The Accused is yet another in a string of Civil War II tie-in titles that are better than the main series (Totally Awesome Hulk, Ms. Marvel, Choosing Sides), but sets itself apart by also being kind of essential to the story. Civil War II #4 kind of glossed over the trial of Clint Barton (prosecuted by Matt Murdock) that ended with Hawkeye being cleared of all charges. This one-shot from Marc Guggenheim, Ramon Bachs, and Garry Brown goes back to get into the nitty gritty of the trial and is all the better for it. There’s also a pretty vital piece of information about why Hawkeye isn’t found guilty that’s probably going to have some big ripples in the rest of the story.
Alright so what’s the line on how long this new Hickman series will last? 2 issues? 3? I kid, I kid (but seriously, give me the rest of The Dying and the Dead). The Black Monday Murders is a strange, dense book but despite that, it’s pretty engrossing. Mixing the intricate world of finance with the occult, Hickman is weaving a web full of conspiracies, dynasties, ritual murder, magic, and some mildly complicated macroeconomics that somehow ties together. Of course this is one that’ll be tough to judge on an issue by issue basis as there’s clearly a long game at work, but what I can say is that for now, I’m going along for the ride.
All-Star Batman #1 from the all-star team of Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr. is unsurprisingly great. While Snyder’s work with the character has always veered towards the darker aspects, this title is a bright, loud, fun action movie. The story sees Batman trying to get Two-Face to an undisclosed location while being attacked by an array of villains looking to claim a bounty on them placed by…Two-Face. The story plays out like a modern action movie with lots of time jumping and panels that play like cheeky ‘freeze frames’ with the closest comparison I can think of being the Crank films. A lot of the credit for this tone also goes to colorist Dean White who makes Romita’s art pop in ways I haven’t seen before. Paired with Tom King’s grimdark Batman and James Tynion’s Bat-Family bonanza in Detective, there’s a perfect trinity of Bat-books perfectly encapsulating the Caped Crusader.
Deathstroke Rebirth from Christopher Priest and Carlo Pagulayan is the perfect book for this character and an all around great read. Tonally, this feels like a prestige cable drama with a morally complicated protagonist, which is exactly what a comic starring Slade Wilson should be. The story Priest is setting up (bad guy’s past catches up to him) is well-trod territory, but in his hands it feels fresh and fun, especially when he throws in Clock King in a very Silver Age costume, reminding you that this has its feet firmly planted in the DCU.
Superwoman was one of the few mystery titles when it was first announced- which Lois is it? How did she get powers? Well now we know that it’s New 52 Lois and she got her powers from the big energy blast when New 52 Superman died. I’m not sure what I think about this one for a couple of reasons. I generally don’t love giving traditionally non-powered characters powers to validate them or make them more interesting. Add to that New 52 Lana Lang who is one of those characters that’s a genius engineer and a farmer and also a reporter and it all feels a little dubious. Still, there’s something intriguing here (especially with the fairly shocking last page which certainly has me hooked for at least one more issue) and Phil Jimenez is on point with both script and art.
Wonder Woman #4 is back to the Year One story as the Amazons deal with the arrival of Steve Trevor. I’ve noted how iffy it is that Rucka is doing yet another origin for Diana, but when it’s this good, I can’t fault it in the least. Particularly notable in this ish are the scene where the Amazons examine Steve’s sidearm (which they find in the second act, hint hint) and the competition to decide who will travel to man’s world. Between Rucka’s script and the wonderful ‘acting’ that Niccola Scott renders, the story feels genuinely essential. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is exactly what I want a GL comic to be- a big, shiny, fun space opera. Rafa Sandoval’s art is dynamic and expressive, handling the big action moments and quieter character work with equal grace. The central figures of the story- Hal and Sinestro (obviously) contrast nicely and the groundwork for their eventual showdown is being laid well. New Superman #2 is a fun book with great characters and a unique setting, now all it needs is a compelling central story! I’m mostly teasing as spending time with Chinese Batman and Wonder Woman is certainly engaging, and writer Gene Yang seems to have a firm hand on the wheel here. Flash #4 steps back a bit from the killer introduction of Godspeed to throw an interesting twist on this multiple speedsters story with the revelation that the Speed Force can be taken from someone…by way of racing. It’s a seemingly silly twist that could certainly have some big story implications down the line. Action Comics #961 finally gets some story momentum, if only on the last page, but it’s still a doozy. Red Hood and the Outlaws really needs to change it’s name until Artemis and Bizarro finally show up. Still, I’m having more fun reading Jason Todd than I have since Death In the Family and the return of Ma Gunn makes this a definite read. Detective Comics #938 sees the team punching back at the Batmen in their own unique ways (though I’m pretty sure Spoiler killed a bunch of dudes…) with Clayface once again stealing every scene he’s in. This is such a fun, well-written comic that I really can’t say enough good things about. Suicide Squad Most Wanted #1 is a fun, if light, read that spotlights various members of the team. This issues features an El Diablo story involving Checkmate that could potentially have some effects on the team (I’m not sure when exactly this story takes place or whether it’s in continuity- this is still DC after all), and a Boomerang story that’s a lot of fun.