My friend Nicky B and I were talking about the New 52 the other night, and I've had a couple conversations on Twitter about it, and I think what it boils down to at this point is not anger, but disappointment. I'm just bummed that there are so many good characters that aren't being used in a great fashion right now. I posted a jokey rant about it on our comics site, and yeah, it's a joke, but it's not really: I just want all these good things to be great all the time. Fortunately, I had some good stuff to work with this week.
Batwoman 21 - Trevor McCarthy doesn't kill this one like he did the last issue, but it's still good enough to get me through until JH Williams come back on the pencils. (There are two particularly poorly drawn scenes, one where Batwoman flips over the table [God, it looks like shit] and the other of Maggie holding her wine glass [grade school pathetic], but it's more than made up for by the double page splash of the sisters' reunion.) The story moves along, although the flashback to the ROC mission is kind of weak, and it's genuinely touching the way Kate wants to save her sister. That being said, it's a suicide mission that she chooses to take on and Bones knows it. Kate should know it, too. Most troubling? I know that Kate can't see the speech bubbles like we can, but it still should be super clear to her that Beth is NOT a changed woman. There are some serious problems with that lady, and while I can respect her effort for her father, there's some times where you've got to realize that family is worth sacrificing. Especially when the issue ends with your poorly thought-out so-called plan for grabbing Batman's secret ID. Maybe this is all part of the poorly-written Snyder issues of Batman, and it's going to be extremely easy for Kate and Co. to do this, and maybe it's all leading up to some sort of new, overall arc for the Bat family of titles, but if so, I'm still not a fan. Batwoman is best when she's working on the fringes. I'm not really sure that I want her to be part of whatever's happening in DC Editorial where they feel the need to smash things into one another as much as possible. All that being said, I'm still on board, for now.
Fables 129 - Ambrose as narrator continues to pay off in stellar ways for Bill Willingham. "My life in a nutshell: insignificant bits and pieces of other stories." Wow, wow, wow. The narration is incredible, the speaking patterns of Snow White are pitch perfect and the climax is unbelievable. The only thing that could have possibly trumped that tragedy is the excellent cliffhanger on the last page. This book continues to excel! Snow White has her final battle with Brandish and the glass statue of Bigby Wolf hangs over the whole picture. Snow White should be really grateful for her training in swordplay as it pays off in the best way possible, with that one little caveat for poor Bigby. The cubs take the news pretty well, except for Ambrose, which is interesting, given his dual nature in this issue. I love the interactions between Rose Red and her sister, too. And the tiny bit given to the negotiations of the wedding are interesting, too. Just another ho-hum great issue from a series that has consistently knocked it out of the park. When you're this good this often it kind of seems unfair to judge you with anything else.
Ultimate Spider-Man 23 - I'll be honest and say the cover pissed me off just as much if not more than it did last month. And the first page? I just laughed out loud. I thought it was a cheap trick, a ploy to pretend that things were actually different when they weren't. But they were. They are. My beef with the lost year at DC (God, remember that?) was never the lost time itself. I like the idea of radically changing everything by skipping over a year, and it means even more in this title where it's clear that Miles has actually followed through on his threat/promise: he hasn't been Spider-Man for a year. In that year, a couple things have happened: he dropped out of Gwen's life, he got a girlfriend, Ganke's bugged him about getting back in the game, so have some other superheroes, and his father is working on a case against NYPD for a settlement over Mom's death. All of these are awesome developments, they make sense, they can be explained, but they don't have to be. It's a perfectly open-ended story. So, let's tackle them a little bit more. The revelation of Gwen at Crazy Shang's (something like that?) was great. Makes sense for her to be there, makes sense that's how Miles would react at this time. I love the conversation Jefferson was having with his son before that interruption, too. Also, if Gwen's alone in her little club, that means that maybe we'll see a bit less of Aunt May and MJ. I love those characters, but the book needs to move on from them. Secondly, his girlfriend is Kate Bishop. I love the Ultimate Universe because we get little chuckles like that. Thirdly, Ganke is still perfect. Fourth, Jessica Drew's place in this book also feels perfect. I love that she's there, I love the way she talks to him, I love the new costume with the SHIELD web slingers that he gets and I love the look on her face when she sees how much pain he's still in. The ending with Cloak and Dagger was nice. I'm back on board with this book, as long as it stays intriguing like this.
Wolverine and the X-Men 29 - Yup, this is everything I want in a time travel story and an X-Men story and the combination of the two. I really don't know if I can actually explain what I loved so much, so these are just some of my notes: The way Perez has done the flashbacks to Origin. The shot of him with white hair and the BAMFs surrounding him. THe telepathic announcements from Professor Xorn. The Sentinel student. The portrait of Bobby with an ice beard. Carmen Drake, Mr. Langkowski, Warren Worthington IV, Kubrick Quire, Charlene Xavier, Rose Logan, Summer Grey, Eyeboy, Thunderbird, Phoenix, the Krakoa Corps, Shark Woman's X-Force Squad, and "No more days of future nothing." The samurai outfit and swords in Logan's office. I think it's just the open-ended nature of how things work in superhero comics mixed with an ideal open-endedness to a time travel story. I love how great things can get when you don't feel the constant compulsion to nail them down. Does this alternate time line mess everything in the universe up because there are fifteen million different contrasting versions of what happens in the Marvel Universe's future? Hell no! Just let it play out. Let's have fun with some of the things that are happening, because that's what it's supposed to be: fun. It's a great time when you relax and let it be and the X-Men proved that in the 70s, 80s, 90s and they're still doing so today.
Book of the week goes to Fables. I was tempted to reward Ultimate Spider-Man for getting back on its feet, but it needs to sustain some of that goodness for more than just a single issue. For inspiration, look to Fables, which has sustained its level for more than 10 years. Seriously. Just ponder that for a while.