Pull List Review: 11/9/11 Comics

All-New Batman Brave and the Bold #13: So much goodness in this issue! Of course I had to buy it since it was the all-Robin issue (long-time readers/listeners will know of my affection for Robin)! And the story was pretty damned good, too. Because I enjoyed this so much, I’m going way too much into story detail, so if you haven’t read it, you may want to skip to the next title below.

Batman is gravely injured, so the Phantom Stranger gathers past and future Robins to help Dick Grayson (as Nightwing) and Tim Drake (the current Robin in this continuity, I believe) save their mentor. Besides those two Robins, we also get Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Damien Wayne, and Carrie Kelly. Dick takes charge, and they all take Batman to a Lazarus Pit. Dick orders Tim and Steph to stay behind to guard Batman, while the rest of them go inside to confront Ra’s Al Ghul’s minions. Steph is hurt that Nightwing doesn’t think much of her to assign her to guard duty, but Tim spells it out for her: “Batman means more to Nightwing than anything.  . . . He did it because he trusts us to keep Batman safe.” Inside the cave, Nightwing gives we readers a rundown on how the rest of the Robins are so different. The fight ends when Ra’s appears to tell his goons to stop. It seems that Tim and Steph gave Ra’s the lowdown and Ra’s can’t stand the idea that a mere bullet will end the Detective’s life, so he allows Batman to be dipped into the Pit. When Batman rises out of the magical waters, we get this six-panel spread of reactions from all the Robins: Nightwing is bemused, as if he knows exactly how this was going to play out; Jason is delighted to see this, though he doesn’t want anyone else to know it; Tim is ecstatic and raises his fist excitedly; Steph is just utterly surprised at what she’s seeing; Damien is smirking confidently; and Carrie’s head is cocked to one side as if to say, “well, duh, Batman don’t shiv”. Of course, Ra’s has to get a dig in since, he reveals, the Pit causes those who enter it to go mad. This freaks out the younger Robins, but Nightwing confidently strolls over to Batman, offering him a hand. Batman grunts menacingly, but then smiles at Dick, saying, “Thanks. I knew I could count on you.” That is what I love about the whole Batman & Robin relationship. Batman may be all angsty and dark, but he needs his sons (and daughter) to help him out. The issue ends though with a teaser that I would LOVE to see someday: Madame Xanadu is discussing the resolution to this crisis with the Phantom Stranger, and says that if the Robins had failed, then there were the Batgirls to lend a hand. We’re shown Babs, Cassandra, Betty, and Stephanie! It reminded me of that last Bryan Q. Miller Batgirl issue that hinted at a time travel story. Please DC, give me a story with all those Batgirls!!!

Avengers Origins: Vision: I’m not sure why Marvel decided to publish a one-shot featuring my favorite synthezoid, but I enjoyed this. We basically get Vision’s “birth” and development from his point of view, though it’s never explained why he has emotions. If you know the Vision’s history, then you know why he feels, but it’s never revealed here, which is interesting since this seems to be a reintroduction to the character. What is really good about this comic though is the Stephane Perger art–it is fantastic. This is what I like to see out of artists who do it all. The Marko Djurdjevic cover is also really snazzy.

Avenging Spider-Man #1: This is the newest incarnation of Marvel Team-Up, though I heard one podcaster say that the focus would be team ups with Spider-Man’s fellow Avengers (which now makes the “Avenging” part of the title make sense–I mean, what part of Spider-Man is about vengeance?!), so if that’s true, I’m not as excited about this title. I picked it up because it was a Spider-Man team up book, and I’ve long felt I should reconnect with the superhero who started my love for comic books. But if this is just to push more Avengers stuff into the market, I don’t need to contribute to that–there’s already too much Avengers out there (having said that, I do love New Avengers, the only Avengers book I’m reading). As to this inaugural issue, the Red Hulk is Spidey’s partner, so that’s another mark against the title. As for the art, I guess Joe Maduriera is some sort of comic artist god, but I think his work is just ok (too 90s for my taste, which is probably why I never heard of him before–I didn’t read a whole lot of superhero books in the 90s, let alone Marvel titles). It doesn’t really matter since I read recently that Joe Maduriera is off the book soon. I’ll try this out for a few issues.

Batgirl #3: The appearance of Nightwing was a nice intrusion, but it read more to me like “oh, we should have someone in the Bat Family show up”. I know there will be people out there in Internetland that will take this as a dig as women in general, but Simone undercuts this, I think, with Dick telling Babs that he’s there because he (and Batman) are worried about her because they love her, not because they don’t trust her. I also really liked these words, since they succinctly summed up Babs’s and Dick’s former relationship:

We used to chase each other like this. Two kids flirting in a way only a handful of people on Earth could ever match. He with his acrobatics, and me with my ballet.

Batman & Robin #3: Each subsequent issue improves upon the previous. I’ve heard people (and I agree to a point) that Batman is the Bat book to be getting, but I’m enjoying this Bat book more right now. (In fact, I heard someone recently remark that Detective Comics was the Bat book to be getting and that Batman & Robin was not good–what are they smoking?!) The only thing that bugs me about this issue is that ninja finger poke to the forehead that stops Robin cold–huh? The sequence towards the beginning with Alfred was beautiful. The rage that Damien unleashes on the mugger, while it has shades of Jason Todd pre-DCnU, is a portent of the drama to come. I just hope they don’t go down the well-trodden path of pitting son against father.

Batwoman #3: This book is just a feast for the eyes, and I’m really enjoying the story, too. I just hope that Flamebird doesn’t end up dead before she really starts her new career.

Buffy, Season 9 #3: This being Buffy, of course she should look a gift horse in the mouth. Or something. The vampire killer turns out to be gunning for our favorite Slayer, but if that’s true, then why not take Buff’s power while she was sleeping at his apartment? Why the big reveal at the end? Dodgy writing, or is something else up? This being Joss Whedon writing this arc, I would tend to think the latter, but I’ve been wrong before.

Demon Knights #3: Such good stuff here. I really like the limitation put on the Demon regarding how much time he can spend on Earth, otherwise, we’d never see Jason, or Cornell would have to come up with contrived ways to switch the characters. Speaking of seeing Jason, he mentioned spending too long in Hell. I never thought about the idea that Etrigan and Jason actually switched physical locations–has that always been a part of the character or is Cornell adding to the characters’ history? I am intrigued by Xanadu’s continued, apparent two-timing. What angle is she playing at here? Does she actually care for either of these creatures? This duplicitousness does not go unnoticed, which leads to a great little scene between Exoristos and Sir Ystin–Wikipedia is saying that Ystin is actually Ystina, and the Shining Knight certainly appears to be female in this comic (at least how Neves draws the character), but I love the whole sex bender part of this story. The end of the issue got a little bloody for your typical DC comic, but it certainly makes sense in context. If you’re not reading this title, I don’t know why.

Green Lantern #3: Despite my complaints during episode 11 of the LBR podcast about this title not being new reader friendly and continuing where the title left off before the DCnU, I just don’t care at all because this is such a great story (and has been for years). Johns has infused even more life into Green Lantern with the twist that Sinestro is now a GL again, Hal is not, and by having teamed those two up to fight the Sinestro Corps?! Then, about half way through the issue, we find out that the Guardians are planning to replace the GL Corps–whaaaat?! Finally, the issue ends with Hal apparently being dissolved in the main yellow power battery (which will please those “I don’t like Hal Jordan” folks). Consistently good action/adventure story here.

Huntress #1-2: Confession: I had no interest in this series. Zilch. Nada. I’ve never cared that much for the Helena Bertinelli version of the character until more recently as part of the last Birds of Prey series pre-DCnU, plus, when I read that Paul Levitz was writing it, I  thought, why bother? After all, Levitz’s return to comics in the form of the Legion of Super-Heroes hasn’t been thrilling me, so I thought I’d wait to get the trade if I heard it was good. So why am I reviewing issues one and two? Because the buzz surrounding it was so great! I picked up issue one off the shelf at my LCS and was really impressed, first with the Marcus To/John Dell/Andrew Dalhouse art, and then with the story–Levitz actually can write a modern, interesting superhero comic! While the plot is pretty simple, it’s the character monologue that I enjoy. And gone is the midrif-showing, hot pants costume design that I hated on this character. She’s now fully clothed as makes sense for a non-superpowered crime fighter–after all, you don’t see Batman wearing a belly shirt, do you? I understand there’s some who have speculated that this comic is actually set on Earth 2, but I don’t see that happening.

New Avengers #18: I almost didn’t get this issue. When I saw in Previews that the Dark Avengers thing was returning, I thought that meant that my New Avengers characters would be gone from the book, but it seems that isn’t going to happen. What does happen in this issue is that Norman Osborn goes recruiting. That’s pretty much it, but at least we don’t have anymore of that silly interview style, talking heads crap that have permeated a lot of Bendis’s books during Fear Itself.

Point One #1: I just got this to see where the Marvel U was heading for the next year or so. I liked the hook of the issue: some space-suited people are able to tap into the Watcher’s mind while he’s uploading all his info to wherever the Watchers upload all that they record. Other than that, what we get are excerpts into future stories. First features Nova and the reveal that the Phoenix force is back. Second was some futuristic human vs mutants story (X-Terminated)–blech. Third was a Scarlet Spider preview. Fourth was the introduction of two new characters, a brother and sister duo called Dragonfire and Coldmoon, respectively, who are genetic manipulations created by some high-tech corporation. I was getting into the story until the end when they free themselves and it becomes just like any other superhero story, complete with an appearance from the Avengers. Next was a Defenders preview. Since I’m already getting that title, I wasn’t all that interested in this. Finally, there was some sort of future Ultron vs Avengers story (yawn). Out of all of those, I may only be interested in the Nova/Phoenix thing. I guess we’ll see as more information is released from Marvel.

Resurrection Man #3: Something needs to kickstart this series for me, or I’m gone very soon. It’s a shame, too, because I like the Dagnino/Arcas art.

Star Trek/LSH #2: Hmm, two issues in and our two groups haven’t interacted in any way (ok, sure, the very last page shows them about to engage each other, but that doesn’t really count). Did we really even need this issue? I think I got enough info from issue one to understand where the story is set and what the basic plot will be–this issue sure seems like padding to me. I just hope issue three moves the plot forward dramatically.

Suicide Squad #3: Still like it! That baby Deadshot rescued sure is quiet, though. It’s almost like the writer forgot it was there or at least how newborn babies actually behave. I also enjoyed the non-linear storytelling this time.

Unwritten #31: Tom Taylor finally takes the offensive against the Cabal and kicks some ass! Unfortunately, I think he’s about to learn a valuable, if not deadly, lesson about the price you pay playing with powerful magic.

Pull List Review: 10/12/11 Comics

Batgirl #2: This continues to be stellar, and more so for the art by Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, and Ulises Arreola. I don’t care for the villain, Mirror (I appreciate his motives, but the whole mirror motif? C’mon . . .), but I do like that Babs is being shown as vulnerable, though extremely driven. And does Commissioner Gordon know about Babs’s nocturnal activities? It seems like he does not, but the look on his face when he’s told that Batgirl is back makes me think that he does. I hope he does. I would like that element to be present in this book.

Batman & Robin #2: I’ve never been a big fan of Peter Tomasi’s work, but his writing on this title is clicking for me in a big way. I love how they’re showing Bruce struggling with being a father and mentor to Damian, with Alfred struggling himself to help Bruce in that regard. That panel of Alfred watching Damian kill that bat and toss it aside–while being overly heavy-handed metaphorically–effectively showed his despair and worry for the boy. As far as the villain of the book, I’m curious if this is something new or started elsewhere. I’m not sure if I like the idea of Bruce being a part of some nefarious group that disapproves of his current path (ok, that part I actually like).

Batwoman #2: Did I miss the story of how Batman and Batwoman met and Batman sanctioned her work in his city? Cuz if I did, I’d like to read that. Also, if that DEO agent was looking for who Batwoman is, I don’t think it’d be too hard to know that she’s Kate Kane because of her skin and hair color (it’s so white and red, respectively!). For that matter, Detective Sawyer should now be able to put two and two together. There are some great lines in this. Batman talks about being careful with side-kicks since the murdered ones tend to come back from the dead as super-villains. Later, as Batwoman talks to herself, she says, “God, this is so Camp Crystal Lake.” This right before she’s attacked by the “monster”. The writing team of J. H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman is doing a good job of keeping me entertained.

Demon Knights #2: I don’t know how Paul Cornell does it. Throw in Middle Ages-ish DC characters, some dragons (reptilian and robotic alike), more than a dash of humor, and end up with one highly entertaining comic book. I like all of the major players (Vandal Savage especially in this issue) and cannot wait to see where this is all going. If you’re not reading this, huh? It’s in my top 5 books for sure.

FF #10: Barry Kitson is such a tease. I see his name on the cover (huzzah!) and think More Barry Kitson drawn Sue Storm! YES! But I really didn’t get that much since Hickman seems intent on writing scenes with other characters for some reason. :D However, that scene he wrote between Sue and Reed was beautiful. So much unspoken, but said very well. Hickman is fast replacing Bendis in my mind as THE Marvel writer to read. And having Kitson draw his story is just luscious icing on the cake.

Green Lantern #2: Just when you thought that Sinestro as a Green Lantern again was mind blowing, Geoff Johns and company throw this at us: Sinestro makes a GL ring and gives it to Hal so that Hal can help Sinestro save Korugar. And we all learn why Sinstro was once considered the greatest GL of all: he schools Jordan on the usage of the power ring, making Hal look like a rank amateur. Sinstro wields the ring like a surgeon does a scalpel, while Hal uses it like a bat. I love how Hal’s reputation as a great GL is being undercut here, for it will only make him a stronger Green Lantern in the end. I know that this isn’t what someone new to this comic will probably not like to see considering what the GL movie showed the general public (or maybe they won’t mind it that much), but man, I am loving this change of pace.

Resurrection Man #2: I’m not yet sure what to make of this book. The whole Resurrection Man angle is actually the not so interesting part, which does not bode well for the title, but I like the angelic stuff. However, things like “Cheruphone” and the Carmen/Bonnie duo are just so over the top, but I liked the now aged super-villain character. It’s like the book is at war with itself. The ending though really makes me take notice. I guess issue three will be the defining factor in whether I continue with this title.

Shade #1: So, if you’re James Robinson and a fan of his work on Starman, I guess you can go home again. I and many others have given Robinson crap over the years because his work after Starman has been not so Starman-y. But here we get the Robinson from Starman back, like he never left us. Shade was also my favorite character from that series, so this is a super win for me. I am interested in knowing, however, if or how this fits into the post-Flashpoint DCU (it certainly seems as if it is set in the DCnU since Shade refers to Mikel’s gorilla friend). Since there’s no longer a JSA to draw from as the Starman series did, how does that affect the character and story threads now? And talk about your cliffhanger endings! I cannot wait to see how  Shade gets himself out of the mess that Deathstroke put him in. Finally, it seems that every few issues of the twelve will feature a different artist, so I’m looking forward to how that will contribute to the overall story. This issue was drawn by Cully Hamner and was the appropriate amount of atmosphere.

Suicide Squad #2: I really did not expect to enjoy this title at all, but I love the moral ambiguity that Deadshot seems to be mired in, and am looking forward to seeing more of this, especially with El Diablo quite clearly being Deadshot’s conscious manifest. In fact, this Deadshot reminds me a lot of Catman in the last Secret Six series. Oh! That’s what this comic needs, Catman in it! :) Aside: I really wish the artists in comics would be more consistent. There doesn’t appear to be another artist filling in, yet a few panels are quite obviously different (look how Harley Quinn is drawn on page three and then again on page 9, panels five and six), but are they so because the artist of record was rushed, or did DC bring in some help to get the book out in time? If it’s the former, shame on the artist, if the latter, then DC should give credit, even if I don’t care for the work done.

I also read Alpha Flight #5 (such a disappointment this whole series has been), Buffy S9 #2 (this was an improvement on issue 1, though it was really only the last page that kicked up this current story a notch), Legion Lost #2, New Avengers #17 (here’s something to get off my chest: Spider-Man should not be shown in his black and white FF suit unless he’s in FF!), SHIELD #3 (hmm, there was meaningful dialog only on the last two pages; the rest of this comic was “silent” battle scenes–I think I was ripped off just a little), and Unwritten #30 (a great ending to the latest storyline).

Pull List Review (First Half of September 2011)

Because Travis & I reviewed the first two weeks of DC’s new 52 comics in episode 10 & 11 of the LBR podcast, I’ll toss the first two weeks of non-DC comics into the review here. To find out what I thought of the first 26 DCnU comics*, have a listen.

Episode 10: DCnU, week 1

Episode 11: DCnU, week 2

Now on with the rest of the comics I read from the first two weeks of September.

Mystic #2: Sigh. While I was impressed with issue one, issue two’s plot devolves into familiar territory: odd girl fitting in (or not really) where she’s not wanted, and odd girl’s best friend works with others against her for a perceived betrayal. Then there’s the problem with the magic MacGuffin: I’m not sure if that’s yet interesting or just overly trodden ground–we’ll see. I still like the alternate reality aspects as well as the art. At times it reminds me of tv animation stills, but I find it very clean and accessible.

New Avengers Annual #1: I do believe I’m starting to get tired of Brian Michael Bendis. I have not been liking the Fear Itself tie-in stuff on this title in general, and in particular, I do not care for this turn in Wonder Man’s character. Not that it’s a bad move necessarily, but I guess it just wasn’t handled with any panache, i.e., it’s your typical former ally turns on you story. I did like in one way the five double-page spreads at the beginning wherein Wonder Man outlines the top five worst things that has happened in the Marvel U because of the Avengers (I assume he means recently). How I did not like the double-page spreads is that I have been reading a lot of comics lately that take use splash pages or two-page spreads (mostly DC books). I think it’s an overused technique that the artist uses to have to draw fewer panels, i.e., we get “less” art, in a way. The rest of the issue is essentially a fight scene and the issue ends with a To Be Continued in Avengers Annual #1, which I will not be getting.

Alpha Flight #4: Ok, 1) this comic needs more Northstar in it and 2) oh my god, what the hell, Vindicator? While she seemed to be motivated in her actions because she wanted her children back and safe, Heather has now just turned into the classic, murdering villain, and what’s the fun in that? This is turning out to be what I was afraid of: you can’t go home again, eh.

Buffy, S9 #1: I’ve said this a few times, wait. Let me start by saying I love Joss Whedon. I think he’s a visionary and a genius, BUT he shouldn’t write comics. Come up with the ideas for them, sure, provide insight and plot points, yes. But write the scripts? I don’t think so. This first issue was ok, and I can see why Buffy is acting the way she is considering the events of last season, but the chronology of this story could have been tighter and better drafted, and I lay at least part of the blame here at artist Georges Jeanty’s hands. I was really hoping Joss and Dark Horse would go with a different artist in Season 9, but here we are. And wtf is up with that ending? Joss is known for pulling the rug out from under you, but that last page was just dumb. It’s a very lovely Jo Chen cover (and maybe the only one?), don’t you think?

Criminal: Last of the Innocent #4: Overall, I enjoyed this tale of lost (and found) love, infidelity, betrayal, and murder. This issue wraps everything up, along with some revelations (including one that came out of left field, so I didn’t care for that). It’s so weird about these kind of stories. In the hands of a good storyteller, you can come away sympathizing with a murderer, and that’s exactly what happens in this comic. So, when you get to the end, and Riley has achieved his goals (killed his unfaithful, bitchy wife, ruined his asshole father-in-law financially, covered his murderous tracks by killing his old, junky friend who figured out what he’d done, and got the girl), that last page of art that transforms the happy couple from the “now” style to the “Life with Riley”, “Archie” style, I was very satisfied with the story since Riley got his happy ending. Side-note: in one panel on that last page, where Riley and Lizzie are walking down the street arm in arm, I was reminded very much of a panel in the Miller/Mazzuchelli Daredevil “Born Again” arc. It’s probably just coincidence, but the possible homage sure lept to the front of my brain when I saw it. I’m looking forward to Brubaker’s and Phillips’s next project, Fatale.

Daredevil #3: Speaking of Daredevil, here’s another great issue from Waid, and the Riveras. I love the look of this book, and Waid is writing some good stuff here. That whole bit with Daredevil and Klaw was masterfully done. Every sound effect is used not just to convey “sound” to us, but to represent how it is sounds to Matt. I even like the legal stuff, which usually bores me in Daredevil comics of the past. Matt and Foggy are being very creative in how they deal with Matt’s courthouse ostracism, though, how will they pay their bills? I was trepidatious about this book when it was announced, but I am fully on board now.

Fear Itself #6: It’s rare that I actually exclaim out loud when reading a comic. After all, I’ve been reading comics steadily for over 30 years–what can possibly surprise me? But every once in a while, I get a little tidbit that does, and in this issue, I got Captain America ordering Odin, king of the Norse gods, around. When Odin protests and starts blustering about who he is, Cap cuts him off. Insert exclamation. :) There’s a nice little scene between Spider-Man and Aunt May (though, I’m not sure by the way this scene was shown: does Aunt May know that Peter is Spider-Man now?), and the rest is just moving the plot along to the big fight at the end of the series, next issue.

New Avengers #16: So, between this title and the few Avengers issues I bought recently (grumble, grumble**), I’m a little tired of the talking head, “interview” panels. Bendis has long been criticized for his talking head scenes in his books, but I haven’t minded them until now. And part of the irritation I’m feeling is that I’m not sure who everyone is talking to (look at the scene with Luke Cage talking about DD), so Bendis using that device to push the plot forward is either amateurish (lazy?) or hasn’t yet been revealed (I hope it’s the latter). Other than that, I enjoyed the spotlight on Daredevil in an Avengers book, plus DD gets the call to join the New Avengers. If that isn’t yet another good reason for me to read this book, I don’t what is.

Spider-Island: Amazing Spider-Girl #2: I really hate it when a story feels padded, and this issue does because it takes the whole issue for the lead character to come to the realization that she would have to team up with the Kingpin when I knew that she would from last issue. Normally, I don’t mind character progression over time, but we only have three issues here, so either issue 2 is wasting the story, or the story isn’t really here to begin with. However, I like Paul Tobin’s portrayal of Anya and that makes up for a lot. Pepe Larraz’s art is a little too heavy handed on the inks, but Andres Mossa’s colors help make up for it by giving a real depth to the art.

Unwritten #28-29: I finally got issue #28 from my comic book shop, but it’s been worth the wait. I got caught up in the mostly flashback tale of Tom’s father and his relationship with a woman comic book artist. This is Mike Carey at his best, when he writes about characters that take over in my head as I read them and they become more than just pencil and ink in front of me. And I’ve just bought into the Cabal’s world view! :D Of course this tale of a comic book creator within a comic book about stories is just about metatextual overload, but it’s so much fun! The covers are great homages to 1930s superhero and pulp magazines, even down to the “wrinkles” and “skuffs” on the “covers”. Great stuff.

* These are the titles we reviewed:

  • Action Comics #1
  • Animal Man #1
  • Batgirl #1
  • Batwing #1
  • Detective Comics #1
  • Green Arrow #1
  • Hawk & Dove #1
  • Justice League International #1
  • OMAC #1
  • Static Shock #1
  • Stormwatch #1
  • Swamp Thing #1
  • Batman & Robin #1
  • Batwoman #1
  • Demon Knights #1
  • Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1
  • Green Lantern #1
  • Grifter #1
  • Legion Lost #1
  • Mister Terrific #1
  • Red Lanterns #1
  • Resurrection Man #1
  • Suicide Squad #1
  • Superboy #1

** I bought Avengers 16 & 17 because they were both solicited as having a story featuring Spider-Woman, and neither issue had anything of the sort. It royally pissed me off.

Pull List Review (1/19/11 Comics)

Brightest Day #18: Most of this is, again, one long battle scene featuring the Hawks, but the battle does end and they are rewarded with togetherness. For about two minutes. Deadman shows up as an agent of the White Light, and when that entity speaks to the Hawks, telling them they have to be apart to be stronger together, what do you think Carter says? After the big F U moment, the issue ends on a WTF moment: both Hawks turned to dust! Whuh?! This is almost starting to be torture porn, what DC is putting these characters through. I know that conflict is essential to good drama, but give them a little slack, why don’t you?

Buffy, Season 8 #40: Sigh…. The last issue for this season of Buffy. Isn’t that an awesome Jo Chen cover (on the right, but both, really)? She deserves many, many awards. And take a look at how down Buffy is compared to issue one’s cover, on the left. In issue 1, the world was wide open with possibility and Buffy had a confidence that she rarely possessed during the run of the show. But after a season–40 issues–Buffy has lost two of the three men in her life, taken away everything that meant anything to her best friend, and still has to pick up the pieces of everyone’s lives (well, mostly).

There were some great little moments in this issue that made it feel like a “season finale”. There was a quick flashback scene where they show Giles (well, his coffin anyway) being lowered into his grave, and then forward a bit with the reading of Giles’s will where he left the majority of his estate to Faith. The panel showing Buffy’s reddened eyes from all the crying and the surprise and hurt–I’ve never been a big fan of Georges Jeanty’s art on this series (he’s ok), but he nailed that bag of emotions very well (credit also should go to Andy Owens’s inking). Later still, Faith gives Buffy the one thing that Giles left Buffy: that book Vampyr that we saw in the pilot. As Faith tells Buffy, “You know what it says? It says you’re the Slayer.”  Thank you, Joss. Emotional full circle achieved, buddy. We also see Faith offering to care for the broken Angel, telling Buffy she’s all about forgiveness, which is another great callback to the Angel series where he saved Faith’s soul. Spike stops by for his usual “fuck them, you’re the Slayer” pep talk and warns Buffy about someone who’s gunning for her (hello, Season 9 setup). Finally, after a little fight with some pissed off Potential Slayers (are they still Potentials anymore after what happened in #39?), Buffy hears a girl screaming, about to be vamp food, and she goes off with Mr. Pointy in hand, continuing to be what she’s been (more or less) for 8 seasons and to us: Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

If the series wasn’t going to continue (and yes, I will be getting Season 9), the way this issue ended would have been a nice series finale–in some ways better than the one we got on television. Also, do yourself a favor and read Joss’s afterward where he goes all mea culpa on some things, which I appreciated very much. In short, just because you have no restraints in what kind of story you can tell doesn’t mean you should go off into the weeds. I hope Season 9 will be a little more tightly plotted and have more personal attention paid by Joss, but I’m looking forward to it just the same. Long live Buffy!

JLA #53: Yawn. What? Oh, something happened in this issue? Hmm, Mark Bagley’s last issue as penciller. No, wait, that isn’t it. Oh, yes. Batman always has a plan. The good guys win. What was the point of this story arc? Here’s my problem with James Robinson: he keeps writing these characters out of established character. Donna’s trying to be this bad-ass, Batman is written like he’s an amalgamation of Dick and Bruce, Supergirl here is I don’t know what, especially the “dark” Supergirl we’ve had in this storyline, Jesse Quick left the JSA for a lame-o excuse so she could be the speedster on the team (even though Wally isn’t doing anything in the DCU), and the other two males on the team are just wasted material. The only character that I think Robinson is true to is Jade, possibly. I want to believe that things will get better, but I don’t think that’s going to happen until Robinson is off the book.

LSH #9: Here’s another yawner. That decompressed style of storytelling that Paul Levitz employed 20 years ago on his previous Legion run isn’t working for me in this series. Or maybe that the story itself isn’t as engaging. Or maybe that there aren’t enough subplots going on to make the less engaging stuff tolerable. Anyway, I do like what Levitz is doing with Tyroc. The way that the sonic powered hero is shown using his powers is interesting and unique. I just wish the book as a whole was that way.

Scarlet #4: Ok, good. I was afraid that things would go to an uninteresting place after last issue. But I should trust Bendis a little more–he’s earned it (but I’m still so pissed about the whole Spider-Woman thing–I know, I need to let that go). Brandon isn’t some cypher sidekick just going along with Scarlet–he calls her on some bullshit and questions her about her goals. What I’m not clear on yet is why Brandon will continue to help Scarlet. Also this issue, we are introduced to an interesting new character, Detective Angela Going. She’s no longer on the Scarlet case, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of her. Too, there’s Special Agent Nathan Daemonakos, who is now heading up the case since Scarlet is now #9 on the FBI’s most-wanted list. You know, if having Scarlet’s boyfriend get murdered in front of her, as well as being shot herself, wasn’t bad enough, Bendis has her mother find her, slap her, and tell her what a shitty daughter she is. This poor girl can’t catch a break! The issue ends on an interesting note: she shows up at the flashmob that’s gathered in her name, with all the cops and Feds watching. Issue #5 should be very interesting.