One of the slowest weeks in comics that I can remember, but I can see why, considering what's on the slate for next week. But Marvel has one major comic up its sleeve and it's...
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #19: This has been built up as Tony Stark's ultimate swan song. Whether Marvel would be stupid enough to kill ANOTHER of their most profitable characters was debatable to this point. This issue gives us the long-awaited throwdown between Iron Man and the Iron Patriot. With Stark rapidly losing his mind (literally), it's an advantage for Patriot, who easily beats Iron Man one-on-one. But there happen to be a lot of TV cameras around, which prevent Osborn from striking the killing blow. Now things get interesting. Stark is braindead, but was previously able to construct a living will and testament. Donald Blake is named the executor of his estate and has the sole authority to determine whether to pull the plug on Stark. While Osborn would like to pull the plug, Blake has other ideas. I'm guessing this adds fuel to Osborn's coming feud with Thor that eventually leads to "Siege" in Janury. Good issue and glad Marvel decided against the killing of Stark. With Captain America and Batman both dying over the last few years, no one can be too sure anymore. Thumbs up.
BLACKEST NIGHT: SUPERMAN #3: Like the Batman tie-in before it, we have a resolution where the Black Lanterns are still at large, because the main series hasn't reached the point where BL's can be consistently disposed of. The Black Lantern Psycho Pirate's time is criminally limited due to the length of the issue, but his brief encounter with Superboy is fairly satisfying. Martha Kent and Krypto get a nice moment in the spotlight, as they escape Black Lantern Earth-2 Lois, but the rest of the fights seem rushed. The big climax comes as Superboy takes Psycho Pirate's Medusa Mask, which has the effect of removing the Black Rings around it. Unfortunately, the rings head straight towards the Mask, shattering it to pieces, thus taking a potential major weapon off the table. Superman, like Batman last week, vows to fight another day. This could have used one more issue, because this resolution came way too fast. Thumbs down.
BATMAN: STREETS OF GOTHAM #5: No Batman to be found this issue, which I believe was the original intent of the book, so bravo. This issue is one big fight between Huntress and Man-Bat, who's gone off his rocker for some reason. Issue ends with the fight eventually falling into a church, where an unhinged priest is looking to off them both. Fairly decent, but the Manhunter backup piece puts this one at recommendation status, as the mind games between Kate Spencer and Two-Face are just starting. Looking forward to the resolutions for both these plotlines in the next few months. Thumbs in the middle, leaning up.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #38: It's been a long time since I picked this one up, but I grabbed it because the preview made it sound like they were about to do something very stupid. Thankfully, they did NOT kill off Plastic Man. But this issue did suffer from the same problem the series has had for the better part of three years: it seems inconsequential. This issue and the fight with Despero are the very definition of filler, as the main attraction looks to be coming next month: a fight against Black Lantern Dr. Light. If they've convinced me to come on next month, they must be doing SOMETHING right, but this book feels so unnecessary at this point. This is the single-worst Justice League of America roster this side of Justice League Detroit. Thumbs down.
DARK REIGN: THE LIST - HULK #1: With Bruce Banner running around with Skaar somewhere, Norman Osborn decides to take care of them by deploying Moonstone and H.A.M.M.E.R. agents. They get dispatched rather easily, but Victoria Hand manages to inject Banner with nanobots that'll turn him back into the Hulk and simultaneously trigger Skaar to try and kill him. Wait, wait, time out. There's one giant hole in this plan and that's the Hulk was already GONE. Why kill the Hulk when the Hulk can't even come out anymore, unless the plan is to remove BANNER, which is never made clear. Questionable evil plan aside, this is a pretty decent "List" issue and is supposed to lead into World War Hulks next year. Thumbs in the middle.
Next week, Blackest Night continues, the Blackest Night: Titans tie-in concludes, the start of the Arkham Reborn mini-series, and a double-dose of Norman Osborn's "List" as he sets his sights on the Punisher and Wolverine.
I must admit that, finally, after 7 weeks, 52 worked for me with Week 7, and it worked really well. The intro to Kate Kane and the Ralph/Booster exchanges were spot on. Plus, the Strange/Buddy/Starfire subplot has my attention.