It’s the start of a new month in the comics world, and what a month it is. We see the beginning of Avengers Vs. X-Men (and we will be getting to it in the coming days), as well as the cancellation of six ongoing titles over at DC. For now, let’s talk about the normal releases for this week.
Starting off, we have DETECTIVE COMICS #8, mostly a lull in the action until the recent Court of Owls storyline (as seen in BATMAN) spills out into the surrounding books in the Batman group. The “Night of the Owls” comes next month, so this issue serves mainly to fill space. More on that in a minute.
The main things of note are that this issue ties up that Hugo Strange subplot from issue five, involving his apparent estranged son (I see what you did there DC). And unfortunately, it basically amounts to nothing. Batman has to “help” Scarecrow stop Strange’s son from selling off a bunch of his fear toxin, Catwoman makes a cameo that I care little about, and ultimately Strange’s son winds up caught. What should have been an interesting subplot ended up getting resolved in a lackluster fashion, with basically no buildup beforehand. But I think I understand why this happened, or at least have a theory on it.
Originally Tony Daniel must have planned on making it the next story arc in the series, but then as he was writing scripts for it, DC came to him and announced that everything had to be put on hold so the Batman titles could all engage in the aforementioned Night of the Owls event. DC probably saw how well BATMAN was doing with that storyline, and had it expanded to include all the titles surrounding it. Frankly Detective Comics is the only other Batman title I’ve been following, so I can’t say whether any of the others were adversely affected by this apparent editorial mandate, but this title certainly seems to be.
To hazard a guess, I’d say Daniel wanted to build this up much more over the next few issues after the whole Penguin thing, but now has to resolve it (or at least put it on ice) for the time being. This issue also begins a new secondary story starring Two Face, also written by Daniels but with the art by Szymon Kudranski, the guy who did Penguin: Pain and Prejudice. I can’t say a whole lot about what it’s about, just that it seems to be setting up for some plot involving Harvey Dent trying to get his old job as a DA back. I’ll be keeping my eye on this one.
Next is SWAMP THING #8, where the titular hero flies to the desert to fight the forces of The Rot and rescue his love interest, Abigail Arcane. Our plant-based protagonist is sporting a new design, which has got a few people unhappy. It’s radical departure from the traditional design, though I like it well enough. It’s got a more wooden, armor-like theme. Which makes sense, given he’s going to war and needs all the protection he can get. If nothing else, the change is refreshing, and I have no doubt he’ll revert to his regular form once this battle is over.
Assuming he doesn’t die. But then again, not even DC would be callous enough to kill Swampy off when we’d just got him in all his mossy (or wooden) glory. The brand would suffer.
On a related note, I will be buying the Animal Man trade when it comes out next month. The more time passes, the more I regret never having picked up that series. Especially given how closely it and Swamp Thing are. If anyone has recommendations for other trades I should pick up, leave them in the comment section.
Moving along, RED LANTERNS #8 leaves me disappointed, but only because it managed to win me over enough to stay with it a little longer. I’d actually hoped for a chance to drop one of the ongoings I follow, and the one that showed so much promise by showing so little promise was Red Lanterns. But to this title’s credit, something’s actually happening. Up until now, this series meandered around the same plot points, while advancing very slowly towards a goal of any kind.
Let’s take Rankorr for a second. The human red lantern, Jack Moore took at least five issues to finally get a red ring, and still more to get off Earth and involve himself in the main story. Thankfully he is involved now, to a rather great degree. One of Atrocitus’ old creations returned, bitter at his creator for abandoning him. And as uncharismatic an antagonist as he is, this guy actually drives the plot forward.
Also he’s tainted the Red Lantern’s power supply, which is suspenseful. At the very least, this series answered my request before I had a chance to drop it.
One last thing about Red Lanterns though. After several issues, I’m starting to get tired of this book’s art style. The constant crimson grates on my nerves, which I knew was going to happen from the very beginning. Luckily, green lantern Guy Gardner makes a few appearances here and there to break up the monotony. I guess this would be significantly less exhausting if they got off-planet and visited some more colorful worlds. Instead most of them remain firmly on the RL homeworld, where nothing gets done. So what I’m saying is, once again, this book would have benefited greatly from going off and fighting some injustice.
You know, like this entire series was supposed to be about in the first place.
Now for the moment I’ve been dreading, not just for the last few months, but practically since before the relaunch itself. It’s OMAC #8, where this great experiment ends. I’ll talk more about this series in my retrospective, but suffice to say I’m just so disappointed and sad about OMAC’s cancellation.
At least this issue ends the series. Originally I’d considered DC would emulate the ending to the original Kirby series by finishing on a cliffhanger, and then tacking on a text box that tries to tie up the loose ends. At least here the fight is finished, for better or worse, though it comes suddenly and bitterly. We get some more insight into how Kevin Kho became the person he is today, though it’s mostly through expository narration over the course of the issue. No doubt the things revealed would have come up slowly and more naturally over the course of the series run, had it been allowed to run its course.
Again, I’ll get more indepth about OMAC in my retrospective. In the meantime, I urge people to go out and read these issues. Or wait until the first (and only) trade comes out in August. That’s another thing, anyone who remembered this series will probably forget it by the time the trade comes out. Just another crying shame to add to the pile when it comes to this series.
With the DC picks finished, let’s more to Marvel with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #683. Part two of Ends of the Earth, this issue pits Spiderman and the Avengers against Doc Octopus and his Sinister Six in direct confrontation. Not to spoil anything, but it goes badly for the good guys. That doesn’t even count as a spoiler, since we’re set for a six-part storyline.
There’s really not a lot to say about this issue that doesn’t go directly into legitimate spoiler territory. Well, except that at one point Spiderman punches Al Gore in the jaw.
Kind of. It made a lot more sense in context, but I’m still going to blatantly quote that panel out of context for years to come.
Last on the list is DAREDEVIL #10.1, yet another example of Marvel’s Point One initiative in action. I think I’ve finally figured this thing out. Point One is a tool, which in practical terms allows one to insert little stories in between the main releases. This may seem obvious, but from a logical standpoint I always found this to be nonsensical. Why label the extra issues as continuations of main issues, instead of just making them the next in line and watching the issue numbers rise in a purely rational way. But then again, doing that would make it hard for regular readers to keep track of them, since an issue could skip multiple issues by the next standard release day for that series.
Imagine if Venom: Circle of Four, a six-part story with four “point” issues in between issues thirteen and fourteen, had labeled them all as whole issues. I still think this could cause problems for those trying to collect the books after the fact, but on the other hand each issue from Marvel indicates what the next issue is called and looks like. So what do I know?
This issue in particular illustrates another function Point Ones can serve. More than the last few issues, ten point one is a jumping on issue if ever there was one. It’s a relatively self-contained story that gets new readers familiar with the character and the premise, as well as getting them caught up with the current storyline. We get some development on it, but I expect the main thrust of the story to occur in later issues.
Oh, and another tidbit bordering on the spoiler-esque. Daredevil basically owns the entirety of one of the crime organizations gunning for him. And he does it to prove a point to the four. Damn I love this series.
In the next few days I have my first impressions on AvX #1. I’ll also be taking the time to reread the entirety of OMAC, in preparation for the retrospective. I might also if my thoughts on a book I’d gotten free. It’s a comic version of the first episode of the new Ultimate Spiderman cartoon, so it’ll be a kind of fusion of my thoughts on the two.
Oh, and there’s also something else that’s going up right after this.