Worst part about illness? How much catching up that’s needed to get back on schedule.
First on the list is PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #5, the finale of probably the best miniseries to come out so far this year. And to no one’s surprise, it ends fantastically. The plot points finally come to a head, and the resolution is both heartbreaking and fitting. It also helps to have it come a week after the Penguin’s appearance in Detective Comics. To give anything more would be a disservice to the readers, so I urge people to go out and read this thing in its entirety. I doubt I’ve read a better Penguin story before, and most likely never will again.
Heaping praise so maybe people will go out and buy it. It’s so good. A must-have for Batman fans.
DEMON KNIGHTS #6. The invasion of Little Spring is in full swing. All the preparations and massive backstory dumps are out of the way, so this issue consists mostly of Xoristos, Al Jabr, Shining Knight, and Etrigan fighting off the first waves of attack. But it’s not all action, since sprinkled throughout are some scenes with Madame Xanadu that develop her character and set up some stuff that’ll happen later. Apparently involving Jason Blood retrieving something from Hell.
Speaking of Xanadu, it’s kind of weird that she’s spent the last three or four issues now as an aged woman. Don’t get me wrong, she wears it well and I have nothing against characters that aren’t fashion models. But I’d think DC would want her back as a sexy woman eventually. She even gets a chance to get her youth back, but forgoes it for character development reasons. Suffice to say this book continues to surprise me at just how much more it can be than a generic medieval sword and sorcery comic.
Moving as far away from fantasy as possible, GREEN LANTERN #6 takes it slower after the big events of the previous issues. Which is fine by me. In fact, while this issue sets up a conflict we’ll be seeing later, the plot was mostly self-contained. Sinestro tracks former yellow lantern and traitor Lyssa Drak to a planet well into the periphery of civilized space, and enlists an old Nemesis to find her. It’s actually a pretty decent one-off adventure, which we don’t see a lot in comics these days.
Filler, however, this issue is not. Multiple little plot threads come up that I’m sure will crop up later. Not the least of which is that Sinestro, mostly by way of plot convenience, learns of the Guardian’s plot to replace the Green Lantern Corps with a new force. What that force comes out to be remains a mystery, but it’s apparent Sinestro aims to confront the issue forthwith.
Oh, and Hal Jordan, despite basically accepting his new life as not a GL anymore, gets drafted back into action again by Sinestro. Why? Can’t say, both for spoilers and because it’s not entirely clear. My opinion is that while one part of this series wants Hal to retire and let more interesting characters (like Sinestro) take over, the other can’t go on without the (kind of) original Green Lantern. Like he’s contractually obligated to continue ring-slinging.
Moving on to Marvel Comics, SCARLET SPIDER #2 feels like more of an extension of the first issue than a second installment in a series. Like the two could have been packaged as one long first issue, and it would have made just as much sense. Whatever, it was a good issue and I want to keep reading.
The decision to set this book in Houston intrigues me, not least because I live in Texas. Certainly more original than New York City, which has hosted Spiderman and his amazing friends for decades now. In fact, according to some supporting characters Houston has no superheroes, despite being one of the fastest growing cities in the country. I can see this creating a lot of new storytelling opportunities, especially coupled with Kaine’s questionable sense of responsibility.
Incidentally, the tagline “All of the Power, None of the Responsibility” is wholly exaggerated. Kaine has even more power than Peter Parker, and a notable fraction (non-zero amount of) responsibility.
Contrastingly, CARNAGE USA #3 shows us more of Spiderman villain Carnage being insane and in no way morally ambiguous. In this issue we get: townsfolk forced to pull out their own teeth with pliers; a mother sent to murder her husband or risk her children’s deaths; and nearly having Captain America eat said children when the mother can’t work up the nerve to commit said murder. It’s actually a pretty touching scene, the confrontation between wife and husband. Sometimes one just has to set aside the alien symbiotes and spandex-wearing weirdos and enjoy some classic drama.
Oh, and you know those four special forces guys outfitted with symbiotes sent to fight Carnage? Apparently, their symbiotes hate the Carnage Symbiote so much that they’ll open fire on innocent civilians who happen to have them attached. Without their host’s prompting.
If Penguin: Pain and Prejudice is one of the best miniseries this year for its complex depiction of a classic villain, Carnage USA is one of the best for having awesome sequences like that.
And finally, from Dark Horse, we have THE STRAIN #3. This one came in a plastic bag, unlike the previous two issues. Because apparently violence and gore are acceptable for children (though this series is put on the top shelf for a reason), yet mild nudity warrants wrapping the thing in plastic that I can’t easily open without a pair of scissors or a knife. How am I even going to store this thing? I put all my books in zip lock bags already, should I shove this in with the plastic it came in?
Regardless of the annoyance, things are starting to hit the fan now, as infected individuals start rising up for blood. Turnip-eating old man from the first issue shows up to be the standard herald of doom. In fact, it’s just a bit nonsensical how he knows so much about what’s going on, considering he’s…what? An old man from the old country who heard a lot of stories from his grandmother? How does he know ultraviolet light specifically will betray a vampire’s condition? Maybe he’s got some connections that we’ll learn about later, but it just seems like he knows more than he really ought to.
Honestly, I’m just grasping at straws. It’s been a good ride so far, and this issue doesn’t change the series’ overall quality. Here’s to seeing where this will take us.
Next time, WINTER SOLDIER #1. For real this time.