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Straight Shooter

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Batman #670
Words by Grant Morrison
Art by Tony Daniel and Jonathan Glapion
$2.99, 24 pages
(DC Comics)

As completely unsurprising as a Lazarus character has become in comics, I have to admit the resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul is looking pretty sweet so far. For maybe the first time since the original issue of the Hush story, you can walk into a comic shop off the street and buy a new Batman comic book and more or less fully understand it without having to read the past several years of Batman, Robin, Nightwing, etc. You don’t have to have read the Infinite Crisis stuff, either. In fact, you could probably go into this issue after only watching Batman Begins once and still kind of know what’s going on, though a few less-familiar characters like Thalia al Ghul and Damian Wayne (Batman’s son) might send you to Wikipedia. For the most part, though, Morrison’s story manages to catch up readers alienated by the ridiculous sprawl of the Countdown/52/Crisis cape opera without spending pages and pages on asterisked exposition. Instead we get just enough mostly well-written dialogue to get us by between fight scenes. Not that that’s a complaint. There’s got to be an average of at least one ass kicked per page — if you include tearing open someone’s chest or slicing off his legs as kicking his ass. Some of the art here is pretty freaking gory, bloody to a point that may surprise older readers (or inappropriately young ones), but that’s not really a complaint, either. Morrison has set up a potentially sweet story in this too-brief issue, and assuming he doesn’t screw it up in the next few months, this should be an excellent point to get back into Batman comics.

Daredevil Annual #1
Words by Ande Parks
Art by Leandro Fernandez, Scott Koblish, June Chung
$3.99, 48 pages
(Marvel)

Marvel’s releasing a ridiculous amount of seemingly randomly timed annuals recently with very good reason – hardly anybody knows what the hell is going on in their regular comics anymore. And a long one-shot story is an easy way to keep casual Marvel fans from leaving the comic shop empty-handed, or worse, with one of those black-and-white indie books. The Daredevil annual’s your chance to enjoy a decent self-contained Daredevil story without having to read the past 70 issues of every comic in the Marvel lineup. Parks’ script (Brubaker is listed first on the cover, of course, but is only credited with the “story,” whatever that means) is at least moderately kick-ass. It’s nice to see a superhero being all jacked up by the flu for once instead of some kind of enchanted space diamond or something, and the subplot involving the gentrification of Hell’s Kitchen is a good modern touch, but there are a few reasons to leave the book on the shelf. For one, Black Tarantula, though a pretty sweet character, is the focus of a disproportionately large chunk of the book considering this is Daredevil’s annual, and the story is so self-contained as to seem kind of pointless in the grand scheme of things. (Marvel-wise that is; let’s not get all philosophical here.) This book’s a decent buy if you’re just dying for a Daredevil story but don’t want to invest the time to get into the piles of Civil War continuity, but if you’re a faithful Marvelite with an overburdened comic budget, this is an easy one to leave off your list.

 

The Sword #1
Words by Joshua Luna
Art by Jonathan Luna
$2.99, 32 pages
(Image Comics)

This fantasy story about a handicapped girl with a magical sword could go just about any direction at this point, but it’s definitely worth monitoring for a few issues. The first three-fourths of the first issue reads almost like a Harvey Pekar book or something, leisurely introducing the characters in their everyday lives before launching into the actual action, a device that would be incredibly effective in a self-contained graphic novel, but here may leave the reader feeling underwhelmed when the titular weapon doesn’t appear for many, many pages. If the story picks up from here, it will probably be better for all this character development, but there’s no way of knowing if this will be an epic fantasy or Art School Confidential with a sword thrown in for no good reason.


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