Likewise, Batman and the Monster Men #1 (by Matt Wagner) begins what should be a fun retelling of the first Hugo Strange story from (I think) Detective Comics #37. It’s dolled-up with the usual Year One additions of now-familiar Gotham gangsters, but its heart is with Batman fighting giants. As with All-Star Supes, Wagner has eleven more issues, and that’s all to the good.
Two months late, Green Lantern #5 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ethan van Sciver, inked by Prentiss Rollins) concludes the Shark story from last issue, and begins a completely weird Black Hand arc. There’s a lot of grue in this issue, and I’m not sure why. I think at some point we actually see one of Hal’s armbones sticking out of his sleeve. Yes, I’m sure it would hurt to fight a giant mutated shark, but it never seemed to involve this much blood before, and it’s not quite explained why it does this time. Van Sciver’s art is a little too busy and intense for me, compared to the laid-back Carlos Pacheco; but at least Johns has some odd German-speaking gremlins wander through the proceedings, adding another layer of mystery.
Captain Atom: Armageddon #2 (written by Will Pfeifer, pencilled by Giuseppe Camuncoli, inked by Sandra Hope) finds Cap touring the WildStorm universe, trying to find a way back to DC-Earth. Along the way, he meets Majestic, who’s already done that, but still can’t help Cap. There’s a lot of WildStorm history in this issue, which didn’t really bother me, since the most I know about it comes from a 1997 JLA/WildCATS crossover. Along those lines, though, I get the feeling that this is a backdoor reintroduction of a few key WildStorm titles. Still, so far it doesn’t feel too much like a marketing strategy, and I still like Cap enough to keep getting it.
Apparently, Hero Squared #3 (written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, drawn by Joe Abraham) is the conclusion of a 4-part miniseries introducing the characters and leading into an ongoing series. That would be fine with me, although this issue doesn’t really feel like the end of a story. Instead, it’s more an exploration of the awkwardness which results from the interaction between normal people and their super-counterparts. I like it fine, even if it does tend to trade on Giffen and DeMatteis’ old JLI schtick. Also, Abraham’s art is good enough, but the proportions of Lord Caliginous’ battle armor could really use some work.
This may be an obscure reference, but remember that Secret Origins Annual which revealed that Barry Allen, circa Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, was the bolt of lightning that hit him in Showcase #4? Apply that to Reed Richards and you’ve got Fantastic Four #532 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Mike McKone, inked by Andy Lanning). It’s a nice story, but as an ending to an allegedly big cosmic saga it’s kind of meh.
Not so The Thing #1 (written by Dan Slott, pencilled by Andrea DiVito, inked by Laura Villari), which was a lot of fun. Slott seems to be testing the hearts of Marvel’s lawyers, as he has Ben Grimm dating Eva Longoria, going to a Martha Stewart party, and running afoul of Paris Hilton. The Thing isn’t wacky like She-Hulk or blackly comic like GLA — instead, it’s just plain superheroics, done well. My one complaint is with the opening fight sequence, which took me a few tries to get all the perspectives right. However, that is a very minor quibble.