Monday, March 17, 2014

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 3/12

Batgirl #29
Story: Gail Simone
Art: Fernando Pasarin

Gail Simone's Batgirl has been a consistently enjoyable comic, one that does a good job of mixing action, emotion, and character. This most recent issue was the second part of a two part story where Batgirl and her friend and sometimes partner Strix, a Talon of the Court of Owls who abandoned the Court, are up against Silver, a vampire hunter who believes the Batman family are vampires who have taken control of Gotham. Silver is a good addition to the pantheon of anti-heroes or villains, as he is clearly unbalanced, but is trying to do something good. He has kidnapped a small child, but I don't think I'm spoiling too much of a twist when its revealed he was actually right and she is a vampire.Artist Fernando Pasarin does a great job drawing the fight scenes between Batgirl and Strix and Silver and his companion/valet Miss Targa; they're well choreographed martial arts fights. What I found very interesting was also an interaction between Batgirl and Strix. After Silver escapes at the beginning of the issue, Strix makes it clear to Batgirl that she will kill Silver if he has harmed the girl that was kidnapped. And while Strix tells Batgirl she will not kill, she is lying. And while there is no murder by issue's end, I think we're going to see further conflict between the two; Strix was trained to be a killer, and it'll be hard for her to break that training. Next issue is a fill in, and the one after that sees the return of one of my favorite Gail Simone creation, Ragdoll of Secret Six fame, so I have a feeling you'll be hearing about Batgirl again here soon.

Batman #29
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo

Batman is one of the few books I right about here every month, and for good reason, and that reason isn't just that I love Batman. Scott Snyder has an excellent feel for Batman as a character, and his "Zero Year" story has been a great re-imagining of Batman's early days in Gotham. This issue marks the end of the second act of the story, called "Dark City," with Batman escaping the Riddler's death trap from the end of last issue to go and try to stop Riddler from taking over all of Gotham's technology. I believe it was Paul Dini who once said that Riddler is the hardest Batman villain to write, since he has to be as smart as Batman, and his plans need to make perfect sense on a second read through. Snyder has really captured this; Riddler feels like a real threat, something many writer have failed at, and a perfect intellectual nemesis for Batman, without descending into the unctuous snobbery of the Riddler in the Arkham video games. The issue also pays off the confrontation between Batman and Doctor Death, a freakishly re-imagined version of the first name villain Batman ever fought. That re-imagining is part of a truly impressive issue from artist Greg Capullo. Capullo has splash pages inspired by Frank Miller, as well as the horrible Dr. Death, and scenes of destruction in Gotham that sent shivers down my spine. The issue also has a scene with the Waynes and young Bruce, and its a scene that I feel is important. The Waynes are a touchstone in Bruce's life, the great incorruptible past, and seeing them with him, not as absentee parents who left their son for Alfred to watch, makes the great tragedy of Batman's life more resonant. "Savage City" begins next month, the concluding third of "Zero Year" where all the seeds Snyder has sewn will bear fruit. If he can pull this off, this is an arc that could go down as one of the great Batman stories; I'm hoping he can do it.

Batman : Li'l Gotham #12
Story & Art: Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

All good things... Batman: Li'l Gotham has been one of the most enjoyable books on the racks for the past year, and I've been expecting the final issue to really hit a high note, and I was right. The two stories are Thanksgiving and Christmas, and each show the charm and knowledge of Batman history that have defined this series. The first story sees Damian on the hunt for Jerry, the turkey he took on as a pet in the previous Thanksgiving installment, and winds up running afowl (see that pun, folks, that's why you read this blog) of the Condiment King. Yes, a Z-List villain created as a gag for Batman: The Animated Series who showed up one or twice as a gag in Chuck Dixon's run on the Bat titles. It's a fun story to see just how Damian has actually grown to care about the turkey, and to be less of a little sociopath. The final story is a Christmas tale of Alfred and Damian looking through a family album of the family. Pictures of Bruce growing up, as well as all the Robins, adorn the pages, and are narrated by Alfred and Damian's commentary. The issue is a survey of Batman's life, and shows a Batman that we'd never see in the mainstream comics: one who leaves gifts for the inmates at Arkham and gently carries his sleeping son to bed. Batman is a character with so many facets, it was nice to have a book on the racks that showed a different Batman.I hope that we see more Batman from Nguyen and Fridolfs sometime soon.

X-Files: Season 10 #10
Story: Joe Harris
Art: menton3

The X-Files was a TV series that depended on its mystery and mythology. It was a series where for every answer you got, you got three questions. With the debut of the comic series that picks up where the series left off, the mythology has picked back up, and there are new mysteries. One of the major mysteries was how various cast members long thought dead are back. This issue, "Further Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man," a follow up to a classic episode, gives us a few answers. The Cigarette Smoking Man, also known as Cancer Man, was one of the principal antagonists, and a character whose history was shrouded in mystery. This issue gives the reader snapshot views of moments in his past that may or may not be true. Ties to the Bay of Pigs and various other historic events, as well as his connection to the Mulder family, are explored, and moments with his own family show the history of the enigmatic figure. The art by menton3 is in the style of Ben Templesmith, heavily lined and full of shadow, works with the subject matter and character. As I said before, the issue gives the reader new questions to ask by the end, but those questions keep the reader coming back for more, and that's a big part of the appeal of The X-Files.

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