Justice League #31: I skipped the whole Forever Evil crossover event because when I bothered to read a few of the villain one-shots like Killer Croc I just couldn't be any less impress. Both Marvel and DC have been freebasing universal conflicts lately and it's gotten too unbelievable even for superhero books.
The latest Justice League, though is mostly talk between lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne. The former has figured out the masked identity of the latter, and the quiet battle of will between the two geniuses is better than any punch fest. It also shows just how amazing Luthor has become as a character. Still devious, still scheming, but still under all of that a strange core of wanting to do the right thing for everyone.
He just also wants to be in charge as well.
In other news, Captain Cold is now a hero for his role in helping stop the invasion from another universe, which is a strange thing for the second-rate Flash villain. Cold has been one of my favorite returns in the New 52, delving deep into the nuance of the criminal mind in a sympathetic way. He and Luthor were made to be a team.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Superman #32: Geoff Johns is in charge of Supes now and it's not a moment too soon. Kent has always been a hard hero to work with because it's difficult to find him good conflict. Where he works best is when his godlike powers are balanced against his inner turmoil on how to best use those powers.
Perry White calls Kent back to try and get him to return to reporting in this strange new world where so many former villains are now heroes. Kent declines, but the sad shots of him at home in his empty apartment show us that Superman is developing the same detachment that ruined Dr. Manhattan. It's the very thing that he fears the most; becoming inhuman.
Just to shake things up, we are introduced to a new superpowered man called Ulysses who has landed on Earth from a bizarre alternative realm where Earth, not Krypton was destroyed in a strange disaster. Sent through time and space as a baby, he comes to Earth and meets a fellow spirit in Kent. At long lest, Superman has someone to play off of that is his true foil in every respect. Can't wait to see where it goes.
Rating: 6 of 10
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Southern Bastards #2: Now here's a book that every single Texan should be required to read or be instantly deported to Oklahoma where they clearly belong.
Jason Aaron gives us the hero Earl Tubb. Tubb's father was the sheriff of Craw County, Alabama, and he dispensed justice with a hickory branch carved with all the names of the punks he'd taught a lesson to. Well, except for the ones that eventually did him in. Earl fled the town, but returns 40 years later to pack up his father's house and never come back.
Somehow he gets involved with local gangs and murder, coming to the aid of an old friend by launching an ass-kicking worth of song and legend. The whole town is under the control of the high school football coach, Coach Boss, who deals with problems and opposing teams with equal brutality. Earl has no desire to fall into a conflict with this horrible place, but as he leaves lighting strikes the tree that grew from the old hickory stick buried with his dad and the original stick comes to Earl's hands. It's King Arthur meets Walking Tall and it's bloody fantastic.
Rating: 8 of 10
The Wicked and The Divine #1: Every hundred years or so the gods of all mythologies come to Earth and take human form. These forms have all the gods; powers, but they die after two years. That's the price.
In this current atmosphere the gods have all chosen to appear as rock stars. More than that, they openly go by their mythological titles. Amaterasu. Baal. Sakhmet. They are all the Ladies Gaga of our time.
And of course, there's Luci... fer. As is only appropriate in pop music the devil takes center stage, ending up halting a sniper attack on her friends with headsplodey goodness. Unfortunately, she's then brought up on murder charges. Not that Luci is bothered.
There is never any greater forum for the devil than on the stand, and Gillen McKelvie makes Luci eat every inch of the scene. This could have been a very hack book, but so far it's a work of wonders.
Rating: 8 of 10
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #1 Our second all ages book this month is the return of Art Baltazar's Tiny Titans. Frankly, I feel the kiddification of comics has gone way too damned far when we're seeing Lil Vampirella, but Baltazar can still pull it off.
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The best part is that his stories have gotten more cohesive and better. Previous books were really just a collection of puns and inside jokes that were cute but didn't really draw you in. This time Braniac steals the team's treehouse, and the resulting story is something that I feel I could read with my daughter without spending ten minutes explaining it.
It's still not as amazing as it could be, but Baltazar has developed the concept far more and the result is a pretty good kiddie titles that still won't alienate and bore parents.
Rating: 6 of 10