Fast reviews of last week’s comics!

  • Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #5. Best issue of the series ever, due largely to the amazing artwork by relative newcomer Ryan Sook (of “Seven Soldiers”) and also because, finally, something relevant happened.  I get the sense that most of issues 1 through 4 are, and will be, irrelevant to Batman’s return.  It’s not until now that we are told that by trying to “return”—by resisting Darkseid’s Omega Effect—Bruce will punch a hole through the fabric of time.  Or something like that.  It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that we see something close to Batman (finally!) speaking great one-liners, making oblique references to the Joker, and being a part of the larger DCU.  It’s taken too long to get to this point.  Much like Brubaker’s work on Captain America Reborn, we are reminded that Grant Morrison is a better architect than builder, and works best in long form (the six-issue limited format seems to restrict him too much).
  • Amazing Spider-Man #645. On the other hand, nobody does a five-issue arc better than Mark Waid.  In this penultimate issue of the “Origin of the Species” storyline, we see Spider-Man lose his sh*t and just go off on . . . Everyone.  One by one.  And as we’re reading it, we’re thinking: Why isn’t Spidey a badass more often?  Oh, and that final splash page?  Can’t wait for the conclusion.  Second-best Spiderstory of the year.
  • Shadowland #5. On the third hand—yes, I have three hands (but only two arms, so that’s difficult)—Shadowland goes from mediocre to stupid here as Daredevil transforms into some kind of monster.  And not metaphorically, like Metallica.

  • Shadowland: Power Man #3. A minispinoff that is shaping up to be better than Shadowland itself, this issue is all about plot development and giving the character a rich origin.  Nicely done—here’s hoping it will lead to a solid regular vehicle for this character.  This is some of Fred Van Lente’s best work, in fact, and he’s no slouch.  Whoddathunk that this spin-off, which frankly looked kinda lame on solicits, would end up being this good?
  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan (tpb). Finally!  It’s out in softcover and reasonably affordable!  And Holy Hell, was it worth the wait.  Although there’s a lot of familiar dystopian elements here, Millar and McNiven are an unbeatable team: This is classic Mark Millar, too, not the new skip-to-the-end Millar who seems to write all bang and no characterization.  The story here is basic and unchallenging, but the rewards for Marvel fans and the attention to detail is terrific, whether it’s Hawkeye’s womanizing and naïve, cocky, can-do attitude or Wolverine’s change from cranky to sullen.  One of the best Wolverine tales ever, hands down.

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