Batman-3-Cover

The Comics: Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Oh My!

Almost got it down to doing this weekly! There’s two weeks included in this update, maybe I’ll get it done every week going forward. Fingers crossed. A lot of good ones this week, with a few more third issues upping the ante from the second. Still a few relative disappointments, though. I didn’t flip through any this week, though, so kind of a smaller grouping than I’ve had before on here – only the ones I actually bought in print. I’ve really been enjoying noticing all the different at styles on display here – everything from the straightforward and cocky Birds of Prey to the bold lines of All-Star Western and Wonder Woman to the painterly looks of Supergirl and parts of The Flash. Obviously the quality of a book depends on both the art and writing, but it’s great to see so much variety just in the look. Makes it more interesting to pick up the next book and check it out.

Batman #3

Batman continues the trend of my being super-impressed with third issues after being slightly underwhelmed by the second issues. That’s not true in the case of all books, but there have been several so far. Last month, I enjoyed the book well enough, but the whole thing with the Council of Owls came out of nowhere really abruptly, which turned me off. This book explores that more fully, in a way that’s really engaging and worked for me really well. It also seems like it’s going to tie into the mysterious town council in All-Star Western. I STILL can’t tell Bruce apart from the politician guy, but the writing is so strong in this series and this issue especially that I’m fine with the somewhat generic square-jawed male face that everyone seems to have.

All-Star Western #3

They must’ve gotten the memo loud and clear that there was too much damn narration in the first issue of this, because this one pares it down to almost nothing again, relying on really eye-catching bold-lined drawing to move the action forward rather than narration or dialogue. There’s a little of that, mostly dealing with Jonah Hex’s outlier status, and his unwillingness to stay in Gotham City no matter how much he may be needed. At the beginning, he and Dr. Arkham take down the Religion of Crime members who had captured the guy at the end of issue #2 (possible tie-in with Batwoman and/or Batman?), but it does get a little confusing when two other groups of bad guys turn up – not sure how or if they’re connected to the others, or if they’re just part of Hex’s rock-em-sock-em lifestyle. In any case, this book is a blast to look at, lots of action, and I love the bold look of it.

Justice League Dark #3

The plot thickens in this issue, as we get the first real glimpse of what Sorceress is all about – apparently the Justice League Dark’s protection of June Moone is what’s bugging her, because she needs her for some reason. More good character interactions here, with Constantine and Zatanna, Deadman and June Moone, and Shade and his illusion girlfriend (here rendered with wonderful hideousness) all getting time. Straight-forward but often lovely art here, and the story and situations are definitely living up to the “dark” part of the comic’s title. This is one of the more thematically adult titles of the New 52, and I’m really glad I started picking it up.

Supergirl #3

The art style in this issue is VASTLY different than in the previous ones – a little more finished-looking and painterly, a little less quick and kinetic. That’s effective both because this issue is much less fighting and much more plot and character stuff, and also because frankly, it looks way better. The previous issues I was having fun with the action, but this one, I wanted to slow down and actually drink in the look. Storywise, we get a bit of Superman explaining his mission on Earth to Kara, but she leaves him despite his protests and promptly gets captured by a gazillionaire who works outside all governments to investigate extraterrestrial stuff, and hence wants to test Kara’s physical limits. Some echo here of Action Comics #2, but a little less mean-spirited on the captor’s part – he’s not sympathetic, but he just seems more clinical than anything else. He definitely has an agenda, though, and I’m curious to see what it is. And I hope they stick with this art style.

Superman #3

I may be fully turned around on the Superman title – I really disliked the first issue, but grabbed issues #2 and #3 just to see, and wow have they been a lot better. Less whiny monologue, more actual action and depth. This one really starts delving into the question of how many bad things happen in Metropolis simply because Superman is there – obviously something brought up by the anti-Superman journalist McCoy, but it’s definitely weighing on Superman’s mind as well. The ice monster part is fine, but honestly not as good as the first half of the comic (which also includes some nice shout-outs to Action Comics #1). There are some dialogue-heavy parts, but they’re much better written than the first issue was – even if this one does have still have a couple of cringe-worthy lines (“you’re heading for a meltdown!”…really?). I’m glad I didn’t give up on this one initially.

The Flash #3

I’m continuing to enjoy this series at a relatively low octane level. It’s solid, and there are always certain parts, certain panels that really grab me, but I’m still not totally into the military/clone/whatever storyline. This one does have an intriguing flashback that may explain some of the backstory to Manuel’s situation, but mostly I liked it because the painterly art style is really pretty. Meanwhile, an electromagnetic pulse has hit the city and Flash is trying to do what he can while also looking for Manuel…the biggest problem with this issue is this disjointedness. Is he saving people as Flash? Is he looking for Manuel as Barry? Did the guys who have Manuel sent the electromagnetic pulse? There’s a lot of stuff happening this issue, so it’s fun to read, but I’m having real trouble connecting it all together, which lowered my overall enjoyment.

Justice League #3

Justice League adds Wonder Woman this week, who has apparently been working with the Pentagon, who has also been trying to keep her out of trouble and off the streets, unsuccessfully as it turns out. So I guess there’s no connection between this and the individual Wonder Woman comic – I mean, none of the others really seem to have a connection with their individual comics either, but at least they feel like they inhabit the same world here as in their own titles. We’ll see how the integration works over time. I didn’t love this entry as much as the first two, as it gives a bit more time to large-scale action scenes against hordes of the demon creatures instead of the fun character interactions of the first two issues. Looks like the origin story for Victor/Cyborg is coming along, though, and I hope that connects to our main story more soon, because jumping between them is a little jarring. One by one the team is being assembled (one more gets teased by the end), and I hope the focus stays on the characters and not on the faceless action.

Wonder Woman #3

Three issues in, and I STILL don’t totally know how I feel about this book. This one is mostly taken up with Diana learning her true parentage and the circumstances that led to her birth, which result in her severing ties with Paradise Island. Still, she’s unlikely to join Strife, which is what Strife seems to want – although, her name being Strife, maybe she just wants to sow discord among the Amazona? In which case, mission accomplished. I’m not sure what her end goal is, and this issue has almost NOTHING to do with the current Zeus progeny problem (the girl who caused all the hullabaloo in the first issue is barely in this one at all), but I’m assuming that will take center stage now. This issue I noticed particularly how much of the story is told strictly through images instead of by dialogue, and I really like that aspect – especially since there are a few dialogue sections that hardly make any sense.

Birds of Prey #3

Big thing here is Poison Ivy joins the group. That’s…interesting. And not without its hurdles, as the first altercation is between her, Ev, and Katana. But there are bigger bads afoot, apparently, and after a captured stealth soldier explodes, they all go after some prominent politicians that are probably the next targets. But the next head-bomb victim may be someone even closer to them. This continues to be fun but not very deep, and the art is pretty plain, take it or leave it. The writing is decent, though, if a bit throwaway.

Aquaman #3

The fight from the previous issue continues, focused on Aquaman vs. the one really big Trench monster. There’s some good action here, but nothing as kinetic as some of the other books. After they deal with that, Aquaman and Mera go to find out what the things are from a guy he knew as a kid – they had a falling out when Aquaman wouldn’t show him Atlantis. I’m kinda anxious to see Atlantis myself at this point, since they won’t shut up about it. But instead they head for the Trench. I wasn’t too enamored of this issue; it was just all right.

  • http://travismcclain.blogspot.com Travis McClain

    I wish you read anything I read (or vice versa, I suppose!). I’m down to Batgirl, Batwoman and Detective Comics. I’m pretty sure I’m going to bail on Batwoman after the opening arc concludes, but the other two are terrific through three issues.

    • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

      I’ve actually read through issue #3 on all of those, but they were in my post a couple of weeks ago - http://www.the-frame.com/2011/11/the-comics-massive-catch-up-post/. I still love Batwoman, and thought issue #3 was fantastic (after I was a tiny bit disappointed with #2), Batgirl is still fun, and I like elements of Detective Comics, but overall, not a big fan. Did you stop on Superman, or were you not reading that? I’ve actually gotten to like that one a lot more than I thought I would after the first issue (which I didn’t like at all).

      • http://travismcclain.blogspot.com Travis McClain

        Hmm. Apparently I missed your previous post. My beef with Batwoman is the consistency of the story itself. The art is terrific, but I never really know why the story shifts from one thing to the next. And I absolutely love the Dollmaker story in Detective! It’s one of my favorite Batman stories in several years. That shot of Batman dragging the Dollmaker’s son, saying, “Come on, sunshine” was perfect. Made me laugh, but it didn’t undermine Batman.

        • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

          The interludes of Kate and Bette just fighting random people are kind of extraneous, I’ll give you that, but I think issue #3 was a lot tighter, and the art and story are working together better than in the first couple of issues. I do think the Dollmaker is one of the more intriguing villains in any of the books, but so much of the story is just external stuff happening and Batman reacting, usually in a way that gets him more trapped. I’m just kind of frustrated with him. And then the end of issue #3, with more Jokers…meh. I’ve seen enough Joker as villain. Dollmaker is interesting enough without him, why stack the deck?

          • http://travismcclain.blogspot.com Travis McClain

            Not just the fighting interludes, but what was up with Kate randomly “firing” Bette in #3? Bette wasn’t the only one confused by that. And I still haven’t got a sense that The Weeping Woman is even important to Kate.

            As for Detective, I actually like that Batman is reactive so far in this. It gets a little old seeing the Batman who’s ten steps ahead of everyone else. I like that he has to play catch-up. I’m with you on The Joker, but it’s my understanding that none of these is actually the real Joker. Instead, they’ve all got a piece of his face sewn into theirs. And that, I think, is interesting enough that I’m interested to see what comes of it. Plus, the new arc begins in issue #5 and it features The Penguin. I’m really looking forward to the forthcoming issues in this series enough that I’m considering a subscription to it. It’s been at least a decade since I felt that interested in a monthly!

          • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

            It’s not even so much that he’s behind, but he keeps figuring things out and then doing the stupid thing anyway. I guess because the narrative is written in such a way that he has to for it to keep going, but most of the major plot turns, I just keep going “really? so this is happening now?” in a skeptical voice. I’m glad it’s working for you; I really do like the Dollmaker villain, I just haven’t liked the writing or the art nearly as much as most of the other books. I much prefer Scott Snyder’s psychologically-driven narratives (in Batman and Swamp Thing, and the other Snyder comics I’ve picked up since) to Detective Comics‘ more action-driven one. I don’t feel like Batman has as much of a personality in Detective Comics as he does in either Batman or Batman & Robin, to be honest. Plus I like the historical secret society bent in Batman – that pushes all my buttons. :)

            On Batwoman, the only confusing thing about issue #3 to me was how she ended up in the water with the Weeping Woman in the first place – that opening came out of nowhere. I thought it might be a dream or vision, but there wasn’t really any indication of that. Her “firing” Bette seemed like a natural progression of her realization that she’s still not over her sister’s death, and that she actually has a death wish of her own, making her not a safe companion for Bette right now. I think the Weeping Woman will become more prominent, but you’re right, Kate’s far more occupied with dealing with the fallout from the Elegy arc – but it seems like the Weeping Woman is using that against her, so the two might come together sooner or later.

          • http://travismcclain.blogspot.com Travis McClain

            Re: Batman – I think sometimes the natural–possibly even only–recourse is to spring an obvious trap. I find it interesting that you characterize it as a more “action-driven” story. I readily concede there are several action sequences so far, but I read it as a more troubling psychological story in the vain of, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (to which the allusions are blatant).

            Re: Batwoman – Issue #2 ended with Kate abruptly in the clutches of The Weeping Woman (though I don’t recall now whether that made any damn sense at the time, either). I see where Bette’s firing fits into the overall narrative, but there was absolutely nothing to explain how Kate went from “You’re not ready” to “You’re fired.” If it was the aftermath of her encounter with The Weeping Woman, it was much too subtle for me to notice.

            I dig the art, of course, and the one thing I think they’ve done very well so far is the romance between Kate and Maggie. I could be persuaded to keep up with the book just for that, but the rest of the content has to rise up in order for me to justify continuing on at $2.99 a pop.

          • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

            I’d probably have to read Detective Comics (all of them) again and specifically compare to the other books I like better in order to quantify what’s not working for me as well. I don’t dislike it, actually, and if I weren’t reading so many others I might like it better. I haven’t seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so that comparison doesn’t help me. :) And by “action-driven,” yeah, I guess I meant partially action sequences, but, like, Supergirl was almost all action sequences, and so is Batgirl to some extent, and I like them a lot. But I feel like I’m more inside Supergirl’s and Batgirl’s head in those, and I don’t feel like I’m in Batman’s head in Detective Comics. Any psychological interest is in the villain, and I’d rather it be in the hero. But maybe I should reread them.

            You need to find a better comics shop! Mine has 30% discounts on new books, so most everything is $2 instead of $3, and the “premium” ones like All-Star Western and Action Comics are under $3. Helps a lot.

          • http://travismcclain.blogspot.com Travis McClain

            Ah. I see. It’s the fact we’re not privy to a lot of Batman’s interior thought process that l think is the problem for you. I find Detective rather psychological just in the nature of its story. Dollmaker’s activities and motivations aren’t at all the typical, colorful supervillain fare. He’s not leaving cute clues about his thematic pranks or anything like that. This guy’s f’n sick in the head!

            Also, try to keep in mind we don’t all live in Los Angeles. ;) I’m lucky to live relatively near a comic shop at all! They’re actually a great shop. The staff has always been attentive and helpful, and they don’t gouge on popular new issues.

            In any event, I buy most of my New 52 issues from Barnes and Noble just because it’s much more convenient to find myself there than the comic shop. I’ve thought about ordering online, but with just three books on my To Read list, I’d pay almost the same as my order total in shipping.

          • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

            Well, living in Los Angeles costs enough to more than make up for a bit of a break on comics. :p But yeah, it does have its perks in terms of choices.

          • http://twitter.com/U2vol Logan Dalton

            What comic shop do you go to? Mine charges full price for the books which is a big burner on my wallet (especially $3.99 for some of the Marvel books), but they have $1 back issues though

          • http://www.the-frame.com/blog Jandy

            I go to DJ’s Universal Comics in Studio City. It’s on Ventura Blvd at Tujunga. Kind of a ways from you at Master’s, though, probably. He’s usually got back issues at full price, but he runs sales on those pretty often, too.