Part of me wants to make a spirited defense of this issue against the ridiculous reaction its gotten from around the internet, like I should have done for JMS’s Brave and the Bold 33, but I just can’t bring myself to when it’ll only amount to “it’s not that bad.” But it’s not that bad. Superman walks through Philadelphia, helping people along the way. Most people have chosen to interpret his help as examples of “superdickery” but they really are not. Superman tells a man his heartburn might be something more, but he doesn’t immediately fly him to a hospital. So that makes Superman a dick? He cleans a diner’s storeroom to pay for his lunch; fly’s an obnoxious reporter into the air to prove he still has his powers and cleans some drug dealers out of a neighborhood by lighting their drugs on fire with his heat vision. All small things and fairly well done. He also talks a jumper down off a ledge. Grant Morrison did this better in All-Star Superman, but as that is the best Superman story ever it is forgivable. The fact that he would have let her jump if that were what she really wanted is good. He is there to save her if she wants to be saved and his power his convincing her she does. It ends with Superman jabbering at some dog walker about being a hero. That part, and much of his talking the woman down are done poorly, but overall Superman 701 is good, if a little disappointing.
Morrison continues his brief return to Batman proper by telling a story that doesn’t need to be told. This and the following issue tell the story of what happened to Batman between the RIP storyline and Final Crisis. Judging solely on this issue the answer to what happened is “not much.” Batman escaped the chopper crash and went home to get a call from Superman about the inciting incident of Final Crisis. I do not mean to say that this is a bad issue, just a pointless one. If the next one tells a meaningful story ,this one will be fine as the set-up, but as of now I have a hard time forming any feelings about it at all.
The training of some would be heroes/villains by some third rate heroes continues. This issue focuses on Finesse, who is basically a young Taskmaster. I am not sure what to make of this comic. Hank Pym, the former Ant-man, Giant-man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and current Wasp, training youngsters who could possibly become villains is a good idea. Despite his long career as an Avenger, Pym hit’s many marks on the villain checklist. (mad scientist, jealous of the heroes, possibly truly insane) And the only story anyone remembers about him is that one time he smacked his wife.
(Mini-Rant: Why can people not forget this story? It wasn’t that good a story and in it, Pym can barely be called an abusive husband, as he is clearly not in his right mind when he smacks Janet. His back-story includes multiple mental breakdowns and he is obviously in the midst of one there and not in his right mind. Not that that wholly excuses his behavior, but crazy makes one not guilty in court. Spidey wasn’t crazy when he smacked Mary Jane and I am sure I could find other examples of other Superhero husbands being dicks to their wives, but Pym’s only story is wife-beater.)
Still, this issue is okay. I’m not sure what Finesse wants to learn from Quicksilver, but her struggles to fit in could be interesting. I can’t say I’m in past the next issue, though.
So ends the first year of Stephanie Brown as Batgirl and it’s been one pretty good year. This title got off to a fairly rough start, but it has really hit its stride lately. This was another great issue. Batgirl and Wendy, the Calculator’s daughter and friend of Oracle, save Oracle and Gotham City from the Calculator and his techno-virus. A satisfying conclusion to this storyline. And Wendy gets set up where it was obvious she would be since this comic started; as Oracle’s official protégé Proxy. I really like how Stephanie’s confidence and competence has grown so far and I’m really looking forward to more of this series.
The writers continue to go back to their glory days with the Justice League International, with great results. Booster’s sister returns to hear Booster and Rip Hunter talking about getting rid of the little girl Booster saved a couple of issue’s ago and immediately bonds with the girl. Booster, meanwhile, goes looking for proof of Max Lords existence in the JLI again. This time he gets roped into a mission with Blue Beetle, Mr. Miracle and Big Barda. The fact that all three are currently dead is mildly morbid and the writers seem to desperately want Blue Beetle back alive to write a Blue and Gold comic, but it’ll never happen. By a slim margin over Batgirl, this was the book of the week. Mostly because it is hilarious and Barda punches out a dragon. That is hard, nay impossible, to top.