Posts tagged Batman

DC: Please stop focusing on Batman

What has two arms, two legs, one head, and no day off this week? This guy! So, uh, good news and bad news. Good news, I got my hands on the latest issue of Saga. Bad news, I don’t actually have anything to review this week. So, in the time-honored tradition, have a rant.

So there’s this guy, Batman. Been around for almost 80 years. Kinda broody, parent issues out the wazoo. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Actually, I’d be surprised if you hadn’t heard of him, at this point.

Batman, for those of you who might be having delusions otherwise, is DC’s biggest character. He’s been the subject of eight animated television shows over the years, over a dozen live-action and animated movies, and in the New 52, his ‘family’ has more ongoing books than any other section, and none of them have been cancelled yet. Batman Incorporated ended, but it was always meant to do that. The Batman section of the New 52 has 12 ongoing books. That leaves 40 ongoing books for the rest of the DC Universe. Not to mention how, in the digital-first comics, we’ve got Li’l Gotham, Batman Beyond Unlimited, Legends of the Dark Knight, Batman ‘66, and Batman: Arkham Unhinged.

As further proof to Batman’s near-total domination of DC, allow me to present the crossover events so far since the reboot started: Night of the Owls, The Culling, Rise of the Third Army, Rotworld, Death of the Family, H’El on Earth, Throne of Atlantis, Wrath of the First Lantern, Batman: Zero Year, Trinity War. That’s one Batman crossover event a year, guys. Not to mention that Zero Year crosses over with non-Batman titles, like Flash and Green Lantern Corps. Why? Who cares! Batman! DC, please. And with the reality of a Batman/Superman movie in the not so distant future looming over us, it’s only bound to get worse.

So I implore you, DC. Take a look around your vast kingdom. Toy with some of your other properties, for once.

“But Batman sells!” You protest. “Kids love Batman! Adults love Batman! Everyone knows Batman!” No. Let me put it this way. 

If you have hamburgers once a week throughout your childhood, you’ll have fond memories of hamburgers. You’ll also like hamburgers a lot, provided you only had them every once in awhile. And then, when you hit adulthood, suddenly, hamburgers are everywhere. There are a million variations on the same hamburger, and in order to feel like you’re getting the best hamburger experience, you decide to try them all. Eventually, it becomes too much. You’re drowning in hamburgers. And the worst part? Most of them are terrible, with wilted lettuce and moldy bread. Every now and then, you find an excellent hamburger, cooked exactly how you like it, with the freshest ingredients. However, when buying that burger, the server informs you that you’ll need to buy a whole bunch of other hamburgers, many of them rotten, in order to properly enjoy the burger you wanted. DC, you are the server. Batman is the hamburger.

I’m getting a little tired of hamburgers. Let’s get a salad, or some tomato soup, or hell, some tacos. You’ve got a big universe, DC. Capitalize on it.

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This is now a Batman hate blog

Perhaps you’re wondering, dear reader, why this post is going up past one in the morning on Thursday. It is, quite simply, because I am done with Batman.

I’ve written and rewritten reviews for Batman and Batman and (Red) Robin several times, but nothing feels right about them. Simply put, Batman has become completely uninteresting to me, whereas Batman and Blank is just…not for me. The relationship between Bruce and Tim is incredibly strained with no real explanation why. Basically, Batman is losing his goddamn mind in the wake of the loss of Damian, and I can’t take it anymore. Scott Snyder, I love you, but I’m so done with your Batman right now. Hurry up and bring back American Vampire. Dropping Batman and Robin again is no real loss. I’ve actually been expecting to do so for a month or two, now. After all, my love of Damian is what kept me coming back, but there is no Damian there for me to love. So you know what?

Instead of trying to slog through the mopey mess, we’re going to be looking at a book called Li’l Gotham.

Li’l Gotham is a net-first comic that comes out once a month, and has been published regularly via Comixology since last October. It’s friggin’ adorable, and the best part? No one is dead. No one is crazy. At one point, Damian uses a trumpet to play pied piper to a flock of turkeys that the Penguin has been using as minions. Colin Wilkes was invited to Thanksgiving dinner. Stephanie Brown is Batgirl on the cover, with Cassandra Cain as Black Bat and Barbara Gordon as Oracle. It’s literally the perfect Batman family book.

The first physical issue is a combination of the first two digital issues, and amazingly, it’s not $3.99. My advice, if you want to be happy? Skip the journey into misery that is Batman and Red Robin, and spend that $3 on Li’l Gotham.

That was this week in miserable, disgruntled comics. It’s funny. For the most part? I’m quite pleased with the comics I bought this week. Hawkeye and Avenger’s Arena came out over from Marvel, as well as Saga, and Fionna and Cake. I find myself to be much happier when not reading DC books. That being said, next week is ladies’ week! Batwoman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman. See you then!

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In Memoriam: Damian Wayne

This week has a central theme: Mourning Damian Wayne. Or does it? I glanced through Batgirl in my comic shop, because we’ve all seen the sad cover:

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See? Babs is crying big, sad, boo-hoo tears over a character who, to my knowledge, she had no direct interaction with in the reboot. I mean, they were in the same place during Death of the Family, but did they talk? Don’t think so. The actual issue involves James Jr., a character I really do find interesting! But not right now. There is a single scene consisting of two pages that deal with Damian, and they’re a complete write-off. Babs isn’t sad about Damian, she’s sad for Bruce.

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Lovely. In any case, we’ve got two more Requiem issues, the main Batman title, and Batman and Robin. I’m girding my loins for feels.

Harper Row is back! Remember her? Awesome hair, nose ring, adorable brother, idolizes Batman? I feel like I’m going to be less sad, and more pumped! This issue of Batman deals mostly with her following Batman around, trying to figure out why he’s sad. Damian isn’t mentioned at all. This seems familiar to me. A Robin dies. Some smart teenager starts following Batman around to help him when he needs it. Batman refuses to throw the teenager a bone, and continues lashing out at everyone around him. Eventually allows the teenager to train with him and…oh my god, Harper Row is being set up to be the new Robin. We’re being Tim Drake’d! Still, think about what this means. We’ve been denied Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, in order to bring in a new female member of the Batfamily. That’s…wow, no? I mean, I’d love to see Harper as the new Robin. I’d love to have a canon female Robin in the main universe that makes up the majority of the DCnU (sorry, Helena Wayne). But that’s exactly like when James Robinson made Alan Scott gay in Earth-2. Making that character gay caused his gay son, Todd Rice, and his son’s boyfriend, Damon Matthews, to essentially be erased from existence. So, we got one and lost two, the same thing that’s happening with Harper Row now. Still, it’s not an unusual practice, as far as DC is concerned. We can have four Green Lanterns from Earth (now five, with Simon Baz)…so long as they’re all men. Sorry, Jade. But we can only have one Atom, and that one is going to be Ray Palmer, goddamnit. We can have three white, male Flashes, no problem. But throw a female Robin or an Asian Batgirl in the mix? Nope! Not possible! This sort of thing just annoys me, and I know I’m not alone.

Did someone say ‘set phasers to feels’? In this special, completely silent issue of Batman and Robin, well…I can’t say anything. I’m not trying to make a joke at all, I literally cannot say anything about this issue. The panels all speak for themselves. From Alfred’s grief, to Titus’ confusion and sadness that only a dog can have, to Bruce’s despair-fueled rage, everything is painted perfectly.

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That was this week in comics. Come back next week for absolutely nothing depressing in Batwoman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, DC Universe Presents featuring Starfire, and possibly the first issue of Constantine!

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The Batfamily is dead, long live the Batfamily

Ladies and gentlemen, the end has come at last. Five months and over a dozen related issues since it began, Death of the Family is finally freaking over. I could weep. Batman is the only book we’ll be looking at this week, sadly, but hey. I’m keeping to my pledge of not buying thing I don’t actually want to read! Who’s proud of me? Well…I’m proud of me, anyway. 

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR BATMAN #17 TO FOLLOW

To the surprise of exactly no one, or at least, the people who understand the concept of marketing popular characters, no one actually died in Death of the Family. Yes, it may seem as though the Joker died, but the man survived having his face cut off. I think he can take a little fall off a cliff. However, he did succeed in what he’d been aiming to do. You see, a family can die in several ways. While Joker failed in his original plan, to kill all the outlying members of the Batfamily themselves, he did kill the idea itself. Bruce’s kids no longer trust him, after spending hours in the dark with Joker. He put thoughts in their heads, doubts, and in the end, causing the living mind to doubt can be more effective than killing the body.

Death of the Family was a flawed crossover arc, but the main story had a clear, cohesive plot that did exactly what it said it was going to. The Joker destroyed the Batfamily, without truly lifting a destructive finger towards any of them. Though their bodies may be mostly unharmed, their minds might never recover from the perceived betrayal at the hands of their patriarch. Only time will tell.

My apologies for the short review, but hey! Next week, we’ll be looking at Batwoman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, and a special DC Universe Presents focused on Roy Harper! Have an excellent week!

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Someone hold my earrings, I’m about to do some jimmie-rustling.

I’m going to skip the intro and cut straight to the chase: I’m so sick of Death of the Family, I could hurl. Today, I went to my LCS looking forward to absolutely nothing, and you know what? Two doors down from the place I subscribe at, is a brand spanking new Alcoholics Anonymous rehabilitation center. I took it as a sign.

You see, in my experience, alcoholics are people with addictive personalities. They start out as folks who drink to take the edge off a hard day. Then they drink to forget. Then they drink because it’s the only thing that feels good anymore. Where am I going with this? I am an addict. I’m addicted to comic books and damn it, I’ve only been getting the bad shit, lately.

I bought one comic this week, and that comic is Batman. Do you know why? I still have faith in Scott Snyder to deliver an amazing story, even when everyone else he’s been collaborating with has failed. Sure, there have been decent individual issues (Suicide Squad #15 springs to mind), but the overall stories? In Batgirl, the Joker is obsessed with marrying Babs before he kills her. In Red Hood, Joker is angry that Jason didn’t stay dead. In Batman and Robin, Joker’s main goal was to have Robin die at the hands of Batman. In Teen Titans, Joker wants Tim to stop trying to prove that he’s better than everyone…by killing him. Detective Comics is filler, Catwoman has nothing to do with anything other than the Joker proving that he can still freak Selina out, Suicide Squad is less about killing and more about Harley finding herself definitively and breaking away from the Joker, whereas in Nightwing…shit, don’t even ask me to remember, because I honestly can’t. See where I’m going with this? The main Batman book, while frustrating, is the only one with a decently-penned, coherent story. And speaking of which…

There is a reason I only bought Batman this week. I flipped to the ends of both Batgirl and Batman and Robin in the store, and they ended the exact same way. Joker, standing before them in his purple suit, holding a platter. Now, all of the DotF books tie directly into Batman. You could not read a single one and still get the general story: Joker has beaten and kidnapped all of Bruce’s ‘children’, and he’s going to kill them unless Batman stops him. Keeping this in mind, I honestly cannot see a way for Death of the Family to end without Batman finally killing the Joker. I just can’t. He’s stabbed Dick, gassed Tim and Jason, and, to Bruce’s knowledge, beaten the snot out of Damian and Babs. And now he’s holding them all somewhere, somewhere that Bruce can’t get to. So he’s playing Joker’s game. He’s going to let himself be taken to where his captive children are, and then together, they will take the pale man down once and for all.

Going back to the epiphany seeing that AA center next to my comic shop gave me for a moment, I’m done. I’m so done. I read an article recently about not buying comics because they have your favorite characters in them when you don’t like the story or the way the characters are being handled. About not buying comics just because you’re so used to buying the series that you can’t remember a time when you weren’t buying it. About speaking to the comic companies with your dollar instead of your angry, ranting blog posts. So that’s what I’m doing. 

I’m not going to buy books out of habit anymore. I’m not going to buy books I hate. If I’m going to plunk down $3 or $4 a book out of my incredibly meager paycheck, I’m going to make sure I actually want it.

So I guess, this is my way of officially breaking up with Teen Titans and Legion of Superheroes. I’ve tried to adjust to the OL being back, but I can’t. They’re not my team. And I refuse to put another dime towards a book Lobell is writing. I may even start picking up Red Hood and the Outlaws again, as he’s off that book once DotF finishes. Blue Beetle ends this month, as well, which is another book gone from my pull list. Batman Inc is set to wrap up in May, or at least, that’s when Grant Morrison is leaving the book. Will it survive without him? It might, but I probably won’t be there to read it. My LCS was shorted Suicide Squad today, which is why I didn’t pick it up, but it has, amazingly, been getting better. I said once that I’d follow Deadshot anywhere. It’s a hard decision, especially considering my tumultuous relationship with the various artists that have cycled through, and Adam Glass’ less than inspired writing, but after last month’s excellent wrap-up of Harley’s personal DotF storyline, I think I can give Suicide Squad another chance. 

So, after this month, that leaves me with a grand total of nine ongoing DC titles. Nine. When the reboot started, I was reading twenty-eight.

That really sort of puts this whole thing in a new perspective, for me. You see, these nine books? I truly enjoy. Because they hit that comics sweet spot by weaving decent to excellent art, interesting writing, compelling story arcs, and relateable characters into every issue. I’m reading them because they’re good comics. And you know what? My list should be a lot longer. Comics should be good.

DC has the potential for good comics at their fingertips, but they refuse to utilize the resources they have. Even with the reboot shenanigans, they’re still a widely respected comic company. Instead of reaching out to new talent that already have devoted fanbases that would follow that talent anywhere, they snap up writers and artists that haven’t been relevant for over a decade, and even then they were only relevant because people enjoyed complaining about them. I think we all know who I’m talking about.

In any case, I’m free! Ish. There are two more DotF books next week, but I’m fairly sure I can sweet-talk my way out of having to buy them. Aside from that, Batwoman! Minutemen! Blue Beetle! Supergirl! Wonder Woman! Ladies week returns, and with it, my happiness. I’m Touch of Grey, and I bid you a good night.

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Death of (a good bit of) my sanity

I’m just going to come right out and say it. It’s Death of the Family week. If that doesn’t interest you, sorry. See you next week, hopefully. Oh! Wait! I’ve got two non-DotF books here! Come back, come back!

It’s the last issue of Marceline and the Scream Queens! And, sorry, Bubbline shippers. No kisses in this mini, just lots and lots of juicy subtext. The monster that is Marceline’s insecurities is the villain this issue, don’t miss the awesome boss battle! Also, beginning next month, a new six-issue mini set in the world of Fionna and Cake!

Hahaha, Ame-Comi Girls. What do I even say about this book. I mean, it’s bad. It’s really, really bad. I’ve come to expect so much more from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, because I was spoiled by their work on Power Girl. But when I read a comic and see Selina’s name misspelled, Jesse Quick’s name misspelled and her formula stated wrong, not to mention the bucket of farts that is Duela Dent’s Ame-Comi origin? And that’s not before getting to the part where she-Brainiac created the Earth. Ha. No. Sorry. Done.

If someone were to ask me, on a scale of one to ten, how upset I was over Gail Simone being fired off of Batgirl, I’d basically have to forfeit my vote. Because after issue…four? Until just now with Death of the Family, I haven’t been reading Batgirl. Of course, it became a hit series without me, one of the top sellers in the New 52. Barbara Gordon, the iconic Batgirl, was back in the suit! And she was being written by the best female talent DC has to offer. But apparently, even making the company a lot of money wasn’t enough to save Ms. Simone from getting the axe, as she has also been off Firestorm since the sixth issue. I wish her the best in all she does, and pray that this means she’s going to be on Suicide Squad from now on.

Speaking of…oh, did I conveniently forget to review Batgirl? Whoops. I’m just a little more upset at DC than I am interested in that particular DotF storyline, which seems to involve the Joker’s desire to marry Batgirl, while also setting up a plot with her brother, James, that we’ll never get to see through. But yes, speaking of Suicide Squad, let’s have a round of applause for Adam Glass. He was a little slow out of the starting gate, but he finally got Harley Quinn to about the same place she was before the end of Gotham City Sirens pre-reboot. Bravo. Honestly, this was the best issue this series has had in…yeah, ever. It’s Harley versus Joker and you know what? Harley won. She made it out alive, and maybe showed Waller that she wasn’t as useless as everyone thought she was. Oh! Quick Rogues update! Digger seems to be leaving both the Squad and Belle Reve…wonder what he did to deserve that?

I have a confession to make. I haven’t picked up an issue of Batman and Robin since the Night of the Owls crossover. I have no idea what’s been going on in this book other than what panels I see on Tumblr. Maybe this won’t be so confusing? Well, we’re off to a decent start. I don’t think Bruce is going to be appearing in this issue at all. And really, wasn’t that what I disliked about the book in the first place? Bruce’s constant dismissal and underestimation of his own son was just…frustrating as hell. Okay. So, this is a Damian-centric arc. I can dig that. And Joker gives the same speech he did in the last issue of Batman about all the sidekicks dragging him down…hello! Okay! No spoilers, but get this issue. It was actually very interesting.

DC, please. Sinestro and Hal had a kind of a kinky dom/sub relationship during their stint as co-Green Lanterns, Joker is canonly in love with Batman…can you stop with all the subtext and just make with the anagram already? I can wait for the three of you who’ve never seen that joke on the internet to figure it out. In any case, it’s a nice little family reunion at the Batcave, where Bruce shares a not-so-heartwarming, kind of really fucking important story about one of his earliest tussles with the Joker. Seriously, dude. If a madman even has the chance of busting into your super secret hidey hole, you let someone know. Anyone. Tell the dog, for Christ’s sake. When people ask why I don’t like Bruce Wayne, I usually respond with something like, “He’s got more trust issues than a victim of a lifetime of emotional abuse.” or “He’s about as open as Santa’s Enchanted Forest in July.” Call him stoic, call him thoughtful, call him whatever. Best case scenario, he’s just a big manchild with shiny toys and an unlimited budget. Worst case scenario, he’s a sociopath waiting to happen. Scott Snyder is some kind of word wizard, though, because as good as the main story was, the back-up just blew me away. Finally, someone giving the Riddler credit! Hey, remember Hush, when Eddie totally figured out Batman’s identity, but didn’t tell anyone? Sigh. That was great.

I feel like I’ve spent less time reviewing and more time reacting this week, at least with the Death of the Family books. Why? Because, for the most part, I just can’t stand them. I dropped Batgirl because it wasn’t interesting to me. I dropped Catwoman because I found it insulting. I dropped Batman and Robin because Bruce is a douchebag. I was never reading Detective Comics. I dropped Nightwing because it was boring. I dropped Red Hood and the Outlaws, at long last, because I just couldn’t take it anymore. With the exception of the main Batman title, and the two Bat-titles that have nothing to do with DotF, Batwoman and Batman Inc, my pull list is relatively Bat-free. I have non-Bat interests. But all the events, all the crossovers, the pain, the suffering, the mental anguish…it all comes back to Batman in the end, doesn’t it? I hopped on the Batman bus in month four, before Night of the Owls. And I loved it. Still do, to an extent. But I’m getting a little tired of all the crossovers. Here’s an idea, DC. Let’s have a few months go by without some massive, Bat-related crossover event. Stop putting all your eggs in one Bat-shaped basket and let us rest.
I’m Touch of Grey. It’s two in the morning. I think you all know where I’m going with this.

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You know what goes well with Nightosphere? Joker toxin.

This is a very Bat-heavy week. Death of the Family is in full swing, running through Batman, Batgirl, and Suicide Squad today. May god have mercy on my soul.

One Bat-book that has nothing to do with DotF, however, is the Ame-Comi comic featuring Batgirl and Robin! Wow, this is completely different from the Wonder Woman issue, despite having the same writing team. For one thing, Robin? Completely annoying. I think they were trying for the quirky snark that Robins are known for, but fell short into the valley of irritation. Still, the villains! …no, they were pretty irritating as well. Harley talks to her hat, Ivy gets her kicks harassing kids on dates, and Catwoman just wants to start fights with everyone. The saving grace is Duela, who seems to have planned for everything, up to and including Batgirl’s escape from the death trap she set up. Hm, maybe she does take after her “father” after all…

Before all that nonsense, however, Marceline and the Scream Queens! Gosh, this comic is just so good. Marceline and the gang head off to her hometown, the Nightosphere, to play a special acoustic show! It goes well, but Marcy is still having her problems dealing with the self-doubt that gossip magazines have been instilling in her. She and Bubblegum get in a fight, and the princess decides to go back home. Now, I don’t know about you, but if those two don’t kiss it out in the final issue next month, I’m going to rip my face off.

You ask for a hamburger, I give you several paragraphs worth of Death of the Family spoilers

Starting with Batgirl, what do we know about the Joker? Well, aside from the obvious fixation he has on her father, the sanest man in Gotham, Jim Gordon, not much. Because it isn’t her he was fixated on…until he figured out she was Batgirl. Oh yes, it may have been her brother who lured her into Joker’s, ahem, disco of death (eternal apologies to Sam Scudder), but I have no doubt that Joker knows who is under the mask. Jim’s wife, Babs’ mother, was out of their lives for years. They moved on. Only when she began to reconcile with her daughter did the elder Barbara Gordon become a target. And she paid for it. The Joker cut off her ring finger, wedding ring and all, to present to his “dearest dominoed daredoll”. And I vomited in my mouth a little.

I don’t think you understand. I’m not even sure if I understand. But what I do know, is that Scott Snyder has officially become the best Batman writer in recent years. If you have read the latest issue of Batman, and your hatred of the Joker isn’t palpable at this point, then I’m worried about you. The man kidnaps Alfred and blinds him with ammonia. He somehow gets Jim Gordon with blood thinner and almost has him bleed out. He’s blown up the aqueduct while Nightwing stands on it, most likely injuring him greatly. Finally, instead of poisoning the reservoir, he just rounded up the people who would have gotten the poisoned water first and just killed them. Poisoned them? Drowned them? Who knows. But at least 30 visible people are dead, en mass, and it’s his fault. 

All because he loves Batman and wants him to be focused on him completely, instead of his ‘family’.

I’m not even looking at this with slash goggles on, he pretty much says it. The kids and Gordon and Alfred? They were dragging Bruce down, making him weak. Once he trimmed the fruit off the tree, then Bruce would have more time for him. Oh, and he knows all of their secret identities, so, uh. Called it.

I want to know, first off, where Harley is getting her clothes. Does she make them herself? Order them offline in her spare time? Because, seriously. Where is this girl getting a purple mourning dress, trimmed with fishnet and complete with hat at like a moment’s notice? Where?! This is the true mystery, here. I remember saying, the last time I really did an in-depth analysis of Joker and Harley’s relationship, that he was, essentially, just an abuser. That’s it. That’s their relationship. He doesn’t love her, but wants someone that he can control. So he baits her, keeps her coming back, and…well, I prefer the approach Batman: The Animated Series used to that side of their relationship. In the here and now, however, we get to watch tooth-to-knuckle as he belts her across the face, then slices her mouth, before going to threaten the other people who were in the Squad with her at the funeral. And while I’m quite upset that Deadshot is dead, I really didn’t need Joker wondering out loud about his circumcision status. Yeow.

That was this week in comics, folks. If your LCS hasn’t run out of them by the time you get there, I also highly recommend picking up the latest issue of Punk Rock Jesus. That series is always a delight. Hope to see you back next week.

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