Comics Catch for June 20, 2012
Every Wednesday Comics Catch compiles short reviews of new comics worth reading.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Wonder Woman #10: Last issue, Wonder Woman took a trip to Hell to fulfill a promise: she'll marry Hades, the lonely master of the underworld, if he'll let go of Zola, a mortal girl whose future is very important to our heroine. Of course, Wonder Woman never really had any intentions of marrying Hades, right? But how's she going to get out of the deal, especially when she's stuck in the realm her husband-to-be controls? This issue's called "Vows," but it might as well be called "Escape from the Worst Wedding Ever"; writer Brian Azzarello and pencillers Tony Akins and Kano turn in a super-exciting 20 pages of mythological drama that's just as heavy on the psychology of its characters as it is on the action. There are also some really inventive, creepy visuals from Akins here; he must have had a lot of fun cutting loose on some hellish creations. Oftentimes Azarello's Wonder Woman reads more like a Vertigo comic than a mainstream DC title, and this is a great example of that. What ultimate plan does Wonder Woman hope to accomplish in Hell?
Astonishing X-Men #51: A few weeks ago we reported that Marvel's Astonishing X-Men #51 would be a milestone for the company, presenting the historical same-sex wedding of Northstar (aka Jean-Paul Beaubier, the first gay mainstream superhero) and his boyfriend Kyle Jinadu. Well, the issue's out; is it worth getting? Really, Astonishing X-Men is a pretty standard superhero wedding comic: a bunch of heroes get together to make small-talk, there are a few sweet pages of sentimental speeches, and something disastrous happens at the last second. There's a real human touch in Marjorie Liu's script that's appreciated, though. But really, the best thing about this comic is the last page, a full-page infographic on how couples of any sexual orientation can get legally married in New York City. The times, they are a-changing.
Avengers vs. X-Men #6: "Act Two" of AvX starts here, and now the whole battle's been flipped on its head. You may remember the climactic events of last issue, where the Phoenix Force returned to Earth and possessed not one but five of the X-Men: Cyclops, Emma Frost, Colossus, Namor, and Magik. Now those five heroes, imbued with celestial powers, are remaking the world into a paradise... why would anyone want to stop them? The problem, as Captain America and a slyly-drawn President Obama let us know, is that these beings aren't accountable to anyone, and that's just now how justice gets done. Unfortunately, stopping the mega-powered X-Men may at this point be impossible. This issue's surprisingly heavy on the competing philosophies of these two teams, which makes it a really interesting and thoughtful read. Also, arrgh, what comes next??
Batman Beyond Unlimited #5: DC's anthology tribute to one of the great cartoons of the past decade continues here with three stories set in the future of the DC Animated Universe. There's a recap of how Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl got together to make a baby (who grows up to be the JLU's Warhawk), a story of a future Superman still haunted by the Luthor name, and most interestingly a closer look at the life of a security guard named Jake, the man responsible for killing Terry McGinnis' dad way back in the first episode of Batman Beyond. This last story really makes the issue; it's full of connections to both the Batman Beyond cartoon and the larger legend of Batman as a whole (wait 'til you find out what Jake's last name is). This series is basically can't-miss for fans of the cartoon.
Batwoman #10: Batwoman's drawing closer to the leader of the mysterious Medusa organization that's been making mythological monsters come alive across Gotham City since this series began. Unfortunately, she's not going to be happy when she finds that one of her network of allies might have a stronger connection to this wicked group than she suspected. Also, Gotham City police detective Maggie Sawyer reveals something shocking about her personal life, and there is a pretty cool fight with Killer Croc. This last arc of Batwoman has, perhaps, been a little frustrating in its insistence on jumping around between five stories every issue, only giving each plot a few pages at a time to develop, though it certainly gives us the sense that Batwoman lives in a complicated world where almost anything can happen. It'll be nice when this story wraps up and returns to more focused tales, but still, Batwoman basically never disappoints.
Before Watchmen: Comedian #1: This is a banner week for Brian Azzarello. Not only does he get to claim the excellent Wonder Woman #10, but he also writes this issue, the third release in DC's Before Watchmen series. This one focuses on the fascinatingly sadistic Comedian, a government-contracted killer who dresses like a superhero. As you might expect, this series has a lot more of a political focus than either Minutemen or Silk Spectre; the book opens in the midst of John F Kenneyd's presidency, and follows the Comedian through its famous turbulence. This book maybe isn't as illuminating as the Silk Spectre series, but it's very good; the political focus lets Azzarello explore areas the original Watchmen hinted at, and the art here by JG Jones is just fantastic. So far, it looks like Before Watchmen is 2.5/3.
Daredevil #14: Our hero Matt Murdoch's trapped in Latveria, the homeland of a one Dr. Doom. As it turns out, he's a wanted man; the government of Latveria considers him an "economical terrorist" for breaking up some shady business deals that would have been very lucrative for the criminal nation. Wandering a strange land and without the use of his super-senses (which have been mostly stripped away by a harmful gas), Daredevil's got to find his way to Latveria's border, where he can summon the Avengers for help... not so easy a task. Daredevil continues to be an engaging read, both because of Mark Waid's witty script and the lovely art by Chris Samnee and Javier Rodriguez. There's a reason so many people love this book.
Secret Avengers #28: Set just a little bit before the events of this week's AvX, Secret Avengers #28 takes place on the Kree homeworld of Hala, the rampaging Phoenix Force's first target. Unfortunately, the team of Avengers sent to stop the Phoenix before it gets to Earth has mostly failed, either torn apart by the Force or imprisoned by misguided Kree zealots. It looks like only Ms. Marvel can hope to stop the Phoenix now, but is she up to the challenge? Honestly, next to this week's AvX, Secret Avengers is kind of a let-down, but there are some great character moments here, especially for the aforementioned Ms. Marvel, who, HEY, is getting her own series later this month! Also, Renato Guedes, Matthew Wilson, and Jeremy Mohler do a great job with the art.
Unwritten #38: The world's changing: a creepy Cult of Tommy worships an author who they believe to be a "superhero Gandhi Jesus," and, perhaps more alarmingly, stories are starting to disappear from the world. How does that even work? No doubt the quasi-magical Tom Taylor has something to do with it, but he's too busy touring the world like a superstar to notice. The Unwritten has definitely entered new territory in the last few issues; no longer does the book feature Tom's fight for survival... but then why do things seem so bleak? It's tough to describe such a complicated story in a short space, but if you find yourself thinking about stories a lot—not just what's in them, but what the act of telling a story means—you can't pass up this book. Big things are happening here.