Best Shots Comic Reviews: CHAOS WAR, BATMAN AND ROBIN, More

Exclusive Marvel Preview: CHAOS WAR #2

Greetings, Rama readers! Your friendly neighborhood David Pepose here, pleased as punch to bring to you some fresh reviews from the Best Shots team! Your high-flying reviewers have been hard at work, taking on books like Chaos War, Batman and Robin, and Morning Glories. Want to see what else we've got up our sleeves? Keep reading — and if you want to see some back-issue reviews, just check out the Best Shots Topic Page! And now, let's let Pat kick off the Monday column with a look at the even-more-Incredible Hercules and his Chaos War...

Chaos War #2

Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente

Art by Khoi Pham, Thomas Palmer and Sunny Gho

Lettering by Simon Bowland

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by Patrick Hume

Click here for preview

Chaos War seems like it's going to be the one kind of superhero crossover that I enjoy: one that doesn't take itself too seriously and, rather than trying to shovel any sort of overwrought sociopolitical themes down our throats, takes advantage of the huge, goofy toolbox that is the Marvel Universe to deliver a action-filled romp of biblical proportions.

The stars of the show this time are Hercules, Thor, and boy genius Amadeus Cho, who must rally Earth's godly denizens to combat the gravest threat our world has ever known — the Chaos King. As is the norm for these situations, no one's ever heard of him, so Pak and Van Lente make sure to establish his über-badness by having him kill Nightmare and then incapacitate every mortal superhero in one fell swoop. And that was just in the first issue!

Part Two, then, revolves around Hercules recruiting the team that will help him fight off the Chaos King, with occasional cuts away to show the ongoing devastation of the various godly realms. Pak and Van Lente are not doing anything profound here, folks. You've read this book before, plenty of times. The appeal of Chaos War, then, lies in whether you enjoy the dynamic between these particular characters, which I do. I appreciate what's been done with the friendship between Hercules and Amadeus over the past couple of years, and the development of that bond continues here. Throwing Thor into the mix as Hercules' more levelheaded, regal counterpart is a nice move. In addition, Thor and a newly empowered Hercules get some epic moments as they try and stave off multiple disasters.

So what didn't work for me? The Chaos King's conquest of the underworld was sort of boring, and lampshaded the revolving door that is death in comics. It's hard for me to get invested in a villain whose motives truly seem to solely be the end of all things; it's been done before, and better (where's Thanos when you need him?) I'm not sure what the objective is with Hercules' new status as an elite deity; if it's a move towards some kind of ongoing character development as he learns responsibility, then great, but I've got the feeling it's just a plot device that won't last out this miniseries. Given his nature and general impartiality towards everything but his own hunger, the plausibility of one of the recruits getting involved seems a bit strained. And Venus trying to revive the heroes by singing Bob Marley was just goofy.

I thought Khoi Pham's art was very good throughout, with sporadic signs of excellence peeking through. It reminded me in places of JRJR's latter-day output, particularly The Eternals (apropos, given the subject matter), though not always with his energy or sense of composition. He ably handled both action sequences and more quiet moments; I think my favorite panel in the book was the top of Page 12, as Hercules senses the attack on Hades' realm, and just stares off into space.

Everyone reading this can guess, at least in broad strokes, roughly how Chaos War will end, and most of the beats that it will hit along the way. Sometimes, though, an old-fashioned team-up has its appeal, and Chaos War should more than satisfy your cravings in that direction.

Batman and Robin #15

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Frazer Irving

Lettering by Patrick Brousseau

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

Click here for preview

What's the problem of being the cream of the crop? That sometimes, the label of "best" is all relative.

That's not to say that Batman and Robin isn't the deepest read you'll find in the DC pantheon today — it is. That's not to say that Batman and Robin doesn't have some of the moodiest, most atmospheric art in superhero comics today — it does. Pound for pound, it's still an enormously high-quality book, easily one of DC's best — but because of the enormous successes of the previous chapters, I didn't get the same thrill as before. It's still good, but there's a part of me that misses the innovation that had made each earlier issue better than the one that came before it.

In this chapter, Grant Morrison really focuses most on his favorite characters of the arc: Robin, the Joker and Dr. Simon Hurt. And these characters certainly have layers, if not of the character sense, then the literary one — the Joker, for example, gets a ton of material just from an ordinary banana. "Represents the primal gag," Joker says. "The fall." Batman Dick Grayson is in a little less than a third of the book, primarily recapping the cliffhanger from the first chapter — and maybe that's part of why I'm not at the edge of my seat. Maybe it's too clever for its own good: After the high-speed craziness of the last issue, I want to see less talk and reflection, and more forward-facing action.

Now how about Frazer Irving? No matter what, this guy has owned this book from the first issue of the arc — it's like Daniel Acuña run over with barbed wire, a real sense of paranoia and fear in the painterly lines. Irving's atmospheric touches are great, but what I think really gets overlooked is his expressiveness — when Hurt slithers his way into Wayne Manor, the exchange between he and Alfred is one of the understated quiet moments of the book. But — but — as much as I adore Irving on this book, there isn't his usual fireworks here. Even with the Joker dancing with a skeleton bride or an ambitious multi-panel spread of Damian fighting a horde of madmen, there aren't a lot of images here that really electrify you, there aren't any moments of sheer horror like in the previous chapters. Part of that is the colorwork — there's a lot more gray than pink or orange here — and maybe part of it is the slower pace of the script.

Reading it like this, you'll probably think I didn't like the book, or that I don't think people should buy it — which is as far from the truth as possible. With this creative team, more books need to be like Batman and Robin, not the other way around. And there are plenty of good moments here, particularly at the end, where the book begins to ramp up again with a sudden "Gotcha!" — but call me numb. Call me desensitized. I know the team has done better work, and from a pure structural standpoint, it makes the Batman's strike back feel a little less weighty than he deserves. What's more dangerous than Simon Hurt and the 99 Fiends? The answer is clear: When Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving can't top their own past success.

Hulk #26

Written by Jeff Parker

Pencils by Gabriel Hardman, Mark Robinson, Terry Pallot, Bettie Breitweiser and Antonio Fabela

Lettering by Ed Dukeshire

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

Click here for preview

I've avoided the Hulk for a while now.

To be completely honest, the last time I was a regular reader of the Jade Giant's adventures was during "World War Hulk." While I enjoyed that, and the preceding "Planet Hulk," the relaunch of the title with a new, red Hulk was kind of an underwhelming prospect, and try as I might, I couldn't really get into Skaar as a character, so I just opted out for a couple years. On a whim, I decided to take a look at Hulk #26 after some considerable buzz surrounding the new creative team. While I was pleasantly surprised with Jeff Parker and Gabriel Hardman's take on Thunderbolt Ross and crew, there's still some room to grow in the title.

To start out, let me say that I had never read a single comic featuring the red Hulk before I read this, so I went in completely cold on the character's portrayal to date. That said, Jeff Parker definitely did a great job of capturing and conveying "Rulk's" conviction in following orders, despite his bad attitude. We're dealing with a military man, and it's pretty cool to see that he's treated as such, with a firm understanding that, sometimes, a job just has to be done. Further, Parker actually injects a little bit of life into puny ol' Bruce Banner, a character that often feels rather flat and occasionally mopey, by giving him a few moments of understated gloating over Ross. The plot is simple enough; at Steve Rogers' behest, Hulk teams up with former rival Thor to destroy some comets that threaten Earth, having been thrown off course by MODOK and the Leader as part of their doomsday scenario. Thor and Hulk start out fighting each other, as Thor is, I'm sure, bitter over the way their last tussle turned out, but Banner quickly puts the conflict to bed with a gimmick that was probably the most disappointingly flat part of the story. Finally, it looks like Hulk maybe in for a cosmic adventure, as things don't go exactly as planned in outer space.

This issue also included a back up story by Jeff Parker and Mark Robinson, which featured Rick Jones, a.k.a. "A-Bomb," fighting a giant sea monster, and there's nothing that's not cool about that. Actually, to be honest, the dialogue felt a little stilted (when did Rick Jones start talking like an MTV VJ from 1997?), but the premise was fun, and Mark Robinson's art really captured the lighthearted and kinetic nature of the story.

While Hulk #26 felt it was designed primarily to set up the next arc, and therefore didn't have much oomph on its own, that certainly made it a welcome jumping on point. I actually enjoyed Parker's characterization of Hulk and of Banner, and Gabriel Hardman's art manages to strike a welcome balance between edgy and classic, evoking comparison to some of his contemporaries, such as Steve Epting, or Chris Samnee. He captures each character with ease, making Thor look powerful and regal, while maintaining the warrior's edge, and giving the Hulk a look of understated rage that bristles through his disciplined countenance. While this issue felt a little low-energy, the hook at the end, and the prospect of Thunderbolt Ross embarking on a '70's style cosmic Hulk odyssey is more than enough to bring me back for the next issue.

Morning Glories #3

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Joe Eisma, Alex Sollazzo, Rodin Esquejo

Lettering by Johnny Lowe

Published by Image Comics

Review by Amanda McDonald

This series keeps selling out printing after printing, and this third issue is yet another example of why. It is just too good to NOT pick up. Not only is the story captivating, the art solid, but it simply is hard to explain to someone without at some point saying "you really just need to read it for yourself." Alas, that wouldn't make for a very good review now, would it?

Starting with a flashback to 1490, and a mysterious prison-like setting, it is clear that Nick Spencer has a much wider vision of this story than we are seeing. In a way, I'd love to know just how deep this is all planned out as far as characters, arcs, and issues. Then again, I love just going along with it blindly issue by issue. I can't help but think that when this series does someday come to an end, if us readers will go back through the series seeing things we never saw importance in before.

Within this issue the events of 1490 are referenced again, but it's unclear what the connection to then and now exactly is. Unless somehow someone can live 520 years? Yeah, this issue is chock full of mystery. This issue gives us a peek at number four, in which the students band together to usurp the powers that be.

This issue is rock solid, with Spencer's well-crafted story and Eisma's consistent pencils and inks and Sollazzo's colors. While the story is amazing and catches the reader off guard every few pages, it is the solid art that enables us to do so. Under the wrong hands, distracting art or paneling could really take the reader outside the fourth wall and make this series lose its luster. Luckily for us, it is easy to place oneself right into Morning Glory Academy and feel the gut wrenching shock and despair these characters are going through. If you have not checked out this series yet, you really need to. As I mentioned above, I can review only so much without giving huge spoilers, so you really do just need to read it for yourself!

Kick-Ass 2 #1

Written by Mark Millar

Art by John Romita Jr., Tom Palmer and Dean White

Lettering Chris Eliopoulos

Published by Icon

Review by Teresa Jusino

Click here for preview

The summary on the first page of the book says it all: Dave Lizewski always wanted to be a superhero. Now, he is one.

Issue #1 of Kick-Ass 2 (which is really issue #9 of Kick-Ass, as Millar points out in his letter to fans at the end…wow, has it really only been 9 issues?!) focuses on Dave honing his superhero skills. It also focuses on Mindy, aka Hit-Girl, who has trouble leaving her violent lifestyle behind, but tries really hard for her new family. While Kick-Ass loses Hit-Girl as a partner, he gains seven more when he discovers a Justice League-like superhero team called Justice Forever.

Kick-Ass 2 works, because Millar’s characters seem to be growing and changing in realistic ways. I’m as fascinated as ever by Hit-Girl who, while she starts the issue training Kick-Ass and hoarding weapons, ends the issue telling Kick-Ass she can’t talk to him anymore and going to a child’s birthday party with her new guardians. Mindy genuinely does care about other people and it’s heartening to know that, despite her upbringing – or perhaps because of it, as she was very close to her father – she still has a sense of familial obligation. Whether it’s in Mindy’s best interests overall to raise her as a civilian and stifle her heroic nature, or to allow that part of her to flourish remains to be seen, but I’m looking forward to watching her grapple with that and hopefully finding a balance between the two sides of herself.

Millar’s handling of Dave is a little trickier. On the one hand, he presents Kick-Ass as someone who is realistically getting better at fighting and also learning from his mistakes. The entire beginning of the issue is a litany of things that wouldn’t have happened if he were “normal.” Then, via flashback, we watch Dave get all fanboy about joining a superhero team. I don’t need Dave to be as angsty about his responsibility as Peter Parker, but I do need the sense that Dave is growing in some way. It doesn’t seem as though any of the horrible things he’s been through in Kick-Ass 1 have made a dent. However, as this issue sets up going back and forth in time to reveal Kick-Ass’ history, I’m hoping that we see a more interesting change in Dave. Right now, he seems so focused on his own desire to be awesome, that he’s lost sight of other people and their needs, particularly Mindy, whom he seemed happy to help have a normal life only to be upset she can’t join a superhero team with him. Here’s to Dave becoming less selfish.

Romita’s artwork is great, though I don’t know why he had Mindy looking like a 35-year-old in the birthday party scene. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know what 11-year-old girls should look like out of their superhero garb. Perhaps that was part of the point? Maybe Mindy doesn’t know how to be a normal little girl either, but to me, it would’ve been more heartbreaking to see her in more age-appropriate clothing at that party, like when she’s in her little pink winter hat, or coming home from school wearing her NYPD cap; to see her actually trying to fit in instead of standing out so much. The breakdowns in the back of the issue helped me realize just how much I appreciate Dean White’s work with color. His colors are superhero comic book vivid while managing to stay realistic enough to remind the reader that this is a story about real people.

Issue #1 of this latest installment of Kick-Ass is a great start, but it does set up some character problems that I hope get resolved. Yes, these kids are superheroes, but they’re also kids. More importantly, they’re people. It would be a shame if they lost their humanity in the name of some abstract idea of “awesome.”

Batman Beyond #5

Written by Adam Beechen

Art by Ryan Benjamin, John Stanisci and David Baron

Lettering by Travis Lanham

Published by DC Comics

Review by David Pepose

Out of all the books I've read this week, Batman Beyond was the one that made me think the most. With Terry McGinnis's high-flying cartoon career giving a lot of feelings of good will to readers, it's clear that there's a real beating heart behind the cybernetic Batsuit that Adam Beechen has the ability to reach. But at the same time, there's also some real weirdness with the plot of this series, which threatens to overwhelm the character that made the original show so compelling.

Where does this book succeed? Of course, it's with the character — while I'm sure there will be plenty of people who find the new Catwoman's parentage to be interesting (I for one thought it worked more from a story logic perspective than necessarily a continuity one), I think where people will be most impressed is by how she and Bruce Wayne (!) interact with one another makes both characters look a lot more sympathetic. The little moments are the best ones here, whether it’s Terry giving Catwoman a peck on the cheek in thanks, or Dick Grayson wearily looking out the window and saying "Gotham. Nothing ever changes." Yeah, occasionally the dialogue gets a little overwrought, but sometimes I think those are more nods for continuity fans (the amount of times Bruce says "good soldier" or "stupid old man" is a little ridiculous) — the intent is there, and I think a lot of people will overlook some of the clunkiness.

But where I don't think people will be quite as forgiving is with the artwork. Ryan Benjamin is looking sketchier than last month, and we're getting to the point where the sheer "acting" of the issue is beginning to get compromised here. There are some choices here with the composition, like Barbara Gordon looking down at her table to talk to people (not to mention her cops in the background making some downright weird gestures), that really take away from the story to me. I understand that Benjamin's cartoony style is slightly reminiscent of the original cartoon — and he succeeds in giving the full-faced Batman some expressiveness — but his faces are also really scratchy and weird, particularly since most of his cast is, well, old people.

And I can't let Beechen completely off the hook here. For every moment of character, there's a moment of spectacle — and those latter moments are a little over-the-top and unwieldy. The story logic takes a little bit of a hit when there are elements like cloning and memory grafts and giant robots tossed into the mix, and the ending of the issue — with Hush's big threat — feels a little bit cartoonish, and not in a good way. I get that Beechen is trying to establish some real stakes to the last issue of this first arc, but it ends up tying to a structural weakness in the story: the villain. If you don't have a solid villain, you don't get solid characterization, which means you can't have a threat that feels "exclusive" just to them.

Now, is there a lot of potential to this book? Absolutely — unlike, say, Blue Beetle, Batman Beyond has a loyal fanbase cultivated by a mass-market cartoon. And I empathize with Beechen, in the fact that he's trying really hard to play to not just that constituency, but the die-hard Batman fanbase who want to see Bruce Wayne at his absolute Bruce Wayne-iest — meaning both badass and crusty. But while comics are really the last great bastion for off-the-wall spectacle, it's all icing on the cake, particularly if the art can't support it — the character is key here, and here's hoping that both Beechen and Benjamin can shore that up moving ahead.

Loki #1

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Art by Sebastian Fiumara, Michel Lacombe and Jose Villarrubia

Lettering by Joe Sabino

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by David Pepose

Click here for preview

I can't imagine a scarier place to be than on the high-wire act of the tie-in comic. Think about it: Loki is not just a book in a vacuum, but in a competition, as Marvel tries to drum up more sales and more sensation over the Thor franchise with a plethora of new titles featuring the thunder god and his supporting cast. Here, you can't just get away with product — you've got to have a fresh take, a new angle, a creative team of rising stars to become more than a footnote in the hustle of a pre-cinema marketing blitz.

So. Does Loki succeed? Like the God of Mischief himself, I'll be a little cagey, here — while it doesn't make itself a must-read with the first issue, there's some real potential here, particularly with a smart twist by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.

While a lot of people will likely be reading this for either a look at Loki's post-Siege status quo — sorry folks, not this series — or to get a primer on Loki for the upcoming Thor movie, where I think Aguirre-Sacasa succeeds best is in his twist for this series, one that will make Loki a surprisingly sympathetic character, even if he is a borderline sociopath. When you live for eons and you're dealing with the Prince of Lies, what is memory? Asgardians may be built for war, but they're not necessarily built for understanding how they got there, and that is what sets this book apart from the rest.

The art, meanwhile, has some real potential, but the end execution drags the book down a bit. Sebastian Fiumara's work looks best when looking at Loki's desolation, as the fugitive from Asgard tries to make his meager camp. The rage in Loki's eyes, the haunted lines across his brow, the wiry frame that curls over slightly as he holds his spear, these are all recipes to make you not only root for this villain, but to establish some real stakes to his conflict — this is not a guy who's going to be winning a fight with his fists, but with his mind.

But there are some problems here. In particular, this feels like a real misstep from colorist Jose Villarrubia — everything feels just a little too bright, a little too flat, making the scenes in Asgard feel more garish than atmospheric. And I couldn't help but wonder what lusher inking could have provided Fiumara's art — Michel Lacombe gives Fiumara a sketchier vibe, closer to almost Chris Samnee's style. The problem with that? Chris Samnee already has made a name for himself, and he's got the added advantage of more expressiveness and a comedic setting. This artwork isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn't as compelling as it could be — which is what it needs to stand out from the pack.

Still, think about it from a marketing side of things — as much as this book needs to get out there to raise awareness about the Thor brand and Thor's villain, maybe you have to hew within a fairly tight spectrum in order to not confuse potential viewers or undercut the movie's interpretation of the characters. Maybe you can't rock the boat too much, in that world of the tie-in. Who knows? But I feel like the odds are already stacked against a book like Loki, that doesn't have a big-name creative team, doesn't have a big-name character, doesn't have a big-name storyline to back it up. Isn't this the perfect place to launch a creator or two's big-name career?

Bruce Wayne, The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon #1

Written by Adam Beechen

Art by Szymon Kudranski, John Kalisz, Shane Davis and Barbara Ciardo

Lettering by Dave Sharpe

Published by DC Comics

Review by Erika D. Peterman

Click here for preview

The Dark Knight may get all the props, but Commissioner Jim Gordon is the man.

It’s easy to overlook what a pivotal role Gordon plays in Gotham City because he’s not wearing a snazzy suit or leaping dramatically from rooftops. But think about it: He fights the good fight in a police department that’s lousy with corruption, and in a city where a mugging represents a good day. When someone as paranoid and Type-A as Batman trusts you to have his back, that’s a pretty good sign that you’re at the top of your game.

As its title suggests, this Bruce Wayne: The Road Home one-shot is all about the Commish, and as with the others, it’s told partly from Batman’s point of view. But what elevates this comic from “filler” to “ great read” is the way it shows us what makes Gordon a masterful crime-fighter and public servant. Technically, he’s just a guy with a badge, but he’s also a wise, cool-headed veteran who has faced down some of the DCU's gnarliest characters.

The rumor that reporter Vicki Vale knows the biggest Bat-secrets has brought Gotham’s mercenaries out of the woodwork, so she’s under Gordon’s protection. That doesn’t stop her from interrogating him about his relationship with Batman or insulting him by suggesting that he’s merely a vigilante enabler with no juice. Gordon keeps his calm throughout, demonstrating so much integrity and courage that Vale eventually has to give him some respect: “I shouldn’t think Gordon is remotely capable of keeping me alive. But what I’ve seen from him tonight ... that tells me different.”

The Batman-narration device has worked better in some of the Road Home specials than others, but here, it comes across as heartfelt and sincere. He acknowledges that Gordon is an essential ally, and more than that, a brother in arms. Adam Beechen brings some real meat to this issue, and even the cameos from Barbara Gordon (Oracle) and The Penguin make an impact. When the commissioner and the original Batman come face-to-face, the reunion is appropriately brief, but touching in its own way.

The illustration/color team of Szymon Kudranski and John Kalisz couldn’t be more perfect for this tense, cat-and-mouse story. This being Gotham, everything appears in shades of gray and sepia, with some eerie glowing for good measure and the occasional burst of lightning. Though the cover suggests the young-ish Commissioner Gordon from the current Batman films, Kudranski draws him as an older, crustier man — which is precisely what makes foolish bad guys (and cocky journalists) underestimate him.

“Gotham’s Finest” is an apt title for this comic, and if you weren’t already a fan of Commissioner Gordon, prepare to be converted.

DC Universe Halloween Special 2010

Written by Various

Art by Various

Lettering by Various

Published by DC Comics

Review by Amanda McDonald

The pumpkins are chosen and waiting to be carved. The costumes are organized and waiting to be worn. The candy has not been bought for fear it will be eaten before the big day. So how CAN you start celebrating Halloween? With DC's annual Halloween Special. Here's a look at the six stories included in this year's edition to trick and treat you.

Batman in Trick for the Scarecrow: In reference to last year's Halloween Special, two little boys that were Flash and Superman last year return this year as Batman. With an orange, black, grey, and white color palette, the first story of this year's Halloween Special sets that wonderful Halloweenie tone. Writer and artist Billy Tucci writes a tale in which the Scarecrow experiences a suburban Halloween he'll never want to revisit. Using the same journal note style to share Batman's thoughts that we've been seeing in Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, this story was a good choice to lead the book and put the reader into the spooky spirit.

Batman & Robin & I... Vampire in Robin the Vampire Slayer: As a scourge of vampires is on a rampage through Gotham, Andrew Bennett is in need of Batman and Robin's assistance. With a very dark palette the reader is transported into the crypt in which these altercations take place. I was first turned on to the I... Vampire character in last year's special, and was happy to see him make a reappearance. After the first couple of pages, writer Joe Harris leaves a lot of the storytelling up to Lee Garbett's art, which was a real treat considering how much I feel like I'm already missing him from the pages of Batgirl.

Flash & Frankenstein in Time or Your Life!: As Mrs. Barry Allen prepares to broadcast live from a Halloween event, Central City is under siege by not only murderers, but reported monsters as well. Knowing something has gone wrong when Frankenstein's Monster arrives on the scene, she texts Barry that trouble is afoot. Little do they know that Frankie is the least of their problems. Artist Kenneth Loh lends a very fitting kinetic style to Flash and company, resulting in a story that had me stopping to admire the panels upon further flips through the book.

Wonder Woman & Deadman in A Night to Remember: There are advantages to being a ghost. As Deadman takes his time moving in on a target (a group of cultists trying to resurrect a malevolent being), Wonder Woman busts onto the scene. Deadman gets to be corporeal for a bit and shares a nice moment with WW. Writer Vinton Heuck has crafted a story that hits a lot of emotions in just a few pages: fear, humor, and bittersweet connections between two members of the hero world, or nether-world. Artist Dean Zachary, colorist Guy Major, and letterer Swands have teamed up to give this story what I consider the most appealing visuals of the book. It's not easy to draw or letter for a character who can't be seen or heard, and it's done with a highly artistic and not at all cartoony style here.

Teen Titans & Klarion the Witch Boy in Medusa Non Grata: As Blue Beetle and Miss Martian embark on some trick or treating, they discover a neighborhood in which everyone has been turned to stone. Enter, Klarion the Witch Boy — a character I wasn't very familiar with, but Bryan Q. Miller has clearly enjoyed writing for. As Miller's story progresses, artist Trevor McCarthy keeps the readers attention with Miss Martian's varying costumes as well. A major part of the appeal of the Teen Titans for me has always been seeing them try to balance their hero lives with being 'normal' teens and this story is right up that alley.

Superman & the Demon in Fears of Steel: Superman has a parasite on his back. Err. . . cape. This magically powered parasite has taken control of Superman and is causing him to envision all his worst fears come true. Luckily Etrigan shows up in time to reason with the parasite, but writer Brian Keene's previous scenes linger in the mind a bit more than perhaps intended to. This is a smart story and raises some interesting points, but is definitely a downer despite its happy ending.

Guys and Ghouls, I recommend you pick this book up, although with a minor misgiving. Last year's special was an unlucky (though very lucky for readers) thirteen stories of frights, chills, and funny treats. This year we have six stories. Though these are longer and allow for a bit more story, I prefer the "fun size" stories of the past. However, apart from that DC has put together another fun compilation that will be sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

What was your favorite comic of the week?

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