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Scott Carney: I know we talked about skipping last week’s uninspiring lot, but, as it turns, along with high winds, lots of rain, and destructive storm surge, Hurricane Sandy brought plenty of time with her–time enough for me to tear through the four books that made up my bag for the week of the 24th.

I’ll kick things off with The Flash #13.  It’s no mystery: I’ve been beating myself up over this title since issue #2; and I’ve made mention in previous posts that I’ve been one issue away from giving up on it–month after underwhelming month–but Francis Manapul keeps drawing me in with his beautiful artwork and with his sticking to a plum plan: the relatively expected rolling out of the Rogues.  And, yes, I’m a sucker for Grodd, going way back to The Challenge of the Super Friends cartoon in ’78, which explains why I’ve been on board through this issue.  Well, guess what.  I’m out.  That’s right: this chapter of the Speedster’s saga has finally pushed me off the treadmill.  In a tortoise shell: the artwork is literally sketchy and the storytelling is tedious.  I dare you to disagree.  In fact, I demand that you make a pledge: that you, too, will drop this exercise in mediocrity–as quickly as you can.

Derek Mainhart: Oh man, do we really have to review this week’s batch of disappointment? I admire your intrepidity. I also accept your dare: I still like the art. And the dismemberment didn’t do it for your innate sense of bloodlust? But I definitely agree that this is close to running on empty. Next issue’s promise of Grodd running around with the speed force will bring me back, as long as Manapul draws it. After that?…

SC: I’m also going to drop Batman Incorporated.  Sure, Grant Morrison lit my fire with Matches Malone in #3; and I liked his turn here at the beginning of #4.  But there’s a bit too much tying back to the original BI series–which I’m not familiar with–for me; and Morrison’s style, as a result, becomes more of a drag than a selling point.  So, going forward, I’m going to pass on this.  Sad, right?  I mean, how many Batman titles are there per month?  A thousand?  And only one–Snyder’s Batman–is worth reading.  A major disappointment, especially this far into the grand experiment.

Batman Incorporated #4 Cover

DM: I don’t blame you for dropping this, having come to it late. This book was a casualty of the New 52. However, as someone who’s read Morrison’s run from the beginning, I thought this issue wasn’t bad. I do hope this wasn’t the climactic battle between Batman Inc. and Leviathan however. If it was, it went by too quickly. Similarly underwhelming was the reveal of Wingman’s identity. I didn’t even realize it was a significant plot point until this issue (and I’ve been reading this!) This did have wall-to-wall action, pretty art and clever moments. I’m also genuinely in suspense over the fate of young Damien (I really hope he isn’t written out of the Bat-universe just because Morrison’s leaving. I’ve really grown to like the kid!) Is it great? No. But to the long-time fan it’s certainly worth reading. And considering the rest of the haul, Book of the Week.

SC: Did I mention experiments?  I picked up Wolverine Max #1.  Figured it was worth a try.  I was wrong.  Billed as “Wolverine as you’ve wanted to see him,” this book–and writer Jason Starr–embraces the Max designation by serving up the f-word, which is so totally Max; and by giving us a glimpse of Logan’s hairy rump, which is not exactly how I wanted to see him.  Ugh.  So awful.  Even page seven, which explicitly portrays a shark’s biting the head off of some unnamed woman in Wolverine’s arms as he floats in an unnamed body of water, didn’t do it for me.  And, you know: I’m one who enjoys a good noggin’ noshin’.  But this book is so bogged down with nonsense that I wanted to bite my own head off for having bought it.  And the double-barreled artist attack?  Oh, man.  It’s just so–  Know what?  Hey Mr. Fine!  Why not find an artist who can handle two different styles if that’s what you need on a book that relies so heavily on flashback scenes?  Want to see that done well?  How about J.H. Williams III on Batwoman?  Now that‘s how you do it.  Unfortunately, they did it this way; so it’s a one and done for me.

Speaking of the two-artist approach on WM #1:  I just found this, which may be of interest.  It’s a statement by Connor Willumsen–the artist on the flashbacks–about his future on the book.  I wonder what the “disrespect of agreement” was.

DM: So that’s three books you’re not picking up next month. Might I point out my recent column 5 Comics You Should Be Reading for worthwhile replacements? (Truly I am a shameless hussy)

One comic that won’t be making that list anytime soon is Justice League Dark. This book is just all over the place. A major fault: Jeff Lemire (whom I’m big fan of, check the record) just does not have a good grasp on John Constantine, the central character. No matter how many cigarettes he lights, he seems like too much of a boy scout. And so his relationship with the rest of the characters, and of the book itself doesn’t rig true. The villain, (the laughably named) Nick Necro is a lightweight if ever there was one. The slick (though admittedly nice) artwork is at odds with the dark, mystical tone the story is trying to attain, like Keanu Reeves trying to play a certain cynical, magical con artist. In short, this book has no voice. Having now gone through two able writers (Mr. Lemire and the book’s previous scribe, Peter Milligan) I’m beginning to suspect its greatest problem lies in its very concept. “Justice League” and “Dark” simply don’t go together.

SC: I have to say that I like what Jeff Lemire’s doing with this title, and I like Mikel Janin’s work–even if he only did the layouts for this issue.  (Victor Drujiniu’s finishes make it look like Janin did the job himself.)  I’m actually looking forward to the Annual to see how this all plays out–to see the smug Nick Necro (yeah, so what if it sounds like a porn name) get his inevitable comeuppance.

Not a good bagging average for that haul.  But, hey: there’s always next Wednesday.

Turning pages,

Scott and Derek