You’ll remember from the end of the last issue that Batman and the Red Hood’s final battle takes place just as Chemo gets dropped on Bludhaven. As much as I like the “superhero Batman” interacting with the rest of the DC universe, I had hoped that the Red Hood storyline could exist on its own, without crossover interference. Therefore, imagine my frustration at the last page of Batman #650 (written by Judd Winick, pencilled by Eric Battle, inked by Rodney Ramos), which threatens to open the door to all kinds of cosmic fiats for explaining the return of Jason Todd. Other than that, I thought it was a wonderfully tense standoff between Bats, RH, and the Joker, with Batman once again ultimately finding a third way around two unpleasant alternatives. I do look forward to this story’s conclusion in Batman Annual #25, but if it depends on Infinite Crisis I won’t be happy.
Green Lantern #9 (written by Geoff Johns, pencilled by Ethan van Sciver, inked by Prentiss Rollins) took what could have been another bloodthirsty makeover of a goofy ’60s villain and turned it into a pleasant, straightforward buddy-cop story featuring Batman’s reconciliation with Hal Jordan. Hal even says “I don’t usually bleed this much on a team-up.” You didn’t used to bleed this much period, Hal — but it’s nice to see Batman can get along with somebody.
In JLA Classified #17 (written by Gail Simone, pencilled by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, inked by Klaus Janson), Part 2 of “The Hypothetical Woman” finds the League buffeted both by Flash’s Starro virus and its newer cousin, which has afflicted a small island. Since there are a few more installments to go, I didn’t expect this one to end on quite so dire a series of cliffhangers just yet, but the point is to keep me coming back month after month, and I’ll sure be doing that. My earlier complaints about Janson’s style not meshing with JLGL’s are also a thing of the past.
Does anyone out there know if Blok’s math on the cover of Legion of Super-Heroes #15 is correct? I’m sure it is; but I don’t know the numbers in my head like some others probably do. Inside it feels like a fill-in issue. The first story (written by Stuart Moore, drawn by Pat Olliffe and Livesay) is a series of “campfire tales” about the Legion popping up in key events of the present-day heroic age, with the point being it’s not whether these stories happened, it’s that they continue to inspire. The second (written by Mark Waid, pencilled by Adam DeKraker, inked by Rodney Ramos) is essentially an extended lettercolumn designed to introduce each Legionnaire to the uninitiated. It does a decent job for what it is, but it all seems to anticipate Supergirl’s joining next issue.
Speaking of anticipation, Captain America #15 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Mike Perkins) uses old newsreel footage of Cap and Bucky vs. the Red Skull to lead into Crossbones’ deprogramming of the Skull’s daughter. The ending’s not hard to guess, so this is more in service of bringing us new readers (again, the uninitiated) up to speed. Perkins also does a fantastic job fitting into the book’s usual Epting/Lark style.
Fantastic Four #535 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, pencilled by Mike McKone, inked by Andy Lanning) concludes both the Thing/Hulk fight and the Reed/Sue Social Services subplot, and I have to say, the Hulk plot was handled better. In fact, these past couple of issues have felt like Hulk has hijacked the book, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but it doesn’t leave much room for exploring the title characters. Again, a passing knowledge of Hulk history is probably required.
Not so for The Thing #4 (written by Dan Slott, drawn by Andrea DiVito), which feels more like this month’s FF book. Ben has to babysit his niece and nephew with the help of Lockjaw, the teleporting dog. Hijinx ensue, although Franklin also learns a valuable lesson about money. The best part of the book is the Watcher gag near the beginning, but that doesn’t mean it peaks early. Very well done.