Batman #13 - "Hellooo, Gotham's Finest! Now stop me if you've heard this one..."
With the above words, the Joker returns to Gotham City. Or if you'd rather, "A clown walks into a police station, looking for his FACE! HAHAHA!"
The Joker has been missing in action since the very first issue of Detective Comics in the New 52. However, his presence has often been felt around the edges, most creepily in the remains of his face, preserved on ice in the evidence locker of the GCPD after it was left for them to find one year ago. Now, the Clown Prince is BACK and this time, he's not interested in pulling punches. Already in this one comic, you get a sense of danger and madness unparalleled in any other Joker appearance I've ever read. This Joker is (ok, I know, what a cliche!) WILD!!!
"Death of the Family" is going to be THE epic story this year. Starting here, it crosses over to most of the Bat titles and will be ongoing until February and Batman #17! Scott Snyder's "love letter to the Joker" promises to be a must-read! Who would have thought that the now-classic "Court of Owls" story-line was just a warm-up? Amazing!
More "Death of the Family" with Batgirl, plus Dr. Manhattan, The Phantom Stranger and more after the JUMP!!
Batgirl #13 - "I don't know who to trust and there are men outside and...they're at the door. Barbara, they're at the DOOR!"
In this prelude to "Death of the Family" (note the somewhat premature gatefold cover) Batgirl is in the midst of dealing with Charise "Knightfall" Carnes, who, if you recall, stuck a knife through her ribs last issue. Regardless, Barbara finds the strength to fight on. We learn a lot about Charise in this issue...mainly what screwed her up so badly. Motivation is not a problem for the lady, who's tragic tale isn't QUITE horrible enough to rationalize her sadistically cruel "crime fighting" techniques. Not for a SANE person, at least...
Of course the story behind the story here is the Joker. He's not in this issue. His henchmen, however, make a brief appearance. Nowhere near Barbara though...no, they go to her MOTHER'S house. Could it be that the title of this crossover isn't just a clever name?
Oh, so the gatefold covers with the Joker's face overlapping the hero is a trend. I'll post the "underneath" pics at the end of this article...
The Phantom Stranger #1 - "I know everyone, though no one knows me. I am the Phantom Stranger"
Technically this isn't the first issue of The Phantom Stranger, as last month started things off with a Zero Issue. However, this is the first glimpse we really get of the Stranger's life and life work, so to speak. The issue starts off with the Stranger more or less insuring the death via car accident of a young boy. We already know, from the Zero issue, that anyone the Stranger shows an interest in is inevitably betrayed, as that is his curse due to the sin he commited thousands of years ago. However, this isn't really a bad thing. In his own words, "I don't know what will transpire, but it will ultimately be for the better." That's sure to be a popular line with the folks he's just betrayed!
In this case, the young boy's death brought a teenage empath to his funeral. Her name is Rachel, and the Phantom Stranger takes an interest in her. She's running from her father, who just happens to be a demon named Trigon. Oh, although it is not mentioned, if you used to follow the pre-New 52 Teen Titans comics or cartoon, you might recognize young Rachel as the goth girl sorceress Raven!!
Batman and Robin #13 - "She placed a 500-million-dollar bounty on my head. My Mother is dead to me."
Lots going on in this month's Batman and Robin. Of course, there is a mention of the Joker (although this isn't an official tie-in to "Death of the Family" - no gatefold!) as well as some foreshadowing for the ending of Batman #13. The main plot of this book involves a group of weirdos calling themselves the Saturn Club who perform a ritual during an eclipse which results in Zombies! No, really!
A side plot has Damian sneaking out of the batcave to find a mysterious something in the sewers (he finds something, but we don't get to see it). He gets attacked by yet another of his mother's assassins, a dude who looks like a reject from the old NES game Battletoads! Before this however, he is talking aloud (to a rat, actually) and says "another couple months...and I'll start growing." Is this the thought of an 11 year old who just can't wait to be taller, or is it something more? Being that we have contradictory Damian origins since the Zero Issues (he's 11 and yet was conceived within the last 5 years??) there may be more to this story. Or I could be reading a lot into one throw-away line. We'll just have to wait and see.
Oh, my favourite part of this book is an awesome bit between Bruce and Damian while they take a rocket into orbit to fix a satellite during the eclipse. There's a nice bonding moment...good to see the father and son team getting along for once, even if it's only momentary!
Superboy #13 - "And you keep making the same mistake by employing violence against a living weapon!"
Everybody wants something from Superboy it seems. Techno-cop Jocelyn Lure wants to use him to accomplish some mystery task, asking him just to "trust her" despite being reluctant to tell him exactly what she wants him to do or where she got all this suddenly futuristic equipment (last time we saw her, she was normal-cop!). Meanwhile, Superboy's Next-door-neighbor, playgirl heiress Dallas Sorrentino wants him to play body-guard against some criminal syndicate that's after her, AND wants him to loan her money! Then there's guest-star Jimmy Olsen, come from Metropolis to get the scoop on the alleged Superman-related new metahuman! Oh and finally, the regular old NYPD are hoping to speak to Superboy about the battle with the Teen Titans he had on New Year's Eve! Meanwhile, all Superboy wants is to get in touch with his friend (Ravagers member) Caitlin Fairchild and to hopefully find out the truth about himself and some problems he's been having with his temper lately! He's still only a few months old, remember...it's hard for him to decide who to trust!
The Ravagers #5 - "I envy you. Your memories...even the horrible things they did to you in the colony...at least they're real."
Superboy (see Superboy #13) arrives in the Ravagers brand new hang out buried somewhere beneath L.A. as this guy named Niles is giving a tour and pissing everyone off. He wants to train the kids in "The Arena" (think "danger room") which, of course, is exactly what N.O.W.H.E.R.E. wanted, too. This particular group of traumatized teens isn't too keen on the idea.
Superboy is looking for Caitlin Fairchild to assist him with his temper, which has lately been out-of-control. He's worried that there is something wrong with him. Personally, I suspect he's just a typically moody teenager, but, you know, half-kryptonian.
Anyhow, while this is all going on, Thunder suddenly collapses and nearly dies, as apparently a kill-switch implanted in his brain is activated! The group managed to suspend this nefarious device for now, but it seems likely that ALL the Ravagers have this same safe-guard! Further, the device in question bears the marking "Colony 18", implying at least another 17 colonies full of metahuman prisoners!! Ask not for whom the bell tolls...
Suicide Squad #13 - "Sorry to break up family time, but we have unfinished business."
It's the final showdown with Regulus as the Suicide Squad are trapped in the Basilisk compound! Black Spider has betrayed them and led them into a trap, and now all but Deadshot and Harley Quinn are under Basilisk's power! It's left up to them to free their teammates and end this threat for good! Luckily, they may be able to get some help from Captain Boomerang and a bunch of other prisoners that Regulus has been keeping around for some reason. However, even with the help, this is one task that is going to COST them.
Meanwhile, the REAL Black Spider (OH did I forget to mention that the one with the Squad in the compound is an imposter?) has beat Amanda Waller home from the office and is holding her Nana hostage when she walks in the door! Waller vs. Spider...FIGHT!
Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #2 (of 4) - "In Quantam Physics, the observer affects the observed, the way a particle is a particle only when you're looking at it..."
Dr. Manhattan decided last issue to go watch the accident that transformed him from mere mortal Dr. Jon Osterman. This is apparently a mistake, as while he is watching, the accident fails to occur, thus creating a paradox! This paradox then becomes something of a domino effect, as the Dr. Jon that is NOT Dr. Manhattan creates further conundrums by making choices in his non-super-heroic timeline! It's a big mess. Luckily, Dr. Manhattan's got a couple more issues to sort it all out...it's sort of over my head!
And that's it for the week! Don't forget tomorrow is new comic book day! I'll be picking up Justice League, Nightwing, more "Death of the Family" in Catwoman, Wonder Woman and more!!
Bit of a Green Lantern inspired Stryder's Dementia this week! Check it out if you're inclined...
Oh right...GATEFOLDS! If you're still with me, here ya go!
Have a great week!!