The last week of comic books from January, and there’s a lot to get through, so no time for pithy introductions.
Astro City: The Dark Age Book 4 #1
Although Kurt Busiek packs a lot into this book, I’ve got a little fatigued by The Dark Age – the Swamp Thing-like character raises a smile, but I think I shall have to come back to this long-form story at a later stage so that I can appreciate its quality because I’m just getting a little fed-up with it. Sorry, Mr Busiek.
Batman and Robin #7
Thank you, Cameron Stewart, for drawing Batman and Robin and helping us forget the artist on the previous three issues – what was his name again? (See what I did there?) Stewart is a great artist who works really well with Grant Morrison, and the action scenes in London in the first section of the book are just fantastic. Morrison has a lot of fun here – Basement 101 is the prison for the UK’s para-criminals in the Tower of London; the uber-Cockney dialogue (‘She’ll have his Davinas for earrings.’); the Squire and the Knight making a welcomed return. This is just really, really enjoyable and I can’t wait to read the next issue.
Detective Comics #861
I almost feel sorry for Jock, having to follow JH Williams III on Detective Comics, where he has done some of the best superhero comic book art of this year, but Jock is up to the task in his own right – his gritty, muscular stylings are perfect for the Greg Rucka urban realism of Batwoman (and Batman). He does his own thing for most of the issue, but the double-page spread in the middle of the book of Batwoman and Batman does feel like a Williams-inspired page. The book is still worth the extra money with the Second Feature taking an interesting turn with the Huntress and the Question using questionable tactics to obtain information, so definitely a keeper for the moment.
Fantastic Four #575
There are three beautiful images in this book from Dale Eaglesham: the full page of the buried Galactus from the future; the gates to the abandoned city of the High Evolutionary; and the final page of the inside of the abandoned city of the High Evolutionary. However, they serve an issue where nothing happens – it’s all information disguised as a story; Hickman even having to resort to a a final page that is purely exposition, just presented in a fancy format. It’s a slightly worrying direction for the book to take, and makes me wonder where it’s heading.
Bing Cansino provides some inconsistent guest pencils to this issue (there is no inker listed in the credits, which might explain the unusual quality to the art), which seems a strange choice after relaunching X-Factor, but what do I know. The story is quieter than the previous issue, albeit with The Thing thrown in to keep things dynamic, and stays more with the banter that is Peter David’s forte, and exploring the mystery that David set up in the last issue – I did enjoy the working through of the ideas and the clues – and a delightfully surprising last page turn of events. I hope the book has seen a bump with the renumbering because it certainly deserves to continue.