Peter has a strong will. What made him so exciting in the early days
was that he never gave up. Many writers have faked their way through
that, reducing it to a cliché, but Jenkins makes it new again. Spider
powers don't make the hero; the man who has them makes the hero.
Ditko, Buckingham and Faucher portray Peter as a slightly less than
muscular hero, and give him a lot of great splayed poses. Most impressively,
they draw a Spider-Man who looks like a guy wearing a cloth mask, not
a guy whose head looks like the mask itself. It veers to the edge of
cartoony occasionally, but these guys have been turning out some really
fine work on this title.
Star Wars: Jedi
Vs. Sith #3 of 6
writer: Darko Macan, pencils: Ramon F. Bachs, inks: Raul Fernandez
Bear with us. This
week has a heck of a lot of Star Wars to it. Three separate titles
came out from Dark Horse, and we can call them the good, the mediocre,
and the ugly. Jedi Vs. Sith would be the mediocre. It tells a
story set long before the movies, and that works to its advantage. Mercifully
free from continuity, Macan follows the adventures of three children
blessed by The Force (and nary a midichlorian among them), caught up
in a war between the Jedi and hordes of the Sith.
Wait a minute,
you might say, hordes? There are always two. This book seeks
to explain the reason for that, and in the previous issue, two Sith
did begin to plot. But it's not referenced here at all, spending more
time with one of the children who looks suspiciously like he's heading
down the path to the dark side.
The art has a very
manga feel to it, and that always seems jarring in a Star Wars
book. But lots of people bought the manga adaptations of the films,
so clearly, Dark Horse has an audience for it. Just not here.
Star Wars Tales
Lead Story: Captain Threepio
several writers and artists
When this book
started, it offered the least promise. Instead, it has turned out to
be the most consistently fun Star Wars title on the market. Dark
Horse gives a lot of different creators the chance to play in Lucas'
universe, filling in gaps in continuity that you never thought were
there in the first place.
Two stories in
this issue make it worth the price. Skeleton Key creator Andi
Watson offers The One That Got Away, the story of a twi'lek graduate
student writing a thesis on Hutts. Trying to work her way through college,
she works as a singer for a familiar band on Tatooine, and gets sold
into slavery when Jabba takes a licking to her. Watson does a neat job
playing in the corners of continuity.
The second high-quality
story is The Secret Tales of Luke's Hand. Young Anakin Solo can't
get to sleep; he knows the stories of how his Uncle Luke bravely fought
against Vader and the Emperor, but it bothers him that no one retrieved
the hand Luke lost at Bespin. To calm him down, Han spins a yarn about
where the hand went. It turns out the disembodied hand did quite a bit
to destroy the empire, and it also goes to show that for a "children's"
film series (Lucas' current take), the movies sure had a lot of limb
severing. At $5.99, Star Wars Tales may be a bit steep. But its
story page count is more than double the average Dark Horse $2.99 book,
so it ends up a bargain. Skip the other two titles and get this one.
Star Wars: Underworld
#5 of 5
The Yavin Vassilika
writer: Mike Kennedy, art: Calros Meglia
And now…the ugly.
This book has been a terrible waste of time. Meglia's artwork annoys
me, so it already had that strike going against it. Sorry, but drawing
arm hairs the size of Flav-R-Straws is just wrong. And Chewbacca
looks like a ticked-off bichon frise. The story itself offers
nothing but inconsistent characterizations, and reduced the bounty hunters
to figures of ridicule. Only Boba Fett gets to remain cool.
The only interesting
element of note is that it appears Han had himself a chippie in the
Rebellion before Leia. Lando takes it for granted, so maybe I've missed
something. Skip this book. Skip the inevitable trade paperback collection.
Rent It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World instead. Kennedy ripped
off its structure for this story, and the original will make a more
Man of Steel #115
writer: Mark Schultz, pencils: Doug Mahnke, inks: Jose Marzan, Jr.
Finally, a significant
leap forward comes in this chapter of Prelude To War! Mysterious
green lights hold a variety of sleeping humans - and one Kryptonian.
Clark Kent awakens to find himself and the entire population of Metropolis
transported to a huge concentration camp, all in their underwear. Thankfully
(or not), no one in Metropolis sleeps in the nude. Unluckily for Clark,
he doesn't sleep in his uniform.
Quickly he climbs
a tower so he can locate the people he knows and loves - Lois, Perry,
Jimmy, and Maggie Sawyer. For some as yet unknown reason, Professor
Hamilton cannot be located. Just as Clark reunites with Lois, two grotesque
cyclopean aliens (and man, Mahnke draws aliens better than anyone) appear
and demand that the city leaders and metahumans make themselves known.
Despite assurances that no one will be harmed, no one steps forward.
Clark asks Lois to represent Metropolis to these aliens, while he tries
to find out what has really happened.
And though the
cover reveals a little bit too much of the surprise at the end of the
tale, what has really happened is big, logical, and a little frightening.
Schultz does something
remarkable; he writes characters who really think their way through
a crisis. Lois is obviously terrified by the situation, but she overcomes
her fear in a very real way. Clark starts out as a man trying to wrap
his mind around what has happened, and when he relies on his fists (after
all, it is a Superman comic), he causes more problems than he solves.
And it bears repeating: Mahnke draws the best aliens around.
Our Worlds At
War may actually achieve something few summer cross-overs do: live
up to the hype. Already, certain long accepted aspects of the DC Universe
have been shaken. And unlike the similar-sounding Invasion! of
a decade ago, the events here are simply too big, too detailed to be
shaken off by the general populace of Earth-DC. If more chapters can
be as satisfying as this one, we won't feel cheated afterward.
Our Worlds At War #1
Comedy of Eras
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, pencils: Todd Nauck, inks: various
Though it references
continuity in the regular YJ book and Superboy, Abnett
and Lanning have wisely made this story stand alone in its own right.
As the team fights over something that has happened in Superboy's title,
a member of the Linear Men freezes the kids in time. Informing them
that they're the only super-team the Linear Men could contact, she gives
them a "linear compass" with which they must find the arch-villain who
is trying to insert himself into key moments in history, thereby changing
the timestream. It helps to remember that the Linear Men, despite being
guardians of time, have not been allowed to know anything about Hypertime.
Lobo (yes, Lobo) messes up the compass, and they end up in a variety
of eras, almost all of them wrong. But they do afford for some interesting
times, including one with an army of Amazos, Hourmen, and Red Tornadoes.
The despicable villain is supposedly Brainiac 13, who has appeared in
other chapters of Our Worlds At War. But whether or not he is
the true menace remains to be seen, as Imperiex seems pretty hell-bent
on stopping him, too.
So another piece
of the puzzle falls into place. For new readers, Brainiac 13 gets explained
just enough, and all anybody really needs to know about Imperiex is
that he's really bad. The only thing that seems unbelievable is that
the Linear Men couldn't find a team other than Young Justice, especially
since The Legion of Superheroes make a cameo appearance, too. And what
about the Metal Men? Or for that matter, The Sentinels of Magic? Oh,
right. They suck.