Happy Baturday! What a week. First and foremost, what did you guys think of that Gotham trailer? Pretty sweet, huh? Well, if that wasn’t enough, there were so many good books this week starring our favorite Caped Crusader. It was like Christmas came early… And it’ll come each and every Wednesday! Well, enough gushing over DC’s best property and comics’ favorite hero. Let’s get down to it. Welcome back! (Also: Spoilers. As per usual.)
Batman Eternal #5
James Tynion IV takes the head writer duties this issue and though it is a vast improvement over last week’s, it’s still not quite clicking the way the first three parts did. Consulting writers Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley add their voices while artist Andy Clarke (and cover artist Andy Kubert, for that matter) make this an altogether good read. But it’s starting to suffer from something that most weekly books do: It’s starting to drag a bit. There’s some great characterization between Red Robin and Alfred, and some even better dialogue between Batman and Tim. But the issue starts to trod a bit into potentially dangerous territory when it relinquishes its focus to that of Harper Row and Vicki Vale. Vale comes off as a poor man’s Lois Lane and Row is, well, still boring. So when a nanobot swarm attacks (or protects? not really sure) the characters as they all cross paths, it’s starting to look like this is bigger than Deacon Blackfire, Carmine Falcone, Professor Pyg, and the Cluemaster all put together. And according to the last page, The Gotham Gazette’s reporting has attracted the attention of one of Bruce’s old mentors. Consider my interest piqued. Hopefully we get less Vale/Row time in the issues to follow.
My Rating: 4/5
The New 52: Futures End #1
Let’s get two things straight right off the bat (ha. puns are fun.): I thought this was going to be crap and I am not the only one who was skeptical. In fact, to see a less-than-stellar review, check out this full review here. But those are not my words. And I happily ate my own words after the “zero issue” came out last Free Comic Book Day. It featured a future where, well, everyone died. Horrifically. So Batman Beyond was sent back to prevent it, but, as we learn right away, he’s about five years too late. Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire may seem like a random team to write this epic, but this is (without setting my hopes to high) quite possibly the best idea and format for a weekly comic since the original 52, which was absolutely perfect from beginning to end. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they have my favorite artist, Patrick Zircher, on pencils. Seeing Stormwatch killed presumably by Brother Eye was heartbreaking, but well done. Seeing Grifter take out Daemonites made me miss Wildstorm. And the Firestorm banter/dialogue and reveal that they were too late to save Green Arrow certainly grabbed my attention. All of this, and more, makes me happy to say that this is certainly a potential classic in the making. Great work, guys.
My Rating: 4.5/5
Detective Comics #31
The new creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have left The Flash and saved Detective Comics from becoming one of, if not the worst book in DC’s New 52 line. Just two issues into their first storyline of what will most likely be a long and prosperous run, they are at their very best. The artwork is, simply put, beautiful. Heightening the art form that is visual storytelling is just one of Manapul’s many talents. But if they could make a character like Barry Allen interesting, it shouldn’t take much to do the same for a character who is already awesome. Perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this issue is the brief but important dialogue sequence between Harvey Bullock and Bruce Wayne. Anyone can write Batman. But it takes a talented writer to also tackle Bruce. I’m not entirely sure where the Aguila story is going, but it’s obvious that DC has bigger plans for this “Icarus” story. I really enjoyed the portrayal of Bullock as more than just a means to an end, generic cop number one, or even, as he has so commonly been treated in the past, a slob and a jerk. Well… he still is a slob and a jerk, but at least he’s a good cop. There’s also a really neat fight sequence between Batman and Sumo, culminating in a twist reveal at the end: he’s working for the Squid and the bad guys have something, or rather, someone explosive in their care. Can’t wait to see how this one ends!
My Rating: 4/5
The other day, I overheard the following question in my local comic shop: “Why has Batwing not been cancelled yet?” to which I replied: “Do you read it? It’s some of the best characterization in the Batverse available on the stands. That’s why.” So the guy looked at me, picked up a copy, and shut his mouth. And man am I happy that this issue proved me right. Russell Tavaroff is just about as villainous as they come. He’s done some pretty heinous stuff since his introduction late last year and is just continuing to make Luke Fox’s life just all sorts of terrible. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray are completely at home in this title, where they add genuine human characteristics to some pretty larger-than-life heroes and villains. Eduardo Pansica’s artwork jumps off the action-packed pages. For me, it’s a toss up for favorite moment from this issue between Lucius Fox’s brief and powerful monologue while tearing up in his car and the scene with the absolutely terrifying Rat Catcher, a character I had written off long ago as dumb and pointless. Though Batwing defeats the bad guy at the end of the issue, we the readers know that he knows Luke’s secret identity, and seemingly can’t die. This series is, as I told the guy in the shop, one of the best on the stands. And this issue is no exception.
My Rating: 5/5
Justice League 3000 #6
Before we begin, let me say one thing: Howard Porter is one of my all-time favorite artists. He is actually the only comic artist I have bought and framed original artwork from, proudly hanging on my wall. And I really enjoy the writing of J. M. DeMatteis and can appreciate the vigor and obvious love for comics that comes off the pages of everything Keith Giffen has ever done for the industry. So take it for what it’s worth, but I love this creative team. But this comic? Man, it’s hard to enjoy. Take all of the likable things about the Justice League and, well, remove them. Now put them in the future which doesn’t really have any impact or sense of urgency of any kind whatsoever. And now, rush it. Like, don’t put any time, effort, or anything into it. And that’s what it is. Each and every month. I buy it because it has Batman and I love the team and I hope every time I read one that it’s going to get better. But it never does. This issue features stock villains, a tiny Green Lantern, a jerk in the form of Superman, and a secret that threatens to tear the team apart which isn’t really much of a secret. It’s boring. It has no soul. It’s almost as if this team, much like it’s characters, are phoning in this performance. Such a lazy book. I expect so much better. I wish I felt this way, but I don’t. Yet.
My Rating: 2/5
Earth 2 #23
This is the epitome of a “sleeper hit” of a series. From its giant beginnings under the pen of comic book master James Robinson, this title bravely killed off not just Superman, not just Wonder Woman, not just Batman, but ALL THREE of them in the first issue. Then, from their ashes, the “Justice Society” (which hasn’t ever been called that… yet) rose to protect the world. Then, sort of out of nowhere, Robinson left. And I was going to drop the book. But then Batman showed up. And a new writer, whom I had never heard of, took me by surprise. And now this is one of my favorite books. Nicola Scott’s art is beautiful. Thomas Wayne as the new Batman is a great twist. And Superman as a Darkseid soldier? Not to mention Lois Lane as the new Red Tornado? This is a wacky world our heroes live in. And now that Lois and Clark are back together, it just might change things. That is, if the forces of Darkseid don’t kill the would-be teammates before Batman and Green Lantern can agree to disagree and just form separate teams already. A teammate dies. The Bat Cave is no more. And the team teleports (hopefully) away just in time. This series has proven one thing from Tom Taylor’s arrival: Expect the unexpected! And I’m not alone in my thoughts.
My Rating: 4.5/5
A constantly consistent great read, this series takes a break from not only its regular artist, but its regular writer as well. But it is far from a fill-in issue. Though it’s a standard “one-and-done” comic, writer Jeff Lemire and artists Karl Kerschl and Scott Hepburn provide a crazy, action-packed, and altogether fun ride. Superman goes to the agents of S. H. A. D. E. to recruit Ray Palmer, the Atom, to help go inside Batman’s head and save his life. Literally. So the action starts off right away and gives us a fun romp of superheroes versus alien lifeforms hiding out inside Batman’s brain. Just when the wackiness seems too absurd to be enjoyable, it ramps it up a notch, with one of the aliens escaping and Batman waking up, fighting the intruder in the Fortress of Solitude. Meanwhile, the Atom and Superman are still inside Batman, who’s blood pressure is rising, creating a risky but successful escape. They arrive to help Batman, realizing that he’s already defeated his assailant. There’s some fun dialogue about who the Atom is and why he’s there, and it makes me realize that the S. H. A. D. E. team needs their own book again. And the Atom needs to be in every issue. Especially since they now are watching every thing that Batman and Superman do.
My Rating: 4/5
Teen Titans Annual #3
Last issue, which was the “finale” of the series, should have been that. This seemed like an unnecessary wrap-up for what was already, well, wrapped up nicely. Plus, the five dollar price tag? Let’s stop with that, DC. Scott Lobdell repeats the same jokes and gives us a recap of the series. Artist Kenneth Rocafort gets his feet wet with the characters he’ll be returning to when the series relaunches. But in all reality, excluding the really cool cover and a very well done dialogue sequence between Red Robin and Harvest, this was sort of a blah issue. Not bad by any means, but just wholly unnecessary. It was nice to see Harvest’s origins, albeit briefly, and it was also a good fake-out when he offered to change and help the Teen Titans become the regular kids they all want to be. But when they call his bluff and defeat him, he seemingly dies, rather than be saved by them. We then get a nice overview from Superboy, showing that the team, though not exactly as they started, is still very much alive and well. And even though the next volume is coming up soon, it’s safe to say that most people will probably try to distance themselves from this run. Which is too bad, because it really had more good than bad. Thanks for the ride, Mr. Lobdell!
My Rating: 3/5
So there it is. Whew! We made it. There was certainly enough Batman in my week. But that’s just the way I like it. But enough about my thoughts. What are yours? Sound off in the comments section below!