World War III #1 — Writer: Keith Champagne; Penciller: Pat Olliffe; Inker: Drew Geraci
World War III #2 — Writer: Keith Champagne; Penciller: Andy Smith; Inker: Ray Snyder
World War III #3 — Writer: John Ostrander; Penciller: Tom Derenick; Inker: Norm Rapmund
World War III #4 — Writer: John Ostrander; Penciller: Jack Jadson; Inker: Rodney Ramos
If you bought 52 #50, you really, really don’t need these comics — unless you were hoping for 88 more pages of Black Adam beating up on various super-heroes and punching his fist through people, because that’s all that’s here. That’s all the “World War” is — everyone vs. Black Adam — and, again, we get the important parts, like the beginning and the conclusion, in 52, so what’s the point? We get a couple of panels of various minor heroes synching with the “one year after” books, but the only actual character arc belongs to the Martian Manhunter, who ends up with a slightly different shape and a modified costume. Wheee. It’s kind of a minor pleasure to see John Ostrander writing him again, but there’s so many other characters running around that nothing satisfying happens, and the overall impression is of a bloated, mediocre mess. Sadly, as with a growing number of titles from Marvel and DC lately, there is absolutely no reason for these comics to exist — and, equally sadly, no reason for anyone to buy them.
Moon Knight #9 — Writer: Charlie Huston; Artist: Mico Suayan
Somehow, this has turned into one of those generic zombie comics, with a rotting corpse as a villain, an imaginary rotting corpse as the hero’s sidekick, art that’s so dark it’s practically impenetrable, and a story that, despite some punching and impromptu dental work, just shambles along, with nowhere to go and no evidence of a brain directing it. Depressing and stupid, which unfortunately seems to be the theme for a lot of books this week.
Superman/Batman #34 — Writer: Mark Verheiden; Penciller: Pat Lee; Inker: Craig Yeung
Another book from DC with no reason to exist — with all the emphasis on Will Magnus in 52, where exactly does this story, a reboot of the Metal Men that assumes that no one’s ever met Magnus before, fit in? Maybe it’s my Ross Andru upbringing, but the Metal Men look all wrong, too — Pat Lee makes them all blocky and clunky and roboty, with none of the smooth transformational grace of the originals (well, except for Tin, who was always supposed to be clunky). Everything’s shadowy and murky and hard to follow, too, and it’s got one of those oh-we-thought-you-were-villains plots that doesn’t help, and it’s a continued story. You know, I used to like Verheiden’s writing, but after his previous three-issues-too-many take-over-the-aliens arc, and now this, I’m not sure he’s the right guy for this title. Hey, Jeph Loeb: stop screwing up Wolverine and come back home; all is forgiven.
Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #1 — Story: J. Torres; Art: Chynna Clugston
Adaptation of the cartoon, which is very much in the manner of Teen Titans Go!, but, y’know, with the Legion. Simplified, as you might expect — the members so far are Brainy, Phantom Girl, Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy (!), Lightning Lad and Triplicate Girl, although Timber Wolf is on the cover, so he and some of the others will probably show up in the actual comic at some point, too. The big draw, and the subject of this first issue, is Superbo — er, a young Superman, actually, since DC isn’t letting anyone use the “B” word right now. He joins, and they fight the Fatal Five. I’ve read maybe 15 versions of this story before, so it wasn’t exactly a thrill, although the younger readers it’s pitched at would probably like it. The Chynna Clugston art is just OK — she has to draw on model for the various cartoon characters, so not very much of her own Blue Monday style comes through, except in a raised eyebrow or exaggerated expression here and there. This book is less than the sum of its parts, unfortunately, so unless you’re an obsessive Legion completist, or a huge admirer of Clugston, or 10 years old, it’s probably not for you.
Squadron Supreme: Hyperion vs. Nighthawk #4 (of 4) — Writer: Marc Guggenheim; Artist: Paul Gulacy
So, how has N. has been able to beat H. for the last three issues? It’s exactly the John Byrne Gladiator/Superman it’s-all-mental trick. Worse, the plot resolution to the whole Sudan genocide thing is one of those idiot explanations where the heroes are told they can’t do anything, because if they kill the bad guys more will rise to take their place, so it won’t do any good. Hey, yeah, but at least people won’t be getting raped and killed right this minute, will they, geniuses? Buy this if you’re a big Gulacy art fan, but the story, for all its moralizing, has gone nowhere, and doesn’t make a lick of sense.