At last the wait is over. The best reviewer on the web has returned! Okay, so I'm not the best, but I'm not bad. And hey, you get what you pay for, and nobody's paying me anything for this. Um...yeah. Moving right along.
Since I've been away from serious blogging for a few weeks (hey, I got married, give me a break) I'm going to talk about the best stuff I've been reading during those few weeks. So without further ado, I give you Grab These Books!
Detective Comics #854 - The first issue of Detective Comics since the unfortunate death of Batman/Bruce Wayne had a lot of hype to live up to and it sure didn't disappoint. DC's decision to hold off on this much anticipated Batwoman series by the superstar combo of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams, III in order to tie it in to the Batman: Reborn storyline seems to have been a great idea. Given the first issue, this series looks to be so stellar that it would have succeeded regardless of when it was published, but tying Kate Kane's war with the 13 Covens of crime to the current Bat-world gives the series a resonance with fans it may have lacked had it been left to stand on its own. It also serves to make Kate Kane an even more important part of the larger Bat-family than she already was. So, what makes this book so great? Everything. The art is superb and it's what everybody is talking about right now, but let me take a minute to brag on Rucka. While I'm a fan of GR, I've grown a little weary of his current run on Action Comics. Not that it's been bad, per se, it's just not gripping me the way the other three major Super titles currently are. Personally, I feel like Rucka is more comfortable with the grit and the grime of Gotham City than the shined and polished world of Metropolis. That comfort is evident in DC #854. The script is sharp, smart, warm, creepy and action-packed. In brief, it's everything a good Batman story should be. As for the art, what can be said other than, "WOW!" J.H. Williams, III may be the most talented artist working on superhero titles today, but the work on Detective is arguably the best work he's done yet. To put it in sports terms, he just graduated from all-star to MVP. I've been reading comics a long time, but I've never seen anything like the layouts in Detective #854. When you read this comic for the first time you can feel it; something new is happening here, something big. Batman & Robin, the current flagship Bat-title is so good that Detective Comics has to seriously deliver each month if it's going to stand alongside it. Judging from this first issue, Rucka and Williams, III are more than up to that challenge.
Batman & Robin #2 - Speaking of Batman & Robin, I couldn't very well write this column without mentioning the latest issue from Morrison and Quitely. This issue is heavy on the action but don't be fooled, there is some serious rumination from Dick Grayson about just how hard it is being Batman which leads to a very touching moment between he and his longtime friend, Alfred. Grant Morrison may be a polarizing figure capable of inspiring great confidence or great ire in comics fans, I feel that he understands the character of Batman better than anyone who has ever written him. It's that deep understanding of the Caped Crusader that makes this such a compelling series. This isn't just new territory for Dick Grayson, it's new territory for Morrison as well. So when Dick Grayson is struggling to come to terms with what it means to be Dick Grayson: Batman, so is Grant Morrison figuring out what it means to write Dick Grayson: Batman. It makes for a very organic, very fluid experience that I for one feel is off to a terrific start. Coupled with Quitely, arguably his greatest collaborator (Cameron Stewart being a close second), Morrison is able to create a wildly colorful and creepy world for his new Dynamic Duo to fight crime (and butt heads) in. And fight they do. Issue #2 of B & R is full of more Le Cirque D'etrange fisticuffs as Dick and Damian fight off an invasion of the Gotham police station. Teamwork is not the order of the day unfortunately and it appears that the relationship between this Batman and Robin may be more tumultuous even than the one between Bruce Wayne and Jason Todd. Of course that's the point, isn't it? Dick's seen firsthand what a failure as mentor can do, not only to Robin but also to the Dark Knight. I have faith though. Damian does come from good stock, after all.
Irredeemable #4 - Irredeemable is the best thing coming out of BOOM! Studios these days. That being said, it's not always easy to read. At this point in my life I'm coming to terms with my love of Superman and with how much the character means to me. Superman is the ultimate embodiment of hope, compassion and perserverance, so to see him (represented in Irredeemable by the Plutonian) laid so low is understandably difficult. The world that Mark Waid has created with his Superman Gone Wrong is bleak, broken and desperate. There is very little hope or compassion left. There isn't much I can say specifically about this book without giving away a lot, so I'll just tell you that, if you haven't been reading Irredeemable, it's time to start. It gets better with each issue.
The Incredibles #1 - 3 - I waited a few months to pick this series up, but I'm glad I finally did. BOOM! has very wisely taken the cream of the Disney crop (Muppets, Pixar) and made some great looking kids titles out of it. The Incredibles, written by Mark Waid, may be the one of those titles most appealing to traditional comics fans. Fans of the movie will be pleased with Marcio Takara's artwork and Waid's fun, quickly paced scripts. Takara's pencils are fantastic on this book. Often times, an artist working on a licensed property like this will sacrifice his own voice in an attempt to make everything look as much like the original property as possible. His art recalls the wonderful animation from the film while remaining totally original. I predict a very bright future for this guy. Oh yeah, that Mark Waid guy's not bad either. Waid has created a fun kids comic here that has a ton of appeal for adult comics fans as well. You can tell that he's a fan of the Incredibles and he must be having a lot of fun writing this book. Waid adds a lot to the world of the Incredibles in these first three issues without ever straying from the original voices of the characters. This isn't just a throwaway book of monthly one-shots, but a well designed storyline wrapped up in a lot of fun action and humour. While I'm a huge fan of what's going on with the DC Kids line right now, I dare say that what Waid and Takara have created with the Incredibles is the best kids superhero book on the shelves right now.
I've read a lot of other great books over these last few weeks, but the ones I mentioned above were definitely my favorites. What have you been reading and enjoying lately?
To round everything out, here's my pull list for this week.
BPRD 1947 #1
Green Lantern #43
Red Robin #2 (out of respect for Tim Drake, nothing more)
World of New Krypton #5
Wednesday Comics #1
That's it for this week. Don't forget to get down to your local comic shop and Grab These Books!