Secret Avengers #12
Very talky issue, this. That's not a bad thing, though I understand why big exposition dumps are seen as bad in comics: its a very visual medium and there's limited space in an issue so just reading an explanation of what's been going on can be damn annoying. Good thing Ales Kot is such an entertaining writer so as well as getting added context for just about every major event of the series so far we also plenty of jokes, sights gags and a nice little action subplot as Black Widow and Lady Bullseye run from other-dimensional spider-octopus things whilst carping at each other.
The art is really pretty, too. Michael Walsh and Matthew Wilson's worth on this series has been fantastic, specially Wilson's colours, which sell the mood of every scene, especially the big info dump with Hawkeye, MODOK and Coulson around a campfire.
Batman Eternal #43
Another issue about Harper and Spoiler and what's more it gets us past the events of that teaser from Batman #28. Its also another issue in which Batman is a relatively distant figure. All of this I approve of. We get to see Catwoman interrogate and psychoanalyse Steph as well as Harper and Steph getting to know each other at Harper's place. Most interesting of all are the dimensions this all adds to Steph: her daddy issues are rather different this time around and she's less than keen to enter Batman's inner circle.
And Tim Drake likes magical girl anime, nice touch.
I'll say this for Scott Snyder: he's crafted one hell of a season finale for his Batman run that reaches back to groundwork he did right back in 2011. Whether this was all planned from the beginning or not its an impressive web. That said we're getting into what I genuinely view as taboo territory here as Snyder attempts to explain the Joker and give him an origin. I'm not saying I don't like it because its a bad origin (it isn't) or because it contradicts the sainted Killing Joke because I sort of object to that one as well, to any attempt to give the Joker a defined beginning or reason for his actions. This is purely a personal prejudice, not an artistic judgement.
Still, this gets closer to something I could accept as it treats the Joker as an elemental force in Gotham rather than a two-bit gangster or failed stand-up comedian. This makes him bigger rather than reducing him to something mundane, which is what you need for the greatest villain of the greatest rogues gallery of them all.
The Multiversity Guidebook
In all honesty I wasn't even expecting this one to have a story, I was just expecting a whole book of quick descriptions of the different DC Earths. Instead there was a framing device with two versions of Batman (a child version and a sci-fi one who swears a lot), more of the many Sivanas and, best of all, a bit with Kamandi who is a character I always want to see more of.
An odd contradiction has turned up concerning New Genesis and Apokolips. I got the impression from Godhead that the New Gods were unique, they existed outside the Multiverse and so there was only one version of them but here we see a whole pantheon of New Gods on Kamandi's Earth (Earth-51) who even go on to say there are other versions of themselves on other Earths.
To quote Yahtzee Croshaw; “NURSE, I FOUND A PLOT HOLE!”
Plus, as I say, there's a brief description of the 52 worlds, though seven of them are left blank as they concern some secret scheme of the Monitors. Personally, I want to see something of the Western-themed Earth but that's just because I love Westerns. I did like that the Beyond comics got their own universe.
Uncanny X-Men #30
Will this “Last Will And Testament” story never end? I'm seeing it, you know, I'm finally seeing it, the standard template complaint about Brian Michael Bendis' story structure, and it isn't even as though nothing happens in this issue. Stuff does happen but it all seems to more groundwork laid upon groundwork that has been going on for eight issues now which has led to one hell of a cliffhanger that I hope is throwing us straight into the endgame...
… but is it? As much as I'm enjoying the journey, at least now things are happening this is dragging on me.