Man. There was a lot of Batman this week. And ever since I started reviewing on a regular basis there is nothing I can resist less than a Batman-related comic book. Except for Gotham City Sirens.
Batman and Robin No. 3
Man, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are a great team. I have heard it said that there will be a Quitely-free arc on this book in the near future and it will be very interesting to see how it stacks up against these first few issues in terms of how much I love it. I remember that the Frank-less issues of New X-Men weren't as delightful to mine eyes as the issues before and after them but I also remember thinking that the art on those issues was "actively bad" as opposed to "not sublime". How about it, DC? Can you provide a fill-in artist who isn't terrible?
Anyway, this issue provides plenty of examples of how well these two work together. Professor Pyg's pre-surgery psych-up/disco dance/psychotic break? Hot damn. I don't know of too many other artists who could put pictures to those words so well. I think I stayed on those few pages for five or six minutes. Heck, between Pyg and that Alice dame in Detective the bar is getting set pretty high in terms of the madness level of the Gotham City criminal element. Pretty soon guys like Firefly, with their garden-variety manias, are going to look like chumps.
The... character involved in the last-page reveal is another good example: an interesting Morrison concept, fantastically-realized by Quitely. My imagination is tormenting me with images of how other artists might have portrayed... that character, I love it that much.
I've been reading a lot of Batman recently, as I said earlier, and most of it has been decent, but precious few are providing me with as much glee as this here book. Hooray!
King City No. 1
Okay. Okay okay. Okay okay okay. I can do this. I can't do this. All of my summarization glands have dried up.
No, I can do it. King City is the best kind of crazy. Brandon Graham had, it seems, about a hundred neat ideas and took maybe half a dozen of them (utility cats, a city full of spies and spy hotels, and blah and blah) and deployed the rest of them liberally as vending machine concepts and street flavour and incidental character fun. The result: exactly the kind of comic that I like to devote half an hour or more to, which is good because it took at least that long to take a signifiicant portion of it in.
So there's this guy named Joe and he has a cat and he steals a key and is operating in this huge crazy cool town. There's a girl he'd rather not meet and some guys who wish him ill and that's all that I've managed to piece together yet but I'm already completely charmed. From what I've been able to gather through doing absolutely no research, some of King City has already appeared elsewhere but this series will mark its first complete run and that's terrific for one reason: it will be coming out very regularly if the publishing spirits are kind. Oh Typesetules, oh Shipontime, hear my plea! Do right by me!
The Red Circle: The Shield One-Shot
Okay! Thus concludes the introduction of the Archie Comics heroes to the DC Universe! Kind of!
I was waiting for all four issues to come out before commenting on this, because sometimes when I don’t wait I end up making an idiot out of myself (for instance, when I asserted that the killy Batman in Battle for the Cowl couldn’t be Jason Todd because hey, there’s a new Red Robin series coming up!). Now that it’s done, though… for a series with the avowed purpose of introducing characters to a universe, there was surprisingly little in the way of interaction with that universe in the course of the various issues. Like, none. No JLA fighting Starro on the teevee, no Web running into the Manhattan Guardian in one panel on page 10, nothing. There’s a guy in this issue who mentions how all the American super-heroes should join the Army, but he names no names. Now, this is probably a purposeful attempt to settle the characters into their own interconnected portion of the DCU before having the JSA stop in for a guest appearance, but dropping a few names now and again might have been nice. Ah well, looks like there’ll be a couple of ongoing series, so we shall see how this plays out in them, I guess.
As for the issue, well, it was just fine. The Shield is hardly the most distinct of super-heroes, despite his long pedigree. Generic superpowers, patriotic theme, war casualty-rebuilt-as-supersoldier? Check check check. The potentially interesting part of this iteration of the character is going to be the fact that he’s working directly for the Army, which is usually a role for psychotic assholes, though I have absolutely no idea how it’ll be handled here. The character was sympathetic and interesting for the first three or four pages, until he got blown up. After that, and well into his transformation into the Shield, he got a bit emotionally flat. Wait and see, I suppose.
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special No. 2 - Pretty meh, I gotta say. The whole ‘massive military conspiracy’ plot that has been running through the Superman family of books has been in a holding pattern for a while now, and though this issue and the ones featuring the ugly-ass half ‘n half characters on the front seem to be designed to get the whole thing rolling again I may have lost a bit too much interest to care. At least there’s a wee little Odd Man shout-out, and on a week that saw me thinking about him, for some reason! Oh this madcap life of mine!
Superman No. 691 - As I said, it looks like they’re starting to ramp up this conspiracy storyline. Is anyone else being reminded more and more of Legends the longer this goes on? If they manage to work Brimstone into the plot somehow then I will regain interest a lot more quickly, as gigantic fiery wrestlers are just neat. Wait, does Death of the New Gods mean no more Brimstone ever again? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Flash: Rebirth No. 4 - I was pretty enthusiastic about this series and then I got less so and then I was positively grumpy about the whole thing. Now? I guess I’m okay with it. It doesn’t look like Johns is going to kill Max Mercury, and I can get behind that, but he hasn’t yet made a good enough case for Barry actually needing to be back. I was actually kind of hoping that he’d go back into the Speed Force at the end of Final Crisis, as it would have been quite tantalizing and fun to have him appear only in times of great peril, like a fast red Phantom Stranger. You could stretch out the explanation of why it was happening for years!
Batwoman in Detective Comics No. 856 - Dang, yo. This is another of those quality Batman-related comics that I was talking about earlier. So nice-looking, such a high level of villainous craziness. Plus: an octopus man!
The Muppet Show Comic Book: The Treasure of Peg Leg Wilson No. 2 (of 4) - Gosh, is that a long title. Ah, but it's for a good cause, with lots of Beaker-abuse, rat abuse and general battering of felt to delight the senses. The various mysteries that are the theme of this miniseries are providing me with much joy.
Sherlock Holmes No. 4 - My brain feels a bit pummeled, as I'm not at home right now and so can't refer to the previous issues but can't escape the feeling that I should be able to figure at least part of the mystery out. Gah! Ah well, it's still a damn fine comic. Tune in next month to see if I figure it out before Leah Moore tells me whodunit.
The Unknown No. 4 (of 4) - I was all set to grump about how the mysteries of life and death hadn't been solved and how there'd better be more of this series and then the ding dong dang house ad at the back just shut me right up. Guess I'll just hold my tongue until next month, won't I?
Green Lantern No. 45 - Lots of great Corps vs Corps fun here: Sinestro Corps vs Star Sapphires! Red lanterns vs Green Lanterns! Blue vs Orange! Everybody vs the Black Lanterns!
ZOMBIE WATCH: Pariah, Planet Xanshi, Loads of dead Sinestro Corpsers, Qwardians and (hooray!) all of Larfleeze's victims.
Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink No. 4 (of 6) - This series was my least favourite of the four, butt I do believe that it's growing on me. I honestly hope that yon Tattooed Man makes it through with his life, tattoos and newfound heroism intact. Man, though, the characters in this have some terrible names. Not birth names, the kind you choose for yourselves. Twisttedd? Crim$o? Phat Diamond? G-Filter? SYNcK? Is it because they're all in gangs? Do gang folk not know how to name themselves well?
Wednesday Comics No. 8 - With four left to go, a quick rundown: Metamorpho, Strange Adventures, Supergirl, Deadman, Flash and Kamandi: going strong the whole time. Sgt Rock, Metal Men, Demon/Catwoman, Batman and Green Lantern have been perfectly serviceable. Teen Titans has gotten much better, possibly due to some art tweaking and possibly because it took a while to get up to speed. Wonder Woman has also gotten better but is still very very tough to read (but featured a really neato version of Etta Candy). I grossly underestimated Hawkman, it turns out, though elaborate joke or not, that first comic is still kind of painful. And Superman... I reckon that the only hope for this comic is for the next four installments to be one long alien-wrassli' exhibition, and that is way unlikely.
Batman: the Widening Gyre No. 1 (of 6) - I've never read any of Kevin Smith's comic work, did you know that? Most of it came out while I was in my poor times, when I would basically buy Astro City and one or two other titles and then eat crackers for supper. And I'm addicted to Batman comics, too. So I ignored the mockery of my blogmates and that of the dog that they had gotten from somewhere and bought this. And it ain't bad, really. It's too late for me to really articulate things, so I'll subject it to the ol' SECOND ISSUE OF JUDGMENT treatment later. Oh, but K. Smith is going on the big list of People Who Can't Write the Demon's Rhymespeak. Because he can't. The rhythm is all wrong and there are too many near-rhymes.
Anyway: good night all.