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Comics Catch for June 27, 2012

Comics Catch for June 27, 2012

Comics Catch compiles short reviews of new comics worth reading each week.

BOOK OF THE WEEK: Batman Incorporated #2: A few months ago, readers learned the startling twist behind all five years of Grant Morrison's mega-Bat epic... this whole time, the misery in Bruce Wayne's life has been perpetrated by Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Ra's, who wants two very simple things: to be free of her father's influence and to force Batman to be her partner. This issue throws the spotlight on Talia, running through the important events in her life with an eye toward her individuality. When your dad is the world's premiere criminal mastermind, how do you step out of his shadow? This is a really fascinating look at the book's chief antagonist; it even manages to make Talia sympathetic, despite the fact that at this point her whole life's about getting revenge on Batman. Unsurprisingly, penciler Chris Burnham provides stunning and inventive art to go with this incredibly sharp story. In two issues Batman: Incorporated has proven itself a must-read book.

All-Star Western #10: In the last few years, doesn't it seem like there have been an awful lot of ancient, secret societies operating in Gotham City? I mean, it's a big place, but still. Finally All-Star Western addresses that problem; this issue lays the grounds for an all-out war between the Owls (currently causing Bruce problems in Batman) and the Religion of Crime, who you may remember from Batwoman. Yes, this series takes place in the 1880s, so this maybe isn't the Gotham you're most familiar with, but it's still really cool that writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray have orchestrated this battle, something long-time Bat-readers have no doubt wanted to see for awhile. Besides that, this issue has everything you can expect from All-Star Western: great characterization of its two main heroes, beautiful art from Moritat, and an old-school grit that not a lot of superhero comics can access. This is definitely a book it's tough to put down once you start.

Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1: Like the Silk Spectre miniseries, which to this point has been probably the most successful Before Watchmen title, this Nite Owl mini focuses more on the psychology of the man behind the mask. In this case, our star is Dan Dreiberg, a child of affluence who becomes obsessed with costumed adventurers. One night he follows Hollis Mason, the first Nite Owl, to his lair, and eventually the two strike up a partnership that leads to Dan claiming the role as his own. Writer J Michael Straczynski treads on hallowed ground with this issue, actually lifting scenes directly from Alan Moore's Watchmen, but mostly it works quite well; we believe Dreiberg as this scientifically brilliant, milquetoast crimefighter that Moore wrote him to be. This book also offers Before Watchmen's first taste of Rorschach, arguably the original work's breakout character.

Green Lantern New Guardians #10: Odym, homeworld of the Blue Lantern Corps, is under siege, and the remaining members of the New Guardians team of Lanterns must now save their friend Saint Walker's planet from invasion. This is an action-packed issue with some great art from fill-in penciller Tomas Giorello, who fills regular artist Tyler Kirkham's shoes ably. Overall, you're in for a pretty loud sci-fi story here, but if lots of outer-space weapons and wild fights are your bag, this should be right up your alley.

Hit-Girl #1: 13-year-old Hit Girl, arguably Kick-Ass' breakout character, now gets a solo spotlight series courtesy of Kick-Ass creators Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Set between the events of Kick-Ass 1 and 2, this book focuses on young Mindy McCreedy's continued attempts to avenge her dad while also trying to fit in with the popular kids at her new school. If you enjoy Millar's twisted sense of humor and misanthropic sensibilities, you'll definitely get what you want out of this book; for others, this might come off as a pretty ugly, overly-violent high school tale (but that's what Kick-Ass is for, right?). It's worth noting that without Christopher Mintz-Plasse's voice behind the character of Red Mist, something just doesn't seem right here.

Justice League #10: David Graves used to be the Justice League's biggest fan. He literally wrote the book on them. Unfortunately, his close ties to the League's adventures had a few dangerous side effects, effects that ended up taking his health and his family. Now he's vowed revenge on the group he sees as hypocritical, dangerous heroes, and to get what he wants he's made a bargain with an ancient evil power. This second part of "The Villain's Journey" isn't an especially strong issue; the plot tends to get lost in empty-headed pontification around the middle of the issue, and what could be a cool scene where we learn more about the individual heroes in the Justice League ends up feeling kind of empty. As a villain, though, Graves certainly has potential, and the Shazam back-up feature that takes up the last third of this comic continues to entertain, if for no other reason than Gary Frank's fantastic art.

Justice League Dark #10: John Constantine and his team of magic-based superheroes have found something shocking... a map to the Books of Magic, thought to be the source of all mystical power in the universe. Before the team can figure out what to do with these too-powerful artifacts, though, they're going to have to deal with the evil sorcerer Felix Faust, who has his own plans for the Books. Justice League Dark continues to be a fascinating blend of mainstream DC superheroics with classic Vertigo fantasy; Constantine, for instance, makes his home base in the House of Mystery, which you may remember from Neil Gaiman's Sandman. New writer Jeff Lemire seems to be interested in this mixture even more than his predecessor, in fact, which makes JLD a crucial read for those of us with an attachment to those old yarns.

The New Deadwardians #4: London Chief Inspector George Suttle continues to investigate the strangest of events—the murder of an undead man—in this twisted vision of the past where, to stave off a zombie apocalypse, England's upper class have voluntarily turned themselves into vampires, who are immune to zombie bites. Well, that's one way to do it. With every issue this book gets more and more to the root of its interests, which isn't so much in telling a monster story as it is exposing some less-than-ideal aspects of society, like class warfare and media manipulation. This is, of course, totally in keeping with the beginnings of the horror genre, and it's a great read for people interested in things like social justice... and/or zombies.

Spider-Men #2: Peter Parker, our Spider-Man, has met Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man. How did this happen?! Well, it turns out that Ultimate Mysterio seems to have stumbled upon a different dimension with a different version of Spider-Man, and an accident with his equipment has thrown Peter into a world he doesn't recognize, a world whose own Peter Parker has been killed. Like most superhero team-ups, this one starts with a misunderstanding and a fight, but writer Brian Michael Bendis' witty dialogue carries us through any potentially clunky bits to find an actual heart at the story's center. As usual, Sarah Pichelli does a great job with her expressive, exciting art.

Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who #2: Last issue, we got to spend time with the Doctor and his companions as they got sucked up into a universe under siege by some crazy combination of the Borg and the Cybermen. This issue's told from the perspective of the USS Enterprise crew, who're summoned to a distant planet to help mining operations in preparation for another Borg attack. How convenient! What are the Borg up to, and why have Doctor Who characters crossed into this universe? It's going to be a lot of fun finding out in this series that perfectly captures the tones of both its parent works and featuring wonderfully painted art by JK Woodward.

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #6: Last issue our heroes liberated a planet under the thumb of the psychotic Decepticon Justice Division. During that adventure they rescued Fortress Maximus, an Autobot who was imprisoned, tortured, and presumed killed at the hands of his captors. But no, Max is alive and, as you might guess, a bit troubled by his experiences... so much so that he's about to snap, which is a problem when you're on a spaceship in the middle of who-knows-where with a few hundred other robots for target practice. Guys, this book is DARK, and its ending is truly troubling, even sad. How has it taken 28 years to tell Transformers stories like this? This is awesome!

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