SUPERMAN: Psi-War by Scott Lobdell and various illustrators is an adequate but uninspired story involving a mental virus implanted by Brainiac in various humans of Metropolis, and the psionic struggles of various super-villains. It becomes much less adequate when you factor in Clark’s personality—as I noted in with the previous volume, he’s very blandly bland, neither the Silver Age wimp nor John Byrne’s more confident post-crisis version. On top of that, while I appreciate their desire to drag the Daily Planet into the journalism world of the 21st century, it feels like they’ve only made it up to 2005. Throw in the annoying New 52 Orion of the New Gods and it’s ultimately thumbs down.
DMZ: Friendly Fire by Brian Wood and Ricardo Burchielli has a ripped-from-the-headlines quality—can the reporter protagonist get to the bottom of a possible war crimes incident?—that actually works against it. Unlike the general civil war setting of the series (militia extremists vs. repressive government) this is something that feels like I could see it on the news now, not in a few years, so I don’t really need Wood to dramatize the inhumanity. Plus I have a hard time believing that in any timeline an incident such as this will actually force the government to reassess its policies (it never has before).
PRETTY DEADLY: The Shrike by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios felt like too much set-up and style, not enough story—people are constantly riding across the West, hunting someone or running from someone or turning and fighting, and it all felt like so much posing for the camera, so it never caught my interest.
Moving on to the stuff I liked, FLASH: Gorilla Warfare by Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato and Marcus To has an odd premise—Flash’s old foe Grodd thinks he’s entitled to wield the Speed Force—but is entertaining in execution as Flash’s Rogues join forces with him against the gorillas invading Central City. I do wish they’d gone back to the original Trickster in the New 52, as the Geoff Johns-created legacy villain is more annoying than entertaining, but overall, a good story.
BALTIMORE: A Passing Stranger and Other Stories by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden and Ben Stenbeck is a collection of one-shots as Lord Baltimore pursues his vampire nemesis across Europe, only to find himself repeatedly distracted by unrelated vampires, a theater troupe getting scripts from Edgar Allen Poe’s head, and the monsters unleashed by a mad scientist’s anti-vampire treatment. Little that Hellboy or BPRD couldn’t have done, but certainly enjoyable (this series has picked up a lot since the first volume, which I didn’t much care for).
SEX CRIMINALS: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky (cover by Zdarsky, all rights with current holder) is a remarkably entertaining new series about a nerdy young woman who discovers when she orgasms, time stops. After trying to make sense of this, she hooks up with a young man who has the same power, and eventually they see a way to make money off it … an odd mix of raunch, characterization and breaking-the-fourth-wall comedy that could easily have been a disaster, but it works.