At first Fantastic Four: The End #2 (by Alan Davis) feels more like Alan Davis’ Last Avengers Story, dwelling more on Iron Man’s personality and seemingly throwaway gimmicks like the Bug Squad than on the interconnections of the former Fantastic Four. In terms of a single issue with “Fantastic Four” in the title, I’d say this is a pretty meandering effort, although the Avengers bits and a scene with Ben Grimm on Mars are entertaining. In the larger context, I’m hopeful that this issue lays the foundation for future plot points. It’s only issue 2, after all.
52 #29 (written by Johns, Morrison, Rucka, and Waid, breakdowns by Keith Giffen, pencils by Chris Batista, inks by Jack Jadson) offers what is almost an obligatory gap-filling story about the last original Justice Socialites turning off the lights. We all know there will be trouble when one of Luthor’s new heroes has the same codename as Green Lantern’s late daughter, and I guess the resolution of that fight is unexpected. However, the cynic in me notes that the new Justice Society title is just around the corner, and this issue makes a fine teaser. I do have some issues with DC’s devotion to legacies, so maybe I’ll revisit this issue in more detail later. Thanksgiving with the mad scientists is fun, though.
Hawkgirl #58 (written by Walter Simonson, drawn by Joe Bennett) felt like old-school Wonder Woman, with the heroine in peril and her platonic male friend rushing to help and getting in trouble himself. I’m not sure I buy Kendra’s answer to the issue’s climactic dilemma, and again if I were being charitable I’d chalk it up to a certain freewheeling it’s-only-a-comic sensibility. It’s not completely implausible, but at the same time it could be seen as an excuse to march a bound and gagged Hawkgirl past the brink of a messy execution rendered across a two-page spread, and bring her back. It comes uncomfortably close to being a snuff film with a reset button. Joe Bennett’s art is a better fit for Simonson’s scripts and the book overall, and I’m willing to give the book a chance through the upcoming Rann-Thanagar War storyline, but it’s getting to the point where Kendra has been humiliated enough.
Speaking of Wonder Woman, lo and behold Wonder Woman #3 (written by Allan Heinberg, drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson) came out last week. It’s a well-executed fight scene involving Hercules (shouldn’t that be “Heracles,” or is that his secret identity?), Giganta, Cheetah, Dr. Psycho, and the Mystery Villainess (revealed eventually, but I don’t want to give away the ending). There’s also a lot of finger-pointing directed at Diana for taking that year off and going plainclothes, which leads to the M.V.’s ultimate plan to become Wonder Woman herself, apparently. Hey, why not? Thanks to Justice League of America and this book’s own tardiness, we know how things turn out. Still, now begins the long wait ’til #4.
You know, if you’re Richard Donner and you have a new idea for a Superman story, you can include Bizarro, Sarge Steel, and any number of regular DC-Universe references, but when you bring in Zod, Ursa, and Non, they could fight Ambush Bug and it would still feel like a ripoff of Superman II. Naturally, such is the case with Action Comics #845 (written by Geoff Johns and Donner, drawn by Adam Kubert), which of course throws in a Kryptonian child at least superficially reminiscent of the kid from Superman Returns. Anyway, this issue presents a fight with Bizarro alongside Lois’ reluctance to slap a pair of glasses on the boy and call him Christopher Kent. (Good choice for a first name.) I was a bit disappointed that Clark didn’t outsource last issue’s raid on the boy’s transport to Batman, especially since the establishing shot of the Kent Farm featured a couple of bats cavorting before the full moon. That’s about how I felt the whole issue — clever in parts, but not as much as I’d have liked.
Finally, more Phantom Zone shenanigans crop up in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #24 (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Barry Kitson, inked by Mick Gray), another entertaining issue built around a fight with the Legion of Super-Villains. I don’t know if I’ve spent enough time with this book that it no longer feels like I’m missing everything, or if the familiar elements are helping me get into the book more, but I’ve been digging it more than usual the past couple of issues and I hope that continues.