Wednesday was Biggie Day. 14 years ago, the greatest rapper of all time died. It's sometimes hard for me to reconcile growing up in the Valley and teaching in the Heights, just like it's hard to imagine a hip-hop fan who's first love is comic books. But, as hard as it is to imagine, it's damn fun to live.
Batgirl 19 - Part 1 of 2 of The Lesson: Tunnel Vision. Apparently, there's some things going on in Birds of Prey that I should be aware of. Oracle is supposedly dead (even though it's Barbara Gordon who tells Stephanie this) and the Grey Ghost makes his return. Other than those things, the only thing that made this issue stand out was the subpar art. After getting Nguyen for the last few issues, Ramon Bachs just couldn't live up to the task. (And boo on DC for being tricky and putting Nguyen's name on the cover. He didn't do the art. Shame on y'all.) The relationship between Steph and her mom is fine, if you believe the old comic book stereotype that parents are clueless. As a semi-adult myself, who deals with kids on a regular basis, I find it kind of impossible to believe. However, the story was good, the art was good enough, and I'm still a Batgirl fan. I will say, though, that this issue was more than disappointing after the tremendous success of the last two stand-alone issues.
Batman and Robin 21 - Tomasi and Gleason continue their run on the Morrison-originated book and it's...all right. The story that began last month didn't seem to have a lot of places it could run, but this issue played out better than last month's. I don't know if the art was a lot better, but I do know there were no single panels that bugged me as much as the fat Bruce of last month. And the inclusion of various Rogues and their family members felt like a nice way to keep this story semi-rooted in the past, even while moving forward at a rather rapid pace. The single best thing about this book, always, and especially in this issue, is the developing relationship between Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne. The way they speak to each other is unique in all of the Batman and Robin relationships that I've ever read. It's enjoyable, it's refreshing, and it's something that's working really well right now, no matter who's writing the pair. I'm a big fan.
New Avengers 10 - What an interesting idea - Nick Fury putting together a team of the Avengers in 1959. Of course, it totally takes away from the spontaneous creation of the so-called original Avengers, but that probably doesn't bother Bendis, even though it should, with everything he's ever said. This is the thing about retcons: they're cool, for the most part, and I think they appeal to the majority of comic book fans, but they can go horribly awry! This is just another example of how that's happening. Kraven, Sabretooth, Nick Fury, Dum Dum, and some other schmucks got together on a team to battle against the Red Skull in the later 1950s and early 1960s and just never happened to mention it? I don't care if the arc ends with the lame Wolverine pseudo-explanation there's just no way this is a good decision. Also, in the present day arc, Spider-Man takes the whole issue to get help for Bobbi, who's dying (but don't worry, she won't die) and it's just...Deodato's art is shitty! And Chaykin's isn't much better! I know there are people who are fans, but I say to you now, those people are crazy! No love for this book.
Superboy 5 - What a fun issue. A great idea, something that's been recycled successfully over the years: A Superboy (or Man) race versus Flash (or Kid Flash). It works here, and I love all the dynamics that go into it: Lori Luthor (getting some good screen time), Cassie, the Teen Titans, the Phantom Stranger and the ongoing weird-ification of Smallville. All these things add up to a great single issue, with a semi-surprise ending, at least to the race, that still advances some of the big ideas that we've been pursuing since the start of this book. Jeff Lemire seems like the perfect writer for this book, as he can strike exactly the right tone between serious, seriously funny, and ridiculous. I hope those boundaries aren't pushed too hard in the near future, because I can see the temptation for Lemire to go there, but I think this book is just about pitch perfect at the moment.
Book of the week goes to Superboy for giving the reader a thrill and a throwback. There's not much more we can ask for.