Okay, so the title is a bit misleading. Not all the Batfamily has had a zero issue so far, and I haven’t picked all the zero issues yet. This will look at five titles though going in “order” of their crime fighting debut: Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood/Outlaws, Batman and Robin. Expect spoilers.
Been a while, huh? Some of the latest #0 issues though has given some nice input to the timeline that I just couldn’t ignore it. Due note spoilers (mainly beneath the timeline) and that this has a very Bat-family focus on the new parts.
I rated the last four comics I read this week all 4 or over … which was a relief because before that, only one issue had attracted as much as a 4. So it was a hard slog through the start of this batch, with a strong finish at the end.
As most of you will be aware, I’m going to wrap-up my One Sentence Review series with next week’s last batch of #8s. I’m currently a full week behind and the leaderboard concept kind of flies out the window with the first round of cancellations and new titles coming online.
I expect to be blogging/reviewing less, at least for a little while, as I’ll be starting a new job this month and want to focus some energy on creative writing projects. I’ve written the first two scripts for a comic book and want to write at least six issues, and I have a long-neglected novel in the works that I must reacquaint myself with.
I’ll post read/RANT articles when and if the bug bites me, though.
Anyway, as usual, each comic is scored out of five.
Warning, there could be spoilers ahead, although I try to avoid them.
Sorry on the lack of full reviews, and lack of images even in this post. I just want to get in a few reviews here, but don’t have the energy with the holiday hustle to do a full review for each comic. So instead I’ll be doing short paragraph reviews for the following issue 4s: Batman, Birds of Prey, Green Lantern Corps, and Nightwing.
Version 2.1 is here! Why 2.1? Well this is basically version 2 but with a rant about Crisis events due to a recent message from Didio countering an older interview of Harras and Berganza.
I’ll be looking at the One Year Later stuff now with issues 34-49. And I’m going to say now that some of these issues have to be Johns’ worst in this series.
And here I am, getting my hands on the comic I was looking forward to the most out of the entire relaunch as I am a huge fan of Grayson.
So another Retrospective dealing with issues 29-33, TT Annual 1, Robin 146-147, and Infinite Crisis 5 and 6.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sterling Gates in the last year or two, largely to do with his revitalization of Supergirl. With that in mind, and knowing that he’d be writing next year’s Kid Flash title, I figured I’d give his newest mini, World’s Finest, a shot. I’m still not sure how well Gates will handle the notoriously difficult Bart Allen, but World’s Finest #1 offered a quick, entertaining adventure.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, World’s Finest is a team-up book in which each issue features a different pairing between the Gotham Knights and Team Superman, all tying into a larger story. Gates does a satisfactory job of that here, introducing all his players with a relative minimum of exposition – though he goes a bit overboard with the new Nightwing, especially given that the title page already talks about his origins – and giving us a done-in-one story connected by the presence of a malevolent figure revealed in the book’s final pages. His dialogue is simple and to-the-point, and he manages to slip in a fairly clever action beat that lets them wrap up the issue’s big fight quickly.
Artist Julian Lopez does some fairly solid work here as well. See how thrilled Tim looks when he thinks the tactile telekinetic help he gets mid-fight is Conner, or the otherworldly nature of the Nightwing costume the first time we see it, or, perhaps most impressively, how he manages to make Tim look his age again in a single, relaxed panel as he contemplates something he loved and lost. Lopez’s action sequences look a little stiff, but, for the most part, he provides clean, simple art that works well with Gates’ script.
World’s Finest isn’t particularly revolutionary, but it is fun. A reasonably solid action comic with a brief, reluctant touch of drama, it’s opening issue provided a nice bit of superheroic escapism. The good guys prevail, an even bigger bad is revealed, and in the end, everything stays the same. Slight, but engaging.
– Cal Cleary
Due to the arcane financial mechanics of the pull list – and the fact that I got slammed with work after last Thursday and didn’t have time to take Action off my pull as I said I would – I got stuck with this: the 5$ Action Comics Annual #12, dedicated to fleshing out the origins of two characters Rucka made me not care about at all. Of the many books I got this week, this was the one I was most regretting having bought. When I finally freed up some time, however, I sat down to read it and was pleasantly surprised.
Illustrated by Pere Perez, the comic has very little dialogue, instead zipping through the history of these two characters with a great deal of narration and some detailed, enjoyable art. Going from youth to their current state and covering half-a-dozen Superman and Action Comics stories from the past three or four years, Rucka’s guided tour through the lives of these two characters is not only interesting, but it actually makes seemingly trite interactions in previous issues of Action stronger and more interesting.
I won’t say that the issue was was worth every penny – despite the extended length, $4.99 is a huge price tag – but if you’re invested in Action Comics at all, I would say that this is a must-read book that will improve the overall tone of the main narrative considerably and introduce a lot of interesting places that the book could go in the future. Despite its excellent character-building and strong narrative, it hasn’t changed my mind about dropping Action fro the duration of the so-so “Sleepers” arc, but it does mean I’m leaving on a high-note… and it does mean that I’m willing to give the book another shot if I hear it’s picked up in the next arc. I’m glad I’m not leaving bitter.
– Calvin J Cleary
Greg Rucka and Eddy Barrows team up to bring us an Action Comics without Superman, a risky move that, last month, offered us an excellent issue of comics as we were introduced to the concept of deadly sleeper-Kryptonians spreading xenophobic sentiment amongst humanity in an effort to start a war. We also met Thara Ak-Var and Chris Kent, the new Flamebird and Nightwing pair who are protecting Earth from Kryptonian abuse in Superman’s absence.
Yes, last issue spoke volumes for a world without Superman, but this issue falls back on weak cliche and so-so action to fill its 22-pages. Ursa, mother of Chris and one of the masterminds behind the sleepers, comes to Earth to destroy Nightwing and Flamebird before they can cause any more damage than they already have. Ursa’s internal monologue is compelling, a tightly-wound madwoman with intelligence and skill, but the conflict of the issue – Ursa beating the tar out of Thara for her betrayal until Chris shows up to save her and defeat his mother – is trite and cliche. There is some genuine emotion there, especially in the tormented Thara Ak-Var, but not enough to save the lackluster action, and not enough to redeem the issue for abandoning an interesting arc so quickly.
Eddy Barrows continues to improve. His art in Teen Titans was fairly generic, and though he has yet to come truly into a style all his own, he is certainly getting better. He illustrates the action competently and offers a few particularly lovely panels, but ultimately, like the rest of the story, fails to distinguish in any meaningful way. I hardly noticed on first read-through that multiple artists worked on the book – the blend is well-handled and does not distract.
ALL STAR BATMAN AND ROBIN #12
ANITA BLAKE LAUGHING CORPSE #3 (OF 5)
ASTOUNDING WOLF-MAN #11
BATMAN CACOPHONY #2 (OF 3)
CAPTAIN AMERICA #45
CONAN THE CIMMERIAN #6
CROSSED #3 (OF 9)
DARK REIGN NEW NATION
DETECTIVE COMICS #851
FC LEGION OF THREE WORLDS #4
FC REVELATIONS #5 (OF 5)
FC SECRET FILES #1
GREEN LANTERN #37
HELLBOY THE WILD HUNT #1 (OF 8)
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #8
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #22
NEW AVENGERS #48
PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL #26
PUNISHER WAR ZONE 1-4 (OF 6)
SECRET SIX #4
SI DARK REIGN #1
SI REQUIEM #1
THOR GOD SIZED #1
ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #59
ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN #129
ULTIMATE X-MEN #99
ULTIMATUM #3 (OF 5)
UNCANNY X-MEN #505
WALKING DEAD #57
WAR HEROES #5 (OF 6)
Comics To Take Even More Of Your Money At Holiday Time: Events are always important so we have Secret Invasion wrapping up and making things dark. Final Crisis isn’t quite finished thanks to delays and Ultimatum is already half over. That Ennis Punisher: War Zone weekly series is pretty sweet but that war may destroy my wallet. Matt Fraction has a love letter to the Executioner in Thor God Sized #1. The longest Hellboy series yet begins in Hellboy The Wild Hunt #1. Oh yeah and Batman RIP has ended and we get to what Gotham is like. Dennis O’Neil returns to writing Batman in Detective Comics #851 and then in Batman #684.
Will Nightwing be the new Batman?
So, my laptop died yesterday. I only mention this because for the immediate future, there will not be scans to accompany my reviews. You see, my scanner doesn’t work with XP 64 or Vista, and seeing as how I just spent 800 bucks on a new laptop (w/Vista), it may be a few weeks ‘til I can grab an affordably price compliant scanner. Oh, I also need a new printer, but that isn’t really relevant to you guys. Anyway, on with the scan-less reviews.
Batman #679 (****)
Finally! An issue of RIP I can understand! I’m so late on this, and everyone else has said everything worth saying, I’ll keep this short. The Batman of Zur-en-arrh is OUTSTANDING FUN! Dude, he cuts out his own tooth!?! Converses with imaginary gargoyles and Bat-Mites!?! Beats the living crap out of everybody!?! And next, The Joker!?! OMG!!! I approve.
Detective Comics #847 (****)
This issue, Dini continues with the telling (or is that re-telling?) of the “Origin of Hush”. So far, I like it. I like it better than the rushed garbage that was the introductory Jeph Loeb story (even if it was 12 issues of Jim Lee). But, I don’t like how civil Selina and Zatanna were. I was definitely looking forward to that fight. How do you guys feel about the Scarecrow retcon? Is this cool? I’m on the fence. I need more input. But, so far, like the rest of his run, I’m enjoying this arc.
Robin #176 (****)
Whoa, is this better than the first issue? Hell yes! My favorite stuff, and the RIP junk is nice but I really don’t care about it so much in a book starring Robin, anyway, the best stuff about Fabian’s run so far is that, unlike Dixon, he’s got Tim acting exactly as you’d expect a teenager to act in response to the return of a presumed dead girlfriend. RIGHT!?! He finally admits that he’s pissed at her. Screw Batman RIP, this is what I want from my Robin. Robin’s inability or refusal to act like a real person was one of my biggest complaints about the Dixon stuff, and I’m glad Batman editorial or Fabian or both have decided to do something about it. Well done, sirs.
Nightwing #147 (***)
Um, how does this tie-in to Batman RIP? And where the hell has Two-Face been since One Year Later? Please, explain. Aaaaand, I still hate the way Tomasi writes Dick, er, Richard. Whatever. Maybe Tomasi can only write villains? His black Adam was crazy scary as was his Mongul, and the villains in the “Manhunter Memorial” tie-in were spot on, but his Green Lanterns SUCK, his Justice League SUCKS and his Richard Grayson SUCKS. DC, give this man a villain book!
Final Crisis: Revelations #1 (****)
This was very nice. Spectre killing bad guys? FINALLY! Anyone else grossed out by the way Spectre deals with Effigy and Dr. Light? Oh, since they’re dead, does that mean they’ll both show up in Reign in Hell? That would be cool. What else was cool, how about more infos on Libra? SWEET! Who is this guy? Seriously! The revelation is gonna be sick, I tell you. Oh, is that what the title is referring to? Mayhaps. Question was in here as well, and that stuff was nice, but I’m still not sold on her character. It’s well written, but I just don’t care about Montoya. Since this is a tie-in mini that Grant specifically asked Rucka to write for him, I’m reasonably sure that by the end, we’ll come to view this series as fundamentally essential to the Final Crisis epic. It’s definitely been the best of the tie-ins so far, although I have yet to read Legion…
Final Crisis: Director’s Cut #1 (****1/2)
Why buy this? A number of reasons, actually. 1) The black and white J.G. Jones pencils are A-M-Z-I-N-G. Just, WOW. Without the color and the word balloons, his skill really shows through. And if you had any questions about what was going on, these uncluttered pages answer them. I would definitely buy a hardcover like this. Seriously. It’s like the Ultimate DVD Special Edition. 2) Full Morrison Script. And, um, CRAP this is hard to read. I feel sorry for Jones. Seriously, this stuff is insane with the heavy. The description of the “Orrery of Worlds” is migraine-inducing. 3) By far, the best reason to buy this is the interview with Morrison and Jones in the back. The comments are revealing to say the least. Morrison and Jones explain scene and dialogue choices, metaphors, motivations, as well as hints of things to come. Usually, these Director’s Cuts are a lame attempt to grab more cash, but in this case, if you’re trying to decipher the mystery that is Final Crisis, this is a must-buy. For real though, this is by no means necessary reading. BUT, if you are already enjoying this series, this is definitely worth checking out. Or, wait for the hardcover/omnibus/abosulte edition. I’m sure it’ll be reprinted in there.