I did like 52 #22 (written by You-Know-Who, breakdowns by Him Again?, pencils by Eddy Barrows, inks by Rob Stull) and its focus on Doc Magnus doing science-fu to get away from the bad guys. The Luthor/Supernova bit at the beginning was okay, I suppose, but I’m getting a little bored with the mini-mysteries. Also, whither Batwoman?
Actually, she does warrant a mention in this week’s Detective Comics (#824 written by Paul Dini, pencilled by Don Kramer, inked by Wayne Faucher), featuring the return of the Penguin. Add in the Riddler, Zatanna, and Lois Lane, and it’s practically a Marvel book, or maybe a Jeph Loeb one. It’s a cute story overall, and I guess with the Penguin it’s hard not to be cute on some level. Kramer and Faucher are fine Bat-artists — nothing flashy, which again fits the story’s attitude. I did wonder if Zatanna had dislocated her hip in a couple of panels, though.
The (All-New) Atom #4 (written by Gail Simone, inked by Trevor Scott) welcomes new penciller Eddy Barrows for a transitional story between last issue’s Giganta cliffhanger and a new direction about how Ray Palmer’s quantum experiments turned Ivy Town into a weirdness factory. I liked this issue well enough, but I will say that in light of its emphasis on Giganta’s digestive system, reading it while eating dinner was a mistake. Still, Ryan Choi gets to do some traditionally Atom-style heroics, and the bit about Ivy Town’s different neighborhoods should be good for several months’ worth of stories. Art was fine — Barrows, like Don Kramer above, isn’t too flashy, and I agree with other bloggers who see a certain “DC house style” developing. Barrows is no John Byrne, but neither is he *John Byrne!*, if you know what I mean.
I picked up Nightwing #125 for Marv Wolfman’s big return to the character (with Dan Jurgens pencilling and Norm Rapmund inking), and got a perfectly serviceable superhero story about … really, a guy who flips and swings around Manhattan fighting a flying bad guy in battle armor, and then having to explain his bruises to the hott women throwing themselves at him. Typing that out makes it sound like an old-school Daredevil issue, and really, it maybe could have been. Except for some bits about Bruce Wayne and an intriguing meta notion that Dick should have died in Infinite Crisis, nothing about this seemed unique to Nightwing. More to the point, it didn’t feel like Marv Wolfman telling us readers why we should see Nightwing as more than a Daredevil knockoff. I’m going to give Marv a chance, but come on — for years the book was I Don’t Want To Be Batman and now it’s Generic Acrobatic Guy? There’s gotta be a happy medium.
So, Marvel still publishes Fantastic Four, huh? FF #540 (written by J. Michael Straczynski, drawn by Mike McKone) apparently fills in some Civil War gaps to chronicle the no-takebacks breakup of the Richards’ marriage, and also Reed’s misguided attempts to set Peter Parker on the right law-abiding path. If you’re reading the rest of CW, maybe it means something, but like last issue’s crossover, it just leaves me a little cold. I don’t feel like JMS has laid the groundwork for the breakup sufficiently in this book, so that although the senses-shattering events of CW might have blindsided the team, they still should be understandable to the readers. Also, I’m sure I’m not the first person to point this out, but this is the guy who stole a rocketship all those years ago, now lecturing his colleagues on the importance of the Rule of Law? I can see Reed’s current point, and the guilt backing it up, but I think he’d find it easier to live in a world where sometimes you gotta steal the rocketship.
Beyond! (#4 written by Dwayne McDuffie, drawn by Scott Kolins) and Agents of Atlas (#3 written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Leonard Kirk, inked by Kris Justice) both continue to be bewilderingly fun comics. I’m sure they are more enjoyable the more Marvel knowledge you have, but I like them just the same. I’m reserving more comment until I have more time to read them all in a lump.
Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man #20 (written by Peter David, pencilled by Mike Norton, inked by Norman Lee) is the big Hawkeye/Frankenstein Halloween issue, and it works out about as well as you’d expect. I don’t remember any “Hawkeye is dead” jokes, which tells me that the book really is intended for the continuity-challenged. It’s all a bunch of smartaleck comments and “hey, nice costume!” gags instead, and it comes together pretty well.
Finally, I picked up Criminal #1 (written by Ed Brubaker, drawn by Sean Phillips), and I really don’t think I devoted enough time to it. I liked it well enough, although hard-boiled noir is not exactly my most favorite genre. I found the beginning a little hard to get into (specifically, trying to see if the narration was supposed to match the pictures) but maybe I was trying too hard. Still, I like Brubaker and Phillips, and I liked Sleeper, so we’ll see. It certainly seems like it will reward multiple readings.