The real star of this two-parter has been Doug Mahnke, whose detailed pencils contain some absolutely beautiful panels and layouts. The splash page on page 12 is particularly gorgeous, and collectively it all makes this issue an absolute joy to read. Throw in some typically strong interplay between Clark and Jon and you've got a pretty much faultless issue.
Perhaps the most intriguing element, however, is the final page. The villainous ape has the same cybernetic implants seen back in a giant monster in issue #2, and the issue's final panel heavily implies it is of the implants' creator - and presumably an over-arching villain. They're silhouetted here, but they're looking at a giant purple octopus - and the only place I remember seeing such a creature before is in the final issues of Moore and Gibbons' Watchmen. It looks like Rebirth's extended narrative just took a quiet step forward. (5/5)
Superman #9. Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Art by Doug Mahnke, Jaime Mendoza and Trevor Scott. Colours by Wil Quintana.
Under the cut: reviews of Batman, Black Widow, Mechanism, and Usagi Yojimbo.
DC Comics. Written by Tom King. Art by Mikel Janin. Colours by June Chung.With "Night of the Monsters" complete, Batman returns back to Tom King's developing storyline: Batman is planning a raid on Bane's island to retrieve the villainous Psycho Pirate. To achieve that, he is putting together his own 'suicide squad' of Gotham's most dangerous criminals. It is an intriguing idea. This issue is pretty much entirely set-up - putting the team together and what-have-you - but it's entertaining written and very nicely illustrated by Mikel Janin. The last-page reveal of Batman's final choice for the team raises a hell of a lot of questions. Thank goodness it's only a two-week wait to the next issue. (4/5)
Marvel. Written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. Art by Chris Samnee. Colours by Matt Wilson.Waid and Samnee are back with another issue of Black Widow. The release schedule on this book has felt very haphazard; it's played hell with my ability to properly engage with the story line. This issue sees Natasha finally track down the elusive "Mother" who trained an entire generation of child assassins. To be completely honest I feel like I have missed an issue somewhere. It feels somewhat disjointed, and the final showdown between Natasha and Mother feels weirdly truncated and anti-climactic. Other reviews online seem much more positive, which makes me feel that I'm missing something rather than this being objectively bad. For me personally? It felt pretty ordinary. (2/5)
Image. Story and art by Raffaele Ienco.Beautiful art is combined here with a fascinating story about alien invaders, post-apocalyptic governments, robots and artificial intelligence. The amphibious 'geckos' seem ready to invade the walled city of Philadelphia, but giant robots are assembling - to either save humanity or to enslave it. We're four issues in, and the various disparate elements suddenly feel as if they're clicking together. As an isolated issue it's a slightly frustrating read, but as the story slowly pulls together it's going to be enormous fun to re-read the whole arc from the beginning. (3/5)
Dark Horse. Story and art by Stan Sakai.While the storms have ceased, Usagi is still on the road walking his long journey. He comes across an elderly woman and her son, who are making a long journey up a mountain to reunite the woman and her husband. Viewers of classic Japanese cinema will know straight away what's going on, and with the surprise out of the way this is an oddly underwhelming issue. Sakai's artwork is naturally as wonderful as always, but story-wise there's something lacking here. There's no depth underneath the plot this time around. It's enjoyable enough, but pales in comparison to the book at its best. (3/5)