If you’re a girl looking for strong female role models, then this is a good week for you! Batwoman #14 continues its World’s Finest team-up of Batwoman and Wonder Woman, and does an admirable job of showing their respective strengths, weaknesses and admiration for each other. If I weren’t so fond of Batwoman’s girlfriend Maggie Sawyer, I would love to see them become an item, even if only for an issue. Elsewhere, Wonder Woman tracks down her half-siblings, and hears more stories about how much of a bitch Hera is, and what a deadbeat dad Zeus is, in Wonder Woman #14. Or, perhaps they should rename it ‘Jerry Springer: Ancient Greece Special!’. Birds of Prey #14 features a temporary team-up with Hawk & Dove villain Condor (gasp! a man!) and also Starling falls off a very high roof but turns up completely unharmed in the next scene- I’m not sure if this is foreshadowing of some sort of awesome power for Starling or slightly shoddy writing, like when I was convinced that the Batgirl working with the Birds was an impostor, and then it turned out she did just change her mind at the drop of a hat. I suppose we’ll see. Supergirl #14 shows Kara finally learning English, after spending the past year hanging out only with other Kryptonians, geniuses who speak Kryptonian, and sassy Irish gals with language powers. The villain of the H’El on Earth crossover -that would be H’El- kidnaps Superboy and presents his unconscious body to Supergirl as a gift. Protip for the gents: nothing says you care like breaking into a girl’s house and giving her the beaten-up clone of your cousin and his arch-enemy.
Over in Sword of Sorcery #2, Amaya discovers more about her heritage and potential powers. It’s a total girl comic, it reminds me of all those Superpowered Princess Barbie games I played as a small child, only with more politics. Strong female role models, however, are sadly absent from Catwoman #14, with Selina in a game of “skin the cat” with Joker, which ends up with her getting repeatedly forcibly stripped, often due to her own stupidity. And the more I try to explain it, the worse it sounds, so let’s just move on.
Joker is also causing mayhem for the former Robins, who, it has to be said, deal with it a lot better than Miss Kitty. In Red Hood and the Outlaws #14, the gang returns from space, have a tussle with Superman (at his best here as a heroic paragon of awesome a la Ace Rimmer) and realise that Isabel, Red Hood’s civilian date, makes a damn good voice of reason in this crazy world. Of course, when Joker finally does strike… let’s just say Jason’s in for a rough ride. Nightwing has bigger fish to fry in Nightwing #14, facing off against Lady Shiva and making it out alive- either Shiva’s going soft or Nightwing’s just that good. The Joker’s never more than a background presence, but with Dick working tirelessly to get the amusement mile and circus up and running, you just know Joker’s going to be all over that. Maybe Gotham is just a place where there should be no circuses? Batman is hanging out with his buddies this week in Justice League #14, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d say he was insanely jealous of Wonder Woman landing Superman. It’s OK to have man-crushes, Bats. Especially on Superman.
Blue Beetle tries to fend off Khaji-Da’s previous owner and escape Scarabworld in Blue Beetle #14, but only manages to succeed at one. Ah well, better luck next time, Blue. Kyle Rayner continues on his quest to become the first Rainbow Lantern in Green Lantern: New Guardians #14. But will he be ready in time for Gay Pride? Black Lightning realises he has the worst superhero disguise ever in DC Universe Presents #14: Black Lightning and Blue Devil, and a little more light is shed on Blue Devil’s backstory. Spoiler: it involves a demon. And finally, Legion of Super-Heroes #14 was the point where I realised it’s a lot more fun -and makes a lot more sense- if you read it like an affectionate parody of 1960s sci-fi serials. It’s the only way a character named Qzzrk from the planet Xyssik can be in any way bearable. Please note that Qzzrk from Xyssik is not an actual character, unless DC likes the name and wants to buy it, in which case we can talk.
Poor, poor Wolverine. He’s in every comic ever and the poor guy can’t catch a break in any of them. In Uncanny X-Force #34 he drowns for a bit, but is pulled back from the brink of death by a kiss of life… from Deadpool. And as if that weren’t bad enough, straight after he’s forced into a fight to the death with his own son, Daken, which I believe is Japanese for “whiny emo boy with daddy issues”. You’d think he’d be better off with his students in Wolverine and the X-Men #21, but sadly the teachers have a run-in with a mind-control circus, and, well…
He fares slightly better in Wolverine #316, being alternately trapped in a dream with a dangerous sexy magic woman, trapped in an oubliette with a feisty redhead, and eventually rescued by an elite fighting squad made up entirely of his ex-girlfriends. Unfortunately, once they get him out of trouble, I suspect he’d rather go another round with the circus.
Elsewhere in the X-Men, Astonishing X-Men #56 reveals the mystery of Iceman’s fiery demise, as well as getting involved in Karma’s destructive family problems. Seriously, those guys could almost give Wonder Woman’s tribe a run for their money- I guess Jerry Springer could do a show about them too. Jamie and Layla celebrate their honeymoon in Vegas in X-Factor #247, but when the Abraham Lincoln impersonator who married them winds up dead, Jamie’s heart just isn’t quite in the whole room-service-and-nonstop-sex thing any more, and he goes to investigate. You gotta love the P.I. that won’t quit, right, Layla? And over in Ultimate Comics: X-Men #18.1, Husk turns suicide bomber and sets human-mutant relations back to where they began. Mutantkind decimates itself by taking the new and painful cure, and the remaining powered ones get put on a bus to Reservation X. Captain America is a terrible president; Obama wouldn’t let this shit slide.
Avengers draws to a close in Avengers #34– it wasn’t advertised as such on the cover, but I could tell it was when there was a double-page spread of all the Avengers hanging out at a party and having some good clean fun. Well, I say good clean fun, Black Widow and Luke Cage are doing shots. I assume Jessica Jones is at home with the baby, huh, Luke?
Dark Avengers does not draw to a close in Dark Avengers #183, which is weird because the entire team go their separate ways throughout time and space… maybe the few left behind will carry on the series? I’m quite glad as the left behind ones include Songbird, she of the awesome hair, and Troll, who is quite possibly the cutest child hero in comic history. Please, Marvel, please let the Z-listers stay gone and leave us the good ones. I may start actually liking Dark Avengers if you do. Meanwhile, in Asgardia, Sif wants to be a better fighter, despite Volstagg’s kids having discovered comic books (the self-referential Journey into Mystery #646) and bubblegum from Midgard, and spouting childlike wisdom about how fighting is stupid. Naturally, this in no way backfires and ends with Sif going on a bloody rampage. Nope, not at all. The Amazing Spider-Man #698, in the lead-up to the big #700, starts with an optimistic Peter Parker declaring that “Today is going to be the best day ever!”, in spite of the fact that Peter Parker does not have good days, ever, at all. So it’s no surprise that what follows is such horrific nightmare fuel that it makes Wolverine’s week look like a day at the races. And speaking of nightmare fuel, Daredevil spends Daredevil #20 as a talking head, with the villain Coyote revealing his twisted human trafficking operation… and the cupboard where the real horror happens.
On to Marvel NOW!, the relaunch initiative named specifically to fuck with the formatting of .docs everywhere. Captain America #1 starts happily, with Cap mulling over Sharon Carter’s proposal, before taking a turn for the worse when he’s dragged into Dimension Z, a world of cruel genetic experimentation run by Arnim Zola, and ends up carrying around a baby who may or may not be a supersoldier. And the moral of that, you guys, is that when a smoking hot agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. asks you to marry her, you say yes straight away, because life is a strange and fickle thing. Speaking of agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bruce Banner of all people signs up in Indestructible Hulk #1, to put his brain to good use, so he’ll be remembered after his death as a great scientist, rather than that guy who smashes stuff. Good luck with that, Banner. Seriously. Iron Man takes on a Camelot-styled group of pretentious psuedo-intellectuals in knockoff power armour in Iron Man #2. You have to admire their flashy way of delivering the challenge at least- a bet’s not a bet unless it’s written in lasers on the side of a building. The black sheep of Marvel NOW!, Deadpool #2, is full of zombie presidents, Ben Franklin’s ghost, elephants, flamethrowers, and typical Deadpool fun. If you only buy one comic this week, I cannot recommend this enough.
And finally, Kate Bishop proves why she’s a force to be reckoned with in Hawkeye #4. Good going, Marvel! More like this and it’ll make up for the abomination that is Jessica Jones.