Comics Catch for February 29, 2012
Comics Catch compiles short reviews of a bunch of comics worth reading each week.
Book of the Week: Justice League #6: Geoff Johns and Jim Lee pull out all the stops for the finale to their epic first story arc of Justice League. As this issue opens, Superman's trapped on Darkseid's homeworld Apokolips, and Batman's gone to rescue him, leaving only five remaining members of this newly-formed team—Green Lantern, Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Cyborg—to take down a dark god who wants to enslave the world. These first six issues haven't totally been without their ups and downs (early treatments of Wonder Woman were rough), but everything comes together here amazingly well as we finally get to see the Justice League unite and kick butt like we know they can. Arguably every character gets their moment to shine in this issue, which makes every part of the last five books feel totally worthwhile. Jim Lee, in particular, goes above and beyond the call with this issue's art; there's a reason he's drawn some of the best-selling comics of all time, and it's plain to see here. We love this comic so much, we're gonna talk about it more on Monday!
Amazing Spider-Man #680: After an accident at the Apogee 1 space station blocks all communication with Earth, Peter Parker and his buddy Johnny Storm (the Human Torch) rush into the stratosphere to see how they can help. In other words, this book brings us Spider-Man in SPAAAAAACE. Amazing Spider-Man #680 is a great issue that includes all necessary elements for a classic Spidey story: cool villains, an exciting plot, and it's very funny (particularly great: Spidey goes to ask for Human Torch's help and finds Johnny, who's been gone for awhile, pantsless and trying to catch up on the past year of pop culture, including... gross... Rebecca Black). Maybe the best part about this comic, though, is how accessible it is; thanks to a first-page recap and a generally lighthearted tone that doesn't rely too much on the previous 679 issues, almost anyone can pick up Amazing Spider-Man and enjoy, just like Old Web-Head would want it.
Batman Beyond Unlimited #1: Do you guys remember the cartoon Batman Beyond? Wasn't it awesome?! Well, it's back again in comic form! Starting today, DC's releasing an extra-large comic with two different Batman Beyond stories each month, and it is great. In this issue's first half, a Batman solo story, young hero Terry McGinnis and elderly Bruce Wayne have to deal with a migration of Jokerz gangs from all across the country coming to Gotham. In the second part, which features Terry working alongside the Justice League Beyond, the future's best superheroes face off against a terrorist organization named Kobra that seems to have indoctrinated one of the JLB's own! If you enjoyed the cartoon, you'll love this book, which picks up pretty cleanly where the show left off (with only a few plot details cribbed from some comics that have come out between now and then). If you think seeing Batman in the future sounds totally cool, you can't go wrong with Batman Beyond Unlimited.
Ralph Wiggum Comics #1: Whether or not you think Simpsons is just as good as it used to be (up for debate, but it's probably not), you've got to have a soft spot in your heart for Ralph Wiggum, right? I mean, he's the best. He's dumb as a rock… or, like, a bag of rocks… but he's just so sweet, and his one-liners are killer. This comic sets out to see whether Ralph can sustain a whole story… or three, actually… by himself. The answer: yes he can! Confession: this book had a certain MindHut comic reviewer laughing out loud many times. Thrill to Ralph's empty-headed adventures and brilliant bon mots as he misses a bus for school, gets left home alone and encounters an angry leprechaun. This book is silly fun, but it's great stuff for Simpsons fans, especially if you just feel like laughing for 20 minutes (and who doesn't?). Nowhere else will you see lines like "I'm just like Daddy now, 'cept I'm smaller and my pants are wetter!"
Steed and Mrs. Peel #2: Last month we covered the first issue of this series, which features the popular group of British TV spies known as the Avengers (not the group of superheroes whose new movie will be out soon). With the first issue setting all characters and plot in place, this second book picks up the pace a bit and confirms what we all know to be true: it's a lot of fun watching super-proper British people investigate crazy mysteries. Here, government agents John Steed and Emma Peel look into a string of murders seemingly all connected to games of chance (cards, dice, even Chutes & Ladders). It's still not the mind-bending trip some readers might expect from author Grant Morrison, but after last month's I-still-don’t-think-I-understand-it Action Comics #6, that might be a good thing. Also, the old-fashioned (i.e. not digital) art by classic British Ian Gibson continues to be a treat.
Unwritten #34.5: For the last few months, as Unwritten has played out its epic "Tommy Taylor and the War of Words" saga, the book's been releasing special alternating "point five" issues that fill us in on the backgrounds of characters who've basically remained a mystery til this point. This particular issue throws its focus on Wilson Taylor, main character Tom's dad, who somehow has the ability to make whatever stories he writes come to life. Here we see him beginning to recognize this unique ability as he's trapped in World War I and desperate to get out alive. The scenes of war are pretty rough (as you'd expect), and this book's connection to the larger Unwritten saga doesn't become totally clear until the end, but still, this comic continues to be a fascinating look at the intersection between fiction and reality, and these point five issues have provided invaluable background to its world.