Black Manta is on the prowl and he’s hunting down members of the group known as the Others – A group of super powered individuals who joined up with Aquaman some time after his father passed away. Together they spent a good deal of time and effort trying to capture Black Manta. Ya’Wara, a surviving member, arrives in an attempt to kill Dr. Shin, but ends up leaving with Aquaman, much to Mera’s annoyance. Geoff Johns continues creating an interesting story surrounding the fall of Atlantis, as well as the present day lives of Aquaman and Mera. The flashbacks were a tad confusing because they went from six years ago, to one year after that, but nothing happened during that time, and then all of a sudden we were back in the present. While this book has been consistently good since the beginning, after eight issues not much information has actually been shared with us, the readers. We met Dr. Shin months ago, but the details of Aquaman’s animosity towards him still remain unclear. The Others, who we’ve just recently been introduced to, are almost a complete mystery. Even the flashback from this issue flashes back to a point midway through their story, not the beginning. Black Manta is collecting Atlantean artifacts, but no one will explain why. It seems as if every issue introduces a new aspect that is shrouded in mystery, and yet none of the previous questions get answered. This doesn’t exactly ruin the issue or the series, however, it is becoming a glaring issue as the series progresses. 4/5
The craziness that appeared to have settled in the last issue, unfortunately, has not. The good people of Gotham have suddenly and inexplicably begun losing their minds and started killing one another. Naturally, this leads Batman to the sewers where he meets the true mastermind behind all of the mind control, Mad Hatter. While that sounds exciting enough, the actual issue doesn’t play out nearly as well. Harris, who took over on writing duties completely this issue, does a decent job with the story. However even still, he is unable to completely distance this issue from the wackiness of the first seven issues. Benes, Hunter, Purcell, and Cox do a commendable job filling in, but the way they drew Batman himself was a bit strange. This series is quickly becoming the black sheep in the Batman Family line of books, but with the Night of the Owls tie-in next month and the permanent creative change starting in issue #10, things are definitely looking up. 2.5/5
Trapped in the Speed Force, the Flash fights to stay alive and rescue the missing civilians, specifically Iris West. In what has been a fantastic series so far, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato continue to write a fantastic Flash story. After speeding his way into the magical world, known as the Speed Force, Flash finds out that he is not the only one there. Enter Turbine, a victim of circumstance who has been driven insane from his time spent trapped in the Speed Force. This issue plays out well because of the way that they integrated the storytelling into the action scenes, which kept things interesting without feeling drawn out. The art, also by Manapul and Buccellato, continues to be gorgeous. Manapul goes all out with his pencils and his amazing layouts, while Buccellato’s colors and tones do a wonderful job of maintaining the tone of the story. The only problem with the issue, and it’s a small problem at that, was that the Flash kept insisting on trying to rescue Iris and the others, while also insisting that he wouldn’t be entering any other time portals other than the one that would take them to the present. Based on what we’ve learned about the Speed Force, these two ideas are contradictory in nature, meaning he can’t do both. He’s either going to have to mess with time or give up on Iris and the others. Luckily, that’s his decision to make, while we get to enjoy the ride. 4.5/5
The Culling is just around the corner, and the Teen Titans have found themselves smack dab in the middle of it all. The issue starts off on a slightly confusing note, as it doesn’t start off right where events left off last issue; however, as the story progresses, the confusion doesn’t have a lasting impact. Instead, what we get is a nice prelude into the Culling, which is a major cross-over event spanning across Superboy, Legion Lost, and Teen Titans. With this crossover, we’re getting introduced to more and more new characters, but in a way that isn’t forced or confusing. Lilith Clay is brought into this issue, providing an interesting look at the other side of N.O.W.H.E.R.E., being a metahuman that believes in what Harvest is attempting to accomplish. Harvest is quickly becoming an A-level villain as he manipulates these powerful teens into fighting one another. Barros, Mayer, and Loughridge handled art duties on this issue, and the three of them do a commendable job. The story was set up with quite a bit of action as well as narrative, and their art was suited well for that purpose. 4/5
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