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Sequential Snark: Zatanna Gets Schooled, Harley Gets Revenge, Super-Pets on Patrol & More!

We’ve got a super full week, it’s like Christmas morning but a month early!

Let’s dive right in!

 

Action Comics #992
Words: Dan Jurgens, Rob Williams
Pictures: Will Conrad, Hi-Fi

I won’t be the first to point out that the more difficult to convey Superman story is not the one where he fights giant aliens and destroy cities, but the Clark stories. The human stories when he uses what he’s learned over the course of his life and the relationships that have built who he is today.

This week’s chapter is quiet and lot happens in little spaces. The only physical destruction that happens is the trashing of a lab in the Fortress of Solitude out of pain, fear, sorrow and frustrated confusion.

Superman is a character invulnerable to most deadly force, can exist in outer space, and can crush coal into diamonds. Clark is not beyond the failing of many of us – to idolize your parents. And with the betrayal he feels at the “out of character” actions of Jor-El, Clark’s world is suddenly unbalanced unmoored and he questions everything secure to him.

Things would fall apart at one of so many places if Clark did not have the friends who genuinely care about him.

This issue is a great character piece displaying an examination of the Clark and Bruce, Clark and Lois, father (Clark) and son (Jon), father (Jor-El) and son (Kal-El) relationships.

No epic space battles, just the fight for one person to uncover truth and regain their sense of self. Pretty obvious I recommend reading it.

 

Batgirl #17
Words: Hope Larson
Pictures: Chris Wildgoose, Jose Marzan Jr., Andy Owens, Mat Lopes

Today’s subject is forgiveness.

Can you forgive others?

Yourself?

What lengths does one go to when that’s just not available as a option?

We skip from the past, to the present, to the past and back again. (Past) Babs (Batgirl, but I think we’re close enough to use nicknames) and Dick (Robin) have broken into Mad Hatter’s lair to stop his drug operation and free her friend Ainsley.

So simple right?

But Ainsley’s working there in EXCHANGE for drugs, and Hatter flaunts that fact to Batgirl getting a face of bloody bruises as her response.

Now, in the present Ainsley’s sister Edith blames Batgirl and Robin (now Nightwing) for failing to “save” her sister.

How dare they as teenaged superheroes not be able to stop her sister from taking drugs!!!

Edith has a plan, and the pain she’s been holding onto, and no qualms about killing.

It may sound odd to say an issue with so much sadness and pain is lovely, but life is complex isn’t it?

 

Blue Beetle #15
Words: Christopher Sebela
Pictures: Scott Kolins, Tom Derenick, Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Jaime’s stories always involve his friends, it’s a package deal. And this action filled road trip story is no exception.

We begin with Jaime fighting glowing alien dudes (already in progress) with the last of his suit’s energy expended (in an admittedly cool explosive Ka-Thooom) he’s saved by the power of a classic car full of his friends slamming those aliens to the ground.

They drive away (just away, you would too) as their surroundings start to shift to future / past / apocalyptic scenes.

The only relief?  A small abandoned town that could fit into any horror movie or video game. But the car is busted and everyone’s tired – hopefully the locals are’t all crazy and culty or anything (yeah they’re never that lucky).

Of course it’s deeper than that (it’s not a one and done), it balances making sense as a story and having fun and I look forward to the next issue.

 

Green Arrow Annual #1
Words: Benjamin Percy
Pictures: Eleonora Carlini, Hi-Fi

What if all you got for Christmas, was everything you wanted?

Not just you, but everyone and without even needing to ask them – it’s automatic!

That would be a gift right?

It’s the season for large dramatic gestures to make others happy (against their will) right?

It’s funny how a holiday themed issue can be so psychologically frightening. The colors are muted, the lines done with as light touch.

It’s a comic that feels very Twilight Zone-ish in the best of ways.

You hardly have to know any history to enjoy this one (as I’ve noticed is true of many solid annuals).

Oliver, Roy, Diggle, Emiko, Dinah – if you know who they are it helps, but Benjamin Percy does a good job of giving you a taste of their personalities even if you’ve never picked up the book before.

 

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #33
Words: Robert Venditti
Pictures: Tom Derenick, Jack Herbert, Jason Wright

I try not to comment on covers, since every book seems to have alt. covers – but that’s some body horror right there, just (ugggghhhhh!) well done, very well done.

In someplace unknown a watcher (Yekop) dressed medieval knight-ish is running for his life through some place industrial. Yekop gets blasted by off-panel racist (or is it species-ist?) bad guys before he can slip away.

Next page – joy, so much joy.

Somar-Le a young Xudarian is flying with her green lantern ring for the first time. There’s pages of loop-de-loops and green energy streams in twirls just streaking around the sky.

Our last of the Guardians (Sayd and Ganthet) watch in bemused wonder and there’s even the little deep relationship jokes I appreciate.

Nice tone for the peace before everything coming down on our heads again.

The Lanterns (John, Kyle, Hal, Guy) are themselves as expected, but it’s not really their story.

This is going to be a Guardians-centric storyline. If you’ve been curious about the little immortal blue guys, maybe want to know more about their history, hop on. I’ll read for Somar-Le (too cute!)

 

Harley Quinn #32
Words: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner
Pictures: Bret Blevins, John Timms, Alex Sinclair

This issue is a lesson in patience, the long game of writing a fleshed out character world.

We won’t mention other books who introduce a “girlfriend” and knock them off like two issues later, but this is how you have a death in a book that matters to the character AND reader.

Mason was introduced before the reboot, they’ve had adventures on the everyday scale and in the “I have an Oceans-11 like complicated scheme” scale. The group of them became her adopted family when she saved their home.

So they didn’t just kill “her boyfriend”, they killed Madame Macabre’s son, they killed the the “brother” of her family.

There’s violence and blood as per usual, but humor is dialed way the hell back.

This isn’t the kind of book where friendship can fix things, where magic tears can bring your love back to you.

Harley is there to kill those who killed Mason, those who are responsible for Mason’s death and anyone employed by them that gets in her way.

There is no “is it right?” “do I have the right to take revenge?”. There’s only the more relatable touchstones of friends who know her, asking the useless question that you still have to say out loud “Are you alright?”. She’s not, we’re not. There’s going to be a lot of blood and decisions to be regretted later before we get to alright.

 

Justice League of America #19
Words: Steve Orlando
Pictures: Hugo Petrus, Hi-Fi

Afterthought is fighting Black Canary and Lobo.

Prometheus fights Vixen in front of all the civilian visitors.

The cover doesn’t lie, there’s so much fighting in this book.

I hate to say, my problem is I’ve seen this story through line many times.

They did it well enough and the characters feel true to themselves. But it’s – good guys are threatened and scattered, they get back together and are stronger with friendship, bad guys betray each other at moment of weakness.

The end of this issue opens up the possibility of a more interesting story, and I’ll look forward to that.

 

 

Justice League of America Annual #1
Words: Steve Orlando

Pictures: Kelly Jones, Michelle Madsen

Hey there readers! Ever want to read a sweet Lobo story?

No…come back I’m serious!

This is the silly, violent, gritty story you didn’t know you needed a copy of.

I’m not sure if I’ve seen the work of Kelly Jones before – but it is so perfect for this story. It lives in the neighborhood of Sam Kieth, 80’s Frank Miller with some 2000 AD sprinkled on top. If you’re worried about characters always being on model – it’s not your book. This is a fun B-movie space romp (and I’d watch it animated just to see these panels put into motion with maybe John DiMaggio voicing the Main Man)

Lobo has one request of Black Canary – go to space and kick the butt of someone who’s killing the only thing he cares about, Space Dolphins!

She’s not immediately convinced (I would be) but after he levels that he respects Dinah, shows her that Batman believed him, and shares a bit of Lil’ Lobo backstory they’re off on their wacky violent way!

The words and visuals are just fun (space dolphins teleport with the power of Kirby Krackle!) I was happy to have read it.

 

Looney Tunes #240
Words: Sholly Fisch, Weiss, Barry Liebmann, Sam Henderson
Pictures: Dave Alvarez, Mike DeCarlo

It’s a bunch of 60’s Looney Tunes cartoons on paper. Not complaining, some of those are awesome. At that time cartoons weren’t “just for kids” and I’m so glad we’re at a point where that’s once again true.

First story “Hounded By The Law” even has a title card!

I appreciate the little touches. Two mugs on the run after a robbing a bank hide out in an abandoned house, but they’re targeted by an overenthusiastic dog who wants them to be his new owners. They want to get away, dog wants a home but only one of them will be happy in the end.

A one-page recasting Bugs Bunny as Little Bo Peep

Daffy (the world’s most persistent and socially tone-deaf door-to-door salesman for ACME) terrorizes the Three Little Pigs.

It feels like they’re aiming for younger even though I don’t see that audience getting some of the jokes.

A one-page Daffy, Bugs, Elmer spoof of Blair Witch.

None of the four stories are long enough to be more than popcorn amusement, so if you’re looking for light goofs this would work.

 

Mystik U #1
Words: Alisa Kwitney
Pictures: Michael Norton, Jordie Ballaire

A big horrible magical calamity already happened called The Malevolence. Just about every magic user is dead.  Zatanna and a dying Dr. Rose Psychic (don’t look at me that way reader, I didn’t name them) have just enough time for one last spell…to rewind time.

We’re back to a time with a teenaged Zatanna, who just uttered her first working spell (cast her father to Hell completely accidentally, but she didn’t KNOW it would happen!).

She’s brought by Rose to, what would happen if Hogwarts and the X-Men combined forces to create a sister campus… and Ivy League school for magic-users – Mystik University. It’s a gorgeous book, it bleeds details on each page and there are so many Vertigo references (they sneak into the House of Mystery in this book, it’s on the campus, squeeeeee!).

You meet each of the students Zatanna gets to know, right along with her.

Students are accepted when they exhibit magic (I do hope there’s scholarships available). Sebastian Faust (who’s father had him to sacrifice to a devil), Pia Morales (she brought her cat back to life, mother is an utterly mundane doctor), Davit Sargon (magic runs in the family), June Moone (Enchantress), Joe (you don’t have to worry about Joe).

There’s a small threat on campus that bring our characters together while the administration decides how to handle the ever-looming danger of The Malevolence (one of our five characters will kick off the disaster) what can they do?

Kill one of them, kill them all just to be safe?

This is the fun college tv show no one could afford to make live, we know half the cast from previous books but I want to learn more. This is a 40+ page read but I was sad at the end of issue one, how long till the next one?

…And we get to learn what haruspicy is – and wish we hadn’t

 

Nightwing: The New Order #4
Words: Kyle Higgins
Pictures: Trevor McCarthy, Dean White

Jake Grayson is in so much trouble, scared and drugged.

This IS a dystopian future story, you didn’t think that just because someone’s innocent they’d be treated fairly did you? And our kidnapping bad guys (lead by Kate Kane, the former Batwoman) have quite the problem – Jake’s very DNA is rejecting the power suppressant.

Thankfully for Dick, at the end of last issue Kory and Wally West did not shoot him then and there on the side of the road. He’s healing at their secret base, and it’s admittedly in the best place for a secret base – right in the enemy’s backyard.

It’s a regrouping of the Titans, but with a white-ringed Lois Lane filling in for Raven (those rings must have amazing healing properties, she looks the same age as the rest!).

When the power killing blast went out Gar was mid transformation and stuck that way- he’s… a Thundercat (it’s o.k. that you wanted to draw him as a Thundercat it’s just he is soooooo a Thundercat).

Kory is badass, T2 Sarah Connor kinda badass. They might kick Grayson’s butt later for starting this all in the first place, but all agree on one thing, rescue Jake. Nothing in this horrible militaristic future will stop them.

The art on this book is so severe and assists this tale of authoritarian overreach in the name of safety, where the underground proles are the powered beings fighting for their right not to be drugged up the rest of their lives or frozen (at least a metaphorical death). This book gives me the kind of chills Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Harrison Bergeron did, another story where everyone being the same was enforced with violent reprisal.

 

Scooby Doo Team-Up #32
Words: Sholly Fisch
Pictures: Scott Jeralds, Silvana Brys

This issue sees them teaming up with the ever strong and helpful Atom Ant just after last issue’s meet up with the Atom.

I cant believe all the ant puns in this one, but there’s lots of giant monster fighting as well and that’s impressive when you have characters of such disproportionate sizes.

The mystery isn’t that difficult, where’s they come from – maybe the mysterious building on a cliff just off-panel?

But it’s a good simple fun story, watch as this bunch of goody two-shoes (they didn’t make an Adam Ant reference, but I will) run from monsters, fight them, and eat lots of picnic food together.

 

 

 

Super Sons Annual #1
Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Pictures: Paul Pelletier, Cam Smith, Hi-Fi

A dog-napper is terrorizing the streets of Gotham. (Maybe not the worst thing in that city but still pretty bad.)

Jon and Damian stop a bank robbery in New York then call it a night. Jon makes sure to tell Krypto about it, including his plans to investigate the Gotham dog-nappings tomorrow before going to bed. But Krypto decides to take matters into his own paws.

This kind of story, with the actions un-narrated I’m a total goof for.

Krypto gets the help of Bat-Cow (IT HAS BAT-COW!) and Titus. Bat-Cow gives them a harness so Krypto can hold Titus as he flies (Bat-Cow is now my head-cannon the Alfred of this group) and they’re off to solve this pet-related crime spree with the help of Detective Chimp!

It’s a getting the band back together, one last mission one-shot book and it’s so damn enchanting.

It’s got the things you’re looking for in terms of super-pet related story, there’s cameos from almost every pet and they save the day. It’s satisfying but if I over explain it just won’t mean as much, it’s really a “better if you read it” kinda experience..

 

Teen Titans #14
Words: Benjamin Percy
Pictures: Khoi Pham, Trevor Scott, Vincente Cifuentes, Norm Rapmund, Jim Charalampiois, Blond

“Titans Together!” is their battle cry, and the basic reason they work as a group. They’ve been through so much together they’ve become a family. Sometimes it’s hard to face family not because you think you’ll be rejected, but because you fear you will. Heady concepts for a funnybook right?

So, they got rid of a bomb last issue, but that just left them with a massive destructive wave bearing down on the city, threatening thousands of lives with only Robin and Red Arrow on the scene.

Meanwhile the Titans are trying to convince Wally to be a part of the team again when they get Robin’s unsure call for help.

Just as the wave is about to slam Robin and Red Arrow the team teleports in (nice to have magic-users). Everyone does their part to keep the populace safe, including Wally who made his own way over. But that only leads to questions. Why was the bomb set in the first place? Who were they after? Who’s life is still in danger as we speak.

A good payoff AND set-up chapter, nice human moments in there.

 

The Hellblazer #16
Words: Richard Kadrey
Pictures: Davide Fabbri, José Marzán Jr., Carrie Strachan

Magic-type people with small groups of followers are being killed methodically in San Francisco, they die with “THANK YOU” written (by them?) in their own blood.

Since John (Constantine) happens to be there, he’ll look into it.

Jenny, a friend of his might be next.

I appreciate a detective story only sprinkled with magic, and this is gritty and noir.

Our protagonist (you didn’t expect me to say hero did you?) is having the hardest time trying to figure out who’s killing off these people and it only gets more difficult with the cops suspecting him, the magic community distrustful and all the people pretending to be demons trying to beat him up.

But I’m right there with you John, I want you to find who did this and I want you to kick it’s butt (and not being a good guy, you’re allowed to be creative in how that’s done).

 

Wonder Woman #35
Words: James Robinson
Pictures: Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Romulo Fajardo Jr.

We meet the adopted father of Jason (Wonder Woman’s twin brother), Glaucus, and he is just the sweetest old man. He’s immortal so who knows how long he’s been that, but he’s got it down pat and is a caring worried father that just wants his son to be safe.

All his life Jason has been hidden from his birth-father (Zeus) from the world at large; he was trained by Hercules to defend himself to stay safe.

But what happens when you recognize your twin, out in the open and sunlight accepted by the world?

How do you start that conversation when you’ve been trained in the exact opposite?

I promise you, this book is not all deep philosophical navel gazing.

There’s fun action and though there was a lot of backstory here, the ending promises a battle in the next issue and maybe in a fight with monsters our guest protagonist can find his answers.

I’m so glad her brother didn’t turn out to be a creep.

 

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