Review: Batman 687

Batman 687

Judd Winick and Ed Benes on Batman!  That’s a recipe for a bad book if ever I saw one.  But the end result wasn’t bad at all.  In fact, I could even recommend this book with a few disclaimers.

First of all, the timing on this book is just weird.  At the end of Battle for the Cowl, we saw Dick Grayson take up the mantle of Batman.  Then in Batman and Robin #1, we saw Dick and Damian operating as the new dynamic duo.  They seemed to have been at it for a little while.  But in this issue, we see Dick dressed as Nightwing – reluctant to put on Bruce’s costume.

Presumably, this story happens at some point prior to the final pages of Battle for the Cowl.  But the time frame is never fully established.  I’ve read interviews with Winick in which he explained that he had written a large amount of Battle for the Cowl but was told by DC to shoehorn it into the on-going series.  That’s what this issue feels like; Judd’s version of Battle.

Once you get past some of the inconsistencies with other titles, there’s a lot to like in this issue.  I enjoyed Winick’s take on Dick’s decision to take up the mantle of the Bat more than anything that occurred in the Battle for the Cowl mini-series. 

Although some of the internal monologue felt over-written at times, I liked the way Winick portrayed Dick and Alfred’s sense of loss.  The scene in which Superman and Wonder Woman visit the cave to return Bruce’s costume was especially poignant.

We give Ed Benes a lot of grief on this site for his objectification of women.  And of course, Wonder Woman is drawn in the typical Benes style.  But with very few women in the cast, Benes artwork wasn’t distracting the way it can be in a book like Justice League.  Keeping him on a book with a largely male cast may be the answer.

As for Winick, I’ve been looking for a book to restore my faith in him.  He’s done some good work in the past (Power of Shazam) but the last year or so on Green Arrow and Titans has just been awful.  This book represents a return to form for Winick.  It’s not great.  It certainly pales in comparisson with Morisson’s B&R.  But it’s good enough.

If you were expecting a train wreck from Winick’s return to Batman, you won’t get one.  If your expectations are sufficiently low, you may even be pleasantly surprised.

For more comic goodness, go here.

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12 Responses to Review: Batman 687

  1. brucecastle says:

    You bought this? Why?

    Benes, Winick, Daniel=Unholy trinity

    I’m glad it wasn’t terrible, but c’mon, you can read better comics than this.

    • dclebeau says:

      Actually, I don’t hate Winick or Benes nearly as much as you do.

      I picked it up out of curiosity. I’ll probably pick up the first issue or two of all the new Batbooks just to try them out. I’m not going to just assume they are bad based on the solicits. And I’m glad I checked them out. Red Robin was a very solid book. And really, this was too. The biggest problems with the book had more to do with Battle for the Cowl than anything else.

      You can always read better comics. Just like you can always eat better. I treat comics like junk food. I don’t need to read the snooty books. I’m just fine picking up the latest issue of Batman, thank you.

  2. brucecastle says:

    “Actually, I don’t hate Winick or Benes nearly as much as you do.”

    I don’t hate either. Winick is a bad writer. I don’t hate him for it. I just stay away from his comics.

    Benes is actually a pretty good artist, but Good God is he sexist! As someone who loves and respects women, I stay away from him too.

    “You can always read better comics. Just like you can always eat better. I treat comics like junk food. I don’t need to read the snooty books. I’m just fine picking up the latest issue of Batman, thank you.”

    That’s fine…up to a point. I mean, if I bought everything I was interested in, I’d read 40 comics a month. Since I don’t have the money for that, I’m really to the point where everything I read has the potential to be fantastic.

    Sure, I’ll take a gamble here or there, but read a comic for the hell of it? Fuck no, sir!

    If you know it won’t be great, why read it? You want fun, watch an episode of the Simpsons for FREE!

    • dclebeau says:

      Well, obviously you don’t hate Winick as a person. I watched Real World Season 3. He seemed like a nice guy.

      My point is that not everything he writes is crap. He’s just written a lot of crap lately. There was a time when I defended Winick against accusations that he was a hack. But for the last year or so, I haven’t been able to defend much of his work.

      This issue of Batman is worth reading though. No promises on the rest of his run.

      Oh, and Benes isn’t sticking around. Mark Bagley will be here soon.

      As for Benes, Gail Simone has defended him. When people complained during their run on Birds of Prey, Simone attributed Benes’ over-the-top sexuality to cultural differences. If it’s good enogh for Gail, it’s good enough for me.

  3. brucecastle says:

    “My point is that not everything he writes is crap.”

    Uh…not that I’ve read, but I’m sure you’re right.

    “As for Benes, Gail Simone has defended him. When people complained during their run on Birds of Prey, Simone attributed Benes’ over-the-top sexuality to cultural differences. If it’s good enogh for Gail, it’s good enough for me.”

    That’s fine, but I’m still going to do everything I can to avoid it.

    • dclebeau says:

      If you want to read some good Winick, pick up some of the early issues of Exiles. Or the Trials of Shazam mini-series. Neither was great, but both were very good.

      Even Winick’s first run on Batman had its moments. People get caught up on the Superboy punches because that really sucked. And then there was the Scarebeast or whatever that was called. But there was some good stuff in Under the Hood.

      I won’t try to defend Benes to you. If he’s not your cup of tea, he’s not your cup of tea. He’s not a favorite of mine, but he is talented. He just needs to be reigned in when it comes to drawing women. (And he should not be allowed near the Justice League.)

      On the whole, there aren’t a lot of writers or artists I actively avoid. Most of them are talented or they wouldn’t have their jobs. Even a writer or artist I dislike is capabale of surprising me. And conversely, a writer or artsist I like a lot might disappoint me. (Johns is a prime example. I really like Johns, but Flash Rebirth is a disappointment.)

      I’d miss a lot of good comics if I just dismissed them without sampling.

  4. brucecastle says:

    “If you want to read some good Winick, pick up some of the early issues of Exiles. Or the Trials of Shazam mini-series. Neither was great, but both were very good.”

    Oh, yeah. Ok, the first trade of Exiles and that one issue of Batman where he and Nightwing beat Amazo was decent.

    “He’s not a favorite of mine, but he is talented.”

    Which is pretty much what I said in my first post.

    “On the whole, there aren’t a lot of writers or artists I actively avoid.”

    Ditto.

    Mainly, how I pick and choose comics is based on writers and artists.

    I could write up a list if you want, but to save time, just pay attention to the comics I review.

    It seems like I’m more selective when it comes to writers because I will rarely, rarely buy a comic solely because of the art.

    So, there are like 50 artists that I really enjoy, but only about 20 writers, if that.

    • dclebeau says:

      My comic book selection is sometimes pretty random. There are titles I like to follow. But I will drop them if I am not enjoying the current creative team. Having said that, I will usually check up on them from time to time to see if they have gotten any better.

      Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of Frank Miller, John Byrne or Chris Claremont. But if one of them was involved in a project that interested me, I’d still give it a look. I sampled All Star B&R and The All New Atom. I didn’t care for either one and quickly dropped them both. But at least I gave them a try.

      There are also some writers I will sample even if they are doing a project that doesn’t really interest me. Pretty much all of the 52 writers are on that list (even Geoff Johns).

      And then, of course, there’s just a random whim. I may even pick up a Marvel book from time to time!

  5. brucecastle says:

    “Pretty much all of the 52 writers are on that list (even Geoff Johns).”

    Then check out Irredeemable by Mark Waid!

    The first trade, containing the first four issues, is only ten bucks, and, also coming out in August, the fifth issue will be only 99 cents!

  6. [...] know it’s a backhanded compliment to praise Winick’s first issuefor being surprisingly good.  Coming from most any other writer, I would have considered it pretty [...]

  7. [...] may recall, Batman & Robin #1 (Morrison/Quitely) was a huge hit with us and many others, while Batman #687 (Winnick/Benes) and Red Robin #1 (Yost/Bachs) were a little more mixed, here and in other [...]

  8. [...] chaotic new Gotham City.  Alongside the recent Batman & Robin #1, Detective Comics #854, Batman #687, and Red Robin #1 (and, of course, Dini’s other title, Streets), Sirens is also about [...]

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