Comic Book Reviews – 1/30/2013

Aquaman #16
The Throne of Atlantis plotline continues. In all reality, Justice League and Aquaman are one book shipping twice this month. This is alright – Geoff Johns has crafted a tight tale of war between the surface and Atlantis that actually ties into almost every issue of Aquaman that has shipped since the reboot. The issue is terrific and terrifically drawn, and is another reminder that Batman is ready for any situation that you can think of. Overall, I’m extremely impressed with this plot-arc.

Batman & Robin Annual #1
This week, Damian completely manipulates Bruce Wayne into going around the world looking for artifacts of his dead parents, just so he can pretend to be Batman for a while. Seriously, that’s the plot. Its well-written enough, except for the fact once again Damian is presented as some sort of uber-child whom could already be Batman if he really wanted to. It is as annoying here as it has been throughout the rest of the series, and basically every time Damian has ever been used. One of the nice things about Dick and Tim as Robin is that they actually seemed human; Damian seems to be written in every way to ignore that and be some sort of miniature, psychotic Batman. It throws the dynamic of the characters entirely off. This is probably the last month Batman & Robin will be on my pull list.

Green Lantern Corps Annual #1
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This issue represents the last in the ongoing Rise of the Third Army plotline. It is, finally, over, and it goes out with quite a bang. Tomasi puts together a terrific climax that takes the plot threads across four different books, that have been running for something like four months, and builds a tremendously satisfying final issue. The book benefits from the additional pages afforded an Annual issue, and it takes advantage of those by putting all the threads in play. The final act of the Guardians unfolds with a massive battle on Oa, the next introduction of Kyle as the White Lantern, and the lead-in to the upcoming Wrath of the First Lantern storyline. The only thread left frustratingly unresolved is the final fate of Sinestro and Hal Jordan – Baz leads a charge into the Book of the Black looking for him, but the thread is completely dropped. This is as frustrating as it has been for the past four months now.

All in all, I’m satisfied with the ending to Rise of the Third Army. What is frustrating is how long it took to get here – it was clear as this story progressed that it simply wasn’t large enough to encompass four books for four months, and books were forced to proceed at a snails pace in order to ensure everything ended up in the right spot. Of the events that have happened in the new-52, and with the caveat I have no interest in the current Superman event and haven’t read it, this was definitely a low point. And given how amazing events such as Blackest Night, or War of the Green Lanterns was, that’s very disappointing. I can only hope they have learned their lesson and Wrath of the First Lantern will be better.

Batwoman #16 (Shipped 1/23)
This book continues to be amazing, both in story and art. The Medusa plotline continues this month, building to a climatic battle involving Greek monsters in Gotham city. The book has broadened its cast significantly over the past few months, and this issue does a very, very effective job of bringing them all together and making us care about each of them. As always, it also utilizes two page layouts in the best way I’ve seen.

Star Wars: Agent of the Empire – Hard Targets #4
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An Empire story usually takes one of three forms. Either it’s a villains as protagonist story, in which
the focus is on ruthless characters who will do whatever it takes to win (Darth Vader & the Ghost Prison is a prime example), it’s a story about a protagonist who realizes how evil the Empire is and defects to the Rebels (see Baron Fel from Rogue Squadron), or it’s a protagonist who realizes the Empire is dirty but sees it as the only source of peace and order in the galaxy. These are frequently protagonists whom will attempt to play dangerous Peter & Paul games.

Jahan Cross is one of the later type, and Hard Targets is the story about his attempt to protect his Empire’s honor, even while he violates his orders. This has been a great action series, and this book continues it. Jahan puts his plan to save the young Count Dooku into play, resulting in an exciting underwater pursuit, a reconciliation with his father, and a final dangerous cliff-hanger that makes the first issue make perfect sense. In all, Star Wars at Dark Horse has significantly improved in quality over the past few months, and this issue is a great example of that. I’m hoping Disney takes notice when contract renewal time comes around.

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