Superman: Secret Origin #2
I enjoyed the first issue of this mini-series and this one really amps things up as we get to see young Superman's first encounter with the Legion. The artwork of Gary Frank is beautiful to behold. I especially love his facial expressions. There's one scene where Luthor turns his nose up at a young Clark that is pure genius! And Geoff John's writing... I've said it before and I'll say it again. This guy could write the entire DC Universe and I'd be a happy camper. Brilliant book all the way 'round this issue. Plus the Legion gives a few future hints at things that are currently going on in the DCU (and possibly a few that have yet to occur).
Score: 5 out of 5
I've really been into these World Without/Against Superman storylines. I like Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird. This is a good thing considering the last "without Superman" story I read was when we had the stand-in Supes after Big Blue's death at the hands of Doomsday. (Ick!) This issue, we discover what's happened to Mon-El at the hands of General Lane. The storyline's called 7734, which is the name of Lane's secret project, but type it into your calculator and flip it upside down... get it? Lane tries to brainwash Mon-El into his army only to discover that Mon-El is a tougher nut to crack than he expected. At the end of the issue, it seems as if Mon-El is ready to take the mantle of the big red S in earnest. I'm really enjoying Dick's taking of the cowl over in the Bat-books and, after this issue, I can really see Mon-El as a perfect stand-in for Superman. Maybe this new generation that DC seems to be trying to bring about will work after all.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Green Lantern #47
Blackest Night really picks up steam with this issue. My only complaint in the past with this series is that it started getting repetitive with every issue being just a big battle only to end with another new Black Lantern rising on the final cliff-hanger page. This one has a cliff-hanger but it's a great one. In a few cool plot twists, we discover that there's at least one Lantern Corps that the Black Lanterns can't kill by ripping out their hearts. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan and Sinestro continue their strained partnership in a battle against the resurrected Abin and Arin Sur. The way this battle ends just cements Sinestro as my favorite DC villain. And then we get that cliff-hanger! Why can't Agent Orange get a break?
Score: 5 out of 5
Detective Comics #858
I'll be the first to tell you that I wasn't a huge fan of the first Batwoman story arc. The artwork from J.H. Williams III is some of the best in the DCU right now but I just wasn't interested in all the monster/supernatural elements or Alice's cult as villains. This issue takes little side-step from that storyline as we get a look into Kate's background. This is brilliantly written by Rucka and even more brilliantly illustrated by Williams III. Williams takes the tactic of using an almost Darwyn Cook retro look to the flashback scenes while keeping his lush hyper-realistic style for the modern sections of the story. The result is that is a piece of art, not just with the images but the story. Here's hoping that Rucka can keep this up when we get back to Batwoman vs Alice's cult as we're bound to do. Also this issue, the back-up story featuring The Question wraps up nicely. I like Montoya as The Question so I'll give yet another thumbs-up for DC's new universe.
Score: 4 out of 5
Blackest Night #4
Just as happened in this week's Green Lantern issue, Blackest Night really picks up steam and skips out on the battle/resurrection rut that it'd fallen into. Sure. There's still epic battles (featuring Flash, Atom, Mera, Alan Scott and others) but the way it's written and the vignettes that are slipped in between the fisticuffs are awesome. There is a great scene where a Black Lantern Azrael tries to scare the Scarecrow. I laughed at this scene as Azrael growls as the Scarecrow only to get a blank stare back. We get a brief look into Luthor's take on the Blackest Night which involves his power-suit. The final few pages do have a resurrection (of sorts) but it's one the avid followers of this series have seen coming for months and it means that the battle has finally been joined by its mastermind. Things are only going to heat up from here!
Score: 5 out of 5
This was an odd issue for me. I'm still loving Dick as Batman and these writers all seem to have a good grip on how he should behave. What I'm not too keen on is the tossing out of the majority of Batman's classic rogues gallery in favor of new and old-but-more-obscure villains. Black Mask seems to be the new mastermind of Gotham. This wouldn't normally be a bad thing. I like the Black Mask as a crime boss. But instead, what we get is a Black Mask dressed in S&M gear building an army of oddball cohorts including Dr. Death and Fright. Of course, Black Mask does recruit Hugo Strange so I guess that's one step in the right direction. Strange is one of the most underrated and underused Bat-villains. Another plus is that there's a new Falcone in town and that's a good thing. I'm hoping that Tony Daniel has something in mind with where this storyline is going because the new Batman has so much potential, I don't want to see it fall flat.
Score: 3.5 out of 5