Loukas's Comic Reviews

Reviewer For: Weekly Comic Book Review Reviews: 204
7.7Avg. Review Rating

9.6
Action Comics (2011) #41

Jun 10, 2015

This is a story of an ordinary man who is extraordinary. Usually, a paradox like that involves a physically normal person with heroic moral qualities. That isn't the case in the story Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder tell inAction Comics #41. Clark Kent is certainly a moral hero, but he is also far from physically normal. Rather, in this comic he is an ordinary man in a way that Arthur Miller would have appreciated and understood. In his famous play,Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Miller said that the victory of a feline in that strange situation was just staying in place. Sometimes, in other words, survival is a heroic act. It has been a long time since mere continued existence, since just going on, was heroic for Clark Kent.

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7.0
Action Comics (2011) #42

Jul 7, 2015

Action Comics #42 is not so much a story as a meditation. In this book, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder provide a set of linked meditations on multiple subjects. The first is the theme of falling and rising, dropping to your knees under the weight of life's blows and fighting to stand again. The vehicle they choose to tell this morality tale is the unlikely character of Clark Kent, enmeshed in the TRUTH crossover in which his identity has been exposed and he has been partially depowered, evidently in the wake of using his newly discovered solar flare ability. Now, just returned to Metropolis, Clark struggles to protect his home from a shadow monster while even more ominous darkness gathers at has back.

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8.0
Action Comics (2011) #43

Aug 18, 2015

There is no activity known to humans that does not proceed by rules. Storytelling is no different, and indeed the very definition of genre largely depends on which set of rules a given narrative follows. And, since every activity proceeds according to rules, every activity, including storytelling, allows for the possibility for cheating. In a story, this often takes the form of violations of expectations established by evidence, foreshadowing, and genre. Action Comics #43 is an exercise in cheating of a rather brazen sort.

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7.0
Action Comics (2011) #44

Sep 16, 2015

In my review ofAction Comics#43, I accused Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder of cheating. Specifically, I said they had promised one kind of story and delivered another. They set out, it seemed, to examine the complex roots of urban distrust and the intricate dance of demand and denial, rigidity and rage, that finally explodes all too often in violent confrontations between angry crowds and nervous police. Whether a Superman story provides an appropriate setting for such a discussion is an interesting question. Unfortunately, it's a question we had no chance to explore thoroughly, as the authors abandoned those themes with breathtaking alacrity, segueing into a much more standard kind of Superman tale about mysterious shadow monsters infiltrating the government of Metropolis.

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8.0
Action Comics (2011) #45

Oct 14, 2015

One interesting effect of the TRUTH arc working its way through the Superman books is to raise the issue of secret identities and their social reality, something DC has not emphasized in the last few years. Just what, exactly, do superheroes do when they aren't on the job? Barry Allen's CSI work is an important part of his character, and the new Batgirl is very much a social being when out of uniform. But Clark Kent, reporter, has not put in an appearance in quite some time.

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8.4
Action Comics (2011) #51

Apr 28, 2016

Many are the citizens of the DC Universe with a grudge against Flashpoint. The Batman Family entered the New 52 bruised and diminished but still the strongest power center in the rebooted world. The Green Lanterns likewise managed the transition to a new universe with relatively well. The children of Krypton, however, have been a study in tragedy. Superman is dying. Superboy has been a symphony of sour notes from the character's first appearance in the New 52 to his last. And Supergirl — well, one can only surmise that DC Entertainment was caught off guard by the success of the CBS series. Which, to be honest, does not speak particularly well for the foresight and self-confidence of the Superman Office.

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9.6
Action Comics (2016) #976

Mar 28, 2017

What if they held a Crisis, but somebody forgot to send out the invitations? That is the feeling of SUPERMAN REBORN, the story arc that has threaded through the pages of Supermanand Action Comics over the last month. It is, on its own merits, an excellent story of the Kent family and one of their oldest and most popular nemeses. However, it is also a bold rewriting of continuity for the Family of Steel and everyone whose story touches theirs, in other words, every major character in the DC Universe.

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8.4
All-Star Batman #1

Aug 17, 2016

There are some writers who seem to have been born to sing the epics of alternate worlds. Frank Miller was one such, hisDark Knight Returns establishing him as the Homer of the Elseworlds saga in the DC cosmos. Alan Moore probably should have been another, and indeed intended to be, except thatThe Killing Joke turned into an exercise in canonical controversy. Scott Snyder should have been a third, for all his success at writing two different in-continuity Batmen in two different books. His instincts have always tended toward separate creation, toward worlds that exist within their own sealed boundaries.

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5.0
Annihilator #3

Nov 22, 2014

The story struggles to find a voice of its own. The web of movie references seems not brilliant and innovative, but merely derivative. What is meant to be metatextual and intertextual complexity collapses into a kind of trivia game. There is much to be said about narcissism in our present culture. But, more's the pity, Morrison and Frazer have found neither the words nor the images in which to say it.

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7.0
Aquaman (2011) #41

Jun 30, 2015

It is much too early to judge the DC You initiative. It is even too soon to say what the main features of this new approach are, other than an impressive diversity of tone. But, whether part of the initiative or not, a lot of DC writers have been playing games with time of late. Jeff King, Scott Snyder, Greg Pak, Gene Luen Yang, and others have produced narratives that in some way bend chronology, usually by moving between two points in time, simultaneously exploring actions and outcomes. Author Cullen Bunn likewise uses this technique inAquaman #41 to lay out a new status quo for the King of Atlantis, or former King of Atlantis as he seems now to be.

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8.0
Aquaman (2011) #42

Jul 28, 2015

We are finally getting answers of a kind, although they don't quite make sense. Still, there seems still to be secrets within secrets, and troubles within troubles. One cannot help but believe that, in part, the story is convoluted for the sake of being convoluted, but the premise is intriguing enough to earn the creative team the benefit of the doubt a while longer. But patience can wear thin very quickly, and it will soon be time for simple answers in this complex tale.

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9.0
Batgirl (2011): Endgame #1

Mar 25, 2015

They say that silence is golden. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that silence is expressive. Through its origin and end, its duration, and its felt quality, quiet can convey depths of emotion and thought amazingly well. Indeed, the messages of silence can be more powerful than those of speech, as any fan of pre-1930 cinema can attest.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #37

Dec 21, 2014

Snyder gives us a fascinating thesis, one with deep roots in modern literature and much older folklore. But as of yet it's hard to say whether this thesis will be a profound contribution to the mythos of Gotham or simply a quaint little daydream of bright colors but no substance. At the moment, the promise is enough to hold interest. But the possibility of disappointment looms all to close, and seems all too likely.

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9.0
Batman (2011) #41

Jun 17, 2015

This is a story about symbols. It is a story about duty. It is a story about hope. It is a story about redemption even when we don't need to be redeemed. It is a story about law. It is a story about justice. It is a story about the need for order and systems, and the need to work within the system to build faith in it. This is a story about youth. This is a story about age. This is a story about sickness. This is a story about health. This is a story about love.

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8.4
Batman (2011) #42

Jul 13, 2015

Who and whatis Batman? What, exactly, does he stand for? What function does he serve? Scott Snyder has a way of structuring his stories as philosophical inquiries, and these are the questions that define the center ofBatman #42. In fact, they are the questions defining the entire present arc.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #43

Aug 14, 2015

Scott Snyder's Gotham is a paradoxical place, an enormous city wrapped in shadows, their black folds thick and stifling, pressing in until a screaming sense of claustrophobia permeates the very air. It is a world of heroes swimming in an aether of evil, a city where no nobility can rise above tragedy and no power deny the foundation of ultimate weakness on which it rises.

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8.4
Batman (2011) #44

Sep 15, 2015

Where the story falters is, unfortunately, at its core. For a story about the early days of Mr. Bloom, we learn very little about Mr. Bloom. He is only question a mysterious and powerful fixer dispensing questionable technology in the midst of an overgrown urban garden. But perhaps this very mystery is the point. Bloom is not really a character but a growth, a thing the thrives in poisoned soil, a deadly plant feeding on despair and decay. Like so many of the people we meet in Snyder's writing, Bloom is a child of Gotham. Perhaps, in some sense, he IS Gotham. And so the tale of the malevolent city, a story begun by Snyder and Jock in THE BLACK MIRROR nearly half-a-decade ago, continues to unfold.

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5.0
Batman (2011) #46

Nov 18, 2015

Well, TT. That has become one of my favorite sound effects from the Batman comics, and remarkably easy to make, by the way. Just put your tongue behind your upper teeth and make a moderate-to-heavy sigh. It certainly sums up my reaction to Scott Snyder's Batman 46. This is not a bad comic, not at all. In fact, in terms of pacing, dialogue, and other technical accomplishments it is quite good. Snyder rarely suffers from severe defects in terms of execution. Similarly, Greg Capullo delivers art that is up to the high standards we have come to expect.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #48

Jan 27, 2016

Scott Snyder has never been shy about his philosophical musings. That is one of the most distinctive aspects of his writing, and one of the things that make his public discussions and panel appearances potentially interesting. He has ideas he wants to explore and is willing to talk at length and with sophistication about those theories and metaphors and analogies. In an era when many writers seem to regard the story of ideas as being hopelessly old hat, Snyder's enthusiasm for philosophical discussion is refreshing. Unfortunately, his enthusiasm is also often quite tiring. He seems incapable of telling a story that isn't the “biggest ever!” Despite a professed desire to focus on shorter, more intimate narratives, he inevitably ends up spinning arcs that take up a dozen issues and months of real time.

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8.4
Batman (2011) #49

Feb 17, 2016

Reviewing comic books is an irretrievably personal enterprise, just as reading them. Despite all of the objective facts and standards that can be brought to bear on a story, ultimately every person's emotional response is unique, and all one can do is own one's feelings withhonesty. So, I will have to begin this review by stating that I found this particular issue,Batman #49, to embody many of my responses to the entire SUPERHEAVY arc that Scott Snyder has been pursuing for some nine issues now. It is interesting, philosophically rich, well-written, flawlessly integrated with the accompanying visual art, and it left me utterly cold.

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8.0
Batman (2011) #52

May 19, 2016

How do you end an era? Quietly, it seems, at least so far as DC Entertainment is concerned. Not with a whimper or a whine or even a sigh. The era of the New 52, the age that began so controversially and in some ways successfully withFlashpoint, is drawing to a close with considerably more dignity than foreseen by T.S. Eliot. Indeed, it may yet end with a bang. But, for the moment, the DC Universe approachesRebirth at a steady, even stately, pace devoid of apocalyptic panic.

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8.0
Batman (2011) Annual #3

Dec 30, 2014

This is a solid Joker story, which therefore will succeed or fail on the strength of whether you like Joker stories. As few people who don't like such tales will be reading this book, it is likely to please. Nothing that happens here will add substantially to the legend of the Joker. But, seeing as the Clown Prince of Crime believes all meaning comes from the lack of meaning, the lack of lasting substance probably would not bother him at all.

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9.0
Batman (2016) #1

Jun 23, 2016

Do bats make good parents? I honestly have no idea, although I suppose that when you come down to it very few animals treat their children well, humans being no exception. When it comes to Batman, his status as a father is one of the most fraught subjects in all of American superhero comics. As Tom King, DC's new main Batman writer, has observed, the man is something of a psychopath. During his time as one of the creative minds behindGrayson, King was known to say that there is a Dick Grayson story that writers automatically want to tell (and that some have, in fact, told). It's the story of how orphaned Dick Grayson was abused and terrorized by the dark, obsessed billionaire who forced him into a pathological life as a vigilante. There's just something about Bruce Wayne that invites that kind of thing.

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8.4
Batman (2016) #2

Jul 13, 2016

Have you ever imagined Bruce Wayne as a child? I don't mean the TV version fromGotham, interesting as that portrayal is, but Bruce of modern comics in all his neurotic extravagance. How, exactly, would one manage Christmas and birthdays with such an exotic boy? Tom King gives a brief insight into how the Wayne-Pennyworth approached such challenges. Specifically, that the young Bruce wanted a katana for his tenth birthday and Alfred, in what passes for moderation at Wayne Manor, decides that something smaller would be more appropriate for so young a boy, and presents Master Bruce with wakizashi, setting the stage for years of snark and complaints. Yes, Damian is the acorn that didn't fall far from the tree.

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7.0
Batman (2016) #3

Jul 27, 2016

DC Comics is embarked on an exploration of time and memory. At least, that is one way to consider the currentRebirth project, once you discount it as a purely commercial venture aimed at increasing comics sales, a goal at which it has, so far, apparently succeeded. The meddling of Dr. Manhattan in the timeline of the DC Universe not only provides a narrative backbone for the major books of the superhero line, but also sets up a general theme that each corner of the fictional world can explore in its own way.

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8.0
Batman (2016) #5

Aug 24, 2016

Tom King has some rather unfortunate obsessions. They are understandable, considering his background. But they are clear, nevertheless. PreviousBatman author Scott Snyder was fascinated by the idea of Gotham as a living, evil entity, almost a spiritual power in the tradition of Stephen King's dark musings about Derry, Maine. King explicitly disavows the idea of the city as a living, thinking thing, dismissing it as a collection of glass and brick and concrete incapable of taking action against anyone, including the grieving hero Gotham who is determined to take out his pain on the metropolis he wanted to save. Instead, King layers his own interpretation on the Batman mythos, a filter of tragedy and frustration in which well meant, ignorant action only makes things worse for everyone, including the would be saviors. It is consistent with his previous work inOmega Men andSheriff of Baghdad, although not his stories forGrayson, which figured a hero ill-suited to such themes.

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8.0
Batman (2016) #8

Oct 7, 2016

With Batman #8, the Night of the Monster Men slows down slightly. Given the nature of the story, that means it goes from complete chaos to simple frenzy. Riley Rossmo and Ivan Plascenscia continue their art style from the first half of the crossover, a kind of adult cartoon that is, appropriately enough, like one of the darker 1960s giant monster films translated into animation. But it's that part of the movie where the younger members of the audience start squirming in boredom and rolling their eyes. You know the part I mean, the few minutes where even the more seasoned viewers want to sigh and say, "Get your romantic subplot off the screen and let the thirty-foot monsters get back to fighting!"

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8.4
Batman (2016) #21

Apr 29, 2017

The secret of DC'sRebirth project is that there is no secret at all. Commercially, the project aims at discerning the most popular versions of the company's proprietary characters and presenting those versions to readers. Whether it is a true renewal or a giant exercise in retail pandering, or whether there is any real difference between those things, is a judgment that can be safely left to comic book fans. After all, those fans are famously, and notoriously, erudite and combative.

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8.0
Batman and Robin (2011) #36

Nov 20, 2014

Damian, Batman, the New Gods, Cyborg, and the Bat Family come together in a landscape that was, literally, made for the outrageous and impossible. But underneath it all lies a sense of weariness. This has all gone on too long. Tomasi's alchemical factory has harvested and distilled and mixed this formula for almost two years, since Damian's death, with only a brief break to craft a new origin for classic villain Two Face. When we see Darkseid's silhouette, it conjures not fear or excitement, but relief. Batman's suit is failing, his body is infected with alien bacteria, all symbolic of the corrupting nature of Apokalips. But the great corrupter of this story is not a hell-world, but the natural decay inflicting a tale carried far beyond its natural length. Time to bring the boy, and the story, back to life.

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8.4
Batman and Robin (2011) #38

Jan 27, 2015

The Elseworlds tales are some of the beststories DC has ever published. Sometimes readers and creators want to put aside the strictures of continuity and setting to explore sheer possibility. From time to time it seems that characters long to escape the confines of their origins and even their personalities in order to experience the freedom of different universes, different timelines, different realities. Batman and Robin supposedly takes place within the main continuity of the DC Universe. Yet, ever since the quest to return Damian Wayne to life began in earnest the title has been suffused with an otherworldly feel, as if it is a half-step to the side of the rest of the DCU. Now that Damian has returned sporting super powers, that feeling has grown especially intense.

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8.4
Batman And Robin Eternal #1

Oct 11, 2015

DC Entertainment's Batman Office begins their next weekly with themes of trust and doubt, themes that will undoubtedly continue throughout the entire six-month run of the series, not least because many the writers and artists have telegraphed that fact in interviews done to promote the series in advance of its dbut. In the end, trust is likely to win, if only because the lead character ofBatman and Robin Eternalis Dick Grayson, the DC Universe's very embodiment of good faith.

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8.4
Batman And Robin Eternal #2

Oct 20, 2015

The Batman Office expects, in fact demands, a great deal from its weeklies. Batman Eternal was supposed to be a panoramic survey of Batman and his meaning for Gotham and its citizens. It did not fulfill that promise. In truth, it probably could not, as it also had to serve as the Bat Family book for the year, the vehicle to carry the continuity of the Batman universe through the 52 weeks of its publication run. As such, it had to maneuver characters into place for long-term strategic storylines, seed plot elements for other books to exploit, and provide the principal arena for the development of the Bat Family as a whole. Not surprisingly, the different pieces of the weekly did not, in the end, come together into a completely coherent whole.

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8.4
Batman And Robin Eternal #3

Oct 27, 2015

Altogether, not a bad issue, and one with some strong if uneven character moments. But the time is now come to get the plot moving again. We now know our cast of characters. But, much as we like them, we also know it's time for them to actually do something. Let the hunt for Mother begin.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #4

Nov 3, 2015

Decompression is the very essence of modern sequential art, at least that part of it that consists of superhero stories told under the auspices of the big two comics publishers. Still,Batman and Robin Eternal #4 takes this phenomenon to extremes. The book is two extended scenes. The first details the attempt of Mother's agents — or perhaps it would be more accurate to refer to them as her children — to kill an amnesiacBruce Wayne at his Welcome Back gala. The second examines the relationships among the various members of the extended Bat Family left behind in the Bat Cave, particularly Harper Row, Stephanie Brown, and the freshly reintroduced Cassandra Cain.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #5

Nov 10, 2015

One great strength of a weekly series such asBatman and Robin Eternal is that it is, at least in theory, a coherent story in twenty-six parts. That is also a major drawback of the book. When telling a story with that many chapters, it is inevitable that some installments will be utilitarian sections devoted to moving the pieces of the narrative around into configurations for the next major character event or plot revelation. Batman and Robin Eternal #5serves such a purpose, although the end of the story sets up a potentially interesting conflict between two characters who have long begged for major interaction.

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8.4
Batman And Robin Eternal #6

Nov 17, 2015

There is a great attraction to psychological stories. One of the most difficult tasks a writer faces is to craft a connection with an audience. Indeed, the very origins of genre rest, in part, in the fact that different groups of people respond better or worse to given techniques and approaches. But even within a specific genre it can sometimes be extraordinarily hard to find a way to truly communicate ideas, themes, and plots to readers, especially if an author is attempting to help the audience relate personally to a fantastically unusual character, say a billionaire genius who dresses up as an anthropomorphic bat and battles colorful, insane villains in a bizarre, ludicrously corrupt caricature of an American megacity. The human mind, however, is universal. Basic thoughts and emotions are part of everyone's daily life, and therefore the thoughts and emotions of even such a strange figure as Batman can offer a point of identification for a reader.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #7

Nov 24, 2015

This issue skillfully shows misunderstanding and mistrust spreading like a malignancy. It also features one of the most interesting developments in the series to this point, the emergence of Jason Todd, of all people, as the locus of trust and unity. Yet, that perhaps makes sense. Anyone wishing to divide the Robins would naturally focus on Dick and Tim, trusting in Jason's well-demonstrated rebellious nature to do its work once the other two are distracted. It is a classic case of misunderstanding and underestimating the strength and complexity of your enemy. Or his stubbornness. With Jason, it seems to be the same thing.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #8

Dec 1, 2015

The story falls apart a bit in this issue. Mother seems disappointingly crude in her ploy, and the link between the technology smuggler on Gamorra Island and the signal Tim and Jason were investigating is murky. It seems clear, however, that the church trappings and the frightened talk of the Death Angel, talk conducted in French, hint strongly that our old friend Azrael, otherwise known as Jean-Paul Valley of the Order of Saint Dumas, is about to appear. He also showed up on the list that Bruce had hidden away. Another child of Mother's? A target? An ally? Or all of the above. Mother is a rather unsentimental parent, after all.

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5.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #9

Dec 9, 2015

Batman and Robin Eternal #9 is an interesting exercise in split direction. The art, courtesy of Roge Antonio, has become clearer since last issue with firmer lines and more classical figures in the Jim Lee tradition. It is, perhaps, a step toward the DC house style widely denigrated during the New 52 era, but it proves that, whatever its problems in other areas, the New 52 at least provided visual force and legibility. The bright colors of Allen Passalaqua, on the other hand, belong to a more recent era of Batman stories, the age ofBatgirlandGraysonandGotham Academy.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #19

Feb 17, 2016

Batman and Robin Eternal #19 delves into one of the more interesting, some would say ironic, some would even say disturbing, aspects of current DC continuity, Dick Grayson's day job. At the moment, the first Robin is posing as a gay French gym teacher at St. Hadrian's School for Girls in Suffolk, England. In reality, he is an agent of Spyral, the psychedelic spy agency headed by his one-time partner and tacit love interest, Helena Bertinelli. But, the fact seldom touched on is that Grant Morrison, the creator of Spyral, established the school as a training academy for female assassins.

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8.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #20

Feb 24, 2016

With the end of the DC You and the coming ofRebirth, the recent philosophy that has guided DC Comics, story over continuity, seems to be coming to an end. Once again, the editors of DC are emphasizing the glories of an integrated and coherent universe. The first intimations of this change are beginning to radiate through DC's various publications, andBatman and Robin #20is a prime example.

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9.0
Batman And Robin Eternal #23

Mar 16, 2016

“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper.” T. S. Eliot likely would never have considered working for DC Entertainment. Then again, he was a very surprising man, so nothing should be ruled out. Certainly, the end of the New 52/DC YOU era mirrors the insight ofThe Hollow Men, Eliot's 1925 meditation on hope and failure. As the DC Universe shambles toward it's comingRebirth event, the elements that had characterized itspast two incarnations are beginning to fray and unwind. It is difficult to say whether these shifts represent eagerness to launch into the new world to come, whatever form it may take, or weariness with a creative regime that, whatever its virtues, had overstayedits welcome both in terms of economic success and reader popularity.

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8.4
Batman/Superman (2013) #31

Apr 22, 2016

To whom do you turn when there is a universe to weave? In whom do you trust when the strands of story and character and strategy must be carefully plaited together? For DC Entertainment the answer is Peter Tomasi. As editor and writer Tomasi has occasionally made questionable choices, as when he had Batman travel to Apokalips and retrieve the body of his son by literally punching Darkseid in the face. But Tomasi is perhaps the greatest master of continuity DC has, barring only Geoff Johns, and as theRebirthof the DCU approaches his is the logical hand to guide the Superman books toward the crisis point.

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9.6
Batman: Eternal #34

Nov 29, 2014

Whatever the shortcomings of the series, the issue must be judged on its own merits. Kyle Higgins delivers a satisfactory conclusion to the Hush arc while deepening the overall mystery surrounding the catastrophes striking Batman and Gotham. Most impressively, he does this while giving one of the best and most effective deep dives into the psychology of heroism and the Bat Family in years. When the series is done and the final reviews prepared, this will stand as one of the pivotal episodes of the entire epic story, a moment when the failings of the tale faded in an instant of resounding, and memorable, success. To appropriate Batman's language, in this story it has often seemed we all deserved better. This time, courtesy of Kyle Higgins, we got it.

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8.4
Batman: Eternal #35

Dec 5, 2014

This issue explores motivations. The motivations behind Batman's actions are powerful and portrayed very well, but they seem to inspire actions that are of dubious wisdom from anyone, much less one of the world's greatest and most experienced superheroes. Jason Bard's backstory seems more interesting, but unfortunately most of the details remain to be discovered. It seems that a new era has dawned in Gotham, with Batman now imperiled and outcast. One has every confidence in the Dark Knight that he will triumph in the end, not least because that end has been spoiled in other books, but first he is going to have to cut out the impulsive behavior.

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7.0
Batman: Eternal #36

Dec 13, 2014

This issue does what it needs to. It wraps up the second act of this series, and begins the third. Unfortunately, it achieves this task in a manner more workmanlike than inspired, and more entertaining than interesting. Now that the Bat Family is reassembled and the plot threads laid out, it is time for acceleration toward an end that will hopefully prove more rewarding than this transition.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #37

Dec 22, 2014

The dialogue is believable. The relationships are interesting. The plot is plausible. But why now? Why this way? The story proceeds not out of necessity or even inexorable internal forces, but according to an outline hanging on the wall of the Batman Office. It isn't a bad outline; it has served well. But an outline isn't a storyline, and an efficient presentation of plot points isn't a narrative.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #39

Jan 1, 2015

We have movement and revelation at last. But is it too late? Can the narrative move swiftly enough to deal with the tangle of plot elements, characters, and conundrums before April? This issue is a fine example of the challenges inherent in this series, with its potential to triumph and disappoint, probably at the same time.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #40

Jan 13, 2015

We have two fine stories combined with teasers for three more fine stories. But they don't yet add up to one great story. With time rapidly slipping away, one wonders whether they ever will. But hope, like Batman, is eternal.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #42

Jan 27, 2015

Everybody has to begin somewhere. Everybody has to begin sometime. This is the place and the time for Harper Row, otherwise known as Bluebird, the newest member of the ever-expanding Bat Family. Strictly speaking, Harper is scarcelynew at all. She appeared in the earliest days of the New 52 as an occasional guest in Scott Snyder's Batman. Nor, for that matter, does her transformation into Bluebird defy expectations, since we saw her in that identity as far back as Batman #28. So what we have in Batman Eternal #42 is the fulfillment of a prophecy.

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9.0
Batman: Eternal #43

Feb 2, 2015

Batman Eternal has served many overlapping purposes over the past year. It has provided the primary locus for celebration of Batman's 75th anniversary. It has been a venue for the introduction of new characters and the resurrection of old ones. It has allowed for the testing of new storylines. And it is the tool theBatman Office has usedto lay the foundations for the Batman Universe to come in the wake of the upcoming Convergence break. It seems that this world will be a very interesting one.

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6.0
Batman: Eternal #44

Feb 11, 2015

Sometimes stories, like people, have to pause for breath. In the hectic rush of plotlines, in the frantic desire to squeeze in every last bit of characterization, even a well-crafted narrative can twist and meander, requiring a few pages of stillness to allow all the jumbled elements to settle into a stable pattern. Batman Eternalhas not reached such a place. Far from it, D.C.'s premier weekly now needs to accelerate toward a powerful and satisfying conclusion, not least because the ENDGAME arc currently underway inBatmanhas pretty much spoiled any hope for surprise or shock.

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5.0
Batman: Eternal #45

Feb 13, 2015

Shadows and ghosts have haunted Gotham from the beginning. The atmosphere of that most famous of comic-book cities has evolved considerably over the years, but it debuted in 1939 as a grim and dangerous place overrun with a superstitious and cowardly lot. Even in Gotham's moments of high camp the bright colors and glaring lights have accentuated the darkness rather than banished it. So the appearance of ghosts and demons of all sorts in Batman Eternal #45 comes as no fundamental shock. And artist Javi Fernandez deftly deploys the modern visual vocabulary of such occult narratives. His blocky, elongated figures, slightly disproportioned and slightly out of focus, call to mind the work of Mike Mignola and Alex Maleev. Dan Brown's color spectrum, favoring blues and purples, lends the scenes the sense of nightmare. Altogether, the look of the comic would not be out-of-place in some iterations of Hellboy or the grittier versions of Daredevil.

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7.0
Batman: Eternal #46

Feb 24, 2015

Is Batman eternal? No, but he is likely as close to it as any of his colleagues in the DC universe. In a narrative so heavily influenced by the traditions of Morrison, it is appropriate to make the metacommentary that Batman is eternal so long as the readers' interest remains steady, and there is little sign of that waning. Within the close bounds of the story, Seeley may be playing with themes to be explored later by Snyder. Or perhaps he is just playing with words. In any case, whether Batman is eternal or not, this particular book is soon coming to an end, and we still have no sign of a conclusion.

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8.4
Batman: Eternal #47

Mar 3, 2015

Batman #47 is that point in an action movie where all the streams of the plot begin to come together and,by rapid intercutting of scenes, we watch the various protagonists move through differing obstacles toward the ultimate threat awaiting them, all accompanied by a score with a heavy percussion line and lots of horn-effects. To continue the musical metaphor, welisten in this issue asauthor Tim Seeley riffs on several variations of hero clashing with villain: Batwing vs Scarecrow, Jason vs Bane, Tim vs Clayface, Barbara vs Joker's Daughter,and Alfred vs Hush.

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7.0
Batman: Eternal #48

Mar 10, 2015

Sometimes, you just scratch your head and honestly cry out, "Why?" Why would Tim Drake allow the Bat Cave computer control over his wings? Why would Jason Todd, of all people, have a technological link between his guns and Batman's control systems? Why does the mastermind choose now to strike against Jim Gordon? The answer is that there is no good reason, other than a need to fill one more issue with plot beats before the various conflicts move to their next stage. It is one of those moments when the hood of the story pops up and we seen the engine and spinning gears that power the entire vehicle called BATMAN ETERNAL. However technically interesting the sight may be, it is an artistic misfire that almost stalls the story in its tracks.

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7.0
Batman: Eternal #49

Mar 18, 2015

The first panels of Batman Eternal showed us Bruce Wayne, beaten and chained to a shattered Bat signal, at the mercy of his enemy as the city burns around him. Scott Snyder has already spoiled any tension with his Endgame arc, not that anyone familiar with comics would ever expect anything but a victory for Batman and his confederates. Still, with the absence of any real mystery, except for the identity of the enemy, Eternalhas now become an intellectual exercise, a kind of game in which we watch the pieces moving across the board to reach the final configuration we know they must assume.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #50

Mar 23, 2015

There is a principle of intelligence work, or maybe one should say of common sense, that states you never keep a coded message in the same briefcase with the code book. That amounts to locking a door and leaving the key hanging on a book in plain sight and easy reach. Now, if you want to create delay and confusion, you can always package the message with the code book for another code entirely, which is like leaving a key to another door beside the lock.

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8.0
Batman: Eternal #51

Mar 30, 2015

As I read and re-readBatman Eternal, especially the latest installment,Batman Eternal #51,I find my admiration for the late Agatha Christie, already high, has grown enormously. Not that Dame Agatha would have ever considered writing a comic book about an American billionaire vigilante dressed like a bat, or that she would have had the slightest idea how to go about it if, for some strange reason, she took a notion to do so. She did know a great deal about crafting a mystery, however, and the authors ofEternalcould have used some of her acumen.

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8.4
Batman: Eternal #52

Apr 8, 2015

We have a strong prejudice for beginnings and endings, especially for endings. A happy ending will wipe away an entire story worth of pain and disaster. A strong conclusion will atone for a great deal of stumbling and faltering on the way. Still, a good ending is not all-powerful. Not all sins can be forgiven by a powerful finish. Some flaws remain glaring even in the light of a well-crafted resolution.

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8.0
Batman: Rebirth #1

Jun 8, 2016

Batman: Rebirth #1 provides an opportunity to reflect on just what DC seems to mean by describing its latest artistic and marketing initiative as a “rebirth.” According to Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns, the guiding hand for the effort, rebirth does not mean reboot. That is certainly borne out by the evidence we have so far; none of theRebirthissues to this point have wiped out the past or taken us back to origins. That is certainly for the best, because who really needs to see Superman arriving yet again from Krypton or the Waynes dying yet again in a dark alley? But if the characters are not literally being born again, what is happening? Words like “reset” and “restart” have been proposed, but in terms of Batman even they sound too strong. What we have inBatman: Rebirth #1is a transfer, a passing of the keys from Scott Snyder to Tom King. Fittingly, the issue was penned by both of them.

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6.0
Captain America: Peggy Carter, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Dec 10, 2014

This is not a book; it is a marketing device. With the advent of Peggy Carter's new television series, Marvel has obviously assembled these tales in an attempt at synergy. They are good stories, and it seems a little churlish to complain. But, in truth, the collection simply does not, and perhaps cannot, deliver what it promises. Let us hope that Peggy Carter herself, in the coming months and years, can do better.

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8.4
Catwoman (2011) #39

Mar 2, 2015

This is a story about tension, about violence and the threat of war, about intrigue, and about sexual desire. The last is the least important to the plot, but the most controversial character revelation. Well, it is controversial at least for the moment, even if it shouldn't be. The challenge will come in integrating this new aspect of Selina's character into the more pressing aspects of the story once the publicity, surely welcome for a relatively low-selling title, has faded.

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8.4
Catwoman (2011) #40

Apr 1, 2015

In an industry where authors increasingly "write for the trades," Valentine is even more inclined than most to craft her storylines across long arcs. The first six books of her run on this title should be read as a unit. Like with Mario Puzo or John LeCarre, understanding of Valentine requires sinking into the world she creates and allowing the tide of the story to sweep you along through the eddies and shoals of the plot. Within this greater frame, Selina's decisions take on a kind of inevitability, as if they are necessary pieces of a puzzle or, perhaps a better metaphor, so many keys to various doors she must unlock on the journey she and the readers have undertaken. There are more decisions yet to come, more doors yet to open, more secrets yet to be revealed before the final shape of the puzzle is seen. But one thing is sure. It will be a picture of Gotham City. And it will not be a simple one.

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8.0
Convergence #0

Apr 7, 2015

Presented for your consideration: a question. How can there be action outside of time, outside of space? How can there even be thought under those conditions? After all, action supposes movement through space over time. Thought supposes a set of mental states following one another from moment to moment. Yet, the story of Convergence takes place on Telos, a living planet outside of space and time.

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7.0
Convergence #1

Apr 13, 2015

Is there such a thing as a 0.5 issue? AfterConvergence #0last week one would have expected the story to move into first gear. Instead, we roll along in neutral as this issue, authored by Jeff King and Scott Lobdell, piles yet more background and exposition atop that we already had. To be fair, it's pretty good exposition, and necessary for the story, but it would have been better if the information here and in last week's book could have been presented more efficiently.

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8.0
Convergence #2

Apr 22, 2015

Prophecy is one of the most interesting themes an author has in the traditional literary repertoire, and one of the hardest to use effectively. For one thing, there are many different kinds of foretelling. There is the literal prophecy, handed down in cryptic form by a deity and ever subject to ironic misinterpretation. Of such are both religious epics and fantasy series constructed. There is the self-fulfilling prophecy, the engine of many a moral fable, in which the protagonist's fears and longings shape hisfate despite his conscious will. Finally, there is the de-facto prophecy, or maybe this one would be better called the iron hand of destiny. In literary terms, this is when foreshadowing becomes so long and deep that the outcomes for characters seem predestined as surely as if by the decree of a god.

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5.0
Convergence #3

Apr 28, 2015

The chief conceit of Convergence is that time lines are living things. They are born, they grow and mature, they age and decay, and then they die. Braniac is in the business of saving pieces of dead timelines, like cell cultures harvested from terminal patients moments before they expire. To extend the metaphor, Telos,Braniac's planetary lab assistant,even performs research on the harvested remains of the perished universes, probing and testing and examining the effects of different stimuli.

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8.0
Convergence #4

May 6, 2015

Everyone has had days when they don't feel quite like themselves. Worse, everyone has had days when nobody else seems quite like themselves. It is like the world has fallen under an evil spell, or reality has taken a step to the left while you weren't looking. The word “alienation” perfectly sums up such days. But the good part of such uncomfortable episodes is their end. When the spell breaks and the sense of strangeness lifts, it is as if the world suddenly snaps back into its proper place. And all those people who momentarily seemed soodd are revealed to be old friends after all.

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5.0
Convergence #5

May 9, 2015

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,” or so said William Butler Yeats in 1919. Yeats died the year Batman was born, and he was reflecting on the carnage and hypocrisy of World War One, not the adventures chronicled in four-color comics. Nevertheless, readers of Convergence might well feel some sympathy with the Irish poet this week. In Convergence #4, the weekly series finally seemed to find its rhythm, particularly in terms of characterization. In Convergence #5, the story breaks apart and appears to lose all momentum.

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7.0
Convergence #6

May 14, 2015

Last week, it seemed that Convergence had lost its way as the plotlines dissolved into confusion and delay. Now, things on Telos are moving again. In fact, Telos itself is moving, into the Earth 0 universe, in fact, where its arrival is monitored by the Justice League, the Red Lanterns, and Justice League United, not to mention Darkseid and Nix Uotan, last of the Monitors. The tremors of its arrival are likely related to the earthquakes featuring prominently in the second halves of the various Convergence event tie-in books. More immediately for the weekly series, the entry of Telos into the normal multiverse sets in motion Deimos' plan.

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7.0
Convergence #7

May 21, 2015

It's probably too easy to compare a comic book arc to a passage of music. Being different art forms that depend on different senses, any analogies are always going to be inexact and possibly misleading. But sometimes the comparison is simply too apt to ignore, such as the case of Convergence #7. Here we have a theme that comes to its climax too quickly in a forced resolution full of dissonant chords and jarring, unharmonized notes. It is as if the orchestra momentarily falls apart, with the strings racing ahead of the woodwinds and the brass forlornly trailing two measures behind while the percussion just doesn't know what the devil is going on.

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7.0
Convergence #8

May 28, 2015

Resurrection is not simple. Think for a moment of the disruption and confusion that could occur if death were reversible. Consider the social and emotional consequences of a reality in which the ultimate finality was … not final. Comic books have made such a routine practice of brushing aside death that such returns no longer seem marvelous. But if the revival of one character no longer surprises, what about the resurrection of a universe? What about the resurrection of multiple universes? In Convergence #8, we have the chance to ponder such issues, although the creators do not deliver the emotional and intellectual challenge the subject deserves, even as the undoone ofthe most famousstorylines in the history of DC Comics.

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8.0
Convergence: Batman and Robin #1

Apr 15, 2015

It doesn't pay to think too deeply about the premise of Convergence. That's not a fatal situation. This event is one of those things that you can take for good fun and enjoy as it comes. Still, the weaknesses in its basic structure are glaring. For instance, we have under a domed Gotham City supposedly taken in the instant before Flashpoint. Well and good. But does that mean that all of the issues of the first week of Convergence are in the same city? If so, that raises all sorts of questions. What were Wally West and Clark Kent and the Titans and all the rest just happening to do in Gotham when Braniac decided to collect it? What have they been doing since, besides getting on each other's nerves? Are we to take it that they city is being assaulted by Captain Carrot and the Extremists and Flashpoint Wonder Woman and Flashpoint Aquaman and the Flashpoint Hawks all at once?

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7.0
Convergence: Batman and Robin #2

May 12, 2015

I said in my review for Convergence: Batman and Robin#1 that it doesn't pay to think too deeply about the premise of this series. Particularly, it doesn't do to consider that these characters were supposedly plucked from a timeline just before Flashpoint. Several of the characterizations and relationships, particularly those of Jason and Damian, simply don't ring true to that era. They seem more drawn from Batman Incorporated than the pre-Flashpoint Batman and Robin. At most, the truest relationship seems that of Bruce and Damian, and that echoes the Batman and Robin of Peter Tomasi from after the reboot.

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9.6
Convergence: Detective Comics #1

May 6, 2015

In the time before Crisis on Infinite Earths, Earth 2 had a very special place in the multiverse. It was the home of the Golden Age heroes: Kal-L, the original Superman; Bruce Wayne, Batman, and his wife Selina Kyle and daughter Helena; Jay Garrick the Flash; Alan Scott the Green Lantern, and many others. It was also the home to Richard Grayson, the man who was Robin and remained Robin, even as he became a lawyer and ambassador.

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8.0
Convergence: Detective Comics #2

Jun 2, 2015

In the first issue of this two parter, we saw Len Wein explore issues of stability and responsibility. The power of the Earth 2 before Crisis on Infinite Earths came from a sense of legacy, but also a sense of permanence and stability. This was world where civilization and society were important, where authority was still a thing to respect and not automatically fear, where brave soldiers and intrepid scientists battled against threats to all humanity at the behest of a generally good and honest government. It was the world of 1950s science fiction, and against it Wein set the example of Moscow from the Red Son universe, a place of stability tinged with stagnation. But even here there was nobility, for the Soviet Superman genuinely wanted what was best for his people.

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8.4
Convergence: Hawkman #1

Apr 29, 2015

If ever there was a character appropriate to an event such as Convergence, it is Katar-Hol, Hawkman. For a character of such seemingly simple concept (a man with artificial wings and a mace, really how difficult can it be?) over the years the history and continuity around him have grown notoriously convoluted. He has gone from archeologist to reincarnated Egyptian sorcerer to alien policeman to a combination of the above, along with his wife Shayera, Hawkwoman. On a world made of clashing realities and warring continuities, Hawman is right at home. Thus it is perfectly appropriate that Convergence: Hawkman #1 is authored by Jeff Parker, whose experience with Aquaman, Batman '66, and soon with Justice League United make him well used to different tones and realms of comic magic.

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8.4
Convergence: Hawkman #2

May 27, 2015

What do you do in the face of certain death? That is the question posed of Katar Hol and his beloved Shayera at the end of Convergence: Hawkman #1. The Thanagarians who have infiltrated Gotham, and the rest of pre-Crisis Earth, reveal to the trapped heroes what their alien calculation machine, a device powered by living minds, has shown – that Earth 1 and its entire history is doomed as the timeline rests under the shadow of the approaching Crisis that will collapse the multiverse and rewrite all known reality. It is said that extreme circumstances reveal true character, bringing out both the best and worst in humanity. Whether that is true of humans or not, Katar and Shayera prove it is certainly the fact with regard to their race. As Hawkman opines, the end is always looming over everyone regardless, and one can only live in hope.

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7.0
Convergence: Justice League Of America #1

Apr 29, 2015

Self-awareness is one of the greatest of human weaknesses. That's right, self-awareness, so beloved by pop psychologists and faux-gurus, is in fact a flaw. It is a kind of narcissism, a dwelling on one's own characteristics and being. That's bad enough, but where it leads is even worse. For the truly self-aware, the denial ofimperfectioncan becomearrogance and, eventually, dictatorial evil. Or, inversely, the true acceptance ofsins becomes depression and denial of worth, a wallowing in shortcomings that leads through self-pity to bitterness and despair and, finally, evil by another route.

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8.4
Convergence: Justice League Of America #2

May 26, 2015

In Convergence: Justice League #1, we met a team crippled by self-awareness. This set of tie-ins features the Detroit Justice League, probably the most widely ridiculed version of that team to arise in more than fifty years of comics history. In no small part, that lack of respect stems from the absence of all the League's traditional major powers. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Green Lantern are all missing. Only Aquaman and Martian Manhunter remain, and of course the King of the Sea has often been regarded as the weakest of the League's long-time members, while Martian Manhunter has never really been utilized to his full potential. In the first issue, we saw the effect of a year under the dome on this group of heroes who already lacked confidence. Despite the best efforts of Ralph Dibney, the Elongated Man, they remain unready to face the assault of the Tangent universe's Secret Six, quickly losing Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna to a stasis trap.

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9.0
Convergence: Speed Force #1

Apr 14, 2015

Why do all speedsters come from the Midwest? Jay Garrick, Barry Allen, Wally West, and Fastback the Turtle all hail from the great middle of the country. It's one of life's mysteries, as great speed is not what one associates with the stereotypical way of life of that portion of the continent. Associating the Bats with a decaying East Coast city is much less of a stretch.

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8.0
Convergence: Speed Force #2

May 12, 2015

Sometimes, you run across a story decision that is simply a misfire. The premise or execution is simply so totally wrongheaded or mishandled that it is easy to deal with by simply pointing out its complete impropriety and shoving it to the side. Other times, you find a story element so completely right, so completely fitting, that you can only smile with joy. That is actually harder to convey in a review, as smiles simply don't translate well through a keyboard, even with the use of emoticons.

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9.6
Convergence: The Question #1

Apr 13, 2015

Comparing Gotham City to a cage comes pretty naturally to anyone who's been reading Batman comics for the past twenty years or so. The city seems a dark and desperate place filled with dark and desperate people trapped with each other in a cycle of violence and cruelty. The story that most exemplified that,the event thatwas the iconic representation of this view of Gotham, was 1999's No Man's Land, and the writer probably most associated with it was Greg Rucka.

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9.0
Convergence: The Question #2

May 12, 2015

What is the victory of a free man? That is the question (pun very much intended) that Greg Rucka asks in Convergence: The Question #2. Rucka's return to DC with this two-shot tie-in to the Convergence event has also been his return to favorite themes, themes that he famously explored more than fifteen years ago in the classic No Man's Land. Rucka is the master of street-level psychology, and of the changes that pressure and extreme events wreak on that psychology. In Convergence: The Question #1, he explored the idea of a cage and its meaning. Particularly, a cage is the absence of freedom, the absence of chance and choice. It is the place where the coin always comes up tails, the place where no conflict exists, and where all is stultification and decay.

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8.4
Convergence: Wonder Woman #1

Apr 28, 2015

Do you remember when…? Many of the stories tying into Convergence this week bring up that question. We are, after all, dealing with stories rooted in the DCU of thirty years ago, in the time just before the Crisis remade the face of superhero comics forever. Many of the issues this week suffer from that problem, as they must spend an inordinate amount of time setting the stage, reminding us of the state of the world and the position of the characters at that crucial moment in history. However, Convergence: Wonder Woman #1 manages to tell an effective story in the midst of its exposition, even though we find the characters at a long-ago and, for many readers, long-forgotten juncture.

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8.0
Convergence: Wonder Woman #2

May 23, 2015

Convergence: Wonder Woman is essentially a story about the power and essence of religion. That isn't because Diana Prince is a religious figure. This is the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman, a hero who certainly had connections with the Greek gods but who had not yet ascended to divine status herself, as has happened in the present world of the DCU. Rather, it is because the situation in which the characters find themselves calls forth the intense, primal urges from which formal religion arises, the need for worship and comfort and hope, the need to believe in a reason and pattern and purpose to the universe and the events that unfold within it. The story also speaks to the demands of religion, which are the demands of duty and belief, and, at least within the context of the Judeo-Christian tradition, the demands of sacrifice.

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7.0
Cyborg #1

Jul 28, 2015

The themes of humanity and technology, perfection and frailty, love and knowledge are all laid out clearly and without any great fumbles. But there is no great panache here, either. We have seen all of this before, and we suspect we know how all of this will play out. We may, indeed, be wrong. The ability to be surprised is a very human trait. But so far, this is a story that might as well have been put together by a very talented machine.

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7.0
Cyclops (2014) #7

Dec 3, 2014

Layman and Garron's first two issues retain glimmers of the fun and energy that made the initial arc of Cyclops an enjoyable story, although not an original or even very memorable one. But those fragments lie buried beneath layers of disagreeable doubt and tension so familiar from hundreds of mediocre teen dramas. Let's hope that this is only the sign of a new crew, just now getting their space legs.

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8.4
DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1

Dec 23, 2016

You don't have to be a Grinch to dread Christmas parties. The epitome of mandatory enjoyment, which is to say pure agony, these gatherings tend to degenerate into either uncomfortable conversation with people with whom you have little in common, but whom you can't avoid for political reasons, or bored chitchat with the same people you talk to every day, chitchat usually consisting of complaints about the same annoying but well-connected people. DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1starts out in the same dreary tradition with a frame story narrated by Harley Quinn. Harley is very popular, I grant, but the patter from Paul Dini is little more than adequate.

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9.6
DC Universe: Rebirth #1

Jun 1, 2016

DC Universe Rebirth #1is a manifesto, an opening barrage, and a masterpiece. In the return of Wally West and the introduction of Doctor Manhattan as the antagonist (not, he says, the villain) who stole time from the DC Universe and infected it with darkness, Geoff Johns has taken the gamble of his career. Given that theRebirthsaga is set to play out over the next two years, it will be quite a while before we know if he is a victor or not. But for sheer daring, Johns belongs in the company of the heroes whose stories he pens.

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8.0
Detective Comics (2011) #47

Dec 16, 2015

This issue moves ROBIN WAR forward a solid step. But the missed character opportunities with Grayson and Gordon constitute a stumble from which Fawkes has no time to recover. Generally solid art from Steve Pugh and Chris Sotomayor along with a strong overall sense of progress carry the issue over the bump, but we have definitely seen ROBIN WAR take its first less-than-successful installment. It is up to WE ARE ROBIN to put things back on track.

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8.4
Detective Comics (2016) #940

Sep 21, 2016

The apparent death of Tim also has the effect of highlighting other relationships in Gotham, such as between Kate Kane and her father or a Batman and Spoiler. It likewise clears the deck for Damian's iteration of the Teen Titans. I would have bet good money that DC was not that serious about continuity, and very good money that the Bats of Gotham would play little role in the greater REBIRTH saga. It's a good thing for my billfold that I am not a betting man.

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7.0
Detective Comics (2016) #942

Oct 15, 2016

All good things come to an end, sadly. Fortunately, so do all not-so-good things. The Night of the Monster Men unfortunately ceases to be goofy fun with Detective Comics #942. It isn't really a terrible issue, but it isn't original or interesting, either. And, since it is the last installment of the crossover, it means the whole effort ends in disappointment and failed potential.

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4.0
Earth 2 #30

Jan 14, 2015

This title has ceased to enjoy a separate life. It is now a background series for its weekly cousin. As such, it does adequate service. But the stories are only acceptable, and the destruction of an independent series in their service is a tragedy. Earth 2 is being destroyed, but did this book have to die as well?

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8.0
Earth 2: Society #1

Jun 13, 2015

Earth 2, the new Earth 2, is a world cobbled together from a lot of odds and ends. Now, that isn't to say it's necessarily poorly constructed. I have known thrown-together arrangements to last for years. Nations that have endured for centuries started as arbitrary groupings of disparate territory lumped together by the exigencies of war and deal making. Still, this particular exercise in world building seems more akin to sewing a quilt than painting a landscape.

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4.0
Earth 2: World's End #10

Dec 13, 2014

What to make of this titanic mess? It's spirited, except when it drags. It's interesting, except when it confuses. It doesn't move the story along at any kind of pleasing pace, and the characters are at best enigmas of motivation and personality. The world is ending, and it's hard to see why anybody would care.

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5.0
Earth 2: World's End #11

Dec 23, 2014

The answers given in this issue might have been powerful and important. They still may prove to be so. But the turgid narrative and slow pace rob them of much of their force. We do not have a story here, but a set of moments. Like disconnected images in a gallery, they impress, they even move, but they do not engage. The scenes are striking, but they serve their purpose poorly.

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4.0
Earth 2: World's End #13

Jan 3, 2015

This isn't a sad, tiresome issue like the last. It even has glimmers of heroism and nobility. But if not sad and tired, it may well be futile.

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5.0
Earth 2: World's End #14

Jan 13, 2015

Amir Khan emerges as the moral heart of the series as he declares that "All that is not given, is lost." Unfortunately, this weekly comic has reserved too much, and is in danger of losing it all. Let us hope that Khan's exhortation is not too late for his world, or for his comic.

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5.0
Earth 2: World's End #16

Jan 28, 2015

The Hornblower, we are told, is approaching Earth 2. This isn't the character from C. S. Forester's Napoleonic-era novels of naval adventure, but rather a planet that heralds doom. Given what we now know of DC's publishing strategy, the Hornblower is likely Telos, the planet that is a villain. For one thing, Telos is a Greek word meaning “end” or “purpose” so Hornblower, something that signifies the end, would fit. For another, we know from solicits for the upcoming Convergence event that several of the main characters from Earth 2 are going to wind up on Telos.

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6.0
Earth 2: World's End #17

Feb 4, 2015

There comes a moment in the process of death when the journey becomes irreversible. It's usually hard to pinpoint exactly where that is until it's already past, but usually there is little mistaking it once it arrives. And, of course, in the world of comics, nothing is ever truly irreversible, perhaps especially death. But, still, if Earth 2 were a dying patient, the sound of its breathing would not augur well for surviving through the night.

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8.0
Earth 2: World's End #22

Mar 11, 2015

In 1961, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, and Julius Schwartz set all of reality to music. In that year's “Flash of Two Worlds,” they introduced the concept of universes existing in parallel, each vibrating at a different rate. From there, it was but a short step to the great tuning forks of reality that featured so prominently in Crisis on Infinite Earths and thegrand symphony of the multiverse currently being explored by Grant Morrison in Multiversity. So it is entirely appropriate that one moment, indeed one panel, in Earth 2: World's End #22 gives the impression of a great chord sounding, as if in some baroque fugue the music has reached a pivotal point of development, a beat in which a great and familiar theme appears in its full statement, leading forward into a new movement.

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9.0
Effigy #1

Feb 2, 2015

This book must perform a balancing act that Dick Grayson, circus performer extraordinaire, would certainly appreciate. Seeley and Zarcone have chosen to set their story in an odd place and fill it with grotesques while keeping it supposedly in the real world. Effigy Mound is not the obviously imaginary Gotham, but as an exotic, if little-known, tourist trap it isn't an ordinary city, either. Similarly, the characters are bizarre, but not superheroes like the Bat Family. They are realistic, but not as normal as the characters of REVIVAL or, as far as their social setting and professional background go, even those of SUNDOWNERS. They are fascinating, but their strangeness could alienate very quickly. If Seeley and Zarcone can tell their serpentine story filled with shadows without losing their balance, they will have achieved a literary feat worthy of great praise. Worthy, indeed, of being cast in effigy.

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8.4
Flash: Rebirth (2016) #1

Jun 16, 2016

The Flash: Rebirth #1invites us to consider the definition of a plot device. It's easy to denounce such-and-such aspect of a book as a “mere plot device” or “only there for the convenience of the storyteller,” as if any part of a competently written story were not in service of the plot, and were not created by the author for practical reasons. We believe, both intuitively and formally, that plot devices are different from setting or character or theme, but trying to draw clear boundaries them usually leads to an appreciation of the lawyer's maxim about hard cases making bad law.

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9.6
Gotham By Midnight #1

Nov 29, 2014

The dark story unfolds, a tale out of time and tradition, or rather of a very different time and very different tradition. The adventures of destroying angels and benevolent bat demons are a new and welcome delight in the Gotham, a city that encompasses many different universes. But the medieval world was well-acquainted with the concept of cities that embodied eternity. Perhaps it is time for our world to learn from their wisdom.

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8.0
Gotham By Midnight #3

Feb 3, 2015

With the coming demise of both Batwoman and Klarion, Ray Fawkes and Ben Templesmith will be left to use Gotham by Midnight as the only remainingvenue to chronicle the dark, magical corners of Gotham. In preparation for that burden, they have been rapidly world-building, introducing their characters and setting while alsolaunching a major plot about an extra-dimensional threat apparently looking to enter Gotham by using stolen children as living conduits. Time is running short as Convergence approaches and the Batman Office will take stock of its line and its world in the wake of that event. For all Fawkes' and Templesmith's successes to this point, the ticking clock is their greatest enemy.

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8.4
Grayson #13

Nov 5, 2015

Whatever else you can say about Tim Seeley and the rest of theGrayson creative team, never accuse them of lacking a sense of humor. As the calendar closed in on Halloween, they offered up a story that nods in the direction of that most appropriate of classics,Frankenstein. Never shy of celebrating Dick Grayson's physical attributes, they open with a scene detailing the former Robin's return to the decidedly unloving embrace of Spyral, a process featuring a medical examination that Doctor Frankenstein would likely appreciate. That it involves the reactivated Agent 37 spending several panels decidedly naked is something many readers of the book can appreciate.

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8.4
Grayson #14

Dec 1, 2015

This two-issue sequence establishes a clear pivot point for the series. With the first phase of his new life behind him, and now reconnected to the Bat Family and the greater DCU, Dick Grayson enters the heart of the mystery that is Spyral. It is likely significant that the Ouroboros forms a circular opening like the mouth of a tunnel or, less optimistically, a black hole. Given the nature of Spyral and the shadowy realm in which it lives, it seems likely that something very strange waits on the other side. But Dick Grayson must first defeat the guardians of the portal, and that will likely keep Seeley and King busy for another couple of arcs.

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9.0
Grayson #15

Dec 16, 2015

The Robin War begins with a surprise maneuver from the Gray Son of Gotham, but that very title reveals the danger in Grayson's maneuvers. The Court of Owls is also no amateur club when it comes to manipulation. Is responsibility is a great strength or a serious flaw? As with so many qualities, it appears to be both. And as the War grows more complex, the ramifications of this event grow larger. Grayson wants to protect his family. But one must remember that one of his ancestors is the Court's most deadly assassin. And what of his new family in Spyral? Quite a burden, even for someone whose shoulders are as broad as his.

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9.0
Grayson #16

Feb 2, 2016

What's your favorite Bond movie? I am one of those old-fashioned types who prefers the halcyon days of the 1960s, of Sean Connery and shaken not stirred and secret volcano lairs. And most of all I prefer 1964'sGoldfinger. In many ways it was the first complete Bond movie. Dr. NoandFrom Russia With Loveare both fine films, but it is in the third Bond outing that all the classic elements of a Bond movie come together: the girl, the villain, the henchman, the hideout, the cold open, the stylized credit sequence, the specially commissioned theme song. Graysonhas toyed with the conventions of the spy genre since its first issue, but in this installment it means into them with rapturous joy. And when it leans, it rests onGoldfinger.

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8.4
Harley Quinn (2013) #12

Nov 25, 2014

It's all worth a constant smile, several laughs, and a couple of out-and-out guffaws. The story suffers some from the absence of Harley's fast growing supporting cast, and the trans-corporate ribbing gets a bit thick at times. But King Arthur the giant pug is worth it, and who couldn't use a brief vacation in another galaxy with a good friend?

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8.0
Harley Quinn (2013) #13

Dec 31, 2014

An ordinary episode of Harley's adventures. It's silly, it's strange, it's hilarious, and what more can you really ask for on a late December Wednesday?

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8.0
Harley Quinn (2013) #14

Feb 4, 2015

Everybody has a boring day, sometimes. Of course, Harley Quinn's boring days would drive most members of the bomb squad straight to Arkham Asylum out of pure stress. Perhaps the most ordinary aspect of Harley Quinn #14 is that Harley is, in fact, enjoying (if you can call it that) her own day. Neither Power Girl nor Poison Ivy nor any other guest star intrudes on the events of this particular episode, which begins with Harley being awakened by Egghead's rampaging body and rapidly proceeds to a plumbing emergency.

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9.0
Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1

Dec 13, 2014

Reading these three tales gives you a warm feeling in your heart. True, part of it is the usual heartburn invoked quite deliberately by Harley's writers, and part of it is probably all those Christmas cookies you've eaten. But most of it is genuine humor coming from funny stories that treat the holidays with surprising reverence. The tales are perhaps a bit short and simplistic, and maybe a tad sentimental. But it's the time of year for such things and Harley, with the sure touch of an experienced therapist, hits the right tone effortlessly (and she doesn't even have to use her mallet).

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9.0
Harley Quinn Valentine's Day Special #1

Feb 17, 2015

Is Batman a good kisser? What about Bruce Wayne? Now, those of us among the cognoscenti are aware that the individuals in question are, in fact, one and the same. Or are they? The difference between Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader, whether due to acting skills or mental illness or, as long-time Batman readers tend to suspect, a combination of both, has not really been a subject of exploration in the New 52. It is appropriate enough, given that the New 52 appears to be in its waning days in terms of labelling if not continuity, that this oversight be rectified in the pages of the New 52's most surprising hit comic.

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5.0
Inhuman #9

Dec 10, 2014

This story has great potential, but that potential goes unrealized. Instead, we get a repeat of themes long explored in other Marvel books, including previous versions of the Inhumans' history. To make matters worse, it is only a bridge connecting the end of one event and the beginning of another. One wonders whether it is also meant to resonate with plotlines emerging on recent television programs. It is not so much a literary effort as an engineering project, an exercise in calculated creation much like the Kree experiments that brought forth the Inhumans themselves. Unfortunately, there is no terrigen mist to awaken the story's latent power.

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8.4
Justice League #36

Nov 24, 2014

So, powerful preparation and deep themes. But the Darkseid War looms. The conflict between Bruce and Lex deepens and grows ominous as Lex warns that he will see the day that Bruce fails a loved one. Power Ring waits in the background. The Amazo Virus could be a story of significance and lasting impact. But one suspects that, like a fever dream, it will dissipate as soon as the virus passes.

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9.0
Justice League #40

May 5, 2015

Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison are probably the two most famous writers of DC's modern age, barring only Scott Snyder. Yet, the two are very different in style, emphases, and interests. Morrison is famous for his philosophical musings about the nature of comics and narrative, about the nature of literary reality itself. Johns, on the other hand, is the foremost practitioner of the traditional superhero epic, the steady hand on the tiller that has guided the DCU through drama, controversy, and crises of all various descriptions. Thus, it is very strange but extremely gratifying to see Johns take a flying leap into Morrisonian clouds in Justice League 40, as he meditates on the nature of the literary events that have shaped and reshaped the DCU over the last thirty years.

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8.4
Justice League #41

Jun 7, 2015

When I was much younger, my favorite bumper sticker read “Cthulhu for President! Why settle for the lesser of two evils?” InJustice League #41,Geoff Johns shows us a world riven between evils, and it is not an amusing sight. Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor have chosen Earth 0 as their battleground, and the Justice League is squarely between the two juggernauts. That, of course, was only to be expected given the lead up to this story, which is after all titledThe Darkseid War. What was not to be expected was the care and detail and complexity with which Johns has described his fictional world and its denizens. This is probably Johns' most promising work since the reboot of 2011.

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8.4
Justice League #42

Jul 20, 2015

In Justice League #42, Geoff Johns develops the Darkseid War into a complex storyline with multiple interlocking plotlines and numerous interrelated characters. This goes well beyond the standards of a typical comic-book arc, even beyond what one would expect of one of Johns' own famed epic narratives. In its dazzling spectacle and daring, even arrogant reach this story resembles a Jacobean masque, a sparkling, phantasmagoric entertainment encompassing the deeds of gods and designed for the amusement of kings. Johns' audience aren't kings (well, not many of us, anyway) but his tale certainly is about gods, specifically about the Old Gods and the New Gods. Or maybe even more accurately the Old Gods, the New Gods, and the Newer Gods to come.

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8.4
Justice League #43

Aug 24, 2015

It would seem that the three Justice League titles, Geoff Johns'Justice League, Bryan Hitch'sJustice League of America, and Jeff Parker'sJustice League United, are speaking with one voice and one opinion – gods and prophets are at best treacherous and at worst poisonous. Based on the evidence presented in these books since DC finished itsConvergence publishing break, the appearance of a divinity, or the messenger of such, should be enough to send any intelligent superhero, never mind any ordinary mortal, screaming in the opposite direction.

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8.0
Justice League #44

Oct 7, 2015

What is the opposite of life? That mystery has been the motivation for the character of Darkseid, the New God ruler of Apokalips, ever since the legendary Jack Kirby first introduced him and his extended, murderous family of deities in the 1970s. The Age of Aquarius was famously given to sentimental speculation about the nature of the world, and the saga of the New Gods was a product of its time. The goal of Darkseid's cosmic quest was the Anti-Life Equation, a mystical source of power that embodied not death, but slavery. The Anti-Life Equation did not extinguish physical existence, but free will, without which life was a mockery.

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8.4
Justice League #45

Oct 28, 2015

“I am become Death, the shatterer of world's.” That quote is more in keeping with the personality of Shiva, or failing him of J. Robert Oppenheimer, than of Barry Allen. But it is the literal truth asJustice League #45 opens. Barry has been merged with the Black Racer, the incarnation of Death, courtesy of the Anti-Monitor. In truth, one might fairly see that as all in a day's work for the Flash. This is the man who rebooted the entire universe not so long ago, after all. What's unusual even for Barry is that his first act was to kill Darkseid. Gods in this universe are not eternal. They can die, and, as we see in this issue, they can be born.

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8.4
Justice League #50

May 28, 2016

Why so much death in the wake of life? So that there might be life in the aftermath of death. So that there might be, yes, REBIRTH. Whether planned or not, THE DARKSEID WAR has become the prelude to Johns' next fugue. Or, more exactly, it is Johns launching of an fugue for others to take up. But the the themes of birth in a major key and death in a minor have been clearly sounded. The next chord begins the new symphony. And the first movement is DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH #1.

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8.0
Justice League of America (2015) #1

Jun 23, 2015

Sometimes, you have a really bad day. Sometimeseverybodyseems to be having a bad day. But the most awkward day comes along when you are in a pretty good mood but everybody else acts like they are suffering from painful rashes in extremely inconvenient places. It leaves you nervous and slightly confused, unable to interact smoothly with a world that seems poised to lash out at the least insult, whether real or imagined, innocent or intentional. InJustice League of America #1,author and artist Bryan Hitch gives us a team of heroes who act as if they really, really need a consultation with a good dermatologist. The result is often unattractive and uncomfortable, even though the actual story comes together solidly enough.

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7.0
Justice League of America (2015) #2

Jul 14, 2015

In Justice League of America #2, Brian Hitch tries a new art form. Given that he is already the writer and pencil artist for this book, as well as a collaborator on the ink work, that is a very impressive undertaking. It is especially brave considering that this is kind of expression with which he seems to be unfamiliar, the sermon of moral exhortation. Many people don't realize that such forms of rhetoric are, in fact, art, but they possess all of the cultural aspects of an art form, including bodies of theory and interpretation, appreciative and knowledgeable audiences, and infrastructures of presentation and preservation. They can even become “meta,” in the parlance of self-aware and self-referential creativity. And that is what Hitch has attempted in this issue. He tries to preach a sermon about sermons. Unfortunately, as all too often happens in any kind of amateur sermonizing, never mind meta-sermonizing, he comes off as heavy-handed and overbearing.

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8.0
Justice League of America (2015) #3

Sep 1, 2015

Hitch gives a message that is clear, powerful, and cruel. Hope is an illusion. God's are monsters. Truth lies in bitterness and suspicion. It is a message many will agree with. But it is also a message depending on a sprawling tangle of plot elements that often seem to be secondary to the overwhelming theme. There is great power in despair. In confusion and incoherence, not so much.

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9.0
Justice League of America (2015) #4

Oct 21, 2015

What is the nature of faith? What does it look like? If you dissected the brain of a believing person, what would you see? What would the faith be in a test tube? How would it appear on a microscope slide? That is the question Bryan Hitch wrestles with inJustice League of America #4. The answer he gives is a controversial one, even if only true for Kryptonians and their converts.

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8.0
Justice League of America: Rebirth #1

Feb 15, 2017

What is the making of a god? That has been a somewhat puzzling question in the D.C. Universe for many years. The world does not lack for divinity, in fact it is positively rotten with deities. There are the New Gods, of course, but also the gods of Ancient Greece and Rome. There are demons and dark entities. There are even angels and ministers of judgment from what would seem to be the Abrahamic god, albeit often in a rather arbitrary and vengeful form. The underlying reality of these divinities, where they come from and what, if anything, underlies them is usually left unexplored.

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9.6
Justice League of America: The Atom Rebirth #1

Jan 12, 2017

The Atom is a fine example of what one might call, with no disrespect intended, the Silver Medal class of DC heroes. These are characters who are hard-working, successful, and enduring but who never manage to break into the front ranks. The current TV show,Legends of Tomorrow,incorporated this aspect of the character into its storyline when Ray Palmer, the Atom, played by Brandon Routh, observed that he died – naturally a temporary comic-book death – and no one seemed to miss him very much. Now, that is of an over-the-top dismissal, particularly when one considers Al Pratt, the original Atom who first joined the adventures of the Justice Society of America in 1940. Pratt served as a valued and stalwart member of the JSA for decades, although his signature powers never included shrinking, which I suspect most people associate with the Atom. Ray Palmer, who made his debut in 1961, introduced that aspect of the character.

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7.0
Justice League United #7

Dec 13, 2014

There is very little united about this story. Characters, plotlines, and themes show promise, but fail to come together in a coherent relationship. The addition of the Legion and Legion Lost is like taking an already-overheated cauldron and turning up the burner three notches. The energy and vibrancy are admirable. But at this point, a steady simmer would have been better than a rolling boil.

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7.0
Justice League United #8

Jan 21, 2015

Time travel stories tend to involve paradox. The very nature of journeying through the fourth dimension raises the possibility of … well, impossibility. Or, if impossibility doesn't occur, at least absurdity often does. The entire plot progression of Justice League United #8 constitutes a paradox of the absurd kind. Maybe the best way to put it is that nothing much happens accept the probable end of the universe.

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5.0
Justice League United #9

Feb 13, 2015

Sometimes, it's best just to put things bluntly. Justice League United, which started off shakily but with promise, has devolved into a hot mess. Writer Jeff Lemire always had difficulties with the dynamics of a large and disparate team drawn together suddenly from scattered locations in response to a very complicated emergency. The time and effort required to keep all of the moving pieces in from crashing into one another left him precious little space for exploring all his characters and their relationships, much less carefully explaining the ins and outs of thetwisting plot spanning the galaxy and the millennia. Imbalances appeared quite early and never really got rectified. But one had faith that Lemire, proven to be one of DC's premier up-and-coming writers and sometimes mentioned as a possible heir-apparent to Geoff Johns, would eventually bring his house in order.

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7.0
Justice League United #10

Mar 18, 2015

Have you ever tried actually drawing out a story line? Not, that is, illustrating a tale with pictures or abstract symbols, but using a simple line and its curves to visually represent the development of a plot. Most stories, I suppose, would produce vectors headed inexorably in one direction, the line rising and falling to indicate lulls and crises. A moderately exciting story of drama or adventure would look like a mountain range or a stock market graph.

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6.0
Justice League United #11

Jul 15, 2015

Several years ago I had a friend who worked as an information technology technician for a major educational institution. I remarked to him once that his job must be very stressful, as he had to deal constantly with very demanding, ill-tempered customers. He said that it was not as bad as one might think, as a huge number of problems in his field could be solved with three fingers – that is, by pressing Control-Alt-Delete and rebooting whatever recalcitrant piece of equipment he was faced with. He observed that life would be a great deal easier if more problems admitted of such an approach.

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8.0
Justice League: Gods and Monsters #1

Aug 12, 2015

But you don't watch an Elseworlds story, which this is, for the plot. You don't even watch it for the themes. You watch it for the world, and this one is competent but not spectacular. We have seen brutal, killing Supermen before. We have seen violent, militaristic versions of Wonder Woman. We have seen Batman the vampire. Nothing here is badly done, but nothing is new. It is an amusing riff on a very old joke. This movie is like a third rate hotel. It's comfortable enough, and it does the job. But nobody is going to be in a great rush to come back here again. The law of heroes is nothing, in the end, to the law of human interest.

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6.0
Justice League: Rebirth #1

Jul 13, 2016

Justice League: Rebirth #1mainly consists of a battle between the Justice League and a giant louse. That's right, a giant louse. Well, okay, a giant space louse that produces small versions of itself to take control of people by wrapping around their heads like the face huggers fromAlien. And this is the flagship title for an entire line of comics seeking to revitalize DC's literary universe.

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8.0
Klaus #1

Nov 11, 2015

Grant Morrison is a man of many obsessions. It would probably be more fair to say “interests.” At least that would avoid any appearance of psychological accusation. But there is something decidedly weak and unsatisfactory about the alternate term. So let us stipulate that the word “obsession” is not meant in its medical sense, but only in its less controversial meaning of an intense focus far beyond that attained and maintained by the average person. And in that sense, I repeat that Grant Morrison is obsessed with many things. He is obsessed with the history of comics, with the nature and possibilities of narrative expressed in the form of sequential art, with the meaning of heroism and hope in the modern world, with the nature and importance of imagination, and with children and childhood.

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9.0
Midnighter (2015) #1

Jun 9, 2015

“I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) at midnight. The clock began to strike and I began to cry simultaneously.” Midnighter is far from David Copperfield, both as a book and a character. But Charles Dickens understood the symbolism of birth at the witching hour. It is the time, rhetorically if not astronomically, when shadows are deepest, mysteries most impenetrable, and the sun the farthest away. At midnight, the walls of the world grow fragile, and dangers crowd round.

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8.4
Midnighter (2015) #2

Jul 6, 2015

In Midnighter #2, Steve Orlando gives us a sense of the superhero profession. Not, please note, the superhero life, or the superhero activity. Rather, we truly get a very rare and serious glimpse of superheroism as a demanding profession. Midnighter is not all-consumed by his superhero identity, whether for the bad as in the case of Batman or the good as in the case of Dick Grayson. However, his vigilante activity is not simply a job at which he clocks in and out, either. Rather, it is a part of his life that affects all aspects of his being without necessarily defining them. It is a set of skills that he has honed in a way that sets him clearly apart from amateurs. It is a web of contacts and habits that embeds him firmly in a very exotic subculture.

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8.4
Midnighter (2015) #3

Aug 11, 2015

CIn the spaces thus opened up books like Steve Orlando's Midnighter have appeared and flourished artistically, although to be honest its published sales numbers have not been on par with its reviews. Nevertheless, Orlando and artist ACO have used this most unusual of characters to explore, with depth and humor, the life of a gay superhero faced with a cosmic challenge.

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8.4
Midnighter (2015) #6

Nov 11, 2015

Midnighterhas come to serve a unique function in the DC Universe, as well as occupying a unique place in the current topography of DC publications. It is a book that consciously explores the social and psychological identity of a gay superhero. It also is a touchstone for the former WildStorm properties with the current DC books. But, one would not have expected a book serving those functions to be linked, however loosely, with the Batman Universe, especially through the mediation ofGrayson and its star, the former Nightwing.

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8.4
Nightwing (2016) #3

Aug 24, 2016

Whom do you ship Dick Grayson with? It isn't a silly question, even if many people appear to find it annoying. Sexual and emotional attractiveness have long been at the core of Grayson's character, or perhaps more accurately have long been one of the main components to his portrayal within the DC universe. This grew even more pronounced during the recentGrayson comic, co-written by currentNightwing author Tim Seeley. InNightwing, Seeley has so far not emphasized the sex, but has greatly enhanced the romance. So, given that it is a core premise of the modern character portrayal, the question of whom one ships Nightwing with speaks to one's relationship with the entireNightwingenterprise.

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7.0
Nightwing (2016) #6

Oct 7, 2016

Nightwing #6 isn't quite the same silly fun as the rest of the Night of the Monster Mento this point. Roge Antonio and Chris Sotomayor provide the same kind of cartoonish visuals, but the script by Steve Orlando and Tim Seeley takes a much more serious turn. Now, it isn't overwhelming in its darkness, especially considering we are talking about a Halloween-themed Batman story of the modern era. Still, there are revelations obviously designed to carry well beyond this specific story.

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8.4
Nightwing (2016) #7

Oct 26, 2016

The final revelation is in the final panel. A photo found by Nightwing in Raptor's quarters shows Mary Grayson, Dick's mother, in the company of a young Raptor. Mary wears her trapeze outfit, while Raptor appears to be a clown of some type. Who is this villain? Is he Dick's Uncle George from long ago? A former boyfriend of Mary? An anti-hero with relatively poor social skills? It is one of the most intriguing mysteries Nightwing has faced in many years. A regular circus of shadows.

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8.4
Nightwing (2016) #8

Nov 9, 2016

With the end of this arc, Seeley has successfully introduced a new and interesting Nightwing villain, a feat no one has accomplished for many years, especially if one dismisses Blockbuster as a retread from other heroes. The loss of Grayson of Spyral for the more familiar Nightwing is a minor tragedy, but Seeley seems determined to do new and unique things with the character, resisting the urge to walk in paths worn well by Chuck Dixon and others.

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7.0
ODY-C #1

Dec 1, 2014

Fraction has crafted a dream based on one of the classic stories of the Western canon. His play with gender and sexuality is interesting, sometimes fascinating. But his daring sometimes exceeds his ability to effectively combine ancient themes and modern interests, classic characters and present preoccupations. Where one would have wished for subtle resonance, Fraction often provides obvious messages. Where one would have liked layered metaphor, Fraction often crafts images meant to shock but merely seem silly. He has reached far across space and time, but until he grasps the substance of his tale more securely, Homer has very little to fear.

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6.0
Rat God #1

Feb 9, 2015

Probably the most widely known bit of Lovecraft is his doggerel from the Necronomicon, “That is not dead which can eternal lie, and in strange aeons even death may die.” That couplet has graced tee shirts, coffee mugs, illustrations, and probably cross-stitches throughout the English-speaking world. It could apply very easily to the work of Lovecraft, himself, which has shown remarkable durability over the decades since his untimely death nearly a century ago. Especially over the last twenty years the dark bard of Providence has experienced a Renaissance, spurred by scholars such as S. T. Joshi and loving disciples as diverse as Stephen King, T.E.D. Klein, and John Carpenter.

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9.6
Revival #25

Nov 21, 2014

The clearest example of this book's literary values arises from a scene that precedes the confrontation at the Federal detention facility. Dana Cypress, engaged in a teasing conversation with her new lover, discovers her washing machine full of drowned frogs, the result of her smart but impulsive son Cooper bringing them home in his pockets. It is surprising, gross, absurd, hilarious, weirdly adorable, and, in context, completely believable. This is a strange, powerful book full of strange, powerful truths. And maybe the strangest is that saying it is a washing machine full of drowned frogs writ large is an utterly sincere complement.

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8.4
Robin War #1

Dec 8, 2015

War begins in tension and confusion. Robin War #1, the opening act of DC Entertainment's latest Batman Office event, serves up tension in plenty, but not perhaps of the type writer Tom King intended. TheRobin Warevent seems to have begun as a small crossover and blossomed, rather suddenly and unexpectedly, into an event consisting of six main books and three independent tie-ins. The evidence of the scramble snakes through the books like a set of geologic fault lines. The particular scars evident inRobin War #1 take the form of hastily assembled panels created by five different artists. The resulting incoherence of visual styles causes a jarring sense of imbalance across the book.

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8.0
Robin War #2

Jan 21, 2016

“It was the owl that shrieked, that fatal bellman.” So says Shakespeare in the second act of Macbeth, reflecting the belief of his time that owls were heralds of death and to hear one booting on the roof was to know that someone in the house would soon perish. Gotham City has little in common with Elizabethan England, but rather more similarities with the imagined Scotland of Shakespeare's cursed play. Murderous treachery abounds among the elites of Gotham, and it doesn't take much effort to envisage Lady Macbeth ensconced in one of Wayne Manor's neighboring mansions. For that matter, who would be surprised to find the three witches of the Scottish play living amidst the trash of the Narrows? Most of all,MacbethandBatman share a sense of darkness in broad daylight, of creeping unease just below the surface of all events and interactions.

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9.0
Robin: Son of Batman #1

Jun 22, 2015

Patrick Gleason has made a believer of me. His story of legacy and redemption could easily slip into formula and melodrama, but this issue shows little sign of such. It is true that he begins, as seems to be something of a fashion at DC these days, in the middle of the action, leaving a great deal of background and exposition to unfold as things progress. This might be a recipe for confusion down the road, but so far it is a recipe for interest. Many believe that Grant Morrison is the definitive writer of Damian, while Peter Tomasi has his partisans, as well. Now Gleason and his art team enter the fray, pencils afire. It is no exaggeration to say that with this issue Tomasi should be looking over his shoulder, and Morrison should feel a chill on his spine. Yes, it really is that good.

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8.4
Robin: Son of Batman #2

Jul 21, 2015

Patrick Gleason has the rare opportunity among authors at the Big Two comic publishers to match his story exactly to his images, and he makes the most of it. Gleason has long been known for his dream-like, nearly phantasmagoric tableaux. He is one of the few artists who could convincingly sketch an expedition of the Bat Family to Apokalips and a return visit of the New Gods to the Bat Cave. John Kalisz and Jeromy Cox support him with a color set notable forintense reddish undertones, while Mick Gray's deep shadows add to the unworldly aura. In Robin: Son of Batman #2, Gleason stretches his technique by adapting the lines and shapes of traditional South American pictographs as Damian struggles to atone for the first day of his Year of Blood by returning the head of a magical stone guardian that he stole from a forest village, leaving the inhabitants helpless before the depredations of a local drug cartel.

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8.0
Robin: Son of Batman #3

Aug 25, 2015

I suppose there is some law, somewhere, or at least a statistical probability, that any discussion of English-language storytelling will sooner or later end up at William Shakespeare. And, arriving at the Bard, it is very likely that the discussion will segue toHamlet. Let us then satisfy probability by quoting the Danish prince's advice to the players that they suit “the action to the words, the word to the action.” It is not given to comic book creators to follow that rule very often, as words and actions, or rather words and images, usually come from the work of different people. In the case ofRobin: Son of Batman,we see what happens when one person, in this case Patrick Gleason, really can create both script and art.

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8.0
Robin: Son of Batman #4

Sep 23, 2015

The long, convoluted history of the DC Universe, stretching as it does over more than three-quarters of a century, is either one of the greatest advantages, or the greatest detriments, of the fictional world. Indeed, some people alternate between praising and condemning the deep texture of the DCU. Whether you love this aspect of DC or hate it, nothing can free the DCU from its past, not crises or relaunches or even reboots.

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9.0
Robin: Son of Batman #6

Dec 2, 2015

To readRobin: Son of Batmanis to enjoy a story assembled with the habits of a visual artist. Writer Patrick Gleason, known primarily to this point for his drawing, has been one of the most pleasant surprises of the last year. His mastery of character, particularly the character of Damian Wayne, has proven sure and refreshing. His themes have been interesting, his plots intricate and well-designed. Still, one definitely sees patterns of visual thought in the construction of his stories. He proceeds image to image. The story ofRobin: Son of Batman #6is framed by captivity and freedom: the literal captivity and freedom of Goliath the dragon bat; the metaphorical, because moral, captivity and freedom of Damian as he overcomes guilt and self-loathing.

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8.0
Robin: Son of Batman #13

Jun 30, 2016

There was a time when the word “cute” was not something you would associate with Damian Wayne. It was the antithesis of his demeanor and personality, an insult that might have led to him surging off the page in all his two-dimensional, full-color glory, determined to avenge his honor as an Al Ghul and a Wayne. But forRobin: Son of Batman #13, cute seems the best descriptor. Look how far we've come.

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8.4
Secret Origins #8

Dec 30, 2014

The GRAYSON origin is strong and useful, and shows what this book might have been. The ANIMAL MAN and KATANA stories are not bad, but aren't particularly necessary or interesting, either. They show what the title actually was, and why it will shortly be gone.

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8.4
Sundowners #4

Dec 3, 2014

The mysteries have deepened and the dimensions have knotted. Or is it only neurosis curdling on itself, and psychosis cutting across the world like a bloody blade? We will probably never get clear answers; this just isn't that type of story. However, it would be better if we had a more lucid statement of the questions.

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9.6
Super Sons #1

Feb 23, 2017

This is a delightful book about delightful characters. So far, there isn't much else to say. But what else would anybody need?

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8.4
Superman (2011) #41

Jun 28, 2015

Still, for all the troubling interpretations of the main character, this issue largely succeeds. The timing problem with regard to the rest of the DCU will be tricky, and some will probably be very frustrated by the lack of clear and quick answers. But, especially when combined with the rest of the TRUTH storyline playing out across the other Superman titles, this shows potential to launch Superman effectively into DC's new era, an era already beginning, at least in terms of fan-response and literary quality, on a much better foot than the now-defunct New 52.

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8.0
Superman (2011) #42

Aug 5, 2015

The late Philip K. Dick, in a speculative move that was odd even for him, once hypothesized that living, intelligent beings are only packets of information, with any reality they, which is to say we, might experience merely being an epiphenomenon, a kind of illusion arising from information layering together, as one might imagine a somewhat dim-witted machine muttering to itself in ever more baroque binary strings. Gene Yang, as Gene Luen Yang now signs himself, doesn't go that far inSuperman 42. Still, it is clear that he sees the modern world, at least the modern human world, as a sea of information. We poor mortals are hopelessly immersed in this flood of data, buoyed by its density, buffeted by its currents, carried by its tides, drowned in its depths, and preyed upon by the monsters of the cryptographic deep. Secrets are illusions in this world, and even the power of knowledge is contingent and elusive.

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8.4
Superman (2011) #43

Sep 1, 2015

Gene Luen Yang has given a satisfactory explanation of Lois' action in a way that not only anwers questions, but even shifts sympathy solidly toward her. If he can continue this twist with a worthy and believable follow-up, then the core of the TRUTH storyline, once looking weak, will prove solid if somewhat poorly paced. Although that by itself will not assure the success of this major initiative, it will satisfy an absolutely necessary condition for such a triumph.

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8.4
Superman (2011) #51

Apr 12, 2016

There is something frightening about a pause. I don't mean a momentary hesitation or even a true time of rest, but rather the sudden silence and stillness of a hurricane's eye, or of a graveyard. That is probably what is most eerie about a cemetery, the silence and emptiness. Well, that and the reminder of mortality that it represents.

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8.4
Superman (2016) #1

Jun 23, 2016

Superman #1 directly takes up one of the main themes ofRebirth, the recovery and celebration of legacy in the DC Universe. This is something that author Peter Tomasi and co-author and pencil artist Patrick Gleason have deep experience with. The New 52 era was not a period in DC's publishing history known for its emphasis on legacy or deep continuity, which is one of the main reasons it eventually became very unpopular in some quarters. However, Tomasi has always been respectful of continuity, even in eras during which such an emphasis was out of fashion. As far as legacy is concerned, hisBatman and Robin, which featured Gleason as principal artist, explored the rich and troubled relationship between Bruce Wayne and Damian, his assassin-born son. Patrick Gleason then picked up these threads in his soloRobin: Son of Batman.

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8.4
Superman (2016) #6

Sep 14, 2016

Superman readers have long known that the “S” stands for hope. But we rarely ask what we are supposed to hope for. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason take the opportunity inSuperman #6to delve into that question. They settle on an unconventional answer. Hope, in the Superman family in the era ofRebirth, rests with Jon White, the child of Clark Kent and Lois Lane from the world beforeFlashpoint.These two are certainly a good choice to explore the place of children and family in the world of DC superheroes. Together they helmed the New 52 version ofBatman and Robin,while Gleason alone createdRobin: Son of Batman.

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9.6
Superman (2016) #10

Nov 9, 2016

The relationship between Jon and Damian has gotten off to a predictable start, and one suspects that Damian's better nature, always close under the surface in Gleason and Tomasi's work, will soon make an appearance. But, given that this is a title that's all about embracing comic book conventions, I for one am looking forward to the inevitable flowering of Robin's heart of, well ... electrum, perhaps? As for Jon, he is the most promising legacy character to enter the DCU since Damian himself, and his meetings with the other members of the Bat Family, and the other heroes of the world, promise delight for a long time to come.

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9.6
Superman (2016) #14

Jan 12, 2017

What is Superman? Not who is Superman, but what is he? He is a hero, of course. He is the Last Son of Krypton. But what else? How exactly does this Superman, who was not originally a native of the current timeline, after all, relate to the reality in which he and his family find themselves? Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason launch a new story arc in Superman #14 aimed at investigating this question, which they touched on earlier in the Superman Annual #1. These two, particular Tomasi, have always been among the most respectful writers of DC's greater universe, and to explore the meaning and identity of Superman they reach out to one of DC's most creative and eccentric creations, the Multiversitysaga of Grant Morrison. I mean, if you have a 52 Earths just sitting around, why not use them.

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8.0
Superman: Lois and Clark #1

Oct 20, 2015

Sometimes something works purely because it has no right to do so. The sheer audacity, the sheer implausibility, the sheer and absolutenerve, carries all barriers and objections away like a locomotive. Usually that doesn't work. Usually such bravery and daring ends only in catastrophe.Superman: Lois and Clark, is certainly one of the rare occasions when nerves of steel overcome better judgment and prove the judgment not to have been so good after all.

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5.0
Superman: Rebirth #1

Jun 8, 2016

Superman: Rebirth #1is a very odd book. Most of the strangeness likely comes from mislabeling. This really isn't a book about rebirth. It is a book about the opposite. The action of the story, such as it is, consists of Clark Kent, the pre-FlashpointSuperman whose story is chronicled inDan Jurgens'Superman: Lois and Clark, and Lana Lang setting out to resurrect this world's Superman and failing.

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8.0
Telos #1

Oct 13, 2015

What is the purpose of ringing a bell in a soundproof room? Why go to the trouble of crafting a two-month event that seems sealed away from the greater continuity of the DC Universe? The effects ofConvergence, or the lack thereof, have fueled discussion and speculation in comic shops and on internet sites for months. DC seems finally to have settled on a model of waves rolling through space and time revealing their significance as they slowly manifest. The newest arc ofJustice League Unitedquite explicitly deals with these reality ripples, while three new books debuting this month,Telos, Superman: Lois and Clark,andTitans Hunt,reveal further fallout fromConvergence.

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7.0
The Multiversity #2

May 6, 2015

In my review of The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1, I said that the Greek prefix “meta” sums up much of the teeming multitude within Scots writer Grant Morrison. That prefix certainly applies to The Multiversity #2. But another word perhaps pertains even more, “fecund.” This issue barely holds on to the explosion of ideas and images that stream out of Morrison's ever-fertile creativity. We see the last of the Monitors, twisted into a mockery, then redeemed into a symbol. We see a dark universe protected by the rhyming super demon Etrigan. We see a harsh western world, and a harsher realm of knights and apocalypse. There are eight-foot rabbits and tiny, treacherous androids. There are the gleaming cubes of trans-dimensional portals, and the whirling afterimages of an army of speedsters.

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9.0
The Multiversity: Pax Americana #1

Nov 20, 2014

Morrison does possibly his finest work of the series here, with the salute to Moore proving particularly poignant. But the time and dimensional meditations fall somewhat flat, even given the boy's act as the entry point for the Gentry and even granted the basic nature of Captain Atom. The very success of the one effort partially negates the other. At the risk of sounding like a bad pun, here is a paradox for Morrison to contemplate - sometimes, less is more.

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9.0
The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1

Mar 30, 2015

Grant Morrison crafts the Gordian knots of modern comics. With his dense plotting and layered references, finding a way into one of his stories is extremely easy, but finding a way out again can prove all but impossible. Like Alexander of old, it's probably best just to cut through the tangle at the cost of whatever subtleties may be destroyed and whatever delicate stranded of meaning may be severed. So, at the risk of seeming a simplistic Philistine, I will say thatThe Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1is a story about evil and about circles.

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5.0
The New 52: Futures End #31

Dec 5, 2014

As with so much of this series, the current issue has some interesting ideas and even some narrative promise. However, poor organization, failure to cohere storylines, and just plain over-reliance on what are rapidly becoming very bad clichs in the DC Universe spoil the effect. One gets the sense of a book written by a committee rather than a team. It's a good committee. It's a talented committee. But no committee has written anything well since the King James Bible, and this shows no signs of breaking that tradition.

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5.0
The New 52: Futures End #32

Dec 13, 2014

The word that comes to mind is average. The story is average. The art is average. The movement of the plot is somewhat less than average. This issue winds up some loose ends effectively and teases the main plot, but really in the end accomplishes only a small amount. For this late in the series, that is simply not good enough.

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5.0
The New 52: Futures End #33

Dec 22, 2014

This issue treads water. At most, some pieces are re-arranged on a board that has not significantly changed its configuration for months. The world of this series is supposedly moving toward an apocalypse. At the rate it's going, none of the characters have the least worry of ever seeing it.

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8.4
The New 52: Futures End #35

Jan 6, 2015

When the three Batmen come together, the final act of the saga begins. They are the harbingers of multiple ends: the end of the world, the end of the future, the end of innocent and guilty life, and the end of the story. Whether that end is memorable or disappointing, this issue is the gateway that opens onto the final approach.

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7.0
The New 52: Futures End #36

Jan 13, 2015

It's fair to regard this weekly series as a glass half full. When it manages to state its guiding themes and goals, it speaks with power and interest. All too often, however, we have awkward pauses and disconnected plots. This issue stumbles after the important thematic moment of the last installment. The story doesn't come to a dead stop, but it does falter a bit. With only twelve issues to go, there isn't any time for that kind of mistake.

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7.0
The New 52: Futures End #38

Jan 28, 2015

For a company with the reputation for despising marriage, DC has a strong fascination with families. The family units in question are not usually biologically determined, but rather what are known in modern social jargon as “families of choice,” although often the choices seem predetermined and problematic. These groups provide the building blocks of the DC Universe's heroic infrastructure. The Bat Family, the Superman Family, the Arrow Family, and the like spread out like roots from the Justice Leagues that sit at the apex of the super hero hierarchy.

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5.0
The New 52: Futures End #39

Feb 3, 2015

Batman has been a very bad flying mammal. Or at least, he will be one according to The New 52: Futures End #39. In the future chronicled by this weekly, not only will Bruce Wayne be the co-creator of the villainous and tyrannical Brother Eye satellite, and not only will he break faith with Tim Drake in a manner yet to be explored, he will also betray and manipulate his best friend, Clark Kent, causing Superman to betray the Kryptonian's highest ideals. Altogether, it is starting to look like the book might as well be titled The New 52: Batman Destroys All Futures.

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8.0
The New 52: Futures End #40

Feb 11, 2015

Have you ever wondered why people approach history, and by extension the keepers of history, with fear and dislike? It isn't just an inability or unwillingness to master names and dates and chronologies, although that surely plays a role. It is because historians, records officers, librarians, curators, and the like are servants of time, and the essence of time is death. The idea of being catalogued, sealed, and placed in a cabinet or on a shelf like a box of documents or a case of archeological samples is horrifying. It denies agency and importance, turning living people into things, into mere objects of study.

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7.0
The New 52: Futures End #41

Feb 17, 2015

Since ancient times, people have believed crossroads to be dangerous places. They are points of possibility, places of decision, and strategic nodes that dominate the flows of wealth and control. But darkness and evil always flow to power, and folk tales tell that the crossroads was where one went at midnight to meet the devil and negotiate unholy bargains.

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8.0
The New 52: Futures End #42

Feb 25, 2015

What does a memory look like? Not what is the experience of a memory. Not what is it like to have a memory. What is the physical reality of a memory? What is the actual manifestation of the past in the corner of space and time that we inhabit? In the world of The New 52: Futures End, memory exists as faceted crystals inside the mechanical mind of Braniac's enormous, space-bound avatar. The heart of the issue consists of Ray Palmer, the Atom, infiltrating the Braniac-ship in a bid to find and save Angie, the Stormwatch engineer, who has been absorbed into the entity's fabric. His adventure plays out against the background of flickering images from the multiple histories of the DCU, like a play staged in God's private cinema.

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5.0
The New 52: Futures End #43

Mar 5, 2015

This issue is a morass of confusion mixed with moments of amusing clarity. The interesting and well-thought-out reflections on time travel cannot overcome the muddle of continuity and the opacity of plot. Andy MacDonald's art, with blurred details, fragile lines, and overwhelming shadows, contributes to the general lack of focus. It is as if everyone involved in the project momentarily let it slip from their grasp. Considering that we only have five issues to go, they had best re-assert their grip, and quickly.

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8.4
The New 52: Futures End #44

Mar 10, 2015

Sometimes, the cure is worse than the disease. That is a dilemma that actually rests at the heart of all time-travel fiction, including The New 52: Futures End. If you change the timeline, if you alter events to avoid a disastrous future, how can you be sure that the new pattern will not be worse than the old? In the case of this particular story, the future that the heroes are attempting to end is so horrific that any risk is probably worth it. But still, these characters cannot escape the bitter irony of doing badly by doing good.

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7.0
The New 52: Futures End #45

Mar 18, 2015

For quite some time now, I have suspected that parts of The New 52: Futures End are nothing but a game of bait-and-switch. We are now at issue forty-five of a forty-eight issue series, and several of the disparate storylines show little signs of cohering. In fact, many of the plotlines are obviously less about the outcome of this series than laying foundations for further stories. In and of itself, that is not illegitimate. However, it is frustrating that so much time has been spent on plots that do not contribute to the final conclusion of a nearly year-long mystery.

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8.0
The New 52: Futures End #46

Mar 24, 2015

What is the purpose of The New 52: Futures End? That is, of course, a silly question. Asking what purpose a comic book has other than selling as many copies as possible is rather like asking what the purpose of lungs are other than breathing. Nevertheless, I ask the question anyway. What, other than making money, do the creators of this book hope to accomplish?

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8.0
The New 52: Futures End #47

Mar 31, 2015

Tim Drake is launched on his career as the new Batman Beyond, and it promises to be a journey full of unexpected detours. He has won for the moment, but the preview for next week's issue shows that Brother Eye is not yet completely destroyed, and interviews and solicits speak of disasters and apocalypse worlds. This series has often felt aimless and incoherent. But if it does not succeed completely in its immediate purpose, it will likely not fail completely in its longer term goal. It is asking too much of the future series to redeem all that has gone wrong with this one. But, maybe it can make it, in balance, worthwhile. And any parent should wish that from a child.

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4.0
The New 52: Futures End #48

Apr 8, 2015

The echoing threat is an old, in fact a traditional, aspect of dark storytelling. True, there are some stories, such as Dracula, in which evil is vanquished at great cost. There are others, such as most of Lovecraft, where evil is so alien and so powerful that no victory is possible. But probably the most common pattern in darker stories is for the monster to be beatenonly for the reader to be reminded thatevil is never entirely vanquished, darkness never entirely destroyed, and terror will return someday. After all, thatis our experience of the actual world. The best visual representation of this storytelling tradition would be a spiral, where the forces of good make two steps forward and one back, each tale contains the roots of its sequel.

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8.0
Titans (2016) Annual #1

Apr 4, 2017

DC comics have always been at their strongest when emphasizing deep continuity. The long history of the DC universe in real time, with a corresponding but convoluted chronology within the fictional reality it represents, provides rich opportunity to explore long term developments and the thick texture of layered stories. In terms of character, this manifests in the multiple generations of legacy heroes for which DC is justly famous.

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8.4
Titans Hunt #1

Oct 27, 2015

Will this series appeal anyone other than fans of the classic Teen Titans? Leaving aside all the literary and strategic questions, that is the great economic challenge facing TITANS HUNT. In a market flooded with strong competition from Marvel and the Independents, it is a major gamble. Then again, if DC is thinking primarily in terms of the long-term development of their fictional universe, they may regard immediate profit as less vital than getting the story into continuity and the trades on the shelf. The first step is taken, now we shall see.

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7.0
Titans Hunt #2

Nov 26, 2015

"Run now," a mysterious voice from the shadows tells Roy Harper, "quick as a flash, step after step." There's a lot to unpack in that sentence, and in this issue. But, unfortunately, if Titans Hunt #2is going quick as a flash, it's Flash, the placid Bassett Hound that persons of a certain age remember from the Dukes of Hazard TV series. Dan Abnett continues his languid, dream-like pace from the first issue, gradually introducing the reader to symbols and hints from the history of the Teen Titans. But for all the pleasure of recognition that brings aforesaid persons of a certain age, one wonders how well it engages readers not already steeped in the lore of the franchise, and how effectively such a pace can sustain a year-long story. Given the situation of these characters in the post-Flashpoint DCU, and the situation of this book in DC's editorial structure, one also wonders where this story is leading both in terms of in-universe continuity and corporate strategy.

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8.4
Titans Hunt #8

May 24, 2016

Dan Abnett is a man with a mission. In a recent interview he recalled how last year Eddie Berganza, the head of DC Entertainment's Superman Office, which at that time was in charge of the Teen Titans, approached him about writing a comic featuring the Silver Age Titans. The franchise was in ruins and Abnett was a logical choice for a writer to begin rebuilding. His experience onGuardians of the Galaxy proved that he could handle large casts and complicated storylines, while his reputation showed that DC was serious about addressing the problems of a superhero team that had been devastated by the New 52 reboot.

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8.4
Titans: Rebirth #1

Jun 22, 2016

Titans: Rebirth #1is an awakening. Under the aegis of theRebirthproject helmed by DC chief creative officer Geoff Johns, Dan Abnett presents a story about the return of memory and the arousal of deep feelings from anaesthetic coma. Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse craft a visual awakening to take the central mystery of theRebirthera to greater intensity after the busyDC Universe Rebirth #1and the somewhat dreamlikeThe Flash: Rebirth #1. Booth's clean lines and sculpted forms give the images a vibrancy enhanced by Andrew Dalhouse's bright, luminous colors. So luminous are the colors that when the figures are standing in Dick Grayson's new apartment surrounded by Norm Rapmund's purple-black shadows, they glow slightly. It would be a stretch to say they look angelic, but the hint is there, and it's totally in keeping with the apparent intent ofRebirth to reintroduce more active, positive overtones to the DCU.

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9.6
Trinity (2016) #1

Sep 28, 2016

It appears to be the week for the Superman Universe to explore the joys of domesticity. InSuperman #7,Peter Tomasi takes his readers on a trip to the Hamilton County Fair in the company of Clark, Lois, and Jon (now all using the unfortunate last name “Smith”). InTrinity #1, the first of a new series designed to replaceBatman/Superman andSuperman/Wonder Woman, the family bliss is of a different kind and scope, but in some ways runs even more deeply. Writer and artist Francis Manapul pulls off atour de forcenot just of technical skill but of characterization as he presents an evening at home with the Smiths and their guests, Bruce Wayne and Diana Prince.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #36

Nov 20, 2014

The Finches have started out strongly, but strength in the beginning is only one part of a successful undertaking. Until the writing achieves parity with the art, this iteration of Wonder Woman's adventures will never really rise to the standards of the previous version, much less the ultimate possibilities of the themes and characters.

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6.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #37

Dec 21, 2014

The return of Donna Troy is very welcome. But this fragmented mess isn't a good platform to launch any character, perhaps especially one who already has infamously bad luck with origin stories. Meredith Finch's writing has degenerated, and David Finch's art has regressed. Only the appearance of the beloved Donna prevents the story from sliding off the road, and these continued trends may make fans wish that the long-delayed reappearance of the much-missed character had been delayed a little bit longer.

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7.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #38

Jan 27, 2015

At one point in Wonder Woman #38, Batman compares Diana to a lightning rod. It's an apt description. It seems that Wonder Woman has gone from a powerful actor affecting the world to a channel through which other forces work their will on the mortal and immortal realms. It is a sad decline for a queen and a god.

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7.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #39

Feb 25, 2015

Meredith Finch's stories are too short. That isn't because they are so good readers gnash their teeth in frustration at coming to the twentieth page of one of her Wonder Woman stories. Nor is it because David Finch's art is so glorious that readers spend four weeks dreaming of more after finishing each issue of Diana Prince's adventures. The stories are too short because they manage, in twenty pages, to say so very little.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #43

Aug 26, 2015

There is a great mystery at DC Entertainment, and her name is Donna Troy. I know, I know, Donna and her troubles with origins have been a controversy, or at least a curiosity, for over half a century. Wherever superhero fans gather and the conversation flags, whenever less dangerous topics like politics and religion have run their course, the tangled saga of Donna Troy inevitably arises. But now the topic has taken on new urgency as DC has chosen to embrace the contradictions in Donna's history, rather than downplaying them.

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7.0
Wonder Woman (2011) #44

Sep 22, 2015

In Wonder Woman #44, the god of war discovers that even deities can't move the world if they don't have a firm place to stand. Diana's world is coming apart, but in truth that is nothing new for her considering her history since the beginning of the New 52. More importantly from a reader's perspective, Meredith Finch's story is breaking up with two distinct plots vying for space and attention in an already crowded book.

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8.0
Wonder Woman (2011) Annual #1

Jun 10, 2015

Sometimes you have to grade on the curve. Some find that spineless or even a kind of cheating. But at least the practice lets you recognize and reward effort and, in a rough way, support improvement. Meredith and David Finch have improved over the course of their short run onWonder Woman. Truthfully, the book is still loaded with flaws. But, the increase in quality is real, and should be acknowledged. Wonder Woman Annual #1is arguably their best product yet.

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