Time for the final week of comics from July, which brings me even closer to my goal of discussing comic books in the week they actually arrive (and I run out of things to write about. Possibly). Let’s talk comic books.
Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #4
Is this mini-series the most fun Batman mini-series ever? Bruce Wayne making his way through different times – what’s not to love? In this issue, it’s cowboy Batman, as the silent loner (but no guns, of course), as he encounters Vandal Savage again, as well his evil ancestor Doctor Thomas Wayne, and gets shot by Jonah Hex at the end of the book. There are lots of nice bits as Grant Morrison plays connect the dots with Batman history while adding his own tweaks. The only slightly negative aspect is Georges Jeanty’s art, which doesn’t live up to the high standards of the previous three artists – he was a late replacement for Cameron Stewart, so he does a good enough job but it’s a little inconsistent and I would have preferred Stewart.
Fantastic Four #581
I’ve been having a lot of problems with Jonathan Hickman’s last few issues of Fantastic Four, where nothing has been happening and there’s no sense of drama or tension that you hope for in a comic book. This issue actually has plot and a story and a reason to read it: Reed Richard’s father goes back in time to visit Reed in college, asking for his help in the Great Hunt, a cruel idea on behalf of Immortus 600,000 years in the future to eradicate all Nathaniel Richards from existence. Now, that’s got my attention. They even have to ask for help from Victor Von Doom, and end up in a collapsed chronopolis in the future – I finally want to read more. It’s such a refreshing change, my head is still spinning. The other bonus is that they got Paul Neary to ink Neil Edwards’ pencils – I’ve been complaining about the shoddiness of Edwards’ art for a while now, so this is a fantastic improvement: it’s sharper, it’s stronger, it’s cleaner, it’s just better. I even liked the cameo of Professor Heinz Wolf as Reed’s professor of philosophy (a very British in-joke). Hurrah for a good comic book.
Usagi Yojimbo #130
Stan Sakai has a lot of fun with this issue of Usagi Yojimbo, the first part of ‘Return To Hell’, where he has Usagi and Kato return to the town where they first met to sort out Boss Higa, the man who wronged them and took over the town. He has Usagi playing the tough guy to scare off some of the huge number of thugs hired by Boss Higa, and it’s really funny. He also shows a deft touch highlighting a connection between Kato and Ayaka, the woman who runs an inn and who knew Kato from the previous story; it’s a lovely piece of storytelling, as you’d expect from Sakai. The issue ends with Boss Higa shouting, ‘Kill them!’ to his goons at our unarmed heroes – I want the next issue NOW.