Skipped my trip last week due to the holidays, so I don't know which goes with what week, but I figure that's fine.
Action Comics 896 - Maybe I'm missing out on something here because I don't read Secret Six (and what a great line from Luthor about that name, when he knows about the group and there's seven of them! Best moment of the book) but it seemed a bit odd to me. Also, the situation with Vandal Savage was a little off to me. I didn't remember leaving Luthor in this situation at the end of the last book, but it played out all right. The best part of the book was the discussion between Lois (although does this mean that there are plural copies of her? Did we already know that?) and Mr. Mind. There's clearly something larger going on here, especially with Paul Cornell writing the book, and with the rapid approach to issue 900. I think we're going to see something huge, and I think the much-heralded appearance of Death will pale in comparison. (Certainly no pun intended.) I'm a little upset about having to buy and read Secret Six to get the conclusion to this story, but the next issue box with the Joker more than makes up for things! Also, the Jimmy Olson backup was awesome (again) this month, and I'll certainly be looking into buying his book when it drops.
Batman Incorporated 2 - A nice enough issue, continued well on the good things from issue 1, good enough art, a decent story from Morrison, with a satisfying conclusion, and, ultimately, the last issue of Batman Inc. that I'll buy. There's just no need, in my mind, for me to keep track of this book. This two-issue story was fine, but I can tell where the book's going, and I'm not interested. I'm not against the idea of Batman Inc. as it's been introduced to the Batman wold, but I'm not interested in breathlessly following it either. Give me Dick Grayson in Gotham, give me Bruce popping up in his life every once in a while, and give the me parenting of Damien. Alfred, of course, needs to be there. But honestly, despite how well-written this story was, there will never be a time when I truly care about the Batman of any other nation.
The Flash 8 - This was a sad issue for me, for more than just the continued lack of Francis Manapul's pencils. As I mentioned last time, it's clear that Kolins is going to be doing a good amount of work on this book, because Manapul just can't keep up the same pace as Geoff Johns. That being said, the book suffers because of it. Kolins is a more than capable artist, but it's just not as good. It's an unfortunate circumstance that he's always going to be compared, and he's always going to come out on the losing side of that comparison. As for the story itself, it started off by saying that Barry Allen was turned into the Flash in the 21st century, and it only got sloppier after that. The Reverse Flash is basically tracking through his own life, continually adjusting it so that he can be perfect, but it's a soulless tale because we didn't know any of this and don't have time to care about any of it. I don't care that he wipes his own brother from existence and I'm confused by the ending. Thawne becomes the Flash of the 25th century, due to the machinations of the Reverse Flash, (which is him, right?) who then ends the issue talking about how he'll never be Flash. Maybe I'm reading it too lazily, but I think it's confusing writing. Not up to expectations.
Green Lantern 61 - This issue, on the other hand, surpassed expectations. The appearance of the Butcher, some serious development of Atrocitus' character, and a throwdown between an entity and the Spectre! Everything in here was great, which really makes me wish that Johns would continue on this path, instead of the approach he's been taking to Green Lantern of telling at least five different stories in each issue. It's magnificent when he's able to concentrate on just one central thing, as he does here. The battle between the Butcher and the Spectre is littered with casual clues ("I warned you long ago") that are part of Johns' strength as a writer, and the aftermath, when Atrocitus sticks up for the bit character James Kim is a particularly strong moment in his development. I love the reference to the Holy War against Krona, as well. The buildup to the War of the Lanterns just got a lot stronger.
Invincible 76 - A depressingly great issue. The emotion that we get from the Regent Thragg over the destruction of his homeworld and the previous betrayal come out so strong here that I half-heartedly found myself rooting for him. Not hoping that he'd win, of course, but definitely empathizing. The way that almost literally all of the characters are taken down and out by the Viltrumites is depressing, especially given how carefully they were selected and trained for this war. Battle Beast is tossed aside, Tech Jacket looks like he's going to die, Allen is absolutely worked. Only Space Racer seems to truly understand, and when he pulls back in retreat, it seems as though Invincible and his father are doomed. However, the plan Thragg comes up with is a brutal one. I don't know if next issue is the conclusion to this arc, but it seems definite that we'll see a return to Earth for Invincible and the rest of his crew. It's gonna be devastating.
Shield 5 - Man, the layers just keep getting piled on. This book is so confusing by this point that it's almost taking away my enjoyment of the series. I still love it, I love the big ideas, I love the art, I love the ambition and scope, but this might be a series that is best enjoyed in trade paperback. Here we've got the factioning of Shield between Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton and we've got Howard Stark and Nathaniel Richards thrown into the future, trying to find a way home. Lots of heavy stuff. Meanwhile, Leonid is still being led around by Nostradamus, and we find out on the last page that the Night Machine (who's supposed to be Leonid's dad, right?) is none other than Nikola Tesla. It's such a crazy mishmash of brilliant ideas. Very post-modern. A good read, but, as I said, they might be losing my individual issues at the conclusion of this arc.
Book of the week goes to Green Lantern for the way that Geoff Johns makes even the most inhuman (and inhumane) characters into real people. Amazing work.