It's a bird! It's a plane!

It's Santa Claus! Merry Christmas to you and yours, from chezkevin.

from X-Men: Day of the Atom

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Captain America Omnibus: Winter Soldier and more

I had the good fortune of finding the Captain America omnibus in the library last month and read it over the course of a week and a hot weekend. I'd read snippets here and there, namely, Winter Soldier vol. 1 and Death of a Dream, but neither of them affected me as a story. The storylines hinted at something bigger, but never told me more, and so left me unsatisfied every time I finished reading. With the omnibus, collecting both those stories and much more, including the Winter Soldier storyarc, I got an idea of the bigger picture, and changed my mind. Here are the details. I'm going to do a rundown of each particular storyarc as the table of contents breaks it down.

Captain America Omnibus Vol. 1
by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, Mike Perkins et al.

issues 1-7: "Out of Time" and "The Lonesome Death of Jack Monroe"

see here. The Red Skull is assassinated here, which is the umbrella plot point for Brubaker's mega-arc that doesn't conclude with even this omnibus. This first arc is mainly important for establishing tone: Brubaker's Captain America is one that reads like a spy thriller, with political conspiracies and flashbacks to the war.

issues 8-14: "Winter Soldier"

This is the story that clinched it for me. In the seven issues we dig deeper into what happened after that rocket exploded, catapulted Captain America into the arctic and supposedly killed his sidekick, Bucky. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Bucky didn't die, and there are some juicy details behind how Bucky spent his life up to the present. As the "Winter Soldier," he was behind some of America's worst assassinations, dropping in and out of cryostasis when his Soviet masters deemed it necessary. Cap gets word about it, and the build-up to their first confrontation in the final issue is so powerful. It's my favorite issue, and to me, it's the reason the omnibus exists.

This storyarc gives us what makes Bucky so special, why he's an important character and why he means so much to Cap. It makes me believe in their characters and their relationship. The most powerful moment to me comes in one of Cap's flashbacks:

Doesn't that just kick you, right there? How much does it hurt to know more people under the dirt than above it? That's what makes Captain America human to me. That's what attaches me to him as a character.

The next Captain America movie is based on this, and I highly recommend it.

issues 15-17: "Red is the Darkest Color" &"Collision Courses"

These stories give us an idea of the Red Skull's sick history, via his daughter Synthea. After the Skull is assassinated, Crossbones kidnaps her from S.H.I.E.L.D. protection, removes  the S.H.I.E.L.D. programming and then goes on a crime spree with her. . . there's a lot of background to it, but it's pretty slick how the team writes it and draws it. A great sidestory.

Captain America 75th Anniversary Special

So this one-shot just nails it out of the park. It's a home run, and the ball's in the stratosphere. I really regret not picking this up the week it came out.

The special is one giant, vintage-colored flashback about one of Cap and Bucky's (and Nick Fury and the Howling Commando's) encounter in Germany, with the Red Skull's ridiculous radioactive robot "The Sleeper." It tells us, real-time, a lot of story elements that are crucial in the regular Cap title and tells it beautifully. Just look at this page from Javier Pulido.

It's so beautiful. Just dig the way those panels lead your eyes downwards, like a pinball falling from one slope to another. Look at that shield leading your eye into that final panel.

One more page:
Pulido is a master.

He makes the special one of the highlights, of many, of the omnibus.

issues 18-21: "Twenty-First Century Blitz" and issues 22-24: "The Drums of War"

In the first storyline, Cap and Sharon investigate one of the seedy corporations that was responsible for the Skull's assassination, and cross paths with Bucky along the way. It's a fun buddy romp as Cap teams up with British heroes Firestar and Captain Britain. We encounter the Red Skull's sleeper here.

In the second storyline, Sharon struggles with working for S.H.I.E.L.D., an organization responsible for enforcing the Superhuman Registration Act (SHRA, see: Civil War) and her love for Steve Rogers, Captain America, a man fighting against the SHRA.

Compliments to the colorist Frank D'Armata who, regardless of the penciller, kept the tone of the book consistent. You'll have a difficult time distinguishing Mike Perkins art from Steve Epting art, and that's a good thing. That's how you know they're doing their job.

Winter Soldier: Winter Kills

This is a Bucky-centric, Lee Weeks-drawn "Christmas special," so to speak, in that Bucky has to deal with his first Christmas after getting his memories back. . . it's an award-winning comic book for the pathos it shows, and it's a sterling example of Brubaker's mastery of memory and emotions.

issue 25: "The Death of the Dream, part one"

Cap is assassinated here. I like Ed's commentary on it, provided in the back, on how he wanted it to read like an "American tragedy." It surely does.

issue 10: "House of M"

This House of M tie-in has nothing to do with Brubaker's mega-arc, but is included for continuity's sake. Like Winter Kills, it's drawn by Lee Weeks and it uses that evocation of the past that Brubaker is so good at. It's framed by a Steve Rogers, now old and wrinkly, reflecting on the accomplishments he made in his life: arresting Hitler and walking on the moon, amidst the mutant domination that's taken over the world. Although it has a final page that only House of M readers would understand, it's a powerful issue overall.

Oh, and Baron Zemo:

To sum up, do I recommend this omnibus? My answer is, a tentative yes. If you're interested, even a little, I suggest looking for some volumes in your library or online. Brubaker accomplishes so much in these 25 issues. It's a powerful, emotional and fun tale to ride if you're willing, and it's a great introduction to Captain America.

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Trades for 12-16: Snikting all day

Have you seen this? Comics' own stuffed bull, Bully, has done a semi-regular segment on "How many X-Men books are out this week?" The number is probably not as bad as it was in the 90s (not having read any comics from that time, I assume it was a general cesspool of pouches and muscles), but it's still pretty bad. Seven x-titles in one week? Talk about excessive. It's astonishing that the market can support such a large number. It's uncanny. It's giant-size.

Speaking of Canadians, we've got two Wolverine books on the chopping block today. Neither of them are very substantial, but they are things that I read, and things that I would rather talk about than twiddle my thumbs.

Wolverine: Old Man Logan
by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven

The Civil War team takes on a dystopian Marvel Universe in this nine-issue collection, starring an aged Wolverine. Millar does a great job creating a Wild West world that still adopts Marvel traits, such as Venom-possessed T-Rexes and Moloids that collapse entire cities. He nails Wolverine as a Clint Eastwood cowboy type, and he gives him a new status quo as a hermit who tells people to call him "Logan" and hasn't popped his claws in fifty years. When he doesn't have enough money to feed his family and pay rent to his landlords, the Hulk clan, he has to go an an adventure with a blind, grey-haired Hawkeye to get the money.

Each issue reads pretty well, with a set obstacle for the Logan/Hawkeye duo and an exciting cliffhanger. It must have been a delight to read this serially. The problem is, each issue reads more like a newspaper serial than a comic -- without enough details to really merit the 22 pages. The creative team took nine issues to tell the story, and they could have done a lot more with it than they did. Millar created a whole world successfully, but, I finished the thing in one sitting in 40 minutes. That can't possibly be worth the retail price of $29.99. For a paperback.

That said, it's a quality read with brilliant art from the art team. Morry Hollowell colors McNiven so beautifully. But the bottom line is, every other form of entertainment is cheaper than this, and comics really need to do better.

I did not get these from the library, as I usually do, or with the next comic book. I did a swap with a friend of mine. And, that last page in the story is so Lone Wolf and Cub.

Wolverine: Noir
by Stuart Moore and C.P. Smith

It's really a strength in these comic book characters that we can adapt them to different genres. Batman gets adapted to gothic horror. Wolverine gets adapted to steampunk wild west. In this one Wolverine becomes a hard-boiled detective in the noir setting of The Bowery. As in, "I don't know much about Hell. But I know a lot about the Bowery."

Man, that line kills me. I'm a sucker for good hard-boiled narration like that, and Noir has plenty of it. Unfortunately, that seems to be its only strength. A lot of the prose refers to Wolverine as an "animal," as in he has to avoid his "baser instincts" and such. There's really little evidence that Wolverine has this struggle, save for one flashback in the fourth issue. In the rest of the story, it's this annoying non-factor that the writer tries to build up as a significant theme, and fails. Throughout the whole thing, I had a hard time sympathizing with Wolverine and, by the end of it, I was ambivalent, as opposed to struck by his tragedy, as the writer would intend. Chalk it up to long-time-comic-book-reader-ism.

The worst culprit in this collection isn't the writing. It's the drawing. There's a lot of shortcuts that the team takes, and it really shows.

Why would the building be more detailed than Wolverine's figure, right in front of us? It looks like he was drawn on with a marker. The finishing team did a terrible job on this one. The art overall is a shame, because you have these tight panels that show someone's face, and it works. It really works. You can see the hairs on Wolverine's face and his expression. And then you have visual disasters like above.

And by the way, this thing costs $14.99. That's how much Marvel is asking for this, a digest-sized, 4-issue story. I'm pretty aghast at these current Marvel paperback prices (paperback!). When I started buying comics in 2008, it used to be that hardcovers collecting at least 12 issues were $29.99, with a few extras, like an introduction and some sketch art. Floppies were $2.25. Now they'll make anything hardcover: even four-issue storylines, and charge $24.99, or they'll make the paperbacks collecting 9 issues $29.99. Floppies are as low as $2.99, and many are $3.99. What happened comics?

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Trades for 12-8: Hulkamania 2012

I don't have internet in my apartment anymore, so I walked 1.2 miles with my 6.4 lb laptop in order to post this. If you wanted to quantify it, you know, not that anyone's keeping track or anything, that is how much I care about this hobby.

And we're back, fans, to Comicsmania XXIX! It's an absolute debacle here in the Blogspot arena as chezkevin takes on a no-holds-barred, four-color free-for-all! Who will win? Who will lose? Who will return the comics back to the library??

Astonishing X-Men: Xenogenesis
by Warren Ellis and Kaare Andrews
collects the five-issue miniseries and the 1st issue director's cut

There was a lot of fanfare when Warren Ellis took over the title that Joss Whedon and John Cassady built. I didn't read too much in to the hype, and I don't regret it. Xenogenesis tells a passable story that takes too many issues to resolve and presents not many ideas worth the five-issue volume.

Warren Ellis delivers in a way you'd expect, spinning a story of pseudoscience: an outbreak of mutant-esque births in an African village draws the attention of the X-Men, who rush to investigate in their own snarky way:

The real draw of the collection is. . . the drawings. Man, if you've seen Kaare's work on the The Incredible Hulk covers, you would be just as excited as I was to see Kaare's designs. Since the X-Men are visiting Mbanawi in peace, they don some basic "help relief volunteer" costumes, complete with X-cap. Kaare chooses to draw storm with a relentless mohawk, and everybody on the team has a different design. It's refreshing to look at. Armor's armor now expresses itself too, via emoticon:

Sick. He goes a bit wild with Emma Frost's design though. Click over to J. Caleb's EDILW for coverage on the depiction of her ta-tas. All in all, you'd have to be a pretty rabid fan to pay $25 retail for this hardcover, when its material is so sparse. I'm gonna take down this comic with a RING OUT.

Superman: The Coming of Atlas
by James Robinson and Renato Guedes
collecting Superman #'s 677-680, backed up by Jack Kirby's story "Atlas the Great"

Yo, it used to mean something to collect a story in a hardcover. This collection feels as heavy as a rice cake, and offers not nearly the same amount of nutrition. Atlas comes up all in Metropolis's grill to fight Superman, and eventually loses to his dog, Krypto. Very little else happens in these four issues. There's a hint that there was some conspiracy to the fight, but that's not touched on at all except in a handful of pages. In the introduction, James Robinson said that his intent was to make Atlas the "Namor" of the Superman-iverse. He failed. There are contextless flashbacks that fail to flesh out his character, and he comes off as nothing more than a really angry dude who likes to pick on Superman and his super-pals. Kirby's backup did a far better job.

And then, for some reason, after Superman beats up Atlas, there's a whole page spent on him yelling at Metropolis to accept his dog.

It's. So. Silly. I'm sure the story sounded good in Robinson's head, but it just didn't work when it got to the page. This lightweight comic collection loses early with a TAP OUT BY LEG LOCK.

Marvel Visionaries: Peter David - The Incredible Hulk vol. 5
by Peter David, Jeff Purves, Dale Keown, Sam Keith and Angel Medina
collecting Incredible Hulk #364-372 and Annual #16

I'd heard about Peter David's run on Incredible, but I never expected it to be this fucking good. David continues his story of the Gray Hulk, a powerful entity without the Hulk's ability to get stronger and madder, but with enough smarts to talk and wisecrack. It's tied to the time of day, so Banner knows that he'll lose control every time the sun is gone. This makes for some great stories, as the Gray Hulk takes on the Abomination, a biological poison, Mr. Hyde and more.

It wouldn't be Incredible without huge fights, and David nails that to a "t." The fights are exciting, engaging and awesome. Issue 368 stands out particularly well, in which Mr. Hyde philosophizes over the Gray Hulk and over the monster that's inside Banner. While he's punching his face outside a running train as the sun sets. Whattascene.

There are some great themes here as Banner goes across the country, looking for his wife Betty Banner and running into the military and alien invasions. That Gray Hulk can talk really gives us some insight into how the Hulk might feel, and that makes the story that much stronger when we can compare it against Banner's feelings. I'm really surprised at how powerful these stories are, and that's what makes this volume a TKO.

BONUS SCENE: he's unstoppable! He's ineffable!

 He's striated! He's THE ROCK!

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Election Day trades: Playing games of Barasket Oballma

Get out the vote! For those of you who bleed red, white and blue, the day is election day, and the issues are several -- several issues of comics that is! Thanks to early voting in Wisconsin, I have a couple hardcovers to share with you today. Afterwards, find your closest polling location.

Amazing Spider-Man: Election Day
collecting issues #583-588, and several shorts
by Marc Guggenheim, John Romita Jr., Barry Kitson, Mark Waid, Todd Nauck and more

Issue 583 is Spidey's record-setting issue with President Obama. It's appended to the end of the trade paperback, so it's not really the main story. That honor belongs to the "Election Day" arc, from Guggenheim, Romita Jr. and Kitzon. It manages to pack a lot into five issues: Spidey gets taken down, arrested, goes to trial and then breaks out of prison. But for all of Spider-Man's troubles, the story revolves around the character of Menace, and the upcoming election for New York senator.

There's a shocking reveal with a character introduced in Brand New Day, and Harry Osborn has to hold back his emotional outbursts. There's some solid drama here that evokes the soap opera established by Stan Lee, but it really only works if you're a fan of Osborn, or are really into the new characters the Brand New Day introduced. Harry mainly carries the stakes in the arc, and the recently-introduced-character is put away for a while. It's a good read when you're bored, but there's very little permanence to the story, and you can't carry much from it.

The real reason the trade sells is the short story from issue 583, starring President Barack Obama and the Chameleon. Poor guy doesn't know a thing about basketball, and it's hilarious. This page is golden:
It's a real shame. How did the soviets live without basketball???

Starman Omnibus Vol. 1
collecting issues 0, 1-16
by James Robinson, Tony Harris et al.

There's a lot of material in this hardcover, but I can't really tell if the 17 issues are worth the $49.99 retail price.

James Robinson's Starman is beloved by a lot of DC readers, and it's not hard to see why. It's a legacy comic that went off on its own and had a respectable run for - holy crap - 81 issues.

The 16 issues show Robinson's skill at writing in long-form and both short-form, introducing new story arcs that linger in the middle of an exciting current story arc. Jack Knight, son of the JSA Starman Ted Knight, takes the mantle and strives to live up to his old man.

There are a few things in the comic that are refreshing, even for a comic from the 90s. Ted actually has a parent who isn't dead, for one, and their relationship is one of the pillars of the comic book. Another one is its approach on violence: for example, Jack is a collector and owns an antique shop. When a bounter hunter comes to fight for an enchanted shirt that Jack is supposed to have, they agree to end the fight by simply selling the shirt. You hear that America? Comic books are not just about punching. Here's another example:


The new Mist, here the daughter of the old Mist, has an opportunity to kill Jack (for killing her brother, among other reasons) and explicitly skips it, because "she's not the Mist yet." That's just silly. It makes me tired that here's a supervillain whose motive for supervillainy is to play a game. Maybe I could like it over time, but we'll see.

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Happy Halloween, Bruce Wayne

In celebration of All Hallow's Eve, I thought I'd share with you one of my favorite Batman stories. I ran into the third act of it, in a graphic novel at a Half Price Books in Illinois. I couldn't find the complete trilogy at Amazon, so I figured it was out of print, but then I found a couple copies at my local comic shop. I was hooked. It achieves an atmosphere that few comics are willing to explore. The art creates a world that sucks you in. It's Batman meets gothic horror. It's

Tales of the Multiverse - Batman: Vampire
collecting the three graphic novels, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm and Batman: Crimson Mist
by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones

Man, where do I begin? Gotham being overrun as it is, a weird cloud of red rain hovers over the city, and brings with it a strange series of murders, the victims dying after two punctures in their neck. With Dracula in the title, you can tell where this is going.

Vampires might be overused now, but Kelley Jones builds them up as they used to be: dark, hungry, irresistible. Together with the way he draws Batman, there's an atmosphere that'll spook you. Check it out:
Man, who draws a cape like that? Kelley Jones is an auteur. Here's another shot, of Batman in the city.

Our Dark Knight faces off against Dracula by the end of Red Rain, and it's a great finale to the first act. I don't think I'm spoiling it when I tell you that Batman becomes a vampire by the end, and that kicks off the main arc for Bloodstorm. It's Bruce Wayne's struggle against the evil inside him. In the dark of night, he makes recurring visits to Ariadne, a collector of the occult, and his constant question is whether vampires are evil -- whether they must be evil.

And hey, here's a sweet-ass panel of Batman as a vampire:

In the conventional DC Universe, Bruce Wayne is this man that acts as this ghoul, this terror of the night. He frightens criminals but adheres to a rigid moral code. What makes the multiverse so brilliant is that here, Bruce Wayne becomes the terror of the night, and he becomes the monster that he's always played at being. There are no more rules. With the Joker gone at the end of the second act, Gotham's criminals come out of the woodwork and this is where Batman as a vampire really shines. It's a brutal, horrifying experience when Batman murders the Penguin, feasts on his blood and then beheads him in order to keep him from returning as a vampire.
And then puts on the Penguin's monocle and yells at his henchmen.

Crimson Mist is my favorite act of the trilogy, because this is the kind of story that only a multiverse could tell. It's Batman unleashed, Batman as I always wanted to see, but feared to admit. In the third act, Batman flies around Gotham as crimson mist, feasting on and beheading all the supercriminals in Arkham Asylum. And it doesn't stop there: Batman takes their heads and pikes them outside Blackgate Penitentiary, as a warning. That is wicked.

The trilogy ends in a way that you'd think, and it's fitting. But it's Gotham's dive into hell, and Batman's stuggle with evil that made me so glad I picked this up. I've never read a more chilling Batman story. Batman: Vampire isn't just a good Halloween reading experience; it's a good anytime reading experience. I give it my highest recommendation.


Here's an excerpt from the first act. Batman lures Dracula's followers into the Batcave, planning to detonate it and them inside.
It. is. sick.

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Read more Batman here.
Looking for some spoooky recommendations? Check out The Unknown vol. 1 and vol. 2.
Looking for Batman: The Long Halloween? Here it is.

Trades for 10-29-12: Epting, Epting and Albuquerque

Hi all! Today I have not one, not two but three comic book trades for you. Ya dig?

Fantastic Four vol.4
collecting issues 583-588, "Three"
by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting
$16.49, Amazon

Hey, I've never read any of Hickman's Fantastic Four before, and, thankfully, this library book was as good as any other. He starts right off the bat with an upset in one of the characters' status quos: due to exposure from the recent world they were exploring, The Thing sheds his rock skin and becomes a human-looking Ben Grimm what with hair and all. This makes for my favorite issue of the trade, in which Johnny Storm takes Ben out for a night on the town, and it's pretty touching. Check out who they have dinner with:

Get it? It's Stan and Jack. If ever you had any doubts about Hickman as a Fantastic Four writer, they're taken down right there. Ben Grimm also runs into the all-new, all-action Yancy Street Gang, a group of now-unemployed stock traders from the recession that bully unaware New Yorkers:

Nice one Ben! At the end of the issue, Ben goes to see Alicia, and it's an excellent scene.

Although it was my favorite, Ben's arc isn't the main point of the trade -- the reason it's called "Three" is that Johnny Storm dies in this storyarc, saving the world from another Annihilus invasion. I'm sure it was a big deal in 2011, when it came out. It's given its proper weight and it's heroic, but it's hard to be anything other than ambivalent about it. 'Cause, oh look, hi Johnny, you returned in issue 600 in 2012. Thanks comics.

Captain America: The Death of Captain America vol. 2
collecting issues 31-36, "The Burden of Dreams"
by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting
$10.19, Amazon

I read this one about two months ago so there's this huge gap between what I remember and what's actually there on the page. I skimmed through the thing when I was on the toilet, and I honestly can't tell you much more than, "Bucky reluctantly accepts the mantle of Captain America and handles the duties in his own way while still honoring Steve Rogers."

There's a story here, I'm sure, but until you've read all the issues in "The Death of Captain America," it's not really there. Re-readability works only if you read every issue together, and no single issue stands alone. It's won awards and prestige, but Brubaker's Captain America goes at a pace that I can't appreciate. But hey, check out Bucky's bionic arm whamming a dude by its own device
Hah! It'll be the new banner here eventually. This trade is labeled volume 2, but volume 1 is labeled "Winter Soldier" and collects issues 1-7. I get that this is the second volume for "The Death of Captain America," but that's a really cryptic way to label your paperbacks, Marvel. Boo.

American Vampire vol. 2
collecting "Devil in the Sand" and "The Way Out" back-ups (issues 6-11)
by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Mateus Santolouco
$11.42, Amazon

It takes a while for "Devil in the Sand" to get going, but by the third issue, you can really sink your teeth into it. Leave it to American Vampire to introduce new characters in the middle of the title and make them compelling. It's America in the 1930s, and we take the perspective of the sheriff of a small town in Nevada. You might have heard it -- it's called Las Vegas, and a few businessmen are attending the small town for the construction of the Boulder Dam. And it turns out those businessmen . . . are vampires!

Scott Snyder weaves a story that's about American industry and progress, as much as it's about a vampire class war, as much as it's about a small town sheriff and his world. While I was lukewarm on the first volume, the second volume is really worth your time.

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Hey Spidey! Who's your favorite player on the Heat?

Bosh (Chris)

Is that so? I took you for a fan of King James.

from Peter Parker: Spider-Man #48, by Paul Jenkins and Mark Buckingham
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Best of THE PAST FEW MONTHS: Zero month, Punk Rock Jesus and more

Work's been taking my time lately, which I can't say is a bad thing. It has been keeping me from blogging, which I'm not too proud of. Here's a recap of the last few comics I've been reading this month. It is not a complete list, because I'm not amused by all the comics I get. Enjoy: remember to take advantage of Google's Lightbox View to check out these images (scanned in 150 dpi for your reading pleasure!).

Batman #0
by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Zero month was last month, and it threw DC to the top for September. I didn't pick up any more DC titles than I usually do, so here's a small clip from Batman #0. It opens with a really great heist scene where Bruce botches his impersonation of a thief, and in the middle of the issue, there's this conversation between Bruce and Lt. Jim Gordon. In the middle of the enter thing, Bruce has been testing out his delayed-return batarang, so Bruce has to end the conversation before the batarang returns!

Batman #12 was also out, and it was a done-in-one that focused on a Gotham electrician who was an orphan, living with her brother and obsessing over the Batman. The cool thing about the issue is that she discovers Batman's controls, wired into everywhere in Gotham's electrical grid. This really builds on the Batman's connection to Gotham City that Snyder's been theming around. That is pretty cool!

Batman, Inc #3
by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
Matches Malone returns in this issue! Matches is one of Bruce Wayne's many alter egos, and Matches is what he uses to infiltrate the criminal underworld. Matches visits a bar to get more information about the terrorist organization when he gets more than he asked for, and by the end of the issue he's getting choked in a grocery bag, while Damian's dressed up as Red Robin in order to save him. Cue issue 0.

Batman, Inc #0
by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham and Frazer Irving
Check it, that guy's name is Veiniac. He swings from rooftop to rooftop from veins that extend out of his wrist. "Doubleface" also makes his dazzling debut here, but his gimmick is that he's Bi-Beast.

Oh, the issue? It's about Bruce Wayne starting his global network of Batmen, and it's made of scenes of people recruiting other people for Batman, Inc. It's a shame that this came right in the middle of issue 3 and 4, because Bruce was about to choke to death when issue 3 ended.

Chew #28
by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Chew continues the "Space Cakes" arc, although I'm having a hard time remembering what's exactly happening, what with the Secret Agent Poyo one-shot in between issues 27 and 28.

Anyways, in this series of panels, the team has to take Tony out of the hospital to use his powers, except he's still in extreme pain from last arc ("Major League Chew") so they put him on painkillers.

The Flash #12
by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato 
Argh this entire issue was great! Francis Manapul is making some great comic art, and here's one example of an exciting way to show a person falling down.

Man those double-page spreads are awesome. The issue is about Golden Glider breaking out a bunch of the supervillains that Flash put away, and it spilled over into Annual #1, which is not all that great visually. And when you make that visual aspect mediocre, it removes a lot of what makes this title so great.

The Flash #0
by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato
This zero issue tells us a bit about Barry Allen's motivation for crime and the personal tragedy that caused it. It's a different take on the superhero tragedy, in that Barry's dad actually killed his mom in a domestic dispute, and Barry spent much of his life trying to find the evidence to disprove that. By the end of the issue, he learns to move on with it, instead of spending his time living in the past, a major theme in the title.

This zero issue also holds the wild debut of Barry Grylls, survival extraordinaire. Dat beard.

Punk Rock Jesus #2
by Sean Murphy
 Woooow. I haven't talked about any other issues, but this page pops up in issue 2. It's an extreme close-up of Thomas, the bodyguard for Gwen (the mother to the clone of Jesus Christ). After the very conservative, separate-paneled pages, here's this huge close-up on Thomas' face, and you can see all the grit on it. You can see the dots on his hat and the lines on his face, and if you look hard, you can even see fingerprints on his cheek. That's just wild. Sean Murphy is telling this story, and it's exciting to read. Check it out.

I've also been reading The New Deadwardians, but it's' moving at such a slow pace that I'm just picking it up out of habit. Two more issues to go and I don't have to think about it anymore.

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