The thing about this series is that it is remarkably fun to read. That’s a fact. The issue, hell, the entire series has been fast paced. In just nine short issues, we’ve had what seems like four or five stories. None of it seems rushed, forced, or terribly out of place, which makes that even better. However, with as many mini-stories and introductions into new stories as have appeared, what we’ve gotten very little of are actual answers. Every new issue brings with it two or three new questions with only one answer for a previous question. In the long run it may end up being a rewarding reading experience, however, on a month to month basis, the lack of information becomes more annoying than anything else. This issue is split between Mera, who wants to know more about Aquaman’s past, and Aquaman, who’s on the hunt for Black Manta. There’s quite a bit of storytelling as well as fight scenes in this issue, but Johns does a great job of pacing the issue. The end of the issue started filling in some of the blanks, but hopefully upcoming issues will be much more forthcoming with answers. 4/5
The highly anticipated second volume of Batman Incorporated has arrived, and Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, and Nathan Fairbairn are firing on all cylinders. This first issue takes all the story points from the first volume of Batman Inc., which are that Leviathan is a powerful group, Talia al Ghul is their leader and she’s out for blood, and combines it with the straightforward, exciting storytelling that Morrison brought in Batman and Robin. Starting with Bruce Wayne’s arrest and ending with a character’s supposed death, this issue is a goldmine for all readers. It has well paced action scenes, fantastic dialog between father and son, there’s quite a bit of light-hearted humor thrown in, and to top it all off we get the introduction of Bat-Cow. All this goodness is beautifully illustrated by the brilliant team of Burnham and Fairbairn. Burnham’s art has only improved in the time between the first volume and the second. The issue is littered with tremendous detail, remarkable fight scenes, and fantastic character depictions. Couple in Fairbairn’s excellent job handling the colors, emphasizing tone, directing focus, and creating a sense of unity throughout the book, and you’ve got a gorgeous issue. This issue brings back all the excitement and fun that was found years ago in Batman and Robin #1, and the series as a whole looks to be just as rewarding. 5/5
The most common complaint you’ll probably hear about your average comic, is that the cover is misleading or has no relation to the interior story. Why this matters, is because a cover is the creative team’s only real shot (other than word of mouth) to grab a new reader. For the most part a slightly misleading cover isn’t a terrible thing. However, in this case, the cover was blatantly and unforgivably wrong. Depicting Red Robin, the cover gives the impression that Gotham’s long lost son has been brought back home, when in fact he appears only as a character in the background of a page. Given the rude and abrupt end to Tim Drake’s solo comic run (Robin and Red Robin), this cover’s failure to adequately represent the interior story is magnified. Which is actually quite unfortunate, considering Judd Winick did a fantastic job with the story. He delivers a remarkable issue chronicling the life of one of the most recent Talons. With Winick on writing duties, Finch is back with pencils, and as usual he illustrates a terrific Bat-Universe. The two of them make a strong team, easily making this the best issue of the series yet. Minus, of course, the terrible choice in covers. 4/5
When we last saw the speedster Barry Allen, he had found himself transported to a strange place where Gorillas talked and ate each other’s brains, which, thanks to Manapul and Buccelato’s art, didn’t look as grotesque as one might imagine. Through an interesting way of storytelling, we learn that Barry Allen’s existence had been foretold for centuries, and that he is meant to protect the world. All that good stuff is immediately followed by some fighting and the freeing of the gorilla people from tyranny. What is, for the most part, a strong end to this story, is slightly marred by the fact that the ending feels rushed. After the unrest in gorilla town, Barry magically, off page, gets back home, only it’s taken months for him to return. Patty has left town, the city is aggressively anti-Flash, and the whereabouts of Iris and the other survivors still remains unknown. The ending almost feels as if a couple of pages in between were removed, but were never explained afterwards. This issue did do a great job of spotlighting and introducing some more Rogues, which is a fantastic part of Flash history. 3.5/5
The Culling comes to a stalemate ending as Harvest takes his leave after proving to both the Legion and the Teen Titans that he’s more powerful than both combined. Though both teams escape relatively unscathed, there are missing members, and they are lucky to have escaped with their lives. What worked extremely well with this crossover, especially given the scale of the event, was that Harvest is actually depicted as a major villain. He has the intelligence, the technology, the powers, everything a master villain needs to rip apart superheroes. Couple that with the fact that these are teenagers we’re reading about, and you have the makings of a villain that could potentially be the next generation’s Darkseid. While they do have a missing teammate, the Teen Titans leave the event feeling more like a team than ever before, regardless of whether or not Superboy has officially agreed. This book is consistently a fantastically fun book to read, with great humor and lots of action. As well as it has been written and illustrated, this book is better than its adult counterpart, Justice League. 4.5/5
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