Thought maybe I'd just make this an undated, running thread -- and just date the entries as the weeks turn.


Of the books I've read so far, Flash 7 is my favorite -- I loved Flash running through the wormhole, the promise he made to Snart (and the resolution of that promise), an interesting wrinkle in what will likely wind up being the Golden Glider's origin, the hint at Captain Singh's love life, and more. I liked Iris going through the wormhole -- it'll give Barry some alone time with her (though I'm by no means anti-Patty). And I'm looking forward to Turbine, next issue!

All-Star Western never disappoints, either -- the lead story made good use of Hex's origins and I like the gladatorial scenario. And the backup art had a real John Severin feel to it, which I appreciated -- and I liked the look at Nighthawk's background, as well. My one quibble was that I couldn't tell if Cinnamon was wearing a mask or not -- in some places, it looked like she wasn't drawn wearing one, but the colorist might have been trying to fix that.

Aquaman, sadly, I'm thinking of dropping. It's good -- objectively a good comic, I think, well drawn and exciting in parts -- but it isn't really connecting with me. Maybe it will in trades, sometime down the road.

New Deadwardians: I was planning on waiting for the trade with this one, but I decided to give a single issue a chance. I love the mystery it sets up, and I love the low-key nature of the supernatural here. It's well worth checking out.

Legion of Super Heroes: Secret Origin wrapped up with a nice moment for Phantom Girl, in particular. That said, I'm not sorry to see it go. While it approached the formation of the Legion in a different way than I'd ever seen before, and Chris Batista delivered some nice Ernie Colon-inspired work, the book as a whole was kind of flat. I much prefer the modern-day Legion, with characters who have a long history behind them. 

Still to come: Daredevil and The Unwritten.

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Astro City #4: Like I said in the Astro City thread, this feels like classic Astro City. Not everyone with superpowers is cut out to be a hero or villain, but they prove more than capable of handling themselves when a villain tries to force them to work for him. Very good.

The Spider #14: I'm really going to be sad when this is over in a couple of months. I think David Liss has done a good job of bringing The Spider to a modern age. Pulp heroes are always a hard sale in the comic market. I would think even more so with a lesser know like him. Here we see the villain, The Fly's plan fully realized as he bring Richard Wentworth to his knees

The Flash #23.2: As a general rule I am skipping DC comics this month, I really don't feel like spending an extra buck on a cover. I got this one since my load was light (more on that in a few), and I was able to get the $2.99 version. All i can say is wow. This tells the origin of the new 52's Reverse-Flash. They way it was told was picture perfect for him, and artist Scott Hepburn brought some of the regular neat panel layouts to the story. Really good.

Ghosted #3: Uh-oh, Cap, voodoo makes a small appearance here. Scary stuff begins to happen.

Star Wars #9: I think Brian Wood is doing a very good job of juggling so many plots at once. Princess Leia meets the designer of the Death Star laser, and man what that a great moment. Wedge and Luke try to steal info from the Empire. While Han and Chewie try to escape Boba Fett and Bossk.

Collider Federal Beureau of Physics #3: This continues the cliffhanger of last issue obviously. Physics are still going crazy! Enjoyable.

X #5: What is this I see? A rare done-in-one issue! X tries and get some criminals who got away, and uses the ex(hehehe)-reporter he is now allied with as bait.

I bought the first issue of Astro City, but then decided to tradewait the rest of them. I think I'll enjoy reading all of the issues in one volume, and I like the way this book looks on my shelf. I own the Confessor storyline, the Steelback storyline, Local Heroes, and Life in the Big City in that form. This will sit right there along with them.

And I'll probably pick up X next time I see it, as I'm a sucker for one-off issues, and I really want to like the character.

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Astro City #4: Like I said in the Astro City thread, this feels like classic Astro City. Not everyone with superpowers is cut out to be a hero or villain, but they prove more than capable of handling themselves when a villain tries to force them to work for him. Very good.

X #5: What is this I see? A rare done-in-one issue! X tries and get some criminals who got away, and uses the ex(hehehe)-reporter he is now allied with as bait.

Some catch-up:

X-Factor #259: I harshed on "The End of X-Factor," the final six issues of the title as it exists currently, for being kinda boring. I still think the overall story was kinda dull, but I missed this issue, which is the best of the bunch. So now that I've picked it up, my estimation has risen slightly. Anyway, this one finally answers what the relationship is between Longshot and Shatterstar, and kudos to Peter David for not ignoring any of the previous "clues," although they were often contradictory, and giving us an answer that satisfied every pre-condition and is still surprising and cool. Now that I think about it, I don't remember what happened to Longshot, Shatterstar and Rictor (who is the reader's POV) in the end! Probably something dull.

Batman '66 #3: Once again, this is just a fairly standard Batman story that is simply drawn in a retro-style. Once again I'll complain that if they're going to ape the 1966-68 Batman TV show, they should go all the way and have the story reflect the goofy, camp sensibility of the show -- the art raises our expectations, and the story dashes them. Robin pops off with a couple of "Holy" somethings, and some of the villains have bad accents, but when Batman displays his encyclopedic knowledge of ridiculous trivia, played for laughs on the TV show, it's taken at face value and is vital to the plot. If these two stories -- one Joker, one Egghead -- had been drawn by Chris Sprouse or Tim Sale, they could have appeared in a mid-1990s Legends of the Dark Knight.

Batman Beyond Universe #2: This title seems to be focusing on Superman Beyond, and about the only interesting thing here is that Lois Lane is dead, so reporter Clark Kent firefighter Kal Kent is free to date other women without the reader getting angry. So there's a mildly cute first-date story. Otherwise we're not seeing anything that couldn't have appeared in a non-Beyond story, which is a waste of the premise. But maybe I'm just cranky because all of the Bat-people in this book -- Dick Grayson, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake -- all absolutely loathe Bruce Wayne and have no use for each other. And that makes me sad.

Batman Black & White #1: I love this idea, and I love this book. Many comics look just as good or better in black and white, and Batman is certainly a character that lends himself to black and white. So all of this works, and makes me wonder if a large Batman B&W book -- selling for the same price as a color book, but with plenty more pages -- might could kick open a new format. Anyway, Michael Cho turns in a terrific first story that looks so much like Darwyn Cooke that I checked the credits twice, and Chris Samnee (Daredevil) used his retro-style to good effect as well. I like Sean Murphy's work, but one thing that B&W does for his work is make weird shading he does on the tops of everyone's noses (that looks like the old artistic shorthand for depicting drunk people) more obvious, which is what I kept noticing in his contribution. And as someone else said, the weakest entry is from Neal Adams, who, sadly for us Silver Agers who so loved his work in the '70s, is rapidly becoming a parody of himself.

FBP #3: This was formerly Collilder, and has anyone seen or heard why the change was made, and did DC ever make any kind of announcment? Or what? It's fait accompli here, and if I was actually collecting this title (instead of getting review copies), I would be terribly confused. Anyway, as Travis says above, the crazy physics are fun. But as I and others have said before, I've yet to warm up to any of the characters. For one thing, I don't think there's a single woman in the whole cast, which makes it seem pretty adolescent.

DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #1: I have to give Keith Giffen credit for making MotU not only coherent, but kinda interesting. Anyway, the promised battle of the title isn't in evidence yet, as Giffen spends the issue on set-up. And that is: Heroes in Eternia and on Earth go on a search for Skeletor for different reasons, which experienced comics fans will be forgiven as thinking this will bring the two groups into conflict ere long. Incidentally, the Earth contingent consists of John Constantine and Madame Xanadu, not the big guns yet. And GIffen has previously tied the Amethyst mythos into Eternia, so she may appear. Upshot is that this book is better than it deserves to be.

Green Arrow #23.1 (Count Vertigo): I've always thought Count Vertigo was a silly character bordering on stupid, especially with his silly origin as coming from a tiny, non-existent European country where time seems to have stopped in the 19th century, everyone wears lederhosen, the local leader is a burgomeister, and they still have royalty (and, naturally, our protagonist is one of those royalty). That's soooo 1960s; think of all the comics, movies and TV shows from the Silver Age featuring characters or guest stars from tiny, picturesque, European countries whose main export was rare stamps or something. Dr. Doom, SIlver Sable, Geo-Force, Sonar -- comics are so full of these tiny European countries that there doesn't seem to be enough room left over on the map for, say, Germany. But worse, there are no countries left in Europe where time stopped in the 19th century; those countries are more like Bosnia now. Which, to credit where credit is due, is reflected in this version of Vertigo. He may be a count, but he's the only one who still thinks so, because his country is no longer a picturesque one that still defers to royalty. Also, he's a lot more vicious and lethal and borderline nuts than he used to be. So he's a bit more interesting. But I still can't take him seriously.

Aquaman #23.1 (Black Manta): I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but I've never taken Black Manta seriously, either. Aquaman's Rogues Gallery is awful, which is reflected in the fact that Black Manta is the best of them, but that doesn't make him good or interesting. I mean, he's a guy with a funny helmet, who can't even breathe water -- Aquaman should never have worked up a sweat taking Manta down pre-New 52, and shouldn't now. Every time Manta is a true threat or escapes at the end, it's always writer's fiat and I find it hard to swallow. Anyway, Black Manta's New 52 origin has already been revealed in Aquaman, so this issue follows Manta when it appears Aquaman is dead, so what does he do? It takes the whole issue for him to decide to take all that hate out on the Crime Syndicate. (Incidentally, Ultraman has apparently moved the Moon so that Earth is always in shadow -- did I miss an issue where that happened?)

Teen Titans #23.1 (Trigon): I don't remember the pre-New 52's Trigon origin well enough to tell you how this one differs. Suffice to say he is a generic, other-dimensional Satan stand-in. (See: Mephisto, Satannish, Surtur, Dormammu, et al.) He is distinguished from the others in that he has more eyes (six).

Swamp Thing #23.1 (Arcane): Anton Arcane had a really cool look in the Old 52, but otherwise was never really a credible threat to Swamp Thing. Now that he's the avatar of The Rot -- as Swamp Thing is avatar of The Green -- he's become an existential threat to the swampster. Cool! He's also creepy as all get-out, and this story, by someone named Charles Soule, takes advantage of that for a horror story that is genuinely disturbing.

Wonder Woman #23.1 (Cheetah): Is it just me, or is "Villains Month" turning into an excuse to upgrade many of DC's lame villains? Cheetah is another arch-villain who never seemed to be a credible threat, but this book gives more info on Barbara Minerva's past and establishes that The Cheetah is derived from an African pantheon (as Wonder Woman is from a Greek one), which raises her status to someone capable of going toe-to-toe with a demigod. Also, there's a throwaway line that made me sit bolt upright: "... as fast as The Flash ..." What? Really? I mean, I know cheetahs are fast, but speed-of-light fast? OK, that's a bit much.

Earth 2 #15.2 (Solomon Grundy): Again, a villain gets an upgrade. Grundy no longer has The Heap's origin, but instead has Alec Holland's origin, sort of. He is tied to The Rot in some fashion (possibly The Rot's Earth 2 avatar; if true I didn't catch it) and can kill with a touch! That makes him an entirely different character than his predecessor, and I'm not sure how anyone can stop him. (He is blown up in this issue, and re-forms. And virtually any superhero without a long-distance power fighting Grundy should get killed pretty quick.) Anyway, we see his origin in flashback, which is sad and involves rape and murder. Also, as the character who is to become Solomon Grundy dies (in a swamp, natch), he has gone mad and is reciting the nursery rhyme over and over. Which finally, I guess, explains Grundy's name.

Green Lantern #23.2 (Mongul): There's not much new here. Like his predecessor, the New 52 Mongul is master of Warworld, and he flits about the universe doing mean things. Which is what he does here. A day in the life, I guess.

Green Lantern #23.3 (Black Hand): I've said before that Geoff Johns turned Green Lantern into a horror book, and it certainly is whenever Black Hand's around. His powers, as (re-)established in this book, involve infecting living things with some sort of zombie virus with a touch, whereupon they die and become his zombie slaves. So any story with Black Hand in it is essentially a zombie apocalypse story, or has the potential to be one.  For the record, we already know his origin from "Blackest Night," so this book sets up Black Hand's next scheme, which involves resurrecting Hal Jordan's dead father. That's pretty creepy, so cool.

Flash #23.1 (Grodd): I've read so many variations of the Grodd/Solovar relationship that none of them stick in my head any more, including the one related here. But it doesn't matter. Grodd is such a strong creation that he doesn't need fixing, and this book doesn't try. Grodd is an intelligent gorilla with TK/telepathic powers who thinks apes should run the world and humans should all be dead. That's really all you need to know, and this book doesn't change any of it.

Flash #23.2 (Reverse Flash): Like the last iteration of Reverse Flash, this one's powers are time-travel-related, not speed-related. But he has a new origin; he got these powers during the Rogues' defense of Central City from Grodd's ape invasion, in Mirror Master's mirrorworld, which had a Speed Force battery (?), which blew up and gave RF his powers (and he has metal bits of a monorail fused to him). That's a pretty complicated origin, requiring you to know a whole lot of Flash trivia. What's not trivial is the identity of this new Reverse Flash, which I won't spoil for you here, but ties him directly to Barry Allen. I have to say I'm glad to see the whole Eobard Thawne/Professor Zoom aspect go away, because "Professor Zoom" is a stupid name, as is "Eobard," and because a time-traveler is unstoppable, and Flash should have been dead the first time he fought that version of Zoom. Oh, wait, this new Reverse Flash is also unstoppable. Oh, well.

Justice League Dark #23.2 (Eclipso): Eclipso's had a couple of different origins, and his New 52 origin is newer still. In this one, he is the Shadow of God, his explanation being that he was created as a result of Fiat Lux as the first shadow. Of course, he could be lying. Anyway, he's apparently been in other New 52 books I haven't read (we see Amethyst and Team 7 in flashback), so I don't know how much of this is new. But the Amethyst connection explains how he gets trapped in the black diamond always associated with the character, and this book establishes a Bruce Banner/Hulk relationship with a solar scientist, much like he originally had with solar scientist Bruce Gordon. This character, though, is named Gordon Jacobs -- DC kept the "Gordon" but ditched the "Bruce," for reasons we can only guess. (And I can think of two.)

Justice League America #7.1 (Deadshot): This is a new-ish origin for Floyd but not a new one; it keeps the essentials of his previous iterations but puts a meaner spin on them. And, honestly, it all ties together pretty well. This Deadshot's apathetic sociopathy is so well established that it explains his unexpected and counter-intuitive decision at the end of this book perfectly.

Justice League #7.2 (Killer Frost): Once again, we have an old name with a new origin, and it's an origin I prefer. The old Killer Frost's origin was so unmemorable that I don't remember it. This one isn't evil so much as betrayed (which is how she got turned into Killer Frost) and desperate (she needs heat to live) and has a new motivation (enough heat will cure her, so she seeks out characters like Firestorm). Now that the world is in perpetual shadow (see my Moon comments above), she's in real trouble. That's where the issue ends, so we don't really know what she's going to do next. (But I'm guessing that she, like a lot of villains in these books, will decide to fight the Crime Syndicate instead of joining them.)

Justice League America #7.3 (Shadow Thief): I thought this character had already appeared in Hawkman, from some covers or solicitations I've seen. But this book introduces Shadow Thief as if she's never appeared before. No matter. I like this Shadow Thief better than the old one, who appeared unstoppable (especially when fighting a guy whose only power was to fly), and was an uninteresting character. This new Shadow Thief is far better. She has a more interesting back story than Carl Sands (Mossad spy, as opposed to common jewel thief), has powers that are more specifically spelled out (so she has to follow certain rules, whereas Sands seemed able to do whatever the plot required), and finally: She thinks she's a hero. Since she's a remorseless killer we know she's not, so this self-delusion is both creepy and interesting. Thumbs up.

Justice League #23.3 (Dial E): I haven't read the second Dial H collection, so when this story opens in media res I have no idea what's going on. The bulk of the story is standalone, though, in that some kids get their hands on an H-dial but learn how to dial EVIL instead of HERO and a whole bunch of wacky villains are created. Fun, but kinda pointless.

Justice League #23.1 (Darkseid): We get a new origin for Uxas (and Izaya and, by extrapolation, the whole New Gods thing), which is interesting, but not entirely necessary. I mean, this is Darkseid. He's bad because, duh, he's Darkseid. Most of us don't need any explanations. But if you do, here is one. Which I fully expect will never be mentioned again, because humanizing Darkseid makes him less scary and compelling. (See: Darth Vader.)

Justice League #23.2 (Lobo): OK, no two ways about it, the new metrosexual Lobo is an abomination. What a terrible idea. What a terrible design. Now, there's a twist at the end that may cheer fans of the old Lobo, but there's still too much hair gel and posing-in-tight-pants in this book to suit me. Also, the blue things floating on Lobo's face are irritating. Terrible.

Action Comics #23.1 (Cyborg Superman): I've always disliked the Cyborg Superman, because he looks stupid, he has ill-defined powers and motivations, and he arose from a Fantastic Four parody (Hank Henshaw = Reed Richards). He's never resonated with me as a character, so his clumsy design irritated me all the more. Now, I still don't like the Cyborg Superman, but this version corrects some of the flaws. For one thing, his powers and motivations are much better defined, and they ring sorta authentic. Also, he has a surprise ID that ties him to the Superman universe in a significant way. Of course, he's still ugly and badly designed, but you can't have everything.

Action Comics #23.2 (Zod): We learn the history of Zod (I swear, we see more of Krypton than Metropolis these days), and guess what? He's always been a bad apple. Surprise! But apparently he and Jor-El were pals, so we see a little of that. There's a theme about "monsters" running through this, but there's a reason I didn't become an English major in that I am not impressed when writers work in themes and metaphors in their work, because those themes and metaphors tend to replace the people in the story and I lose interest in stories without people. That is sort of the case here, in that Zod becomes a theme more than a person, which is to say, he's one-dimensional. But he always was before, so we're back to Square One.

Superman #23.2 (Brainiac): We get some background on the new Brainiac, who is a lot like the old Brainiac, complete with a connection to the Dox family of Colu. There's some debate in the issue about why Brainiac shrinks the cities. We didn't really get a firm answer, but he seems to enjoy it, AND the threat from "dimension five" that he complains about also appears to be real. He also says he's denying the dimension fivers' their "prize," although I don't really understand that. Don't they destroy planets? What would they want with tiny cities? Oh, well, it's "to be continued," so I guess we'll learn more.

Superman #23.3 (H'el): I haven't read "H'el on Earth," the story primarily in Supergirl that introduced this character and foiled his first major scheme, so I don't know how much of this is new. Which means I also don't know how much of my confusion if from a confusing story, or simply not knowing what I'm supposed to know about this character. Anyway, this all takes place, in the past, some 10 years before Krypton's destruction, because apparently not only does H'el have souped-up Superman powers, he also has TK, telepathic and time-travel powers. He's in a coma with a kryptonite shard in his chest (from Supergirl?) but he wakes up, finds out that what he knew of his past wasn't true, and then changes history. (OK, I'll spoil it: He kills Jor-El and Zod.) So was his past a lie, or is this a parallel world? I don't know, and I finished this issue pretty confused.

Batman #23.1 (Joker): The Joker kidnaps a baby ape from the zoo, names him Jackanapes and trains him to commit lethal crimes in funny outfits. In the meantime, we get occasional flashbacks to some point in Joker's childhood when he was abused by an uncle and aunt, scenes we haven't seen before, so that's pretty cool. Otherwise it's the ape's story, which was OK, if predictable.

Batman #23.2 (Riddler): Nothing can save The Riddler from being a pointless, ridiculous character. Nothing.

Batman #23.3 (Penguin): Someone makes fun of/embarrasses The Penguin, and he takes gruesome revenge. Oh, you've read that story? So have I.

Batman and Robin #23.2 (Mr. Freeze): One of the crimes of The New 52 is to take the terrific origin for this character established in Batman: The Animated Series and muck it up. On the TV show, Bruce Timm & Co. took a forgettable character with ice powers and established that the reason he's like that is that his wife was flash frozen and he is trying to cure her and himself so they resume their love story. Sad, poignant and instant motivation for the character. Also, he can't even cry about it, because his tears freeze (metaphor alert!). In The New 52, however, instead of being his wife, the frozen girl is possibly his mother, or maybe a stranger. See, she got established as a stranger in another book, and here it's implied she's his mother, and now I'm just confused. Because in the previous story he was shown murdering his mother, but here it's suggested that it was a mercy killing, only it didn't take (?) and now she's the frozen girl (?). Which he definitely ISN'T in love with, because that's incest, so he just wants to save her, but Bruce Wayne screwed it up, so now he's evil. Sigh.

Batman and Robin #23.3 (Clayface): The primary takeaway from this story is that Clayface is as dumb as a bag of rocks. Wait, I thought that was Killer Croc's gig! Anyway, there's a framing sequence and then a story told in flashback, where again we learn that Clayface is an idiot and kills some people casually, and we come back to the present where Clayface has gotten himself in dutch with the Crime Syndicate. He won't be joining them any time soon.

Detective Comics #23.1 (Poison Ivy): Poison Ivy is walking through post-Crime Syndicate Gotham, causally killing people (some of whom deserve it, but some of whom don't), reminiscing about her origin and philosophizing about what she'll do now post-Batman. So we get some more details about Ivy's past to add to what we already know -- nothing shocking, although Bruce Wayne has a more prominent role. And, yes, she's always been unscrupulous and sociopathic. She decides to grow lots of plants. The end.

Detective Comics #23.2 (Harley Quinn): Harley psychoanalyzes her Harley side and her Harleen side. We see some more details about her life than we knew before. She also casually kills some people.

Detective Comics #23.3 (Scarecrow): I expected to dislike this book, because I've never cared for The Scarecrow. But this was excellent. The putative plot is that Scarecrow is going around to various Bat-villains and inviting them to join the Secret Society. In the process we learn that Penguin is now mayor of Gotham (NOT the case in the Penguin book above), and that the various villains have formed an uneasy truce and split Gotham up between them. We get another reference to the Earth being in perpetual lunar eclipse (where did this happen?!??), which is potentially lethal to Poison Ivy (NOT mentioned in the Poison Ivy book above, which is weird, since it's pretty important to the character!). That's the story, such as it is, but what makes it fun is how Scarecrow changes his approach for each villain and manipulates each of them. I'm not at all impressed with "fear gas," but super-psychiatrist powers are impressive and fun! I could get to like this Scarecrow.

Batman and Robin #23.2 (Court of Owls): The Court is simply a great idea, and allows for lots of cool stories from all eras of history. Here we open with a story from 1974 (right on!), which once again shows how creepy and lethal the Court is. This is in the context of an owl-masked man explaining to his young owl-masked daughter how the Court is built into Gotham's foundations as they walk deep into a catacombs. The reason for this is because the Crime Syndicate has taken over ... which is a threat to the Court! So they're doing what they always do: Fade into the background, dig underground, retrench and plan to re-emerge. And their plan involves The First Talon, which we're led to believe is a pretty terrible thing, and given how terrible the current Talons are, that's an impressive claim. He's at the bottom of this catacombs, so that's where the characters have been going all this time. Anyway, we'll find out more about that in the pages of Talon, while this book is focused on Court history, which is a treat. Also, there's a scene with the little girl that will creep you the eff out.

Batman and Robin #23.3 (Ra's al Ghul): Here's another story where we learn a little bit more about a character that we already know a lot about, which is fine. And, again, a villain decides that the Crime Syndicate is a threat to his own plans, and sets himself in opposition to them. (Which, I have to say, is happening a lot, but in each case, makes perfect sense. These guys are not team players!) A pretty good story, but it's primarily set-up for whatever Ra's is going to do to the Syndicate.

Wow, Cap -- the Riddler story was my favorite of the Villains Month bunch! But then, where you think the Riddler is a pointless, ridiculous character, he's pretty much my favorite Batman villain. (My pick for pointless & ridiculous Batman villain? Mr. Zsasz.) Different strokes, I guess.

A few recommendations from me:

Zero #1: This espionage series from Ales Kot (Suicide Squad) has a different artist every issue. It starts out strong, beginning in 2038 but quickly flashing back to 2018, as the titular operative is trying to retrieve a piece of super-soldier tech from a Palestinian soldier -- who's currently mid-fight with an amped-up Israeli. Neat stuff, with a lot of pages for the bucks.

Conan #20: The second part of Black Stones, in which Conan and Belit steal a relic from a cult. Things go poorly for them... though not in the the way you might think. I love this Brian Wood run, and we're nearing the endpoint.

Fables 133: Snow and Rose Red argue about what should be done with Brandish, the villain who killed Bigby. Snow's right in a practical sense, of course -- but Rose has recently found her calling as someone who intends to give second chances in her new Round Table, and can't turn away from it. It's just one chapter in a longer story, but very well told, putting two sympathetic characters at odds in a believable way.

My comics this week include a couple of books I bought last week through Amazon with a gift card I received last May for the end of the school year.

The first was RASL, which I bought based on Jeff Smith's previous works. I understand this is a departure from those works, but I'm okay with that. It's a thick slab of a book, and it will look great on my bookshelf once I'm finished reading it.

The other book is another "sight unseen" work that was published in the pages of Eerie Magazine. It's the complete works of a strip called Hunter. As alert readers may have realized, in recent years I've gotten into books that reprint works from the 1970's. everything about this book, including the painted cover by Ken Kelly. From what I can gather, not yet having read it, it's about a space hunter. Going through the book, I saw what I could have sworn was a story drawn by Ian Gibson. I found out that Ian Gibson was highly influenced by artist Alex Niño (who drew another book called God the Dyslexic Dog).

This morning I played it lazy and laid in bed until about 9:30--and managed to read some darn good comic books while laying there.

X-Men #5: This was the next part (part 3?) of the Battle of the Atom. Scott and Jean on their runaway road trip gave them some nice character moments. David Lopez is a great artist to complement Brian Wood's writing--very clear and clean. Wood lets this story breathe a little bit more than Bendis does.

Uncanny X-Men #12: But that's not to say that Bendis does not to amazing work, as witnessed here in part 4 of the BotA. Loved Maria Hill's rationale behind liking Wolverine more than Beast, for whom we learn her true feelings here. And they are not pretty. But Dazzler (who I believe is still actually Mystique), Emma Frost, and Rachel Summers all get some pretty good lines in this issue. They really built up the battle for next issue, so I'm going to guess it will be a doozy.

Uncanny X-Force #11: This one was a little confusing, because Puck, Storm, and Psylocke were fighting evil versions of themselves who were evidently born just a few days ago, and Bishop was in there having something to do with it also. I'm going to guess if I had bothered to actually read the intro page at the beginning, it would have made more sense. It was a fun issue, though. Which is a good thing, because here we have a time-traveling Bishop (with a spirit bear?), and we also have people traveling in time in X-Men and Superior Spider-Man, we have evil versions of the heroes here and in Uncanny Avengers. These themes could easily get old if they weren't written well.

Uncanny Avengers #10: Here we have a beautifully drawn book by Daniel Acuna, written by Rick Remender. One thing I love about all of these various books is that they all have so much going on. I somehow think Power Man is going to have to go against his pacifism sometime soon.

Superior Spider-Man #18: Talk about a book that has a lot going on. Dan Slott takes everything that makes Spider-Man who he is, and puts it all on Doc Ock. I really realized this again today when, in the midst of the battle involving Spider-Man 2099, he does the Peter Parker "problem inventory", where he says, "I've lost my job! My discoveries might get stolen! And I've barely worked on my thesis! And now my Spider-Sense is unreliable! My Spider-Bots are failing me! My minions are useless! And another Hobgoblin shows up! What else could go wrong?!" And right then, Mary Jane calls. Love stuff like that. That is classic Spider-Man. I can't wait to see what kind of relationship exists between Spider-Man and Doc Ock when this is over, assuming Doc Ock has a body to live in.

Mighty Avengers #1: Can't believe it, but Greg Land's work didn't really bother me here. Funny issue involving Luke Cage, some young version of Power Man, White Tiger, the always-repurposed Monica Rambeau ("Spectrum"), Spider-Man, and then some mystery man who is now dressed as Spider-Man. The Avengers are all off-planet, so here's what's shaking out in New York while they're away. Fun book written by Al Ewing.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Wow, Cap -- the Riddler story was my favorite of the Villains Month bunch! But then, where you think the Riddler is a pointless, ridiculous character, he's pretty much my favorite Batman villain. (My pick for pointless & ridiculous Batman villain? Mr. Zsasz.) Different strokes, I guess.

What is it you like about Riddler, Rob? Maybe I'm missing something.

One thing you'll have to help me with is what his status quo is these days. Over the years they've tried different things with Riddler, and I'm not sure which ones "stuck." For example, one origin established that he is great at riddles and puzzles because he cheats. Is that still true, or is he super-smart again? Also, at one point he was legit, a private detective. In fact, he showed up in some non-Batman book that way, Birds of Prey (I think), but I can't remember if that was before or after New 52. So is he a crook again, and if so, was he ever legit in The New 52 continuity? Or what?

Not saying any of that to be snarky. I've just seen so many versions of Riddler I don't know what he is any more.

Also, Wandering Sensei:
I haven't read Age of Ultron yet, but wasn't the crux of that event that the heroes traveling through time a lot had screwed up the timestream? Does that have any impact on three series doing the time-travel bit right now? Do they even mention it?

I think the Riddler is a character with tremendous potential who's frequently misused.  I have no idea of his current Nu52 status, but I was enjoying him going straight, and I've enjoyed him when he's not treated as a joke or a freak.  I prefer to think of him not as someone who's compelled to leave clues, but as someone who's determined to beat the best with one hand tied behind his back.

Prior to Nu52, he was super-smart again.

I'm pretty sure he's really smart -- but also has a devotion to his expertise. I wouldn't ask him to work in the lab with Tony Stark or anything; his knowledge base, IMO, should be broad and fairly encyclopedic, and he should have great recall. But at the same time, for instance, he doesn't know about cars, say, in order to be able to fix them. He knows about them so he can come up with a great clue (possibly a pun) for the carburetor (or more likely in his criminal activities, the ignition).

I'm afraid I don't know that much about the twists and turns of his continuity -- that's never been my bag, to be honest, and Batman characters, in particular, appear in so many places so often that you can drive yourself crazy trying to find out everything about them. But I've got a clear vision of the Riddler in my mind, and it's him that I love.


1) He's fair play. Of all the Batman villain's schemes, his are the ones in which (hopefully) the clues make the most sense, and you can get an inkling of what he's up to by pausing to think about the riddles. I actually *loved* the recent villains month issue for this reason: He uses 5 riddles in the story, and we see him rehearsing them at the beginning. So we could watch the story play out, and still try to figure out the nature of each riddle.

2) He's verbal. He's all about word games, and sometimes puns. I'm a word guy, and love looking at words from a skewed angle, like he sometimes does. That really appeals to me... his puns don't necessarily make me laugh, but I appreciate them.

3) He's not a random psychopath -- at least not in my ideal version. He might get violent (as he does with the guard in last week's issue), but he's not out to poison the reservoir. He has goals, and they're not about murder -- that's only a means to an end.

4) On the other hand, he IS obsessive-compulsive. If there's a puzzle to be solved, he'll work on it until he solves it, even to his detriment. But the puzzle has to be challenging enough to grab his attention in the first place, or else Batman would always keep a Rubik's Cube in his utility belt.

I liked it when he went straight -- playing him as an antagonist to Batman, without him being a criminal antagonist, was a really clever idea. I'm not sorry he's a villain again, but he's one of the few Batman villains who I could see reforming.

I can't remember the details of the "he cheats" revelation, but in most of his shtick, he's the one asking the riddles. As long as the riddles are solvable, there's no way to cheat there. But I don't mind him not telling the whole truth -- misdirection is what a great many riddles are about. 

Anyway, that's the nutshell version of why I like him so much. He's a *little* like the Joker, but all the baggage of the Joker that I hate (unpunished murderer of hundreds, Batman's "opposite number") aren't present. And because riddles are hard to write, he's not nearly as overused as most of the other Batman villains -- one more reason to savor a Riddler appearance.


I can see that a lot of what I don't like about The Riddler isn't at all present in how you see him, not even as something to be explained away. So I can imagine seeing him through your eyes, and not hating the things I hate, because they're not there. Of course, the trick is getting from A to B. Your clear and insightful explanation -- and the requisite enthusiasm -- is a heckuva jump-start.

No promises, but I will try.

I always think of the Riddler, if written properly, is the villain where you get to play along with Batman.

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