Batman/Superman #3: This issue would've been great if not for the completely unlikely story involving a young Bruce playing baseball with a young Clark in Smallville. Pak and Lee have been telling a story that's often difficult to follow, requiring a re-reading (or two) to get a full sense of the story. However, that effort is generally rewarded with a greater appreciation of the story. Unfortunately, with the random flashbacks to an imagined childhood, it made this process all the more difficult, since it prevented them from focusing on the story at hand. For example, I'm still unclear on why the government was developing a crystal meant to take down Superman. In fact, I'm not entirely sure which Superman (of the two) is the target. Moreover, the crystal's connection to Darkseid is left virtually unexplored. Pak really could've used the four or five pages spent on the childhood digression to clarify the actual story. The whole thing reeks of editorial interference. Hopefully, we can just forget about it and get some answers next issue.
Captain America #10: Honestly? I can think of few multiple-issue runs that were anywhere near the same level as this one. The only ones that come to mind are the Kang War ("Avengers" #41-#55) and the Black Mirror ("Detective Comics" #871-#881). Remender kept us guessing to the very last minute, when you weren't sure if the "ghost" helping the Phrox was going to be Ian or Sharon. The revelation that it was Ian (and the brilliance of branding him "Nomad") literally made me gasp. Moreover, his resurrection of sorts reminds you just how much Remender leaves on the table. Dimension Z is a weird place, where you truly believe that a child can survive getting shot at point-blank range and falling into a chemical-fueled river. If you believe that, you also believe that Sharon Carter may be alive (and possibly Zola's host) or that Steve Rogers might really have lived ten years without aging more than a few minutes. The consequences didn't just completely disappear at the end of this arc, wrapped into a neat package.
As such, Steve's status quo is completely unclear at this point. After all, who does he mourn first? Ian? Sharon? Himself? What are the physical repercussion of his ten years in Dimension Z? Did he actually age? When he briefly returned to Dimension Z from the tunnel, the ruins of the destroyed battle-station had already aged, seemingly implying that Steve is a decade older. How does that work? Also, how does he handle Jet Black?
But, we have next month to worry about those questions. For now, it's time to bask in Remender delivering the quintessential Captain America story. Remender made this storya bout Cap and his faith in himself. He reminds us of that faith in this issue, when Cap tells his mutate clone that a few derogatory comments about his mother aren't going to make him doubt the lessons that he learned from her. Moreover, Remender reminds us that this faith in himself is bigger than Cap, that it inspires the entirety of the Marvel Universe; here, this faith inspires Ian in exactly the way that Cap hoped, leaving behind his legacy in Dimension Z even if he's unaware of it. Moreover, Sharon is perfect here. Remender treats her as the bad-ass that she's always been, completely in charge of the situation and doing what needs to be done, regardless of the consequences. Even Brubaker, who freed her from the "Gal Friday" role that she often played, rarely portrayed her as strong as she is here. It's one of the few times where I've felt sad at losing a character but actually OK with the way that their story ends.
Can we also just talk about the craft on display here? Remender's amazing narration of the epilogue, where you had no idea where it was going until you arrived at the Nomad revelation? JR JR's insane landscapes and even more insane Zola? This entire arc was a tour de force in terms of the talents of everyone involved.
It's a big, crazy, epic story. You're left wanting so much more; I found myself hoping that we're going to get a Dimension Z series that follows Nomad. But, Remender isn't rushing anything. I was hestitant about this story in the first few issues, but Remender has finally give Cap the sort of ongoing series that he deserves. I can't wait to see where we go from here.
Captain Marvel #15: The obvious problem with this issue, which Sana herself acknowledges in the letters page, is that you feel like you're not missing one issue, but several. First, we're presented Carol's memory-loss as a fait accompli, despite the fact that it wasn't particularly clear at the end of last issue that it was the repercussion of severing her telepathic link with Yon-Rogg. Moreover, Carol is notably not in New York, but somewhere in deep space with the Avengers, fighting the Builders. I stopped reading "Avengers," but I am reading "Infinity" and I don't remember this ground being covered in issue #1. (When exactly did Earth join the Galactic Council? Do they no longer consider it an irrelevant back-water? Of course, I had trouble following "Infinity" #1, so maybe it's just me.)
But, DeConncik actually, somehow, manages to move you past all that. She embraces the chaos, showing Carol as somewhat thankful that she's lost her memories, because the lack of emotional investment makes it easier to deal with the insanity around her. In fact, DeConnick seems to be speaking to the reader and Carol on the same level, promising all of us answers so long as we make it thorugh the "Infinity" business. It's remarkably clever, just as we've all come to expect from this series.
Scarlet Spider #21: Buddy's going to be OK, right? Right? I mean, everyone's going to be OK, right? Kaine is going to remember that he's a hero now and save everyone, right?
Unlike the past few issues, Kraven is a villain from Kaine's past whose presence here makes sense. After all, it's Kaine who led to his defeat at Spider-Man's hands during "Grim Hunt." Kraven's not likely to forget that easily. Moreover, under normal circumstance, I'd be totally fine with Kraven posing as Ben Reilly in order to torture Kaine, since it's exactly the type of crazy that you'd expect from Kraven. However, on the heels of the cross-over event with "Superior Spider-Man Team-Up," I have to say that it didn't work the way that I think Yost hoped that it would. I spent most of the issue worried that it was a continuation of the Jackal's plot, something Yost clearly wanted us to think to make the revelation that it was Kraven all the more impactful. But, instead, it proved to be distracting, since it not only reminded me of a plot that I find overplayed but also makes you wonder what the Jackal is doing now that he's returned to the background and when some other remnant of the Clone Saga is going to darken Kaine's door. So, although it was clever, it would've been even better had it not come on the heels of the "Clone Saga 2.0" story that we just had.
Regardless, I'm definitely anxious to see where we go from here, both in Kaine's confrontation with Kraven and the status of his supporting cast. Interestingly, unlike the Assassins Guild or the Clone Saga, Kraven is a ghost of Kaine's past as a hero, not as a villain, and I wonder if it'll play out differently than the other stories have.
Thanos Rising #5: Aaron makes it pretty clear here that he doesn't believe that Death has guided Thanos through the years; Thanos himself is responsible for his actions. In fact, if Aaron raises any questions here, it's not whether Thanos really sees Death, but it's if his construction of Death is a sign of mental illness or a convenient excuse for his behavior. In other words, is Thanos mad or, as Monitor says, is he really just selfish? Either way, we emerge with a more complete and sympathetic view of Thanos here, though one that actually somehow makes him more responsible for his crimes. It's been a complicated story for a complicated character and Aaron really did a great job of giving us a definitive approach to a character who's too often been used simply as a powerful bugaboo. "Infinity" is unlikely to add any nuance to the character, so I finished this issue glad for this mini-series and a chance to understand Thanos better.
Young Avengers #9: Ugh. Heart-breaking. I mean, OK, I trust Kieron GIllen and I really believe that he has no intention of keeping Billy and Teddy apart forever. Moreover, as Teddy himself implies here, Billy's decision to let Teddy go seems to signify that he's not making Teddy love him. I mean, I don't think that we're ever going to get a definitive answer to that question, since it essentially requires proving a negative, that Billy isn't making Teddy love him. But, if he were, it would seem unlikely that he would allow Teddy to go. Instead, it seems more likely that he believes that Teddy loves him and equally believes that Teddy will return to him, a conclusion that we all hope Teddy will also make. Because I trust Gillen, I also know that Teddy has to go through this journey. They are, after all, just kids and the people who live the kind of life that they live don't just get to marry their high-school sweetheart and live happily ever after. For them to be happy, Teddy needs to believe that Billy isn't making him love him and that requires some time on his own for a while. (I mean, if Billy is really an multidimensional messiah, he can probably make Teddy love him from afar, but, really, let's not go too far down that road.)