Batman and Robin – The Sum of Her Parts, Parts 1-3 (Issues 17-19)
‘The Sum of Her Parts’ is an aptly named, three-story arc that introduces Absence to Gotham City. The first half of the arc finds her appropriately missing. Only her work identifies her; missing body, missing finger, missing fingernail. Absence works with things that aren’t there; it’s her requisite Batman character signature, and though it may not stay that fresh in subsequent appearances, it is in this one. I'd much rather her brand of plotting freak (and gross affront to science) than another psycho in a flamboyant costume, sidekick turned bad, or gritty muscle man screaming Batman's (or his own) name.
The dynamic between Dick and Damian has dropped from arguing to bickering. Their conversations are short here, but still entertaining. Listening to Damian talk about how ridiculous dating is and whine about Dick being too friendly break both the investigation and recap threads up nicely, in addition to starting a countdown timer to his inevitable, disastrous, and hilarious first romance. Paul Cornell just took over the book from Grant Morrison, and he seems eager to assure us of his Batman qualifications, giving us well-executed deathtraps, knockout gas, monologing, a crash through a window, and some good, old-fashioned world’s best detecting.
Absence herself is great, as she repositions herself and her grievances to keep playing the role of 'psycho ex' to sell her apparent motivations. She's laying traps specifically for Batman because of her past relationship with Bruce Wayne (marvelously reversing the expected fall out from Batman Inc.). She's seeking revenge, but ends up being slightly less and more dangerous than expected. Absence has a number of points to make; most are smokescreen, but some hit close to home for Dick and Damian. Stranger still, when you look for a villain in 'Sum of Her Parts,' you find it's missing one.
Teen Titans – Issues 89 & 90
These two issues of Teen Titans deal with Damian joining the team. Like 'Batman and Robin,' I have a subscription to 'Teen Titans,' and while I was dubious about it, I'm now on board. Issue eighty-nine features the introduction of Robin and all the requisite mechanics and nods to continuity to get him on board (Yes, Dick and Tim used to be Titans. Etc.) After that's done, you get the members of The Titans responding to Damian's arrival in their own way(mostly negative) and doing some character work of their own just before introducing the antagonists of the story arc.
While having a Kryptonian easy button on the team is ludicrous, I like that the other members of the team have their niches. For example, having Raven honestly empathize with the first villain (It was really obvious that the antagonists would be teenagers...I'm stupid.), gaining his trust right before Damian decks him. The second part of this arc is the establishment of 'super power high school,' the setting of the rest of the arc. It's been done, but what redeems it is a final page where Damian and Ravager get a cafeteria full of teenage zombies to kick ass across.
Deadpool Team-Up #887 –Thor
You don't cite comedic references. Rob Williams should write this on a blackboard in his own blood with his exposed finger bones until he's really, really sorry. Your audience either gets them or they don't. If you explain it, it isn't funny. It is unfunny and unnecessary if you have a conversation about it one panel down. Maybe it's hilarious on a level I don't get, but that would make it the first Deadpool joke to go over my (or anyone's) head. Otherwise, it had clear, fun action, great gags, and a “there's good in you” moment for Deadpool.