Crowing About It – Wonder Woman/Conan #3

Wonder Woman Conan 3 coverLast issue saw our two heroes fight each other in an arena, get transferred to a smuggling ship, get threatened by randy sailors, see the ship they’re on get rammed by a Zingaran patrol boat, jump overboard in a desperate attempt to escape and, finally, get menaced by some impressively-rendered sharks. Phew! If all of that sounds action-packed, well, it is. Although much of the action could easily be categorized as padding. Will this issue’s action be any more purposeful? There’s only one way to find out…

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A Man’s Best Friend – Astro City #48

Astro City 48The last issue introduced Andy Merton, a small-time crook who, thanks to the theft of a magical amulet and the companionship of a ludicrously cute corgi called Hank, has turned away from crime and now fights it in the guise of anthropomorphized canine G-Dog. The issue also ended, however, on the kind of gut-wrenching revelation that really pulls the rug from under you and makes you desperate to read more. So, does Busiek deliver a killer conclusion to this two-parter? There’s only one way to find out…

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Batman/The Shadow #6

Batman Shadow 6 coverThis coming together of Batman and one of his more influential antecedents reaches its climax in this issue and there is, in my mind, a fair amount of promise the series now needs to fulfill. So far, we’ve been introduced to the intriguing notion that The Shadow has woven himself into the tapestry of Batman’s personal history as a way of training him up to be his immortal replacement. In The Stag, we’ve also been given a villain whose costume design is genuinely unsettling and whose very nature seems to be up for grabs, a mystery whose answer must surely be revealed in these pages. Last issue left us with several important questions in urgent need of answering. Who is The Stag? Who or what exactly comprises his glowing ‘army’ currently in the process of tearing down Shamba-La, the mystical haven in which The Shadow was born? How will a fatally wounded Batman survive this encounter, much less triumph in it? Will The Shadow and Batman finally reconcile their differences? Which one of them was right about the nature of the universe? Will the Joker start doing something useful? Or meaningful? Will Orlando deploy another plant metaphor? Will the last five months of reading this title have been, after all, worth it?

There really is only one way to find out…

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Picking At The Threads – The Wild Storm #6

The Wild Storm 6Aaaand… I was right. It doesn’t happen very often so allow me to bask in my own self-reflected glory just for a moment. As I guessed last month, this issue does indeed open with the kind of action sequence to make Michael Bay go weak at the knees. It’s been a long wait (since issue 1 actually), but we finally get to see Deathblow in action and, bloody hell, it is brutally, gorily glorious. But, this issue isn’t just about Michael Cray putting the beatdown on two hapless IO goons. There’s a lot more going on here and I suggest you buckle up. There’s a lot to take in.

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Toon Turbulence – Dastardly and Muttley #2

Dastardly and Muttley 2 coverLast month’s issue ended with the (not very) shocking revelation that Colonel Dick Atcherly’s one-time flying partner, Captain D. “Mutt” Muller, had somehow fused with his dog to become a mutt-faced dog-human hybrid and was now intent on ‘rescuing’ him from a military hospital. This is the hospital in which Atcherly had woken up and been interrogated by two intelligence agents, one of whom was acting very strangely indeed. Of course, Atcherly was only in hospital because his plane had encountered a rogue drone spraying reality-altering gas around the place and become partially cartoonified in the process. (‘Cartoonified’ is now a word. Just go with it.) This being a Garth Ennis comic based on a beloved Hanna-Barbera property, you might expect a somewhat light-hearted approach to things. What was as unexpected as it was welcome, however, was the thoroughly engaging portrayal of the titular characters. All in all, issue 1 was a very enjoyable introduction to the series. The question is… can issue 2 build on that strong start successfully?

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Pigeon Psychedelia – Dastardly and Muttley #1

Dastardly and Muttley coverTwo titles featuring anthropomorphic dogs in one week? There must be something in the water. I have fond memories of Dastardly and Muttley. WWI aviators obsessed with ‘catching that pigeon’ and generally coming a cropper through a combination of bad luck, the pigeon’s ingenuity and their own ineptitude, the duo is popular enough that a DC Hanna-Barbera comic all of their own seems like an inevitability. Not that this is their first outing, mind you. They featured in the astonishingly ill-conceived Wacky Raceland, which, despite some rather tasty Leonardo Manco art, still managed to be a mostly incomprehensible mess. This is better. Much better…

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Round Trip – Wonder Woman/Conan #2

 

Wonder Woman Conan 2 coverLast month’s opening instalment of this series was big on action, a characterization of Conan that foregrounded his grim humour and mercenary streak, and a Wonder Woman who, divorced from her familiar milieu and suffering amnesia, was cloaked in mystery. There was much to enjoy and I must admit I liked it a great deal. Left with a number of issues to explore, not least the precise nature of this version of Wonder Woman and the intriguing question of how she would get on with a hero like Conan, I awaited the arrival of this second issue with a fair amount of anticipation – and impatience. Was it worth the wait? Let’s find out…

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The Road To Shamba-La – Batman/The Shadow #5

Batman Shadow issue 5This crossover involving two of the most iconic vigilantes in the history of pulp fiction is drawing to a close and I must say I’ve found the series intriguing and interesting rather than downright exciting. Snyder and Orlando have woven a story that acknowledges Batman’s literary debt to The Shadow, while refusing to smooth over the differences between them. Indeed, their diametrically opposed views on the killing of criminals form the thematic tension at the heart of the story that somehow needs to be resolved if the pair are to succeed in their bid to stop the Stag (along with the Joker) entering Shamba-La, the mystical paradise in which The Shadow was ‘born’. Given how last issue ended, it’s difficult to see how they can complete this particular mission. After all, it’s hard to stop crazed criminals entering a pocket paradise when you’re bleeding out on a slab. Still, this is comics. And there is going to be an issue 6. Let’s keep an open mind, eh?

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Tell It To My Heart – Batman/The Shadow #4

Batman Shadow 4 coverWell, we’re half way through this pairing of two of popular fiction’s most famous vigilantes (or a quarter of the way through considering the recent announcement of this series’ follow-up mini) and things are heating up nicely. Last issue saw a couple of significant revelations about the nature of The Shadow’s relationship with Batman, and it also left Batman tied up in an underground cavern surrounded by a gathering of his most vicious enemies. (Well, most of them. Where’s Kite Man?) This means we’re probably due a huge fight in this issue, doesn’t it?

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A Reasonable Amount of Trouble – The Spirit: The Corpse Makers #3

The Spirit issue 3 coverAnother issue of Francesco Francavilla’s wonderful take on Will Eisner’s most famous creation, another classic hardboiled crime quote for the opening page. This one’s from Dashiell Hammett. “I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.” Well, it’s that word ‘reasonable’ that’s the kicker, isn’t it? A ‘reasonable’ amount of trouble is trouble you can handle, trouble you can, with a little effort, take care of. How fitting or ironic this quotation is when applied to the situations The Spirit finds himself in this issue is up to you, but I’m going with irony, I think. Let me tell you why.

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