Monday, July 8, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 7/3

Batman Incorporated #12
Story: Grant Morrison
Art: Chris Burnham

As Grant Morrison's multi-year, multi-series Batman epic nears it's conclusion, Batman makes his move against Leviathan, the terrorist organization headed by Talia al Ghul, daughter of Ra's al Ghul and mother to his now dead son, Damian. The Batman segments of the issue are mostly the Dark Knight in combat with The Heretic, the clone of Damian who killed Robin. This is the issue that most of the stories post the death of Damian have been leading to. This is a Batman at the very edge of sanity, one who is savage and brutal. But by the end, when the Heretic is unmasked, and Batman looks into the face of what Damian might have been if he had not come to his father, he stops, unable to take a life. This is juxtaposed against the new Knight, the former Squire, Batman of England. The previous Knight was also killed by Heretic, and she is more than willing to kill the Heretic. Meanwhile, much of the rest of Batman Inc goes to rescue Wingman, Jason Todd, and discovers the identity of the leader of Spyral, the superspy organization that has infiltrated Batman Inc. The final scene sees Talia going to confront Batman for one final fight. Morrison has set up a lot to pay off in his final issue, both between Bruce and Talia, but more with Spyral. There are references to a bigger game being played, of which Batman Inc and Leviathan are small parts. As Morrison has said this is pretty much the end of his run in the DCU, with the exception of Multiversity, I wonder if this is something that Morrison is just toying with or is something that he's going to fully address. But in the end, Morrison has spent this whole arc breaking down Batman and rebuilding him. So we have one issue until we see exactly what this new creation is going to be when he rises from the ashes.

Detective Comics #22
Story: John Layman
Art: Jason Fabok/Andy Clarke

The Wrath is a fairly obscure Batman villain. Created by Mike W Barr for the Batman Special in the early 80s, he has only appeared twice since; once in an arc of Batman Confidential, and once in an episode of The Batman. The Wrath is one of the characters who was created as an anti-Batman, whose origin is intentionally a mirror of Batman's; his criminal parents were shot and killed by a police officer (namely Jim Gordon) while he watched. This issue introduces this character into the New 52. He maintains the original modus operandi, targeting police officers for death, but seems to have a sidekick, Scorn, who appeared first in the cartoon. But there's more to this new Wrath, as he is cold and calculating, and seems to have no compunction about the death of allies in his crusade. We are also introduced to a new billionaire on the Gotham scene, E.D. Caldwell, a weapon manufacturer who also seems to be a humanitarian and who has his eye set of acquiring Wayne Enterprises. The end of the issue gives hints to a connection between Caldwell and Wrath, and while in most cases I would see this as a clear indication they are the same person, I wonder if John Layman, who is a craftier writer than that, has a surprise up his sleeve, and even if he doesn't, I'm sure he'll give a thorough and interesting background to this new vision. Layman has done an excellent job of fleshing out and creating villains in his run of Detective Comics, and this is another winner. Coupled with Jason Fabok's great new design, I'm looking forward to more stories featuring the Wrath.

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Ghoul Goblin #5
Story: Jim Butcher & Mark Powers
Art: Joseph Cooper

Nothing ever really works out for Harry Dresden. He was called to the town of Boone Mill to deal with a series of mysterious deaths, and not only has he failed to stop them, but now he's locked up as the one who has done it. Despite all of this, Harry is willing to stand up for the little guy. This series has done a great job of demonstrating one of Harry Dresden's main character traits (or flaws, as some would have you believe): Harry is always going to protect the innocent, always going to do what is right. With the Talbot family caught between a Ghoul and a Goblin, and with the Naga that is refereeing the competition unwilling to step in, it's up to Harry, sick, wounded Harry, to protect the three remaining Talbots. Harry stands up to the Naga, a being that could obliterate him with an eyeblink, and tells her exactly what he thinks of her inaction. Harry has always spoken truth to power, and it has often gotten him into trouble, but this creature seems to respect him for it, and gives him a hint. By issue's end, Harry has learned the secret of Boone Mill's mayor, and might have an ally to help him make his stand. But the ghoul and goblin, two creatures that can easily take Harry physically, are preparing to make their final attack. Harry Dresden is at his best when the odds are stacked against him, and next issue, the series finale, those odds have rarely been stacked as high against him; let's see how he gets out of this one.

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