Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 8/21

Batman and Nightwing #23
Story: Peter J Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason

The Batman team-up title wraps up its initial post-Damian arcand its exploration of the five stages of grief with, "Acceptance." I've enjoyed the use of Carrie Kelly in this title since Damian's death, but I think writer Peter Tomasi made the right call in not having anyone or any plotlines in this issue other than Batman and argueably his two most important supporting cast members: Nightwing, the grown-up original Robin, Dick Grayson, and Alfred Pennyworth. Batman's mental state has been fragile since he lost his son, and this issue we see Bruce using Internet 3.0, one of Grant Morrison's concepts from his Batman Incorporated series to run simulations of his actions during Damian's final minutes, trying to prove to himself he could have saved his son. This kind of self-flagellation is not uncommon in Batman's character, or in anyone who is grieving; the question of what you could have done differently is the most haunting one a person can entertain. Eventually he succeeds, but only when Dick joins him in the simulation, reinforcing the concept of family and that some burdens need to be shared. Dick also gets a great speech about how Bruce needs to use Damian's death in the same way he used his parents', as something to drive him forward, not something to wallow in. But its the very end of the issue, where Alfred uses the machine to see what he might have done to keep Damian from ever leaving the Batcave that night, when the full emotional weight of the issue strikes. After Alfred does indeed stop Damian from leaving, thus saving him, he comes out of the simulation to find Bruce waiting. Bruce realizes that he isn't, "the only one who lost a son that night" and he and Alfred embrace. Bruce has not just finally accepted the loss of Damian, but come to see the pain in others, which is pretty big step for someone so tightly insular. Now I want to see this level of empathy and acceptance reflected in the other Bat titles, hopefully moving Batman forward as a character.

B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth #110
Story: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
Art: Tyler Crook

B.P.R.D. is one of those comics that is so consistently good that it's hard to pick out one issue that is exemplary; it's just a remarkably solid comic. But the new issue, beginning a five part arc, "Lake of Fire," jumps out at me for two important returns. Firstly, artist Tyler Crook returns. Since Guy Davis left, Crook has drawn the most issues of B.P.R.D., and his art this issue is outstanding. Not only are his monsters in top form, but the moments featuring this issue's other return are just as well done. The other return sees Liz Sherman return to the pages of this comic. Since Liz started the current Hell on Earth by using her power to wipe out a threat but also triggering devastation she has only appeared briefly in a story that was pretty much a Liz story. This issue feels more like Liz returning to the world. While she hasn't encountered any of the rest of the cast yet, I feel like we're moving in that direction, especially as the hospital where Liz is currently laid up in has a new doctor, one we have seen has certain sinister leanings, ones that will surely put Liza back in a situation where she will have to take action. Fenix, the psychic who has caused her share of trouble, has now arrived at the Salton Sea, where the last arc of the Abe Sapien series took place, and has encountered the same group of monster worshippers Abe did, something that I can't imagine is going to go over well with the volatile Fenix. After the past few short arcs, this longer one seems to be a story that is going to have some major ramifications, and I'm excited to see where it's going.

Chew Vol. 7: Bad Apples
Story: John Layman
Art: Rob Guillory

The seventh volume of John Layman and Rob Guillory's Chew begins the second half of the series, and events are really picking up speed. While series protagonist Tony Chu has been through a lot, and gone on a lot of assignments, he has often been a passive character, with events and people acting on him, and him not acting on them. All that has changed. After the end of the last volume and the death of someone close to Tony, he is done with that. Tony is using his powers in new ways and becoming something of a badass. He's storming compounds, using baseballs as deadly weapons, and calling The Vampire out. It's also a sure sign of Tony's evolution to see him finally stand up for himself with his tyrannical boss, Mike Applebee, finally giving him a piece of his mind. This sends a teary Applebee right into the arms of his sometimes love interest, Tony's partner, John Colby, who also shines in this volume. Colby does have a realization about Cesar and Savoy's relationship, which does show just how clever he can be, but at the same time winds up in a real pickle with his personal life, involving both Applebee and USDA director Penya, which leads to some of the funniest pages of the entire series. I won't say anymore, as not to spoil a brilliant page or two. But for all its humor, there is some serious plot momentum and darkness in this volume too. The Vampire continues his collecting of food powers, and is bracing for war with Tony, and the mystery surrounding the Church of the Immaculate Ova only deepens, as it seems they are playing a similar game. The volume ends with something that could lead to answers, or to even bigger questions. Oh, and there's a big two page spread of Poyo versus Pengthulu. Because what would a volume of Chew be without Poyo?

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