Thursday, April 13, 2017

Comic Shop Comics: April 12th

Gotham Academy: Second Semester #8 (DC Comics) Oh hey, Gotham Academy is indeed being canceled. I'm a little disappointed, but not terribly surprised, given some of the erratic publishing decisions associated with the book. Given that it's about as far removed from Batman while still being technically part of the extended Batman franchise, it's not the sort of series that could really sustain very many decisions like, say, to take a few months off to tell that "Yearbook" anthology story arc, or to take another few months off to lay fallow, or to relaunch with a slightly different title.

Because its cancellation doesn't come as a surprise, that sure helps temper the disappointment. I've had, like, a year to mentally prepare myself for this moment, you know? This issue is more-or-less the conclusion to the current arc, although it ends with a cliffhanger, and the words "Next: The Ballad of Olive Silverlock Part One! Gear Up for Gotham Academy's Final Story Arc That Will Decide The Fate of Olive And Her Friends!" This issue ties pretty much everything together from the start of the series, and the writing team--still Brenden Fletcher scripting a story credited to himself, Becky Cloonan and Karl Kerschl--finally makes explicit all of that stuff that they've been hinting regarding Olive, her mom, their fire powers and their lineage.

Suicide Squad #15 (DC) Thus concludes the weirdly-formatted "Burning Down The House" story arc, with this final issue telling a single, issue-length story drawn by both art teams (John Romita Jr. and Richard Friend on one, Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira the other), rather than two shorter distinct-but-intertwined stories. To the surprise of no one, Amanda Waller is not really dead, Harley Quinn is not really dead (the latter cheats death by wearing a low-cut Kevlar bustier under her regular spandex bustier, and I guess that works if you expect to be shot between the boobs) and Deadshot didn't betray the team after all! Or, if he did, he only did a little bit.

The real surprise, for me at least, were how brutal this particular issue was, with Deadshot losing a large portion of his arm, and JRJR's panel showing it being severed revealing the meat and bone of his arm as if it were a hunk of Easter ham and Captain Boomerang killing one of the newly redesigned and reintroduced characters of the old Jihad team (now renamed "The Burning Earth") in a pretty final fashion, standing over his foe's decapitated boy, which lay in a literal pool of blood.

Super Powers #6 (DC) This was a lot of fun, and this concluding chapter seems to reveal Art Baltazar and Franco's true purpose with the project: Simply getting to write and draw all their favorite DC superheroes, as even at this late point in the miniseries they are still throwing characters in. This is the climactic battle against Darkseid in the streets of Gotham, and the way in which the assembled heroes finally defeat him is pretty complex, involving a (comic book) science plan and creative uses of multiple heroes' individual powers. It was a very classic Justice League ending to a story that was basically just a Baltazar-drawn Superman comic with a dozen or two different heroic and villainous guest-stars. It looks like it's for kids, and it is, but it's also plenty entertaining for adult readers of a certain type. Like, um, my type.

Wonder Woman #20 (DC) So, you've probably already heard that Greg Rucka is leaving the now twice-monthly Wonder Woman book, huh? I find myself more irritated than anything else by the news. I don't think he's that great a Wonder Woman writer. The stories are always better than average, but, on an issue-by-issue basis, they often amount to little more than a scene or three, and need to be read in trade to really be appreciated. Most issues are just rather blah and boring, although this one seems to be bringing "Godwatch," which I think is maybe only his third story arc, to its climax (It's hard to say, as each issue alternates between timelines; it may be the fourth...? A tag in this issue says it occurs seven years Wonder Woman arrived, which I guess makes sense as "the present" in the current, post-Flashpoint DCU, but it also shows the origin of her dogs, which were present earlier issues set in the present, soooo...I don't know? I'm a little lost, I guess).

What irritates me is that basically Rucka has used the opportunity presented by whatever continuity shenanigans are going on to re-reboot Wonder Woman's just rebooted (like, six years ago) origin story, and...that's about it, really. The entirety of his run has been working its way to revealing her true origins, which she herself has been deluded regarding.

And then someone else is going to take over as writer, but they will be saddled with Rucka's interpretation of Wonder Woman's supporting characters, which honestly isn't all that much different from George Perez's. The new writer will be stuck with an Etta Candy who is basically just a black, lesbian version of Steve Trevor, for example, and, like Trevor, she'll be a hard-nosed, bad-ass military person with no discernable personality. Sasha fucking Bordeaux will be involved. Rucka's Veronica Cale will be Wonder Woman's Lex Luthor again, and he's reintroduced reinterpreted versions of The Cheetah, Dr. Poison, Dr. Cyber and, as of this issue, Circe.

It's not that every new writer should get carte blanche to redesign the character's whole world, although that sure seems like the current remit, given the two post-Flashpoint volumes of Wonder Woman did pretty much exactly that, but if that's all Rucka was going to do before splitting, well, it might have been preferable if he adopted a more hyper-compressed storytelling style, or worked within the already established margins, as screwed up as they might be. I don't know, there's still five issues to go, so I guess we'll see.

As for this issue? It finally introduces Circe into Cale's cadre of reimagined Wonder Woman villains, and once again paints Cale as a more tragic figure, one pushed to bad things by bad gods, rather than an inherently wicked or selfish person.

Bilquis Evely is still drawing--artist Liam Sharp is apparently leaving with Rucka, and the first post-Rucka artist will be another talented one who worked on Bombshells alongside Evely--and she does her usual amazing job. The Circe redesign is nice, and the action scene in which she and Wonder Woman first encounter one another is great. Evely sure does a fine job on the bullets-and-bracelets trick.

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