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Archive for June, 2014

Batman Eternal #12 gets ambitious – and delivers

Batman Eternal #12 cover
Batman Eternal #12 is, front-to-back, the most solidly-constructed issue of this series so far. Mikel Janin’s art is clean, crisp and firmly rooted in the Bat-verse, while James Tynion IV’s script is expertly-paced and well-delivered.

For the first time in a while, the art here is an absolute treat. At first look, Janin’s work appears simply solid. But on closer inspection, it starts to become clear just how much Janin has done his homework. His work is many-layered, drawn with all the dedication of a true Batman devotee.

In one scene, Batman is disguised as a helmeted prison guard, yet it’s clear who he is immediately, simply from the stern shape of his jaw and the way he frowns. That same scene includes a wonderful nod to Greg Capullo’s Death of the Family artwork, as Janin recreates the haunting bridge shot from when the Joker first confronted Batman with his plans to destroy the Bat-family.

The story has layers, too. Where past issues have been tripped up by too many plotlines, Tynion does a fantastic job of threading all the disparate storylines together. We get one scene with each storyline, and those single scenes are all just enough to whet the appetite. Red Robin, Batgirl/Red Hood, Bard, Gordon, Batman, Harper Row and Alfred/Julia Pennyworth all get time in this story, and yet it doesn’t feel bloated.

Batman Eternal #12 finally feels like there’s a strong hand guiding this ship. With superb art, deft plotting and a strong command of the many characters at play, Batman Eternal #12 is simply wonderful.

9 out of 10

Comic Review: the Xavier kid is alright in All-New X-Men #28

All-New X-Men #28 cover

All-New X-Men #28 fixes a lot of what went wrong with the Battle of the Atom event – in more than a few ways.

In terms of story, young Charles Xavier and his half-brother, Raze, get the character-building attention they deserve from Brian Michael Bendis in this latest All-New X-Men issue. Bendis simply didn’t have the space to both introduce, explain and wrap up Xavier’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from the future during his Battle of the Atom storyline, but he seems to be rectifying that problem now.

Much of All-New X-Men #28 focuses on the Mystique siblings and their relationship with Hank McCoy, as Bendis begins to flesh out the future world he only hinted at months ago. We get a glimpse into the Brotherhood’s team dynamic (hint: it’s no team), and we also get a proper explanation for why pacifist Hank McCoy is helping a psychopath psychic (hint: mind control).

We also get a proper explanation for why these guys are alive and back in the past again, as the first group to foray into the past managed to warn their future selves with a note. If that’s confusing, read the comic. You’ll get it.

Yes, just as the Brotherhood righted their mistakes in the past, so, too, does Bendis seem to, as he uses this comic to develop Xavier from weird pseudo-clone status up to being a full-fledged villain. This Xavier is arrogant and powerful but young and angry – an interesting mix, given that he knows more than his opponents, yet is still very inexperienced himself.

Xavier’s plan centers, of course, on taking out Jean Grey, but not a whole lot happens with the present-day X-Men where she’s concerned. The struggle at Cyclops’ school advances a bit, but the real meat and potatoes of this story lies in the future, with manipulative Charles, angry Raze and poor, poor Hank.

That’s not to say the present is boring though. Bendis spices things up some his typical witty dialogue, and even includes a fun anti-hero shoutout when someone asks Raze who his father is.

“Batman,” is the first answer.

“Wolverine,” is the second.

Stuart Immonen’s art is spot-on again, and while he doesn’t get a lot of spectacle in this issue (mostly more Jean Grey and Cyclops pink/red explosion panels), he has a marvelous spread of future Beast’s labratory.

All-New X-Men #28 makes a proper enemy of Charles Xavier Jr. and his team. And while the Battle of the Atom event may have been a bit disappointing, Bendis looks like he’s got this series ready to dovetail nicely with the events of Marvel’s big Original Sin event.

Give us more evil Xavier. He’s great.

8.5 out of 10