Future State: Gotham #9 – Dennis Culver, Writer; Nikola Cizmesija, Artist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Now that this series has firmly diverged from DC continuity—showing a Gotham under the iron fist of the Magistrate while the Gotham we know has thrown them into the dumpster—it feels more free to explore that world and deliver some surprises. That’s the case with this issue, which introduces some unexpected new players. Not only does Red Hood get a new partner in the mysterious vigilante Hunter Panic (not the same character from Jody Houser’s acclaimed Young Animal series), but the fan favorite Operator (Frankie Charles) finds herself at the center of a new plot involving Punchline. While Jason interrogates the Joker acolyte about the new maniac calling himself the Clown Prince of Crime, the deranged Hush may actually be the bigger threat. Targeting both heroes and villains around Gotham, this is probably the most ambitious Hush has been in a while. This issue delivers non-stop action from the first page and doesn’t slow down for a second.
The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries #10 – Ivan Cohen, Writer; Dario Brizuela, Artist; Franco Riesco, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The done-in-one mysteries of this series vary greatly in whether they actually qualify as mysteries, but the series is always fun. This issue’s plot, involving resorts being targeted by a mysterious Bigfoot-like monster, is very much a traditional Scooby-Doo mystery—it’s even lampshaded at one point. The problem is, the answer to the mystery is revealed on the cover and there’s really only one suspect. The good news is, the team dynamic is as fun as ever, with Renee Montoya’s Question along for the ride to add some variety. She’s mostly just another vigilante in the story, but writer Ivan Cohen clearly has fun making jokes about her unusual face mask. This does feel a little slight coming after the brilliant Riddler issue last month, and the villain isn’t really given much context, but it’s another fun issue in one of the most unexpected team-up books at DC in recent years.
Pennyworth #6 – Scott Bryan Wilson, Writer; Juan Gedeon, Artist; John Rauch, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: I’ve been wondering since the start—is this in the continuity of the TV series or in the main DC continuity? It could work in either, but this issue leads me more towards the latter with the presence of a surprising major DC villain. Despite that, this issue works on its own as probably the best issue of the series. While there are some flashbacks to a young Alfred’s battle to survive after being betrayed and abandoned by his MI-6 partner, most of the story takes place in the present as he has to decide whether to trust that same partner—who has resurfaced forty years later, without having aged a day, and has a crazy story about how she’s survived all this time and what her true agenda is. Amid the crazy spycraft, there is a strong emotional core that makes it easy for us to relate to Alfred and get invested in his battle—even if he still feels like an odd fit for the sci-fi story about supersoldiers.
Titans United #5 – Cavan Scott, Writer; Jose Luis, Penciller; Jonas Trinidade, Inker; Rex Lokus, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Ray: This is one of the better issues since the first, mostly because it keeps the focus on a smaller group of characters. Superboy has gone rogue, taking on the ruthless alter ego Black Zero under the influence of Blackfire. After taking out most of the team, he’s neutralized by Raven who transports him into a psychic space and tries to get through to him. But whatever’s been done to him goes deep, and the two aren’t taken into his past—they’re taken into Blackfire’s. These are some of the best scenes of the series, as we see exactly how brutal it was to grow up as a child without powers on Tamaran, and how this drove her to commit unforgivable betrayals. But ultimately, all the psychological insight into this issue doesn’t mean much, because there are still two issues to go. This does go a long way towards making Blackfire a more complex antagonist for the final arc, though.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.