I read five books this week, and I’m greatly surprised by what turned out to be my favorite.
I picked up Red Hood and the Outlaws #17 (by Scott Lobdell, with art from Ardian Syaf, Robson Rocha, Ken Lashley and Wayne Faucher) on a whim despite the fact that I had previously decided to stop following the series, and ended up getting the book that maybe should’ve been billed as the actual conclusion to Batman’s “Death Of The Family” series.
Last week I complained that the official ending of the crossover event in Batman #17 came off a bit hollow, that everyone being ok, the Joker being gone and no one wanting to talk about it seemed like an empty finish. This issue is something of an epilogue, then, with Jason Todd actually talking to several members of the Bat Family and finally giving us a true vision of what the actual aftermath of the event may look like.
Damian Wayne plays an odd role in this book as something of a brooding teenager (more on him later), although he does sum up everything I don’t like about Arsenal’s look by asking him if he’s supposed to be “Redneck Man.” The third member of Red Hood’s team is Starfire, who is still dressed as a near-nude space slut, but at least now is being written as if she isn’t completely one-dimensional and emotionless.
All told, I’ll probably try to get over my issues with this series and pick up a couple of months to see where this goes. It’s the only thing I picked up this week that I’d classify as “must read.”
The crossover aftermath is also the big story in Nightwing #17 (written by Kyle Higgins with art from Juan Jose Ryp and Roger Bonet), where we see Dick Grayson struggling to come to grips with his crumbling life following the Joker’s assault on Haly’s Circus. This time we get another odd cameo from Damian Wayne as the voice of reason, and the one person who realizes Nightwing isn’t ok.
Let me detour for a moment from this conversation on Nightwing to say something about Damian Wayne. He makes a pair of appearances this week, once as a somewhat petulant child and once as the only one observant enough to spot the problem with Dick Grayson and prevent him from doing something regrettable. Not only do those two appearances seem to contradict each other, but they’re also both more substantial than his role in his own book from last week.
Getting back to Nightwing, though, the events in this issue have me seriously concerned about where this book is going. The storyline about resurrecting Haly’s Circus appears to have been cast aside, and this month’s “Channel 52” pages (an awful idea, by the way) suggest Nightwing is leaving Gotham City for Chicago. If they’re serious about removing Nightwing from Gotham (and presumably the Bat Family storylines), then I wonder how long this series can last as a stand-alone feature.
Elsewhere in books whose long-term direction I’m questioning, we have Birds of Prey #17 (by Duane Swierczynski, art by Romano Molenaar and Vicente Cifuentes), the latest installment in a series that could probably just be called “Black Canary and Friends.”
I picked up Volume 1 of this series a few months ago and loved it, back when the BoP team was:
- Black Canary
- Poison Ivy
The mix was a little weird, but their interactions were good and the story was compelling. Less than a year later, 40% of that original team is gone and Katana and Poison Ivy have been replaced by Strix, a Talon who does not speak, and Condor, a bizarre fit as a male character on what had been an all-female team.
And, for a variety of reasons, I’m just not invested in this current group.
- Black Canary has been dealing with the same issue (inability to control her powers) for four issues now with no notable steps towards identifying the reason or fixing it.
- I’ve read eleven of the 17 issues in this series and all I can tell you about Starling is that she wears a corset and “people” appear to be after her.
- Batgirl is Batgirl, but she has her own series to do Batgirl things.
- Condor was a villain in this series three issues ago, and seems completely out of place on this team.
- Strix is a voiceless, faceless character.
When you combine a nondescript team with a storyline that doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to get anywhere, you have a book I’m considering dumping from my pulls.
I’ve complained loudly about Green Lantern before, so I won’t burn too much space on the same complaints regarding Green Lantern #17 (written by Geoff Johns, art by Doug Mahnke et al). Suffice it to say my concerns about Hal Jordan being shelved in his own book remain in play as he’s a fringe character in this issue, but this time so is Simon Baz.
Finally, for the sake of nostalgia I ventured outside of my DC bubble and picked up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #19. One of the truly pleasant surprises of my adulthood is the fact that the TMNT still have some wide appeal decades after I loved the cartoon as a kid. It’s cool to pick up a comic and see fringe characters from the cartoon (whose action figures I have around here somewhere) back in action.
With that said, before I finished this book (which features the TMNT and the Neutrinos teaming up to fight Krang), my feeling went from nostalgic to “I’ve seen this before.” There’s nothing about this retelling of the story that compelled me to give it any more than a cursory glance again.
I also meant to pick up a copy of Justice League of America #1 this week, but didn’t reserve one and my comic shop sold out before I got there on Wednesday. I haven’t seen many reviews of the book yet, but the fact that so many people were interested (anecdotally at least) seems like good news to me.
On my pull list for next week: Justice League Dark #17 and The Flash #17.