Nearing the end of the month, and as usual it’s all DC. I swear I’m not stacking these things, the publishing world is just like that. Something else to note is that while the monthly rotation (at least for DC) makes it so all 52 titles are spread over the four weeks in a typical month, every so often a month has five release days. So next week, none of the usual titles are coming out. It’s a free for all, which at least will be exciting. Maybe I’ll have time to catch up on some of those trade paperbacks I’ve been meaning to post about.
First on the list is ALL STAR WESTERN #6. We get the conclusion to that whole child slavery and bat cave plot. The basic structure I’ve noticed is that the books in the New 52 start off strong, then cool down for a few issues. This of course hasn’t been the universal rule, as books like Batman and Justice League have yet to see the end of their first arcs. I think how a writer follows up the preliminary story attests to their abilities more than how they draw the readers in. And so far, I’m pretty satisfied with the way Palmiotti and Gray have handled this book.
We’re introduced to two new (or old characters) at the end, Nighthawk and Cinnamon. So far as I can tell, these are more obscure western characters from DC’s backlog, and I have no problems with this development. Also, the Barbary Ghost secondary story raps up. Admittedly, my enthusiasm for the Barbary Ghost pales in comparison with the main plot, but it’s been a decent distraction. Here’s hoping for a better Story B in the coming months.
Next up, GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #6. There’s not a whole lot to say about this issue, given that’s it’s mostly fighting against the new villain, Archangel Invictus. Not saying the book falls short, just that there’s less of note to talk about. I do find the use of an entity that’s clearly stronger than the whole group very compelling, though. Come to think of it, this book lacked a strong antagonist since the beginning. Sure, Kyle and Crew briefly fought with the Guardians, but after that there’s been little in the way of conflict. Here we’re seeing a foe that the New Guardians might not be strong enough to beat. Not to mention we’re repeatedly told that he might not be the bad guy here.
Honestly, why would anyone be surprised that teaming up with Larfleeze, the wielder of all things greedy, is perhaps a bad idea? Not that we’re any closer to knowing what specifically he did to piss Invictus off so much.
Next comes THE FLASH #6. While I’m not against Captain Cold’s new design and powers, I think I still prefer him looking like an older man. Now he just looks like a man with inexplicably gray hair and pronounced facial features. Also, he’s on a personal vendetta against the Flash, which is slightly odd. I like the Flash’s villains because they each have personal histories, have a code of honor, and look out for each other like a villainous family. The Rogues are a deep group. To give credit where it’s due, this issue acknowledges how uncharacteristically murderous Captain Cold acts here, and provides a motivation. The motivation seems forced and comes out of no where, but it’s at least there.
What irks me more is this plot point that every time the Flash generates a large amount of energy in one sitting, he risks creating tears in the space time continuem. More than any other comic book character, the Flash is notorious for flagrantly defying the laws of physics. He’s a game breaker, hence why writers have such a problem finding ways to challenge him. The reboot seems intent on finding as many ways to check him, and this plot point is tailor made to accomplish this task. I don’t disagree, it just seems tacked on, and I wish we’d had more tangible cause to be concerned, besides a scientist saying that the Flash could destroy all of reality.
At least this was a decent enough issue on its own. And while I prefer Cold when he had his ice gun, the new powers and his ability to slow the Flash down when nearby is pretty boss. Definitely one of the better design updates.
Finally we have THE RAY #3. The penultimate issue in the miniseries, and we’re only now really meeting the villain. He’s a pretty sweet villain, although even now I don’t think he’s been named. We have an exploitation film director come back from the dead, with the ability to make his imagination come to life, and alter reality as we know it, and he still doesn’t have a name. Hell, say he directed Cannibal Ferox, and I’d believe you; just name him.
Also, the interaction between Ray and Evil Bruno Mattai doesn’t play out like I expected. The whole issue, they’re unable to get into a groove with each other, which means that we don’t get to see our hero flying through hoops or being forced to play the game. This is a big wasted opportunity, since we could have had the Ray fighting Krakens and Samurai wearing bowler hats. Instead we just get some robots made of police cars that beat up the Ray and then leave. I’m pretty disappointed here. The villain wanted the Ray in his “movie”, and because our hero can’t just let it go and accept that the only way he’s going to get through to the maniac is to run his gauntlet, we have no guantlets to run.
We’re three issues in though, so I might as well see how it ends, right? It’s much the same thing with Avengers: X-Sanction. The thing’s almost over, so why not?
In addition to books from DC, I also picked up two free comics. These being preview guides for Marvel’s upcoming Avengers Vs. X-Men event and four of Vertigo’s upcoming titles. Maybe in the coming days, I’ll give my first impressions on either or both.