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Batgirl #31

Green Arrow's Connor Hawke (note that DC themselves bill him this way) gets closer to solving the mystery that brought him to Gotham City with the help of Batgirl. Unfortunately, he gets no closer to solving the mystery of Batgirl herself. Maybe it's inevitable in a book with a barely verbal heroine, but Cassandra seems emotionally stunted, too. She interacts with new characters in a consistently neutral way, which is becoming wearing. At least we have the promise of Robin and The Spoiler joining in the fun; we do know how Batgirl feels about them. I think.


Fables #4

At last we get a glimpse at The Adversary, through what passes for religious text for these fairy tale characters. Cleverly, writer Bill Willingham also weaves in an explanation for how they can all co-exist. It's just a shame that places like Oz and Wonderland are now dead to this book - or are they?

: Fables has quickly risen to being one of the smartest books on the market, and the Medina/Hamilton art team deserves to become a fan favorite. This book proves that the Vertigo sensibility doesn't automatically mean edgy and misanthropic. It can just be a damned good story. Reading this, you might even hope for a happily ever after.


The Filth #3

I'll say this much for it so far: I think I understand what's going on. And I absolutely must be wrong. The opening sequence has some cleverness to it, though it slightly echoes Grant Morrison's long-ago Animal Man work. Eventually he moves past that to focus on his ostensible hero, a man unsure of his own identity, or even personality. Arguing with a socialist chimpanzee, Ned Slade/Greg Feely explores the meaning of a life that may not have been his in the first place. At the end of it all, I'm sure we'll be glad we read it.


Green Lantern #154

The issue following this one has already been gathering hype. If you're smart, you'll avoid the hype so that the ending of this month's issue will hit you with full impact. Judd Winick takes Kyle back to that most dreaded of events, the high school reunion. Though he occasionally dances with cliches, Winick leavens it with the first meeting between Jen and Kyle's mom. A lot of family business gets cleared up, and it's all handled with tenderness and believability. Just like in Exiles, the writer also reminds us that a lot can happen between issues. Kyle proves that even superheroes should call their mother regularly.


Harley Quinn #23

You'll figure out what's going on far faster than J'onn J'onnz does. Despite that, Karl Kesel respectfully acknowledges what little continuity the Martian Manhunter has, as we see him confront a couple of old enemies while trying to solve a rash of violent acts among lovers. It may be Harley Quinn's book, but she's willing to share. On top of a cracking story, guest-artists Craig Rousseau and Dan Davis straddle the line between most of Harley's comic book appearances and her animated origins. It's a clean style reminiscent of the late Mike Parobeck, and it suits Harley Quinn perfectly.


Legends of the Dark Knight #158

After an intriguing first two chapters, this legend, "Blink," becomes rather run of the mill. Now that the villains have been identified, it just becomes a matter of when Batman will catch them, only using Lee Hyland's unique gifts for a twist at the climax. At least along the way Dwayne McDuffie pauses to acknowledge Commissioner Gordon's integrity. He's been gone so long in the Batbooks that it's almost jarring to see a writer comment on him. Other than that, this just feels like filler.


Mutant, Texas #2

Still not actually Sheriff, Ida Red explores her new-found powers, while Mutant's actual sheriff reveals his duplicitous plans. Throughout the story, Paul Dini and J. Bone drop funny touches that work with a kid's logic. Ida needs a way to focus her powers? Hey, use these beat-up gloves. Though radiation is given as the reason things are the way they are in Mutant, it's clear there's more than a bit of magic here. And the series itself? So far - magic. We may be looking at next year's Eisner for Best Comic For Youth.


New X-Men #130

The little preview Marvel gave us last week did not do justice to this issue. Aiding Fantomex, Xavier and Jean Grey face the horror of Weapon XII in a subway tunnel in Paris. Grant Morrison throws in a little "living dead" paranoia, creepily illustrated by Igor Kordey. It's got a nice aura of horror film to it. And as always, Morrison both neatly closes off one storyline (suitable for trade paperbacking) while leaving the door open for a future menace. An X-Man falls here, too, and thankfully it's not played for the bathos that used to mark this title. This is the X-Men for grown-ups.


Nightwing #72

Devin Grayson has thrown Nightwing onto a world tour, trying to protect Mary Redhorn, a police wife with a terrible secret. Don't ask what it is. This month, they go to Rome with a little side-step into The Vatican, but only after some really well-done gratuitous violence. And it is well done.

Bringing Grayson on to write Grayson has so far turned out to be a great decision. Artists Rick Leonardi and Jesse Delperdang are meshing more and more smoothly, with the result being that this book hasn't looked this good in at least a year.


Powers #22

Still no quote from us on the cover. No matter; once again Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming turn out a piece of a cool police story, only with superheroes involved. Occasionally Bendis gets mocked for his Mamet-like style, but in this issue he really proves what a fantastic ear he has for dialogue as Pilgrim and her partner try to catch their killer. And the team delivers a last page twist that does the one thing I thought they couldn't logically do. Read it. It's good.


The Ultimates #6

At least the core members get to remain truly noble. While Captain America, Iron Man and Thor bond over dinner and drinks, we learn some ugly truths about Giant Man and The Wasp. In Jan's case, it's biologically ugly - you'll want to forget a couple of lines of dialogue about her. As for the Ultimate Hank Pym, things get out of hand with Hank, and while the original Pym had some of this potential, Mark Millar has taken it to the edge. It is a cool book, but this story almost feels like its shock for the sake of shock. But it's also clear that there will be realistic consequences.

This one is not for the kiddies, though Marvel has branded it appropriate for all readers.


Derek McCaw


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