BOOK OF THE WEEK: Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who #4: The talents of the Enterprise D crew plus Doctor Who and his companions continue to be put to the test against the allied might of the Borg and the Cybermen, but things aren't exactly as they seem in this exciting team-up from IDW. The reason this book is so amazing falls squarely on the shoulders of writers Scott and David Tipton and Tony Lee. One cannot fathom how many Next Generation and Doctor Who episodes they must have watched to nail the dialogue of these characters so perfectly, but this book reads exactly like you're watching one of those episodes. It's amazing. Even a slight artist change in this issue (Gordon Purcell takes over pencils, leaving the excellent JK Woodward only to do colors) doesn't mar the fact that this book has been consistently and wildly entertaining. Additionally, a surprising plot twist in the last few pages of this book will leave readers wanting the next issue right away. It's too bad the Doctor can't hang out with Captain Picard all the time, because this is just too much fun.
Batman Beyond Unlimited #7: This digital-first reprint series continues with four 8-page adventures set squarely in the futuristic Batman Beyond universe first established in the amazing cartoon of the same name about 15 years ago. If you like the cartoon, you're going to love this book. In this issue, the Justice League Unlimited helps Apokolips defend itself from an even greater cosmic threat, we learn the origin of Aquagirl, the brother of Batman's girlfriend takes up a role as the king of the Jokerz gang, and Lex Luthor's daughter continues to cause trouble for the Man of Steel using her dad's past schemes as a blueprint. There's a lot going on in here, and it's all great; DC has assembled some serious talent to work on this book, and it's a must-read for anyone who still revisits their Batman Beyond DVDs regularly.
Before Watchmen: Minutemen #3: Darwyn Cooke's Minutemen series really picks up the pace with this issue, finally starting to delve into territory that Alan Moore's original Watchmen didn't really deal with. If you think that territory should be left unexplored, well, there's not much that's going to win you over to a book like this, although Cooke's fantastic art would be a really good start. He really begins to experiment with storytelling techniques in this issue, doing some really unusual and creative stuff, and it's very apparent why Cooke is an Eisner award-winning artist. As for the plot, this issue explores a key theme of the original Watchmen—that most heroes aren't actually all that heroic. Unfortunately, one of the few who's actually trying to do some good—Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl—ends up caught in a world of ugliness and compromise. In many ways Minutemen is both the literal and philosophical foundation of the Watchmen universe, and although this series hasn't been the best prequel yet, it's becoming worth a look more and more.
Captain Marvel #3: Somehow, Carol Danvers—formerly Ms. Marvel, now the Captain—has ended up back in time, stranded in the midst of World War II. Also, Japanese soldiers have strangely acquired powerful and alien Kree technology. Since the Kree are also the source of Marvel's powers, this probably isn't an accident. But before Danvers can figure out why she's back in time, she's got to help a squadron of female fighters in a battle against the Axis Powers. Even though pulling out a time travel plot so early in a series does seem a little silly, Captain Marvel continues to be a really excellent read because of the strong character at its center. Writer Kelly Sue DeConnick has a confident grasp of her main character, and it's really hard not to love Carol Danvers as a result. That's complemented well by Dexter Soy's powerful art; this issue, actually, is probably Soy's best. Captain Marvel is a nice dash of (not too obvious) girl power with a great hero at its center. All around, it's a wonderful comic.
Green Lantern Annual #1: There are two stories going on in the extra-sized Green Lantern Annual, both of them crazy. One of them is a new beginning: the Guardians of the galaxy (the ones who give the Lanterns their power) have concluded that free will is the ultimate cause of evil in the universe. Therefore, they've decided to construct a new army to wipe it out. In doing so, this issue takes us into the pre-history of the Green Lantern corps with material we've never seen before; it's a must-read for any GL trivia buffs. The other story here is an ending of sorts: over the last few issues of Green Lantern, Hal Jordan and Sinestro have been battling a resurrected Black Hand, a villain with control over life and death. He's taken away their Lantern rings, and he's got a pretty terrible fate in store for them. No spoilers, guys, but what if, in this issue… Black Hand gets what he wants? There is a major, major change to be had at the end of this annual, and it will leave the Green Lantern books looking very different from this point forward. You'll probably want to read this issue.
Justice League #12: When the cover of this issue was released last week, it got major press. Let's get past that for a second—this issue isn't just about Superman and Wonder Woman hooking up. In fact, it's the final chapter in "The Villain's Journey," and it brings to a close—for now—the story of David Graves, an average man whose life was accidentally ruined by the League and who turned to ancient evil spirits to seek revenge. The way this story closes out is intense, surprisingly emotional, and features some of Jim Lee's best art yet on this book. Then, in the fallout of Graves' defeat, big things start happening: the League questions whether it can go on. A member quits. We glimpse dark hints of the future, of another team, of the League's potential defeat. And, yes, Superman and Wonder Woman hook up. Although Justice League has not always been at the top of its game throughout its first year (the last few issues in particular got a little rocky), this is a strong finale and a tantalizing glimpse of things to come. Apparently, writer Geoff Johns feels like he can mess with the status quo as much as he wants here. That's good—us readers won't get complacent.
The New Deadwardians #6: In a world where the richest citizens of London have turned themselves into vampires to ensure that they won't die, the meaning of crime has changed. So has the meaning of life. Scotland Yard's last chief inspector, George Suttle, now has to get to the bottom of the murder of an undead citizen, something which shouldn't even be possible. In this issue, the sixth of eight, he begins to piece together an answer, and it has to do with aging: if people can't age, fathers and sons start to look an awful lot alike once they reach the apex of their growth. Is one of London's elite using this fact as a chance to cover up a crime even more heinous than murder? Unfortunately, Suttle may not get a chance to find out, as London's poorer citizens—who can't afford the vampire cure—mean to make his investigation (and his un-life) as difficult as possible. Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard's New Deadwardians has consistently been one of the freshest takes on vampire fiction currently out there. Twilight has nothing on this complex tale of class war and lost livelihood.