Blackest Night Superman #3

Creative team: Story by James Robinson; Art by Eddy Barrows and Ruy José

Villain to Watch: Black Lantern Superman and Black Lantern Psycho Pirate

They say: Black Lantern Psycho-Pirate shares his pain with the citizens of Smallville! And having your face shoved through the back of your skull can create quite a bit of pain. Will any Kryptonians come to the rescue? And could the key to taking down this menace lie within the Medusa Mask?

I say: Well, I’ve been waiting for a month to see how silvery-haired Ma Kent is going to fare against Black-Lantern-Earth-2-Lois. As you’ll remember, she’s armed with nothing more than a torch and the fact that she’s a Kansas farmer’s wife. And, for some unfathomable reason, my money’s on Ma. This series has set up a pretty good scrap between the zombie Earth-2 Superman and the team of Superman and Conner Kent. And let’s not forget the zombie Psycho Pirate. Of course, there’s more than a few old-schoolers like me who see Earth-2 Superman and Psycho Pirate and get an immediate Crisis on Infinite Earths vibe. Me, I don’t believe in coincidence. These characters played a significant role in that benchmark series, and the writers didn’t just draw those characters out of a hat. I’m braced for something Big in this issue.

Dark Avengers #10

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

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn Green Goblin

They say: Oh hey, you know how Norman Osborn was once the Green Goblin but he got it under control and now he’s one of the most powerful people in the free world? Oh, and you know that whole thing about him being a ticking time bomb who could snap at any minute? Yeah… you might want to check this issue out. The smash hit of the year continues!

I say: A solid “Pull” since Issue One of the series, the preview for this installment promises yet another quality read. Let’s face it, we’ve all been expecting Norman to be brought down by his own fragile psyche. And Bendis and company have been doing a great job of slowly tightening the tension around his brain. I don’t expect everything to fall down around Osborn’s ears just yet, but seeing a few cracks in the dam has a certain satisfying potential that I can’t pass up. Besides, there’s a cameo in the first six pages that you’re just not going to believe. I’m putting this on the Pull List if for no other reason than to find out what has been keeping Osborn in the bathroom for so long. Read the preview.

Justice League of America #38

Creative team: Story by James Robinson; Art by Mark Bagley

Villain to Watch: Despero

They say: It all begins as a one-time member of the JLA falls before he can warn the team of looming peril while what’s left of the JLA journeys to the heart of their past to decide if the team has any future at all. Of course, that means this is the best time for a savage villain from the team’s past to attack the demoralized heroes! The team will have to muster enough will to win not only today, but in the harrowing months to come. It’s the start of a spanking new odyssey for the JLA that will lead in the coming months to a fresh line-up for DC’s flagship team. Get onboard now for the next epic chapter of the Justice League’s legacy!

I say: Not only does this issue serve as the ushering-out of Plastic man from the active ranks of the JLA, the preview makes it look as if it’s the ushering-out of Plas from the active ranks of life. Of course, Plas being Plas, that’s not so much to overcome. And he won’t need a black ring to do it. In this issue, our rag-tag group of fill-ins and second-bananas struggle with deciding whether they should just let the JLA die a quiet death. They’ll never be good enough to carry the torch passed on by the likes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Then, Despero bursts onto the scene, forcing them to be what they’re certain they can’t: Justice Leaguers. I have a soft place in my heart for the ne’er-do-well-makes-good kind of story. And Robinson is really amping up a nice variation on that theme in this arc. I’m very eager to see how it develops. Read the preview.

Power Girl #6

Creative team: Story by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray; Art by Amanda Conner

Villain to Watch: Sexy, alien marauders

They say: The trio of sexy alien marauders continues their rampage across Earth, and Power Girl makes her last stand against these seemingly unstoppable foes. But even Power Girl has her limits.

I say: I’ve said it before than I’ll say it again, the team of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner is one of the strongest comic-book crews in modern comics. They’ve been able to retain the cheesecake factor inherent in the Power Girl mythos and instill it with some solid, entertaining, adventure storytelling. The “sexy marauders” turn out to be spoiled brats from another galaxy. They don’t realize their own strength on Earth. They’re just out to have a good time. But, of course, their good times mean someone’s bound to get hurt. That police officer from issue #5 found that out the hard way. And whomever sent his manservant to pick them up for a “party” is bound to be the next in line for lesson-learning. Read the preview.

Thunderbolts #137

Creative team: Story by Rick Remender; Art by Carlos Rodriguz

Villain to Watch: Norman Osborn (and, maybe, Iron Fist?)

They say: Meet the newest Thunderbolts…Power Man and Iron Fist?! Norman Osborn, in need of a powerful duo to send on a top secret mission, makes the former Heroes for Hire a deal they can’t refuse! Luke Cage and Danny Rand have no choice but to become Osborn’s personal assassins! What could have caused all this? Fan favorite writer Rick Remender spills all the secrets-and some blood–in this 100 proof double-sized blow-out!

I say: I’ve never been a Power-Man-and-Iron-Fist guy. But, as always, leave it to Rick Remender to take someone who I don’t care a whit about and make his character crucial. In this issue, Danny “Iron Fist” Rand is being brainwashed to turn against the Avengers. And, so far, he’s easily taking down every top-flight white cape. Except his former partner Luke “Power Man” Cage. That’s going to mean more pushing on the part of Osborn and his crony, the uber-creepy Ghost. T’bolts has gone awfully far without disappointing me, and I don’t expect this double-sized ish to start now. My only complain is that Moonstone has taken somewhat of a back seat in the recent story, and I’d like to see her character come back to the forefront. They’ve done a wonderful job of developing her into a complex and nuanced character, and I’d hate to see that go to waste. Read the preview.

Plus One Holiday Special

DC Universe Halloween

Creative team: Story by Joe Harris, Billy Tucci, and others; Art by Rags Morales, Joe Prado, and more

Villain to Watch: Bizarro and more

They say: Darkness falls across the land as the DC Universe faces its greatest horror in this Halloween special filled with all-new stories! Watch as Guy Gardner continues his quest to share Halloween with the cosmos and his fellow alien Green Lantern Corps members. In another tale, Red Robin finds the true, deadly meaning of the sinister holiday while overseas on his quest to find Bruce Wayne. Meanwhile, Bizarro receives neither trick nor treat in his own backwards celebration of the spookiest night of the year on his home world. Plus, 10 other ghoulish tales to fill you with fright this Halloween!

I say: Halloween is, by far, my favorite holiday. You can have Christmas and all the carols. Give me cosplay and candy, my friend, and I’m a happy fanboy. Throw in an unhealthy does of macabre and horror and it’s all the better. So, I had to make sure there was room for a special call-out to DC’s Halloween special. I’m a sucker for Halloween-themed stories in comics, and having them all assembled in one place sounds awfully good to me. So I’ll be pulling this one for sure, bringing it home, turning the lights down, playing the soundtrack to Nightmare Before Christmas, and settling in for a crisp, October’s night of spooky fun. Reading the solicit closely, you’ll see that they have 13 stories in all. Nicely played.

Honorable Mentions: Batman: Streets of Gotham #5 (Huntress / Man-Bat team-up can’t be bad); Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #4; Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers TPB; Mighty Avengers #30; Spider-Woman #2

…And One To Pass…

Female Force: Oprah Winfrey

Creative team: Story by Joshua LaBello; Art by Vinnie Tartamella

Villain to Watch: Oprah

They say: This comic series has gotten national attention and press on such places as CNN, Fox News, and People. Actress, producer, entrepreneur, and talk show queen. She turned her wounds into wisdom and survived an abusive family to become one of the most powerful and influential people in the world. See the humble beginnings of Oprah Winfrey.

I say: Here’s a hint. When the first line of your solicitation is about the amount of media coverage your title has gotten, it’s a dead giveaway that the comic is more publicity stunt than actual storytelling. Please. Stop. This stopped being reasonable a long time ago. I’m also seeing solicits for bio-comics on Joe Biden and the Obama’s dog, Bo. Throw in Oprah, and we’re just a stone’s throw away from Dr. Phil and that d-bag who hoaxed the nation with his balloon boy story. Enough is enough.

Dishonorable mentions: Amazing Spider-Man #609 (I’m so not into revisiting the Clone Saga), Batman Confidential #35; Diary of a Wimpy Kid (not a comic book not a graphic novel not a comic book not a graphic novel not a comic book not a graphic novel not a comic book not a graphic novel not a comic book not a graphic novel); Final Crisis Afterman: Dance #6; Political Power: Joe Biden; Puppy Power: Bo Obama