My two favorite Week Three titles were actually a little bit lacking this week (a pair of setup issues that hopefully give way to awesomeness down the road), but a triumphant return of my favorite currently-running manga offsets those minor disappointments.
Table of Contents
Wonder Woman #3
Justice League #3
One Piece ch.646
Hajime no Ippo ch.956
Kuroko no Basket ch.112
MVP = Most Valuable Pages. Best issue or chapter of my week.
STAR = Good comic being good, makes me want to keep reading it.
GLUE = Not outstanding, but not bad. Could be worth reading.
FUNK = Good series has an off week. Haven't lost faith yet.
BENCH = Subpar comic. Doubting its value. Needs to redeem itself.
CUT = Bad comic. Not worth continuing to subscribe.
I almost hate to say this, but this issue was a little disappointing. The only action is against some forgettable gangsters called "Whispers," and we're shown a TON of exposition. Sure, this setup was quite intriguing, and probably necessary, but this Batman issue managed not to have me riveted to its pages or to feature stylish, elegant combat. Sure, the final-page hook is solid and the core mystery in place is nothing short of stellar, but this issue needed less bark and more bite to live up to #1 and #2. GLUE
Wonder Woman #3
Very controversial. That big revelation near the end is sure to piss off a LOT of fans, but what are reboots for? Wonder Woman #3, like Batman #3, was a little light on action, but the plot's new developments are crucial indeed. I think Wonder Woman's new origin revealed in this book will have a more positive impact on Wonder Woman stories than these complainers can imagine; it'll pit Diana directly against the interests of certain gods. This direction inserts Diana into DCU's Greek drama even more directly, and her position as a defender of humanity against the forces of myth is more significant than ever. All this makes me want #4 that much more, especially if it gives us some mythical-being combat that #3 lacked. GLUE
Justice League #3
Now that Justice League's action is ramping up, it's living up to my high hopes. We're introduced to Diana, who's technically in the custody of the U.S. government but goes where she damn well pleases, and she's way different than in her eponymous book. This Wonder Woman, at least five years prior to the DCU "present," is more naïve, more bloodthirsty, and less humble than her more modern counterpart, but is amusingly honest and brash. Hal Jordan immediately calls dibs, which I'm sure is going to work out great for him.
But yeah, I know, sorry, Wonder Woman is my second-favorite DC hero, so sue me. The other five in Justice League also have some good screen time - Green Lantern is still driving the witty dialogue, all five introduced thus far kick a fair amount of ass, and Victor Stone begins to turn into Cyborg. We see more of Darkseid's forces in action, some media superhero hate consistent with Action Comics, and a final page that lights the last candle of the new Justice League menorah. JL #3 is action-packed, over-the-top, and ostentatious as hell. I wouldn't want it any other way. STAR
This new villain is a creep, but hopefully that will make it all the more satisfying for Supergirl to beat the shit out of him one day down the road. Could Simon Tycho be Supergirl's version of Lex Luthor? Sure, I dig it. This issue isn't fantastic, but gives Kara's character some more clarity and teases us as to the nature of her powers. If Supergirl's powers end up being significantly different from Superman's, which the post-comic interview indicated to be true, then it automatically makes her a more interesting character. If such a change is executed in a stylish manner, it's win-win. This title just got that much harder to drop from my pull list. GLUE
I am in total disbelief. I was expecting a separate chapter or a half-chapter for each mugiwara fight, but they somehow condense six of them into one chapter. How? With a few exposition panels (continued from last chapter) and then SEVEN TWO-PAGE SPREADS IN A ROW! WHO DOES THAT!? Each spread showcases one of the pirates unleashing a completely insane new attack and finishing off one of Hodi's lieutenants. The attacks range from logical (Chopper, Sanji, and Brook each using one of his signature attacks using a new form or ability) to completely nuts (Usopp's gigantic wolf shockwave made out of plants, Franky's Gundam laser beam). I would have liked these well enough in three separate chapters, but instead they drop it all on us at once. This is Oda's way of telling us that there are NO weaklings in the Straw Hat Pirates. MVP
This was mostly a filler chapter. One scene serves as a post-battle resolution for every major fight except for Rukia's (which I think is over, but there's something behind the secnes here...) and receive some elucidation about how Fullbringer powers work (it's total bullshit). Seriously, sometimes I think Kubo makes up the rules as he goes along. The final fight of this arc should end soon, and hopefully we'll get some closure and not just an addition to Bleach's tertiary cast, which is already too goddamn huge. FUNK
Hajime no Ippo ch.956
Very solid chapter. Saeki and Itagaki exceed each other's expectations and give readers an intense sequence of fast punches and that evokes thoughts of Hokuto no Ken of all things. Not a whole lot happened time-wise, but this is exactly the pace that Ippo runs when it's in the midst of a boxing match. Saeki vs. Itagaki is shaping up to be a very good one. STAR
Not a bad chapter. We see some functional Super Milk Time in action (this has to be the silliest signature move for a main character in... awhile....) and more beating up on Pillars and shit. Next chapter should be more beat-down plus some Toujou action. There are zero things bad about this. GLUE
Kuroko no Basket ch.112
I'm starting to get very, very frustrated with Kuroko. Here I thought they were going to have an interesting training arc to break up the action before the Touou match, but here they are condensing it all into one chapter. Now we'll see the "special skills" they've learned show up in the next game. I don't mind the delayed reveal of the new techniques or what have you, but THEY SKIPPED AN ENTIRE TRAINING ARC. Now I'm sure of it - Kuroko has a deadline before they're canceled and the author is racing to the finish. Fuck me. FUNK
Well, this sure was ambitious. Mark Waid always likes to ask tough questions when he writes comics. In his current epic, Irredeemable, Waid asks what would happen if a benevolent superhero with godlike powers snapped. In Kingdom Come, which is trying *really* hard to be the 1990s' Watchmen, Waid asks the question: what if the next generation of superheroes decides that killing evildoers is okay? Well, it drives Superman into retirement, only for him to unretire years later with his work cut out for him.
This comic deals with a lot of tough shit, with every superhero and supervillain with more than a few lines of dialogue having to overcome difficult crises of morals. Bruce Wayne in his 60s, and most of the 90s' major DC superheroes are in attendance at similar ages, plus their children are in the business. Kingdom Come invents a good third of its cast of 100+, and keeping track of them all is tough (there's a guide at the end of the book, but it isn't enough). Adding to the clutter are multiple simultaneous religious allegories that I had to research in-depth to properly recognize (the story is narrated by a preacher accompanying The Spectre).
Look, Kingdom Come isn't bad. But it's dense, confusing, and weird. The ending is a hell of a thrill ride (I was stunned when a certain character makes an awesomely heroic sacrifice), and I did enjoy a few of its new characters (Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul's son is a boss, and is totally going to hook up with Dick Grayson and Starfire's daughter), but I can't say I loved this one. It didn't get me excited the way the best comics do, but it did make it think, which the best comics also do. GLUE
I just recently got three graphic novels in the mail, but I don't feel much like reading them and working on my blog more tonight, because I'm engrossed in Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Next post will hopefully be a review of that Friday or Saturday, and then I'll have four comics, a bunch of manga, and AT LEAST three comics volumes for next Thursday.