And…here we go.
Action Comics #982 (Jurgens/Herbert/Hi-Fi): If nothing else, Action Comics continues to place the emphasis on “action” with the current storyline being a large punchfest. That’s not a bad thing: Herbert is the right artist for making you take a Superman slobberknocker seriously. It makes up for the slight fluff in writing—Jurgens writes Clark well, but the villains are a little thin and their dialogue is even weaker (Mongul in particular having a cringeworthy line). Superman may be the substantive book, but Action still makes an enjoyable read. Rating: Three and a half capes out of five.
Batgirl #12 (Larson/Carlini/Peter): Oh, good. The first arc of Batgirl was punctuated with a done-in-one issue, and now Hope Larson’s doing it again. This issue is fairly harmless and accessible with Batgirl getting called in to investigate a ghostly apparition at a swimming pool, with a “Ghost Hunters” style show getting involved. Babs is skeptical, because science!, even though the DCU is full of the supernatural. Oh well—this issue is cute, readable, and could make a decent reprint for an upcoming Halloween Comicfest. Rating: Three and a half bats out of five.
Batman Beyond #9 (Jurgens/Chiang/Maiolo): Batman Beyond is now 20 years old, so the franchise needs to keep up with the changes to the Bat-franchise to appear “current.” So adding a future version of Damian Wayne to the story makes sense, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Future Damian may be in a logical spot, but Jurgens’ writing lacks that “full of himself” wit which makes young Damian so frustratingly charming. Rating: Two and a half bats out of five.
Blue Beetle #10 (Giffen/DeMatteis/Kolins/Fajardo): Grrrr. This issue of Blue Beetle reminds me, to some extent, of The Mummy’s climax, where 1) the all-powerful villain just pontificates and shows off a lot, and 2) the hero does one silly macguffin thing to save the day at a personal cost. It’s a lot of action, yet fails to connect. Also, for some reason, a Justice League 3000 character shows up—part of that phenomenon where the writers of a defunct book carry over a character to their next title. I’m surprised Blue Beetle has lasted this long—he might do better incorporated into Teen Titans or something. Rating: Two scarabs out of five.
Detective Comics #959 (Tynion/Martinez/Fernandez/Anderson): The Bat-family takes on the growing problem of the Cult of St. Dumas, while Bruce ignores them to spend some quality time with Zatanna. Man, that’s unfair. Detective, to its credit, packs a lot on the page and has some excellent artwork right now. However, Bruce’s storyline of searching for magic while everybody else engages in a totally separate plot makes the story a little choppy—although in pieces, those stories are separately great. Rating: Three bats out of five.
The Flash #25 (Williamson/Di Giandomenico/Etc.): So it looks like the timeline changes have caught up with Eobard Thawne, which seems to account for his post-Flashpoint upgrades and the fact that he’s not talking about the events of “The Button.” Which is too bad: “The Button” showed Thawne as a terrifying holdover from the previous continuity; here, he just whines a lot about not being special. Couple that with a multi-creative team issue and a sad-sack plot, and this isn’t exactly the best issue of The Flash despite the anniversary billing. Rating: Two lightning bolts out of five.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #25 (Venditt/Van Scriver/Wright): HJATGLC is still likeable, but man, this is a thick issue. You’ve got a murder mystery with a dead Sinestro corps member, a shocking revelation about Sarko, and Guy and Arkillo off in space being bad cop/bad cop. It’s good—thank you Van Scriver art—but extremely inaccessible to a newcomer. This series could stand to have a “done in one” issue to let new readers jump in. Rating: Three rings out of five.
Hellblazer #11 (Oliver/Fabbri/Marzan/Strachan): Meh, this is still being published. There’s nothing technically wrong with this issue, although it’s fairly tangential to the mystical stuff Constantine gets caught up in. A young man has gotten caught up in a larger conspiracy with a magic book he’s found, but most of the story is sent running from the goons who are after it. Constantine, for his part, sits on a street and uses a magic stunt to intercept the guy. This is fine, but not really a standout. Rating: Two and a half smokes out of five.
Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam (Palmiotti/Matheny/Texeira/Alvarez/Mounts): Yes, this exists, but so has every other modernized Looney Tunes crossover this month, and Palmiotti has to engage in the herculean task of making Yosemite Sam into a serious character. Along with Foghorn Leghorn, who somehow remains a giant rooster even in a serious story. But that’s OK, because this one of the better of the surprisingly really good Looney Tunes crossovers, with Sam and Foghorn’ silliness upgraded into a touching and impressive pulp story about two men trying to survive in the lawless west. Oh, and there’s a goofball “traditional” toon at the end, which is silly but gets the job done. Rating: Four and a half varmints out of five.
Justice League America #9 (Orlando/Watanabe/Hanna/Hi-Fi): JLA’s pattern is getting, well, repetitive, with the team finding yet another happy compromise ending for a character in a difficult spot. There’s still very little that’s memorable about Makson, but at least his story is done for the time being. Orlando is at least starting to explore cracks forming in the team’s philosophy. So, this is OK, but JLA still hasn’t shown its broader appeal. Rating: Three leagues out of five.
Kamandi Challenge #6 (Orlando/Tan/Rapmund/White): Human dissections! Talking Russian bears! Mobile cities! If nothing else, The Kamandi Challenge continues to show that Jack Kirby must have been doing some serious drugs. The only problem with the series’ format is that it creates a weird splitting in the story where each issue requires the writer to spend half the issue cleaning up the previous writer’s “challenge.” It’s suspenseful, but keeping this up for another six months is going to get boring. Rating: Three bears out of five.
Suicide Squad #20 (Williams/Sejic): Hmmmm, does Suicide Squad still have any purpose a year after the movie? The book is trying a new direction with a very wacky decision in fixing the team’s leadership void. This could get interesting if you can suspend your disbelief for a few issues. Meanwhile, there’s a budding romance between two unlikely characters—it’s going for “sweet,” but it’s kind of hokey at the same time. Anyway, Sejic’s art is solid, and it would be nice to have a solid, continuous artist like him on this book. Rating: Three squads out of five.
Teen Titans #9 (Percy/Pham/Hester/Scott/Charalampidis): Grrr. On the one hand, this arc of Teen Titans is totally rehashing Aqualad’s story from Brightest Day, which is only a few years old (and also adding to the confusion of how much of Brightest Day counts after Flashpoint). On the other, it adds a significant twist to Jackson’s origin which was never addressed in his first appearance. And this book is finally adding some substance to Raven’s usage, although fans of the Bechdel test may not agree with it—she needs to stand on her own. Rating: Three titans out of five.
The Winner: You know what, I’m giving it to Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam for being so gul-durned readable in spite of this sounding like the least interesting crossover of this batch. Well done, Jimmy Palmiotti.
The Loser: Blue Beetle. I hate dumping on this book month after month, but it’s going nowhere fast and, no offense to his creator, it needs to be passed off to somebody else to stay relevant.