Title: Trust Fall
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Inks: Jonathan Glapion
Letterer: Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Artist: Greg Capullo
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
The mysterious Court of Owls is slaughtering people across Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne may be their next target. The one thing they didn’t count on, however, is that Gotham is Bruce’s city… and nobody can take that away from him. The greatest Batman stories have always treated Gotham City as an actual character, as a part of the cast. It’s been a long time since anybody has done it as effectively as Scott Snyder is doing in this story. Snyder’s Gotham City truly feels like a presence, an entity determined to protect Bruce Wayne as fiercely has he is determined to defend her I turn. The Court of Owls plays into the history of Bruce and Gotham (which, truly, is one and the same) just brilliantly. Nightwing shows up as well, partially to address the surprise ending we got last issue, but more importantly to represent the rest of the Batman family. It feels as though there’s a continuity here. Even though only one of his sons is actually a Wayne by blood, all of them have become part of this marvelous symbiotic relationship that makes one of the richest environment in comic books. Greg Capullo’s years on Spawn are serving him well here, mixing in dashes of both horror and noir stylings into what is, at its essence, a superhero story. Together, this creative team is already well on their way to giving us what may be a legendary run on Batman.
Title: Welcome to the X-Men! Now Die!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Pencils: Chris Bachalo
Inks: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza, Al Vey
Colorist: Chris Bachalo
Letterer: Rob Steen
Cover Artist: Chris Bachalo
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Marvel Comics
With the Schism over, it’s time for the different X-Men factions to begin moving forward, and that’s just what we get here with Wolverine and the X-Men #1. Back in Westchester, Wolverine is overseeing the re-opening of the old school, now named for the late Jean Grey. But even though it’s a private institution, they’re going to have to prove themselves to the board of education, or they’ll be shut down. Not easy to do when both your faculty and student body have the power to shatter mountains. I liked this book a lot more than I expected to, to be frank. The title seems a bit pandering, but the idea of Wolverine trying to run the school to uphold Xavier’s legacy is a clever one. In tone, the book reminds me a bit of Avengers Academy, in that it seems to be about both the faculty and the students. That may not remain the case, but one would certainly hope that, having such a large cast, Jason Aaron will be able to play with everybody and not just the “senior” members. This doesn’t really feel like “the” X-Men book, but more like a spiritual successor to the original New Mutants and the New X-Men: Academy X class. The other books we’ve had in the last few years haven’t really given us this feel, so if we can get that in this title, I’ll be okay with it.
Wondering what Somebody’s First Comic Book is all about? The explanation is on this page!
TITLE: The Space Dummies & My Daddy the Junkman
Writer: Angelo Decesare
Pencils: Bill Vallely
Inks: Jorge Pacheco & Frank Hill
Colors: In Color
Letters: Dan Nakrosis
Editor-in-Chief: Sid Jacobson
Publisher: Harvey Comics
PRIOR KNOWLEDGE: Wait, the Crash Dummies? The creepy dummies from those old “Buckle Your Seat Belt” PSAs? They had a comic book?
IMPRESSIONS: Yes, they did have a comic book, and good grief, is it bizarre. Spin and Slick are the Crash Dummies, some sort of bizarre robot (I think) superheroes that were invented by another… robot crash dummy… mad scientist? Ahem. Anyway, in this issue, the scientist invents these rocket boots so the Crash Dummies can man NASA’s first orbital space station, because “loss of gravity can be harmful to humans.” Evidently, NASA’s solution in this universe is not to rotate your crews out, as has been done in the real world since 1971, but rather to send in a crew whose name is literally synonymous with a lack of intelligence.
Anyway, the Dummies’ enemy, an evil Dummy named “Junkman,” makes an Infomercial trying to get scrap metal away from other countries so that they can build their own, competing space stations, but he really just intends to use the components to build a missile to shoot at the Earth. Spin and Slick head into space to stop him.
There’s also an equally nonsensical back-up story, “My Daddy the Junkman,” in which Spin starts to lament the fact that, as a Crash Dummy, he never had a real family. So his scientist buddy loads up his brain with a bunch of fake memories, accidentally convincing him that the Junkman is his father. Hilarity ensues.
I don’t even know what to make of this book, honestly. The story is easy enough to follow, so for that part of the grade it deserves a high mark… but it’s just so bad. Bad writing, bad jokes, dull characters. I guess this was an attempt to make the Crash Dummies a “brand” (now that I think about it, weren’t there toys, too?), but talk about your misguided efforts. Did I get this? Yes. Did it make me want to ever read a Crash Dummies comic book again? No way.
Title: Batgirl! Batgirls!
Writers: Art Baltazar & Franco
Art: Art Baltazar
Cover Artist: Art Baltazar
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Publisher: DC Comics/Johnny DC
In the batcave, Barbara finds a stash of Batgirl costumes and decides to have a little party. It’s Batgirl, Batgirl, Batgirl and Batgirl in “Batgirl! Batgirls!” As the Batgirls start to run rampant, Robin rounds up a few Robins of his own. Also: the Secret Six. Once again, the team behind Tiny Titans produces one of the most entertaining comics on the shelf. The book is sharp and wonderfully referential, bringing in tidbits and commentary about a lot of what’s gone on in the DC Universe(s) in the last few years. As with all great parodies, though, this is done with a very loving touch, presenting the characters in a way that’s really funny, but still making clever quips that will work just fine for older readers. The younger readers, fortunately, won’t notice anything and will still enjoy the book as a simple kids’ comic. The fact that they can bring in the Secret Six, probably the least kid-friendly DCU comic of the last decade, and still make it work so well is a fine testament to the talents of Art Baltazar and Franco. This is the best comic out there for kids, and fortunately, there’s plenty for their parents to enjoy as well.
Title: Bound & Sanctuary
Writer: Brandon Jerwa & Christopher Priest
Art: Eman Casalos, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer
Colorist: Ivan Nunes & Dean White
Letterer: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Lucio Parrillo
Editor: Joseph Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Dozens of women have all gone missing from the same area in Kansas, and a bizarre woman wandering the area was found begging the forgiveness of Vampirella. Vampi decides to head in to check it out, only to find a bizarre church that worships her… in pretty much the worst way possible. This issue works out all right – it’s a superhero story at its core, but it has enough horror in the basic premise to make sure Vampirella continues to straddle the line between the two genres as she always has. The execution is a little less impressive. Desmodus, as a villain, isn’t all that interesting, just a generic demonic entity out to co-opt the image of a scantily clad alien vampire woman to aid him in his goals for world destruction. If you’ve seen it once, you’ve seen it a thousand times. Eman Casalos gives us some nice artwork, though – his take on Vampirella is really good. His monsters aren’t really scary, but they’re scary enough to be superhero monsters.
There’s also a back-up story here, a reprint of a 1999 comic by the great Christopher Priest, Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. In this wordless story, Vampirella is charged with escorting a child to a protected sanctuary, but the dark things in the world don’t’ want to give her even that moment’s peace. There’s a good amount of action here, but Davis puts wonderful emotion into Vampirella’s face, helping tell the story quickly and succinctly.
An okay issue, but nothing special.
Quick Rating: Very Good
Title: Chapters 21-30
Jeriven is human now – and just when Frankie needs him most.
Writer: Mike Carey
Pencils: Sonny Liew
Inks: Marc Hempel
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: John Costanza
Editor: Shelly Bond
Cover Art: Marc Hempel
Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo
With just one issue to go, Mike Carey has placed his toys all out and has things set up for a spectacular conclusion. Last issue the demonic Dean convinced Jeriven, god of heart’s fires and personal patron of Frankie Moxon, to assume human form. The results, considering his altitude at the time, were predictably messy.
This issue we have a lot of moving around with the characters, things getting put in place for the finale. We get Kay trying to teach Jeriven to be human, we get Frankie torn between her feelings for Dean and her loyalty to the god who has watched over her for her entire life, and we get a glimpse into how Dean became the despicable creature he is – and of course, it comes back to Jeriven.
I’m so sorry that this is just a miniseries, because three issues in it’s one of the most entertaining comic books of the year. It’s often funny, sometimes frightening and always a treat to read. Carey has created some truly unique characters in this miniseries, and it would be a crying shame to see them disappear when this miniseries ends.
The artwork, by Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel, is still spot-on perfect. The style is unlike any other Vertigo title, it’s unique and light without losing a sense of menace when necessary. There’s a great two-page spread near the beginning of the book where we see the many faces of Jeriven towering over a dreaming Frankie. It’s a rough scene, because we see the angry god in the sky, showing his displeasure, yet at the same time we have a bunch of gleeful, goofy bunny rabbit smiling at our cast through the slats of a fence. It’s little touches like that which make this such a great visual treat. Someone should really be examining this comic book with the intention of making an animated movie, if only American audiences could escape the stupid prejudice that all animated films are for kids.
I’m really sad there’s only one issue left in this miniseries. Sad that more people aren’t buzzing about what a great comic book it is. Sad that even I wouldn’t know if DC hadn’t tossed it in the advance review pack a couple of months ago. But I’m glad that I can at least tell people how much fun it is. Read this comic, friends. You won’t regret it.
Title: Interdimensional Women’s Prison Breakout Part 2
Writer: Tim Seeley
Art: Daniel Leister
Colorist: Mark Englert
Cover Artist: Tim Seeley
Editor: James Lowder
Publisher: Image Comics
Bomb Queen has leapt universes, landing in the world of Cassie Hack and her partner Vlad. But Vlad is sick and getting worse, and Cassie is going to need somebody else to help her out if she’s going to survive her second battle with the Bomb Queen… a former ally she never thought she’d turn to again. Together with Samhain, Cassie and Bomb Queen face off for the next round of battle.
Although Bomb Queen isn’t the sort of slasher movie enemy that Cassie usually does battle against, she’s certainly twisted enough to inspire terror when she’s played straight. She’s usually used as such a parody in her own title, mocking the conventions of superhero comics and their treatment of villains, that you can actually root for her just a little bit, despite the horrible things she does. That isn’t the case here. Bomb Queen is a killer and a lunatic, and Cassie – and through her, the reader – takes her as a serious threat. Plus, we do get a few genuine monsters thrown into the book as well, a sort of Killer Whale creature up front and a different kind of killer later on. All of these elements come together and make for a solid story that works both for Cassie and for Bomb Queen, which is a nice feeling.