Friday, August 5, 2016

Five Comic Book Members of the Suicide Squad for the Inevitable Sequel

DC's next major motion picture opens today: Suicide Squad. One of my favorite properties from the 80s, the Suicide Squad is a team of villains forced to do covert ops for the US government. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I'm not here to comment on it, but instead to talk about the comics, and casting. You see, the reason why the team is called the Suicide Squad is because there's a good chance that team members aren't going to make it back from these missions, which means high team turnover. So that means there are plenty of other options for team members, and I'm hear to talk about five possible characters who could join the Squad ion the sequel that will probably be coming.

It's important to note that, while the Suicide Squad has had many incarnations, both before and after, I'm drawing all of my choices from what I view as THE Suicide Squad comic, the 1980s series written by John Ostrander and Kim Yale. It is easily one of the best series DC published at a point of high creativity, filled with topical politics, all out action, and tremendous character depth.

Before I start, I just want to call out three squad members who didn't make it on this list not because they're not awesome and I would love to see them on the big screen, but because of some of the weird silos that DC has on many of its character, these three feature prominently as heroes or villains on the CW DC TV series, and so will be featured there: Vixen, who has been added to the cast of Legends of Tomorrow for next season, Count Vertigo, who is one of Green Arrow's principal foes and has appeared in various iterations on Arrow,  and the one non-Ostrander/Yale character I considered, King Shark, who first joined the team in the pages of Superboy and became a regular in the New 52, who has been a featured villain on Flash. I'd be thrilled to see any of those characters make the movies though, DC, so keep them in mind!

Now without further ado, five members of the Suicide Squad I'd like to see in the sequel, in mostly alphabetical order:

Bronze Tiger
Ben Turner was a skilled martial artist who was taken and brain washed to serve as a member of the League of Assassins. After the conditioning was broken, he willingly joined the Suicide Squad to atone for all the deaths he caused as a member of the League. He did appear on Arrow as a member of the Squad, but disappeared around the same time the fiat came from on high from Warners to remove the team, so I don't see any problem in him being used here. I'm picking Bronze Tiger for a couple reasons. He was one of the staples of the original '80s Squad, along with Deadshot, Boomerang, and Amanda Waller. He's got a great backstory, and his nobility makes him stand apart from the more sociopathic members of the team, while he still struggles with rage and doubt caused by years of mind control. Also, while I have to give the movie credit for having more diversity than a lot of superhero teams, it never hurts to add another actor of color to your roster. I also like the connection to the League of Assassins. Again, while used on Arrow, the League is primarily a Batman related property, and I think it would be interesting to do a Suicide Squad vs. ninjas movie, with a more comic book traditional Ra's al Ghul as the big bad, and adding in Bronze Tiger gives a connection to the League.

We already known that Darkseid and his minions are the big bad in this first phase of DC Universe movies, and it would make sense to have someone tied to that become a member of the Suicide Squad. Duchess was in reality Lashina, a member of Granny Goodness's Female Furies, who was betrayed by another Fury, Bernadeth, and left behind on a mission. She joined the Suicide Squad, claiming amnesia, but secretly spent her time on the Squad looking for a way back to Apokolips, and when it arrived she took it, bringing most of the Squad along with her and costing the lives of more than one member. I like the idea of adding to the cohesive nature of the shared universe in a less forced way then it seems DC has been doing, by naturally working a survivor from what I assume is the Apokoliptian invasion coming in the Justice League films into the roster. It would also be cool to get another physically imposing female figure in movies in general, and her particularly, since it would give the Squad a character who could go toe-to-toe with the Justice League's heavy hitters.

I have a soft spot for Tom Tresser, the spy code named Nemesis, first from his tme on the Suicide Squad, then his appearances in Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman, and the two really trppy mini-series he starred in that spun out of Final Crisis. Nemesis worked with the Squad not as a convict but because he owed Amanda Waller and Rick Flag for saving his life. Since the Squad is theoretically a covert ops team, having a master of disguise on the roster always made sense to me. It's also interesting to have him on the team because, even though Rick Flag and Bronze Tiger are mostly good guys, they both are men who know how to make hard choices. Nemesis was a softer touch, and had more problems with the ruthless way the Squad was run; he provided a different angle on the Squad missions.

Poison Ivy
While Harley Quinn has become a staple of the Suicide Squad in recent years, her BFF/girlfriend Poison Ivy was a long standing member in the original series. Back when the series was written, Ivy had not been remade into the eco-terrorist/sympathetic villain she is now, but was instead mostly a master manipulator of men; she spent a good part of the run with Count Vertigo held in her thrall. I would expect a Suicide Squad movie to use the current, more well regarded version of Ivy. It would be fun to see the Harley and Ivy dynamic played out in live action and on screen, helping to bring some levity to things.

I went back and forth on this as a choice. One of John Ostrander and Kim Yale's principal achievements on Suicide Squad was taking the mess that was The Killing Joke and crafting Oracle, the Barbara Gordon who I grew up reading. I know that, now that Barbara is back being Batgirl again, many readers sort of want to move completely beyond Oracle since it brings up the somewhat ugly spectre that Killing Joke casts on the character, but I love Oracle. I love the concept that even when the use of her legs are taken away, Barbara Gordon is such a hero that she finds a way to still do good. I love the perseverance and strength of character that this demonstrates for Barbara. And I think it gives an opportunity for all sorts of stories and a different sort of representation, once we see even less of in movies. And there are ways to create Oracle that aren't as ugly as Joker's sadistic attack on her; there are enough differences between the DCEU and the DCU that the filmmakers could come up with a new story that still has the same effect. And after all the teasing of a possible Barbara Gordon in the BvS extended cut, wouldn't it be nice to get a real appearance in the DCEU?

The Supporting Cast
OK, so this takes me beyond the five I said I'd pick, but this is something that was really important in the original Suicide Squad series that has been missing in pretty much all the versions since. Ostrander and Yale built a sizable network of character who operated around the main Squad as support staff, and spent time making them all fully realized characters. I know this would be hard to do in a movie, or even a series of movies, but it would be great to try, or at least to give some nods to them. Characters like Flow Crawley, the daughter of Amanda Waller's cousin who worked in the administration of Belle Reve, and who gave Waller of less cold, more human side. Or Father Craemer, the prison chaplain, who Ostrander would go on to do amazing things with in The Spectre. Doctors Simon LaGrieve and Marnie Herrs could be put to excellent use, who would often try to convince Waller that members of the team weren't ready for these missions to no effect, giving a voice of compassion in a series filled with characters who are not compassionate at all. And finally there was Mitch Sekofsky, the mechanic for the Squad's transports, who was one of the first openly gay characters in DC history. The Marvel franchises have proven that you can build these kind of networks of supporting characters so we can hope that DC can move forward with a wide array of background characters.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!

Season One, Episode Twenty: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!
Written by J.M. DeMatteis
Directed by Brandon Vietti

Plot Synopsis

Batman, driving the Batmobile,  gives chase to Joker in his Joker Mobile. Green Arrow catches up in his Arrowmobile, and the two heroes usual competetive streak comes out as they both try to catch the arch-criminal and see who has the cooler car. With Joker taken care of, they see Catwoman esacpe Gotham museum in her Catplane, and the two cars transform into planes as they give chase, still bantering.

Episode: Batman arrives at a laboratory, and finds a body under a sheet, only to be surprised by Red Tornado. Removing the sheet, Tornado reveals another robot. Tornado tells Batman he is about to activate the other robot, and Batman takes it to mean he wants to share the moment with a friend. Tornado says he has created an imporved version of himself, and Batman wonders about the creation of life, and what might go wrong. Tornado says he has installed a fail-safe of "my son" goes wrong, and Batman is shocked at the choice of words.

A blast of energy permeates the smaller robot, and Tornado Champion stands up, but does not seem to demonstrate the emotions that Tornado's improvements, the things he does not have, should have bestowed on him. Tornado wants to work together and fight crime to see if that might stir Champion, and finds that the villain Major Disaster is nearby.

Major Disaster is threatening the city with a hurricane as the heroes arrive. As they fight near a rollercoaster, Champion is able to direct Disaster's lightning back at him so batman can punch him out. But as the heroes are distracted after the fight, the still not entirely unconscious Disaster is able to blast Champion. Tornado holds his son, who seems fatally damaged, but a flash of light explodes from his face, and suddenly the previously emotionless Champion, smiles and calls Tornado, "Father!"

Back at the lab, Tornado analyzes Champion, and the younger robot is excited and filled with emotions. Batman looks on, seemingly doubtful. The two robots travel the world, stopping disasters and criminals talking about life and the meaning of it and emotions, all while Batman watches from the distance. Champion seems impatient and a little doubtful about some of Tornado's philosophical answers.

At a fire, Champion saves two children, but they are afraid of him and the crowd turns on him, calling him a robot, though Champion views himself as a person. He and Tornado fly off, and they talk about emotions, and Champion's not understanding why he is not accepted. When Tornado tells Champion he will be accepted someday, he scoffs and flies off, leaving Tornado alone. Batman approaches him, and Tornado reveals he knows Batman has been watching him, but remains sure that Champion is doing fine. Tornado detects Major Disaster attempting to escape jail, and the heroes head off to stop him.

Batman and Tornado confront Disaster in the prison yard, and while Disaster has the upper hand, Champion's arrival turns the tide. But this time it' Tornado who is wounded, and Champion turns on Disaster seeking revenge, beating Disaster with whirlwinds. Batman stops Champion from delivering a deathblow, and the two argue about the morality of revenge, before he strike Batman. Tornado steps in the way, and tells Champion to stop, but Champion says humans are evil and a disease. Batman is able to strike Champion with a Batarang, shutting him down.

Batman and Tornado are back in the lab, Tornado wanting to save his son, Batman telling him that Champion is too dangerous and must be shut off using the fail-safe. Despite Champion's pleas, Tornado decides the fail-safe is the logical solution, and Champion shuts down. The two heroes walk away from the still robot, only for his eyes to glow green as they exit, revealing he removed the fail-safe. He uses Tornado's equipment to upgrade himself, redesigning himself into the more sinister Tornado Tyrant.

On the beach at Coast City, where the boardwalk Major Disaster initially attacked rests, a tidal wave blasts ashore, devastating the area. Two survivors see Tyrant, who follows his handiwork, and says he plans to wipe humanity from the globe. Batman and Tornado head toward Tyrant, preparing to do what must be done to stop him. They confront Tyrant with a device Tornado is sure will scramble Tyrant's programming, but Tyrant puts up a considerable fight, knocking Batman and the scrambler away.

Tornado and his son face each other is a duel of the winds, but Tyrant proves stronger. Tornado begs his son to stop, saying humans deserve better, but Tyrant will hear none of it, and savagely attacks Tornado, crushing him between two cars. Tornado again tries to reason with Tyrant, telling him of humanity's good side, their quest to connect and love, but Tyrant is unmoved.

As Tyrant is about to destroy his father, Batman is able to snag Tyrant with a grapnel, pull himself up to the robot, and plant the scrambler in Tyrant's head. Tornado uses the opportunity to charge Tyrant, plants his hands inside the other robot, and use his wind powers to destroy the rogue robot, although he averts his eyes, unable to see what he's doing to his son. Tornado collapses to his knees as Batman walks up to him.

One final time at the lab, Tornado mourns his attempts to create a son, saying he should never have done it and he does not understand human emotion. Batman assures him, having heard what Tornado said about human life and love, that Tornado may have found his own humanity. Tornado says that he just parroted what he has seen and read, and has no insight into it, and uses his machines to destroy what is left of Tyrant's parts. He assures Batman he is ok, and as he stands alone, a single tear falls from his eye. Tornado observes it and says he must run a diagnostic, not knowing that it is a most human act.

Who's Who

Red Tornado (Voiced by Corey Burton)
First Comic Book Appearance:  Justice League of America #64 (August, 1968)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Four- Invasion of the Secret Santas!

Major Disaster (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: Green Lantern #43 (March, 1966)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Twenty: Hail the Tornado Tyrant!

Paul Booker has an origin that is similar to those of a lot of Silver Age villains. He was a petty crook who got his hands on advanced technology and decided to use it to become a super criminal. Starting out as a Green Lantern foe (Part of his origin story had him discovering Hal Jordan's secret identity), he would go on to fight Superman, John Stewart, and the Outsiders before becoming a member of the comical Injustice League during the Giffen/DeMatteis era, which reformed and became the Justice League Antarctica. After briefly returning to villainy (and getting his powers made a part of him by the demon Neron), Booker reformed thanks to the faith of Superman, he was recruited by Batman as a member of the substitute Justice League when the main team went missing. When the Justice League returned, he became a member of the Justice League Elite, a covert ops League. He would eventually be killed during the Infinite Crisis crossover, and has yet to appear in DC's new timeline. Major Disaster's power allowed him to create natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes. After his deal with Neron, his power became one that effected causality, making bad fortune happen to people from still large events to smaller ones like tripping and falling.

The Joker (Voiced by Jeff Bennett)
First Comic Book Appearance: Batman #1 (April 1940)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Thirteen- Game Over for Owlman!

Green Arrow (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode One- Rise of the Blue Beetle

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

Comic book writer J.M. DeMatteis returns for his third episode as writer. It's cool that DeMatteis focuses on a different hero in each of these episodes, as opposed to tracking one hero. His first episode was a Green Arrow one, followed by a Green Lantern one, and now Red Tornado in his third.

The origins of Red Tornado from before the DC Comics defining event, Crisis on Infinite Earths, is as complex and knotty as those of Hawkman after the Crisis, but suffice it to say, he used both the identities of Tornado Champion and Tornado Tyrant at different points in his existence. I do my best to sum up this kind of thing here, but it's all so messy that I just have to refer you to Wikipedia to try to read it all. It's... really something.

Tornado Champion's initial design, with the purple cape and briefs, is actually one of Red Tornado's earlier designs before creators settled on his current, more well known, one.

Carl Lumbly, who voices Tornado Champion/Tyrant, is best known in DC Animation circles as the voice of J'onn J'onzz,the Martian Manhunter, on Justice League & Justice League Unlimited.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/27

Adventure Time Comics #1
Story & Art: Various

Boom! launches a new Adventure Time series this week, and it's totally mathematical! Featuring some of comics best cartoonists, this first issue features some of my personal favorites as well. This issue has four short stories, which vary from very light in both subject and continuity, to some deep dives into more obscure Adventure Time characters.

"Toothpaste Fairy" by Art Baltazar- Art Baltazar, co-creator of Tiny Titans and Patrick the Wolf Boy, brings us a story of Finn going on a quest for toothpaste! You have to imagine in the post-apocalyptic future of the Land of Ooo, toothpaste isn't exactly easy to come by, but fortunately there's a Toothpaste Fairy! It's a light, fluffy story (an apt description when you see all the clouds) and perfect if you've enjoyed Art's Tiny Titans stories.

"Stand Next to Me" by Katie Cook- Katie Cook, of Gronk fame, tells a story featuring some of Ooo's lesser known princesses. Breakfast Princess is the main character of the story, and I am reminded how awful she is; she's the Mean Girl of the princess set. She leads Pastry Princess and a cupcake person into the woods to retrieve a skeleton that is near Lump Space Princess's campsite because being near LSP is a fate "worse than death." The story shows that LSP, for all her usual craziness and narcissism, does have a good heart, and puts Breakfast Princess sort of in her place. I love Cook's art (I have a tiny commission of her's framed on my mantle), and I love her takes on the princesses and Ooo in general.

"Goliad Gets a Break" by Tony Millionaire- Taking one of Adventure Time's odder characters, the powerful psychic candy beast Goliad out for a romp is none other than Tony Millionaire, whose Sock Monkey and Maakies bear a similarity to the odder and darker corners of the Adventure Time mythos. Millionaire clearly knows his Adventure Time, cramming in cameos by such minor characters as Choose Goose, Ricardio, and the Orgalorg. Millionaire's style is no less cartoony than the rest, but has more of an edge, which fits the darker nature of the story, although it is still lighter than many of the recent episodes of the animated series.

"Good Shelf" by Kate Leyh- Kate Leyh has done some Adventure Time shorts before, and is a co-writer on Lumberjanes, so she knows how to write friendship, so it's nice to have her round out this inaugural issue with a tale of Finn and Jake, with Finn building things out of wood he found. Being this is Ooo, though, boards you just happen to find aren't usually just boards, and Finn's good nature and naivete lead to a bit of an issue. It's a fun short story, and like the best really short stories (only three pages), it has plenty packed into it without seeming cramped or rushed.

Batgirl #1
Story: Hope Larson
Art: Rafael Albuquerque & Dave McCaig

Batgirl enters the "Rebirth" era with a solid new status quo and a fun opening issue. After the trauma of the end of the previous volume of her series, Barbara Gordon is taking a trip "Beyond Burnside" (the title of the arc) to do some soul searching. Starting her travels in Japan, Babs is there to investigate the story of one of the world's first superheroines, the Fruit Bat, who fought crime in 1939 Japan, and who is now a one hundred and four year old woman. But Barbara starts off at a hostel where her roommate is a guy named Kai, who coincidentally was a friend of hers when the Gordons lived in Chicago. Barbara seems to take this at face value initially. Hope Larson gets Barbara right from the get go; Babs can't stop calling her friend Frankie back in Burnside to check in on things, even thought she's been gone for less than a day. Babs is fascinated with the history of superheroes. Babs is a good friend. Larson absolutely gets all the aspects of Babs as a character. But Larson doesn't hold back on the action, which is part of what makes this a great first issue. She finds a nice balance between establishing Barbara's new situation with a great action scene as sailor suited clown make-up wearing girl attacks Kai; Babs immediately knows that Kai, who was a kid with a past, is not saying everything about his innocent trip to tour Asia. And the mysteries of the series are deepened when we see that, despite being a centenarian, the Fruit Bat still has some moves, and sets Babs on the next leg of her journey. And I'm glad Rafael Albuquerque is the guy drawing it, because it looks amazing. It's been so long since he regularly did superhero work, except for a short run on Animal Man, that I forgot how great a superhero artist he is; I think of him as a horror artist thanks to American Vampire, forgetting how much I adored his Blue Beetle run. His style has so much energy, so much flare, that Batgirl practically jumps off the page. There's a bit with a thrown knife that flashes from panel to panel on a grid and another of Barbara thinking of how to take down the clown girl with a thrown ball that are absolutely stunning. If this first issue is any indication, the new volume of Batgirl picks up from the last one and maintains the air of fun and adventure while setting its own direction.

Detective Comics #937
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, & Brad Anderson

When will I stop reviewing the Rebirth Detective Comics? When it stops being the best Bat book on the shelves and a love letter to Batman fans! Each issue, writer James Tynion IV packs in more references to classic Batman stories and continuity while still making a series completely accessible to new fans and fans of the characters on Batman's team who might not be mired in years of Batman minutiae. While last issue focused entirely on the team, this issue starts off with and focuses mostly on Batman himself. Imprisoned by the Colony, the military organization using Batman's tactics, we watch as Batman breaks his way out of their imprisonment and gets an idea of what the military is doing using his name. We see the base, the toys, and the man designing it all: Ulysses Hadrian Armstrong, better known as The General. A creation of Chuck Dixon, the general was a villain who moved on to be one of Tim Drake's arch-foes, a teenager with a brilliant military mind, and Tynion has him working for the military, designing Batman type weapons for the Colony. It's a great turn, and a great use of a character I love. There's one panel in particular, as Batman watches a video of the Colony do a wetwork mission, where The General offers to see a more gory video in delight, and Batman's one panel, shadowed, "No." radiates rage at the perversion of what he does. As things continue, we get the confrontation between Batman and his uncle, Jake Kane, the man behind the Colony, and again we see why they call Batman the world's greatest detective, as we learn how much Batman already knew before even recruiting his team. Speaking of the team, they have their own pages here, as we get to see the strengths of two of their members: Batwoman's indomitable will as she prepares to stand up to her father, and Red Robin's brain. As a life-long Tim Drake fan (his life, I suppose, as I was nine when he was created, but still he and I go way back), it's cool to see what Tim has been up to and designed in Gotham's underground, and how it also features another nod to one of Chuck Dixon's creations, the Bat-Rocket, the subway vehicle Azrael-Batman drove around. There's another bit of Batman continuity that gets a call out, but it's a mystery for now, a nod to other media Batman and to things to come that I don't want to discuss yet as it would be a spoiler of sorts, but I like that Tynion is building a whole long form narrative; I can't wait to see how it pays off. Seriously, if you're a fan of Batman in general and you're not trying out Detective, do yourself a favor and pick up the series now, because you're in for a treat.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Recommended Reading for 7/29: Dark Night: A True Batman Story

Paul Dini is a creator I've written about often. This guy writes exciting super hero stories for comics and TV, funny stories of wacky animals and equally funny fantastical people. And as he points out right at the top of his graphic memoir, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, this is none of those. Dini's graphic memoir centers around a brutal mugging he suffered in 1993, and the physical and emotional aftermath of the event. It's an uncompromising and sometimes harsh look at where Dini's life was at the time and where it has gone since. But in the end, there's hope, hope inspired by a vigilante who stands in Gotham City.

Throughout the prologue of sorts, the story of Dini's life until the main events of the main plot kick off, and as it continues, Dini talks to the characters he loves, be they Beanie and Cecil when he is at his youngest, to Batman and his rogues in the main story and into the present. I think any of us who grew up as lonely, weird kids, "invisible kids" as Dini calls them,can relate to these kind of imaginary friends, being easier to talk to and interact with than real people. It's an understanding of my own youth that drew me in and immediately got me to empathize with Dini

Narrated by a present Dini, the main story flashes back to Dini around Christmas time in 1993, He's living a good life, working on a hit show and preparing for a feature (the much loved Batman: Mask of the Phantasm), but a lonely one. It feels like most of his friends are people he's just sort of passing by, and his love life is full of would-be starlets that he's using as arm candy, and who are using him for possible connections in Hollywood. He works, he leaves a geeky life that many of us would envy, and he goes to therapy. This is his life.

The mugging scene is the center of the story, and is a singularly bleak and brutal sequence. Eduardo Risso, best known for his work with Brian Azzarello on 100 Bullets and Spaceman, whose art I'll discuss more later on, draws this scene with a brutality that may make some readers uncomfortable. And that's good, because it should. It's an act of violence without conscience, the kind of thing that we are often desensitized to in media, but here it's so stark that you wince when you see what's being done, and Dini's own thoughts, the thoughts of if he's going to survive, of the people he'll be leaving behind,make it all the more painful.

After the mugging, much of the story deals with Dini thinking about what it means to write Batman when he feels like the character doesn't matter. Where was Batman when he was being beaten? Where is Batman now that the police can't find the men who beat and mugged him. I appreciate a memoir that doesn't try to apologize for the person's behavior. Dini not only looks at the dark moments that happened after, the drinking, the thoughts about buying a gun so he can feel safe, the inability to work, with self-harm he had already perpetrated even before these events. It's painful to watch someone do these things to themselves.

It's through the classic Batman characters that Dini deals with what is going on in his mind. The Joker is. not surprisingly, the voice of a nihilistic sort of self destruction. Poison Ivy asks uncomfortable questions. The Scarecrow is the voice of fear. Penguin encourages a wanton self destruction through alcohol. Two-Face is what Dini sees in the mirror in his own broken face. They are a greek chorus of bad thoughts.

Now, all of this sounds pretty bleak. And a lot of it is. But there's hope in it too, and that hope is the voice of Batman, always encouraging Dini to get up and move on. I have always found Batman to be a hopeful character, no matter what dark trappings he is wrapped in. Because Batman took one of the greatest tragedies that any person could face, and he stood up. That image, that wording, that you have to stand up, is Dini's message. "We can accept being a victim or choose to be the hero of our own stories. And we make that choice by standing up." And watching Dini come around to that statement, one he makes at the very end of the book, by realizing that his cartoons matter to people, and why Batman matters to him and to others, it's what makes this book more than just an exercise in casting out personal demons: it makes it a statement of hope.

I've always liked Eduardo Risso's noir tinged pencils, between 100 Bullets and his work on Batman, both in Wednesday Comics, Flahspoint: Batman, and Broken City. His work here is slightly different. It runs a gamut of tones from more realistic to gritty street to surreal supervillains, all while maintaining Risso's trademark style. The colors soften and harden based on how deeply you are inside Dini's frequently damaged thoughts. I love how Risso draws the different Bat villains, from a very traditional Joker, to an Arkham Asylum inspired Scarecrow with the finger needles, to a Penguin halfway between the classic and the vision from Batman Returns. But it's his illustrations of Dini himself, the facial work and body language, that really jumped out at me. There are plenty of heavy shadows and sharp angles, stuff Risso is known for, but it's in the faces and the character work that he really shines in this book, and where Risso shows himself to have whole different layers than the crime artist he is best known to be.

There's a lot more that I could say about this book, but much of it is details that I'd like for you to discover yourself as you read it. I loved seeing Dini interact with his fellow writer and artists on Batman: The Animated Series, and his comment that the story of the produciton of that series deserves its own graphic novel is something I'd love for him to swing back to at some point. It's interesting to see that one particular character, the one Dini is most associated with, Harley Quinn, only makes her first appearance at the very end of the book, but it feels right, as it's only when Dini sort of comes back to himself that Harley, who is so filled with joy and zeal, can talk to him again (although Haroley's voice actress, Arleen Sorkin, appears as one of Dini's few close friends repeatedly in the book).

Also, as a fanboy, I have to point out there are some wonderful nuggets for the Batman fan, despite this not being a book about Batman in the fictional story sense. There's a tidbit about an initial thought on Joker's fate in the world of Batman Beyond that is chilling. And there's a three page scene that reveals a treatment for an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that never was, one featuring characters from The Sandman, that I don't want to spoil any more about it, but wow, I would love to have seen this animated, and if not, Mr. Dini, if you're reading this, that would make a heck of a one-shot, I'm just saying.

Batman means a lot to me, personally. He's been my friend, my confidant, and my inspiration for many, many years. And it makes me feel a kinship to Paul Dini that he has done the same thing. Dark Night is a book about finding hope and standing up. It's one of the best graphic memoirs I've read in a long time, a mix of fact and fantasy that takes full advantage of the medium, and a worthy addition to anyone's Batman library.

Dark Knight: A True Batman Story is available in hardcover at comic shops and wherever books are sold.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: Legends of the Dark Mite!

Season One, Episode Nineteen: Legends of the Dark Mite!
Written by Paul Dini
Directed by Ben Jones

Plot Synopsis

Catman is holding an auction for an endangered tiger when batmn interrupts the auction. He fights off the various people bidding on the tiger, and when Catman frees the jungle cat to attack him, Batman whistles for the aid of Ace the Bat Hound, who defeats tiger, sending it scurrying away, before running Catman up a tree and getting a Bat shaped dog treat.

Episode: A bomb goes off in a Gotham bank, as two mobsters go in to steal the money, only to see Batman's silhouette pop up in the door along with strange narration. The thugs immediately surrender, only to have the narrator sound his disappointment and order the mobsters to attack, and they seemingly do against their volition. They surrender quickly again, when suddenly more thugs appear, now all armed with tommy guns. Batman avoids them, and then they turn into ninjas, attacking again.

Batman demands the narrator show himself, and Batman is quickly teleported outside as Bat-Mite, an imp from the fifth dimension wearing a Batman inspired costume appears, declaring himself Batman's number one fan. Batman tries to swing away on his grapnel, only to find Bat-Mite following him. Bat-Mite explains his powers and purpose: to make Batman the greatest hero ever. He starts by changing his costume (into various ones recognizable from the characters history).

When Batman shakes this off and tells Bat- Mite he does this to fight villains too dangerous for police, Bat-Mite decides to summon the greatest villain of all for Batman to fight so the world can see how great Batman is. Batman dodges various heavy hitter before tricking Bat-Mite into summoning Calendar Man, Batman tells him to "take a dive," and he falls over. Batman tells Bat-Mite he won and Bat-Mite should go home.

But Bat-Mite isn't satisfied and turns Calendar Man into Calendar King, whi can summon holiday icons to aid him. He summons jack o'lantern men, biker Santas, and buff Uncle Sams to fight Batman, and while they are tougher than the mobsters and ninjas were, Batman defeats them, only to have giant mutant Easter bunnies attack him.

Bat-Mite wonders if this is too over the top and freezes things, heading to the Fifth Dimension's comic con to hear what the Batman fanboys have to say about it. On stage are animated versions of the crew of Brave and the Bold, and when a fan says that this version of Batman isn't the grim urban avenger and is, "not my Batman," they reply with a wonderful speech about the history of Batman and how this is a valid version. Appeased, Bat-Mite starts the fight again, before Batman knocks out the bunnies with a gas grenade and Batman decks Calendar King.

As Bat-Mite prepares to summon another villain, Batman convinces him to depart so he can fight real crime (and bribes him with a signed Batarang). Bat-Mite disappears, and Batman reappears in the bank vault with the mobsters from the beginning of the episode, who he makes short work of before returning to the Batcave.

Dropping down into the chair in front of the Batcomputer, Batman begins to talk about his night to Ace, commenting on the "weird little creep" he spent the night dealing with only to see a second Ace walking up to him. The first Ace, Bat-Mite in disguise, furiously teleports Batman to an alien world, where fling saucers and monsters attempt to kill him. A giant Bat-Mite tells Batman that the Dark Knight will be his toy, and he'll play with him until he breaks.

Batman figts his way through the aliens and monsters, stealing a flying saucer and using it for his benefit, untilhe realizes what's going on and Batman calls Bat-Mite's bluff, not fighting anymore, letting the monsters come... but none deliver a killing blow. Batman says he'd rather let himself be destroyed then be the imp's plaything, and then goads Bat-Mite into using his powers to turn himself into Batman.

Bat-Mite, his tiny head on an over-muscled Bat-body, is now in Gotham, with Batman narrating. Bat-Mite heads to the science museum to stop Gorilla Grodd, but is knocked down by Grodd who runs off with a device he stole. Batman tells Bat-Mite he needs to out-think Grodd, and Bat-Mite uses a banana to trip up the great ape, but the device explodes, sending Bat-Mite tumbling into an abyss of darkness, where many of Batman's foes are waiting.

They dogpile on him, and Bat-Mite runs away in fear. Batman appears, telling him to confront his foes and out-think them, but Bat-Mite says his imagination is running away with him and he continues to flee, only to have Kite-Man grab him and drop him from a height. He runs through traps laid out by Polka Dot Man, portals that summon villains, is frozen by Mr. Zero and smashed by the Tweedles, and is trapped by the Riddler.

Bat-Mite calls for Batman's help, who drops down and uses a combination of brains and brawn to begin defeating the villains. Inspired, Bat-Mite breaks out of his cage and defeats the last few. He zaps himself and Batman out of the hallucinatory world he created, feeling sorry for himself, but Batman tells him he should be proud of himself and his powers, and not blindly follow someone else. Bat-Mite thanks Batman, and returns him to the Batcave, where he tests to make sure Ace is really Ace before relaxing.

At a jewelry store, the villainous Copperhead is stealing handfuls of jewels before being knocked out by a boxing glove arrow. Green Arrow steps unto the light, only to hear a voice and turn around to see Bat-Mite, hovering in a Green Arrow costume, telling the archer that he's his number one fan. We fade to black and then pop back up as Bat-Mite breaks through a drum and delivers the classic Warner Bros. sign off, "That's all, folks," ala Porky Pig.

Who's Who

Bat-Mite (Voiced by Paul Reubens)
First Comic Book Appearance: Detective Comics #267 (May, 1959)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Nineteen- Legends of the Dark Mite!

Bat-Mite's origins and motivations are pretty much straight our of this episode: fifth dimensional Batman super-fan. He was introduced in the sci-fi heavy era of Batman stories from the late 50s and early 60s, and would often appear as a nuisance in Batman stories. While he disappeared, he never fully went away, appearing in occasional stories throughout the years, resurrected in Legends of the Dark Knight stories, in Grant Morrison's run on Batman, and in places like Brave and the Bold. If you want to learn more about Bat-Mite, you can check out the post I wrote before his recent mini-series.

Ace the Bat Hound (Voiced by Dee Bradley Baker)
First Comic Book Appearance: Batman #92 (June, 1955)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Nineteen- Legends of the Dark Mite!

Batman's trusty dog, Ace the Bat Hound, has appeared in many different incarnations over the hiostory of Batman. Originally appearing in the '50s, Ace was a German Shepherd who Batman and Robin encountered on a case and took in. He would help them on cases, and would even wear a mask and a cape. Ace would appear throughout the 50s and early 60s, and disappear around the time Julie Schwartz took over editing the Bat titles in the mid-60s; this is the version that inspired the Brave and the Bold take on the character. A new, post-Crisis Ace was introduced in the 90s, a puggle who Batman took in after his owner passed away. This Ace rarely joined in cases and never wore the mask and cape. He also disappeared, this time after "No Man's Land." Currently, Batman has a dog in the comics, one he bought for his son, Damian, a Great Dane named Titus. A version of Ace also appeared in Batman Beyond, who was also a Great Dane, and served as the elder Bruce Wayne's guard dog. The traditional Ace was resurrected as one of the regular supporting castmembers/guest stars in the Krypto the Superdog animated series, where he wore the mask and cape and acted like a canine version of his famous owner, serious, intelligent, and stern.

Catman (Voiced by Thomas F. Wilson)
First Comic Book Appearance: Detective Comics #311 (January, 1963)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Nineteen- Legends of the Dark Mite!

Thomas Blake was a big game hunter who had grown bored with hunting, and decided instead to take up crime to pay off his gambling debts Fashioning a costume from the cloth that had wrapped an ancient idol that was said to grant the nine lives of a cat, Blake became the criminal known as Catman. A minor Batman foe at best, Blake would be defeated regularly by Batman, as well as other heroes and his sometime rival, Catwoman. Blake would eventually retire and become the lowest of the low in the supervillain world. But hitting rock bottom made Blake look up again, and he would return to Africa, train again, and become a decidedly more deadly threat. Recruited as a member of the Secret Six, Catman was now a force to be reckoned with, a deadly hand to hand combatant and tracker. In the New 52 continuity, Blake is again a member of the Secret Six, although much of his backstory as a nemesis of Batman has been erased, with him simply being a mercenary and hunter.

Calendar Man (Voiced by Jim Piddock)
First Comic Book Appearance: Detective Comics #259 (September, 1958)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Nineteen- Legends of the Dark Mite!

Julian Day was a man obsessed with holidays and calendars, and like many villains of the 50s and 60s, used his obsession to create a criminal persona. Calendar Man would commit crimes centered on and around holidays. He would probably have faded into obscurity with the likes of Kite Man if not for the redesign by Tim Sale for his and Jeph Loeb's seminal Batman: The Long Halloween, where he became a far more frightening foe.

Gorilla Grodd (Voice by John DiMaggio)
First Comic Book Appearance: The Flash #106 (May, 1959)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Two- Terror on Dinosaur Island!

First Comic Book Appearance: Brave and the Bold #78 (June, 1968)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Nineteen- Legends of the Dark Mite!

Copperhead was a thief and killer who wore a snake costume and would use it to commit murders and other crimes. His real identity was never revealed. He was a master contortionist with or without his costume, but the costume allowed for greater abilities to pass through tight spaces and to deliver poison through the fangs.

Green Arrow (Voiced by James Arnold Taylor)
First Comic Book Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode One- Rise of the Blue Beetle

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

The title of this episode is shared with Batman:Legends of the Dark Knight #38, a story by Alan Grant and Kevin O'Neill, that resurrected Bat-MIte in Post-Crisis continuity,

This episode is the Brave and the Bold debut of writer Paul Dini, one of the best Batman writers of the past twenty years. starting out on Batman: The Animated Series, before doing long runs on Detective Comics and Batman: Streets of Gotham. He might be best known as the creator of Harley Quinn, and he and B:TAS producer and artist Bruce Timm won an Eisner award for their one-shit Batman: Mad Love, Harley's origin. He recently released a graphic memoir through Vertigo, Dark Night: A True Batman Story, and appeared on last week's Nerdist Podcast, which is well worth a listen.

Batman's line, "A friend of mine in Metropolis told me about menaces like you,"is of course a reference to Superman and his own Fifth Dimensional enemy, Mr. Mxyzptlk.

The costume transformations Bat-Mite puts Batman through include:Vampire Batman from the Batman/Dracula Red Rain trilogy, Bat-Hombre from Batman #56, Adam West's Batman from the classic TV series, the costume from Joel Scumacher's Batman and Robin, Zebra Batman from Detective Comics #275, and Frank Miller's Batman from The Dark Knight Returns.

Before Bat-Mite summons Calendar Man, he summons three other villains: returning foes Solomon Grundy and Gorilla Grodd, and first timer Shaggy Man.

At the comic convention scene, the Brave and the Bold cast and crew on stage include Diedrich Bader, Michael Chang, Michael Jelenic, Ben Jones, Sam Register, Andrea Romano, James Tucker, and Brandon Vietti. In the audience, while most fans are dressed as Batman, two are dressed as Joker and Harley Quinn. Thes two are Bruce Timm (Joker) and Paul Dini (Harley).

As Bat-Mite takes on Batman's identity and enters Gotham, the city has red skies and as bat-Mite lands on a building top and is silhouetted before being brought into the light by lightning, which is a direct lift from the opening of Batman:The Animated Series.

The shot and sequence as Bat-Mite confronts the mob of villains is an homage to "The Great Piggy Bank Robbery," a classic Daffy Duck short where he takes on the roll of Duck Twacy, a Dick Tracy parody. This sequence includes many of Batman's most famous (and infamous) villains, many amking their first Brave and the Bold appearance, and includes the Penguin Catwoman, Killer Moth, Kite-Man, Riddler, Polka-Dot Man, Tiger Shark, Zebra Man, Joker, Catman, Mr. Zero (Mr. Freeze), and Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum. Later in the sequence, the Mad Hatter appears as well.

Bat-Mite's flight from the villains featured two very clear callbacks to two classic Batman covers, one is"The House that Joker Built," from Detective Comics #365, and the Riddler's first appearance cover in Detective Comics #140.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Great Batman: Brave and the Bold Rewatch: The Color of Revenge!

Season One, Episode Eighteen: The Color of Revenge!
Written by Tod Casey
Directed by Michael Chang

Plot Synopsis

The Bat Signal shines in the Gotham skies in the not too distant past, as we see Batman and his young ward, Robin, head into Gotham. Robin looks at a painting that is a clue from Crazy Quilt, which Batman knows is leading them to an experimental Stimulated Emission Light Amplifier (SELA), a powerful laser. Batman and Robin arrive and intercept Quilt and his men, and when Quilt uses the SELA against them, firing blasts of energy, Robin reflects them back at him, seemingly blinding him.

Episode: Solomon Grundy is robbing the Bank of Blüdhaven, Gotham'e neighboring city, and an "R" Signal calls out to the now adult Robin. Robin defeats Grundy using a combination of acrobatics and intelligence, and the police thank him, making him feel confident, although he harbors some resentment clearly directed at Batman.

As he rides off on his motorcycle, he looks up at the sky and sees a large blinking eye projected into the clouds. He begins to deduce what the eye is, but Batman pulls up on his motorcycle, telling Robin the eye is blinking an address in Morse code. Batman tells Robin that Crazy Quilt has escaped and is gunning for Robin. The two bicker as they ride towards the address, Robin bitter that Batman is acting like he's in charge despite this being Robin's city.

The address is that of a closed club, and Batman continues to act like he's in charge, while Robin continues to act bitter. In the club, the lights flash on, and cut paper fish begin to fall from the air, a double clue from Crazy Quilt, whose voice begins to pipe in from the club speakers. Batman and Robin fight Quilt's color themed stooges, Red, Blue, and Green, but after their defeat, Robin dives at Quilt, only to find it's a dummy, set to lead them into a trap, a spinning room that will flatten the Dynamic Duo into two dimensional "art."

Robin thinks that he can use a Batarang, combining his strnegth and the force of the spinning to cut through the wall, but Batman believes they will be crushed first, thinking to use his bat laser to blast the spinning lights, thinking blowing them out will short the power. Robin doesn't listen and begins his plan, but it's Batman's that works, and Robin angrily says his way would have worked. They head out to stop Quilt, only to find the villain has trashed Robin's bike, leaving the former sidekick to ride on the Batcycle's sidecar, to his chagrin.

The two heroes continue to not connect, as Robin provides Batman a clue, and the Dark Knight doesn't even listen as his former sidekick makes the same deduction he did first, heading to S.T.A.R. Labs. The guard at S.T.A.R. runs up to Batman, not Robin (heightening Rabin's annoyance), and tells batman that Quilt is after the SELA again. Quilt is inside, again using scissors and paper to make art, but sees Batman and Robin as blobs, but sees well enough to duck Robin's thrown bolo. Again, Batman and Robin fight Quilt's henchmen, but this time Quilt is prepared, wielding the SELA. Robin plans to go after Quilt, but Batman orders him to pursue Red, who has run off. Robin does so, finding Red waiting with a gattling gun.

Quilt fires at Batman, but his very limited vision keeps him from hitting Batman. He brags that he plans to wire the SELA into his optic nerves and use it to make art by carving things with his new vision. He is finally able to connect with the SELA, knocking Batman unconscious, and escapes with Batman in the tank he's mounted the SELA on, but not before gloating at Robin about weaving Batman into a rug he will walk all over and blasting the lab walls, crumbling them on top of Robin.

At the Blüdhaven textile mill, Quilt has Batman tied up on a loom, and monologues about destroying the city and blaming Robin. Back at S.T.A.R., Robin pulls himself from the rubble, broken but unbowed, and takes the Batcycle. Remembering Quilt's brag, he deduces that Quilt is at the textile mill. He infiltrates the mill and takes out the henchmen, and finds a series of paintings all featuring Robin, showing the depths of Quilt's obsession.

Batman calls out to Robin, and begins to give him orders on how to free him from the loom. But with a captive audience, Robin begins to enumerate his grievances at Batman, telling him he's not a kid anymore and that he needs to be treated as an adult in his city. By the time he turns around Batman has freed himself, and thanks Robin for taking out the henchmen. Quilt reappears, now with the SELA hooked into his helmet, and begins to attack the heroes.

Quilt fires blasts from the SELA, destroying the mill, and corners Batman and Robin. When Robin asks Batman for a plan, Batman tells him, "Your villain. Your call." Robin smiles, draws a small laser torch, and says he has this. Batman jumps out to distract Quilt, while Robin gets above him, cutting a girder which falls on top of the SELA breaking it. Quilt fires blasts from his helmet, but Robin acrobatically dodges them, before landing in front of Quilt and decks him.

In the aftermath of the battle, Quilt is carted back off to Arkham, Robin thanks Batman and says he's glad Batman finally has faith he can handle things on his own. Batman says he's always had faith in Robin's abilities, and Robin thanks Batman. Commissioner Gordon gets in touch, saying Killer Moth has hijacked a train, and the two heroes head out together to stop him, although Robin still has to ride in the sidecar.

Who's Who

Robin (Voiced by Crawford Wilson; Young Robin voiced by Jeremy Shada)
First Comic Book Appearance: Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Eighteen- The Color of Revenge!

Dick Grayson was a circus kid, the son of John and Mary Grayson, the aerialists known as the Flying Graysons. But when Haley's Circus stopped in Gotham City, Boss Tony Zucco, on of Gotham's local mobsters, tried to extort money from Mr. Haley, and when he refused, Zucco decided to show Haley he meant business. He tampered with the Grayson's ropes, and Richard and Mary fell to their deaths. But two other things happened that night that changed Dick's life: he witnessed Zucco threatening Mr. Haley, and Bruce Wayne was in the audience. Bruce Wayne took in the young circus performer, and began to train him to be Batman's partner in crime fighting, Robin the Boy Wonder. Robin became the first of the kid sidekicks, leader of the Teen Titans, and a great hero. The two would work together until Dick grew to adulthood, when he would strike out on his own, taking on the identity of Nightwing. Dick has been a fixture of the DC Universe since its earliest days, has led the Titans and the Justice League, and has been a stand in for Batman when Bruce was lost in time. He has been a hero, a spy, a ladies man, and a friend. Dick Grayson is one of the most talented acrobats in the world, a talented martial artist, and a well trained detective.

Crazy Quilt (Voiced by Jeffrey Tambor)
First Comic Book Appearance: Boy Commandos #15 (June, 1946)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Fifteen- Trials of the Demon!

Solomon Grundy  (Voiced by Diedrich Bader)
First Comic Book Appearance: All-American Comics #61 (October, 1944)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Sixteen- Night of the Huntress!

S.T.A.R. Labs 
First Comic Book Appearance: Superman #246 (December, 1971)
First Brave and the Bold Appearance: Season One, Episode Four- Invasion of the Secret Santas!

Continuity, Comics Connections, and Notes

This entire episode is filled with references to the classic Batman TV series from the '60s. The teaser features many direct pulls, including the bust of Shakespeare used to trigger the Batpole entrance to the Batcave and the moment where Batman and Robin climb up the wall at the villain's target. Crazy Quilt, while not a villain from the show, has the same broad personality, obsession with his motif, and clue riddled speechifying. The deathtraps are also very broad and feel like something from the old TV show, especially Batman being turned into a rug on a loom.

Blüdhaven, the city that Robin patrols, was the city that Nightwing lived in and guarded when he was given his own ongoing. Created by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, the city was considered Gotham's uglier sister, a city that had gone downhill and didn't have a Batman to protect it. It was often considered Newark to Gotham's New York City.

The eye blinking signal that draws Batman and Robin into Crazy Quilt's trap sends them to the, "Corner of Haney and Aparo." Bob Haney, writer, and Jim Aparo, penciller, were two of the creators on the classic Brave and the Bold comic series from the 60s, 70s, and 80s that inspired the animated series,

The club where Crazy Quil laid his trap is Club 38. 38 is the issue number of Robin's first appearance, Detective Comics #38.

While fighting, Robin uses a bo staff, the weapon that has been often associated with Robin in recent years thanks to it being used by the version of the character in the Teen Titans animated series. However, this is not a weapon usually used by Dick Grayson in the comics; he uses escrima fighting sticks. The bo is the weapon of Tim Drake, the third Robin, that he adapted as his own in his first solo mini-series.

The paintings that Robin finds in Crazy Quilt's lair of him include onces ispired by Munch's "The Scream," as well as works by Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Picasso.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/13

Daredevil #9
Story: Charles Soule
Art: Goran Suduka & Matt Milla

Daredevil is probably my favorite non-cosmic or mutant Marvel character. I've read his book regularly since the Marvel Knights relaunch, and have picked up plenty of back issues and trades along the way. And I was absolutely in love with Mark Waid's run on the series, with it's lighter tone. And I was excited when Charles Soule, an actual lawyer whose legal-centric run on She-Hulk is one of my favorite Marvel series in the past decade. The tone of his first arc was darker, as was his Daredevil, more akin to Bendis then Waid, and it took me a little while to adjust to the darker tone. But this two part story, of Daredevil in Macau playing poker and fighting the Triads, finds a nice balance between the dark Daredevil and the light one, helped by the guest-star: Spider-Man. Soule writes a great Spidey, quipping away constantly, and the less quippy Daredevil is a great straight man for him, and brings out the sense of humor in Daredevil, who makes his own share of quips. The majority of the issue is a chase, as Daredevil and Spidey chase a briefcase, the reason that Daredevil came to Macau to begin with. Artist Goran Sudzuka draws some amazing fight scenes, full of acrobatic action and flying billy clubs. But it's the character moments between Daredevil and Spider-Man that really makes the issue sing. The two of them, riding a hydrofoil from Macau to Hong Kong while basically parasailing using web-lines and billy-club lines, and Daredevil enjoying it. And the end of the issue, as Daredevil explains to Spider-Man why Spidey suddenly has holes in his memory involving Daredevil and what the briefcase is continues to show that Daredevil didn't fully think out whatever plan he had to remove the knowledge of his identity from the world. With all that going down, Soule gives Spidey one of the best last lines I've read in a long time, " Watch out for those black-costume phases. They can really do a number on you." It's a smart callback to one of Spidey's legendary stories and an acknowledgment of exactly where Daredevil seems to be now. This issue has me excited to see where exactly Soule plans to take Daredevil.

Detective Comics #936
Story: James Tynion IV
Art: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, & Brad Anderson

Detective Comics just might be my favorite book out of the DC: Rebirth relaunch. After last issue's finale, with Batman taken out by the group of armored Bat soldier called The Colony, this issue opens with a much quieter moment: Kate Kane, Batwoman, out at a bar with her ex, GCPD detective Renee Montoya, talking about Kate's time in the military and her role as a leader. There's clearly still strain in their relationship, but I have to say, it's great to see Renee again. A call from Red Robin gets Batwoman to the belfry to watch the video of the assault on Batman, and they quickly call in the rest of the team, as well as Kate's father, Colonel Jake Kane. And as the others, including Kane, gather, Oprhan, Cassandra Cain, is attacked by the Colony. And it's only once Kane is in the Belfry that the other shoe falls: The Colony is a military project that Kane is in charge of, and he's here to recruit Batman's team, as well as get access to the Bat computer for the mission he has for The Colony. And even as the team makes their escape, Kane is sure that his plan will still work. The whole scene with Kane talking to the team, and to Kate specifically, is brilliantly tense. All the problems that Kate and her father have been having since Greg Rucka's original run on Detective, all the secrets and lies that have been pushing them apart, come to a head here. The idea, that the government would use Batman's example to create a black ops force, is a cool one, and the fact that it's being used against Batman and his allies is all the more intense. And placing Batwoman's father, Batman's uncle, at the head of it? I love it. All of this while working in strong character development and interactions between the cast, especially Batwoman and Red Robin, makes it an exciting and thoughtful read. The art from Alvaro Martinez is excellent, especially in the hints of the fight between The Colony and Orphan; most of it takes place off panel, but you see the set-up, as the soldiers surround her against a rainy and lightning filled Gotham sky, and the end, as she finishes off one of the soldiers, crashing to the floor of the Belfry through the skylight. It's beautiful, and shows the strength and speed of Orphan, and is stylishly done. Each issue of Detective has been better than the last, and as the fight with The Colony amps up, I can't wait to see where it goes.

Stumptown #10
Story: Greg Rucka
Art: Justin Greenwood & Ryan Hill

Each case private investigator Dex Parios has been involved in since the beginning of Stumptown have been byzantine affairs no matter how simple they seem on paper. But this issue, "The Case of the Night That Wouldn't End" is a one off story that has a couple of twists to it,because what good PI story doesn't, but is at its heart fairly simple: Dex is hired to find out if a man's wife is cheating on him, and she follows the wife to a motel. The issue actually features two of my favorite types of comics: a great one off issue, and a great mostly silent issue, both of which are few and far between in comics nowadays (and don't I sound like an old fogey?). Justin Greenwood tells the story with his art as ex silently watches her suspect and a younger man meet at the motel, but not everything is as it seems. There are little details about their interactions, plus what's going on with a courier skateboarding out in the rain that are hints to things going on deeper with all these characters. PI and mystery shorts are some of the trickiest to write, since you have to establish everything and have it pay off not only for the reader the first time, but also on a second reading if they already know the solution, and this story succeeds. Rucka doesn't forget about Dex's personal life, or lack thereof, as we get hints of exactly how bad Dex is at dealing with personal relationships through a series of texts. It's a really solid introduction to the world of Stumptown, so if you're looking for a good crime comic, and want to get in and try it before the new volume starts in January, this is a great place to start.