Apologies fans of 3-2-1 Comics!, I fell behind last week due to an upcoming article that I will be publishing. But I have returned for the end of January, featuring an underwhelming 100th issue for Invincible, another issue of the The Superior Spider-pus and the next chapter of the Throne of Atlantis crossover!
3 – DC Comics
I’m going to begin this review of Aquaman #16 with its last page (no worries, spoiler free!), namely that it says “To be concluded in Justice League #17!” Say whaaaat? Man, traditionally crossovers can drag on way to long, but to be honest, I would’ve liked to see a couple more issues dedicated to “Throne of Atlantis.” Oh well, I guess. We open with Cyborg getting some aqua upgrades and Aquaman swimming to “the dark waters” to save his fellow Leaguers. This issue also marks the first appearance of the new Justice League reserves, which gives us a little taste of how Geoff Johns plans on portraying “The Savage” Hawkman. Johns also builds on the trust that Aquaman and Batman seem to have for each other, even if Batman spend most of this issue in a underwater coffin. The surprise twist at the end was unexpected (hence it being a twist), but it sheds some light on some recent unanswered questions in Aquaman. Paul Pelletier is a worthy inheritor of the artist throne from Ivan Reis. He channels Reis a bit (especially with his Trench characters) but he also lends his own unique style to the book. One more chapter left, I’d like to see how they “unflood” all of these major cities…
Final Grade: ★★★★ 4/5
The last issue saw the (ambiguous) death of The Knight at the hands of Talia’s servant “The Heretic.” Batman Incorporated #7 deals with less of Batman and more of “Incorporated,” having Talia capture Bats right at the start. The bulk of the issue sees various members of Batman Inc. trying to track him down and pretty much all getting blown up. Chris Burnham is good, but he always leaves me wanting, to be honest. He has shown dynamism and unique pencils in the past, but this month his art is pretty straight forward – which isn’t the worst thing in the world. Morrison’s script is also lacking a bit compared to past chapters of his Batman saga. It seems that some dangling mysteries are tied up in #7, but I kind of expect a less conventional way from Morrison than what is presented. There are a couple of surprises in there, but for what seems to be Talia’s big win there isn’t much sense of foreboding or terror. At least for me.
Final Grade: ★★★½ 3.5/5
A lot of comic book fans were thrilled to hear that Gregg Hurwitz, writer of Penguin: Pain and Prejudice would be taking over Batman: The Dark Knight from good artist, bad writer David Finch. So far it hasn’t been stupendous really, with fairly standard Batman stories that feel like they’ve been done before. Batman: The Dark Knight #16 starts off a new arc with The Mad Hatter at the center of it all. Batman is investigating a string of armed kidnappings, which he does not yet realize that Mad Hatter is behind. Also, Hurwitz throws in another painful scene where Bruce Wayne is having troubles with his concert pianist girlfriend, Natalya. The problem with this character story is that it is just the tired trope of “my boyfriend (who I don’t know is a superhero) is always ditching me!” Yawn. Ethan Van Sciver is kind of hit or miss with his “extra” characters, but I do enjoy how he draws Batman, really placing emphasis on his shadowy and grimacing nature. He also makes the Natalya scenes bearable with a unique “piano key layout.” You’ll see what I mean. We don’t know yet what Hatter’s plan is, but it is clear that Hurwitz is planning on making the goof a little more sinister. But I gotta say, superhero story or mob story, I find it really annoying when “the boss” kills off an underling for no reason. Especially when that “boss” is pint-sized.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5
2 – Marvel Comics
After three very pointless “Frank vs. Avenger” issues, the fourth chapter of Punisher War Zone actually proved to be entertaining. The Avengers aren’t all that confident that Thor’s “bro talk” with The Punisher from last month was very effective. Sgt. Cole-Alves has been found guilty of her crimes and is being escorted to prison. The Avengers anticipate that Frank will try to rescue her, so they set a trap. This is the issue I’ve been waiting for from Greg Rucka. It highlights the reasons that I have so recently come to admire Frank Castle for: his ingenuity and careful planning; skills not dissimilar to Batman’s. Carmine Di Giandomenico even shows some slight improvement in this issue. The artwork of this issue feels a little less rushed and a bit more defined, which is a good thing. Punisher War Zone is going to wrap up with its next issue, and with it Greg Rucka’s Punisher run. It could prove to be quite the event, or quite the yawn. Fingers crossed, folks.
Final Grade: ★★★½ 3.5/5
This is the new status quo friends: Dr. Octopus’s brain in Peter Parker’s body and an Obi-Wan Kenobi ghost of Peter himself floating around watching. Palm, meet forehead. Here we have another issue where Spider-pus is proving that he is “Superior” (blatantly) to Parker in every way, while trying to woo Mary Jane. Dan Slott dangles the possibility of Doc Ock and MJ together but logically (and wisely) comes to a reasonable solution for said dilemma. Funny though how since “One More Day” Peter doesn’t describe MJ as his “soul mate” until after he has died. While Slott’s script isn’t awful, I wasn’t a big fan of the artwork in The Superior Spider-Man #2. Ryan Stegman’s rough pencils and character design feel like a poor man’s Humberto Ramos, who is the “superior” artist of the two. The premise of this series is stupid, but we do have ghost Peter to act as the voice box for all of our concerns. Ghost Peter may be getting a little too much panel-time however.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5
1 – Image Comics
Wow. A whole lot of build up for a whole lot of nothing. I really don’t know what to say about this one. For some time now, Robert Kirkman has been building to Invincible #100, subtitled “The Death of Everyone.” While this label is somewhat true – with Dinosaurus’ “world saving path of destruction” killing scores of Earth’s inhabitants – it is mostly a red herring. The last issue ended with Dinosaurus squishing in Mark’s brain, seemingly killing him in front of the world’s media. Within a matter of pages however, Kirkman reveals that he is not done toying with us. He uses one of the more hated comic book cliches in recent memory as a plot device. Now I understand that cliches abound in comic books, but Kirkman doesn’t even use this particular trope cleverly, which is disappointing. If there is one clear compliment I can give this book it is that Ryan Ottley’s pencils almost make it worth the price of admission. Ottley has proved before that he excels at incredibly bloody battles splash pages, so if we’re going to have Invincible’s brain’s smashed in, Ryan Ottley is definitely our man. Overall, a dull landmark issue that did little to change the status quo. Disappointing.
Final Grade: ★★½ 2.5/5