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Mel’s Muses: Batman and Robin #7, Fairest #1, The Defenders #4 and Avengers Assemble #1

A heavy workload left me with no time for an article last week so I’ll try to make up with more bang for your buck this time! With more than a dozen titles from just this week’s pull list to choose from, I’m just grateful that there were a lot more good ones than bad.

Batman and Robin #7. Next to Scott Snyder’s main Batman title, this is only other Bats title that I’m still picking up. Written by Peter J. Tomasi with art by Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray, it’s the conclusion (of sorts) to the opening story arc featuring a new villain called Nobody, who is actually Bruce’s old mentor Ducard’s son Morgan.

A bloodthirsty vigilante, Nobody holds Batman responsible for his father’s death and goes on a killing spree across Gotham. I liked how Tomasi escalates the excitement and stakes with each subsequent issue. By issue #6 and #7, this has officially become the most hardcore Batman story I have read in awhile. Nobody is holding Batman’s son Damien hostage and it’s one big bone-cracking, flesh-ripping bloodbath by the time you reach the final splash page.

This must-read storyline definitely takes the Batman and Robin, as well as father and son, relationship dynamics onto a whole new level.

Fairest #1. This is the second ongoing Fables spin-off (after Jack of Fables) that hit the shelves last week. Now with a title like that, you would expect lots of beautiful ladies drawn by the talented Phil Jimenez to populate this issue right? Unfortunately not so in this first issue, the spotlight is almost all on Ali Baba of The Forty Thieves fame.

So what we have in this (still) beautifully illustrated first issue is Ali Baba, with his newly acquired, little foul-mouthed blue genie sidekick, sneaking around an enemy encampment and trying to steal a kiss from one of the leading ladies in the land, while evading a surviving wooden soldier from the evil Adversary aka Geppetto’s army. Even if you have not been picking up writer Bill Willingham’s Fables title, you shouldn’t have any problems getting the plot here.

I’m not exactly sure where this is all leading to but I guess I can trust the guy behind Vertigo’s current best-selling title to pull this off somehow. And next issue, we’ll finally see Jimenez draw some gorgeous women!

The Defenders #4. Who knew Doctor Strange was such as horndog?!? Also from last week’s shipment, this stand-alone tale turns the spotlight on the good doctor and his sex life! Writer Matt Fraction and artist Michael Lark really got me smirking while reading this issue.

Well, first we learn of Strange’s one-night stand with a young (at least half his age) student working on her thesis on “magical and arcane influences in pre-war architectural harmonics”, then later he accidentally summons the body and spirit of a dead lover and hooks up with her! How crazy is that?!?

Oh yah, we also got a street magician (who I thought looks suspiciously like Neil Gaiman) who tries to blackmail Strange and suffers a fate that longtime Sandman readers may find familiar.

Avengers Assemble #1. The first issue of a new Avengers title written by Brian Bendis that opens with a secret super-villain meeting? Now where have I seen that before? Oh yah, The New Avengers #1 eight years ago!

Now you can tell this title was created specifically to cash in on the upcoming Avengers movie. For starters, the only Avengers given any talking roles are Cap, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Hulk. Yup, the ones in the movie and rest of the team like Spidey and Wolvie are standing there silently like movie set extras. Then you got the Hulk reverting back to his dim-witted ‘Hulk smash!” persona, just like in the movies too. Nothing wrong with all that but I felt it was all done in a rather dry and formulaic manner.

I’m not so sure with the choice of Zodiac as the bad guys here. Even though Bendis has updated and presumably powered-up the group, I’ll still see them as the C-list villains from my childhood. I would have preferred a new Masters of Evil or Lethal Legion with some familiar faces.

Not a big fan of artist Mark Bagley but there’s no denying there’s great working chemistry between him and Bendis. I can only recommend this title to fans of the two creators. As a longtime Avengers fan, I don’t see what I’m getting from this title except a very average Avengers story.

Cavalock

Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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