Streets of Gotham #12: I'm not sure what is going on with Streets of Gotham, but this issue felt pretty disjointed to me. There were moments of pure awesome, like the Carpenter's reaction to Batman breaking into the bar, as well as her disdain for the super-criminally inclined...and then there was the new villain "the Director," who read like he was written in about ten minutes and never looked at again. Some of this might have to do with what appears to be a shake-up between Paul Dini and the book, as he's only credited for the story, with script credits going to artists Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. Anyway, it's an alright read for two-part story, and there's a small plot aside dealing with Damian taking on a secret side project of his own. Once again it's Damian to the rescue, as his short scene is one of the better parts of the issue. That, and it's got a beautiful cover, even though it has nothing to do with the story. "Batman with Bats" is a pretty used image, but when done right it can still wow.
Walking Dead #72: Is Kirkman turning Rick and his survivor posse into the bad guys of this arc? With this issue, it certainly seems that way. Beyond this shift, I actually really enjoyed this issue if only for what might be the earliest glimpses of Michonne's past, something we've been getting more and more of since the survivors left the prison. She's been a major character since her first appearance, and it's rewarding to finally get even just one or two panels of her life before the zombie-jamboree went nationwide. (Side note: we still don't know if there are zombies outside of the US, right?) Also, we see that Rick is once again busy on a contingency plan that might put him out of favor with the locals, and the creepy leader of the village makes a sleazy pass at Andrea (but with that sexy scar, who wouldn't). If there was any part of the issue that made me think "let down," it was that we don't get any more hints as to what the Safe-Zone survivors did under their initial founder, the mysterious Davidson. My guess? Desperation orgy. Call me crazy, but Douglas Monroe seems like the type of guy who'd be down with that.
Avengers #1: The Heroic Age Begins Here! (or was it in Age of Heroes? Or is it in Secret Avengers? Or was it in Siege? Or is it in Avengers Prime...you get the point). After this first issue, I'm still 100% torn on this series. Do I want to care about these Avengers? I've been promising myself (and writing here for some time) that I'm "done with Bendis." Yet somehow, Marvel just won't let me quit the guy. If you want to follow what is going on with the Marvel U, he's pretty much inescapable. Anyway, Avengers #1 is alright. It's not groundbreaking, and really the best part is seeing John Romita Jr. work with Klaus Janson (although that cover is criminally boring). The set-up for this new team's first adventure is fitting in a big picture "Avengers" way, and the reveal at the end gave me genuine nerd-goosebumps. So, I won't write the series off yet, but I'm going to reserve my right to drop it if the familiar curse of New Avengers rears it's ugly head in any way.
GATTS BOOK OF THE WEEK
Joe the Barbarian #5 (VERTIGO--Grant Morrison, Sean Murphy): This is a series that I had my doubts about at first, but as the story has progressed, it's become more and more clear that Joe the Barbarian is an incredibly enjoyable fantasy romp. It might also be Morrison's most emotionally touching work to date. Reading this makes me feel much the same way I did when I saw Labyrinth or The Dark Crystal as a child. It's a wonderfully imaginative story with genuine heart. Even more than that, this book firmly establishes Sean Murphy as one of the best artists working today. I've read it elsewhere, and I have to agree: this is career-defining material for Murphy. Take a look at that splash page of the dog/monster attack and you'll know what I mean. Shit, I probably spent more time looking at that page than any other in the series so far, and I even went back after I finished the issue just to soak it in one more time. If there's one problem with this issue, it's that Morrison falls victim to the "must explain why a cell phone won't solve the problem" narrative trap. Oh wait...that's going to a question that has to be answered in all fiction from now on, isn't it? Crap. Anyway, go read Joe the Barbarian. Yes, it's a familiar story, but just turn off that little cynical voice in your head and let yourself enjoy it. Go on, you know you want to.