Monday, August 15, 2011

comics for the week of 08/10/11.

This week was the beginning of the end for my renewed love affair with DC Comics. When Geoff Johns essentially took over the company, I was a diehard Marvel kid. I had read Spider-Man forever, and nothing would ever change that. (Just goes to show...all it took was a deal with the devil.) DC was the old people's version of comics, with Superman unappealing and Batman a mythological beast who was best dealt with by Grant Morrison in the pages of Tower of Babel and no one else came close. The second tier characters of Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and Flash held no sway with me, except for my occasional flirtation with the Scarlet Speedster. And don't get me started on C Level and below... Worthless, because I knew that DC would never give them the time of day to take them to the heights they were capable of. Characters like Batgirl, Green Arrow, the Martian Manhunter, Deadman, etc. were the building blocks of DC's generations, but they didn't have the balls to use them the right way. Then, Johns came along and made me flip my thinking. Now, with the end of several of the titles that have been as good as they've ever been, I'm worried that my allegiance is about to switch back. I'll give DC time to impress with the reboot, but I'm wary.

Batgirl 24 - The end of a run and what a spectacular way to do it. The single page imaginations of what she could have been in other worlds, under the spell of Black Mercy were gorgeous. The cover was frameworthy. And the story? Well, it was as nice and neat as one could ask for, with all being revealed as the biggest of big bads was logically revealed last issue. The chat with Barbara at the end of the issue was bittersweet, given what we know is going to happen next month, but I'm trying to stay away from that.

Batman and Robin 26 - Not quite as good as Batgirl, but then, it hasn't been for its entire run. Batman and Robin was a hot and cold book, and this issue demonstrated that perfectly: what an insane idea, and what a great ending. The whole book was divided into mini-chapters (one to two pages long) that were intriguingly titled. The cover gave the whole thing away, in retrospect, and was great to draw people in. This issue felt like what the whole run of the book could have been like, if they'd caved to the weirdness that Morrison had embedded in it from the get go. it is, again, I'm going to have to end this recap with a note bemoaning the fact that a month from now it won't be Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne's unique relationship we're exploring, but rather just a stale old remake of the Bruce Wayne and Robin dynamic that we've seen for forty years. What a shame.

Detective Comics 881 - And this is where the shame gets to the biggest point. This book is what Batman could be. Dick Grayson operating with the Gordon family in the big closing climax. Barbara was pitch perfect, Jim was sad with just the right note of knowledge, and Dick accepted it all in a way that Bruce will never be able to. The art, by both Francavilla and Jock was at the top of its game and the cover was a sweet nod to the Long Halloween, even if it wasn't intentional. The creepiness of James proved that he would have been a worthy adversary for Dick, if circumstances were different and the reboot wasn't happening. The lack of Robin was perfect for this story, as it was more about the past than the future, but that's what's so good about the books right now; there's room for everything. The only quibble I had with this book is the price increase, but I was (and am) more than willing to pay for the extra pages. This book was the celebration of 900 that we'll miss thanks to the mucking machinations of the higher ups in a company that, perhaps, isn't thinking about their characters in the way some of us would prefer.

Flashpoint 4 (of 5) - Now that I've had the longest intro I've ever read and three reviews where I don't really get into the books at all, while simultaneously dogging the company that put out those books while claiming that I was trying not to, let me say this: Flashpoint is not good. I don't feel any draw to these characters (although I was intrigued when Arthur said he had loved Wonder Woman) and I don't care about how they're going to go from DC Universe I love (above) to this one (which I don't care about) to the DCnU (which I'm ambivalent about). The war between the two seems interesting, but I know it's not going to be the focus of this book. In fact, when we got our final page visitor, I was delighted, because I know that maybe his exposition in the next issue will actually lead to something. The book and the story in general has done a poor job of drawing me into the conflict, most especially because I feel like we all know that it's doomed to failure. One more issue to go and then we can all start actually talking about what we've been talking about for months now anyway.

The Unwritten 28 - I'm not sure that I'm actually liking this storyline as much as I thought I would. First of all, Tom seems annoyingly blockheaded, as Lizzie has to remind him to use the power of the journals to see the past. Secondly, the story in the past, while I can see its importance and the way that it's going to tie into Tommy, is limited by a love aspect with a character that we've never really had a chance to fall for. Why do I care if Wilson loved this woman? He's never done anything to make me care about his affections. The most interesting part of the issue is the Cabal ruthlessly moving around the world and killing all the people who ever knew anything about Wilson. And the worst part of the issue is Richie Savoy complaining about running a website - even though he's right to be worried and seems to be the only one with his head on straight at this point. Hopefully next issue will bring a bit more urgency to what is still one of the best books on the market.

Book of the week goes to Batgirl and Detective Comics. That's right, I'm giving it to both. Beautiful bookends to beautiful stories, these books were so, so, so different and yet, so similar. I noted in the 'Tec review how Robin wasn't there, but the two panels he was in Batgirl were so perfect. The covers were total opposites (gigantic group shot versus one-character action shot) and yet spoke volumes about where these books have been. Really, if these two hadn't come out on the same week, I would have been pissed. As it is, these will stay two of my favorite single-issues (even though they're almost impossible to read as single issues) for a long, long time.

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