Marvel NOW! continues in its subpar nature, at least in my opinion. When there's a week like this, where I only get one indie book, I really feel like it's got the least potential, but Buffy made up for it.
Batman 15 – I really don't understand the people who say that Snyder has finally made the Joker scary again. He was always scary. But this story certainly is another step in the right direction. I'm not sure that I buy the angle that he knows who Batman is (and the rest of the family, for what it's worth) but it's clear that something is happening on another level here. The back up features, with the Penguin and now Riddler have been hinting at some next-level type of shenanigans that's right up my alley. The only real complaint for me, in this issue, was that Capullo's art felt a little sloppy. I think it's hard to draw Bruce, Dick, Tim, and Damian all next to each other, though, especially with the DCnU timeline in mind; I mean, they're all supposed to be essentially the same age. It really doesn't work. Thank God Jason had his hood (is that really what we're gonna be forced to call it, by the way? Helmet doesn't really work, what with his name and all...) on so he'd be spared having to draw yet another young, black-haired man. The idea of Bruce withholding this pretty vital bit of info on the Joker for all these years (although, again, I guess it's only been five) is really weird, though. It feels like a bit of a backward slide to the Tower of Babel Batman, but without any of the paranoid reasoning. I don't like it for now, but the story is still going strong. I'm a fan, and I have enough faith in Snyder to follow him on this one. I'm not reading any of the other Bat books, though, so tell me: am I missing out? Are there great chapters of this story happening in the family books? Would I get a more complete picture? For now, I'm only sticking with Batman.
Buffy 16 - Well, that was fun. (I mean, other than the forced inclusion of Billy and the needless death [maybe?] of a minor character that's not him.) Sure, it might have felt a bit forced at times and in places, but you really get the sense that they're trying. Anytime the writing gang at Buffyverse actually uses the word Scooby, you know there's something specific they're aiming for. So yeah, her new gang doesn't seem to be destined for greatness, but the good thing about replacements is that it reminds us that the originals are so good. And the cliffhanger? Yeah, that's just another sign. Does Buffy know nothing about this new version? I can't remember my TV history well enough to know if they ever crossed paths. Also, the evolving zompires is an interesting angle, and the Xander/Dawn relationship is clearly going to be a touchpoint in this arc. I'm looking forward to the tightening of all the different threads, because it's clear that's what's happening. Here's to a more successful resolution than we got with Season 8, and to something compelling to take us toward Season 10. (Is that confirmed yet? Looks like the answer is yes. Good news.)
Before Watchmen: Rorschach 3 – Haha. OK. That's a cute little touch with the Taxi Driver. But really, Lee Bermejo is the perfect artist for this book. The tone is superb, it's got the grit of the original Watchmen series and the writer/artist combo has never been better suited. When Azzarello took over Batman with his perpetual artist, I hated the result. But this book? It works. Even with the over the top nods to cinema. There was never a doubt, though, that Rorschach wasn't going to show up for his date. Now the only question is, how is he going to get away from the bad guys and who is the Bard going to turn out to be? It's interesting to think that the waitress knows him. That makes me think that I'll want to reread this series and see the clues that were dropped. I know this isn't a mystery series, though, so it'll be interesting to see how many there were. Good book, ready for the conclusion.
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan 3 – Wow. I'll repeat my acclaim for this title from the last issue. I really didn't expect to like this book at all. JMS has never been one of my favorite writers. I liked his run on Spider-Man more than a lot of other people did, but that was more about my blind allegiance to Spider-Man than it was about him. And yeah, the beginning to Rising Stars was classic, but the end was shit. But with only one issue left in this section of the Before Watchmen line, it looks like JMS has done something unexpected: he's turned in a nifty story. This is the sort of dodge that I thought all the books were going to be like, so it's not like it's exquisite storytelling, or a compelling new narrative, like Minutemen. But if you're going to tell a story involving Dr. Manhattan, there's really only so much wiggle room. I like the angle that JMS chose to take and the art by Hughes certainly isn't hurting. The paradox from last issue is explained and we've got one issue to see some sort of lasting consequence. I don't really think there's going to be one, but it's an interesting wrinkle to think that Manhattan knew even from the very beginning what was going to happen with Ozymandias and the Comedian and Nite Owl and the whole gang. Because that's really what JMS is saying here, right? That he can see all angles of all things and he realizes what has to be done? We always knew Manhattan was a God, but this is hammering home his omnipotence. Even if there's nothing of real substance to the book when it's all said and done, I won't be upset that I read it, because it was fun and the art was gorgeous. I won't be picking up the trade, though, either.
Book of the week goes to Batman. Buffy was fun and all, but it doesn't have the carefree vibe that gives Buffy her greatness. Bats, on the other hand, was flawed, but I'll take a flawed revision on one of the top 3 protagonist/antagonist duos of all time, especially from Scott Snyder.