Tuesday, September 17, 2013

DC Comics New 52 - Stryder's Weekly Top 5

Villain's Month continues in the DCU this week with another crop of comic books that have been "taken over" by the bad guys!  Which dastardly fiends made the best (worst?) impression on this mild-mannered comic fan?  I'm so glad you asked!

Every title this week was released on September 11, 2013...

Riddler #1 - "I do take pleasure in the small things."

The Riddler takes over Batman #23.2 to enact one of his mind-bending schemes!  The quizzical criminal leaves clues to confound even the Caped Crusader!  However, with Batman (and the rest of the heroes) "dead" who can possibly compete? 

This issue tells the tale of the Riddler breaking into his old office at Wayne Enterprises (he worked for Bruce's uncle Philip Kane back in the day as we recently learned in "Zero Year").  His plan begins, of course, with riddles!  Not satisfied with leaving just one clue, Riddler has FIVE confusing questions for us!  I managed to solve two of them pretty easily, but after that it got a little trickier...guess I'm no Batman!  Regardless, great issue and a really entertaining take on one of my favourite denizens of Arkham Asylum!  Nice!

Riddle me this, reader:  What other 4 Villain's Month titles did I choose this week?  The answer is just a JUMP away!

Reverse Flash #1 - "I know how this must look...but I'm not the villain here."

In The Flash #23.2 this week we finally learn the full origin and motivations of the Reverse Flash!  In the last issue, it was revealed that the New 52 Reverse Flash is actually Daniel West, brother of Iris West!  Now we learn how Daniel came about his Speed Force abilities and what he hopes to accomplish with his new-found powers that can possibly justify all of the murdering.  Like so many of the villains in the New 52, Daniel's issues begin in childhood with a drunk and abusive dad.  However unlike all of the other villains with this oh-so-common motivational trait, Reverse Flash has the power to travel back in time and try to change his past (wait isn't that how we ended up with the New 52 in the first place?)!

Cool issue that really explains Daniel's warped rationale and also does a nice job of explaining his powers and bizarre appearance as well!  There's a really nice moment with Iris West...really she is the main victim in this father/son conflagration.  For all that Daniel claims to love and care for his sister, he doesn't seem to realize that she's the one who's being hurt the most...

Killer Frost #1 - "I tried to relax and just have fun...but fun gets boring fast for me."

Justice League of America #7.2 brings us the tragic tale of Dr. Caitlin Snow aka Killer Frost!  I had no real idea who Killer Frost was before this issue...my only exposure to her has been in a few Justice League cartoons where she would often be a henchwoman with ice abilities.  A female version of Mr. Freeze or Captain Cold, but without the leadership ability.

After reading this issue, I know differently.  Turns out that Killer Frost is both a unique and a sympathetic character!  She wasn't always an ice-vampire girl!  Rather, she was a brilliant and hard-working scientist/geek girl who sadly has been cursed to live out her life as a villain due to the cold and heartless profiteering of big business!  Oh, and Firestorm (who is apparently her main nemesis) also looks like a big jerk.  Was Villain's Month supposed to get us to root for the bad guys?  Because in the case of Killer Frost, at least, it totally did!

Black Manta #1 - "The only thing I want is the death of Aquaman."

In Aquaman #23.1 we revisit the events of Forever Evil #1 through the perspective of Aquaman's nemesis, Black Manta!  Practically all that we know about the enigmatic villain is that he's a total bad-ass and that he longs to kill Aquaman and avenge his father's death...so how does Black Manta deal when the Crime Syndicate shows up and announces that they've KILLED Aquaman and the entire Justice League?

Cool issue that nicely shows the impact of the Syndicate's arrival amongst the villains of the DCU.  Black Manta is a great example of how not all of our usual bad guys are pleased at this extra-dimensional assist!  Not only that, but the encounters between Black Manta and both King Shark and later, Ocean Master, are stellar!  Two tiny character building moments that showcase one of the reasons I like this sort of wacky "event" comic - seeing things from a different perspective every now and again really pays off!

Brainiac #1 - "I am the voice...the voice of the colony...the colony of the collector of worlds."

In Superman 23.2 we learn more of the origin story of the Collector of Worlds aka Brainiac!  The  pretentious preserver of planets expands on his humble origin as scientist Vril Dox and on the beginning of his quest to preserve the worlds which have been targeted for destruction by the 5th dimensional force known as the Multitude (tying nicely into Grant Morrison's Action Comics arc)!

This issue does a great job of explaining the different appearances and motivations of Brainiac, bridging the gap between the Morrison version and the more recent appearances.  More importantly, the book manages to expand Brainiac's character.  We are shown how Brainiac maintains the appearance of rationality whilst denying the true sadistic nature of his habitual collecting.  It just makes for an all-around creepier bad guy!

Oh I have to mention that the art in Brainiac #1 is awesome!  Pascal Alixe turns in the nicest looking comic so far this month and I would love to see more of his work!  Kudos!

And that's it for the week for me this week!  Not to worry, though...we've still got another two weeks of Villain's Month to go!  Tomorrow is New Comic Book Day and thus we get another new crop of books, including titles featuring Lex Luthor, the Penguin, Black Hand, Deathstroke and many more!

If you need something to do while you're waiting, I wrote a SPOOKY short story for last week's Friday the 13th over at Stryder's Dementia!  Take a look!

Hope your September has been a good one so far!  See ya next week...Peace!

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