Our Where To Start Reading Batman guide lists several books, each in the character’s fictional chronological order despite it’s publication date – so the first book is at the beginning of Batman’s career and we go from there. Each book was specifically picked as a good individual starting point; so feel free to start at the beginning, in the middle, or towards the end if you want to get caught up quickly. And if you have any more suggestions or questions just leave a comment.+Continue Reading
"Return of Bruce Wayne"
As 2010 comes to a close we take a look back at some of our favorites from the year; there will be many more categories to come, each author getting one pick. And after reading our favorites from the last year we want to hear yours!+Continue Reading
As 2010 comes to a close we take a look back at some of our favorites from the year; there will be many more categories to come, each author getting one pick. And after reading our favorites from the last year we want to hear yours!
Bruce Wayne is back! Again! At the beginning of his third reconstruction of the Batman status-quo, Grant Morrison dives into the deep end and starts laying down the foundations for his new Batman series, introducing a slew of new villains and concepts, while at the same time, locking in several fan-favorite, or at least editorial-favorite, scenarios and partnerships.+Continue Reading
Batman Incorporated #1
Disclaimers: I do not generally read, or review, the Bat-books from DC at this point. I’m not wild about a lot of their directions, and I’m not a huge fan of Grant Morrison’s most recent work. However, I like to keep an open mind and am curious about the new title “Batman, Incorporated.” So, when our site editor said he needed a hand on this one, I said I’d do issue one.
The story starts with the torture of a man called Mr. Unknown, apparently the Japanese answer to Batman. Lord Death Man has already burned off his hands, and tosses acid in his face. Mr. Unknown’s sidekick, who if I am reading this correctly is called Body Double, walks in on this, beats up several goons, and flees. Lord Death Man then yells at his underlings “Kill all Japanese crime fighters!”
Elsewhere, Batman and Catwoman raid one of Dr. Sivana’s hideouts to secure a big diamond looking thing because Bruce doesn’t want it in anyone else’s hands, apparently including the government agents who get knocked out by the security systems. Sivana does seem to have become the default mad scientist of the DCU. They fight various robo-guardians and eventually secure their prize. Later, there is some flirting and chatting between Bruce and Selina in a hotel suite in Tokyo (and boy does Selina have odd choice in lounging wear), before they go to help Batman “train a Japanese Batman.” There’s also a bit on tv about one of the Japanese heroes from Super Young Team which the ever self-referential Mr. Morrison couldn’t resist, I guess. Mr. Unknown’s HQ is apparently below a comics and manga store, and while Bruce breaks some of the security, Selina leafs through one of the hentai/tentacle books and wonders at the appeal.
They arrive below and see they are too late for Mr. Unknown, but still in time to defeat several of his thugs. Great quote from Selina here “At least they’re trying to look interesting. It’s always nice to see henchmen making the effort.” They learn the thugs are awaiting the sidekick’s return, and go off to find him. Said sidekick arrives at his apartment, having been called there by his girlfriend. He goes upstairs, passing what seems to be the landlord and/or handyman who complains about a leak upstairs, and gets to his door, pulling a gun (I guess he captured it from one of the thugs earlier, although I didn’t see it). The girl is tied up, warning Jiro that the carpet is mined. Lord Death Man himself is here, taunting, threatening to break her neck. Jiro shoots him, knocking him out the window in fine “I bet we don’t find the body later” form. The girl is dismayed, saying only he could stop it. She suddenly plunges through a trap door with a splash. The Bat and the Cat arrive as this happens, and Selina sighs, not liking the water, which she actually made a joke about earlier. Batman and Juro defeat the thugs as Catwoman jumps after the girl, ending up in a large water tank with an octopus (remember the tentacle bit earlier? Foreshadowing…).
What I liked and what I didn’t:
Batman and Catwoman make a great team. They compliment each other well, and have great chemistry. The art here is very nice. I’m unfamiliar with Yanick Paquette, but they do great work.
I don’t really like a lot of the things here that I’ve seen before. The big American hero arrives to find his foreign counterpart just in time to help him with something he can’t handle on his own has always stuck me as a bit contrived. Also, this whole heroes all over the world thing reminds me of those Planet DC annuals a while back that created a lot of new characters who were never seen again. I’m not sold on the whole Batman, Inc. idea, it seems a bit odd to me, and this really did nothing to sell it to me. Also, Selina keeps being drawn with these goggles on her cowl, but she always has them pushed up on her forehead. What do they do, exactly?
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|nice art, good to see Bruce and Selina together||a lot of things I’ve seen before, retreaded ideas|
To be honest, this series has lost a bit of it’s original excitement since about issue four. Try as I may the plot at times is very convoluted and hard to keep track of and the events important to Bruce’s time traveling seem to be happening out of order and spread through different titles – not to mention they connect with past stories (i.e. 52 and Final Crisis) – however, I cannot help but be in awe of what Grant Morrison has done here. Regardless of whether the entire Batman community will hail Return of Bruce Wayne as a classic or not you have to appreciate Morrison’s creativity and puzzle-piecing madness. There’s no Riddler or Penguin fist-fighting, no Gotham murder mystery that Gordon is having trouble with, no villains breaking out of jail…again…this is an entirely different Batman story which we’ve never seen before wrapping up and setting us up for the future.+Continue Reading
I think for the first time in, well, ever, I have a personal investment in a female character. I took my fair share of Womens’ Lit classes and have read all the major female role models out there but – even as a woman myself – I find it hard to really get into that whole Go Women! thing. But I honestly think I’m in love with Stephanie. In a purely non-weird way, OK?+Continue Reading
The Road Home: Red Robin
Admittedly, I am way behind in my Bruce Wayne Returns issues. I’ve mostly kept up with the other titles I get but for some reason, those have fallen by the way-side. I find it super cool that DC’s doing these little One Shots to accompany Bruce’s return to Gotham but it also seems like they’re forcing readers to buy all the connecting titles, for I was slightly confused having not been all read up.
That’s not to say that this issue wasn’t an excellent read nor that I didn’t quickly get filled in on my missing info; there was enough detail to fill in any gaps so I could deduce what’s going on. For starters, I’m impressed but also validated by the way Bruce is going about evaluating his crew. Well, I suppose we can call them such since in his absence, the rest of the Batfamily have not only taken up the reins but excelled at pretty much everything thrown at them. I wanted to see how he’d handle their success and this issue definitely showed me.
Picking up where the Batman and Robin one shot left off; a rogue named Killshot has escaped and Bruce wants to use Tim as bait to flush him out. We pick up with them in Amsterdam and it’s still Tim’s case, his mission, even though Bruce is tracking every single move he makes, our narration coming from his White Casebook; the polarity not lost on anyone who has read the Black Casebook.
We see some interesting things at work, one of which is an aspect of Bruce’s new highly-technical suit, wherein he can simulate the properties of the Speed Force for a time. We’re also shown more of Prudence, whose true alliance is still questionable. Switch now to the mansion where Alfred is waylaying Miss Vicki Vale, who has gotten awfully close to the truth. I’m pretty interested to see how that’s all going to play out in Morrison’s run of the Return of Bruce Wayne.
All in all, this was a pretty good issues in that we’re allowed to see Bruce’s state of mind now that he’s back and how he feels about the skill level of his sons. I kind of always thought he had a soft spot for Tim, his true master detective. This issue proves it through their dialogue. The ending could have been slightly less cheesy but overall, this little one shot was quite a read.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Awesome Father/son interaction and quality writing||The art was a little sub par with Bachs back on this. I miss To|
Mythology is the operating system of the universe.
Or, at least it is in a superhero universe.
In the first issue of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, Darkseid’s herald Libra lets the Secret Society of Villains in on one of the fundamental principles of their universe: that Good always beats Evil. And this rule applies at every level of existence, from the gods in heaven to the cops and criminals on the streets. The good guy always wins.
An earlier work by Morrison titled JLA: Earth 2 confirms this statement. In it, the Justice League travels to the Anti-Matter Universe, where everything is opposite and Evil always wins, in hopes of defeating the Crime Syndicate, which has the same plan. The problem both groups encounter is that, outside of their respective universes, they are no longer the de facto winners. Each universe, each story, no longer recognizes them as the “Heroes” and refuses to grant them victory.
But in Final Crisis, Darkseid essentially “hacks” the operating system of the universe, and makes it so that Evil can win in our world, by killing Orion, who is in effect the god or patron saint of superheroes, allowing him to defeat the heroes and actually conquer Earth.
(EVIL > GOOD)
But in the end, he was defeated, as all villains are. Why did this happen when he had changed the rules, stacked the deck specifically so that he COULDN’T lose?
Batman # 702 finally gives us the answer.
It seems that when Bruce confronted Darkseid in Final Crisis # 6, he did basically the same thing Darkseid had done. He changed the rules. As Darkseid opened reality with his Omega Sanction to banish Bruce, Batman slipped into the operating system himself and wrote a new equation, not one that stacked the deck in favor of the superheroes, but one that had far more wide reaching implications:
(MAN > EVIL)
Bruce rewrote the base-code the universe and stacked the deck, not for heroes, but for mankind. Batman is not a superhero in the literal sense, he is just a man facing down a monster.
And while Bruce claims that this is a New Myth, in reality, it’s our oldest one. Bruce says that he is a man standing the way of a monster. That idea, of a hero being someone who prevents evil from having it’s way, has appeared before. Morrison himself used it when Superman fought Mandrakk, “You will never get past me!” When Galdalf fought the Balrog, he shouted “You shall not pass!” Hell, in the Masters of the Universe movie, Skeletor says “You will no longer stand between me, and my destiny!” To which He-Man responds, “But I will…”
Heroes are people that stand in the way of monsters. And now, thanks to Batman, any one of us can be a hero.
By opening the doors to history with his Omega Sanction, Darkseid accidentally allowed Bruce’s triumph to echo both forwards and backwards in time, ensuring victory for mankind against creatures from the dark.
Metron later confirms this when he calls this new era “The Fifth World, the Age of Men as Gods…”
Another one of the principle tenants of the Hero’s Journey, as explained by Mythologist Joseph Campbell, is that after victory, the Hero returns to the mortal world carrying some gift or boon to humanity swiped from or bestowed by the gods. Some fundamental truth to aid us in our everyday lives.
Leave it to Batman to rewrite reality, giving us the power to fight monsters on our own. Essentially making us all into Batmen and Batwomen. And interestingly enough, that seems to be the point of Morrison’s next Batman story, Batman Inc., where Bruce will travel the world teaching his methods and creating more Batmen.
It’s almost like someone had this whole thing planned out ahead of time.
At the end of the day, Batman simply did what he always does. He showed us that we have it within us to change the world, to make things better. Any one of us has the power to stand up to evil, even Ultimate Evil, look it right in the eye and say “Gotcha.” If there is one thing the monsters should be afraid of, it’s us.
Time Masters: Vanishing Point #2
Time travel stories are among some of my favorite types of sci-fi stories. However, tus far, Time Masters: Vanishing Point is not one of them. This is essentially a Rip Hunter and Booster Gold story, so if you’re not reading Booster Gold, expect to be somewhat ignorant of what’s going on . . . like why Booster Gold is there in the first place. Time Hunters is supposed to tie in with the Batman event, “The Return of Bruce Wayne”, but that, thus far, is anything but true. If you’re a Superman or Green Lantern fan, don’t expect to see them used well in this story either. In all actuality, this really should have been a four-parter within Booster Gold’s own series.
The premise established last issue is that Bruce Wayne is alive, and Rip Hunter and Booster Gold need help in finding him, so enter Superman and Green Lantern. Then Vanishing Point, the nexus of time, vanishes. Sorry, it was too obvious not to be said. On the way, thus far, Rip Hunter and Skeets have been separated from the rest of the party, but they do get to meet Claw, who is another character added to this mess, I mean, mystery. There’s little plot development that occurs here or anything else of weight that occurs. Oh, Booster Gold’s sister and ancestor do make an appearance. No, it does not help this mess. Mystery.
What is most disappointing about this series is that Dan Gurgens is all over it. Gurgens, who I respect as a writer and artist, delivers a smug and condescending Lantern and Superman, in their dealings with Booster Gold, and makes them less than one-dimensional, if that is even possible. Lantern and Superman are two of DC heavy hitters and they really shouldn’t be used unless needed. They really serve no purpose other to help sell the series to unsuspecting readers, so be warned, they serve no purpose whatsoever in this story. It could easily be Blue Devil and Bwana Beast for all of the help they’ve provided.
The art on the issue is good, but wasted on an insipid story that exposes most of what is wrong with comics today: they’re unimaginative, underdeveloped, and uneconomical. For the price of a cheap meal, you can purchase this appetite suppressing tale, and that is probably the comic’s best use; that or a laxative. Save your money, and if you must read this, find a niche in the comic store as I do, and peruse it in the store. It’ll only take five minutes.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|write pros here||write cons here|
As The Return of Bruce Wayne nears an end a new status quo for Batman and the Batman Family will begin, including a new costume for the man himself. The most notable of differences is the return of the infamous yellow oval. Designed by David Finch (click images for larger picture):
The Return Of Bruce Wayne #4
And the plot thickens.
“She’s safe with a qualified Doctor.” I think this line (coming from Vandal Savage) sealed up any suspension I might have had; Doctor Hurt is Thomas Wayne, the devil-worshipper first mentioned in Batman and Robin #10. I could be wrong in the end but Morrison’s hints are becoming less and less subtle and more and more obvious. I digress though…
Grant Morrison’s fourth issue in this mini-series, although again chock-full of clues, hints and suggestions as to his own run and the entire Batman/Wayne mythology is a great addition to what’s so far – in my opinion – been one heck of a great story; however, this is by far the most confusing issue and at times lacked a bit of continuity between the three previous. It’s the depth that Morrison brings to his stories that sets them apart but I’d imagine that even the most hardcore of hardcore readers would have to give this 2-3 reads before completely understanding (3 reads for me).
Similar in style to #3 the issue is narrated by someone whose identity is later revealed, in this case Alan Wayne (right?). Vandale Savage and Thomas Wayne make their second appearance in the series and are after the casket/stone case with the bat symbol which apparently has the secret to “life eternal.” A little interesting seeing how Vandal Savage is already immortal, and I’m guessing the same with Thomas Wayne. Bruce looks into it; the ramifications of which, if any, we aren’t privy to just yet. And Jonah Hex does play his role in the story, hired to kill the black cowboy, but it’s more minimal than I expected. At the end of the issue he shoots Bruce, who falls in water and jumps into what appears to be the 1970s.
That’s just the core story though, littered throughout are more clues and hints, although in this issue I found it harder to collect them. The dialogue seemed significantly looser and more all over the place with the story moving quicker than I expected. I had a harder time keeping up with who was who and understanding the cowboy and Indian-lingo, maybe I just need to watch more cowboy movies though. And although I appreciated the boldness of matching Bruce in this issues with that of a classic cowboy movie villains it felt completely out of place. This is what I had anticipated with this series at first, a full on Caveman, Pirate, and Cowboy-Batman and instead we got a mostly confused Bruce trying to make sense of the time jumping – I appreciated this concept more than I thought I would, coming to really like it – so seeing Bruce run around in full on Cowboy gear playing Clint Eastwood didn’t match him wearing pilgrim clothes while fighting off pirates and trying to speak English to cavemen. And as with the other issues I missed seeing or hearing any mention of an eclipse, even the general spacing in the panels and slower-than-normal pace of the previous issues was more absent than present.
It seems pretty obvious too that Georges Jeanty on the art may have been a last minute thing, especially since the DC solicits still have Cameron Stewart credited. By no means was the art bad, but it did however lack some of the same atmosphere present in the previous issues, it didn’t make the story seem any more western other than the characters wearing western clothes and riding horses. I did enjoy seeing early-Gotham though. And despite not really buying into Cowboy-Bruce, he certainly was drawn cool enough.
So far, this was my least favorite of the four. It was still packed to the rim with hints and clues into Morrison’s run and didn’t make me any less excited for the next issue, for whatever reason it just left me a little underwhelmed. And it was certainly more violent than I expected. I’m not sure how many people can get away with a kid getting shot on panel in a Batman comic.
And as for the next issue; I put money on Bruce dealing to some level with his parents murder. Hunting down Joe Chill maybe?
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Continued a very good plot, did not expect to see Savage and Thomas Wayne, even more intrigued for the next issue||Confusing, even for the most loyal of fans and the art lacked the same kick as the previous issue.|
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