Avengers Arena #4: I still haven't decided if I want to follow this series, so it's still not in my pull list. And this issue left me so ambivalent that I think it might finally be my last. I'm just not curious enough about what's going on to continue reading. There's nothing offensively bad about the issue or anything; it's nice to see Chase and Nico from Runaways again, and their encounter with the Avengers Academy kids ends up being a fairly nice inversion of the usual superhero team-up story (they're friends first, then they have the big misunderstanding and fight). I think I see where this is all going; I don't think many (if any) of the "dead" characters are actually dead, but that it's all misdirection and illusion on Arcade's part for some larger, more nefarious plan. At least, I hope that's what's happening, because the alternative is kind of gross and dumb. And I'm not entirely sure that I want to find out which option it ends up being.
Batman and Robin #17: I caught up on "Batman and Robin" and "Detective Comics" last week in hopes that I'd dislike one enough to drop it, and that didn't actually happen. That said, I think this issue of B&R would make a fantastic jumping-off point. It's a pretty touching, heartfelt story about the dreams of Damian, Bruce, and Alfred, which acts as a coda to the entire series up to now, even flashing back to the playbill boat Bruce made back in the first or second issue. It's structured like a last issue, to the point where I had to check that this wasn't Tomasi's last issue as writer or something. Rumor has it that something's going to happen with Damian in Batman, Inc. this month, and the solicit for Batman & Robin #18 isn't giving anything away, but I guess I'll be finding out in a few weeks.
Katana #1: I've tried all of Ann Nocenti's first issues in this New 52, but I haven't actually stuck with any of the books so far. Green Arrow turned me off with the art, Catwoman just didn't hold my interest, and Katana? Well, I like the story, and Nocenti does a good job making Katana distinct (and fleshing her out more than she was the last time I caught up on "Birds of Prey") and strong, while also setting up an interesting conflict and environment. That said, I'm not a big fan of Alex Sanchez's art, which at times obscures the action and has some poor continuity. I'll check out the next issue to be sure, but I wish they'd pair Nocenti with a better artist for once.
Batman #17: I think there's definitely some weight to the argument that Death of the Family went on too long and got too big, and I haven't even caught up on all the tie-ins (I don't read "Red Hood and the Outlaws," and I'm way behind on "Nightwing"). But this issue--and the main saga here in "Batman"--is pretty great, and I think I'll probably try to re-read the whole thing sooner rather than later (especially since there are a couple of bits in this issue, namely the comment about the boat and Bruce's little blank book, that I didn't understand, presumably because they were referenced earlier). Capullo is a top-notch artist, and I think Snyder injects some very interesting notions into the Batman/Joker relationship, playing on the classic tropes, subverting them, and re-enacting them in other ways. People have criticized this series for its gruesomeness, and there's been some of that in previous issues and tie-ins, but most writers in recent years wouldn't have made most of Joker's bits in this issue tricks and misdirection the way Snyder did. It'll be interesting to see how the radioactive tracer pans out, and how the fallout of the Bat-family affects this book going forward, since it looks like the Joker toxin's suggestion-inducing feature hasn't worn off quite like the rictus grins have. I kind of can't wait to buy this story in trade paperback form.
Green Arrow #17: This is the second time I've tried following "Green Arrow" as a series since the relaunch, and it looks like it's the more successful of the two so far. Lemire does a lot here to try something different with Ollie's status quo, setting up what appears to be an ancient conspiracy of archers and a lot of surreal "everything you know is wrong" stuff. I think I'd kind of prefer to have Ollie as the superhero Robin Hood or the politically sensible Batman, but I'm interested enough in this take to see where and how it goes. As far as the art goes, Sorrentino's got a sketchiness similar to Tolibao's or Sanchez's above, but it lacks a lot of the flaws that I think hampered those books, and has a nice detail and dynamism to it. It doesn't hurt that the coloring and staging of panels seem to have taken a page from that other successful book about a superhero archer.
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