What Are You Reading? | What the heck is ‘Spy Hunter & Paper Boy’?

See what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our weekly look at what the Smash Pages crew has been checking off their “to read” list lately. This week we look at the newest iteration of Green Lantern, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, and one beginning and one ending from Larry Hama.

Let us know what you read this week in the comments or on social media.

Tom Bondurant

As the classic Onion article states, “When You Are Ready To Have A Serious Conversation About Green Lantern, You Have My E-Mail Address.” This week’s GL #3 wasn’t bad on the merits, but for the first time in a long time, I am thinking about taking a break from the book.

Written by Geoffrey Thorne, drawn by Tom Raney and Marco Santucci and colored by Michael Atiyeh, this issue deals with the fallout from the Central Power Battery’s destruction. Essentially it’s the depowered “Future State” status quo, including the welcome return of Jo Mullein. As in “FS,” Jo’s ring is unaffected (along with a couple of other Lanterns’ devices), so one assumes she’s going to restore the GL Corps. Meanwhile, John Stewart finds himself stranded on a planet, reliving key points in his recent history thanks to his telepathic hosts.

Again, none of it is bad, and some of it takes an unexpected turn for the better. Still, if this is going to be a years-long Lantern drought, I may have to catch up once all the power is back on. DC deactivated the Corps twice: first from 1988-90, and then for the 10 years that Kyle Rayner was basically the only GL. This volume of the series teased an expanded role for the GL Corps in the new United Planets, and I’d rather it deliver on that.

I’ve also been working my way through the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman, and am almost done with the “Death of the Family” arc. The Metal miniseries gave Snyder and Capullo the opportunity to kick out the jams and go really big, so it’s a little surprising to see how personal the battles of these early New 52 issues are.

Back when they first came out, the Court of Owls and the Joker were honestly terrifying, like implacable killing machines who were almost too much for the Caped Crusader and his allies. That’s still there on this re-read, but Snyder and Capullo almost seem to be underplaying Bruce/Batman. Yes, he’s the world’s greatest detective and a formidable fighter and tactician, blah blah blah; but he’s kind of settled into his position at the top of the food chain when the series starts. I think the “unsettling” is probably Snyder and Capullo’s goal here. The Court of Owls undermines Batman’s position as Gotham’s apex predator, and the Joker’s return undermines Batman’s relationships with his allies. However, once you’ve seen what Snyder and Capullo have done with the multiverse itself, their Batman requires a little perspective adjustment. The sequence when Batman escapes from the Owls’ labyrinth was excruciating and horrifying when I read it almost 10 years ago, and it’s still very effective, but not like it was (and, perhaps more to the point, not when you know what’s coming).

I’m excited to get past “Death of the Family” and into the “Zero Year” and “Superheavy” storylines, which really established just how far Snyder and Capullo were willing to go. I think they will hold up pretty well.

JK Parkin

I mentioned Spy Hunter & Paper Boy on Monday, a digital-only comic from DC that popped up on comiXology’s list for the week. All six issues of the series by Larry Hama and Mac Rey were released on Tuesday without any sort of fanfare or advanced publicity by the publisher. Being curious, I downloaded it, and …. yeah. It’s definitely not Hama’s best work, and it’s an odd story that shares a title with two old video games from the 1980s … I think. There was really nothing in the comic itself that explained what the series was or why it existed. It also hasn’t appeared in any of DC’s solicitations yet, so I’m not sure if it will ever have a print release.

Doing a little research online, though, and I found that Midway Games, the company that made both Spy Hunter and Paperboy, went bankrupt in 2009, and Warner Bros. bought most of Midway’s assets. I have no idea if these two properties were included in that “most of,” but if they were, I wonder if this miniseries might be a trademark/IP renewal thing. In any event, the first issue was not enough to make me want to read any further.

But speaking of Larry Hama, what I would read further on is his take on Iron Fist with Dave Wachter. Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon wrapped up last week, bringing a satisfying conclusion to an action-packed miniseries. It also has pretty big implications for Iron Fist, the character, and the Iron Fist, his super-power. Why, yes, that might have something to do with the guest star on the cover. It’ll be interesting to see if these threads are picked up elsewhere.

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