Forever Evil has ended. Batman survived. (Yay!) But that doesn’t mean his life isn’t completely in shambles. This was a HUGE week for not only DC Comics, but Bat-fans especially. And how about that new Batman/Superman movie title? So, without any further ado, here’s the week of Batman comics and appearances in review.
Batman Eternal #7
The weekly Batman book continues to shock and awe as it finishes up the seventh week in a row of suspense and plot-development. This time around, writer Tim Seeley takes charge (with an assist from writers Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Ray Fawkes) and artist Emanuel Sieoni. The excellent Andy Kubert cover really says it all: the Penguin’s Iceberg Lounge is destroyed, utterly and completely. Catwoman shows up out of the blue and helps Batman save some lives from Professor Pyg and the Penguin (and Rhodes, Falcone, Dr. Phosphorus, Tiger Shark, and whomever else is involved in this escalating and somewhat confusing gang war). But even though the lounge is blown up and sinks into the Gotham City harbor, you can rest assured that the Penguin’s revenge will be brutal, swift, and merciless. And as a lifelong fan of the villain, I, for one, cannot wait to see it in action. Pyg is let go by the new acting Commissioner (the guy in Falcone’s back pocket) and in return, he kills Rhodes. The city now has to deal with Professor Pyg and his Dollotrons in a new and disturbing way: because he’s declared his own version of war. Another great entry into the fantastic weekly series. See you next week!
My Rating: 5/5
Batman and Frankenstein #31
Do not let the wacky title fool you: This is by far one of the best titles on the stands today. Even though “The Hunt for Robin” has been going on for what seems like years now, it’s never once stalled. Now that Batman’s over the stages of grief (or so he says), it’s interesting to see him search for the body of his deceased son. An impromptu and fitting team-up with Frankenstein (and Titus, the Bat-Hound, of course) is just what this series needs, just when it is getting too dark, too depressing, and altogether too Batman. A little bit of dark humor in the form of witty and clever dialogue goes a long way. There’s even a great reference to the events that destroyed Nanda Parabat in Justice League Dark. And even though regular series writer Peter J. Tomasi is joined by a guest artist, Doug Mahnke adds such depth and soul to the characters that I barely noticed that Patrick Gleason was missing this issue. It’ll be fun to see where this series goes next, what with this storyline wrapping up seemingly within the next few issues. Will they resurrect Talia and Damian? And will Batman even try to stop it from happening? Count me in to see the events unfold. I’m sure it’ll be great to read and see, no matter the outcome.
My Rating: 5/5
Forever Evil #7
There were several behind-the-scenes reasons and rationales behind the lateness of all three Forever Evil crossover issues this week. And after reading both the finale and the two epilogues, I can say one thing with absolute certainty: I am completely okay with waiting. A wonderful reward for such patience started out in Forever Evil, went into Justice League of America, and started out a bold and brave new era of storytelling in Justice League. This issue, expertly written by the always-wonderful Geoff Johns and drawn by the top-of-his-game David Finch was absolutely perfect. Johns knows how to do a finale, and this issue was no exception. It had a series of great battles. It had the perfect amount of character-driven dialogue. And it changed the game for a multitude of characters that we love, hate, and have come to think about in a different way after this event. Check out my full review here, but know this: No matter how much I ramble and rant and rave, it can’t even come remotely close to saying how great this event and finale truly ended up being. Great work, guys. Thanks for rewarding my fandom time and time again.
My Rating: 5/5
Justice League #30
And speaking of excellent, Forever Evil, and epilogues… and Geoff Johns… here it is. Again, be sure to check out my full review here, but be warned that it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Johns is joined by great artists Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke in this epilogue/prologue issue that bridges the gap between the end of Forever Evil and the beginning of a new story that will cause ripples throughout the entire DC Universe for at least the next year-or-so. Lex Luthor, as the cover reveals, is now no longer public enemy number one, but rather, the exact opposite. He knows that the League needs him, he knows that the world loves him, and above all else, he knows that Batman has to let him join the team because, here’s the big twist: he knows he’s secretly Bruce Wayne. I love this storyline with absolutely every fiber of my being because I remember the good old days of the pre-Flashpoint DCU where Lex Luthor was not only the President of the United States, but actually, at times, quite possibly one of the most complex characters in the pantheon of superheroes, super-villains, and anti-heroes. This is brave storytelling. It is important comic book work. And I couldn’t be happier.
My Rating: 5/5
Justice League of America #14
And last, and sort of least (but not terribly far behind, come to think of it), is the other finale. For the full review, check out my words here. But for a quick recap, it’s this simple: Stargirl and Martian Manhunter (and Green Arrow) are forming Justice League United, which is a title that DC desperately wants to convince us is going to be great (two issues in, naturally) and this issue ends a mediocre comic to start up a bad comic. I’m not going to read United because, well, I frankly don’t care about any of the characters in its pages or on its roster. The better parts of this issue feature a shady Amanda Waller trying to weasel her way into some semblance of control after becoming the fall-guy/girl for the whole Crime Syndicate debacle, Steve Trevor finally getting a chance to potentially break way from A. R. G. U. S., and Catwoman absolutely embracing her better instincts and steering clear of the heroes of this mismatched team of has-beens and loose cannons. An okay send-off to an okay series, but a weak prologue to an even weaker series. Mixed emotions for this one. And that’s an understatement. Matt Kindt knows how to write, and Eddy Barrows, Tom Derenick, and Diogenes Neves know how to draw, but at its core, it’s sort of a soulless book.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Birds of Prey #31
Despite a beautiful cover by Jorge Molina and a significantly more Batgirl-centered storyline, Birds of Prey continues to be the weakest title in the Bat family. I continue to be underwhelmed by the stories of Christy Marx and the artwork of Robson Rocha, though adequate, is nothing special. Add to that the fact that this storyline involves Commissioner Gordon and precedes the current events of Batman Eternal, and you have a recipe for me not caring at all whatsoever. Seriously. Storytelling 101 lets us all know that the trick to making us care is by raising the stakes, either physically or emotionally, and by letting us know that this story really doesn’t affect anything, well, at all, it sort of ruins that whole premise. A murderer is going after Gordon, Batgirl freaks out because it’s her dad, and the Birds are on the case. It escalates quickly and becomes a hostage situation, but Batgirl and company arrive in the nick of time to save her dad. Then we get some dialogue between Black Canary and Barbara about not losing people they love. Oh, yeah. And Kurt Lance has no idea who his wife is. Probably for the best that this series is getting cancelled soon.
My Rating: 2.5/5
Red Hood and the Outlaws #31
Space. Somewhere Batman characters should never be. But yet, under the creative team of Will Pfeifer, Rafa Sandoval, and R. B. Silva, it somehow totally works. Starfire and the other Tamaranians are from space, so that takes care of the why. Lobo is beating the crap out of everyone, so that takes care of the how. And then there’s Jason and Roy, just trying to not die, which takes care of the why not. Great dialogue and embracing the cheese is what this series has become after the departure of the first creative team leader, Scott Lobdell, and I’m actually completely okay with that for the time being. Because, first and foremost, it’s being done correctly. At its core, a comic book should be fun. Which this series certainly is. So when the dust settles and no one important is really hurt too bad, it was fun to see Lobo being watched by (dun dun dun!) the other New 52 Lobo. Can we seriously just give these guys their own comic yet? I think it’s time. Oh, and DC? Stop trying to make Justice League United happen. Literally no one cares. Glad our team is headed back to Earth. It’ll be fun to see where Pfeifer and company take them next.
My Rating: 4/5
After a perfect annual issue, the regular story continues in the pages of Batwoman. Writer Marc Andreyko and artist Jeremy Haun are completely at home with Kate Kane and her ever-expanding and slowly-but-surely-becoming-likeable supporting cast. We start off with a great one-liner about “Sexy Miss Marple” and why that is so wrong. Then we jump immediately into the story. Kate’s offering to buy the best lawyer money can buy for Maggie in regards to her current custody battle. After all, that’s the whole point of being super rich. Then we get some awesome fight sequences between Kate and the baddies, followed by a debrief and a scene with the disposal of the gold into Slaughter Swamp of all places. But perhaps the greatest strength of this series so far is the perfect balance between Batwoman time and Kate Kane time. It’s like DC finally has their very own Matt Murdock/Daredevil analogue. And by that I mean the best stories about Marvel Comics’ Man without Fear are the ones that embrace that he really is a dual persona. He really does have two lives, and as opposed to his costume vigilante and superhero counter-parts and occasional allies, both of them are actually interesting. Keep up the good work, guys. This continues to be one of the best books on the stands.
My Rating: 5/5
“Doomed” continues to rock the world, but this issue is surprisingly Supermanless for the most part. Don’t let the Jae Lee Krypto’s-butthole-spotlighted cover fool you: the Man of Steel is hardly in this issue at all. But that’s okay, because it gives plenty of time to focus on Batman and Wonder Woman (and a few other neat folks, too). The narration of Batman is spot-on, as it usually is with a talent writer like Greg Pak under the cowl. The artwork of Tom Derenick, Karl Kerschl, and Daniel Sampere is also well utilized and makes the story flow quite nicely as it transitions from the real world to the Phantom Zone and back again. It was nice to see both Krypto and Steel help out Bruce and Diana as they enter the Phantom Zone in search for answers. But it was even cooler to see villains like Mongul and Non taking full advantage of the chaos created by Doomsday, Ghost Soldier, and the Phantom King. But the coolest part of this issue is the fact that Steel gets a lecture from Batman about leaving the portal doors open far too long, much like Superman would have done, only to see that Batman also is doing something very uncharacteristic, in kidnapping the Phantom King, forming an uneasy alliance with Ghost Soldier, and trying desperately to find a way to cure his friend. This storyline just keeps getting better and better!
My Rating: 5/5
Harley Quinn #6
The United States of Lunacy, as the cover tells us, is actually only two people: Syborg and Harley Quinn. And trust me, it’s more than enough. Writers Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Chad Hardin continue to embrace the wackiness of the character and her ever-expanding world of chaos in the sixth (seventh, if you count the zero issue) part in the ongoing Harley series. Walking the fine line between culturally offensive and absolutely hilarious is an art form that most writers are afraid to even tread these days, but this creative team not only doesn’t shy away, but pushes the boundaries with every single joke, comment, and tongue-in-cheek look. And I love it for that, if nothing else. The story is simple, as they all have been so far: Harley and Sy are in the zoo doing a secret mission. But when Harley’s audible squee is broken by Sy’s heartless murder of the woman he loved, it was fun to see that even murder-related jokes aren’t off-limites with this title. And the motive? Ridiculous. Not to mention the chemistry between the old man and the Clown Princess of Crime. So when the issue ends with a cliffhanger guest appearance by none other than Harley’s BFF, Poison Ivy, you can only imagine the joy it caused me. Just imagine Harley’s squee. From a 27-year-old male. You’re welcome for that image. And thank you, team, for creating the issue that caused such a wonderful and terrifying experience for anyone who dares to imagine it.
My Rating: 4.5/5
The New 52: Futures End #3
This series is falling a bit flat only three (technically four, if you count the Free Comic Book Day issue) parts in. I remain hopeful that writers Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Dan Jurgens, and Jeff Lemire can get to where they’re going, but it would be nice if they went a little faster. Mr. Terrific is trying to figure out who Batman Beyond is and what he wants. Frankenstein is walking around in Canada. Firestorm is fighting with himself about the blame regarding Green Arrows untimely death. And Grifter is still searching for some aliens to kill in his one-man war. But the most interesting part of the issue is unfortunately overshadowed by the first fourth of the story. Lois Lane, following Red Arrow’s (or is it still Arsenal at this point?) directions to a dive bar in New York City, where she recognizes Tim Drake, the long-thought-to-be deceased Red Robin of the Teen Titans. So with an extra Bat character thrown into the story, you can only guess how excited I am. But it would be nice to be rewarded soon (like, within the next couple of issues, to be more precise) with a little bit of coherent storytelling. And some more Patrick Zircher artwork. Layouts by Jurgens and finishes by Mark Irwin are okay, but with a series struggling to keep readers that it hooked with a free first part should definitely be investing in the best artists in the industry. Figure it out, guys. Until then, you’ve got me on the hook for a few more issues.
My Rating: 3/5
Wow. What an expensive week to be a loyal Batman fanatic. But you know what? I’m okay with that. The good outweighed the bad and the great more than outweighed the good. So what did you think of this week in Bat history? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below! See you next Baturday!