It’s the end of the month, and, as it happens, the end of not one, but TWO eras. First, the one we knew about. This week sees the release of Scott Snyder’s final issue of Justice League. But, it also happens ot be the end of James Tynion IV’s run on Justice League Dark. This has come about due to DC decided to keep Batman a twice monthly comic. Also this week, Detective Comics Annual #3 is a truly touching tribute to Alfred Pennyworth by Peter j. Tomasi. All that this week, in addition to Action Comics and The Flash. Let’s get started.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Detective Comics Annual #3 – Who Dares Wins/ The Week – Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Artist: Sumit Kumar (Who Dares Wins), Eduardo Risso (The Week)
This week is one of those rare “Annual” weeks when an extra issue is slipped into a title’s run. This week, that title is Detective Comics and it gives Peter J Tomasi a chance to tell two connected tales featuring the late Alfred Pennyworth.
The first, Who Dares Wins, is a story concerning Alfred’s often talked about, but never really explored, time in MI-6. In this story, Marigold Sinclair, one of Alfred’s former fellow agents, comes to see Bruce to see if he might want to help in closing Alfred’s only unsolved mission. Bruce is, of course, intrigued, and he finds himself in Ukraine, visiting a deserted site where KGB agents were trained. Another of Alfred’s colleagues, who it turned out was a traitor, is holed up inside.
Infiltrating the site, Batman encounters a new incarnation of the NKVDemon, a Soviet assassin. Batman tricks him into knocking him out and bringing him to the person he is seeking. Chained up and hanging upside down, Kendall Pierce and Batman have a little chat. marigold arrives and wounds Pierce, who sicks the Demon on her. Batman escapes his chains and subdues the Demon. He also convinces Marigold to bring Batman in alive, which she agrees to in Alfred’s honor.
Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce is disgusted with the way he has allowed the Manor to fall into disrepair, knowing how ashamed of himself Alfred would be. He finally comes to the realization that he will have to start taking care of himself. In the study, he is surprised again by Marigold, who has brought an old photo album from her time with Alfred, which she and Bruce look at together.
This story is great all around. I think it’s awesome to see Alfred’s life pre-and-post Batman combined in one story, and I love the idea of Batman working with one of his former MI-6 colleagues to close his only unsolved mission. My favorites parts though, are the flashbacks to Alfred’s time in MI-6, shown here more than any other place, and the point where Brice realizes he will have to take care of himself, and we see him doing dishes and taking out the garbage. Though those are things we take for granted, It’s little moments like these that show how well Peter J. Tomasi really knows these characters. It’s this kind of quiet character moments that has made his run on this title so spectacular. This is a really beautiful story.
The second story, The Week, is a story we’ve heard numerous times before, about the first days of Bruce as Batman. However this time, it is told as seen from Alfred’s point of view, as described in a letter from him to Marigold. Of course, Alfred is “creatively describing” his newfound duties as Bruce assumes his new identity. He talks about Master Bruce being very “ill”, when in fact he has come home cut and bleeding. We see him sewing the Batsuit, cleaning blood out of the carpet and bandaging wounds. This is familiar territory, but by creating this new Point of View, Tomasi has somehow managed to make it seem fresh. Which is, in and of, itself, a wonderful achievement.
Finally a note about the art in this issue, the first story takes place in the present, and so it is drawn in a style that fits the current times. The second story takes place in the “Year One” period, and, as such, is drawn in a style very similar to that work. Both aritsts, Sumit Kumar, and Eduardo Risso respectively, do a great job in nailing the setting of their tales.
Justice League #39 – Justice/Doom War Finale – Writer – Scott Snyder, Artists – Jorge Jimenez, Daniel Sampere
It’s the end of an era. This is Scott Snyder’s final issue on Justice League. It is also the end of the Justice/Doom War. We pick up where we left off, with the newly returned Martian Manhunter trying to connect the world’s minds and turn them back towards Justice. And, for a while, they do. The Totality activates and they begin to cage Perpetua again. But, all the while Perpetua is trying to catch Martian Manhunter and he is trying to outrun her.
Ultimately, the effort falls short and Doom wins out. Perpetua banishes the Justice League and they vanish in a flash of light, as she stands triumphant over the Earth. The Justice League appear on the Moon, saved from Oblivion by the Quintessence, who offer them a possibnle path to victory. It is a door that will give all stories life. The Justice League runs through it without hesitation. The final page of the issue finally reveals that this story will be concluded by Snyder and Capullo in a new limited series coming soon.
Ultimately, Snyder ends his run on Justice League with the same kind of anticipation that greeted it’s beginning. The story that was started is left in a satisfying place, secure in the knowledge that it’s conclusion will be suitably epic. There is some great philosophy in this issue, and some wonderful character moments. And ultimately, the Justice League just being the Justice League. It is only fitting that the Justice League would take the longshot in order to save the universe. I would like to thank Mr. Snyder for his work on this title. It has been an awesome run and I can’t wait to see what he and Greg Capullo have up their sleeves.
Justice League Dark #19 – The Witching War Finale – Writer: James Tynion IV, Artist: Alvaro Martinez Bueno
It is also the end of the road for James Tynion IV on this title. This is due to his other gig on this little book called Batman. But, he is determined to finish what he started with this story, and so he does. Wonder Woman returns with the power she needs to beat Circe., but she is possessed by Eclipso. She gets a surprise assist from Khalid, who has been chosen by Nabu to be the new Doctor Fate. With his assistance, Diana reverses all of the evil magic. She grants Circe the power she seeks, and Circe decides to seal herself in a mirror until she can control it. With everyone else back to normal, Diana and the team set out to help Swamp Thing.
James Tynion IV finishes this arc beautifully, introducing a new Doctor Fate, and showcasing Wonder Woman’s inner strength. We also have a redemption of sorts for Circe, as she is set an intriguing new status quo. The issue ends with the promise of restoring the final member of the team. It is a fitting send off and serves to show how much Mr. Tynion really cares for these characters. I would like to congratulate him on his run on this title. Job well done!
Action Comics #1019 – Metropolis Doom Part 3 – Writer: Brian Michael Bendis, Artist: John Romita Jr.
Leviathan joins Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom’s attempt to take down Superman. But, then end of this issue adds the deadly new threat of the Red Cloud. It’s all out war between the Justice League and this new evil alliance, with the city of Metropolis caught in the middle.
The Flash #87 – Rogues Reign: Aftermath: Ice and Lightning – Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: Christian Duce
Flash is sent to Arkham Asylum with Captain Cold till he can learn to control his powers. Flash has a heart-to-heart with Captain Cold, and the end of the issue teases a dangerous new villain called Paradox.
That does it for this week. Join me back here next week for the next issue of James Tynion IV’s Batman and the debut of the new Justice League creative team.