Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns, illustrated by Gary Frank – 4 Stars. While this isn’t the most out-of-the-box take on an alternate Batman/Bruce Wayne, and I’m not sure the art did much for me, but the storyline was engaging and solid. I really liked the changes that were made to Alfred and to Harvey Bullock. And that Barbara was featured in the story being pretty awesome. I also liked the focus on Gotham’s corruption and the effect that would have on someone like Jim Gordan. Although the Batman here is a loner in many ways, Alfred ensures that he is never alone and that made me very happy.
Avengers Academy vol. 1, 2, Fear Itself, and 3 by Christos Gage – 3.5 Stars (overall). All of the new characters took awhile to grow on me and initially the only reason I kept going was for Ant Man, Tigra, and Quicksilver. But by the end of Second Semester (vol. 3), I found myself really invested in this new team of young superheroes as well as their mentors. It just honestly takes a very long time. I’m also not sure how ideal a starting place this would be for a new fan, but it’s definitely worth checking out. Just make sure you also plan on reading the Fear Itself tie-in for this team because otherwise volume 3 will make no sense at all.
Fear Itself: Herc by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente – 3.5 Stars. I have to admit that, outside of nifty bad guy concepts, most of Fear Itself didn’t exactly appeal to me so I was a bit shocked to find that Hercules’ side story/side quest was actually a lot of fun. Then again who doesn’t enjoy Hercules teaming up with weird bad guys to take out even weirder bad guys who are working for the deranged son of Ares?