New Comics Week 1/4/17: In Which Spock Beats the Borg

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #3 is the halfway point for the event title, which means of course that it’s time for some exposition! Along with Justice League #12 we now have a pretty clear picture of everyone’s back story and motivation and thanks to writers Josh Williamson and Tim Seely, it’s actually fun to read. JLvsSS sees the two teams throwing word punches rather than real ones as the Squad taunts the imprisoned League in one of the series’ better sequences so far. The issue is all around great, really, I mean it’s hard to strike out when Batman and Waller are in the same room. The central conflict of the story is revealed to be less about the two super teams and more about the past between Amanda Waller and Max Lord and their respective agencies. With the main title supplying us with Waller’s point of view, Justice League #12 takes us on a trip through Lord’s past with the framing device of him being interrogated by Waller in the past after an incident involving him ‘mistakenly’ attacking one of ARGUS’ transports. It’s a tightly plotted and well-told issue that sets up this current version of Lord with a solid dose of twisty and gritty spy tropes that balances well with the larger-than-life super stuff in the main title.

I’m somewhat of a latecomer to Trekkie-dom having spent 2016 watching some just about every day and with the end in sight (I’m currently in S4 of DS9), it’s quite heartening to know that there’s stuff like Star Trek: Boldly Go #4 out there to ease the sting of having no more Trek to watch. Set in the Kelvin-verse, the series has brought the Federation into contact with the Borg thanks to the Romulan mining ship Nero used to come to this time line having some modified Borg technology. This latest issue wraps up the arc (for now) in a pretty epic way that made me want to stand up and cheer at least three or four times. The most interesting aspect of the book is the interaction between Spock and the Collective as they attempt to assimilate him. With no Vulcan crew on TNG, where most of the major Borg storylines took place, the Spock/Borg scenes feel like a truly fresh addition to the mythos as well as providing the majority of the stand-up-and-cheer moments. Writer Mike Johnson, a former employee of Kelvin-verse film writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, naturally has everyone’s voice down perfectly but more importantly shows a deftness with the fundamental thematic underpinnings of what a Star Trek story should be. The ending is a classic Trek ‘we’ve won- but at what cost?’ scenario that hits like a gut punch both to the reader and to Kirk. With the next issue focusing on breakout Beyond character, Jaylah (an attractive alien who DIDNT sleep with Kirk!) this series looks like it’ll continue to be required reading for any fan of the franchise.

There’s no beating around the bush here- Batman #14 is jaw-dropping. Tom King’s Sheriff of Babylon co-creator, Mitch Gerads hops on for what might be the strongest and prettiest issue of the series to date. After helping Bats with that whole Bane/Psycho-Pirate thing Selina is no longer facing the death penalty, just life in prison with no parole. So what else would Catwoman want to do on her last night of freedom than leap across rooftops and tease Batman. Of course with Tom King writing, there’s a lot more emotion injected into the proceedings than say something like Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale’s excellent ‘Date Knight’. It seems like the characters have been separated from each other for too long and King’s writing here reminds us all that Bat and Cat are up there with Lois & Clark or Reed & Sue in the pantheon of great comic book couples. Honestly though, Gerads’ art here is so great that the story would essentially still work if you took out all of the words. From the expertly-used empty space in the first two page spread to the wide-shot of Gotham at the end, this is a master class in visual storytelling and a danged good argument for DC to put this team on a Catwoman solo book immediately.

Superman #10 picks up on the events from the (beautiful) Annual with the start of a new arc revolving around everyone’s favorite DC trope- the multiverse! Red Son Superman shows up battered and on the run from some creepy looking aliens which leads Superman to a meeting with the multiversal Justice League in yet another issue that reminds us all how Superman should be written. Every single moment in this comic lands the way you’d hope it would, from Superman’s corny-but-not battle banter to his insistence that he be allowed to aid the multiversal League in their fight- This. Is. Superman.

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