Miss me last week? Well, I’m sorry, but had to take a weekend to sell off some comic books at my annual garage sale. No, no Batman books were sold. And yes, I did make some money. But that’s neither here nor there. Last week’s books? Well, here is a quick run-down of the books you should buy that are Bat-centric: Batman and Ra’s al Ghul #32 was a solid 5/5, and, unfortunately, that was it. Lots of stinkers last week, so I figured it’d be a perfect week to take off and make some cash for future Batman weeks of greatness. Much like this one. So, now that I’m back, let’s stop wasting time and get to it!
The penultimate chapter of the final act of Zero Year has arrived, and much like every issue of the epic so far, writer Scott Snyder has displayed his greatness in the form of witty dialogue and artist Greg Capullo has established his dominance by giving us a fast-paced way to tell a fun story. The interesting dynamic between a young and naive Batman, a not-yet Commissioner Jim Gordon, and a sassy-but-by-no-means perfect Lucius Fox is further explored in this issue, all while Bats tries to outwit, outsmart, and outplay the Riddler. The fact that Bruce is putting his faith in fellow Gothamites in order to save the city, is putting his ego aside and realizing that Alfred was, is, and always will be right, and is actually showing genuine emotion makes for a rare glimpse into the past of the Dark Knight. The phrase “I love you, Alfred.” is just the perfect amount of believable and heart-wrenching. But the next pages show exactly why I love this team for another reason entirely: the Riddler’s shit-eating grin while he asks, “How?” Batman figured it all out. Good stuff. So even though we know that the stakes are not as high as the Riddler would have us believe (I mean, come on… it’s an origin story, after all), the series of events leading to the finale are still quite enjoyable to read and experience. This creative team gets Batman, which is important, but they are the first in a long time to even acknowledge that Bruce is just as complex. And the city itself, not just its rogues and the allies of the Batman, are not only important, but equally interesting and complex. Can’t wait to see how this ends and where this creative team takes us next.
My Rating: 5/5
Batman Eternal #12
The last few issues have been, well, bad. The art on the last issue was a disgrace. The “writing” of John Layman is a perfect example of what I show my students NOT to do. But finally, FINALLY, we’re back on track. A solid cover by Guillem March and a great script by James Tynion IV (with added help from fellow consultants Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley) are joined by fellow excellent creator, artist Mikel Janin, to ramp up the action a bit. Falcone continues his ruthless gang war with the Penguin, forcing an alliance between new recruit Jason Bard and old war horse Harvey Bullock. Batman meets with Jim Gordon to tell him he’s on the trail of something big that’s going to clear his name. And Red Robin and Harper Row face off in the digital world while Tim tries to interrogate the recently-incarcerated Professor Pyg. We then see Gordon’s preliminary trials (which are not looking good) and Batgirl and Red Hood’s team-up (which is not going to end well). Tim Drake visits Alfred and meets his daughter, who will most likely be more problem than help as the story continues. And then there’s the two-fold finale: We see Bullock telling Bard about the golden days, when Gordon, Harvey Dent, and Batman would meet and plan ways to fix the city, just in time to be cut off by the Bat himself, concocting a new plan of Bard’s that involves Batman being caught by the now corrupt G. C. P. D. Then we see Gordon being beaten by a Blackgate prison guard and being hand-delivered to a “special visitor,” who turns out to be none other than his long-thought-dead son, James Gordon Jr. Holy shit. That’s how you save a series from humdrum, gentlemen. Well done. Now, please. Please. Let Snyder write the character he made famous. James Jr. needs his due.
My Rating: 5/5
Secret Origins #3
Three stories this month, all re-tellings in their own right. And as luck would have it, two of them are Batman characters. Robert Venditti and Martin Coccolo do a good job on the Hal Jordan Green Lantern origin tale, but that’s not why we’re here. The Jeremy Haun and Trevor McCarthy Batwoman tale revolving around Kate Kane’s absurdly tragic past, her relationship with her dad (which is one of the best in comics), and just how painful her and her twin sister’s birthdays are for everyone close to her is not only effective, but has a lot of heart. I didn’t know Haun could write, let alone write this well, so add that to his utility belt of already awesome skills. Then we have a Scott Lobdell written Red Robin story, featuring great art from Tyler Kirkham. We see a little bit more of what was revealed in the “Zero” issue of Teen Titans, wherein Tim Drake tracks down Batman’s true identity and forces his way into the role of the new Robin. Not a whole lot of new stuff in this issue, but some great character moments are rehashed and expanded upon. For a new reader, this is a must-read. For a fan, this is still a good way to spend your hard-earned cash.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Okay. Enough is enough. The great Terry and Rachel Dodson covers are literally the only good thing about this title. Patrick Ollife continues to draw a non-sexy Selina Kyle in the most androgynous (and not in a cool Tilda Swintonesque fashion) way imaginable, which is awful for a character that is supposed to be attractive to, well, everyone. And then there’s the real heart (or lack thereof) of the title: Ann Noccenti’s script. We are continuing to go around in circles with the “Race of Thieves” storyline, which wasn’t interesting enough to be a stand-alone one-and-done issue, let alone an entire arc. Mirror Master and Selina teaming up with cops to stop Roulette and a bunch of other D-listers is not interesting. It was during Villains United, back in the pre-Flashpoint non-New 52 era where Selina’s adventures were expertly penned by Will Pfeifer (who has graced us yet again with his writing prowess in some recent issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws, FYI). But I digress. Nothing of note or importance happens in this issue. Except that it leads us into another part. This book is bad. And what makes it even more sad is the fact that it features one of my favorite characters. Figure it out, DC. Put Nocenti and Ollife on another book. Before you lose your readership for good and have to cancel this series.
My Rating: 1/5
Justice League #31
Geoff Johns truly is the master. And the always-excellent Doug Mahnke is his current partner in crime as they continue to break the status quo and pave way for a new world post-Forever Evil. Lex Luthor has a little game of blackmail with Bruce Wayne, confirming his suspicions that he is in fact Batman when he finds the entrance to the Batcave in Wayne Manor. We also see Captain Cold being recruited (or possibly used) by Lexcorp, Shazam and Cyborg being bored (and probably playing ping pong) on watchtower duty, and the new Power Ring being gifted (and corrupted) by the former Crime Syndicate’s secret weapon. But between the three-way fight between Luthor, Wayne, and Alfred (who will always not-so-secretly be a bad ass) and the legitimately funny dialogue between the childish Shazam and the usually no nonsense Cyborg, this issue is yet another altogether exciting, fun, and enjoyable reading experience. So with the coming of the Anti-Monitor, the formation of the new Luthor-inspired Justice League, and the arrival of the new Doom Patrol, it’s safe to say that Johns and company are still rocking at what they do best: telling fantastic yet very human superhero stories. This is the best team book on the stands. Do yourselves a favor and buy it. Or, you know, continue buying it.
My Rating: 5/5
So there you have it. A small week, and despite one book (we’re looking at you, Catwoman), it was a good week to be a fan of the Bat. Agree with my reviews? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. And I’ll see you next weekend for the next installment of Baturday!