This week we have an abundance of Batman, with four issues devoted to the Dark Knight. We have the ending of All-Star Batman and the beginning of Batman: White Knight. “The War of Jokes and Riddles” reaches it’s long awaited conclusion, and Selina finally gives Bruce an answer. That’s the biggest spoiler of the week, but there are plenty more. Rebirth Royalty this week goes to the final issue of Scott Snyder’s All-Star Batman.
All-Star Batman #14
Scott Snyder (Writer), Rafael Albuquerque and Jordie Bellaire (Artists)
Framed as the climatic battle of a pirate tale, this issue was a fantastic end to an emotional arc. In a story all about fathers and sons, we are provided several pairs to deconstruct in this book. There’s Bruce and Alfred, an incredibly loving if maybe too supportive relationship. We have Briar with his sons, trying to show their love by being controlling and protective, to the point of becoming abusive. Finally, there’s Alfred relationship with his own father, one with lots of love, although he was often absent. The way the story ended with Alfred embracing Bruce melted my heart.
Bane Conquest #6
Chuck Dixon (Writer), Graham Nolan and Gregory Wright (Artists)
The first thing we see with this issue is its garish cover. More than half the cover is a boring graphic that is seemingly breaking the title, and it is probably the dullest version of that I’ve ever seen. Couple that with the violently bright green, and this cover is just not very attractive. The choice to use actual Chinese kanji without telling us that it was Chinese was weird, but according to Google translate they used the correct characters at least. The story is still plodding along, though it finally picks up a bit right at the end. I think that 12 issues was probably a bit long for this particular miniseries.
Tom King (Writer), Mikel JanÍn and June Chung (Artists)
This has a seriously plotted arc with heavy themes, and in the concluding battle, we take all that seriousness away by adding Batman ‘66 sound effects? That’s certainly a choice. It turns out that Riddler had plotted everything as an elaborate joke to make Joker laugh. And then King makes a deliberate choice to write Batman completely out of character. Bruce has been in much worse situations, with much worse enemies. Yet, he hasn’t attempted murder to solve those crises, and he wouldn’t for this either. In the end, the most important part of the “The War of Jokes and Riddles” was just Bruce telling Selina how imperfect he is, as if she didn’t already know. They are both imperfect, they both love each other and…you want the spoiler don’t you? Fine, be pushy. She said yes.
Batman: The Dawn Breaker #1
Sam Humphries (Writer), Ethan Van Sciver and Jason Wright (Artists)
This is my least favorite of the “Dark Knights” one-shots we’ve had so far. While I like the idea of Bruce Wayne’s willpower overpowering the ring, his actions just didn’t click with me. That topic that was handled much better in 1994’s Batman: In Darkest Knight. I typically don’t like Van Sciver’s art, specifically his faces, but this book is probably the best I’ve seen from him in years. That was aided by Jason Wright’s colors, which were perfect for this book. I especially liked the paler green that he made Bruce’s constructs. I look forward to next week’s one-shot most of all though, because I want to know more about Steampunk Aquawoman “Bruce.”
Batman: White Knight #1
Sean Murphy (Writer), Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth (Artists)
I really did not like this. The whole premise of the book is one that doesn’t work, even when you submit to comic book logic. You can’t “cure” mental illness by shoving pills down someone’s throat. Especially not by forcing someone to overdose on said pills. That’s dangerous thinking and a dangerous portrayal of mental illness in media. Don’t overdose on any medication thinking that it will cure you, kids. The book also relies on a very emotionless version of Batman who cares nothing about the city he lives in. Yeah, Batman operates in a way that could threaten civilians, but no true Batman would ever intentionally harm civilians like this one does. Because of those two big concerns, I can’t find myself invested in this book. The best thing in this entire book was Joker having the Batman: The Animated Series poster in his cell.
John Semper Jr. (Writer), Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes (Artists)
Semper missed a golden opportunity with this arc not titling it “Crisis in the Digiverse.” Or maybe editorial didn’t want it coinciding with Justice League of America’s “Crisis in the Microverse.” Similarly to that arc, this one is not holding my attention. This issue was basically Cyborg meets The Matrix, but somehow boring? You have an unlimited budget with comics, have a little more creativity in your “I can rewrite reality” story than just giants and erasing people. And the spoon reference was a bit too on the nose. Hopefully next issue will end this arc, and we can move on to something better.
Dastardly & Muttley #2
Garth Ennis (Writer), Mauricet and John Kalisz (Artists)
Haha! Insulting names for local populaces! Made up German words! Gratuitous violence! A diner with a pun in English even though part of the sign is in German! I don’t know a single German person who would say everything but the word “the” in English, but somehow slip up and use the German article instead. That’s just sloppy writing trying to be funny, especially since the German article in front of till would be “die” not “der.” Google translate is free, Mr. Ellis. This book tries too hard to be both funny and edgy, and it ultimately fails at both.
Christopher Priest (Writer), Diogenes Neves, Jason Paz, Trevor Scott and Jeremy Cox (Artists)
This was a fun issue, told mostly through the point of view of Wally. Priest does a pretty good job of nailing down the viewpoints of a 14-year-old boy. We see crushes on teammates, an outsider’s view of a cat fight, and a young boy just trying to do the right thing. There’s also a nice little exploration of bi-erasure. Tanya wants to define Joseph by who he most recently was with, not understanding that bisexual people aren’t defined by their love interest. I wasn’t expecting the Society to show up, so I’m looking forward to where that leads.
Green Arrow #32
Benjamin Percy and Joshua Williamson (Writers), Juan Ferreyra (Artists)
What is going on with Robin’s mask? The art is great in this issue other than Robin’s weird curly mask bits. The whole “Gotham Resistance” arc had a very anti-climatic ending, as Doctor Fate shows up to deus ex machine everyone (except the entire Suicide Squad and most of the Teen Titans) to safety in just the nick of time. The anti-climax was to be expected though, since it came only a third of the way through the miniseries it’s tying in to. It did advance the plot by giving the heroes a hint on how to take down the villains, but mostly this short crossover was just kinda there.
Green Lanterns #32
Sam Humphries (Writer), Scott Godlewski and Hi-Fi(Artists)
The story in this issue was great, with a little bit of action, and a lot of good character moments. Characterization continues to be where Humphries excels, as he develops Jessica and Simon and their supporting cast. I really liked that he had Sira eat donuts as her vice, since Muslims aren’t supposed to partake in alcohol. While it was great to see Simon and Nazir patch things up, the Jessica and Sira friendship is really where the issue shined for me. Jessica has become one of my favorite characters because of this book, so I hope Tim Seeley can continue the good work that Humphries started. I did have some misgivings about the art, specifically the colors. Both Jess’s hair and skin just seemed a bit lighter than normal, and that drew me out of the story just a little bit.
Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1
Paul Dini and Marc Andreyko (Writers), Laura Braga, Tony Aviña and Arif Prianto (Artists)
I was really looking forward to this book, mostly because I thought it would be full of friendship and hijinks. Alas, I was disappointed, as instead of best friends Betty and Veronica we get the “we hate each other” Betty and Veronica. Aside from that, I did enjoy the story. There’s a good reason for Ivy dragging Harley to Riverdale, and the costume party was a bit of fun. While I understand giving a Harley story to her co-creator Paul Dini (but why Marc Andreyko), I would have much preferred a woman writer on this book.
Harley Quinn #29
Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (Writers), Mirka Andolfo, Michael Kaluta, Tom Derenick and Alex Sinclair (Artists)
I don’t know what the wheel on the cover is for, but don’t think I missed seeing Dan DiDio included among Gotham’s worst villains. That’s what you get for trying to kill Nightwing every two years, Dan. I did enjoy this a bit more than I enjoy most Harley Quinn issues. I was worried about the slew of artists on the book, but it turns out that the different art styles were perfect for their different sections of the book. One of Harley’s greatest fears–being Ivy rejecting her for her promiscuity–was a nuanced take I wasn’t expecting from this book. And after the last issue of Suicide Squad, it’s nice to see there is still a spark betwixt the two.
Injustice 2 #11
Tom Taylor (Writer), Juan Albarran and Bruno Redondo (Artists)
This book continues to be a real treat. A large part of that is how much I like this version of Harley Quinn. If she were written like this consistently throughout the DC universe, I might be able to get the popularity of the character. And between this book and Harley Quinn, fans of the Harley/Ivy ship got some great moments this week. Also, Batman hitting Ivy with herbicide was brutal, keeping in with the characterization from the Injustice I universe. The digital-first nature of this book means that sometimes it will end on a weird note. This was one of those times. It’s not really a cliffhanger, but definitely right in the middle of something.
Justice League #30
Bryan Hitch (Writer), Fernando Pasarin, Andy Owens, Mick Gray, Batt, Scott Hanna and Brad Anderson (Artists)
Why is Steve Trevor wearing power armor? Did I miss something? Speaking of armor, we find out that Aquaman’s armor is actually Cyborg. Wearing a friend as clothing is a bit morbid, Curry. Credit where it’s due, the art in the fight scenes was stellar. But that’s about the only good thing I can say about this issue. It seems like DC is just set on ignoring Rucka’s Wonder Woman origin; between this and Robinson’s first issue, her continuity is a mess already. I also realized my biggest problem with Diana supposedly rejecting Hunter for being male is that it reinforces the idea that trans women wouldn’t be welcome among the Amazons.
Tim Seeley (Writer), Miguel Mendonca, Diana Egea and Chris Sotomayor (Artists)
I can already see the comments about Seeley forcing his SJW agenda on us, and it’s already making me angry. Of course, Nightwing would support programs that benefit the poor and disenfranchised; he grew up in a circus. I love that both the hero and the villain of this story would like to work to the same goal, but with much different methodology. But being a hero means sometimes saving people you don’t necessarily like, and Nightwing refuses to allow the senator to die. I also love that Seeley is tying a neat little bow on his run of the book, finishing with the same villain he started with. The art in this issue is also fantastic. One art choice I’m always a fan of is the motion shot set in a single panel. It works extremely well for someone like Nightwing to show off their acrobatic ability.
Savage Things #8
Justin Jordan (Writer), Ibrahim Moustafa and Jordan Boyd (Artists)
Before I get into my thoughts on this book, I want to say something. I read through this whole series on probably the worst possible day to do so. On Tuesday, October 2nd, in America we woke up to the single largest mass shooting in our history. A gunman opened fire on a music festival and killed over fifty people and wounded hundreds more. I got home, and I read this book. This book is brutally violent and has very dark themes. Savage Things is a good story with no true heroes. The art is a perfect fit for the story, very realistic and precise. But I do recommend that you probably wait a bit before reading it, as it’s not an easy read right now.
James Bonny (Writer), Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto (Artists)
While I’m not the biggest fan of Kirkham’s art, I will say he draws a great angry Superman. For a pair of fill-in issues, this was a pretty fantastic story. While it maintained three main characters who could all really lead a book, it was able to capture the best things about each of them. My favorite part was Superman talking about his code against killing: “Killing corrupts, even when done for the best intentions. If one killing is justified, why not another?” It really gets to the crux of why I hate that scene in Man of Steel so much. When Superman kills, he stops being Superman.