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Erik's DC Reviews 2.27.08

Batman #674
By Grant Morrison and Tony Daniel

For the last three issues I have raved about Morrison’s wacky, yet psychological, take on the Bat, and this issue is another example to help solidify Grant’s place among the best writers the character has ever seen. For a change of pace, issue 674 gives a lot of solid answers to the mystery Morrison has been spinning since the start of his run way back in #655. We finally learned the identity of the third Batman, along with solid answers as to why these replacements were created.

However, Morrison’s ability to juxtapose different time periods in the Dark Knight’s life to piece everything together is only made possible through the talent of his artist, Tony Daniel. Daniel’s Batman has the best visual qualities of a Jim Lee and Neal Adams and coupled with a fantastic eye for panel transitions, makes the story easy to follow, and quite tense. Its also neat to have Batman turn into Houdini for a few panels as I rarely see him pull off these escapes, usually just being told through monologue boxes.

Grant and Tony are churning out fantastic work, creating a saga worthy of being labeled one of the best Batman tales possible. And with one of the most well thought out/ written monologues I have ever read in a Batman comic at the climax of the issue, its clear that Grant has had a master plan from the outset and looks to really deliver a Batman run for the ages.

Action Comics #862
By Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

Stone Boy. Chlorophyll Kid. Fire Lad. Rainbow Girl.

My god, by all accounts these names should not lead to interesting stories. But then again, we are dealing with the master of obscure, Geoff Johns. With the fourth segment of “Superman and the Legion of Superheroes” we are introduced to the legion substitutes, lending a hand in saving the day and trying to restore Superman’s name.

The issues introduction has a pretty great conversation about what it actually takes to be a hero and Polar Boy is the one to deliver the final punchline about what makes the substitutes so unique, and a perfect wrench to throw in Earth Man’s plans.

“When you’ve never had anything to lose, you can get a bit reckless”

What follows is one of the best introductions I have had to such ridiculously named characters. The stand out hero being Stone Boy, winning me over the instant he appears in a panel, rocketing himself out of a high jacked school bus while giving duel peace signs with his fingers, a scene Gary Frank captures perfectly, making for a truly hilarious moment. Of course the substitutes prove their worth as they hold the line, allowing Superman and the rest of his Legion friends gain access to Earth Man’s secret stash of Legion prisoners, and the source of Earth’s red sun, Sun Boy. The issue also climaxes with a great struggle between Earth Man and Superman cliffhanging at the perfect moment to hook readers and get them back next month for the big finale.

All Star Batman and Robin #9
By Frank Miller and Jim Lee

Let me just get this out there. All Star Batman and Robin is not a defining Dark Knight story, pretty far from it. It makes Batman looks like a Bat-Sh*t crazy (pun intended), pedophile (fast hands, my little Robin. Fast hands, big mouth…) But to call this series anything but one of the most entertaining comics you can get for your hard earned three dollars is a crime. Whenever this series comes out, as its shipping schedule as been one of the most sporadic I have come across in my five years of reading comics, I run to the store like a little boy running after candy. Every issue is guaranteed belly laughs, every one. This issue you get Batman taunting Hal Jordan, using his weakness to yellow in full effect, a fully yellow painted “battleground” and lemonade on tap.

Even with the color palette comprising of mostly yellow this issue, Jim Lee continues to turn out great pencils proving his worth as one of the best Batman artists ever. Let alone Lee’s great depictions of a grieving Batman crouching over a grave in the rain, which I know I have seen him do before, I swear, but I digress, because its always a strong emotional image either way.

Speaking of that final splash page. Could Miller be hinting this series’ true colors finally? Could this story be about how Robin saves Batman, not the other way around? It seems as though we are headed in that direction, which once the entire Miller/Lee run is collected and read in one sitting, I could be eating my own foot about this series worth as a defining character study.

Justice Society of America #13
By Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, and Fernando Pasarin

Right off the bat, this is the weakest issue of JSofA since the relaunch. The first thing it has going against it is the lack of regular artist Dale Eaglesham. While Pasarin has filled in on this series before, he has never had a handle on the emotional depth that Eaglesham bring to all these characters which is a problem when your issue deals with a bunch of talking heads spitting exposition.

Secondly, while I am grateful for Johns detailing the difference between Magog and Gog, as it’s a pretty confusing subject, it also leads to a pretty boring issue. All action has slowed down so Dr. Mid-Nite and Earth-22 Superman can spit the gospel, so to speak, about these biblical foes so once they do appear, and this issue delivers, it will make sense and have motivation. We also get an off track confrontation with Hercules which was quite a side step for the building action over the last few issues.

Don’t get me wrong though, Issue 13 delivers some great new Alex Ross panels detailing the murder of Lois on Kingdom Come Earth (22) by the Joker and continues, however slowly, to build the momentum till “Kingdom Come” in the current DCU. And while the weakest issue thus far, it’s still better than about 90% of superhero comics hitting the shelves each month.