Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Comics Recap 8/20/14

Lucky you, this is probably the last I'll do of these for a while.  Anyway, here are some comics I read:

Batman:  The Black Casebook:  This is a companion to the Batman RIP story, which I read almost 2 years ago.  In the introduction, Grant Morrison explains how this selection of weird tales from the 50s and 60s influenced his story.  I have to say I like the idea of a kind of Batman X-Files, which really should be another Batman title for the New 52.  It sounds better than the new one that's like Big Brother only all the criminals from Arkham are living in Wayne Manor.  (Not making that up.)  If you're a writer the introduction is actually fascinating as Morrison goes through the whole process of how he came up with RIP and integrated about 70 years of Bat-history into it.  (Though since this is not in digital you'd have to pay like $10 or more to read it, unless it's at your library.)  Anyway, some of these stories are fairly normal:  Batman inspires some other heroes around the world to be like him and then they meet up, Batman takes up a new apprentice when Robin is sidelined with a broken leg, and Batman has to help a Native American chief (who also disguises himself as a Batman-type hero) against some outlaws.  Then there are the more absurd stories:  As part of a space flight experiment Batman undergoes sensory deprivation and starts fantasizing he's on an alien planet where monsters kill Robin (this same sort of story was the original pilot of The Twilight Zone, BTW); Batman is beamed to Planet X or Zurr-en-Arrh where he has Superman-like powers; Batman and Robin are annoyed when a 5th Dimension imp called Bat-mite shows up; an Island of Dr. Moreau type scientist turns Batman into a man-beast; and the most absurd of all:  in Mexico a guy creates a "rainbow monster" where each color on it has some different power.  If you like the Adam West show or Superfriends then this isn't that much different.  And while we mock these, the writing isn't much different than Stan Lee's early Marvel comics.  I mean, that was just the style of the time.  (4/5)

Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?:  This was written by Neil Gaiman after Batman "died" following Batman RIP/Final Crisis.  Alan Moore did a similar thing for Superman in the 80s before Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The idea was one "last" story that would tie together the whole Superman mythos.  Gaiman does the same thing here, though if you read the entry above Grant Morrison pretty much did that already.  Basically this is a surreal funeral for Batman, where different friends and foes pay their last respects.  Each one has a different story about how Batman "died" because the thing about Batman is he never gives up.  As much as I liked it, I guess it seemed a little too obvious to me.  And as much as I liked visual references to Bane, Azrael, and Arkham Asylum, where was Bat-Mite? (4/5)

Batman:  Death of the Family:  This was the big Batman title crossover after the Court of Owls.  Basically the Joker comes back and terrorizes Batman's allies like Nightwing, Batgirl, and Red Robin.  It's mostly notable for nothing notable happening while just afterward the latest Robin died in Batman Incorporated.  Anyway, it's OK but not really anything special.  I read all the Batman ones plus two Detective Comics ones where Batman goes after Joker cults and two Batman and Robin issues where the Joker captures Robin.  Maybe it would have been better if I'd read all the various titles, but I doubt it. (3/5)

Superman/Batman: Absolute Power:  Last month or maybe in June I talked about the recent DC animated movie JLA: Adventures in Time where Lex Luthor went back in time to prevent Superman from coming into being.  This follows a similar idea.  Only instead of preventing Superman from existing, bad guys from the 31st Century abduct Superman just after he lands and Bruce Wayne just after his parents are shot and then raise them together to mold them into brutal warlords of Earth.  But when Wonder Woman rounds up some third-tier heroes to oppose them, it ends up sending Batman and Superman into various alternate universes.  It's a lot better than that movie.  It does go to a lot darker places, like when they kill Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, etc.  For the most part I liked that about it, but others might disagree. (3.5/5)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1:  Legacy:  This was I guess the 2008 version of Guardians of the Galaxy.  It was on sale before the movie so I thought maybe that would help give me some insight.  The team isn't quite the same as Groot is just a sapling after some galactic war and there are characters not in the movie like Adam Warlock and Quasar.  The first three issues have the team trying to stop the fabric of reality from tearing apart, during which they find "Major Victory" an alternate universe Captain America, complete with shield.  A church that goes around trying to convert everyone and uses their power of faith as a weapon stands in their way.  The last three issues are part of the "Secret Invasion" event.  It's kind of like "Babylon 5" or "Deep Space Nine" where they're stuck on a station populated by different aliens who disagree about stuff.  It was kind of a letdown. (2.5/5)

Nightwing Vol 1:  Traps & Trapezes:  This was the launch of the New 52 Nightwing.  After his stint as Batman, Dick Grayson gets back into the swing of things as Nightwing.  But then someone called Saiko tries to kill him.  Meanwhile Dick's old circus is back in town and when Saiko kills the owner, Dick inherits the circus.  He travels with it to try to find out who put Saiko on his tail.  Batgirl shows up for one issue that doesn't really have to do with anything.  It was good, though I think where it stumbles is how they shoehorn it into the Court of Owls story in the regular Batman comic.  I mean the idea of the circus as a proving ground for undead assassins was kind of lame; it didn't really mesh with the rest of it. (3.5/5)

Suicide Squad Vol 1:  Kicked in the Teeth  This was the initial New 52 launch of the Suicide Squad.  There's a new version out now because I guess this one failed.  To save the world, a team of villains is recruited in exchange for time off their sentences.  They first have to save a baby, who's the key to solving a cyberzombie plague.  Then they have to get the baby to safety without letting anyone know.  But when they get back to prison there's a riot started by Harley Quinn, who's escaped to find out if the Joker is really dead.  (This being after the Joker infamously got his face cut off.)  Harley Quinn and Deadshot are the core of the team while some other B-list villains rotate in and out.  It's fun for the most part and the Harley Quinn parts are a good indication of why her solo series has been doing well. (4/5)


  1. I've never read The Black Casebook, most of my Batman comics are New 52.
    Death of the Family was ok, I'm getting tired of having to buy ,or read every Batman Family comic to follow a storyline!

  2. It's strange to think that for a whole era Batman was on one crazy-quilt adventure after another. But that's the benefit of a character sticking around for a long time. Different interpretations, I mean very different, really can exist. And then someone like Morrison comes along and brings them all together...

  3. Thoughts:

    Comics now seem like baseball cards in the late 90s: there are a zillion different versions of everything and it looks like nothing more than a cash-in. The quality of these sounds REALLY strained and there's a lot of 'alternate universe so we get to kill Batman' kind of plotlines.

    Also: As I read these descriptions, all I could think was "Oh My God, They Killed Robin!" "You bastards!"

    And: how did the circus train the assassins? I guess acrobatics would be helpful if you were going to kill someone ninja style, and if you need a lot of assassins but only have a very tiny car perhaps that training would be good, too?

  4. I read that issue too and, even though Marvel is promoting it as a primer, it's nothing like the movie. It's not bad, but not what I expected. It's hard to top "Death in the Family."



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