What did everyone do to celebrate Batman Day this last Wednesday? I got a free comic from my local comic shop and then did some shopping. And what a great week to be a Bat fan! Spoilers ahead for all of the comics being reviewed. Let’s start.
Batman Eternal #16
Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen continue to wow Bat fans with the second issue in a row featuring a bunch of “new” dynamic duos. Harper Row and Red Robin meet up with a robotics master from Batman’s past and Vicki Vale and Jason Bard start to question the role that one another plays in the ever-changing Gotham City, but it is the story of Jim Corrigan and Batwing that takes center stage (yet again) this issue. Batwing has to deal with the madness of Joker’s Daughter, while Corrigan is forced into hearing the tragic tale of Mr. Bygone. But they both escape from their would-be captors, just in time to see the “vessel” for the big bad behind the scenes in Arkham Asylum’s recent batch of crazy… Maxie Zeus! What ensues is a well-executed fight scene and the return of legendary Batman uber-villain, Deacon Blackfire. Things are starting to get weirder and weirder and I couldn’t love it any more. Co-writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley have certainly crafted a wonderful tale so far and have reminded me week after week just how much the world of Batman is dependent on the supporting cast members around him. The Bat himself just makes a glorified cameo in this issue, and I’m totally okay with that. Keep it up, guys!
My Rating: 5/5
Batman and Robin #33
For those of you who missed the Robin Rises: Omega one-shot that came out last week, rest assured, there was a crazy fight sequence with some great Kubert artwork, but it was essentially just a tease for the real story to come. Hence this week’s issue being named part one. Bruce is in the middle of nowhere with the entire Justice League trying to talk him out of bringing Damian back to life, which doesn’t go well. Then we watch him go to the watchtower in order to steal the Hellbat armor, which was crafted by the League to protect him from the threats of Apokolips. We get more arguing and some more logic from Batman and the only person who really seems to be rational at this point is Wonder Woman, explaining that this is a suicide mission. Batman counters by saying that he’s the one with a son and the “playing God” argument is null and void because of the origins of half of the team’s powers. He gives up after yet another one-man fight against the League, returning to Damian’s grave site, only to be pestered by Superman about his recent behavior. This is by far the strongest scene in the issue, showing Peter J. Tomasi’s expert characterization of both the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight as well as Patrick Gleason’s understanding of how to make a dialogue-filled issue seem action-packed. So when Alfred gets the whole Bat family together to help Bruce do exactly what the League told him not to do, it’s safe to say that “Batman in Space” is going to happen. And it’s going to rock.
My Rating: 5/5
“Race of Thieves” finally comes to its conclusion and the news of Catwoman‘s impending creative team change couldn’t have come at a better time. The excellent Terry and Rachel Dodson cover is about the only good thing about this issue, and, as per usual, once you open the pages, it’s pretty much all down hill from there. Poor pacing, confusing facial expressions, and dialogue that is about 30-years outdated fill the pages of this slow and bland comic. Catwoman beats Roulette, as the cover would have you believe. Then she keeps files on all of her fellow thieves, including Mirror Master, the Viceroy family, Trip Winter, Gaslight, and more, in a vault that apparently she forgot she had. What? What is the point of this? There was literally no purpose for this issue, let alone making it an entire storyline. Ann Nocenti’s writing is some of the worst in the New 52, not to mention DC Comics’ history. And Patrick Olliffe’s artwork seems rushed and altogether lazy. This is by far the worst title on the stands from the Big Two. Hopefully the next creative team can save this book from complete irrelevance.
My Rating: 1/5
Secret Origins #4
The Lee Bermejo cover is almost enough to purchase this issue alone. It’s just an added bonus that the comic itself isn’t half bad. The Green Arrow origin by Jeff Lemire and Denys Cowan is a rehash of an old story, but is decently-written with hard-on-the-eyes artwork. But the Harley Quinn origin by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Stephanie Roux is every bit as chaotic, fun, and heartfelt as the main ongoing title. It really is a perfect origin story. Then there’s the mixed bag that is the Peter J. Tomasi-written Robin (Damian Wayne) origin story, with very unpleasant Ian Bertram artwork that tries (but fails miserably) to capture the artwork and style of Frank Quitely. Though this is essentially a re-telling of the first issue of the pre-Flashpoint Grant Morrison Batman and Robin, it is still well done and fun for new readers. I am mixed because this is some great writing, and with the new twist of Alfred writing the legendary letter that inspired Damian to take up the mantle of Robin was a nice touch, but that artwork… Ugh. So, all in all, there have been better issues of this series so far, but artwork-aside, this was still a pretty good issue. Maybe not worth five bucks for non-Batman fans, but why are you reading this column if you’re not a Bat fan in the first place?
My Rating: 3/5
The New 52: Futures End #12
The series that “sort of” features Batman characters continues to, well, sort of feature them. Most of the issue is the typical Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Jeff Lemire Dan Jurgens brand of somewhat interconnected future chaos in the DC Universe that is beyond unrecognizable, with artwork by Jesus Merino, embracing the look of an early 1980s DC Comic. If that sounds like your thing, you’re probably in love with this series. Me? I was more of a Marvel fan at that particular time (even though I wasn’t alive yet… I’m speaking strictly back issue knowledge, here). Hawkman and the new S. H. A. D. E. fight some evil forces in space, Faraday and Mercy talk about secret missions involving Voodoo, and there are more ridiculous explosions on Cadmus Island. But the ending is somewhat interesting because it features a glimpse of a further future, in which Brother Eye has taken over Arkham Asylum and is testing on both whom appear to be the Joker and Batman. Not entirely sure what’s going on (which is a recurring theme for this series twelve, technically thirteen, issues in), but color me curious. I’m hopeful that things can start being a little more cohesive in the near future. And, of course, that we get to see more Batman. There is a distinct lack of him and his people in the series so far. Easy enough fix, right?
My Rating: 3/5
“Zero Year” is finally over, and it was yet another thrilling conclusion to the newest Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo masterpiece. The final showdown with the Riddler is well done, to say the least. And the creative team that has yet to disappoint continues to pave the way for not only the Bat titles, but also the rest of the New 52 line of DC Comics. Take note, Marvel… This is what all of your books should look like. Jim Gordon and Lucius Fox have never been written better, and when we find out that a young Bruce Wayne almost went through with a shock therapy session that would have wiped his memories of his parents’ tragic murder, it shows that he really is more human than we give him credit for. The fact that he thought about makes him human. The fact that he changed his mind and uses it each and every day to fight crime makes him Batman. The Riddler’s defeat was inevitable, and the Batman’s rise to power was a given, but the fact that Alfred saved him (and would continue to do so indefinitely) was a nice touch. And as far as Alfred goes, he sort of steals the show with the epilogue. The scene where he imagines Bruce marrying, having children, and growing old in a happy ending is so utterly heartbreaking that I almost forgot that these are fictional characters. That’s hart do do in fiction, especially comic books. And Snyder and Capullo successfully have done that numerous times, not just in this issue. All in all, this is a great finale to a wonderful new take on the Dark Knight’s secret origin. But what do I know? I’m just one reviewer. Check out another full review here if you don’t believe me.
My Rating: 5/5
So there you have it. What did you think? I’d love to hear from you. Let me know what your celebrations were and/or if you were pleased with this week’s books in the comments section below. See you next Baturday!