Harley Quinn #21 – Stephanie Phillips, Writer; Simone Buonfantino, Artist; Romulo Fajardo Jr, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: The penultimate chapter of the Task Force XX storyline and the last to take place in the main book, this installment continues the strengths of the past chapters. It has great team banter between Harley and her motley crew of villains, but they’re surprisingly not the focus here. This is Luke Fox’s issue, as the tech genius is confronted by the twisted element he tried and failed to contain. Essentially a hivemind that absorbs anyone it possesses and is quickly becoming a shapeless, horrible mass, it’s a more effective horror villain than in previous issues. Luke goes through some intriguing character development this issue, as he confronts his failure as well as his complex family dynamic, but surprisingly Harley is the genesis of many of these revelations. She doesn’t get the chance to show it off too much here, but Harley’s role as a therapist has been one of the best parts of this series. Now we wait to see how this all wraps up in the oversized annual in a week, and where it leaves Harley for the future.
Task Force Z #11 – Matthew Rosenberg, Writer; Eddy Barrows, Penciller; Eber Ferreira, Inker; Adriano Lucas, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: This penultimate issue is total chaos in the best way possible, now that we know the Bane from this series—who was used as bait to get Jason on the team—is actually the deceased superhero Gotham. Not only is this a major new threat, but it pulls the always-unstable Gotham Girl out of hiding to join the fight. Two-Face’s manipulations have turned Jason away from the team, but now a much bigger threat has emerged—Mr. Bloom, who has been pulling the strings for the better part of the run and is now making his move to make sure he’s the only one left standing. This issue is pretty much all action, all the way through, but it delivers in one key way—some amazing callbacks to the arc where Mr. Bloom made his debut. It’s fast-paced and highly entertaining all the way, with Bloom making a truly hate-able villain and Jason getting to do what he does best—blow things up.
Deathstroke Inc. #12 – Ed Brisson, Writer; Dexter Soy, Artist; Veronica Gandini, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: As Deathstroke appears on the scene for the first time, Slade faces off against his first superhero—Green Arrow, who is coming into this fight with a lot of determination and not so much sense. As Slade tries to assassinate the mastermind of his program, GA pins him full of arrows, corners him in a tense battle—and we all know what happens when Slade is cornered. Almost this entire issue takes place within one building as Slade, Ollie, and the police face off and Slade nearly meets his end in a brutal cliffhanger. The only real cutaway from this scene—besides Wintergreen standing by and making dry comments—is Adeline finding out she’s pregnant with her and Slade’s second child, and we all know how that story ends. Overall, this is probably the best issue of the arc yet, just because of the sense of non-stop action and tension as Brisson shows exactly how vicious Slade can be.
Batman: White Knight Presents Red Hood #2 – Sean Murphy/Clay McCormack, Writers; George Kambadais, Simone Di Meo, Artists; Dave Stewart, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Ray: Probably the best material to come out of the White Knight universe in a while, this stand-alone flashback shows Jason’s relationship with Gan, a Mongolian-American teenager trying to protect her neighborhood. Despite all his best—and worst—instincts—he trains this freelance Robin to go up against the villain Shriek—straight from the world of Batman Beyond. But when it comes time for their big debut, he panics and tries to force her out of the game, which of course leads her to do exactly what he did and go it on her own. Will this lead to tragedy? All the makings are there, but Clay McCormack takes a slightly more melancholy, less overtly devastating route and catches up with them years later for a poignant coda. I’m not sure how much this will play into future stories of White Knight, but based on it I would like to see McCormack write Jason more in the main universe.
Justice League vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #5 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Scott Godlewski, Artist; Ryan Cody, Colorist
Ray – 7.5/10
Ray: Given the title, the most surprising thing about this comic is just how little fighting there’s been. It finally starts living up to its name a little bit when Batman demands Gold Lantern’s ring to investigate its link to the Great Darkness. The Legion and League argue, he briefly flees—and then agrees to come back and share what he knows with the League. The temporal event gets weirder and weirder as some characters get aged up and some get aged down, and we have a lot of two-page spreads as characters recap their adventures in time. There are some good moments, such as a major decision for Triplicate Girl, and we get some major plot developments towards the end as the main villain finally reveals himself. The problem is, we’re 5/6th down the road in what’s likely to be the conclusion of Bendis’ mainstream DC run, and it feels like we’re so far past this story in the universe already.
To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.
GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.