This week, we have three books that deserve the spotlight, but one of them is a book that you absolutely must read, so I’m going to give that one a extra special spotlight. Also, among the “Year of the Villain” titles is what I am calling a “Hidden Gem”, a book which I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did. Let’s get on with it.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
Justice League #30 – Justice/Doom War Part 1 – Writers: Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV. Artist: Jorge Jimenez
This is it. All of the previous issues have led to this. Lex Luthor’s “long game” is finally reaching it’s end, and it seems somehow fitting that this issue begins with Lex having completely defeated the Justice League, and advancing on the Hall of Justice to acquire the final piece of the Totality.
However, it was all a vision, being shown to the League by Starman. But, there is little doubt that the time for war has come. To that end, Superman has gathered every hero he can think of. And, it is quite a collection. I can only imagine the horror on Jorge Jimenez’ face when he saw how many characters were going to be in this scene. But. he proves more than able to meet the challenge and excel.
Starman reveals the history of Doom and Justice, delivering the backstory of the seven energies. he also reveals that there are two fragments of the Totality he can sense, one in the past, one in the future. Using time portals, two teams will travel in time to retrieve them. Hawkgirl and Mera will help The Monitor and The World Forger find the Anti-Monitor. The rest of the heroes will defend the portals from the Legion of Doom.
Meanwhile, the Legion of Doom, who have heard everything die to their link to Jarro, decide to make their move. At the Hall of Justice,a mysterious figure, launches himself at the portals, claiming the Justice League have missed a fatal flaw in the plan. His interference causes an overload and the portals explode. Starman says someone else has tampered with time.
Both teams arrive in their time periods to discover something has gone wrong and Doom has won. In the future, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman escape a massive Kryptonite shooting robot, only to encounter KAMANDI, THE LAST BOY ON EARTH, who tells them they were two weeks too late to save their future.
In the past, John Stewart and Flash arrive in a seemingly deserted house, only to be confronted by THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA, who inform them that they are two weeks late to save their past.
It seems only appropriate that this issue would end the way it began, with Doom on the verge of victory. Lex has been ahead of the Justice League at pretty much every step of the journey to this point. It looks like evil might finally win, and I am very interested to see how the Justice League is able to come back and, hopefully, win the day in the end.
For now, though, I am content to enjoy the journey. This enjoyment comes courtesy of the one-two punch of the incomparable Scott Snyder and the amazing James Tynion IV. If you need any further proof that Scott Snyder is a master at writing epic stories, please go back and read Dark Knights: Metal or his entire run on Batman. Likewise, if you need to know about Mr. Tynion’s qualifications, read his recent run on Detective Comics or his previous collaboration with Mr. Snyder on Justice League: No Justice. I love that these writers are not afraid to turn the threat level up to 11. Also, I love how Mr. Snyder has continued a thread he started when he worked on Batman and All-Star Batman of introducing seldom seen characters into the story. In this instance, it is Kamandi, the Last Boy.
Of course, the big deal in the scene in the past is the appearance of the Justice Society. These characters are not used lightly, and if they are making an appearance here, you can believe they are a major part of the story.
Of course, a story this ambitious requires an artist who will be up to the enormous artistic feats this epic will require. And, it would seem that said artist has been found in the person of Jorge Jimenez. The dynamic figures and fluid action makes this issue a joy to read. Also, special consideration much be shown to the amazing panels featuring the assembled heroes and the new recruits for the Legion of Doom.
To sum it all up: If you read only one book this week, it should be this one. DO NOT MISS IT!
BUT, You don’t want to read just one book this week, do you? Of course not, so let’s get on with the rest of what you should be reading this week.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight #2 – Writer and Artist: Sean Murphy
Sean Murphy’s sequel to the incredible Batman: White Knight continues as the Wayne Family is tied to the Order of St. Dumas. It seems that the Order decided to settle in Gotham, but needed a Wayne to do so, so they drafted Bruce’s ancestor, Edmond. It seems however, that Edmond betrayed Bakkar, and thusly, the Order, a fact that the Joker has reminded Jean Paul Valley of. Now, Azrael is back and he is seeking vengeance for the sins of the past.
Meanwhile, Bruce is still wrestling with the decision over whether he should tell the public the truth about Batman. The Joker meanwhile has decided to do a little secret telling of his own, interrupting Jim Gordon’s press conference to finally reveal to him the Barbara is Batgirl.
Bruce is visited by a woman named Ruth, who lays out for him the consequences to him and his associates of him going public. When he refuses to play ball, she enlists Azrael’s help and outfits him and his soldiers with new tech. They hack into the Batcave and turn the Batmobile and Batwing against Batman. They also plant charges in the manor. Batman regains control of the Batmobile and escapes, just as Wayne Manor explodes.
This series is proceeding at the same breakneck pace of it’s predecessor. The writing is stunning and the art perfectly compliments it. It is dark and gritty and a wonderfully fresh, yet familiar take on some of these characters. I can’t wait for the next one.
Batman/Superman #1 – Who Are the Secret Six? Part One – Writer: Joshua Williamson, Artist: David Marquez
This series spins off the end of Scott Snyder’s The Batman Who Laughs, and deals with the revelation at the end of that series that several heroes have been infected by the Batman Who Laughs and are now being transformed into their Dark Multiverse versions. We know from the end of the Batman Who Laughs series that Commissioner Gordon is infected, but Batman does not yet know that.
Batman is summoned by Gordon and is joined by Superman. Together, they investigate a kidnapping case where the child was taken by what the witness describes as a laughing Superman. As they search, they try to convince each other that they are not infected, and Batman asks Superman what he would do if he was infected.
Arriving at Crime Alley, the find the Batman Who Laughs’ underground Batcave. Looking around they activate a horrifying holographic projection that shows them that any hero could be infected. Batman finds molds for batarangs laced with the transformation formula.
Suddenly, they are attacked by a transformed Robin, who upon closer inspection, turns out to be a transformed Billy Batson. After uttering the magic word, SHAZAM, lightning strikes and a transformed Shazam is holding Superman by the throat with one hand, a batarang in the other, laughing maniacally the whole time.
This looks like the beginning of an amazing story, I can’t wait to see who else is infected. Batman and Superman are really facing an uphill battle with this one. The writing is sharp and the story is well paced. The art is crisp and has great definition. This is a stellar debut issue and will be a series to watch.
So, those are the spotlight books. Here’s the best of the rest.
We’re going to start with Superman #14, the only title not yet taking part in Year of the Villain. Instead, we are getting the penultimate part of te Unity Saga. Rogol Zaar, the creature responsible for the destruction of Krypton, is brought to justice, but Jor-El is also arrested. meanwhile the galaxy is tearing itself apart and no one seems to be able to trust each other. Superboy has the solution, and calls for the forming of a Galactic Nations. Suddenly, they are joined by the LEGION OF SUPERHEROES, who invite Superboy to join them in the 31st Century.
Now, on to
THIS WEEK IN VILLAINY
The Justice/Doom War finally began in earnest this week, but the Year of the Villain is still gong strong, so let’s look at the latest developments.
In Action Comics #1014, the trend of powering up lesser known villains continues. This time it is Red Cloud, who has run in with Thorn. In other developments, Superman fights a creature at S.T.A.R. Labs that may be tied to Leviathan’s teleportation tech and Perry White and Clark Kent meet the new owner of the Daily Planet, Marisol Leone, who seems to want to give the Planet whatever it needs to succeed.
In Batgirl #38, Oracle is revived and given a new body by Lex Luthor. Along with the Terrific Trio, she heads to Gotham to discover why she was taken offline, and she has identified Batgirl as her creator.
In Detective Comics #1010, Bruce is rescued from the jungle by a Japanese man and an American who crashed there during WWII. Meanwhile, Deadshot is still searching for Bruce. In the backup, a newly powered up Mr. Freeze continues preparations to wake his sleeping wife.
In Justice League Dark #14, The Witching War begins as Circe gains power and her final ally is revealed to be Eclipso.
In The Flash #77, Flash and the rest of the Force Users are trying to defeat the Black Flash, as the newly powered up Captain Cold continues to gather the Rogues.
In Red Hood and the Outlaws #37, Red Hood continues to train the next generation of villains, but it turns out some of his new recruits have their own agendas.
And, in Wonder Woman #77, Wonder Woman seeks out Cheetah in the wake of her murder of Aphrodite in the last issue. But, Cheetah wants her to find her, and the true nature of what Cheetah has done is about to become apparent. Meanwhile, Grail is offered a chance to achieve her desires.
This week’s Hidden Gem is The Terrifics #19. Full Disclosure: I have never read or even paid attention to this comic before now. It turns out that this is where Bizarro ended up after the dissolution of Red Hood’s original team of outlaws. This issue is completely about Bizarro and his life in Bizarropolis. What makes this issue so great though is that it is hilarious. It is narrated by Bizarro and the narration is written in Bizarro-speak. It is a lot of fun to read and again, it is laugh-out-loud funny in parts. It was a very pleasant surprise.
Well, that does it for this week’s reviews. Next week, it’s the next chapter in Tom King’s City of Bane, as well as the newest Year of the Villain developments. I’ll see you back here then.