December 31, 2016

The Pull List: 28 December 2016, Part 2

The final showdown between Batman's team and the Victim Syndicate is interrupted by Spoiler, who has a dangerous mission all of her own. "The Victim Syndicate" has been a great storyline, introducing several new villains while pushing Batman's united vigilante team into a whole new territory. I know superhero comics are essentially like soap operas - constant rolling motion that ultimately leaves everything in the same place - but I do like it when that rolling motion is there.

That motion comes in this case from Spoiler, who after Tim's apparent death has come to believe Batman does more harm than good. She's not a villain now, but she's definitely an antagonist in the making. It sets up huge potential for character interaction going forward - between her and Bruce, her and Cass, her and Harper - and the introduction of Batwing to the ongoing roster adds another element to the comic.

This is shaping up to be a really memorable run on Detective Comics, possibly the best since Scott Snyder's pre-New 52 effort. The developing story James Tynion is telling is really beginning to deliver creative dividends. (4/5)

Detective Comics #947. DC Comics. Written by James Tynion IV. Art by Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez. Colours by Brad Anderson.

Under the cut: reviews of Action Comics, All-Star Batman and Batgirl.

Action Comics #970
DC Comics. Written by Dan Jurgens. Art by Patch Zircher. Colours by Ulises Arreola.
Superman pursues Lex Luthor's captors all the way to the planet Nideesi, where Luthor is scheduled to be executed for future war crimes he is yet to commit. This is a solid issue that pushes the narrative of "Men of Steel" forward without actually throwing in any surprises or huge developments. These issues are sometimes necessary for a good overall story, and I suspect that's the case here, but it does often leave them feeling a little underwhelming. Patch Zircher's artwork is good, and the people of Nideesi add an interesting new set of characters to Superman's extended roster - assuming they survive this story arc. (3/5)

All-Star Batman #5
DC Comics. Written by Scott Snyder. Art by John Romita Jr, Danny Miki, Tom Palmer, Sandra Hope and Richard Friend. Colours by Dean White.
Batman's exhausting race to drag Two-Face cross-country to a final cure reaches its climax here, and it's a knock-down fight all of the way. I'm in two minds about this series (no joke intended), because on the one hand it's a strong and hugely satisfying blockbuster-style adventure with a range of villains, twists and turns, and inventive action scenes. On the other hand it feels as if All-Star Batman was supposed to provide something special, when in truth all it's provided is another five issues of Scott Snyder's Batman. The final resolution is, perhaps, a little bit clumsy, but for the most part it works. Dean White's colours are sensational, as is Romita's artwork - particularly his striking new design for Two-Face, which I really hope sticks around. (4/5)

Batgirl #6
DC Comics. Written by Hope Larson. Art by Rafael Alberquerque. Colours by Dave McCaig.
On a flight back to Gotham from Japan, Barbara Gordon uncovers not just Poison Ivy but a long-extinct and rapacious plant about to take the plane down over the Pacific Ocean. This is a fairly silly and ridiculous issue, but it's an amiable kind of silliness and it's a pleasant contrast after Hope Larson's fairly underwhelming first story arc. Rafael Alberquerque's artwork is great, adding enormously to the light, enjoyable tone of the book. This is not an essential book any more, but it's good enough for fans of the character. There's so much further room for improvement, however. (3/5)

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