Batman #637 (written by Judd Winick, art by Doug Mahnke and Dustin Nguyen): Batman and Nightwing fight Amazo, as Black Mask deals with Mr. Freeze and Red Hood. The issue is a foregone conclusion — ever since Grant Morrison dubbed him “the most dangerous man on Earth,” Batman’s reputation has gotten more inflated than gas prices in the 1970s. Of course Batman can defeat Amazo; Batman with a broken leg would be simply a fairer fight. Anyway, it’s fun stuff, with Nightwing getting in a few licks as well. If this is a setup for a bigger fight later on, so much the better. My one complaint is that the art is a little stiffer than it has been, with the figures not moving as smoothly, but otherwise it’s fine.
Nightwing #104 (written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, with art by Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens): Dick introduces his new outfit to Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) and the Joker, while Batman trains Jason Todd as the new Robin. The point of the issue seems to be that Nightwing and Batgirl have some unresolved romantic issues, which are complicated by Nightwing’s relationship with his fellow Titan Starfire. Of course, the effect of Starfire on NW/BG might have been demonstrated more effectively had she been more of a presence than a few references toward the end of the book. As it is, she’s almost an afterthought — which, again, might have been the point, but this storyline should have done more to remind us just how strong Dick/Starfire was at the time. (Heck, Alex Ross in Kingdom Come even postulated that it would produce a daughter.) I almost hate to say it, but the Batman/Jason stuff was more interesting, and it only got a few pages.
Wonder Woman #213 (written by Greg Rucka, with art by James Raiz and Ray Snyder): Diana, once again fighting as a goddess’ proxy, squares off against Briareos, the hundred-headed, hundred-armed monster. As with the Medousa duel, Rucka makes sure we know the political implications of the fight — so while we can guess the outcome, Rucka emphasizes that its consequences are real and can’t be avoided by the loser. I wonder if the Amazo fight in Batman is an integral part of the story, or just a set piece; with this title, I know it matters. Raiz’ and Snyder do a fine job with the battle scenes, although sometimes I had problems following the action. Still only a minor complaint.
Flash #219 (written by Geoff Johns, with art by Justiniano, Livesay, and Walden Wong): Part 1 of the crossover with Wonder Woman, as the Cheetah frees Zoom and Flash goes to Diana for help. There’s a lot of setup, mostly explaining the villains’ motivations, and giving Diana a bit more of a harder edge than Flash. The guest artists are a pleasant change of pace from Howard Porter (who I still like) — they provide a more organic, less “clean” look than Porter, which fits with the villains. Cheetah would look almost cartoony under Porter (check out Porter’s cover), and Zoom’s speed effects might also have come off less well. Still, I’m not sure I needed to read this in order to understand the Wonder Woman conclusion.
Legion of Super-Heroes #3 (written by Mark Waid, with art by Barry Kitson and Art Thibert) focuses appropriately on Triplicate Girl, telling her origin and giving a fun insight into both her social life and her playful personality. Apparently the Legionnaires learn to date from ’50s Batman comics, which is both sad and hilarious. Overall very good, and continuing to raise my expectations for the series.
Star Wars: Empire #29 (written by Thomas Andrews, art by Adriana Melo) begins a 5-part storyline starring Luke and Leia. Their mission to convince a planet to join the Rebels is complicated by Anakin Skywalker’s history with the planet and its people. While this isn’t a bad plot, it’s not set up well, with the reader knowing before the characters do that things are going south. The characters are also not immediately recognizable — the characters in flashback don’t look 20 years younger; and Leia looks about 18 inches taller and a lot curvier than she should. However, once things get going they settle into an agreeable groove, and this could turn out to be a fine storyline.
Spider-Man/Human Torch #2 (written by Dan Slott, with art by Ty Templeton and Nelson): Flashing back to Peter and Johnny’s college days, Spidey joins the Fantastic Four on an extradimensional mission while the Torch fights Kraven the Hunter and stops drug smugglers. It’s all very wacky, but well done.
Fantastic Four #523 (written by Mark Waid, with art by Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel) wraps up the Galactus storyline, but it’s not (as I had previously thought) Waid and ‘Ringo’s last issue. Because I didn’t know that, the end of this issue caught me off guard. However, up to that point things felt a little too pat, maybe even forced. Waid and Wieringo have developed a certain style on this book over the past few years, and that style carries the issue, although the plot itself is nothing too new and could be undone without too much difficulty. I’m still sorry to see them go and hope their actual last issue is a humdinger.
Now if you’ll indulge my SPOILER,
my friend suggested that the Galactus-energy might find its way into a female host; and at the risk of invoking tired female stereotypes, I thought this new “Gal”actus would be more of a destructive creator, wreaking havoc like an amped-up Genesis Device. We’ll see.