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To celebrate the release of a certain thunder god’s movie this weekend, Thor’s Day graduates to a daily feature this week only! Enjoy the next five days of 80s superhero goodness!
After a fill-in artist at work last issue, Walt Simonson was clearly still behind on his schedule as Mighty Thor 356 features an entire filler issue by Bob Harras and Jackson Guice. It wasn’t like the publisher tried to hide the fact either as the Bob Layton/Jackson Guice cover even had Hercules declaring Walt Simonson “on vacation”.
When DC announced that they’d be re-launching their entire comic book line with new number ones and a fresh ‘updated’ look and feel for the characters not everyone was happy. There are still plenty of people who are not happy. A lot of people would tell you that they liked the DCU just the way it was and didn’t want to see it change. Others would tell you that they were enjoying what was happening with their favorite character at that moment and worried what might happen with them in a re-launch. Still others would tell you that they feared that their favorite(s) might not even get a book in the relaunch.
Many worried about the fate of Wally West, Cassandra Cain, The Green Lanterns (Which would be the primary), and Barbara Gordon (once it was stated that she’d be Batgirl again). Jean Paul Valley is not a character we hear a lot about in the relaunched new52 DC. He hasn’t even made a guest appearance or shown up as a supporting character to the best of my knowledge. That’s a shame.
If you don’t know Jean Paul was once Batman. Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back and Bruce pulled a fast one on everyone. Instead of asking Dick Grayson to fill in form him Bruce asked Jean Paul Valley, Azrael to stand in with the cape and cowl. Jean Paul was a reformed assassin who had killed for the Order of St. Dumas. More than just killed Jean Paul was conditioned to follow orders and kill. Kill well through genetic modification and extreme mental conditioning from birth. Before he could be fully activated by the Order however Jean Paul struck out on his own and Batman took him under his wing the way he does (or did back in the day).
With the Court of Owls storyline I see the perfect opportunity to re-introduce Jean Paul into the new52. The Court of Owls, a secret organization devoted to controlling Gotham City by keeping those with power in line, produce conditioned assassins called Talons to do their bidding. The Talons are picked up at an early age and developed, both mentally and physically, into the perfect killing machines. What’s more, they seem to be “long lived” as a tad zombie-fied and extremely hard to kill. The Talons have recently declared war on the Bat and his birds all over Gotham. Batman has proven his ability to shut down the internal system of a Talon.
Who knows how many splinter factions of the Court of Owls are out there, the clandestine organization is centuries old….
After their first arc, the team of Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, and Jesus Merino bring us an interesting opening to their next arc. What transpires brings Superman a challenge he has never faced before.
The issue begins where Superman is stopping a Russian sub. He picks it up out of the water, and the issue returns to Lois. She is presented with evidence of someone being Superman by a blogger. She is skeptical, and dismisses him. Jimmy opines about her choice but she sticks to her guns. Superman starts talking to the Russian sub team as he wants to know what they are searching for so close to his Fortress of Solitude. As more Russian military arrive and at the behest of the sub’s captain, Superman returns himself home as he continues to wonder what they are doing. Next, a super-powered girl robs the Metropolis National Bank. One of the bank men tries to stop her but she knows that’s what her daddy is trying to do. As the police arrive and try to shoot her, the bullets go right through her ending up in the bank man. The blogger ponders the way he presented himself speaking to Lois, and knows he will correct himself. Although, he sees someone who he thinks is Superman. Meanwhile, Clark returns to the Daily Planet. Lois isn’t too happy he wasn’t at the airport to pick up her sister. Luckily, she gives him another shot to impress her albeit at the loss of lots of money. As Jimmy hears of the aforementioned bank robbery, he tells him to tell Perry he will be covering it. The blogger tries again. This time, he goes to Lois’ boss Mr. Edge. He decides instead they’ll run the story. Superman flies into action only to realize he cannot touch the girl. They do battle while the man who is thought to be Superman is recognized by his colleagues after the blogger broke the story to Edge. He is shocked, and Clark is too. The media notes the man has a father, and the girl he is fighting notes that as they fight.
This issue feels to be lacking a little bit. While Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen wrote a great arc last time around, this feels to be lacking the uniqueness the last one had. While the story is good, this issue seems to be executed wrong as the issue seems to not know what direction it’s headed in. Dan Jurgens and Jesus Merino do an excellent job with the art as usual. They bring dynamism as usual to Superman, and make the story come alive. Hopefully, the next issue explains a little more of what is going on with this super powered girl.