Now that the month has drawn to a close let’s take a look back at the moments that made the biggest impact on us for better or for worse. The Batman News Review Team will be sharing their favorites and we invite you to get in on the conversation as well. And if you have any suggestions on how to make this monthly segment better, we’re all ears. Although this is only the second of Best/Worst I can tell that too much freedom has made for a bloated article in need of reform so expect something very different in March.
You’ll also find a poll at the end of this article where you can vote for the best book of the month!
WARNING: Since this is a list summing up the best and worst of a month’s worth of comics you should know before scrolling any further that spoilers will certainly abound.
Best Moments of January, 2015
The team chose their favorite and least favorite moments from any book whether they reviewed it themselves or not. Some even took the project a bit further and made a few extra selections just for the heck of it.
A Right Hand Man — Batman #39
Alfred getting his hand chopped off! Not best in the sense that I am happy about it, but best in the sense that it shocked the hell out of me. More than any other moment this month, it gave me an actual instance of genuine emotional upheaval. I’m nominating it as the best because it made me feel something real. I was so concerned about Alfred that the first thing I did after reading this issue was go online and look up the realities of reattaching amputated limbs and the success rates in regards to full recoveries. I treated this moment as if it had happened to a real person, even though in comics, people can come back from the dead.
Damian Lights the Bat-Signal — Batman and Robin #39
Robin literally shines a light on the crime in Gotham. BEWARE THE BATMAN! Or his rambunctious, super-powered preteen.
Hal Jordan Returns — Justice League #39
“So where’s Batman? I want to see the look on his face when he sees Green Lantern’s back.”
The return of Green Lantern, Hal Jordan. ‘Nuff said.
BEST SURPRISE APPEARANCE (a tie)
The Spectre — Gotham by Midnight #4
Spectre makes his first appearance. I expected them to keep him under a tight lid for at least several more issues, so this was a surprise and delight!
Brainiac — Futures End #40
Brainiac reveals himself (and he’s a flippin’ doozy!).
BEST MANO A MANO
Batman vs. Deathstroke — Deathstroke #5
No fight is going to top this beauty, executed with finesse by Tony S. Daniel. As an added bonus, it’s got Harley Quinn egging them on.
Harley & Bruce — Harley Quinn Valentine’s Day Special #1
Harley and Bruce sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.
BEST INADVERTENT TEAM-UP
Bats & Bullock — Detective Comics #39
In terms of writing, this was the best Bat-book of the month, hands-down.
BEST/WORST FASHION STATEMENT
Joker’s Swimsuit — Batman #39
Joker’s swimming costume is as hilarious as it is terrifying. It is now the stuff of recurring nightmares and future therapy for me.
“It doesn’t matter who he is…” — Batman #39 backup story
Everyone has their preferred interpretation of a character. For me, I don’t need to know who the Joker is, where he came from, or why he does what he does. He’s threatening because he doesn’t care, and neither should we.
“It was a big rock.” — Gotham Academy #5
Worst Moments of January, 2015
Joker’s Daughter Takes the Throne — Batman Eternal #46
The Joker’s Daughter pompously sitting on the Joker’s throne. It’s not like she has done a single bloody thing to earn her the right to brandish his image, use his name, or take his place. She needs to get to steppin. For comparisson sake I composited the two images together. On the left we have a panel from The Killing Joke (1988) and on the right a panel from Batman Eternal #46.
“New costume, Tanya?” — Teen Titans #7
A nuclear bomb just went off at S.T.A.R. Labs, possibly killing numerous people and wildlife. Wonder Girl, however, is focused on Power Girl’s uniform change. Good to see the Titans have their priorities straight.
What about Gordon? — Every February Batman Eternal
Batman Eternal‘s failure to address Jim Gordon’s status throughout the entire month. Boo.
Grotesquery For Its Sake — Batman #39
Dismembering a character has always been, to me, one of the cruelest punishments that a writer can inflict. I don’t know what it stems from, but it always makes my stomach churn and takes me out of the story. Here, it’s done to beloved Alfred to prove that no one is safe, that the stakes are that high, but what’s worse is it more than likely won’t last. With all due respect to the team working on “Endgame,” that’s the feeling I get from the story: it will have a big impact, but it won’t have lasting repercussions. This is all conjecture and, I’ll be honest, wishing on my part, and I’m definitely going to give it the benefit of the doubt. As it stands right now, though, there’s shock and flash but very little substance, so here’s hoping #40 brings it all together.
Alfred’s Hand (again) — Batman #39
We were promised an “all-out” version of the Joker, but what we’ve gotten so far from Scott Snyder’s “Endgame” has been a jostling ride with each issue leaving the reader with more questions than answers. The stakes keep being raised and Joker seems unstoppable, even against the indomitable presence of everyone’s favorite butler. This was too much for me, sneaking into the Batcave, the infamous scarring, the terrible aim on Alfred’s part, it just didn’t work.
I mentioned it in the review for this issue, but boy was this book bad. From the story fluctuating between stagnant and frantic to the lack of a consistent art team to give this segmented book any real continuity, World’s End can be officially considered a flop. This was particularly painful when Powergirl blurts out during a battle “Lucky for us – have superbody, will travel.” No one under thirty got that reference.
Best Reviewed Books of February, 2015
Either it was a strong month for Batman comics or I hired some very generous reviewers! Here’s how our scoring system works: a 5/10 is “just okay” or “mediocre” depending on how you look at it. It’s in the middle of the scale so that makes sense! Every notch above 5/10 is better and every notch below 5/10 is worse. However, some folks come here thinking a 6/10 is like getting an “F” on an exam and suddenly the comments section gets filled with the bile of people who didn’t read the full article.
Initially I intended to use this section of Best/Worst to show off books that scored a 9/10 or above, but Batman News saw 10 reviews score over a 9/10 and six of those came in just the last two weeks! So basically you can just scroll through the past few pages of the Batman News comics section and find a sea of praise with only the occasional Batwoman or Worlds’ Finest issue throwing off our good vibes.
Between Joker’s Endgame, Robin’s return, Morrison’s Multiversity, and Futures End’s sudden upswing, February proved to be a stellar month.
Worst Reviewed Books of February, 2015
Is Sean the most hard-to-please critic we’ve got here? Nope, he’s actually a pretty positive guy, but unfortunately, anything he’s required to read outside of Justice League 3000 is on the verge of cancellation or is a book people only read because they know how good it could be and they want to be on board when that finally happens (Red Hood). We didn’t plan it that way, but that’s what happened.
If you want to know the worst of the worst, no book came close to the 1.5/10 earned by Worlds’ Finest #31.
“One more month. One more issue. Lois is going to die next issue and that will be the end of this series. We’ve only known that for about six months now. Once this is over, there will be another, hopefully better, book to replace it. That’s all I have going for me every time I pick up this book.” — Sean Buckley
What Was Your Favorite?
Lastly, we want to hear from you. The poll below allows you to vote for all the books you loved from February and in a week’s time you can check back to see what the Batman News community’s #1 most loved comic of February was and, naturally, it’ll be pretty apparent what everyone’s least favorite book was as well. The number one book of last month was Batman #38 with 46.28% of the vote. The worst was a tie between multiple books but seeing as how Earth 2: World’s End had four comics on the ballot and none of them got a single vote, I gotta say Earth 2: World’s End was the worst thing you could’ve read last month that we review around here.