Here’s my short reviews of this weeks comics. More of DC’s Villains Month, le sigh. I’ll be glad when their promotion ends and we can get back to some of the regularly scheduled stories. Ratings out of five stars.

Deadpool #16

Deadpool #16, Posehn, Duggan, Shalvey, and Bellaire. *****
I continue to enjoy Posehn’s stories as this new run of Deadpool unfolds. My favorite moment this month: Wade uses his bicep as a silencer. I also like the Deadpool-Xmen experimental hybrids, the developing interplay between DP and Agent Preston, and the excellent splash page at the end, bringing Cap and Mr. “Best at what I do” back into the story.

The Shadow #17

The Shadow #17, Roberson, Timpano, and Guerra. ***
I’m not overly enamored of the current storyline, where the Shadow crosses swords with another vigilante called ‘The Light’. The Shadow has a clear moral code that allows him to execute violent, hardened criminals, but the Light seems to have a similar code allowing her to execute morally corrupt, but non-violent, people. So of course the Shadow has to track her down and attempt to execute her. I’d appreciate more nuance here, with some effort to understand his foe, although that usually isn’t the Shadow’s style. He knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, but this foe is 1) a woman and 2) not motivated by evil intentions. So, nuance, please.

Red Sonja #3

Red Sonja #3, Simone, Geovani, and Lucas. *****
I’m a big fan of Simone’s work, and this Red Sonja run has won me over. I was never much interested in Sonja before. I saw her as a sort of Smurfette-syndrome Conan the Barbarian. Simone has corrected this problem, giving her a feminist edge that I appreciate and placing her in the context of other strong female characters. This issue tells her origin story in a heartrending flashback that establishes her red-devil persona as an outgrowth of her devotion to family and culture. I think this is the best of these first three issues. Keep up the good work.

Court of Owls #1. Because of Winnie the Pooh, I always want to call it the Court of Wols.

Court of Owls #1 (Batman and Robin #23.2), Tynion IV, Lucas, and McCaig. **
This is another of the Villains Month promotion issues with the 3D lenticular cover. I think the detail of the 3D on the cover here might be the best thing about this issue. The story unfolds as a series of flashbacks, continuing to elaborate on the history of the Court of Owls (retconning Gotham since 2011!).  Nothing of note occurs in the story itself, ending as it does with a dramatic lead-in to the next issue of Talon. In fact, this issue should have been a Talon issue and not a Batman and Robin issue. I can see what you did there, DC: you dropped this into a better-selling title so that it would end up in people’s boxes (like mine) and get them excited about the Talon story line. Well, it won’t work for me. I tried the first three issues of Talon and dropped it, and I don’t expect it to attract me back after this lackadaisical entry.

Riddler #1

Riddler #1 (Batman #23.2), Snyder, Fawkes, Haun, and Rausch. *****
This is the first of the Villains Month issues to really strike a chord with me. In this story, the Riddler cleverly invades Wayne Enterprises Tower bent on personal revenge and general havoc. The Riddler only works well when he has good riddles to use, and this issue does not disappoint. Plus, the story opens with a meaningful, foreshadowing flashback, builds through a coherent narrative, and has a satisfactory ending before folding back into the ongoing Zero Year storyline of Batman. I wish the other Villains Month issues could be as narratively compelling, as is typical of the work Snyder and his collaborators produce. I feel like I actually got my $3.99 from this issue. Actually I only paid $3.59 because Emerald City Comics gives box holders a 10% discount and Oregon has no sales tax…

Next week:
Batman #23.3: The Penguin #1
Batman and Robin #23.3:  Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins #1
Wonder Woman #23.1: The Cheetah #1