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Batman: Gotham Knights #34
writer: Scott Beatty
artists: Roger Robinson and John Floyd

The possibility of Bane and Batman being brothers seems like cheap shock, but really, we should be jumping up and down with excitement. If it turns out to be true, then something would actually happen in this book that really changes things for good. (When was the last time somebody mentioned "No Man's Land" in a way other than to remind us that, oh yeah, it happened?)

But it seems kind of unlikely, no matter how fun the image of Bane riding shotgun in the Batmobile is. One, Alfred has a point that Thomas Wayne just doesn't seem like the cheating type. (Then again, that alone would sure shake up Bruce's world.) Secondly, Batman villains never reform well. Just ask Catwoman.

Still, it would provide something interesting for Bane, a decent character whose reputation has been forever damaged by Joel Schumacher.


Daredevil #38
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Manuel Gutierrez

Gutierrez steps in for a 3-issue arc, and it helps to establish a slightly brighter tone. The previous arc had an almost noir feel, while already it's clear that Bendis is going for high-class TV courtroom drama with this one.

A fairly obscure Marvel hero comes out of retirement for one night, just long enough to get arrested as a cop killer. Having fought alongside The White Tiger in the '70's, Luke Cage and Danny Rand beg Matt Murdock to take on the case. Whatever the outcome, it will have repercussions for the superhero community, and Matt himself. While his recent "outing" is still not one hundred percent sure, enough people have doubts to watch the case very, very closely.

If I've seen Gutierrez' work before, it's a mystery. However, we should be seeing him again. He has a sure hand in his line work, able to balance action and quiet scenes with equal aplomb. Had Bill Jemas recruited him for his Marville book, some of the celebrity jokes might have actually worked. They still wouldn't have been funny, but they would have worked.


The Filth #5
writer: Grant Morrison
artists: Chris Weston and Gary Erskine

When in doubt, start making a lot of dirty jokes. From the opening porn shoot involving Amish women being seduced by Satan to its nightmarishly (and dramatically purposeful) final scene, this issue of The Filth revels in a sophomoric attitude toward so-called "adult" entertainment. But because it's Morrison, it works better than it has a right to.

The Hand takes on a vaguely supernatural film star with the unlikely name of Anders Klimaaks, who shoots black semen. At first, this is treated as merely an oddity, and Morrison gives us Klimaaks (sheesh - it sounds like a Kirby porno book) as an unreliable narrator. Maybe his manhood is harmless; maybe it isn't. By the end of the book you will have decided. At any rate, it's remarkable enough to be worthy of cleansing by the super-secret psychotropic extra-dimensional whatever-the-heck-they-are organization that purports to be the subject of this book.

And as cool as this run has been so far, it's still pretty hard to tell exactly what's going on and how everything relates. Each individual issue has had some great mindbending concepts, but longtime fans have to start fearing that this is going down the same road as The Invisibles. At least the run will be shorter.


JSA #41
writers: David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns
artists: Leonard Kirk and Keith Champagne

As cool as this book can be, it has started to suffer a little bit from juggling too many characters and subplots. We got a focus on Power Girl a couple of issues back, and now she has apparently disappeared utterly, as has Jakeem Thunder. Instead, the big gun spotlight falls to the two Marvels, while powerhouse Nuklon also stays hidden. Everybody can't be everywhere, sure, but if a future warlord is coming to wreak havoc, you do try to make sure you've got as much power on your side as possible. Good lord, man, HeroClix has taught us all that.

Still, Goyer and Johns do write the coolest book for continuity freaks out there. And they do it without alienating new fans, too. Who knew that Mr. Terrific had an archenemy from the future? If Goyer and Johns say so, believe it. They know. But they also make sure that in a few pages, we know all we need to enjoy the action.

Cool, too, is a reminder that Billy Batson still resides inside Captain Marvel, harboring a revelatory crush on Courtney. Black Adam's cruel remarks on that count are consistent with his character without giving us any more clue to the evil that may be lurking within.


New X-Men #133
writer: Grant Morrison
artists: Ethan Van Sciver and Norm Rapmund

As out of control as The Filth gets, over in this book Morrison continually proves that he can work with grand concepts and still make them accessible. Consider this issue more of a bridge between storylines, as we visit the X-Corporation offices in India.

There, unlike the rest of the world, superhero costumes are still in vogue, and it's kind of nice to see the mutants back in their finery. (Though a weird moment passes with people thinking that Thunderbird was dead - clearly, a continuity thing that my years of X-isolation ill prepared me for.)

While rescuing a new mutant in Afghanistan, Wolverine encounters the elusive Fantomex, and for the first time since Origin, gets called by his real name. A nice touch, perhaps, but it is kind of odd that for thirty years or so, nobody has ever done so.

People rave about Frank Quitely on this book, but honestly, Van Sciver does such a great job that we should all just stop considering Quitely part of the rotation. If Marvel keeps alternating between Van Sciver and Igor Kordey, everything would be just fine.


Derek McCaw


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