Welcome to Baturday! A column devoted entirely to weekly Batman-related goodness!
First of all, let me give a very special shout-out to Comic Booked’s very own head designer, Todd Erwin, for the excellent Baturday logo. He rocks and doesn’t get enough love from our team, so huzzah for Todd!
Alrighty. Enough of that. Here’s a quick run-down of the Batty goodness that hit shelves and the interwebs this week. Obviously, there will be spoilers galore. Tread with caution…
Zero Year enters its third and final act as writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo catapult readers into a world where the Riddler has won, the Batman has been broken, and the city of Gotham is living in absolute fear of what they’ll have to endure next. This feels very much like a first issue, which is great because a jumping on point is just what this epic retelling (or rather, actual telling) of the comic book world’s most favorite hero needed. The colors are bright. The story is dark. And the dialogue between Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and James Gordon has never been more believable. It was nice to see the Riddler finally get his due, but it was also nice to see the Batman finally start winning and becoming who he was destined to be for the people of Gotham City. And that moment where Gordon first tells him to call him Jim? That was absolutely priceless. It will be really fun to see how they start to wrap things up and if they stray too far from the original origin. Will we get to see more villains before they become their tragic selves? Will we get to see more heroes before they embrace their destinies? Who knows. Either way, count me in for sure.
My Rating: 5/5
Batman Eternal #2
The triumphant return of weekly comics hits its second issue this week, with writers Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV and artist Jason Fabok leading the charge, with some consultation from Ray Fawkes and Tim Seeley. Gordon’s in trouble, with the lives of countless Gothamites weighing heavy on his conscience. But Batman isn’t giving up quite so easily. He knows there’s more going on than meets the eye. And with some great framing sequences with the obviously-corrupt Mayor Sebastian Hady and his mysterious recently-returned benefactor, the stage is set for the epic. Batgirl, Red Robin, Batwing, Red Hood, and the rest of the Bat family, both past and present, have no idea what’s going to happen next, but even Catwoman is shocked to find out that this fast-paced storyline reminiscent of 52 and the hit TV series, 24, is only just beginning. Dr. Phosophorus kills himself in Arkham Asylum at the behest of Deacon Blackfire. A mysterious mind-wiper is walking around the subway crime scene. And the mayor’s benefactor? Catwoman’s greatest adversary: Carmine “The Roman” Falcone. Can’t wait to see where this goes next!
My Rating: 5/5
Harley Quinn #5
Co-writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti deliver yet another fun-filled crazy issue with everyone’s favorite Clown Princess of Crime. Artist Chad Hardin does a great job, but it would be nice to see Ms. Conner do some interiors to match her beautiful covers one of these days. Don’t get me wrong, the visuals are excellent each and every issue of this series so far. But the plotting is a bit off for me. It seems like this series would be better suited as a drawn-out backup story in either the newly announced Suicide Squad series or even in one of the other various Bat titles. I love Harley, but she’s never warranted her own series. She’s just too random. She’s the equivalent of a DC Comics version of Deadpool. Fun, crazy, and unpredictable, but altogether unnecessary in terms of a serious story. I keep expecting a bigger story arc to begin, but five (actually, more like six) issues in, and we’ve still not really been taken anywhere new. It’s a fun read, but nothing more than the comic book version of a popcorn summer blockbuster. Those are good every now and then, but eventually, something has to happen.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Birds of Prey #30
If there was one title that should have ended, it certainly wasn’t Nightwing or Talon. It’s Birds of Prey. Two writers in, and it still hasn’t seemed to be able to capture the magic of either Gail Simone’s or Chuck Dixon’s now legendary original runs. Writer Christy Marx does an okay job with a pretty tired and reused storyline involving the Birds and an uneasy alliance with Ra’s al Ghul. But even the artwork of Robson Rocha isn’t enough to make this comic as action-packed as it tries to be. The “twists” throughout the issue are cliche and predictable. Ra’s betrays Black Canary. The “team Grandma” becomes de-aged and slightly less relevant. And the one interesting character post-New 52, Batgirl, is barely in the issue at all. Putting Ra’s on the cover is a bit of a cheat, because he is horribly misused in this climax. And the final “twist” at the end is so poorly drawn that I’m not entirely sure what it really even means for the future of this comic, other than it might not be long for this world. All in all, it has been a bumpy and quite boring ride. I hope to see an improvement soon.
My Rating: 3/5
Batman and Wonder Woman #30
Speaking of good old Ra’s, he showed up yet again in the middle of “The Hunt for Robin” this month as well. And as much as it pains me to admit, artist Patrick Gleason did not turn in his best performance this issue. Neither did one of my favorite writers, Peter J. Tomasi. The first seven pages are not only wasted on a boring “let’s fight… okay, now let’s team up!” segment, but the artwork is pretty horrific. But the last part of the issue is great, if you can stick it out that long. I did, but only because I know what greatness Tomasi and Gleason are known for. And the confrontation between Bats, Diana, and Ra’s is totally worth the buildup. Granted, it doesn’t really help anyone, but it’s neat to tie in Batman’s search for Damian’s body to some classic Greek mythology. I sort of wish this issue had been longer, or even given a second part. But it’ll be interesting to see where Bruce’s quest takes him next. And how he will fare in his inevitable rematch with Frankenstein’s monster next issue. A slight misstep in an otherwise flawless ongoing run.
My Rating: 4/5
Red Hood and the Outlaws #30
The arrival of one of my favorite writers of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe heralded a return to greatness for this title. And speaking of Frankenstein’s monster, he was all over this issue written by Will Pfeifer and drawn by the art team of Rafael Sandoval and R. B. Silva. The worst part of the issue, to be fair, is the inconsistent art team and the strange facial expressions of various characters throughout the issue. But the strength, by far, is the great pacing and dialogue between Jason, Arsenal, and Starfire. And who didn’t love the random reference to Blackhawks #8? Gotta love shameless plugs for titles that no longer exist. The issue is essentially just a bunch of really fun fight sequences, chief among them the one between Frank and Jason. And even though the Outlaws sort of cheat (I mean, come on, it’s either that or die!), it’s still no less a victory for them. After all, they lived. For now, that is. Because just in case you didn’t think this series was going off the deep end already, the last page shows the new person ready to beat the crap out of our favorite lovable losers: Lobo! So crazy. But so much fun.
My Rating: 4/5
I’m going to go ahead and start off by saying the most controversial thing in recent Batman-related comics journalism: I don’t miss the old creative team on this title. At all. They were visually impressive, but man were those stories boring. The arrival of Marc Andreyko saved this title for me. And the added bonus of excellent artwork each and every month from Jeremy Haun is certainly welcome. Kate Kane is every bit as interesting (if not more so) than her cousin, Batman. And the fights with her own ever-growing rogues gallery in this issue simply spotlight just how much of a badass she really is. But don’t get me wrong: There’s still plenty of drama within the panels. Maggie’s ex-husband filing for sole custody of their child should prove interesting. And a tiny little flashback into Kate’s childhood should serve as an interesting glimpse into the dark psyche of our favorite heroine. Hopefully Bette gets a bigger role in the upcoming issues. And hopefully Kate can take down Wolf Spider before he embarrasses her any further.
My Rating: 4/5
So there it is. Hope you enjoyed yourselves! See you next week (and every week after that) for what will most assuredly be the most exciting part of your internet adventures. At the very least, the highlight of your seemingly comicless Saturdays.