Written by Geoff Johns; art by Francis Manapul; DC
It's so good to have Francis Manapul back on this title. Scott Kolins's two-issue interlude was good, but Manapul's art just blows my mind. I know his style is not to everyone's liking, and some people feel that it's wrong for this particular book, but I coudln't disagree more. I love his clean layouts, the beautiful painted textures, the character's faces, the look of the city. There's always a strong sense that we are in a clear, distinct place, whether it's a random crime scene in a parking garage, or the park where Barry Allen's family is having a picnic, or the crime lab where he works. As for the story, this is like the introduction to the prelude to this summer's big event, "Flashpoint." It sets things up nicely, without any big surprises for anyone who's been paying attention to the hype around the event that's coming. I'm still not sure whether I'm onboard for this mega-event or not, but so far I've been very pleased with what Geoff Johns has been doing with this book.
Written by Chris Roberson; art by Khary Randolph; Boom
This continues to be my favourite of the three new Stan Lee comics from Boom Studios. I read a review somewhere that complained about how slow this issue was, but the pacing seems spot-on to me. Certainly easier to take in than the frenetic chaos of The Traveler. Considering we're only three issues in and the protagonist has gone from an aspiring writer with a boring office job to a hero with high-tech weapons apparently being attacked by several difference alien races simultaneously, I think there's plenty going on. There's one part I thought was really clever in this issue, where he's learning how to use a weapon that is controlled by his mind. He's instructed to visualize a blue sphere inside a glass pyramid, which initiates the weapon, and then to picture the sphere turning red, which triggers it. It's really weird and abstract, and yet you can sort of see how it might actually work. I hope we'll eventually learn more about this mental visual interface, because it's kind of fascinating. The only thing I'm not a very big fan of in this series is the colouring by Mitch Gerads. It's way too dark and the colours seem oversaturated, though the problem might be with the printing.
Written by Jon Price; art by Rebekah Isaacs; 12-Gauge
I'm mostly getting this for Rebekah Isaacs' art, which I think is very, very good. The premise, in a nutshell, is that magic is returning to the world, causing a lot of chaos. There's nothing particularly remarkable about the story so far and the characters seem a little bit flat. The problem is that there wasn't really any setting up. Before the end of the first issue, these characters, whom we'd just met, had their whole lives turned upside down. There's a lot happening in several locations with characters that individually have very little total on-panel time, so I feel like all we're getting is a very superficial look at these events. Still, it is a cool premise and I'm curious to know where it's going to go. I've seen conflicting information about whether this is just a mini-series or the start of an ongoing. I hope it's an ongoing because I don't think this will be satisfying as a limited series, but with more time to establish the characters and the world they live in, it could develop into something very good. Especially with such gorgeous, top-notch art.
Red Robin #20
Written by Fabian Nicieza; art by Marcus To and Ray McCarthy; DC
Something about this book keeps getting on my nerves, and I'm having a really hard time figuring out exactly what it is. Maybe I'm just not a fan of Fabian Nicieza's writing style. It relies too much on narration. I think he expression "show, don't tell" is often an oversimplification that gets abused a little, but in this case I think it might apply. I just get the impression that we're constantly in Tim's head and he's explaining everything to us, and it doesn't help that what he's explaining is really convoluted and barely makes any sense half the time. Like, what exactly is Catman doing in this comic? Did the Russian mobster hire him, or was it the Calculator? And to do what, exactly? The issue then derails into a crossover with the Teen Titans, which was actually kind of nice. Tim reuniting with the gang and bossing everyone around. And Nicieza has a much better handle on Damian's character and voice than Krul does (in Teen Titans). Marcus To's art remains solid.