Welcome back, loyal Bat fans! This week’s Baturday has a variety of batty goodness for your reading enjoyment. But if you didn’t like this week’s books, you can always go back and check out my (recent) list of the top 75 Batman writers of all time. Or, you know, read the THOUSANDS of other comics that have featured Batman and his family of heroes, villains, psychos, monsters, and countless others that make up his world. But you’re still reading, so let’s just say spoilers ahead and go forward with this week’s books.
Batman Eternal #17
Three for three. Well done, Ray Fawkes and Dustin Nguyen (and Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Tim Seeley on the story assist). Batman continues to take a temporary backseat as two of the new dynamic duos continue their own adventures both beneath and outside of Gotham City. Harper Row (soon to become Blue Bird) and Tim Drake (currently going by Red Robin) meet up, do battle, and match wits with Sergei Alexandrov, a villainous mad scientist from Batman’s past. There’s some sassy backtalk, some angsty grumbling, and a robot monkey, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg, as Mr. Alexandrov will be joining the two in Gotham, helping them come one step closer to just one of many secrets in the streets of Batman’s home city. Then there’s the continued story of Jim Corrigan and Batwing, showing a terrifying nightmare featuring a successful Joker’s Daughter murdering and decapitating Luke Fox in honor of her new master, the recently resurrected Deacon Blackfire. And that leads us to the greatest strength of this issue (as with the last three): characterization and establishing and maintaining a great sense of creepy and helpless mood and atmosphere. Joker’s Daughter and Maxie Zeus serving as right-hand and vessel respectively is an excellent lead-in to the return of a great villain, but the retelling (and slight retooling) of the original story in which the Deacon first appeared through flashbacks really tie things together nicely. The man who would have beaten the Bat has taken out Batwing and seems to have overpowered Corrigan. Will the Spectre show his face? Will it take a literal act of God to take down this man back from the pits of Hell itself? Riveting stuff, guys. Keep it up.
My Rating: 5/5
Justice League #32
Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke continue their Forever Evil aftermath storyline, showing Lex Luthor’s rise to power… as a hero. Superwoman’s pregnant with an evil Crime Syndicate baby. The Doom Patrol is full of lunatics, genetic freaks, and egomaniacs. And Power Ring is out of control. But things are all going just fine until the Justice League arrives, saving citizens and upstaging the would-be hero team in front of an unstable and terrified would-be villain. The Chief’s dialogue is excellent, quite possibly portraying him in the most interesting way since the legendary Grant Morrison run on Doom Patrol. But then we see the real star of the show (and the last uber-event, for that matter): Lex Luthor. He’s recruiting Captain Cold as his head of security at Lexcorp, though we the readers know that he’s A) got something up his sleeve, B) wants Cold to secretly join the team with him, and C) isn’t going to take no for an answer. So when the League, the Ring, and the Patrol all come to a three-way standoff, who better to deescalate things (and let’s be honest… he won’t) than the world’s newest savior? Shazam!’s dialogue continues to be a fun highlight in Johns’ tenure as Justice League writer and the harbinger of doom prophetic message when Cyborg melds minds with Power Ring’s source are just a few reasons why this is the best team book on the stands today from any company. Pick it up to see where it goes next. I know I will be.
My Rating: 5/5
Harley Quinn #8
The series that’s so much fun that it never even remotely tries to take itself seriously took a slight hit this week, but that is for two reasons that are somewhat out of the writers’ control. The first of which being that we just read Harley Quinn’s antics in the pages of her Comic-Con International San Diego special edition one-shot. And the second of which being that there was a slight art change that wasn’t exactly for the best. That being said, it was still exactly what it promises to be each and every single month: an absolutely ridiculous and over-the-top ride through Crazy Town. This comic continues to be both fun and absurd at every turn, which essentially makes it a reliable and not over-saturated DC Comics version of Marvel Comics’ Deadpool. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are great at what they do with the writing, but I wish that Ms. Conner would just do the interior work that she does so gracefully on the covers. Palmiotti is hilarious and his wife throws in some great female nuances and jokes for younger readers of a different demographic than most Bat books, but her true strength lies in her pencils. Chad Hardin is a good rising star, but possibly too cartoony for such an already cartoonish character. But like I said before… it’s still loads of fun. Just not as great as it could be. We’ll see where the story goes next issue to make a real judgment.
My Rating: 3.5/5
The New 52: Futures End #13
The series I’m torn between hating and loving and loving to hate (and hating to love) continues its weekly quest of confusing, intriguing, and aggravating me. Writers Brian Azzarello, Keith Giffen, Jeff Lemire, and Dan Jurgens are joined by expert artist Patrick Zircher in the newest issue, which improves on art, but falls slightly farther down the hole in regards to plot. Grifter and Red Robin take center stage, but are overshadowed by the hope that Batman Beyond will finally actually do something relevant and important. But that’s the hardest part about motivating the reader to care about this series: it doesn’t seem to really matter. At all. You can have Zircher draw New Gods in hiding, Earth 2 prisoners being spied upon, a former sidekick to Batman kicking some ass in the streets and a future replacement Batman planning a heist with some D-list super-villains, but when all is said and done, if it’s boring, it’s boring. The art is beautiful, but the plot is a mess and the characters are so far detached from who they used to be (and who we as readers and fans have become accustomed to reading about) that it’s borderline impossible to care what happens to them. I know they’re probably going to die, but it’s ONE possible future of ONE possible timeline. And at that, it seems to be going all over the place and becoming stretched too thin along the way. At least Deathstroke looks like he’s going to take center stage sooner rather than later. Hopefully that’ll be enough for a while. Oh, well. Figure it out, writing team. Your artists are doing all the heavy lifting.
My Rating: 3/5
Detective Comics Annual #3
Why change the Calendar Man? Sigh. I know that Jeph Loeb wrote him absolutely perfectly and it’s a big no-no to acknowledge the work of a Marvel Comics big wig, but seriously… Why? Brian Buccellato is joined by three artists (who aren’t even remotely close to the talent of Francis Manapul, regular series co-plotter and artist) in a forgettable, slightly more expensive than it needs to be, self-contained story-within-the-big-story. “Icarus” continues in the main title and gets a new little side chapter with this issue, but the artwork of Werther Dell’Edera, Jorge Fornes, and Scott Hepburn is so desperately trying to look like Tim Sale that it’s almost as if The Long Halloween and Dark Victory are being purposely mocked. The Calendar Man is no longer creepy, intelligent, or calculating. He’s now a mindless thug who forgets his son’s birthday. Batman befriends said son, beats up his dad, tells him to “buy a calendar,” and drops the son off at the Aguila home to be cared for and hopefully adopted. A feel good story, but why did it have to be the Calendar Man? Why not make up a new character? And why charge five bucks? This is a good read for those who aren’t very familiar with any pre-New 52 Batman tales, but for die hards, it’s probably a good one to skip over.
My Rating: 2.5/5
So there you have it. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments section below. And we’ll see you next Baturday for a brand new month (and week) of Batman goodies!