The Dark Knight Rises is probably the biggest film of the year. At least in terms of the discussion taking place around it. As such I’ve waited a little bit before even beginning to put my own thoughts on the matter down. With so much media being devoted to ancillary issues surrounding the film, be it the midnight premiere shooting, the insane arguments about the political aspects of the movie, etc. It’s definitely a beast of a film with so much going on that touching on everything would be an impossibility. I know The Avengers brought together plot threads of multiple movies but thematically speaking The Dark Knight rises has just as many irons in the fire. Nolan and company work off of plot threads left dangling from Batman Begins and weave them into something that leads to a very satisfying conclusion. I can’t think of any film trilogy that pulls this sort of cohesion off and doesn’t fumble everything at the last minute. This review should try to examine exactly why that is.
I think the first thing I need to bring up is that there is the constant influence of Christopher Nolan. When a series swaps out the creative forces behind them, the franchise loses focus. How different might things have turned out if Richard Donner had remained onboard for another Superman film after number two? Or if James Cameron had been in charge of the third Terminator film? A steady hand at the till goes a long way. That is why the previous Batman franchise faltered. There isn’t any consistency to them from film to film. Even from the ’89 film to Returns, you can see a shift in the way the people writing the damned thing feel about the character. Thematically, those films seem to fight against each other for validity. With Nolan’s trilogy, there is a logical escalation and cyclical nature to the writing and the overall story. By returning to the League of Shadows in The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan effectively reminds us that Batman Begins was more than just a simple setup film. One of the things I had said before The Dark Knight Rises hit screens was that The Dark Knight felt almost entirely removed from Batman Begins. As a standalone film, it works quite well. You can watch it without having seen Batman Begins and there isn’t enough of a thematic connection that you feel like you have missed anything. The Dark Knight Rises is equal parts a continuation of the themes developed in Batman Begins AND The Dark Knight. The rise and fall of Harvey Dent sets the stage for the action but it is Bruce Wayne’s personal journey that he undertook in Begins that drives his conflict with Bane in this installment. By going back to the beginning in this way, The Dark Knight Rises is a film that focuses on the idea of enduring legacy. Bane is attempting to foster Ra’s Al Ghul’s legacy of destroying Gotham. Bruce Wayne is trying to ensure that Harvey Dent’s legacy as a hero isn’t tarnished. Bane does so through calculated action. Bruce Wayne does so through a calculated lack of action. Both of them received the same tutelage from Ra’s but they implement it differently.
In The Dark Knight Rises Nolan puts the focus on the idea of deception and the cloudy morality surrounding bending the truth. Obviously the biggest example is Batman and Gordon’s lie surrounding the death of Harvey Dent, but there are several other deceptions that drive the film. Bane’s entire plan is centered around deception. Whereas Joker in The Dark Knight was as straightforward in his implementation of chaos, Bane has a separate plan for multiple people and they often contradict each other. He tears apart Gotham as part of his attempt to break Batman, but his plan is only allowed to take root because he lies to the population of Gotham and maneuvers them into playing along with his game. Bane turns the people of Gotham into villains the way Joker wished he could have in the third act of The Dark Knight. In many ways, Nolan is showing how much more effective Bane is as a villain than the Joker was. The Joker was unable to turn the people of Gotham against each other. Bane pulled it off. Nolan shows how powerful a lie can be. Lies have power. That is the crux of the film. Everybody in the film is lying. A major lie from The Dark Knight comes back around to drive a wedge between Bruce and Alfred. Selina Kyle’s actions are guided by a promise that turns out to be a lie. In a film about a man that wears a mask, this is a powerful theme to work through.
Essentially, The Dark Knight Rises is a great bit of filmmaking. It does stumble in some respects. But the parts of the film that make up the whole really pop. Anne Hathaway is an amazing Catwoman. She’s the finest movie version of the character since 1966 and really manages to pull off the dichotomy of wounded, confident, and sexy that the character requires. Joseph Gordon Levitt puts in his usual good work as a character who could have sunk the movie if they had played it differently. If we are going to talk about what works in the film, the character work is definitely tops. Michael Caine and Gary Oldman put in their best work of the series, without a doubt. And since we’re talking about character work, let’s take a moment to discuss Tom Hardy’s Bane. Heath Ledger put in a memorable turn as the Joker, that’s true, but Tom Hardy does something wholly original with the character. The Bane in this film takes elements of the character in the books and evolves him into something else entirely. The Bane in the comics is a cold and calculating man with the same level of intelligence on display here, and he does have the ties to Ra’s, though not identical in nature. But in the animated world as well as that abomination in Batman & Robin, his strength has always been the primary focus. Here, Tom Hardy gives us a man of belief and conviction, one trying to leave a lasting legacy. He plays him with bombast and intensity. I think over time his Bane will be regarded as one of the most interesting comic film villains in history.
So those are my thoughts on the matter. I could probably spend another couple paragraphs on the film but I think I’ve hit the major points. I figure everyone has seen the film by now, but if you haven’t you should check it out, in IMAX if you can. The film is very well shot and plays well on a bigger screen. The Dark Knight Rises is one of the finest cappers to a trilogy you could ever hope to find. I certainly can’t think of a better one off the top of my head. That’s one of the finest compliments I can pay the film.
I didn’t rush out to get this particular book because after the hooplah surrounding the Superman Earth One graphic novel I didn’t want to find myself let down. I was seeing more than a few positive and glowing reviews and figured that a little distance would do me some good. I have been anticipating the book a little bit, as the announcement for the title was made back when I still had a bit more regard for Geoff Johns as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe he is a great talent and one of the best guys working in the mainstream today but his more recent work does seem to lack the sort of focus he had back when he relaunched the Green Lantern franchise.
With Batman Earth One there is at least something to be said for Geoff Johns getting the tone of Batman. JMS’s work on Superman Earth One was passable but I don’t think he get the tone of what the book should have been. It was far too, as much as I hate the phrase, “street level” in its execution. Batman has that same feel but it goes with the character. JMS would have been smart to study Morrison’s work on All-Star Superman for the sort of tone that really works for big blue. Johns seems to want to play in the Nolan sandbox and that is appropriate. Johns also realizes that because there is no continuity to follow he can throw everything up in the air and be a little dangerous. Some of the changes to established lore might upset a number of Batman fanatics, but that’s okay. Again I point to the sort of people whose heads exploded over Ultimate Spider-Man. Johns’ idea of Harvey Bullock coming from Hollywood as a reality tv cop trying to regain his former glory is something that comes wildly out of left field. Alfred being a grumpy old army colleague of Bruce’s father is also somewhat odd. But within the confines of the book Johns is able to make it work.
More than JMS’s Earth One book, Johns really swings for the fences here and while not everyone will be pleased, I can say that I feel like I got my money’s worth this time around. Nothing here felt particularly rehashed the way that it did in Superman Earth One. The parallels to Superman Birthright in that OGN are almost unmistakeable. Even the death of Bruce’s parents has a different spin. It’s not entirely original. It’s just a retelling. But it feels different in the way that The Magnificent Seven was different from Seven Samurai. The flavor is refreshing.
I hope the inevitable second volume is as willing to play with conventions as this is. Johns teases a personal favorite villain of mine as the centerpiece and for not immediately jumping to the Joker he has scored major brownie points with me.
Synopsis: Mentally defeated and physically broken, Bruce Wayne suffered a crippling blow while battling the brutal Bane. Now, the mantle of the Bat must be passed on to another, and Jean Paul Valley answers the call! But as the new Caped Crusader slowly loses his grip on sanity, his idea of justice takes a violent and deadly turn. Witnessing this dangerous behavior firsthand, Nightwing and Robin try to come to grips with Bruce’s highly controversial decision while the new Batman sets his sights on taking revenge against Bane! Collecting DETECTIVE COMICS #667-675, BATMAN #501-508, BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #19-28, CATWOMAN #6-7 and ROBIN #7!
When I reviewed the first volume of Knightfall, I spoke about how the book had a charming old-school quality that seemed to rage against the pitfalls of nineties comics’ tropes. The first installment seems to rally against the idea of comics in the Image mold of the time where everything was grim and gritty and the hero must be as violent as the crime he combats. In the second volume, it seems that the nineties enveloped the Batman mythos and everything about the title got flipped upside down to fit with the established status quo of the time. Readers apparently wanted my blood, more bullets, more outlandish mechanical costumes, and a darker, more violent Batman. Or maybe they didn’t and these issues were written to show them that point.
I don’t want to say that Knightquest is a terrible story. I appreciate the fact that the arc of the narrative does build to a satisfying climax and that Jean-Paul’s decent into madness is very carefully spelled out and detailed. That having been said, his story could have been truncated because after a while it begins to get repetitive. His constant struggle with his own inner programming as well as his progressive upgrades to his armor become staples of the story and you can tell when we are going to get a scene with Jean-Paul talking to the ghost of St. Dumas or becoming frustrated with his own results and redesigning the suit. There are several scenes like this and by the end of the book you wonder why they couldn’t have streamlined it a little bit.
My other major gripe with this collection is that Bruce Wayne’s side-story of flying off to rescue Tim Drake’s father is introduced but then never followed up on. He simply returns and we don’t know what exactly happened on that trip. It is a somewhat frustrating element to the collection because it feels like there is something important to that story and yet they do not bother to tell it.
All in all, it is not a horrible story but the first volume is superior in every way and makes these issues look poor by comparison.
Synopsis: In the first installment of this classic storyline, the Dark Knight’s greatest enemies have all simultaneously escaped from Arkham Asylum and are preying on Gotham City. With his city under siege, Batman pushes his body to the limit as he takes on The Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, The Riddler and the Scarecrow. But things get much worse when Bane, the man behind all the madness, confronts an exhausted Batman – and breaks his back.This massive first KNIGHTFALL volume collects BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-660, SHOWCASE ’93 #7 and 8 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #17-18, including chapters never previously reprinted.
With The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, DC Comics has decided to collect the entirety of the now-classic Knightfall storyline into three massive volumes. Never before has the entire story been collected in trade. The tale spanned multiple books and is one of the largest crossovers I can think of. I have all of these issues in their original magazine form stuffed in a longbox somewhere but haven’t revisited the series in quite some time. This collected edition makes that task much simpler by assembling all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. Previous collected editions have only contained the very core of the story, leaving out the ancillary pieces. By creating a multi-volume omnibus style collection of the story, it is much easier to get a real feel for one of the biggest cornerstones of the Batman mythos. I have to say that Bane’s introduction and the breaking of Bruce Wayne’s spine is one of the most important stories in Batman’s history. It’s definitely up there with the death of Jason Todd. As far as crossovers go, I would say it’s one of the better handled ones I can think of. I think the closest comparison would be something like the Death of Superman or Spider-Man’s The Other. I would argue that it is easily better than either of those.
The story begins with a special issue detailing the origins of Bane, from his birth and time spent in prison on Santa Prisca to his eventual escape and migration to Gotham. I feel like this is where the story makes its best effort to ensure that it is differentiated from something like The Death of Superman in that we get a true feeling for Bane as a character. His introduction strikes me as gloriously silver age in design despite being a character very much cut from the nineties cloth. There is a deliberate nature to his creation and his motives that seems very much like what you would have seen for a new character in the seventies. The only difference is that Bane was created with the storyline of taking Bruce Wayne out in mind and so arguments will be made that he came secondary to the story itself. It could have been anyone who pulled his scheme on the Batman. However, Bane is such an inventive character that you truly have to respect the effort that went into his creation. Imagine if Doomsday had this sort of development instead of having the personality of a rock. I think The Death of Superman would hold up much better. Bane was created to serve a purpose, but he was created in such a manner that after this storyline ran its course he could be used again and allowed to evolve. Doomsday never had that option. Nor did the villain in Spider-Man’s The Other storyline whose name I can’t remember, thereby proving my point. Bane made an impact. He wouldn’t be around now if he didn’t. He wouldn’t be the focal point of a new Batman film if he hadn’t made an impact. He’s been in two major motion picture adaptations of the Batman mythos. There are other high profile villains who don’t even have that honor.
Looking back at this particular volume it is easy to see that it does have some of the trappings that we hold against stories of its time. There is a definite 90′s feel to some of the story but there is a lingering feel of classic Batman style to it as well. Only when Azrael begins upgrading his Batman armor do we get a tinge of the ninetiess comics era that was dominated by the hard-edge pioneered by the folks at Image where violence and grit became the status quo. This story however, utilizing Tim Drake as the audience surrogate, seems to intimate that by going in that direction you lose what makes comic characters like Batman special. While some will call this story the epitome of what was wrong with comics in the nineties, its easy to see how, just as easily, it can be a crusade to uphold what has come before. I never truly recognized that until I gave it a read-through again this time around.
Anyhow, the book is a great deal even at the 29.99 cover price, but many retailers are selling it for almost half of that. You really could find worse things to spend your money on. DC has plenty of lesser offerings at the moment, if that’s what you’re going for. This thing does deserve the title of classic. I’m convinced of that now.
This trailer is expected to hit in front ofThe Avengers on Friday but it hit the net unexpectedly this morning. I will say that it gives us some more snippets of what to expect but all in all I’m still pretty blind as to what sort of turn this film is going to take when it finally hits theaters. It hints that Bane really does break the Bat the way he did in Knightfall and that we may be getting a sort of absolute finale for the Batman character when the credits roll. I know Christopher Nolan is an unconventional filmmaker to say the least so I don’t expect a simple resolution. Not by a long shot.
Christian Bale’s creepy beard thing here is destroying my psyche.
Guys, this week was a killer. Probably the most major comic release date in a while. You have no idea how many people have been coming in asking about Batman Incorporated over the last few weeks. That final panel in Batman & Robin sold people in a way that I can’t really describe and I for one am thrilled that so many people are realizing how awesome Grant Morrison’s take on the Dark Knight truly is. The man knows what he’s doing. In Morrison we trust.
AVENGERS #7 3.99
BATMAN #704 2.99
BATMAN INCORPORATED #1 3.99
BATMAN THE RETURN #1 4.99
DEADPOOLMAX #2 (MR) 3.99
GREEN LANTERN #59 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
OSBORN #1 BIG (OF 4) 3.99
POWER GIRL #18 2.99
SIXTH GUN #6 3.99
SPIDER-GIRL #1 BIG 3.99
SUPERGIRL #58 2.99
SUPERIOR #2 (OF 6) (MR) 2.99
SUPERMAN #705 2.99
THUNDERBOLTS #150 4.99
X-23 #3 2.99
X-MEN #5 3.99
Now after a good long day of writing about prostitution in the middle ages for a history paper, I can tell you about how awesome a few of these books are.
The weakest of the new Batman releases is the core title, which sadly seems like a middle of the road affair by Tony Daniel when compared to the amazing work done by Morrison and Finch in the other books released this week. Not to say that the book is horrible, it’s better than it has been recently, especially Daniel’s art which looks less rushed than I’m used to, but unfortunately the entirety of the book seems rather pedestrian when placed alongside the nearly pitch-perfect Batman Incorporated title. I think my main gripe with this title comes from the fact that it reads like a throwaway title from the late nineties or early two-thousands in it’s pacing, its art, and its choice of villainry.
The book suffers from feeling all too familiar to stories we already read but with minor tweaks. Unfortunately, the books that this seems derivitive of aren’t the best parts of Batman lore. I think that the book could stand to take a few more risks rather than settle into a comfort zone that’s so blatantly par for the course.
Then again, when Tony Daniel takes risks we get Catgirl, a character that I almost want to like out of the sheer absurdity of her existence. But then again, my tastes differ in certain areas from the general public so I won’t take a stand on that character until she’s had the chance to mature under another team of writers.
This book is everything you should want in a Batman title. Morrison manages to find the right balance of tone between the ridiculous, the macabre, the adventurous, and the outright fun. The book essentially turns into a globetrotting Bruce and Selina super-happy-fun action hour where Batman and Catwoman fly to Japan to begin preparations for that branch of the Batman Inc. plan to be put into motion but are sidetracked by a murder mystery and a cult of ninja assassins. There’s even some tentacle rape hentai jokes that seem all too appropriate coming from the mind of Grant Morrison.
The artwork on display here is robust and amazing. They really could not have found a better fit. Paquette’s Selina is as sexy as she’s ever been and the subtle touches he uses to portray Batman are astounding. It’s one of the best looking Batman books in a long time, rivaled only by Finch’s work in The Return which I’ll be discussing shortly.
If you pass on this one you will regret it later. This one is a home run in every sense of the damn word. Buy this book now!
I was wary of this particular title. That apprehension faded after the first few pages where Grant Morrison gives us what equates to graphic poetry, telling the story from the perspective of the bat that crashed into Bruce’s life when he needed to find his avatar. David Finch’s artwork guided the narrative with masterful flow and tone, showing off some of his most brilliantly stylized work to date.
That the art is this good is not surprising, given the subject matter and how much Finch loves to work with shadows and the darkness, but the complexities of the narrative were surprising considering that this is essentially the jumping-on point for new readers and Morrison made no attempt to censor his sensibilities and gave us intricate mysterious plot threads as well as hyper-neo-noir technological action adventure with jetpacks and robotics intertwined with some nitty gritty fight scenes.
If you’re planning on reading any of this week’s bat titles I highly recommend that you start off with this one as it outlines the new status quo for Batman quite handily and works to assure us that the people working on every title are going to be working as a cohesive unit to tell what seems like a hell of a story and if this one-shot is any indication, they’ll be bringing their a-game every step of the way.
From Marvel we get the newly minted 616 version of Spider-Girl, formerly Arana, in her first solo title. The whole Young Allies thing didn’t seem to work out so well so I’m pensive about this title, but hopefully they’ll let it go long enough to deter fans from yelling at them for cancelling what amounts to their only major female-driven solo title. (Scarlet doesn’t count, guys.)
It’s off to a good start. Establishing the cast of characters and letting the new readers get to know Arana in case they haven’t followed her from her humble beginnings in the revamped Amazing Fantasy from a few years back. The storytelling style is sound and concise, but from someone like Tobin who has a pretty firm grasp on narrative technique this isn’t really a surprise. The plotline seems familiar, as most superhero books are bound to borrow from each other a bit, but the expression, through a “twitter”-esque thought balloon parade seems fresh enough to distinguish it from other similar go-arounds.
I’m hoping it will stick around long enough to take off, because the character really is an interesting one. I especially liked her when she was in Ms. Marvel, another title that I sorely miss.
And now I go back to writing about whores. I guess this is what Frank Miller feels like all the time. A-ZING!!!!
After another brief hiatus the reviews have returned, and I’m sure you were all so worried that I’d never get back to the weekly review schedule. Well, here I am. I can’t say much for this week’s crop of books because it was a light week all around. Picking what to review was actually the hardest part of this little endeavor because everything I picked up is in the middle of an arc and if you haven’t made up your mind on a book by part four I doubt my little review is gonna sway you either way. If you do get to part four then read my review and go “well I’m not picking that up!” maybe I need to consider a career as a hostage negotiator.
ACTION COMICS #892 3.99
ASTONISHING X-MEN #35 2.99
AVENGERS #4 3.99
BATMAN #702 2.99
BLACK WIDOW #5 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #609 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #582 2.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #15 2.99
GREEN ARROW #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
SHADOWLAND MOON KNIGHT #1 (OF 3) SL 3.99
SUPERMAN SECRET ORIGIN #6 (OF 6) 3.99
THOR #613 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #602 2.99
X-MEN LEGACY #239 2.99
Now let’s get this over with.
I praised the first issue of Avengers as a return to the classic feel of the title with a little bit of Bendis’ trademark style. Four issues in, I still get the classic vibe but I don’t so much think that Bendis’ Bendis-ey tendencies (that’s an odd rhyme) are all that suited for this sort of book. Contrast this with New Avengers where he’s really feeling his groove and hasn’t lost a beat since the last volume and you can see where he feels more comfortable. Bendis likes to do epic on a small scale. Epic as it pertains to the individual or a group of individuals. In New Avengers, it’s really Bendis’ statement on how Cage has grown as a leader and Doctor Strange’s role in the world of magic. You can boil the importance of the arc down to two characters, in essence. With Avengers it’s a little harder to do that. And while it’s still a good book and an interesting read, I’m not sure if it has Bendis’ singular focus. However, Bendis does get major brownie points with me for his use of Killraven. I mean, when was the last time we saw that guy? All I know is that its cool that he’s getting a little face time because I think he’s a great character.
Where I’m sure I’m going to lose alot of you is my feelings on the artwork. Now, I like JRJR, I think he’s a great talent and he’s practically synonymous with Marvel. That having been said, his work here looks rushed. I don’t doubt that he was rushed. But this is the Avengers we’re talking about. The Avengers should have the best art in the damned company as far as I’m concerned. New Avengers looks amazing. Avengers looks like a sketchbook that’s been colored in. There’s none of the finished nuance of his work on Amazing Spider-Man or KickAss (though Kickass took like three years to finish eight issues, so he probably wasn’t as rushed.) But all the same I would rather the book come out every five weeks to give the man some extra time than have an Avengers book that looks like it was drawn by someone with shaky hands and blurry eyes.
The book is still strong, it’s just weakened by Bendis being out of his comfort zone and Romita’s art running at about 50% his usual standard. But it’s good to have the real Avengers doing stuff that the real Avengers would do. Thor smashes a martian spacecraft in this issue. That’s the Avengers I love.
Marjorie Liu finishes the first arc on Black Widow as well as her tenure on the title with the fifth issue here. Next month Duane Swiercanspellhislastnameski takes over and crosses the title over with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don’t know what the tone shift between the two writers will be like but I’m pretty sure it’ll be minimal. This issue basically serves as a 32 page “exhibit A” as to why Black Widow is a badass. She does a lot of ass kicking here, and proves that in addition to being a spy and an Avenger she’s also a pretty good nude bondage model. (Yeah, I’ll scan that panel later, I promise.)
They’ve done a good job with this book. Black Widow isn’t the most amazing character in the world. She’s essentially a female Jason Bourne at this point. Effecient, badass, and portrayed by an A-List actor on film. As far as the writing on the book is concerned, Marjorie Liu is able to pull together the personal narrative with the spy action well enough that you’re left wondering why Black Widow hasn’t had a monthly title for so long. If there’s one thing that she does right with Natasha it’s that she makes her an organic and viable character that has room for years worth of stories based just off of the work in this introductory arc. Whatever comes next, it won’t feel like they’re trying to cash in on the character because of her appearance in Iron Man 2 but instead because there are stories that need to be told based off of what has been established.
I’m not sure what Duane is going to bring to the book, but he has big shoes to fill. Actually, I don’t know what size shoes Marjorie Liu wears. He’s got a lot to live up to that’s for sure. I expect at least one more equally awesome cold-storage bondage moment out of him before I think he’s anywhere near Liu’s level.
When I first picked up Shadowland I promised myself I wasn’t going to get the tie-ins. I was going to give Marvel the finger when it came to the side-books that had no real bearing on the actual story. Now we’re about two months in and I’ve gotten every tie-in they’ve released so far. Congrats Marvel, you’ve got your hooks so far into my hide that I can feel it in my colon. Anyhow, it’s not a bad thing because every tie-in book thus far has been worth the money. I haven’t been let down by anything in the Shadowland pantheon as of yet. I picked up this one because I was hoping to figure out where Moon Knight plays into the whole thing and how he wound up in the underground prison in the main series.
While the book does address those issues it also seems to focus on the themes presented in the Vengeance of Moon Knight book with Moony becoming a less violent hero and Khonshu taking it the wrong way, seeing as how he lives off of the blood that his avatar delivers to him through acts of vigilantism. I assume I’m getting that right, Moon Knight can be confusing sometimes. So Khonshu is haunting Moon Knight in his dreams and his waking hours in the visage of a gigantic chicken (I know he’s not really a chicken, but he looks like one and I find that funny) and another nutjob is running around as the “Shadow Knight” giving Khonshu the blood he wants and making Moon Knight feel all guilty. It’s a damned odd book but the way they weave it through the Shadowland tapestry makes it worth picking up.
Also, I guess Quesada pulled the stick out of his ass about the smoking edict because one of the characters is perpetually puffing away in this issue and that kind of made me chuckle.
Well, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week with more unless I get another superflu of some sort. If that happens I swear I’ll never leave the house again.
Here’s the deal. I’ve been busy with a TON of stuff today. Like, just about everything that I need to do in a given month I had to get done today and then some. So you’ll have to apologize when I eschew the typical format of these reviews and go about this a little differently this week. This week’s reviews will be comprised of just two books, Batman and Superman # 701. Basically, the biggest two books to hit this week. I mean, Birds of Prey # 3 was awesome, and a bunch of people who went apeshit over certain events in the second issue had eat some serious crow. I finally picked up a copy of The Sixth Gun which I recommend to anybody who likes Jonah Hex but wants a little bit of mysticism thrown in without being outright terrible like the film. Also Generation Lost made me fall in freaking love with the Rocket Reds.
Let’s start with Superman # 701.
Dear god, this whole issue seems like 32 pages of JMS trying to justify the premise of his arc to us by hammering us over the head with apathetic retreads of tired philosophy and even more tired retreads of scenes that Grant Morrison already did to perfection a few years back with All-Star Superman. Seriously, that suicide jumper scene was basically everything Morrison did but stretched out for a few pages with no sense of gravitas. It’s so mind-numbingly blunt that it looses any and all effect.
I think my biggest problem with JMS’s retread of Hard Travelin’ Heroes starring Superman is that JMS doesn’t seem to write Superman in the classic sense. The Superman I know is not the spiteful, sarcastic, embittered abuser of power that we get in this issue. This feels like Stracynski trying to finish out what he had wanted to do with Thor but couldn’t because he got tossed to the curb by Marvel editorial. I think that a lot of the bitterness that he feels over how that panned out is being transferred onto his Superman. Superman here doesn’t feel like he needs to answer to anybody. Not reporters, not the man on the street, nobody. He is sick and tired of everyone’s impatience and expectations. The problem is, he’s made Superman borderline unlikeable in this instance.
I’ve seen just as much love for this issue as I have hate, so obviously he’s struck a chord with people. But I’ve noticed that a lot of the praise is coming from people who are new to reading Superman on a regular basis. A lot of first timer’s interested by the premise got drawn in, and having no attachment to everything that makes Superman…well, Superman, they find this sort of bland retread to be new and fresh and exciting.
It’s lazy and it doesn’t really work for anyone who has any real understanding of Superman as a character. Some would argue that JMS is attempting to write away the flaws of Superman, but by turning him into a cynical jerkwad doesn’t do anything but create more flaws. It alienates the previously faithful readers and the new readership is not likely to stick around in the long run.
It’s not the worst issue of Superman ever written, it’s just an egregious slap in the face to fans of the character. It collapses under the weight of it’s own self importance and in the end will just be another footnote in the long history of the book that people look back on and sort of chuckle at.
Still better than Electric Blue Supes.
On the flipside, we have Batman 701, which goes back to the moments immediately following Batman R.I.P. and leading up to Batman’s collision course with Darkseid in Final Crisis. This issue is the first time in a while we’ve seen Bruce Wayne in the suit for the main story. I think Morrison was wise to hold off on this issue until now, simply because it gives the audience a broader understanding of his entire overall story and allows for the reader to follow the action with greater ease than if it had come immediately following R.I.P.
The artwork is just amazing, a step-up from Daniel, whose work seemed to be rushed while he had to perform the writing duties as well. There is more definition, more style on display here. It matches the mood of the story perfectly, and I think that goes a long way towards crafting an excellent issue.
The basic premise is centered around Hurt’s declaration that following the events of R.I.P., if Bruce were to wear the cowl again it would be the last time. A prophetic curse that weighs heavy on Bruce. It’s interesting that he takes this to heart the way he does, seeing how he comes down on criminals as being overly cowardly and superstitious and I don’t think that is an accident. Morrison doesn’t do coincidence.
His reaction to the death of a New God shows us exactly how Morrison feels about Batman as a character and it works well within everything that’s come to be associated with Bruce as far as his determination and his psyche. It’s the exact opposite of Stracynski’s Superman in that regard. Nobody will accuse this Batman of not being in character. He is the driven detective, the dark knight and he acts as such.
I’m looking forward to the rest of this arc.
I could have gone with a Batman “Dead parents” joke but we’re classier than that around here. You’re welcome.
Man, this week has been intense. I’ve been working on some major renovations inside the store, trying to make room for all the cool new shipments of figures and statues and assorted awesomeness that’s set to be hitting the shelves within the next month or so, which has left my body sore and weak from the labor. I’m not sure if you know this, but comic books in bulk start to get heavy. Especially hardcover collections. I swear it felt like moving baby cows on my shoulder at some points. But it all was worth it for how great the new setups look and the fact that this week’s new books are pretty much the pinnacle of awesome.
ASTONISHING X-MEN XENOGENESIS #2 (OF 5) 3.99
AVENGERS ACADEMY #1 HA 3.99
BATGIRL #11 2.99
BATMAN #700 (NOTE PRICE) 4.99
BOOSTER GOLD #33 2.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #606 HA 3.99
CHRONICLES OF CONAN TP VOL 19 DEATHMARK 17.99
DAREDEVIL #507 2.99
DOOM PATROL WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE TP 14.99
HACK SLASH MY FIRST MANIAC #1 (OF 4) CVR A (MR) 3.5
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #27 HA 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #3 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
NEMESIS #2 (OF 4) (MR) 2.99
PREDATORS #1 (OF 4) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #8 (MR) 3.99
SECRET SIX #22 2.99
SHIELD #2 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS AVENGERS 2 #3 3.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #11 3.99
UNCANNY X-MEN #525 XSC 2.99
YOUNG ALLIES #1 HA 3.99
And as always, I will tell you why you should buy things.
Wasn’t initially going to get this one, but Christos Gage is one of those writers who has a tendency to churn out some amazing stuff out of concepts I initially hesitated on. He’s a solid writer who is well on his way to getting the name recognition he deserves. With Avengers Academy, he may have found that project.
If there is one flaw with the book it’s simply that, by nature, it’s sort of the black sheep of the Avengers family. The “heavy hitters” in the book as far as star power goes are Hank Pym, Justice and a newly reformed Speedball. Gage plays with this by saying that we’ll get some big names as “guest instructors” over the course of the book, to show that those characters care about the events transpiring in the book, so we should as well. LISTEN TO CAPTAIN AMERICA! HE’S ALWAYS RIGHT!
So yeah, the book has that hurdle to overcome in the mind of the financially conscious fanboy, who may not view the book as “essential reading.” But the book hits all the notes it aims for, and the new characters introduced in the book are all interesting and get a fair share of development in their debut. Reptil shows up, having gained some exposure through the Superhero Squad cartoon. Other members of the group seem to establish their niche right away, with Finesse and Hazmat being the darker foils to Reptil, Mettle and our primary protagonist Veil. Personally I think Mettle has the chance to grow into a really great character. He seems to echo the greatness that Rockslide projected back in New X-Men.
The reasoning behind using these characters, and why the program exists, parallels the Heroic Age’s overall theme of rectifying the wrongs of the Dark Reign era. It probably won’t be the theme for too long, as the status quo will likely shift again fairly soon, but it’s an excellent way to get the ball rolling and they’ve hooked me in for another one.
Man, this one was epic. It’s not exactly a new-reader friendly jumping-on point as one would figure, as it hearkens back to Grant Morrison’s issue # 666 as well as the two-part Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader arc and we even get a segment (albeit a short one) that jumps into the Batman Beyond universe. It’s a veritable garbage-bag cocktail where every last drop of alcohol at the party gets mixed together in the hopes of making a concoction that will give you a kicking buzz without making you go blind.
The story has time travel, the Joker acting bat-shit insane, an appearance from the Mutants that harkens back to The Dark Knight Returns, Two-Face 2 who may be the greatest idea for a new villain that won’t be able to recur due to where he made his debut, and an amazing pin-up art gallery at the back end featuring drawings by some of the greatest artists ever to draw the Dark Knight.
I wish this review could be longer, but honestly the book is one that you have to read for yourselves. I don’t think it is an issue that everyone will enjoy, but I think that it’s definitely a ballsy choice for an anniversary issue this large. If nothing else, it’s definitely worth a read just for the sake of seeing if you understand what the hell was going on.
Captain America has been firing on all cylinders for around five years now. Brubaker knows that book like the back of his hand and refuses to let up. This issue deals with the fallout from the last arc where Bucky had to put an end to an evil Steve Rogers clone with a bullet to the dome. It doesn’t sit well with Bucky, as you can imagine the boy has some issues when it comes to Captain America dying, real or not.
While all this is happening, Baron Zemo seems to be working some machinations, which makes me happy as I friggin’ love Baron Zemo. I hope to god he at least gets name dropped in the Cap movie, because I think he’s just one of the most awesome characters Marvel has. Don’t believe me? Go read some Thunderbolts before Warren Ellis turned it into some sort of twisted abomination from the depths of hell. Zemo is a multi-faceted villain who simply does not get his due nowadays and I’m glad that between this and the new Thunderbolts, he seems to be making a comeback.
My only squabble with this issue is the fact that I’ve not yet determined where the hell it fits in with what’s going on over in Thunderbolts. I’m sure they’ll work that out sooner or later, but for the moment I’m trying to place it myself. With all the time line jumping in the Cap book, it’s a chore for sure. But continuity isn’t as important as everyone makes it out to be, especially when the book is this good.
As for the Nomad backup, I’m certainly enjoying it. I like the world they’ve established there, I’m just tired of Nomad ending up in peril so often due to her own naivety. It’s repetitive. Luckily, she seems to not have that shortcoming over in Young Allies, which I’ve reviewed further down the page.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. Tim Seeley’s Hack/Slash is one of the more consistantly fun and entertaining books on the rack and when I heard it was moving over to Image, I thought “Oh thank the Lord, something good to read by that company that’s NOT written by Kirkman!” (All praise, be to the Kirkman)
With this mini-series, you get a fresh jumping on point if you’ve ever been interested in reading about Cassie’s exploits bashing the brains of creepy stalkery torture-killers with the aid of her hulking sidekick Vlad, who may currently be my favorite recurring comic character. He’s all kinds of awesome and unfortunately he doesn’t make an appearance in this first issue. He’s probably off in a corner reading Chippy Chipmunk at the moment.
The issue gives us a quick origin storry for Cassie that, while familiar to long-time readers, does not feel repetitive or dull. That was my main concern when the book was announced; that the mini-series would mostly be rehashed from prior events that we had already seen and therefore be of no consequence to those of us who have been onboard since the start.
And while I am certainly familiar with Cassie’s origin, the events presented here seem fresh and new even if parts of it do seem familiar. I like that Seeley is simply moving forward with the series rather than using this label-hop as an excuse to do a reboot. Because as we all know, reboots are all the rage in the horror genre right now. Because everybody wanted a remake of Nightmare on Elm Street, right? Whatever.
Get the book, hop on board now so that you can be like me and stand around telling everybody that they should have been reading this years ago. It’s a fun feeling. A nice boost to the ego. I love it.
I picked this one up out of my love for Nomad. I loved her mini-series, I love the backups over in Captain America, and I think that it’s amazing that a character who was borne out of such a horibble event (Heroes Reborn. *shudder*) could end up being such a great addition to the mainstream Marvel landscape. Teaming her up with Araña was a stroke of genius, because that girl, while an interesting concept, needs a foil to work to her fullest potential, as evidenced by her appearances in Ms. Marvel.
The book starts off somewhat dark, giving us the origin of a couple of kids who are ripped from their families and trained to be death soliders for some South American Generalisimo. If it were drawn by someone like Mike Deodato it’d be downright frightening and hard to bear, but artist David Baldeon has a light tone that doesn’t strive to be hyper-detailed or stylized, and so while the impact is effective, it does not make you want to rip out your own soul. This is a comic book after all.
The issue plays out much like New Avengers # 1 did a few years back, with the team being brought together by a single circumstance and a whole lot of coincidence. The formula works well this time around, because even the villains remark before they pul their caper that they’re looking for heroes to be in the area and expect them to show up. It’s a little touch that makes the book run a lot smoother.
Between this and Avengers Academy, Marvel seems to be doing all they can to get their readership invested in the next generation of Marvel heroes. Meanwhile, DC is probably trying to find a way to kill off Jaime Reyes. The butchers.
It was a hectic week at the shop. UPS lost one of the shipment boxes, and it happened to be the one that contained the packing list in it. Not gonna lie, UPS is about as competent as a brain-damaged snail when it comes to the handling and delivery of packages. When that’s your entire purpose for existing and your that bad at it, perhaps you don’t deserve to be in business. Just saying. Actually, I’m not really saying anything as much as I’m venting. There’s a subtle difference and most of it has to do with the tone of voice I hear inside my head while I type this, which is probably not conveyed very well as text over the internet.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #632 2.99
BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #2 OF(6) 3.99
CHOKER #3 (OF 6) (MR) 3.99
DAZZLER #1 3.99
DEADPOOL MERC WITH A MOUTH #11 (OF 13) 2.99
DETECTIVE COMICS #865 3.99
EARP SAINTS FOR SINNERS #0 1
FALL OF HULKS SAVAGE SHE-HULKS #3 (OF 3) 3.99
FANTASTIC FOUR #579 HA 2.99
FORTUNE & GLORY A TRUE HOLLYWOOD COMIC BOOK GN HC 19.99
GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #12 2.99
GREEN LANTERN #54 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE GENERATION LOST #2 (BRIGHTEST DAY) 2.99
POWER GIRL #12 2.99
PREVIEWS #261 JUNE 2010 (NET) 2.7
SECRET AVENGERS #1 HA 3.99
THOR #610 SIEGE EPILOGUE 2.99
THUNDERBOLTS #144 HA 2.99
WOLVERINE WEAPON X #13 3.99
WONDER WOMAN #44 2.99
X-FORCE #27 XSC 2.99
X-MEN ORIGINS EMMA FROST #1 (MR) 3.99
And because I have access to the internet, now come my opinions:
DAZZLER # 1
I freaking love Dazzler. If ever there was a character who deserved more respect, it’d be her. She pre-dates Jubilee and has enough of a sob-story background to appeal to the angst-happy comic reader of the modern generation. It would be a dream come true for me to write a team book led by Dazzler and Boom-Boom that goes off and fixes all the problems that the A-Listers can’t because they’re too busy dealing with a crossover or something.
The issue picks up on the threads left in the Necrosha crossover following Dazzler’s run-in with her sister, a mutant who can kill with a single touch. She and Rogue should have a pow-wow. Anywho, Dazzler’s feeling all misdirected and shaken up after the events of Necrosha and then has to deal with Arcade kidnapping her and dropping her into Murderworld, which honestly needs a new name as I’m not sure anyone has ever been killed in Murderworld. It sounds all ominous and scary but Arcade is probably the least successful X-Villain with the best ideas for marketing.
Here’s the sad thing about this issue; it’s really good. But not a whole lot of people are going to pick it up because Dazzler has essentially been reduced to a one-note joke and nobody realizes the potential there is for good stories with her in the lead. I’d rather read a story with Dazzler than Cyclops, honestly. But then again, that’s just me I guess.
EARP : SAINTS FOR SINNERS # 0
I love proto-futuristic, psuedo-apocalyptic stories. The environment presented in those types of books usually do it for me. They just suck me in and I don’t want to leave. Earp has the added bonus of transplanting famous historical gunslingers from the past of the American west and dropping them into the future. Is there any reason why they couldn’t have told this same story with new and original characters? From what is presented in the pages of this zero issue, the answer is pretty much a solid no. There’s not any real impedus given for the characters relation to historical figures, it just works with the story they’re trying to tell.
Radical publishing is hit and miss with me. I love Last Days of American Crime but I never quite got on board for FVZD or Hercules. This book seems to fall within my sensibilities. I think that’s why I added it to my pull sheet when I saw the ad for it in Previews. It takes a lot to get me to jump onboard a series nowadays, so it’s high praise when I say that something will keep me around for the next issue, which is the case here with Earp.
POWER GIRL # 12
This issue was darn near perfect. It was a great send off issue for the creative team that has kept me onboard for the last year and made me punch a wall when I heard they were leaving. This issue we get all the major players from the series coming back and tying up the loose ends so that anybody who doesn’t want to stick around can feel like they had closure. I’m still not sure if I’ll be sticking with the book when Winick comes on. I feel like I have to because I don’t want DC to think that the demand for Power Girl isn’t there.
But seriously, if you can find the issues still on shelves, pick them up. Or barring that, be sure to pick up the trades. Because this run was seriously some of the best anything that DC put out in the last year. For sure.
SECRET AVENGERS # 1
Ed Brubaker. That guy is something. I feel like if GI Joe had never left the Marvel umbrella all those years ago, this would resemble his take on that particular property. Brubaker knows how to utilize characters to their fullest extent, and here he meticulously points out how every member of the new covert ops Avengers team fits into the mold and makes sense in their appearance in the book.
I also get the feeling that he’s gearing up to write something that has the same scope and over-arching intricacy of his Captain America or Iron Fist runs. It’s easy to see that he’s hitting the ground running a little faster than Bendis is over in the flagship title, where by the end of the first issue we’ve already seen the team operating on multiple levels and we have an idea of what kind of foe they’ll be up against.
I won’t argue which of the two writers is better, as they’re working in two entirely different arenas, that having been said I do believe that Secret Avengers sucked me in a little better than Bendis’ mainline book, simply because of who they have on the team and the manner in which they were utilized. With Nova’s book off the market, this seems to be where I’m going to get my fix and I like the way Brubaker handled him in the overall context of the group.
This is going to be a series to keep your eyes on.
X-MEN ORIGINS : EMMA FROST # 1
I almost didn’t pick this up. I’m not going to lie. I’ve mostly ignored the other installments in this little expirement, but I like Emma Frost as a character. I think that she has the most potential for interesting stories out of any of the high tier X-people on the roster right now, with the possible exception of Rogue, who has been proving her value in X-Men Legacy for the last few years.
Having read the issue, I would like to say that with all the books that came out this week, only two inspired real gutteral emotional responses from me. One was War of the Supermen, where (***SPOILER***)Krypto took a kryptonite knife to the spleen to protect his master (***END SPOILER***) and the other was this issue, where Emma’s struggle to deal with her father twisted my stomach into a pretzel. I think that we all have a sort of undying need to please our parents, but the extremes presented here with Emma’s dad exemplify the sort of worst-case-scenario that every child fears. Emma’s father is presented as the physical embodiment of the no-win scenario, and the manner in which she deals with his abuse, and let’s face it, whether his intentions were pure or otherwise, such treatment of any child is abuse, forms Emma into the character she is today.
Most of the best X-Men stories revolve around family. The X-teams are essentially the family that most of the members never had. This issue ties into that by showing how important family is to the development of certain characters. Emma has a family in the beginning that offers no solace and she drifts from the Hellfire Club to the X-Men later in life, all in the search of the acceptance her father never gave her. Such a story could have come off as overwrought or melodramatic, but this particular issue handles the situation well and seems organic to what we know about Emma overall, which is the true test of validity for a story like this.
I’m done for now. Have to get some rest before the weekend, as it looks like it’ll be a long and tiring road ahead of me. Cheers.
Yesterday while working in the shop, a discussion formulated about this blog and my attitudes toward certain writers or characters. The conversation inevitably led to the question, if I were writing for DC or Marvel, what character would I most like to write and who says I could do any better than the people writing that title at this very moment.
The real truth is that while I absolutely adore the characters of DC and Marvel, I don’t have any true aspiration outside of perhaps a childhood fantasy wish fulfillment scenario to write those characters. I don’t think I’m particularly well suited to writing in that particular field. Not because I dislike serialization or don’t think that I have stories that fit the characters, because I do, but moreso because I would rather self-publish a book entirely of my own design in the mold of fellow Houston writer/artist Terry Moore, or have an original creation published through Image or some other publisher.
I am in fact working on the script for such a series, though I don’t know how I plan to publish it. Either through the same company that I used to print my first novel or to shop it around to publishers like Image. I suppose I need to get an artist on board first, as that would be a major part of getting the thing published in the first place.
But back to that original question, if tomorrow I got a call from the people at Marvel or DC and they said they wanted me to pitch them a story for a character of my choosing, who would I choose to write? Everyone here should know how much I absolutely love Batman. I mean, the first film I can remember seeing was the 1989 Batman movie with Jack Nicholson and Michael Keaton. I’m currently wearing my “lucky” bat-symbol boxers as I type this. But I don’t think that I would be able to take the reins of Batman either in his main book or even in an ancilliary mini-series due to the fact that there’s too much hovering over my head in terms of expectations, and I fear that immediately following my run some big name writer would erase my work with the stroke of a pen and all my writing would have been for naught. And were I to do a mini-series it would likely be regarded as insignificant and passed over.
The same goes for characters like Captain America or Spider-Man over at Marvel. I’d be so intimidated by the legacy of those characters that putting my name on the book would render me into a quivering neurological mess.
So who would I like to write?
Over at DC, there’s only one choice:
That’s right damnit, Power Girl.
Why? Because I love fun characters, and PG is one of the most fun DC has to offer. I feel like she has been written extremely well by some really talented people, especially the current creative team, whom I will be sad to see depart with this week’s issue # 12. That having been said, there is plenty of room for expansion on the character. I think that there are many writers who are two quick to see what’s been done with her and reduce the book to a one note joke or they don’t know what to do with the character at all.
I would like to take hold of Power Girl and expand on the great work that Jimmy and Justin have done, and bring her to prominence in a way that makes it hard for her to be ingnored in the grander scheme of the DCU. Essentially do for her what Marvel has done for Ms. Marvel lately. Her book may not have been a mega-seller but it did raise her level of recognition and ingrain her into the rest of the shared universe, making her a central character. PG may be a member of the JSA but she’s not popping up in other books simply because she’s such a public figure in the whole of the DC universe.
In the grand scheme of things I suppose most of the characters I would most enjoy to write would be the ones who have been written well in the past but aren’t really very prominent when you look at the progression of the shared universe as a whole. Over at Marvel I’d love to write She-Hulk, Wonder Man, and I’d really like to try my hand at The Runaways even though I know that the internet would condemn my writing before a page ever hit the stands.
Will any of this ever come to fruition? Probably not. I think my teeth gnashing towards Geoff Johns has essentially black-listed me there at DC, and I’ve been fairly vocal about my displeasure with Marvel from time to time. I’ll have to publish my own horse-crap from here until the end of time.
Such is life.
I could very well be talking about the fact that the sequel to The Dark Knight now has a July 2012 release date, but I’m actually talking about Batman XXX: A Porn Parody directed by Axel Braun.
Ladies and gentlemen, fuck Christopher Nolan.
This has been a shameless waste of time, but it’s better than no content at all, so suck on that while I take a nap.
This week was a monster. I mean, it’s been a while since I picked up this many books in a single week. I normally don’t go this heavy, and I’m trying to pull back on my subscriptions because money’s getting a little tight at this point. But this week I bit the bullet and plopped down a good chunk of change on some comics, so I might as well do an equally impressive review post.
PULL LIST 4-14-2010
ACTION COMICS #888 $3.99
ADVENTURE COMICS #10 $3.99
BATGIRL #9 $2.99
BATMAN #698 $2.99
BRIGHTEST DAY #0 $3.99
FLASH #1 $3.99
GREEN ARROW #32 $2.99
SECRET SIX #20 $2.99
UNWRITTEN #12 (MR) $2.99
CHEW #10 (MR) $2.99
BLACK WIDOW #1 HA $3.99
DAREDEVIL #506 $2.99
DEADPOOL TEAM-UP #894 $2.99
EXCALIBUR VISIONARIES WARREN ELLIS TP VOL 01 $19.99
IRON MAN LEGACY #1 $3.99
NEW MUTANTS #12 XSC $2.99
PUNISHERMAX #6 (MR) $3.99
SIEGE CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 $2.99
SIEGE LOKI #1 $2.99
SIEGE YOUNG AVENGERS #1 $2.99
WORLD WAR HULKS HULKED OUT HEROES #1 WWHS $3.99
X-FACTOR FOREVER #2 $3.99
HACK SLASH SERIES #31 A CVR SEELEY (MR) $3.50
Granted it’ll probably take me a week to ready everything I bought, I still have enough knocked out to bring you the following criticisms…
After an impressive debut arc for Tony Daniel on the mainline Batman book, now comes the part where we find out if he’s worth his salt or if he just got lucky that first time around. I was not a fan of Battle for the Cowl, so Daniel’s showing in the last few issues of Batman has been a nice little surprise. With this issue we don’t get his art to go along with his pencils, and I think that my point made in an earlier review that Daniel writes better when he knows he’ll be drawing the action himself is pretty much on the money, as this new artist, who really is only pedestrian at best, doesn’t really convey the action in the same manner that Daniel did. The story itself seems like filler, which the fill-in artists seems to back up.
I like just about any Batman comic featuring the Riddler, as I think this private detective revamp has made him into an especially viable character, but in this issue it is painfully obvious that he’s a better detective than Dick, which makes it hard for me to believe that nobody has caught on to him being an entirely different person under the mask. Gordon especially. And if he has noticed, you would think he of all people would be the first to tell the new Batman to bugger off if he can’t add anything helpful to the mix. And when the Riddler is constantly making you look like a schmuck in front of the police commissioner, you really have nothing helpful to add to the mix.
The return to happy-times in the DCU starts with a baby bird falling out of a tree and braining itself on a tombstone. Blood splatters and I’m sure a child somewhere weeps. Sure, a very much alive Deadman resurrects him with white power (Holy shit, white power? I need to find a better term.), but still, that little bit caught me off guard. This whole issue didn’t connect with me after that. I mean, we get Max Lord giving himself a nosebleed, a bunch of yammering with Hawkman and Hawkgirl, who I very much preferred to be left dead, and a scene where Aquaman is afraid to go into the water.
Aqauaman is afraid of the water.
It’s hard for me to defend my love for Aquaman as a character when scenes like that pop up. I mean, come on. I try to prove that he’s not the lamest character in existence and now Geoff Johns has essentially turned him from the brave king of the seas into a little boy who lost his floaties.
Brightest Day just goes to proove that Geoff Johns output for the GL universe outside of the book proper is probably not going to be my cup of tea, and as such you probably won’t be hearing much about it here unless he does something that truly shocks me, either positive or more likely negative.
And while Brightest day might have made me give up on Geoff Johns as a writer, Flash # 1 proves that he can still write the hell out of a monthly book. I have to admit that I’m not a big Barry Allen fan. I grew up with Wally. Wally is my Flash. I was going to give this book a pass but picked it up for the sake of doing a review. And I’m glad I did because this book moves at a mile a minute and hits every note that it needs to. Geoff Johns really has a grip on the Flash. This is no surprise given how great his last run was on the title, but that was years ago and that was Wally. He also seemed to care more about the Rogues than he did about the Flash, which gave the book a distinct sort of flair.
Here he is really more interested it seems in showing us how Barry is going to integrate himself back into society after having been gone for so long. He’s bringing back old characters and introducing Barry to a new generation at the same time. It’s sort of like a spin-off TV series in the way everything is set up. There is a striking familiarity but at the same time everything feels so shiny and new.
Honestly, I think this is going to be a book to watch, as I think this is something that Geoff wants to write while at the same time being a book that he needs to write in order to ground himself after spending so much of his talent writing mindless epic event books. I hope I’m right. Dear god, I hope I’m right.
Uh, wow. That was quick. You want to talk about a rushed issue? This would be it. Plots are resolved within the length of a page, what would normally take several issues is condensed down into a few panels, and the book ends with a major tease for the new # 1 issue.
I guess with the timeframe he was given JT Krul did the best he could to wrap everything up in a manner that didn’t completely collapse under its own weight, but jeez, an extra issue might have helped to pad this thing and make the narrative flow better. Ollie changes his mind about life-altering decisions in the span of half a panel. It’s so sudden and jarring that it can’t be described as anything other than a WTF moment.
Oh well, bring on the relaunch.
Here’s one I’ve been looking forward to. The Black Widow – Deadly Origin book stoked my interest for an ongoing Black Widow book and now it’s here. I can only say that Marjorie Liu does a bangup job with the character. Artfully taking from what writers like Ed Brubaker have done with her in the Captain America book and moved in the next logical direction.
This book is a lot like Deadly Origin, in that it has a great deal to do with the Widow’s past in setting up the narrative. And honestly, that’s one of the things that makes the Widow so interesting. She’s like the bizzaro Wolverine in that regard. Wolverine is (was) interesting because of the mystery of his past. The Widow however seems to work because we know how integrated with the Marvel Universe she is. That allows for her to organically interact with just about ANY character in the Marvel Universe without it seeming like a gratuitous cameo. Here we get Tony Stark, Wolverine, and Bucky, all of whom should appear in a book like this.
We don’t get that many books with female leads. We were lucky that Ms. Marvel lasted as long as she did and it’s a shame that She-Hulk isn’t around anymore. But between this and Bendis’ Spider-Woman, the ladies of the Marvel Universe are looking damn fine right about now.
I might as well just write a review that says “FUCK YEAH!” and leave it at that, because really that’s all I can say about this book. Matt Fraction has been knocking it out of the park over in Invincible Iron Man, but Fred Van Lente takes a look at Tony’s past and completely nails the character in ways every writer who’s ever handled Tony wishes they could.
I’m not gonna spend any more time on this book. I don’t need to. Go buy the damned thing. If you don’t, you hate being happy. And for that I am so so sorry.
I have to say, this crossover feels like an X-Men story. I maintain that the holding pattern that the x-books were staying in from Messiah Complex to this moment only heightened the intensity of the crossover and it’s making for some amazing storytelling. This issue is balls-to-the-wall action and it’s all done on such a scale that it can only be described as classic X-Men. I get the feeling this is gonna be one of those crossovers that we look back on with a fond memory, remembering just how awesome it truly is.
Jason Aaron writes a better Punisher than Garth Ennis.
There. I said it.
There is something about his run so far that really connects with me. I think a lot of it may be how he seems more willing to blatantly show that he has no regard for mainline continuity. Whereas we know that Ennis was writing in another universe, simply by proxy of using no existing characters, Aaron is more than happy to re-define existing Marvel characters like Kingpin and Bullseye with Ulitmate Universe style reckless abandon, and at the same time make it work and not alienate the fanbase.
Not only that, but he seems to get the Punisher in more than a cathartic sadist sort of way that Ennis did. Aaron’s Frank Castle is decidedly human, and we see this through the skillful mastery that Aaron brings to the people surrounding the Punisher. We get precious little insight from the Punisher himself instead getting more out of reactions from people like Kingpin, Bullseye, or an old army friend who comes by to patch up Frank’s wounds.
Jason Aaron is amazing, and so is this book.
The word going around the web the last few days is that Marvel is very keen on Joss Whedon possibly stepping up to the plate to direct the live-action Avengers movie. The reaction to this little tidbit falls on a scale that starts with fanboy nerdgasm and ends with teeth gnashing and caps-locked ranting. Either you think he’s perfect for the job based on his previous ensemble work or you think that he’ll suddenly turn everyone gay and have them speak like hipster high-schoolers.
There’s also been complaints that he’s not a big enough name to anchor Marvel’s flagship film. Who the hell cares? You think the average Joe Schmoe really knows one director from another. I mentioned to a customer at the shop that the guy behind Batman was going to be heading up the new Superman film and he replied; “Christian Bale?” Let’s not assume that everyone knows or even cares about the behind the scenes aspect of film production. I don’t think it was Jon Favreau’s name in the director credit that sold Iron Man to the masses. And with a movie like The Avengers I don’t think it will take much selling at all. You throw a bunch of superheroes into one film and the novelty alone is enough to give it some amazing numbers.
My take on this is that both sides would really benefit from Whedon’s involvement as director. Serenity shows that he can work some amazing big-budget action sequences. And the man practically made his career on ensemble character moments. It’s like this was the film he’s been waiting for his entire career. Plus, he has a working history with Marvel, having done amazing work on the X-Men. And maybe this would be the film to make him a more mainstream name. He could probably garner enough goodwill to put together more projects of his own if he was attached to a film that made more money than God.
Honestly, I think if Whedon is in serious consideration, it’s not a bad idea. It’s actually a pretty good one. But it all really depends on the script anyway, if that thing sucks, it doesn’t matter who is behind the camera as nothing will be able to save it. Gavin Hood is an excellent director but he couldn’t save Wolverine Origins. So meditate on that.
So, I have no idea why this exists or who made it or why every Batman comic isn’t centered around this very idea, but someone sent me the link and I felt compelled to post it.
Hey folks, sorry the reviews are going up a day later than usual because this week was mid-term week and I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing that didn’t have anything to do with comics and thus my brain and resolve has been whittled down to a viscous goop.
ACTION COMICS #887 3.99
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #624 2.99
BATGIRL #8 2.99
BATMAN AND ROBIN #10 2.99
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL #1 3.99
POWERS #3 (MR) 3.95
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS #2 (OF 5) 2.99
PUNISHERMAX #5 (MR) 3.99
RED ROBIN #10 2.99
SECRET SIX #19 2.99
SUPERMAN LAST STAND OF NEW KRYPTON #1 (OF 3) 3.99
SWORD #5 (MARVEL) 2.99
ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #8 3.99
And here’s my piddling excuse for a review section:
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 624
Have you ever been walking along enjoying your day and then been smashed in the face by a brick from out of nowhere? That’s kind of what this issue feels like. I knew from extensive spoiler-riffic media coverage last week that this issue would be the one where Peter gets “fired” or some such nonsense, but I didn’t expect it to be such a contrived and out-of-left-field development that left me feeling like I was reading a different book.
Up to this point in the Brand New Day era of Spidey books, the writers have seemingly understood that Peter Parker has bad luck that really only results in an “aw shucks, that didn’t go well” sort of way. Not the “ARGH! MY LIFE IS FALLING TO UNIMAGINABLE SHIT!” kind of luck that I just call “Matt Murdock’s Life.” And this issue falls firmly into the Matt Murdock level of life upheaval. I know that his uncle was murdered, I know that his girlfriend got chucked off a bridge, but aside from that, you don’t see the entire world coming down on Peter that often. Because as Marvel’s everyman character, nobody wants to try to relate to someone who is publicly shamed and maligned for making an error in judgment.
I’m not going to say that what Peter did to get fired was out of character. Not at all. Because Peter is kind of a dumbass who does stupid things on a startlingly regular occasion. It’s the resolution that sticks me as the wrong way to move the character and it feels like all these weeks I’ve been praising the work on this book is worthless if this is what they were leading to.
BATGIRL # 8/RED ROBIN # 10
This is what I like to read. The interaction between the Bat family is something that makes those titles different from other books. You don’t get this kind of interaction with, say, the Superman family. Nor is anything like what you get in a team book like JLA. There is a close-knit togetherness and interwoven history here that doesn’t get played out elsewhere. The closest to it would maybe be the X-Men, but with the revolving door and expansive cast list I would say that it’s too expansive to work in the way the Bat family does.
This crossover deals with the fallout of the intro arc of Red Robin, with Ra’s Al Ghul coming for his vengeance as well as resolving some dangling threads from the time Stephanie Brown spent as Spoiler. Perhaps its the nature of resolution that makes this crossover so worthwhile.
JUSTICE LEAGUE RISE AND FALL SPECIAL # 1
Where to begin? Okay, I only skimmed Cry for Justice. I didn’t care for the first two issues and wasn’t going to invest any money into the rest of the series. The ending, where Green Arrow straight up shot an arrow through Prometheus’ head was both jarring and stupefying. This follow up issue, where the JLA finds out about that event, is better written than the mini-series that established the need for its existence, but that’s like saying that getting shot in the arm is better than getting shot in the leg.
I’m conflicted here, because I pretty much concur with Ollie’s new worldview, but I’m not so sure if I could ever fully imagine him as a character doing these things. With all the continuity established, Ollie doesn’t strike me as the gung-ho killer type. I’m hoping that this is leading somewhere that I’m not seeing, otherwise I might be giving up on Green Arrow after several years of collecting monthly.
PRELUDE TO DEADPOOL CORPS # 2
This one didn’t suck. Mostly saved by Xavier trying on wigs and trying to bang Emma Frost. Reminds me of an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia where Danny DeVito basically did the same thing. Except Professor X always makes any situation funnier. You know, because he’s a cripple.
SWORD # 5
I hate you Marvel. This book was beautiful and you tossed it aside like it was a bucktoothed hooker. For shame. Just, for shame.
And that’s all I have for this week. Next week I won’t have classwork to deal with and I’ll be able to give you some meatier writing, but for this week just be glad I put up anything instead of diving into oncoming traffic.
Isn’t this just the best blog ever?
Batman loves sexy hats.