Baby, it’s cold outside but I have a heavy coat, hot chocolate and some of my favorite comics; Batgirl topping the list. It’s nice in these bleak winter months to have something to look forward to. I? Look forward to new issues of Batgirl.+Continue Reading
A prior Batgirl review commenter asked if it bothered me that this title is penned by a male author, and that since I sing the praises of Batgirl almost every single time, shouldn’t it bother me? I had to think long and hard about this and my final conclusion is no: I don’t mind that my favorite female comic character as of late is written – very well, I might add – by a dude. My reasons are two-fold. The voice, while annoying sometimes, is genuine and believable. I was a college girl once – though not of the cape and cowl variety – and I buy the voice. Secondly, I am always impressed by the complexity of the stories in this title and the many female characters woven in. In essence, it’s dependable.+Continue Reading
Streets of Gotham #16
We’ve been waiting a while for Dini to pick back up with the House of Hush storyline and here it is! is it all you’ve ever wanted and more? Sadly, not really. Here’s the inherent problem with your favorite and the best writers: when they’re involved with a project you don’t like, you still love their writing and feel sort of, well, bad when you don’t like said actual project. I get like this with a lot of fiction writers when they veer off and start other series. In the case of Streets of Gotham #16, I can’t say I disliked reading it but I also can’t say it was amazing as a whole.
We revisit the old gangster recently sprung from jail, Mr. Pierce, who apparently still has it out for Bruce Wayne. Well, really, he holds a vendetta against his parents but since they’re dead, Bruce’ll do. While I can appreciate what’s being done here – the connection to Tommy and how this gangster guy may be our ticket to offing him to solve the duplicate Bruce problem – I find it very hard to really care. Don’t get me wrong; like I said before, Dini’s writing is still as skillful as ever. But this story isn’t doing it for me.
The things I did like about this issue were the scenes between Tommy and Zatana and how he was recounting their individual relationships with Bruce as children. The little nod to the action figures they played with (from the Hush arc) coming alive at Zatana’s magic was a cool little interlude. Otherwise, this issue fell pretty flat, even in the face of the cliffhanger ending.
On the other hand, the third installment in the Two-Face feature was pretty awesome. In the past, I’ve skipped this part of the book but man, they really had me going here. Two-Face in a coma-like state and a priest watching over him day after day after day. When he awake and recounts his past and every bad deed to the man of the cloth, I was really intrigued. It all came back to the coin and its place in the mythos of Two-Face and his relationship to Gotham. Really cool way for me to finish this read, even when the main feature here failed to excite.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Ideas coming together and one nice throw-back, plus a cool feature||Just sort of boring|
Batman Beyond #4
The tale of the “Tomorrow Knight” (I hate the term, I promise I didn’t make it up) continues in Hush Beyond 4: The Other Side of the Mirror. I’m not going to use the future or neo prefix for each character, so presume I mean the Batman Beyond era version unless I say otherwise from here out. Hush fights Catwoman, who is saved by a Bat-bot operated by Bruce Wayne by remote from the cave. Catwoman continues to fight, and shows some odd power where she can apparently create duplicates of herself- maybe nine lives at once? The Bat-bot malfunctions and Hush beats on it badly, causing Bruce to auto-destruct it, but Hush salvages some pieces. Amanda Waller finds that her associate Dr. Reid has left their base and calls out an alert to stop her from reaching the GCPD.
Batman talks with the older and scarred up Dick Grayson, who did indeed lose an eye earlier in his career. His one memento from his career is a shot up and bloodied Nightwing costume. Dick’s career ended when Bruce landed in front of him, blocking his view of the Joker and his machine gun, who critically injured Dick. Bruce never apologized and never came to see him, and both Bruce and Dick quit the hero game and never spoke again. Dick still bears a grudge, but speaks reasonably with Terry, and hands over records that verify his alibi for Hush’s murders. As Terry goes off to further investigate, Max finally shows up, asking what’s happening with the case. Batman ends up fighting with Hush, and Hush beats him with some specialized weapons to penetrate the suit. Hush then pulls off his bandages and make up to reveal that he’s… Dick Grayson? To Be Continued…
What I liked and what I didn’t: I didn’t like most of this issue actually. We still don’t know what the deal is with the new Catwoman and her apparent replication power just makes things more confusing. Terry continues his run of losing about every fight in his series. And as for the Hush is Grayson bit… so much wrong with this. It seems like the Hush/Catwoman fight happens at the same time as the Batman/Grayson interview, so how does this work? Hush has facial scarring and two eyes, Dick does not have either- is he in disguise as both now? And even with a major falling out between Dick and Bruce, I don’t see Dick becoming a serial killer. Yes, I’m a huge Grayson fan, and I really don’t like that this is the second future where he turns killer (Dark Knight Strikes Again had him killing heroes in that timeline), but that to one side, this just doesn’t seem to work. I also don’t see even the story told here causing a decades long rift between Bruce and Dick. I’m hoping it’s a misdirection of some kind. If not, well… I guess Beecheen is after the Bat-Family, between his character assassination of Cassie in the Batgirl mini and then this series. Time will tell, but I hope I’m wrong.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|still roughly true to the series, nice to see Max come back||Terry losing every fight, Dick as killer?|
Batman Beyond #3
Adam Beechan throws a few new twists into “Close Encounters,” the most recent part of the Batman Beyond miniseries. This has been an uneven series for me, leaning towards more good than bad, but in my view the bad is getting worse.
Continuing the fight from last time, Terry McGinnis, the future Batman, clashes with someone calling themselves “Hush.” Batman loses to Hush, Calendar Man gets killed, and Hush gets away. By way of sort of vague clues as to who this Hush is, he says the villains were all Batman really cared about, so he will kill them off and orphan Batman all over again. He also says that it’s good to see Calendar Man again, so clearly they’ve crossed paths before. And he knows that the first Batman was Bruce Wayne.
Bruce takes the loss as well as can be expected, and Terry hangs up on him. There’s an interesting interlude of the much older Amanda Waller talking with an attractive redheaded woman she addresses as “Dr. Reid.” I really feel like I should know who this is, but it’s not coming to me. Waller blackmails Reid into not going to the GCPD with whatever it is she knows about this new Hush. We also see bits of Terry with his family and his girlfriend, and see ample evidence he is neglecting both of those fronts.
Terry, not in the best of moods, returns to the cave and sees an army of Bat-Bots that Bruce calls “Bat-Wraiths,” which look part McGinnis’ suit and part the robots used by the Batman of Kingdom Come. They argue over Terry’s dedication, and Terry stalks off, saying he plans on bringing in Hush and then giving the suit back to Bruce.
Terry goes off to make his own investigation, and stops in at Tim Drake’s place, former Robin and more recent unwilling host to the Joker as seen in the animated movie Return of the Joker (well worth watching if you haven’t). Drake seems to be in the clear, and steers Terry towards someone else who “won’t be as welcoming.” Following up this lead, Batman is jumped by the new Catwoman, who is annoyed that he’s following her. She ignores Terry’s protests that this is a chance meeting, and his warning about Batman’s former foes being killed off, then escapes. Another stellar outing for Terry.
Our two end scenes are Terry going to “Out of the Nest Aerial” hoping to talk with “Mr. Grayson,” (which I believe is Dick’s first Batman Beyond era appearance). The art is a bit unclear, I really can’t tell if there is odd shading going on here, or if Dick is wearing an eyepatch. The other scene is new Catwoman saying she planted a tracer on “him” (presumably Batman) and she wants to get paid. Hush directs her to a box, which she opens to find it full of playing cards. No Joker card is shown as she drops the box while Hush tries to kill her.
What I liked and what I didn’t:
I like that it carries on mostly in the spirit of the cartoon. The characterizations are decent, using Waller from the JLU episode “Epilogue” and Drake from “Return of the Joker” were both nice touches. Terry’s brother makes me want to smack him, which I recall feeling when the show was on, so that seems about right. I’m cautiously optimistic about Dick finally showing up. I’m really hoping he doesn’t prove to be Hush, although it SEEMS like those last two scenes might be simultaneous, so hopefully he’s not.
What I didn’t is getting longer as time passes. Terry seems to be too much a rookie here. This series seems to be set after the whole run of the show, and Terry loses to Hush, lets Calendar Man get killed, and loses Catwoman. I think we’re supposed to infer that she was hunting him to plant the tracer, so the “coincidental meeting” wasn’t, so I’ll let that go. But Terry is better than this. Also, I recall them always saying the suit amplified strength and was a form of armor. Either this Hush is a bit more than human, or there’s some kind of problem here. It’s good to see Mrs. McGinnis, the annoying brother, and Dana, but there’s someone missing. Max was a steady character on the show, Terry’s only friend who knew his secret, and has been utterly absent from this story. Not even a mention. Where’d she go? If he’s feeling hugely stressed to the point he might quit, wouldn’t she be a natural to talk to? I’m also really not sure we need a future version of everyone, so I’m a bit undecided on new Catwoman. We shall see how her story develops.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|very true to the spirit of the original barring the rookie bit||Terry loses a bit too often, Hush seems too powerful, where’s Max?|
Streets Of Gotham #15
Ever since Dini apparently took a hiatus from writing Streets and the DC solicits starting to be mere lies about what was actually forthcoming in this series, I have been on the fence about this comic in general. One month it will rock my socks off and the next, we have a guest writer who doesn’t hardly know Batman but at all and fails at writing in general. I know that sounds harsh but you expect greatness. You expect consistency.
In this issue, written by guest writer Ivan Brandon, we pick up where the previous issue’s feature left off. I’m not keen on comics doing this because some of us may not want to read the feature, you know? But regardless, we pick up after Two-Face’s trial and he’s dressed in street clothes, lugging a couple thugs with him. On a subway train, they’re roughing up the passengers and keeping one specific guy with them, to pump him for info. The narrator is not identified; at first I think it is Two-Face himself but as the story progresses, there are distinct lines that indicate that it cannot be he himself. Indeed, some of the writing was fantastic; the descriptions of Gotham and the sounds of the coin… all good examples of literary goodness.
I won’t wrap up the rest of the story but there were some things I definitely liked. For one, it was kind of nice to read an issue almost entirely in narration. It felt like we were watching some kind of movie without the dialogue and had taken a step back from normal Batman reading. The issue was also sort of gritty, the artwork very noir at times and gruesome even. The development of Two-Face’s couple of henchmen was interesting; they didn’t like working for him one bit but appeared loyal anyway. Until they snap. And this propelled the story forward to a great to-be-continued end.
There wasn’t anything about the actual comic itself I didn’t like, just the particulars. Since this is supposed to be part two of House of Hush, I was kind of annoyed. But then again, this little sidetrack ought to be expected since, like I mentioned, this title has been jerked around so much anyway. I know maybe that shouldn’t bother me but it does. I want Streets of Gotham, Dini style. If I wanted a Two-Face story, I’d buy it.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Not a bad story…||…just not what I asked for|
Streets Of Gotham #14
One of the best purchases I ever made after I started reading comics again was the two part Hush series. Not only was the story phenomenal but the art was top notch. I could read this time and again and spend hours drooling over Jim Lee’s rendering of Batman. Admittedly, I don’t think Heart of Hush was all that great but in the past year, I have been waiting for someone to take hold of Tommy’s situation and lend it some credit; figure out what his true purpose is.
I feasted my eyes upon #14 here and was pretty excited; yay for Tommy! Let’s see how this is going to play out. (Spoilers) The issue opens up with an old crime boss, Mr. Pierce, getting out of jail after a long thirty-seven years. And after he indulges in some good food and has a nice shower, his first order of business is to pop a cap in Bruce Wayne’s, er, skull. This is obviously setting up Tommy, you see.
If you recall, he’s under lock and key at all hours at the request of Alfred. It appears that he dreams every night of killing his captors. The dream is laid out before us, the likes of Zatana and even Batman dead by his hands. As he comes out of his dream, we flash back to his parents’ age where he enlightens us on some things he’s found out from letters found in his old mansion. His parents and their pharmaceutical interests were trying to make some kind of deal with Wayne Enterprises. While awaiting the Wayne’s they ran into Matha Kane who inquired about some help for Leslie Thomkins’s clinic. They basically blew her off, uninterested in charity, when John Zatara shows up. It was an interesting scene, intersecting the lives of some of the largest characters from Batman histories. I’m not exactly sure where Dini is going with the flashback plot line but I am sure it will be revealed to us in due time.
Back to Tommy and Katana on their way to Arkham. He seems to want to set some inmates free, so long as he has taken on the role of Bruce Wayne. They keep alluding to her and the reveal wasn’t nearly as amazing as I thought. But we’ll see where Dini is headed with this.
So, the good things about this issue: for one, the cover. The symbolism of Hush’s bandages/wrappings coming undone, the metaphor of getting inside of Tommy’s brain – his inner workings – is pretty cool. Also, I appreciated the allusion to how his appearance – the Bruce Wayne persona – has become like a trap, a straight-jacket for him. It has limited him in ways he did not consider before he put himself under his own knife to transform. Though he has hurt a lot of people, we can somewhat sympathize with this level of humanity.
The bad things: well, this seemed really short. I hope it wasn’t just me who thought that the second feature of the Two-face series took up a lot of space. Honestly, I don’t really get into the features that much so for it to take up what felt like another couple pages that could have been Tommy’s story, I was none too happy. Due to its length, I think it left much to be desired in terms of closure. I realize it’s only the beginning of a series but there was this intangible feeling of incompleteness I felt once I hit the “to be continued” page. All in all, I still have high hopes for this arc, because I still like Tommy Elliot, but this issue wasn’t amazing.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Some cool background info and the writing, as always, was great||Too short, felt rushed|
Every Wednesday I pick my favorite cover from all the comic books that came out during the week…today’s pick goes to Dustin Nguyen’s Streets Of Gotham #14.
Dustin Nguyen has an original style to his art that fits the superhero genre and at the same time walks a thick line outside of the “box.” His capes and cowls are top notch, but the softer tone and near watercolor feel to his cover work in particular offers a unique look amongst some of the other work around his. This cover is a great example; it could easily carry over to another comic genre, say, anything at Vertigo. Although I’m a sucker for just about all things typical of the superhero genre (as we all can be at times) I cannot speak enough good things about artists like Dustin Nguyen who push the envelope.
As for the actual cover, what’s not to like here? Aside from being borderline creepy (which certainly fits Thomas Elliot) the whole cover comes off as a bit of an optical illusion with the veins and necklace defying gravity. I couldn’t help myself and flipped the photo, if for nothing else than the cool effect it might have and despite it not revealing anything, per se, it makes the original that much more fun. One takeaway was that the two when flipped do connect, the veins right above where the heart would be seem to fit pretty well. Was it intentional? Who knows. Is it cool? Heck yes.
Other Honorable Mentions (click title to see cover):+Continue Reading
Streets Of Gotham #13
I was asking someone the other day where I ought to start if I wanted to go back and read some Iron Man comics. I wasn’t sure what sort of spin off titles there were and the depth of the villains, etc. And I began to think about just how many comics are circulating under the Batman umbrella. While some can be inconsistent at best, Streets of Gotham is always pretty solid, even when Dini throws in some interim two-parters like this one, the Carpenter’s Tale.
We revisit Duffy still working for The Director. By now, she’s onto his scheme and is doing some scheming of her own, planning her escape in an inconspicuous manner, if possible. Switching to the other ongoing plot, Alfred is holding a meeting in Wayne Tower (doesn’t that seem odd?) and we soon see that the “board members” are really The Outsiders in disguise. They’re still sorting out the little issue of Tommy Elliott masquerading as Bruce, which obviously must come to a head here soon as Bruce will be returning in some fashion.
Short of running Tommy out of town on a rail, it’s assumed they’ve found ways of dealing with him, but he insinuates, through some internal dialogue, that we haven’t seen the last of him. Mwuhahaha. Anyway, back to Duffy, who’s still trying to keep mum and not get herself, you know, killed, by the baddies. I find it interesting that in true bad guy fashion, The Director is telling us his plan, through metaphors of his craft. He doesn’t, however, give away the ending. Dini is truly one of the most amazing writers in the Batman world.
Luring Batman for Act One, an advertisement track crashes on a main thoroughfare. Atop said truck is a message for Bats, sent by Duffy. She proves to have been smarter than the bad guys, of course and the plots go foiled again. The cool thing about the ending here is that it left some characters open – like Duffy – and brought in a new one as well. Though his little arc ends, the title carries on, exploring more aspects of Gotham city. That’s the magic of the craft of this title; Dini continues to show us all the sides of these stories.
Though I love the cover of this issue, I’m still not feeling the art. Still sketchy and incomplete at times. I did, however, like the one panel where Bats is beheading Scarface. His hand up in the foreground, as if he himself is falling, yet in the background, the head is flying off at the hit of a batarang. The compositional aspect of the issue is good. So overall, a good little read, enjoyable and masterfully written.
A quick word on the second Manhunter feature: I’m not that interested in picking up any new comics but this seems intriguing. For one, the art is very noir. Dark but detailed: a lot of grays, red and sepia tones. It ends with Dick Grayson calling up Kate and basically asking her out. I hate to say that this would reel me in, were I in the market to spend an extra couple bucks a month. It looks like it could be a good read nevertheless.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Fun reading||Just nothing blow you away special|
Streets Of Gotham #12
When any new story arc begins, you find yourself standing at a precipice; the momentum from the previous plot still moving forward but you could, potentially, find yourself falling into a downward spiral if the next story doesn’t stand up to the last. And personally, I was loving the Zsasz stuff and Abuse and that entire Damian/Colin match up. But we’re moving on now to part one of two of “The Carpenter’s Tale.”
Hustlin’ some boys in the pool hall, our “new” villainesse – of sorts – finds herself amidst a Batman bust. But not before she can fill us in on her deal. She ran with the storybook crowd – Scarecrow, etc – for a while and certainly, we get the Alice in Wonderland Carpenter reference. But she really is a carpenter. Batman shows to infiltrate the mob hang out and interestingly enough, tells the girl to run.
Intercepted by a bouncer type guy, The Carpenter is shuffled into a car where we revisit the The Broker. If you’ll recall, we last saw him back when Zsasz was scoping property for his kiddie duels-to-the-death. In this case, he’s the middle man for the new bad dude, who wants this carpenter chick in on his latest scheme.
I like that she’s not only “The” Carpenter but “a” carpenter. Typically, I think that’s a very male profession but she’s obviously skilled. During her scene with The Broker it’s revealed she did some handiwork for Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Joker. The girl gets around. She pulls up to the job site and if you caught it, she’s standing in front of the Monarch theater, a little throw-back to the Tim Burton Batman movie; that was where Bruce’s parents were shot.
Intro the bad guy: The Director, whose big plan is to corner the market in the most hardcore snuff films ever. He plans to off superheroes. Batman is the beginning and he plans to move onto Superman next. But here’s the flaw in this issue: how many people would actually want to watch this?? If you lived in a world with superheroes like Batman (and OK maybe SOME people are against his methods) and Superman, then you revere those people. Only truly sinister folks would want to see their personal heroes/saviors killed. This just seems very inconsistent; not buyable. Not believable. It doesn’t have mass appeal and the logistics just don’t work. Of course, if you think a few steps ahead, you realize that The Director won’t get that far anyway because Batman is going to stop him. So really, do the details even matter?
All in all, this start of a two parter was alright. The couple of pages in which Damian and Colin meet up and Dami gives the kid a motorcycle – unbeknownst to Dick – is interesting. I like seeing him getting some guys in his corner; never know when you might need them.
Again, I just don’t dig Nguyen’s artwork. Too lacking in detail. And when the art lacks, the story better make up for it. And I didn’t buy it. Also, I’m intrigued by the fact that Dini wrote the story but Ngyuen and Fridolfs wrote the script. Is that to say Dini pitched them the general idea and they executed? Because that could explain some of the garbage writing. While I didn’t hate this issue, I just wasn’t all that impressed. But maybe part two won’t be so bad. And by issue 14, we might be right back at that precipice, on the edge of another amazing story arc.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Fun little easter egg and other cool references||Kind of a dumb villain and not the best writing|