Monday, April 21, 2014

Reviews of Comics from Wednesday 4/16

Batman #30
Story: Scott Snyder
Art: Greg Capullo

The final arc of Zero Year begins here, and "Savage City" answers some questions that have been in this book since the first page of the first part of the story. After the end of the last issue, we see exactly what the Riddler has had planned for Gotham all along, and its not what I expected. There is a touch of the Dark Knight Rises in the story, but Snyder has done a great job over the course of Zero Year of picking and choosing the best of Batman's history and working them together, and his use of the last of the Nolan films is no different. Bruce is recovering from the trouncing the Riddler has given him so far, and its good to see a young Batman who still has doubts; Miller's Batman in Year One, while inexperienced, had that singularity of purpose that epitomized Miller's Batman, the Batman who was always right on the edge of madness. Here, Bruce isn't sure if he can really beat Nygma for a moment, despite feeling he needs to and of course making the decision to with little doubt. It's also great to see Snyder's Jim Gordon as a man of action who doesn't give up. Gordon as tough guy also really has its origins in Miller (although there were times in the earlier Bronze Age before where Gordon proved that he was a good cop), but here we see him working with whatever and whoever he can to get Gotham back. After the somewhat tenuous relationship between these two characters the story started with, it's nice to see that they've now grown to the point where the friendship readers are used to is something that can be built over time. The Riddler is often a character who is hard to write, coming off as silly or simply obnoxious, but Snyder gives him a real air of menace, of being a threat to Batman. Snyder has each of his characters pitch perfect, and does something fun with his new character, Duke Thomas, the young boy who saved Bruce Wayne. Snyder has spent the past year fleshing out the early days of Gotham, and now the endgame is in motion. Buckle up; it's going to be a bumpy knight.

Batman and Wonder Woman #30
Story: Peter J Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason

The quest for the body of Damian Wayne continues, as Batman heads to Paradise Island, chasing Ra's al Ghul, who plans to resurrect his grandson, and Batman's son, by using a Lazarus Pit he knows to be on the island. One of the first things that impressed me about this issue was how it deals with a lot of the events that are currently playing out in Wonder Woman (it didn't hurt that I has just read the most recent issue of Wonder Woman right before this issue). I'm hoping that this gets some people who might not have tried Wonder Woman to give that book a try, as it is excellent as well. We see Aleka, Wonder Woman's chief Amazonian antagonist, interact with Batman, and we see just how near the edge of things Bruce is right now. It's interesting to see how Tomasi deals with Bruce and his feelings for his lost son, and Wonder Woman and her feelings for her lost mother. The emotional connection between the two characters is something I've always enjoyed, be it in Joe Kelly's JLA where he teased the possibility of a relationship, to other Justice League stories that simply play the two as good friends. And the end of the issue, where Bruce reflects on the choices Damian made in life as a sun rises over Paradise Island, is touching; writers are mining some excellent character material out of Batman through the death of Damian. In the middle of the issue, between the Amazonian politics and the introspection, we get a battle between our heroes and Ra's al Ghul's League of Assassins, as well as an ancient monster trapped in Paradise Island's Lazarus Pit. Artist Patrick Gleason draws the hell out of that monster and the combat. He also does the introspection well, with great facial expressions from Batman as he rages at Aleka, but boy, that monster was something creepy. The team-up book has a long tradition in comics, and Tomasi and Gleason have done a good job with this one. As the end of the "Search for Robin," story nears its end, as much as a new Robin centric book will be nice, I'll miss this format when the book becomes Batman and Robin again.

Justice League #29
Story: Geoff Johns
Art: Doug Mahnke

As Forever Evil limps to an end, we actually get one of the best tie-ins yet, with the resolution of Cyborg's battle with The Grid in Justice League #29. So much of The New 52 is gory, and dark, and at times hard to look at. While this issue does have a couple of gorier moments, it is actually full of happiness and hope. The Metal Men are inherently silver age characters, crazy robots who want to be human, but it would be very easy for writers to try to make them edgy and modern. Instead, we see them as they always have been: hopeful, helpful, and just a bit goofy. It's also good to see Cyborg out there, really up front and making a name for himself. The problem with a team book is usually that the characters in it are in their own books and that's where the that character gets most development; this is why a team book usually has one or two characters who are unique to that book to allow character growth and a central arc. This issue wraps up Cyborg's development from his first appearance, with Cyborg coming to terms with his own dual nature. As for the villain, The Grid, his arc is also wrapped up, with him dealing with his inability to feel emotion; that Pinocchio syndrome ends with a dark little twist. The issue ends with a cliffhanger that ties into the final issue of Forever Evil, which is still three weeks to a month off, but if you ignore that last couple pages, it's a great resolution to one of the plots that has been running since the first issues of the New 52. It feels like the end of the first act of this new regime is really playing out.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #4
Story: Mike Carey
Art: Peter Gross

Speaking of endings, the first arc of the final year of The Unwritten ends with the return of a couple of characters and a revelation or two. Tom Taylor gets to finally have it out with his father, the manipulative Wilson Taylor. Tom has been through so much, and has learned so much about his past, its good to see Tom confront Wilson and have it out when they're both in their right minds, have their memories, and are alive. Tom gets a pleasant moment where he gets his private reunion with Lizzie Hexam, his love interest, and after he drifts off to sleep, he heads off to meet with the person he thinks can help him defeat Pullman, the man responsible for the collapse of stories. Madam Rausch, the puppeteer who can effect reality, makes her final plans clear, and how Tom factors into them. It's a strange and somewhat creepy confrontation, when Rausch demands her boon for giving Tom the information he needs, and while he accepts it, I feel there's more to this than what we've seen, despite Madam Rausch saying this is the last time she will see Tom. The presence of the fictional friends Sue Sparrow and Peter Price, which seem to be with him even when he is out in reality, and who seem to see him as Tommy and not Tom, is a sign of the continuing slippage between reality and the fictional world. With these deeply nested stories, the wheels within wheels, I am going to miss The Unwritten when it wraps in less than a year.

And on a couple of Batman 75th Anniversary related notes:

I really do intend to get around to writing some general Batman posts in celebration of the 75th anniversary, I swear, despite having missed the actual 75th anniversary.

I will be doing weekly analysis of the weekly Batman: Eternal series. The next couple weeks are busy for me, but I will be doing the first four issues daily after Free Comic Book Day, and then moving on to a weekly piece after that.

And if you haven't seen them, check out the two animated shorts that have been released for Batman's anniversary from Bruce Timm (Strange Days) and Darwyn Cooke (Batman Beyond). They're amazing.

No comments: