Friday, October 07, 2011

Reviewing The New 52 - Part 6 - The Final Chapter

Hey, I’m a big Batman fan, but 11 Bat-Titles may be a bit much. Let’s find out.

Birds of Prey – Duane Swierczynski, Jesus Saiz
Birds of Prey opens with Charlie, a journalist trying to track down a “covert ops team run by a bunch of supercriminal hotties.” He quickly meets the first one, a tattooed, gun toting babe called Starling, as she and the Black Canary save Charlie from a bunch of ninja types who are trying to kill him. We then find out that these two have been using Charlie to flush out whoever’s behind the ninja types. They aren’t too successful, as they send Charlie to the airport and try to put him on a plane, at which point he blows up (an airplane seems to be a very bad place to be in the New DC Universe). If you like skillfully rendered pictures of hot, leather clad babes kicking ass, you will definitely like this book. If not, you may have to check out a few issues to see if it’s really going to become something worth reading. Recommendation: Issue by Issue

Catwoman – Judd Winnick, Guillem March
I’m not sure that leather clad babes kicking ass is enough to save Catwoman though. Catwoman starts with our heroine leaping from her apartment, half dressed, as skull-masked baddies break in and destroy the place. It continues with her infiltrating a Russian mob party and shredding a rapist, and concludes with her banging Batman. All in a day’s work, I guess, but not anything I really need to see more of. Recommendation: Pass

Nightwing – Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows, J.P. Mayer
I always thought that Nightwing, who is Dick Grayson, the original Robin, worked better as the leader of a team, specifically the Titans, and never took much interest in what he did on his own. Especially now, since it always seemed he was being groomed to be the next Batman, then he BECAME the next Batman, and now he’s back to Nightwing again. It’s a bit of an anti climax. This issue was pretty standard, Dick does some reflecting, fights some crime, visits his old circus folk friends, and fights some more crime. Nothing spectacular by any means. Recommendation: Pass

Batwing – Judd Winnick, Ben Oliver
Batwing is South Africa’s Batman, created as part of the Batman, Inc. initiative. Batwing’s secret identity is David Zavimbe, a police officer, so he really never gets a break from crime fighting, and can give Batman a run for his money when it comes to being obsessed. What’s interesting about the Batwing concept is captured perfectly in this little exchange:

I told Batman that a man dressed as a bat will not instill fear in the average criminal in Africa. They have seen too much.

He told me: “You just have to sell it.”

Need I say more? Recommendation: Keep Reading

Batgirl – Gail Simone, Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes
In Batgirl, Barbara Gordon is back. About 20 years ago, the Joker ended Babs’ Batgirl career with a bullet. Since then, she’s been confined to a wheelchair, and fighting crime as information processor supreme Oracle. (The guy who really needs to register with DC’s complaint department is The Joker. His two big coups, killing Robin and paralyzing Batgirl, have been undone. What’s a psychopath gotta do these days?) Now Barbara’s back in action, and you can tell she loves it. She takes out a group of young murderous sociopaths with giddy delight, even remarking to herself “I did? I completely did!” when one of the villains comments on how Batgirl has knocked his compatriot out cold. However, we also see the other side, when, while attempting to save a victim in a hospital bed, she freezes when a masked villain pulls a gun on her and points it right where the Joker’s bullet went, triggering a trauma flashback, allowing the villain to kill his prey. There are a lot of facets to this character, and I’m interested to see where this one will go. Recommendation: Issue by Issue 

Batwoman – J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman
The claim to fame of Batwoman, a recent addition to the DC universe, is that she became the first mainstream lesbian superhero. I’m not sure if that had anything to do with the stylistic choice, but for some reason Batwoman has a very gothic feel, with lots of raven blacks, ethereal blues, smoky greys and blood reds. We start with Batwoman saving a family from some kind of creepy water spirit. We then move on to see Kate Kane, after a brief back and forth with a cop friend, hanging out in what appears to pass for her version of the Batcave, where she is offering some sage advice to her sidekick, who is not Batgirl, but Flamebird, AKA her cousin Bette. We then get a little backstory where we learn why Kate hates her father. The book feels sort of all over the place and I would wait for it to find an identity before following it. Recommendation: Pass

Red Hood and the Outlaws – Scott Lobdell and Kenneth Rocafort
This book is the Teen Titans Gone to Hell, and not in a good way. It features Roy Harper (Speedy), Jason Todd (Red Hood, A.K.A. Robin II), and Koriand’r (Starfire) as a ragtag band of I don’t know what. It starts with Jason breaking Roy out of an Arab prison, and moves to some tropical island where it seems they’re both sleeping with Kory. Roy has no personality, Jason has one, but it’s very unpleasant, and Kory seems to have been turned from a nuanced alien princess to an adolescent fantasy sex toy. I think you can guess where I’m going with this one. Recommendation: Pass 

Batman and Robin – Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray
Finally, we get to the books that actually feature Batman. Batman and Robin is fun, if for nothing else, than for Robin, AKA Damian Wayne, whose father is Batman and whose mother is the daughter of R’as Al Ghul, one of Batman’s greatest enemies. The result is a Robin who is cynical, nasty, smart, precocious and alarmingly vicious. Seeing Batman try to get this little brat under control is worth the price of admission. Recommendation: Keep Reading 

Batman: The Dark Knight – David Finch, Paul Jenkins, Richard Friend
This book is fine, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. It’s a standard Batman story, with Batman having to deal with a breakout at Arkham Asylum. I assumed that one of these books would be a Batman: Early Years, the way Action Comics is for Superman, but if that’s the case, I haven’t figured out which one. I’ll probably keep reading this for an issue or two to see if it distinguishes itself from other bat-books, but if you’re not big on Batman, you can skip it. Recommendation: Issue by Issue 

Batman: Detective Comics – Tony S. Daniel, Ryan Winn
Detective Comics might be that Batman: Early Years book I’m looking for, since in it, the police are an enemy of Batman, but that may be true in the current New Universe. It’s a Joker story, and in the fine tradition of Joker stories, it’s a disturbing one. There’s plenty of brooding, action and daring saves, so if you’re a Batman fan, you should definitely check it out. Recommendation: Keep Reading 

Batman – Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion
I was obviously hoping for big things from the Batman title. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get it. In fact, I think this book exposes the problem with Batman oversaturation. This issue actually borrows sequences from the other books. There’s a breakout at Arkham, just like in the Dark Knight, and there’s a Batman internal monologue that turns out to be a speech Bruce Wayne is giving to a nattily dressed crowed, just like in Detective Comics. In fact, check out the art from P. 8-9 of Batman and P.11-12 of Detective. They’re practically interchangeable. And no, these aren’t just different takes on the same scene. There are enough differences that they are clearly separate stories. I don’t know who borrowed from whom, but the net effect is originality seems to have gone out the window. I can’t bring myself to tell you to pass on Batman, so I’ll just say Recommendation: Issue by Issue

And that’s it! Of the 52, I’ve only tagged 16 as must reads, so that’s a fairly affordable $12 a week. No need to send money, even though I’ve just saved you a ton of it; your undying gratitude and admiration are sufficient. I’ll probably take a break for awhile, and then possibly move on to non comics matters for a bit, so savor these reviews! Later!


Danyul said...

You can just save me more money but sending me the comics I want to read.

Craig Berger said...

No one's trying to save YOU money, Finance boy.