Batgirl #7: This issue is uneven, with Larson making Barbara almost insufferable as a "social justice warrior to the maximum!" while at the same time injecting some excitement into the series with the introduction of Penguin's son, Ethan. The conflict in the issue revolves around the homeless in Burnside. Gordon Clean Energy has apparently turned Burnside into San Francisco, forcing out everyone in the 99 percent. Barbara feels guilty (since it's her fault) and launches into a tirade when she overhears two hipsters at a party complaining about the homeless. She attracts the attention of Ethan, whose company has developed an app to help move the homeless to "safer" locations. But, no one is vetting the volunteers, and a villain named Fright uses the app to procure homeless people as research subjects. (We're supposed to recognize Fright, because Barbara does, but I don't.) Barbara makes quick work of Fright and uses her date with Ethan to gather more information about his plans. The problem is Barbara doesn't do the thing she really should do to help, namely make Gordon Clean Energy a more responsible neighbor. If its location in Burnside is driving up rents, she should move the company somewhere else in Gotham or do something to address the problem, like making sure the company is investing in affordable housing. Even if she's not going to take over the company to do it herself, she should talk to Alyssia about it. (Is Alyssia still running it? Maybe it's time to rethink that?) She's behaving as if she sold the company to a private-equity firm and can't control its behavior. But, instead of doing something about the problem, she's actually washed her hands of technology entirely and enrolled in a library-science program. I'm fine with her doing that (it's a nice nod to her past), but it's hard to reconcile that with her outrage over a situation she caused. (Also, how fucking long was she in Asia. It seemed like two weeks, tops. How did Burnside gentrify so quickly?)
Black Panther #10: Not unexpectedly, Coates gets even more philosophical in the last moments of peace before Tetu and his zombie-like forces arrive in the Golden City. T'Challa asks forgiveness from Changamire for his sins, particularly his pride in thinking he was better than his ancestors for not resorting to torture and then considering doing exactly that when his back was against the wall. But, T'Challa isn't the only one here who needs to repent. Although Changamire refuses to acknowledge he clings to a fantasy of how governments work, he is forced to acknowledge T'Challa doesn't want to dominate his people as king and, conversely, Tetu probably does. Similarly, Shuri gets the Dora Milaje to admit what they already know, that Tetu will turn on them once the Golden City falls. With these reluctant allies secured, T'Challa and Shuri show why they're the best there is at what they do.
Bloodshot U.S.A. #2-#4: I know it won't last, but let me just say how happy I am Lemire lets Bloodshot and Magic have their happy ending. Lemire wraps up pretty much every loose end since "The Valiant," from Kay emerging in control of Deathmate to the CEO of P.R.S. getting his comeuppance to the Bloodshot Squad getting to make their own futures. Lemire (or whoever picks up this series) could go a lot of different directions from here, and I'll admit I'm not sure if I'm going to follow. We so rarely get these sorts of wins in comics, and I may actually just let the win stay a win. If so, fare ye well, at least for now, Ray Garrison.
Captain America: Steve Rogers #10: After "Mighty Captain Marvel" #1, I assumed Maria Hill was found innocent, since Carol discusses building the Shield. But, Spencer throws us a curveball here: Maria finally gets her comeuppance. (A lot of comeuppance happening this week, apparently.) She's found guilty and flees the Helicarrier to deliver the Shield plans to Carol. Needless to say, the Skull is furious: we learn his plan is to have the Chitauri invade Earth so he can come to power in the wake of the destruction they will inevitably cause. We still don't know exactly why Steve wanted to see Sharon put in charge instead of Maria, though. Does he think Maria more competent than Sharon? Is he worried she would suss out his plans more easily? Did he know Sharon would give the job to him? It also seems weird he'd want S.H.I.E.L.D. to be more powerful if the plan is for Earth to fall to the Chitauri. But, more powerful it will be, thanks to Sharon pulling out all the stops to get the S.H.I.E.L.D. Act passed, allowing it to become America's first line of defense in case of a Doomsday scenario or terrorist attack (or alien invasion). Sharon tells Steve he needs to be Director, since the person leading the organization with all that power has to be beyond reproach. If I had to guess, Steve plans on leading S.H.I.E.L.D. to failure in the Chitauri invasion so he can show even at its most powerful it's less effective than HYDRA. The only good news Steve gets in this issue is the revelation that Free Spirit pulled the plug on Jack Flag before he has to administer a drug to kill him. At least he's wrapped up one loose end.
Thunderbolts #9: I can't say I'm thrilled Marvel's sucked me into reading this series, but I have to admit I find myself charmed. The team is fun, and it's great to see Bucky again. That said, it's hard to see why "Captain America: Steve Rogers" #10 directed its readers to this issue. Other than the mere presence of Bucky, this issue is nowhere near as connected to Spencer's story as issues #7-#8 were. As far as I can tell, the only possible connection is if the alien race the Thunderbolts capture here are somehow connected to the Chitauri, meaning the beacon they activated will draw the Chitauri to Earth. But, no one even remotely mentions that here, so it's just a guess. I guess we'll see.
Detective Comics #949: It seems as if we've seen the end of Bruce's team of misfits here, as Batwoman decides to go to war with the organizations trying to obtain the monster venom. Combined with Red Robin's "death" during "Rise of the Batman" arc and Spoiler's defection during the "Victim Syndicate" arc, we really only Clayface and Orphan left. I'm disappointed, because I really loved this premise and would've been thrilled to see it last longer than nine months. But, I also have to admit Tynion and Bennett wrap up the story nicely, if we are indeed seeing the end of this group. Everyone is where they are at the end of this issue for specific reasons that evolved over the course of the last 16 issues. We don't often get that in comics, so I have to tip my hat to the authors, even if I'm disappointed with the outcome. Onwards and upwards.
IvX #3 and All-New X-Men #17: Lemire does a pretty convincing job here of portraying the NuHumans as a threat the X-Men underestimated. Inferno gets the drop on Logan because he was overconfident, though Forge somewhat unconvincingly blunders into telling Iso exactly how to disable the machine he's building to eliminate the remaining Terrigen Cloud. It's still unclear how the Royal Family is going to escape Magik's prison to then break into X-Haven, but I have to admit it's a solid plan. But, it's Hopeless that grounds this event in actual emotions. If tactical conversations are par for the course in the main title, Hopeless makes young Hank sound ridiculous as he lays out the plan for Bobby, who just cares about finally kissing Romeo. The good news is he does, when he follows the X-Men into New Attilan simply to find him. Is it responsible? No, it's not. After all, if the X-Men don't win, Bobby's going to be dead in two weeks. Does it matter though? Nope. After all, Bobby essentially argues they wouldn't be at this point if people had the motivation to solve the impasse that he and Romeo have. He's not wrong. In fact, for the one taken the least seriously of all the X-Men, he's probably the only one thinking straight (heh) at this point.
Pathfinder: Worldscape #4: In the past, "Pathfinder" series have been pretty straight-forward romps. The plot usually hasn't been too complicated, generally a step above a smash-and-grab adventure. But, Mona really ups the ante here. In this issue, we learn Kulan Gath pulled Merisiel through the gates 20 years ago. His magic identified her as the "master thief" he and Camilla needed to unify the Scepter and the Crown. We learn Tarzan was one of the few people ever to come into possession of both items, but he thought it too dangerous to keep them together. He went into seclusion with the Crown and gave the Scepter to his ally, the warrior Queen Pha. Over a period of six weeks, Meris helps Camilla and her team recover the Scepter from Pha, conquering the city of Shareen in the process. Interestingly, this Camilla claims she wants to unify the two items to empty the Worldscape, allowing everyone to return to their homeworlds. It's unclear how she becomes the despot we saw at the start of this series. But, we'll surely learn. At any rate, upon arriving, Meris caught a glimpse of the jungle goddess, Fantomah. After a failed love affair, a distraught Meris begs for her help, and she appears, sending Meris home with no memory of her time in the Worldscape. Enigmatically, Fantomah says they can help each other before dispatching Meris, so it's clear Fantomah has plans for Meris this time. When Meris arrives again in the Worldscape, she remembers everything...including Kulan Gath, present at her arrival and announcing she'll work for him again. For how complicated it all sounds, Mona does an amazing job of presenting it coherently, and I'm really, really excited about where we're going from here.
Prowler #4: Hobie has always been a little arrogant, but Ryan makes him a downright asshole in this series. First, he continues lamenting he has to do everything on his own...even after Julia saves his life, getting him to New U and his pills in time. But, he also complains about her condescension when she refuses to see the Jackal as an agent of good. But, of course, Julia is right, so it's hard to argue she was just being condescending in refusing to believe him. Hobie doesn't even really try to argue his case: he just wants her to believe him because he believes it. I like Hobie, and I wanted to like this series. But, Ryan has him wallow in so much text-box misery that it's not the series for me, unfortunately.
Also Read: Avengers #1.MU; Extraordinary X-Men #18; Reborn #4; Star Wars #27-#28