Monday, September 17, 2012

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 9/12

Batman #0
Story: Scott Snyder/ James Tynion IV
Art: Greg Capullo/ Andy Clarke

While last week's Detective Comics #0 told a tale of Bruce's travels before returning to Gotham, Batman #0 is set firmly in Gotham City, and set in the time between Bruce's return and when he takes up the mantle of the Bat. A tale of a younger, more inexperienced hero still trying to get his feet under him, we see a Bruce Wayne who is fallible, who makes a major mistake when getting involved in trying to stop the Red Hood Gang. Anyone who knows the least about Batman mythology knows the Red Hood was the Joker, so this serves not just as a tale of proto-Batman, but of proto-Joker as well. It's exciting to see the two great enemies confronting each other at these early stages. Now, it's never explicitly said that the leader of the Red Hood Gang is Joker, and Snyder could be tossing us a curve ball in the end, but so far it's looking that way. There are some changes to the established mythos here, with Bruce living in a building near Crime Alley, which I'm fine with. I feel this works for the character, and seems to be leading to a confrontation with Red Hood. There's also an excellent scene in the issue between Bruce and Jim Gordon. Scott Snyder writes the best Gordon on the shelves now, and one of the best of all time, so to see the young Gordon suspicious of Bruce, thinking he has ties to the vigilante who has been popping up in Crime Alley, cements the impression of Gordon's intellect and skill. The end of the main story leaves us with something of a cliffhanger that the teaser text says will be followed up on in 2013, and I assume will have some part in the "Death of the Family" event that will see the return of the Joker, starting next month. The back-up is a story about the partners of Batman, seeing where the first three Robins and Batgirl were when Gordon first lit the Bat Signal. It's interesting to see just how different each of their lives were, and the looks on each face as they first see it. I have to say I particularly loved the Time Drake pages, and would be first in line for a James Tynion written Red Robin mini or monthly.

Batman and Robin #0
Story: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Pat Gleason

Batman and Robin #0 is a very enjoyable comic for many reasons. While we've gotten glimpses of Damian's training under his mother, Talia al Ghul, and the League of Assassins in other stories, this issue really cements the hard life he had growing up. All the training to make him like his father without telling him that his father is Batman, and the use of his father's identity as a carrot to get him to excel, remind the reader that as much as Talia might actually love him, she is the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, and the cycle of abuse that we saw started by Ra's in Batman Incorporated #2 came out in Talia's parenting in this issue. Tomasi and Gleason have done an excellent job further developing Damian over the course of this series; he's come a long way from the brat we first met, and see again in the latter pages if this issue. But the thing that really made this comic for me is possibly the cutest panel I've ever seen in any comic. Check this out and try not to smile.

Pretty great, huh?

Resurrection Man #0
Story: Andy Lanning & Dan Abnett
Art: Ramon Bachs & Jesus Saiz

Mitch Shelly, The Resurrection Man, confronts his ultimate nemesis in this, the final issue of his series, and that enemy is... Mitch Shelly? I've been a fan of Resurrection Man since his first ongoing back in the late 90s, and I was glad to see him back, and while I'm sad to see him go again, at least the series went out with a bang. This issue does a great job of using the Zero Month theme, the origin stories, and tying it into the ongoing continuity of the book, resolving who Mitch is, where he came from, and dealing with the plot of the forces of heaven and hell competing over his soul. Even though the early pages make it pretty clear where the story is going, it has a couple twists and turns that keep the book interesting. Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett, who created Mitch and wrote both of his ongoings, clearly have more stories to tell, and they left the series open for them or others to use Mitch in the future. Ramon Bachs comes in for most of this last issue, and while he has never drawn it before, his work fits nicely with the other artists who have worked on it. I'm hoping that the Justice League Dark or maybe Stormwatch could use a team member with such an odd and interesting power set, and Mitch gets one more chance at resurrection.

The Shade #12
Story: James Robinson
Art: Gene Ha

I've been reading, and thoroughly enjoying, each issue of James Robinson's return to one of my favorite comic book characters, the Shade, but this is the issue I've been waiting for. This is the issue of The Shade that finally sheds some light on his mysterious origin. Beautifully drawn by Gene Ha, the issue takes place in 1838, where the Shade is still Richard "Dickie" Swift, a well to do importer/exporter. We watch young Swift with his beautiful wife and children, with his friend Charles Dickens, and watch him make the acquaintance of Simon Culp, the dwarf who, if you've read Starman, know will bring about his transformation. As someone who loves to see literary references in his comics, I loved seeing Dickens as a character. But it's really Swift's journey, falling for Culp's game and finding himself at Culp's mercy, that is interesting. Robinson doesn't lay all his cards on the table, as there are still a few mysteries left behind for him to follow up on when and if he gets a chance to tell more tales of the Shade. As a long time fan of the character, I was deeply satisfied with this story, and if you happen to have just jumped on The Shade bandwagon with this series, or even issue, I think you would not feel lost or confused by this riveting issue.

Stumptown Vol.2 #1
Story: Greg Rucka
Art: Matthew Southworth

Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth's Stumptown returns with a second mini-series, and it's off to a great start. PI's aren't quite in fashion in current media, with most crime stories being more along the lines of police procedurals, so it's nice to see a classic PI story. Dex Parios, our protagonist, is in a little better shape financially and emotionally when we see her at the beginning of this story than the last, but as with all good PIs, trouble follows Dex. What seems like a fairly straightforward case, finding the missing guitar, the titular "Baby in the Velvet Case," quickly turns into something that looks to place Dex right back in over her head. Dex is one of Rucka's trademark heroines: tough, smart, and a little broken. Rucka's dialogue crackles as usual, giving us great views into his characters. There's a solid mystery here, and who stole the guitar seems to be far less important than why it was stolen and exactly what Mim Bracca, rockstar and character from another Rucka work, his novel A Fistful of Rain, is caught up in. Matthew Southworth's art is well suited for the gritty PI world of Dex's, but behind the grit is great clarity. His lines are as sharp as Rucka's dialogue, and the two compliment each other. This is a great jumping on point for people who didn't check out Stumptown the first time around, and if you dig it, it would be well worth checking out the first Stumptown collection.-

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