Traditionally, I hold off the books I enjoy the most for the last read of the week; it’s how I motivate myself to get through, especially when I have so many comics to read each week. The final spot is usually reserved for a Superman and Batman book, and that’s no different this time around. The latest issue of Detective Comics features the end of the Night of the Monster Men story; Action Comics sees the pre-Flashpoint Lois Lane heading into the scariest place she can imagine: the New 52 Daily Planet; As a bonus, the latest issue of Kill or Be Killed sees our hero deal with the ramifications of what he’s done.

Action Comics 965
Written by Dan Jurgens
Pencils by Stephen Segovia
Inks by Art Thibert

I guess they had to eventually deal with this, right? The New 52 Superman is dead (we think), the New 52 Lois Lane is dead (we think) and they’ve been replaced by older versions of themselves from another Earth. Plus, there’s a weird human Clark Kent running around that swears he’s never been Superman and the scanners at the Fortress of Solitude confirm it.

There’s obviously several mysteries afoot here, a good amount of plot threads going in various directions that writer Dan Jurgens can mine for story possibilities in the renewed Action Comics. I’m really enjoying how everything is being weaved, and with the more experienced Lois making her return to the Daily Planet – because the N52 Lois reached out to here for help before she died as Superwoman – we’re starting to return to the status quo that I think most readers want. Lois meets with Perry and the Planet’s new owner, Lex Luthor – we’re doing this again, apparently – who encourage her to get the story on the “New” Superman.

Of course, as a newspaper editor myself, I think this continues to make the staff at the Daily Planet look like idiots. The Lois Lane who walked into the Planet offices to meet with Perry White is several years older than the N52 version – most people would notice she’s aged by at least 7-8 years. But that’s OK, I’m still intrigued by the story Jurgens is telling, along with the little hints being dropped throughout the issue. As Lois gets into N52 Lois’ office to check the computer for the files she needs, human Clark comes in to talk to her and “accidentally” spilled coffee on the computer, making it useless. That can’t be a coincidence.

Next time around, the Superman books continue to mash up, as Lois meets with the New 52 Lana Lang, who’s taken on the mantle of Superwoman. Hopefully, Lois makes a joke about the Electro-Supes suit…

There’s a lot of 1990s sensibilities in Action Comics right now, and I think that’s absolutely fantastic, as the 90s were a great time for Superman stories.

Detective Comics 942
Written by Steve Orlando and James Tynion IV
Art by Andy MacDonald

The first crossover of the DC Comics Rebirth era comes to an end with the sixth and final installment here. “Night of the Monster Men” was a great story that highlighted how Batman needs his team as much as the team needs him. And if you’ve been enjoying the story so far, you should absolutely pick up Detective Comics 942 to complete the story. But as a standalone part of the crossover, it felt a little less than. After five issues of build-up to the challenges laid out by Prof. Hugo Strange – a series of dead people mutated to monsters attacking Gotham City – the end of the battle was a little too pat for me.

Batman leaves his team to take on the final monster to take on Strange, who sits in his hideout dressed as Batman, declaring his intention to take over as a stronger Batman, one without the weaknesses Strange believes the current Batman has. I was expecting an epic battle, but that’s not what happened. Instead, I got asphyxiation by Clayface. Sure, it worked in the context of the story, but it was still a little disappointing.

And then we have our moment of suspension of disbelief for the issue. In order to stop the fifth monster attacking Gotham, Spoiler, Orphan, Nightwing and Batwoman head off to four Wayne Towers in the city that Bruce Wayne had weaponized and, as their logos became emblazoned on the edifices of the buildings, the Bat-team used the buildings to hold down the monster until Nightwing figured out what needed to be done to take it down. Now, sure, most of the City had been evacuated for the hurricane battering Gotham plus the attacking monsters, but I imagine SOMEONE was around to see that. And wouldn’t those symbols raise questions as to why vigilantes have access to weaponized towers?

I know, I’m overthinking it. It’s a comic book, I’ll shut up now.

“Night of the Monster Men” gets a collected hardcover edition released in February, and I imagine it will be a hot seller, because this has been a great story.

Kill or Be Killed 3
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitwesier

Brubaker and Phillips are masters of pacing out their noir stories at this point and after the hot start for their latest tale, with a lot of information and action packed into the first two issues, everything takes a bit of a step back to set the stage for what comes next.

It’s the morning after Dylan’s first kill, shooting the older brother of a friend from his youth who Dylan assumes was a molester. He starts to panic a bit, wondering if the demon that is pushing him to kill is all in his head. He panics about how his best friend, Kira, will look at him if she finds out he was a killer. He panics about what this means for the rest of his life. He panics whenever he checks his phone and his laptop to see if there’s any news about the murder.

His relief comes when he sees the news: his killing led police to uncover a child sex ring. In the end, the killing did some good.

Dylan’s trepidation is palpable throughout the issue, and as if this need to kill hasn’t added enough stress to his life, Kira wants to discuss their increasing intimacy, which she wants to do before Dylan’s roommate – Kira’s boyfriend – comes back from his trip out of town. The third issue focuses on their relationship, and how close they are and what they mean to each other. But of course, life doesn’t work the way you always want it to, as Dylan’s roommate is back early when Dylan and Kira come home from Coney Island and some time at the shooting range.

The story so far has been told masterfully, giving a sense of realism to what could be seen as a bit campy – a demon forcing a graduate student to kill in order to save his own life. But we should expect nothing less from Brubaker and Phillips at this point.

 

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