Action Comics #35
As the cover implies, we’re still dealing with the fallout from the “Doomed” storyline. Actually, the cover gives away pretty much all of this issue. There’s not really much in the way of plot development accomplished here. Pak is instead going for character development. To do that, he poses the classic comic book question: Do superheroes just lead to supervillains? The question on the cover, “Who Needs Superman?” is from a headline written by Clark Kent himself. This is meant to convey inner conflict, but for me, it comes off as maudlin navel-gazing. The answer to the question, suggested by a different character, makes it no better. I think what Pak is doing here is a lot of setup work, but there’s nothing in it that makes me feel like this section of narrative warranted its own issue.
The art was more or less what it has been. We see Clark/Supes with a castaway beard that later becomes a depression beard. What makes that odd, and not just cliche, is that it somehow manages to make him look more baby-faced. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t last.
Verdict: You can probably skip it.
Detective Comics #35
We have a new creative team for this arc, apparently. I will say the shift from the sort of aesthetic we’ve been getting from Francis Manapul to what we see here is jarring. There’s a lot of play on light and shadow, which you’d expect in anything related to Batman, but there’s a certain muted quality to the panels that adds something of a retro feel to the story.
Speaking of the story, we’re set up for a bit of a mystery on a plane. That, combined with the aforementioned retro look to the art, makes this feel like a little bit like an old Twilight Zone episode at first. My initial reaction here is to dislike it, but if I’m being honest, there’s a good chance that it’s just because it feels so different from what I expected. What changed my tune a bit here was the ending. This book leaves us on what I feel is more familiar (and more interesting) Batman ground, and while I’m still getting used to the art, the story seems promising. If nothing else, you’ll most likely have to pick this one up if you want to read part 2 of this arc.
Verdict: Not bad.
Justice League #34
There wasn’t a lot of plot progress in this issue, at least, not until the very end. For most of the issue, the theme is uneasy allies, and the league ostensibly getting used to the idea of having Lex Luthor around. This leads to some overwrought dialogue bits where Batman and Wonderwoman tell Luthor (and us) “what it means” to be a member of The Justice League. These are a bit on the cringe-worthy side, and where Batman especially is concerned, it feels far too saccharine for the character.
The payoff for this issue is in the last few panels. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, we’re finally given a glimpse of the long-con we all know Luthor’s been playing. I’m a little worried that it will bring the narrative a few steps back, but I’ll admit it feels like it’s taking us back to something that was always left as a loose end, so there could be some satisfaction to be found there.
Verdict: Not bad
Captain America #25
Here’s a bit of full-disclosure. I don’t like the plot gimmick of someone stepping into the shoes of an established superhero. I didn’t like Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, or Azrael taking up Batman’s cowl, though I do like Dick Grayson and Jason Todd as characters (no, I’m not forgetting Azrael). I like Bucky Barnes, but having him as Cap’s replacement felt wrong. What I’m trying to get at here is it’s got nothing to do with who they choose to replace a character with, the gimmick itself bugs me. Since the cover poses the question, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to tell you that’s what this issue is about; who will take over for Steve Rogers?
If you’ve been following the news on Captain America (and a number of other Marvel titles), this change is not a surprise to you, and you probably know who they’ve chosen to wield the shield. As with Dick Grayson and Jason Todd, I like the character a lot, but he’s not Captain America. I think that’s partly because he’s already got his own identity, and partly because any replacement of a long-running hero is going to be temporary, and we all know it.
With all that soap-box nonsense out of the way, this issue handles the subject matter about as well as it can be handled. Steve Rogers isn’t supposed to be dead. He’s not even supposed to be out of the picture, so we’re given a reminder that this is not necessarily a sad turn of events. Actually, the gathering of Avengers where we’re told the big news tries very hard (sometimes successfully) to give us a laugh. There are a lot of barbs slung between Spidey, Hawkeye, and Tony Stark, and they serve to lighten the mood. Actually, at times I feel this scene went too far into the realm of comedy, but it wasn’t necessarily unwelcome. All things being equal, we were adequately prepared for the new series featuring a new Cap, while we were also given a nice reminder of why we love Steve Rogers (and why we’ll be happy when he inevitably returns to his role).
Verdict: Worth a look.
Death of Wolverine #3
I have been pleasantly surprised with the Death of Wolverine run. I have no doubt that part of that is because the __ Months to Die series was so uneven, but I think Soule’s work on the narrative has been really solid. Since she’s on the cover, I don’t mind telling you Kitty Pride features heavily into this section of the story, and for the most part, her interaction with Logan is handled really well, even as we’re thrown for a bit of a loop in the wind-down. I think that’s been part of what makes this run successful. Logan’s touching on all the things I think he should, but he’s not dwelling on any one part of his world, and on the other side, it doesn’t feel too condensed.
I’m still really happy with the look of this arc, too. It’s laid-out well, with some really engaging work on pencils and inks. As content as I am with the writing here, I actually think the art nearly steals the show. When I heard #3 was delayed, I was nervous, but I can assure you now, if you’ve enjoyed the first to issues of Death of Wolverine, #3 won’t disappoint you. Actually, I think it’s the strongest of the group.
Verdict: Excellent read.