Batgirl #2

Creative team: Story by Bryan Q. Miller; Art by Lee Garbett and Trevor Scott

Villain to Watch: Arkham Asylum alumni

They say: As the new Batgirl continues her nightly mission, the mystery of her secret identity intensifies. Now she has become the target of both Gotham City’s heroes (who don’t take kindly to a new person wearing the cape and the cowl) and its villains (who want to see the entire Bat-family six feet under)!

I say: This book is turning into a pretty interesting run. There’s a very nice tension between Barbara “Oracle” Gordon and this new Batgirl, and I’m liking the characterizations being developed. The creative team has a very slick understanding of Gotham and its inhabitants, so I’m pulling this one for a little while to see where it leads. Plus, I have to tell you… those simple, design-heavy covers are knocking my socks off.

Blackest Night #3

Creative team: Story by Geoff Johns; Art by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert

Villain to Watch: DC Zombies Attack!

They say: As the dead attack in full force, Green Lantern is faced with an impossible decision and the scattered remains of the Justice League suffer a terrible loss. Who can stop the Black Lanterns? Why are they rising? And how can the Spectre help?

I say: I’ve limited myself to a very few of the Blackest Night tie-in books, and this is one of them. If I’m going to hang with the DCU, I’m gonna have to understand what happens in this arc, so I’m pulling it, but my heart’s just not in it. To make matters worse, the Spectre is one of my all-time least favorite characters in the modern DCU, and his presence here bodes poorly for the storyline. These days, the Spectre seems to have a sole purpose of getting his butt kicked to show what a hardcase the bad guy of the moment is. My money’s on seeing him in black before October.

Dark Avengers #9

Creative team: Story by Brian Michael Bendis; Art by Mike Deodato

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn

They say: Poor Marvel Boy… he had no idea how sinister a gang the Dark Avengers actually is. And now he is running for his life. And poor Ares, he has no idea where his son goes while he is off being an Avenger. And now he is going to find out. And when he does… there will be hell to play. Guest-starring Nick Fury and the Secret Warriors. Oh, you heard that right. Ares versus Nick Fury! You know when Stan used to say ’nuff said? This is the kind of thing he was ’nuff saiding about!

I say: Meanwhile, over in Marvel, the Dark Reign saga stretches on, with a ton of great threads generating from Norman Osborn’s complete control of everything metahuman. Ares is another character that leaves me cold, though, and Dark Avengers has been clipping along nicely with him waaaay in the background. I hate to see that change, but perhaps this nuance with his son with make him a more interesting character. Besides, the Nick Fury / Secret Warriors stuff has been solid, and I have every expectation that Bendis will bring the goods when this group makes their appearance.

Modok: Reign Delay #1

Creative team: Story & Art by Ryan Dunlavey

Villain to Watch: M.O.D.O.K.

They say: Down on his luck, MODOK moves back into his parent’s house in Erie, Pennsylvania and discovers that his family, old classmates and apathetic locals can thwart his plans for world conquest better than any super hero. Featuring obligatory guest appearances by Norman Osborn and some Canadian mutant super hero you’ve probably never heard of.

I say: Just when the mainstream offerings look their bleakest, I come across this delightful-looking offering from Ryan Dunlavey. You might know Dunlavey from his award-winning comic, Action Philosophers. Either way, this book is slopping over with potential. The art is pitch-perfect, and the story hook (a villain who gets more grief from family and friends than from the heroes in his life) has tremendous legs. If it lives up to its potential, this is one-shot that could stand a monthly treatment.

We Kill Monsters #3

Creative team: Story by Christopher Leone; Art by Brian Churilla

Villain to Watch: There’s a giant insect monster. What more do you need?

They say: Mechanics Jake and Andrew Basher team with a sexy ex-girlfriend to kill a terrifying giant insect monster with a homemade weapon rigged from spare car parts. While Andrew discovers a clue about the monsters’ origins, Jake’s latest fix of monster juice gives him a shocking new side effect!

I say: Again, as I’m trying to find something new and fresh for my trip to the comics shop, I come across this book that I’m putting on the pull list for one very important reason: It’s Fall and that means halloween, and that means I’m going to start obsessing over monsters again. The solicit promises giant insect monsters, and I am in. The art looks clean, and I’m intrigued by the pitch. Writer Leone is one of those Hollywood types, so there’s every chance that this comic itself is a movie pitch. And if it is, then so much the better. Give it an October release date, and I’m there.

…And One To Pass

Archie #601

Creative team: Story by Michael Uslan; Art by Stan Goldberg

Villain to Watch: The Archie Publications marketing department

They say: Prepare to be shell-shocked, because not only did Archie propose, but in this issue wedding bells are ringing! It’s Archie’s future, a future where Riverdale’s favorite rich girl wins his hand in marriage! With Mr. Lodge footing the bill, it’s proving to be the most spectacular wedding ever to hit Riverdale! The guys look spiffy in their tuxes, the girls are gorgeous in their gowns, but just who is Betty’s date, Henry? Witness Archie’s poignant heart-to-heart talk with Betty before the nuptials, the choked-up parents of the betrothed, and a surprise ending that will leave you speechless!

I say: I missed my opportunity to nay-say these nuptials, but it looks as if I have another five issues to fie, so this is as good a place as any to do it. Look, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a fantasy-future wedding to make Archie relevant. This whole marketing scheme reeks of fail. Especially since they’ll doubtlessly skirt the one story we all desperately want to see: Jughead plans a bachelor’s party. Jughead. Write your own punchline. Then pass.