Lots of new stuff this week, but a few disappointments. Well, even the best comics have a few dud issues, don’t they?
Dark Nights: Metal #2
Dark Nights takes a very dark turn indeed at the end of this issue, but before that it’s a rollicking chase as the Justice League hunts Batman, desperate to learn what he knows before it’s too late. Bruce Wayne’s most definitive characteristic has always been his intelligence and here it shines through in the multiple ways he has devised to evade his allies. But while we finally understand at the end of the issue why he has been so determined to do this alone, it still doesn’t seem too smart to me.
The story morphs from chase to horror as it takes us – and Batman – into the dark but I can’t help wondering whether the payoff can match the promise.
Detective Comics #964: Dystopia
In the previous issue, a few pages showed us Clayface wandering through Monstertown, keeping to his Clayface form as some kind of experiment in his search for a cure. Now we flash back a few days, to Basil visiting Arkham Asylum, where Mudface is incarcerated. What begins as two old friends reminiscing takes a dark turn when Basil mentions the possibility of a cure for them both. Mudface responds by reminding Basil that her condition is his doing and that cure or not, she isn’t going to forgive him. It’s harsh, but certainly understandable.
Flash back to the “present” and Basil/Clayface is still in Monstertown, and it’s clear that his old friend’s words have hurt him deeply. He is struggling not to become the monster he looks like and, eventually, his control slips. Though he is stopped before he can do serious harm, it’s a heartbreaking moment and I suspect dark times lie ahead for Basil. He’s not one who can accept the monster inside him.
Meanwhile Spoiler is still touring Anarky’s underground Utopia. She runs into some old friends and everything seems good but as Anarky repeats his request for Spoiler to join his crusade something seems off. He is clearly not all that interested in what she wants. She tells him, “I don’t want to save the world, just Gotham.” And that’s about when Batman shows up, intent on “saving” Stephanie/Spoiler from Anarky’s deception. He reveals that Utopia was funded by the Victim Syndicate. And this is such a nice character moment for Stephanie. Because on the one hand, clearly she didn’t know that and she’s shocked that a man she’s trusted would work with those who nearly killed her. But then she turns it around, telling Bats to back the hell off and let her fight for herself. She shows that the revelation was t necessary. She had already made up her mind about Anarky and isn’t interested in being anyone’s sidekick any more. She gets more and more interesting each time she appears.
We end with the usual hint of things to come, as Anarky is delivered to Arkham but, apparently, now armed with evidence, stolen from Spoiler, that the Victim Syndicate can use to bring down Batman.
Is the Victim Syndicate coming back? I’m not sure how I feel about that. I did enjoy that arc, but I want to see what happens now we know Tim Drake lives.
Kim & Kim: Love Is A Battlefield #2
I have an odd relationship with Kim & Kim. I feel like I ought to like it a lot more than I actually do. I mean, it’s right up my street: two queer heroines, Sci-Fi and magical elements, a punk-ish feel to it… But it doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot for me. Even so, it’s a good read. And I love the art: bold, fun colours and strong action.
So in the previous issue KimD ran into Laz, an ex-girlfriend who broke her heart. Laz was chasing the same bounty as the Fighting Kims and pretended to apologise in order to swipe the goods from KimD. Issue 2 kicks off with a flashback to when Laz ditched KimD, before in the present, the Kim’s attempt a necromantic ritual to track down Laz. It, er, doesn’t go so well. While dealing with the fallout our heroines have a bit of a row and KimQ walks away. But that’s only temporary, right? These gals are too tight for a little fight to break them.
Evil Queen Drucilla lays seize to the village of Millhaven. Most of her army has little love for her; they fight because she holds the ones they love. The rebels in Millhaven know that they cannot save the village. In a daring move, they torch the village themselves, distracting Drucilla’s force while they escape and free the prisoners. In the confusion, wise old Ila is captured.
While I appreciate the logic of saving people, not buildings, this is a medieval world, those buildings and land are necessary to the people’s survival. It’s dramatic, but it seems like poor judgement to me.
While the battle is going on, Rose uses her newfound Guardian powers to heal the man who Drucilla sent after her. It looks as if he’s had enough of evil magic and is falling in on her side…too easy? Hard to say. The khat, Thorne, is still trapped by the magical collar so she doesn’t have full access to her powers. It could be a deception.
If both are to be read at face value, I’m a bit disappointed in this issue. On the other hand, if there’s a twist coming, this is a nice build up. I won’t know until next month!
Wonder Woman #30: Heart of the Amazon (Part 5)
Diana, learning that her blood could be the key to curing a multitude of diseases, chose to confront Hamilton Revere, the man seeking to steal her blood, intending to offer it freely if his intentions were indeed good. Of course, they are not. Revere is running a super-soldier program. His villain-speech to Wonder Woman declares his belief that he can end war, by making every other nation too afraid to challenge the US. (Sounds awfully familiar, dunnit?)
In a story with surprising layers, this is disappointingly predictable. Naturally Diana isn’t willing to go along with such nonsense, but Revere’s shock troops are already enhanced so she is outnumbered.
Meanwhile, back at the Picket, Steve and Etta learn that Revere isn’t exactly the philanthropist he claims, and they set off to join Diana. They break into the compound to find Diana strapped into a chair, while being bled by Revere. It’s not too clear whether she let that happen, since she breaks out easily enough.
Aand the rest falls out as you would expect: fight, explosions, and super-soldiers de-supered by the lasso (which isn’t exactly a surprise twist since Wonder Woman already did that in part 2).
I know that sometimes you have a great idea for a story and everything goes great until you realise you don’t have a clue how to end it. I suspect that’s what happened here because in a story with so many twists, this issue is plain predictable and disappointing as a result.