I’m guessing Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4 (written by Grant Morrison, pencilled by Ryan Sook, inked by Mick Gray) is best appreciated in the contexts of both its preceding issues and the larger 7S project as a whole, because on its own its conclusion left me scratching my head. The art was good as always, there were some interesting attempts to break the fourth wall, and the banter between Zatanna and her sidekick was entertaining too. It just felt like overhearing the end of somebody else’s conversation.
On the other hand, Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1 (written by Morrison, drawn by Doug Mahnke) was quite good, in the vein of vintage Swamp Thing or Sandman stories. Like those, it didn’t spend much time on the hero, but focused instead on a Carrie-style magic-powered geek whose goal is revenge on his tormentors — and who instead brings the monster’s wrath on his head. It’ll take me a couple more readings to get a feel for the monster’s background, but gosh this was a good issue.
Maybe I’m feeling a bit more charitable now that it’s a lame duck, but Batman: Gotham Knights #71 (written by A.J. Lieberman, pencilled by Al Barrionuevo, inked by Bit) wasn’t too bad. Although the cover is completely misleading, once you get inside it’s a decent caper story about Batman having to break into Arkham Asylum to save Alfred’s life. The action scenes are the best part, because the rest has to wrap up an impenetrable plot about Hush creating a Clayface to both frame and kill Alfred, and those parts are either glossed over or sound like bad Gotham Central impersonations. Anyway, at least Lieberman has Batman acting like a human being for a few pages.
Flash #228 (written by Joey Cavalieri, pencilled by Val Semeiks, inked by Livesay) was okay. It’s better than last issue, because it turns away from being another dark-alternate-future story, but then it brings in Nightwing, Cyborg, a locked-room mystery, and Dexter Myles, longtime curator of the Flash Museum. The scenes with Dexter are kind of sweet, if only because this is probably his first appearance in at least 15 years, but again, it’s just marking time until the end of Infinite Crisis.
The best book of the week was Captain America #12 (written by Ed Brubaker, pencilled by Steve Epting and Michael Lark), in which Cap comes to grips with the identity of the Winter Soldier. As much as anyone can feel sorry for a fictional character, this issue made me feel for Cap. Meanwhile, Lukin puts the Cosmic Cube on the open market, with unexpected, but appropriate, results. As if that weren’t enough, Brubaker and Lark throw in some zombies! What more could anyone ask?