Bat Lash #1 (of 6) — Writers: Peter Brandvold and Sergio Aragones; Artist: John Severin
John Severin. On a Western. Doing full art. Add in Aragones, working on the character he helped to create, and gorgeous coloring by Steve Buccellato (just look at that first-page splash, or the way the background/sky colors change chronologically through early-day blues to afternoon yellows to sunset reds), and you’ve got one satisfying comic. The story’s mostly an origin, and as subtle as a Saturday-afternoon serial (the bad guy wears black, has a mustache, and drags the heroine to an abandoned cabin where she faces a fate worse than death; he’d be perfectly capable of tying her to a barrel of dynamite afterwards, too), but it’s adventurous and fast-paced and makes you happy to be reading it, so no complaints.
Green Lantern #25 — Writer: Geoff Johns; Pencillers: Ivan Reis and Ethan Van Sciver; Inkers: Oclair Albert, Julio Ferreira & Ivan Reis and Ethan van Sciver
Everything you’d want for the finale of the big punchup cosmic crossover — a double-size issue, lots of spectacle (after page one, there’s a double-page battle splash, followed by another double-page battle splash, and then a few pages later another double-page battle splash), all great-looking and well-produced and exciting. Some of the small things bug me (OK, you’ve trapped Parallax in four green lanterns, and then you give those lanterns to the four Earth GLs, who are always hanging out together, instead of scattering them across the galaxy? And they leave these power-source lanterns in an apartment when they go to fight? Um, because bringing them along to let them recharge would make it too easy?), but Johns is so good at bringing the cool big concepts — the “seven colors” thing, not to mention the Black Lantern and the “coming in 2009” teaser at the end — that it’s all forgiven. If I was 12 years old, and someone handed me this comic, I’d be hooked for life.
Fantastic Four #552 — Writer: Dwayne McDuffie; Penciler: Paul Pelletier; Inker: Rick Magyar
If you read last issue and wondered about the cliffhanger, I can tell you that, thankfully, no Skrulls were involved, and it’s all resolved satisfactorily, with lots of twists and turns and fighting and another to-be-continued last-page splash, and it’s all good; between this and Justice League, McDuffie makes writing a fast-paced, unpredictable team book that keeps everyone in character and plays to everyone’s strengths look so easy that you wonder why so few writers today (Bendis? Johns? Morrison? Ellis? Anyone else?) can do it.
Ultimate Iron Man II #1 (of 4) — Writer: Orson Scott Card; Artist: Pasqual Ferry
As with the first mini-series, Card uses his novel-writing skills, especially his clear view of strategies and tactics, and his sense of how character works and how everyone can be working the main chance simultaneously, to good effect — even more now, because we have a mostly-grown-up Tony Stark, and the stakes are higher. Imaginative and interesting — at one point, he inverts the idea of the LMD, where the point is to make everyone think the robot is human, so that instead the goal is making everyone think the humans are robots — and satisfyingly brainy to read.
Wolverine #60 — Writer: Marc Guggenheim; Artist: Howard Chaykin
Still great art, although I can’t quite make up my mind about the story — at one point, Guggenheim takes the time to make sure that Japanese characters talk in actual Japanese, with subtitles, but then earlier he’s lazy enough to show that someone’s Canadian by having them use both “hoser” and “eh?” in the same sentence. The Japan setting is similarly conflicted: interesting return to Logan’s past, or same old characters back for the same old conflicts? Let’s give it the benefit of the doubt for now; did I mention the great art?
Streets of Glory #3 — Writer: Garth Ennis; Artist: Mike Wolfer
The ugly wraparound cover shot of the bad guy, grinning maniacally, didn’t do much for me, although it worked better when I realized that it’s a coda: it’s the shot immediately after the book’s last page. The story itself is a transitional episode, the point in the Western where the posse gets rounded up, the greenhorn decides to tag along, we find out some backstory on the characters, and then the pursuers become the pursued. Not that much happens, and it’s all minor-key Ennis, but one assumes that next issue will provide the action-filled payoff, and be enough to satisfy the reader.
Countdown: Arena #2 (of 4) — Writer: Keith Champagne; Penciller: Scott McDaniel; Inker: Andy Owens
I still think this is cool, especially if you’ve read a bunch of the DC Elseworlds stories. Here, we get three Rays/solar-powered heroes fighting, three Blue Beetles, and then three Green Lanterns (including the one whose isn’t Hal Jordan, and introduces himself with “I’m the damn Green Lantern!” Heh.). The omnipotent-villain card gets played too often (dude, if Monarch’s that powerful, why does he need any of these guys?), and it’s hard to see what kind of satisfying ending can come from this, but the journey’s sure been entertaining so far.
Stuff I bought and liked, but don’t have anything new to say about other than it’s still good, so go reread what I said about the previous issues for more details:
New Avengers #37 — Writer: Brian Michael Bendis; Artist: Leonil Yu
Fables #68 — Writer: Bill Willingham; Pencils: Mark Buckingham; Inks: Steve Leialoha, Andrew Pepoy. Mark Buckingham
B.P.R.D. #5 (of 5) — Writers: Mike Mignola & John Arcudi; Art: Guy Davis
DMZ #26 — Writer: Brian Wood; Artist: Riccardo Burchielli
The Boys #13 — Writer: Garth Ennis; Artist: Darick Robertson