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Batwoman #16 (DC): It’s all out war on the streets of Gotham City, with the forces of Medusa, a Hydra, Abbot’s crew, Director Bones and the DEO, Maggie Sawyer and GCPD, Cameron Chase, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Flamebired, et al converging! People will, rightfully so, marvel over the eye candy from J.H. Williams III, but he should also get credit for juggling such a truly ensemble (mostly female) cast through so many plot threads at the high level, while still nailing the small details like the brutal hand-to-hand combat tactics (“palm to the nose, heel to the side of the knee, elbow to the throat”). Diana and Kate make great foils for each other, and what is there left to say? It’s a stunning issue from a stunning creative team (Dave Stewart is doing Dave Stewart x 10 here). It’s visually arresting with compelling characters. This was a pure joy to experience. Grade A+.
Mind MGMT #7 (Dark Horse): This is one of the best recap pages I’ve seen in a while, making it crystal clear that things have looped back around to show another “cycle” being completed. Meru searches for Henry Lyme, finds him, learns the secrets of Mind Management, has her memory wiped, only to start again. BUT. The big “but” is twofold; one, there’s residual feelings, memories, or bouts of déjà vu each time, and two, it looks like this go-around might be the time that Henry helps Meru break the cycle. It’s a brilliant bit of plot weaving. As usual there’s lots going on here, interactivity occurring in about 3 ways on the page, online, in the lettercol, etc. That strip running across the bottom of the pages was like some kind of Sergio Aragones espionage thing. I love how Kindt stages the taut action scene, culminating with the page 15 layout where he skews the panels to track the shot. It was slick. Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt spot Henry Lyme lurking in an early crowd shot, ala Rorschach in Watchmen, that’ll have you flipping back pages to investigate. There’s a pretty major hint at Meru’s “power” here too, as she was apparently immune to an assassination letter. Grade A.
Prophet #33 (Image): Amid all the rave reviews for Prophet, let me run contrarian and tell you about something I don’t like. I’m not digging these last few covers at all. I’d just prefer if any of the great interior artists churned them out. They’re in a completely dissonant style and are so generically some type of “organic sci-fi” that they don’t engage at all. I still give Graham, Roy, and Milonogiannis (as the primary architects of this series) props for doing a great reimaging and some very inventive world-building. There really is nothing like this universe in American comics. That said, as Old Man Prophet and his motley crew journey to the Woman Armada, I feel like the larger narrative thrust is treading water somewhat. I don’t have a real grasp on the mechanics of the story or what exactly they're trying to accomplish other than, uh, they’re doing something to fight the reemergence of the Earth Empire(?). Anyway, it’s still fun to see Die Hard as a recurring character and I enjoyed decayed Supreme 10,000 years in the future. Grade A-.
Stumptown #5 (Oni Press): The best part of this book is probably the way Rucka realistically portrays the time after an incident goes down. From the scummy corporate lawyers to going blind on paper work and spending an entire day taking statements from witnesses, to crafting the official “narrative” per the powers that be, I just really appreciated that accurate depiction of the procedural side of things. The great little epilogue scene connects this mini-series to the first mini-series, building a little Portland PD/PI/Organized Crime Universe in the process. That was a nice surprise and way for the creative team to establish larger storytelling parameters that these individual cases can fit into, and that they can return to. I think Matthew Southworth and Rico Renzi have done a better job of delivering a consistent aesthetic for this issue, but it still bugs me that the longer shots have characters in the back with small little dots for beady eyes. Maybe just a personal preference. Grade A-.