3 – DC Comics
Everyone is anticipating the return of The Joker in Batman and rightfully so, with Scott Snyder behind the wheel. But Batgirl’s confrontation with the Clown Prince of Crime is a damn close second, especially when it’s Gail Simone writing Barbara Gordon. Batgirl #14 is a brilliant recreation of The Killing Joke, this time with Barbara totally prepared to defend herself against a home invasion. It seems that Joker has a plan for every member of the Bat-family, and the twist at the end of this issue definitely shows that he has something very interesting planned for Batgirl. The styles of Ed Benes and assistant Daniel Sampere don’t exactly gel, but that doesn’t mean that either artist under-performs. There is a minor obvious detail that Barbara’s detective work missed, but I can forgive a girl whose mother has been kidnapped by a clown with his face held on by a leather belt. Gail Simone puts out the best issue of Batgirl yet, with creepiness on par with her great Secret Six stories.
Final Grade: ★★★★½ 4.5/5
Final Grade: ★★★★★ 5/5
Batman and Robin is the latest example of a question readers of multiple Bat-books have asked for years: How can Batman be in so many places at once? With The Joker on the loose in Batman, fighting The Penguin in Detective Comics and other Gotham Crimes happening simultaneously, it seems impossible. Of course its impossible, but this is comic books kids! Robin is dealing with the flesh eaters that he ran into at the end of #13, and Batman is on the hunt for Damian, who apparently is disobeying him yet again. The art is uneven, with Patrick Gleason’s cleaner-cut, action-oriented style being disrupted by Tom Giorello’s pencils, which are dull and messy. Tomasi attempts to tie this zombie-style tale in with the greater “Death of the Family” narrative, to mixed results. The ending has an emotional touch however, that you might fail to connect if you weren’t paying close attention in issue 13. Still, I’m a sucker for sappy father/son moments.
Final Grade: ★★★3/5
2– Indie Comics:
The penultimate issue of Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus fulfills the punk rock promise that the series’ title gave us. Jesus/Chris isn’t a full-on anarchist, but he and his new band “The Flak Jackets” are sticking it to the religious communities of the world and promoting science-based social initiatives at the same time. We get a further exploration of former IRA strongman Thomas as well, who Murphy is positioning into the role of voice of reason as Chris becomes more obsessed with taking down all organized religions. Expect a final confrontation between Chris and Thomas as things come to a head for the end of the fantastically sharply-pencilled Punk Rock Jesus. The series has taken a hard right turn in the past two issues, and has a lot to wrap up in next issue’s finale.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5
It has been a long wait since issue 6, but Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga is finally back. We pick up where we left off with our renegade lovers Marko and Alana and their newborn half-breed Izabel as they meet Marko’s parents. I read the issue in a Starbucks, fully expecting to turn the page and see something over-the-top sexual and grotesque; I was not disappointed. The issue dealt with topics of meeting in-laws and cultural prejudice, which have been covered by other Sci-Fi properties, but Vaughan grounds them in a relatable way that Star Trek never could. Saga gives alien creatures a humanity and depth that genre stories usually lack, and Fiona Staples unique, person-based artwork only emphasizes that. Here’s hoping that Saga won’t have to go on another months-long hiatus.
Final Grade: ★★★★½ 4.5/5
1 – Marvel Comics
After five weeks of lackluster stories in AvX Consequences, the X-Men have now entered into the realm of Marvel NOW! Cyclops, his former Phoenix-friends Magik and Emma Frost and Magneto are at it again – sticking it to the Man… the homo sapian Man. The mutant vigilantes are the scouring the globe in search of newly-powered mutants. Back on the slightly saner scale of mutation are Storm, Kitty Pryde, Iceman and Beast, who are lamenting over Scott Summers actions yet again. Iceman says that when they were younger, the Cyclops he knew would be disgusted at the present day Cyclops – not once but TWICE; ya know, just to beat the point home. This gives Beast the idea of which this series is based on. The idea of the original X-Men seeing what has become of their future is poignant, especially since Cyclops going off the deep end in AvX. Bendis’ execution is a little poor however, with a feeling of a conveniently forced narrative. Stewart Immonen does a stellar job at penciling the mutants, with splash pages and flashy entrances abounding. The series has promise based on premise alone, looking forward to next time.
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5