Reviews and the discussions they inspire are a big part of why you come to the Batman News comics section. So an article in which all of our reviewers engage in a discussion? Why, you’d think that would be a no-brainer! And yet it took several years for the idea to cross our minds… We missed the entire purple cape phase! Anyway, here’s the new plan: at the end of every week you can come back here and see what it’s like when all of your favorite reviewers let their hair down and talk about all the Wednesday Bat-books. And I mean all of them. The ones they reviewed and the ones they didn’t. Even that one that everybody hates! You know the one. Even if Batman News dropped a title from its review rotation ages ago, it’ll be lauded or lambasted right here. It’ll be fun. Should be, anyway. Some of the most well-versed Bat-fans praising or debating the merits of your pull-list? That sounds like a great way to cap off a week in comics!
So here it is: the weekly roundup. Think of it like a peek into the Batman News breakroom or, perhaps more accurately, as a copy/paste of a chain email or an overcrowded podcast that you have to read. Personally, I’m going to Bandersnatch it, you know? Treat it like a choose-your-own-adventure story. How I’ll do it is pick one reviewer per thread and if they use an exclamation point– I’m dead. Gotta start over again with a different reviewer’s commentary. Tip: If you pick Elena in the Detective adventure and then stick with her again in Heroes in Crisis, you’re gonna die.
DETECTIVE COMICS #994
Josh: Yo… This issue hit hard. I was not prepared for this.
Brian: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that there’s no writer working at DC who understands DC’s big-ticket characters better than Tomasi. It’s refreshing to have a Batman title that I’m enjoying again. Side note: I love that the plan is for Damian to come and tend to Alfred’s wound.
Josh: Ditto to Damian tending to Alfred!
Elena: Tomasi and Mahnke are only two issues in and I love and have needed this team like I love and need air.
Josh: I think we have to address the elephant of the issue, and that’s Dr. Leslie Thompkins’ death. I hate that she died, but I’m not angry about. Her death was handled well, and above that, the Tomasi and Mahnke allowed it to unfold… I went from, “They’re clearly not going to kill her” to, “Wait… Are they seriously going to kill her? No, no. They won’t. Batman will save her at the last second, because comics.” To, “Oh… My… God… They really did it…”
Tomasi hit the right sentiments though. Leslie has always served as a motherly figure to Bruce, so to have this follow so closely to Tom Taylor’s “Father’s Day” issue only made it that much more impactful!
Jay: I wasn’t as enamored with this issue as the previous one, but this is still the most compelling ‘Tec arc in quite some time. Tomasi gets Gotham, like Brian said, and it shows in his confident writing. Mahnke is just a beast, too.
Dan: I didn’t like the suggestion at the end of the issue that Batman is about to bully patients of the asylum again but everything else in this was great. The gloomy, horror-style art, the use of the bell and the characterization of Alfred and Leslie was perfect. It was so real when Leslie admitted she didn’t want to die and asked Alfred to ‘look after our boy.’
Josh: I’m not as concerned about the “bully” tactic under Tomasi’s pen. As we’ve already called out, Tomasi completely understands these characters and he’s more than capable of handling this correctly… Unlike some other writers currently penning Batman. I know Tomasi stated that he’d bring Arkham Knight into continuity, so I’m curious to see if he’s the villain in all of this, and if so, if it is Jason Todd. I, low key, wouldn’t be made if they moved Jason into more of a villainous role. I think it’s better suited for him. Not to be completely evil, but on the edge.
Elena: I agree with you, Josh, about the Arkham investigation. He’s making threats, but I doubt he’ll have to carry them too far. And this is mild-mannered tea talk compared to the silliness we got in King’s Batman recently.
HEROES IN CRISIS #3
Josh: Heroes in Crisis is always an interesting topic of conversation because I feel there are so many dynamics to the book – both good and bad – that are worthy of an abundance of commentary… I’ve got my review, so I’m curious to get a pulse on what each of you thought.
Jay: The scene in the Batcave was funny. And that Clay Mann sure can draw.
Brian: Yes, that Mann man is the man, Man. Other than the Batcave, though…this book isn’t for me.
Elena: I’m catching up on this book and I don’t know what to think, really. I absolutely love the concept, but I’m struggling with the execution.
Jay: Yeah, it really isn’t a compelling mystery. Like, at all. There are “slow burns,” and then there’s this, which feels like it’s treading water. Very little forward momentum or tension in the narrative.
Josh: Yeah, I comment on this in my review, but I mainly come for the confessionals/ people’s time at Sanctuary. The other aspects of the book aren’t really jiving. I feel there have been many clues to what’s going on, but they’ve been so subtle that if you’re not examining the book, then you’re easily going to pass over it. But overall, yes, HiC definitely needs some momentum.
Dan: I liked seeing Booster and Blue Beetle together again and Mann’s art is the best of his career so far. However, Barbara’s analysis of Bruce is nonsense, Dinah’s counselling felt like a wasted page, the jumbled chronology is confusing, and Clark sticking to his journalistic principles at a time like this is ridiculous.
By the way, has anyone seen Mann’s picture of Ivy from Heroes in Crisis doing the rounds on social media? She’s drawing the same symbol in her blood as Alfred is drawing on the cover of this week’s Detective Comics!
Josh: I did notice the similarity in covers! King confirmed they’re scrapping that cover of Ivy though. As for the points you mentioned, Dan, I think this is where the subtleties come into play. I don’t think any of are heroes are completely in their right mind. I get the sense that they’ve all been “infected” by Sanctuary to a degree. In fact, based on Donna’s confessional, I feel as though King is teasing that Sanctuary isn’t even a real place. I’m also not convinced that Booster Gold as actually Booster Gold… If I’m right about these, then King and Mann are handling the book brilliantly. If I’m wrong, then the book is a complete dumpster fire.
Oh, and I LOVED Dinah’s confessional. I totally believed her saying, “$%@# this” and walking off.
Elena: Ha! That’s the best moment in the book, Josh.
Josh: I’ll just start by saying that this is my least favorite issue of Scott’s run. All of my complaints are small, but still…
Brian: Some of the political stuff felt a little heavy-handed.
Brian: And I don’t like this Jim Gordon, but I do appreciate the effort to bring Jason Bard back in. I didn’t necessarily love him during Eternal, but I’m all for old faces turning up and having a chance to be interesting again.
Josh: I need to revisit Batman Eternal because I thought Bard died. I could be wrong though.
Brian: Also—other than a few really distracting faces, Pelletier’s stuff is pretty solid.
Elena: Some of the interactions feel a bit forced. Gordon’s behavior at the rally was mostly warranted, but Batgirl was out of control. Not only did she have no business being there (it was a police matter), but she actually defended civil disobedience in the worst way. The people have a right to rally and protest. They don’t have the right to assault a police officer.
Josh: I completely agree. I think this scene could have been handled better had Batgirl sided with the police, been attacked (verbally) by the crowd, and then realized she was only escalating the violence by being there… Or something like that. I can’t really get behind her getting angry with her dad or siding with Alejo.
Elena: I’m also confused as to why Alejo is even entertaining a conversation with Bard, but I guess we’ll get more details in the next issue.
Lastly, I just want to say for the record that Babs’ new “look” with regard to her clothing is A+ in this new era. She finally looks like the well-put-together nerd she ought to be and not some trendy oversexed teenager in hip-huggers and hoodies.
Jay: I’m actually liking the political angle. It felt believable that Babs would want to work with a person she thought would be best suited to bring on change. Elena’s point about the riot is valid, though. That was a pretty clumsy scene in an otherwise well-written issue.
Brian: My point about the heavy-handed politics was that I thought it felt a little too “now,” and I think there’s already enough/too much of that in comics. But it could just be me :-)
Josh: No, I’m right there with you Brian. I love politics, but I’m sick of hearing about the same thing 24/7. I read comics to escape, and if writers want to take a political angle, I support that, but actually do something with it. Show where people see relevance in both sides or something. The attempts lately just feel like a lift from a political commentary show. I don’t know… I’m not saying there aren’t issues worth being addressed, just that they could be handled with more care.
Elena: I’m okay with the “nowness” of it because it’s a universal injustice they’re addressing. It’s timely, but not a specific agenda that won’t be still relevant years from now. It’s a hard line for comics to straddle and I prefer a kind of timelessness in the storylines, but I think Scott manages it for the most part here.
Josh: That’s very true. It is very “now,” but it is also timeless. That’s a good point to bring up, because these comics will live on.
JUSTICE LEAGUE ODYSSEY #4
Elena: Between the cast of thousands, the cyborg dinosaurs, and the big shiny Mother Box, this is just a big no for me personally.
Josh: *Whispers* I kind of liked the dinosaurs… but I like dinosaurs.
Elena: That said, Azrael actually looks pretty cool for what little we get to see of him.
Jay: He might look cool, but he’s written horribly. Jean Paul is quippy and kind of annoying.
Josh: I’m so glad you said it before I did
Jay: I went into this book intrigued– if for no other reason than by how crazy the concept is– but this story is just flat out boring. I really do not care about anything that’s gone on so far, least of all Vic, Kori, and J.P. being mistaken for/worshipped as gods.
Josh: I’m right there with you, Jay. I don’t care about the story and I don’t believe the characters. As large as this story is, it’s unfortunately completely generic. Nothing about the narrative feels fresh or organic. The characters come off pretty generic as well. If powers didn’t come into play, and the characters didn’t refer to each other by name, I’d have no idea who these characters are because they have no presence to uniquely define them. And don’t get me started on Darkseid…
Dan: I love the concept and the team so every time I pick up an issue I hope the series will turn a corner but I’m disappointed every time. Jay’s right: the story is boring. It just feels like the characters go from planet to planet for no real reason. This issue features several forced mentions of Vic’s football career instead of giving us any genuine characterization, and the fight between Cyborg and Azrael is just pointless. It’s not all bad: the zealotry of the worshipers is quite funny, the introduction of Blackfire suggests Williamson is just getting his pieces on the board and has a plan for them, and Cyborg is no longer the Justice League’s Uber driver; he’s delegated that role to Jess now.
Josh: I’m not so sure Williamson has a plan because he’s only on the book for six issues… Which, in my opinion, doesn’t bode well for the title. The second arc is going to need a drastic change or this book will end up on the chopping block.
Josh: I think I might be in the minority here, but I’m starting to enjoy this title. This issue was a bit of a side-bar, but it was definitely needed.
Elena: I busted out laughing at Brother sitting in the rather ordinary car saying “GET IN” like it was such a big dramatic moment, and him sitting there with his crayola-colors costume and his enormous stupid horns. I didn’t recover enough after that to get the gist of what was going on. I know, I’m shallow.
Josh: Yeah, there’s been a lot of shifting considering Brother Blood started in Teen Titans, then a completely different group of Blood and his followers popped up in Titans, before that story was interrupted to deal with Heroes in Crisis, Dick getting shot, “Drowned Earth,” and getting marooned on another planet… We needed some clarification on what in the hell is going on, and this chapter takes care of that.
Jay: Still not interested enough to dive back in.
Dan: This series has been treading water for a long time but never was that more apparent than in issue #32. It opens with a two-page recap of issue #31, then dives into a poorly-timed origin story for Mother Blood. The book has things to say about the powerlessness of immigrants and the allure of cults but this gets lost amid the reader’s frustrated desire to see some resolution to this strung-out mess.
Josh: I do agree with you, Dan. I think Abnett is finally doing something interesting with Blood that is different, but the real crux of whether this story is worth reading or not will be the next issue. I can’t blame the creative team for the slow progression when editorial has clearly mandated that other stories from other books take precedent… But the trajectory of Titans looks promising, and I’m willing to stick around to give it that shot.
BATMAN BEYOND #27
Brian: I haven’t been keeping up with the series, but checked out this issue and enjoyed it. Jurgens writes good dialogue, and though I’m not the biggest fan of Booth aesthetically, his work is always very dynamic and entertaining.
Josh: Yeah, I was slow to read the book after I stopped reviewing it, but I feel that Batman Beyond has been on fire since the Annual. The inclusion of legacy characters such as Dick and Luke gives the book a jolt of energy.
Elena: I was totally on board with this (I agree about Jurgens), until the final splash page. Then I just thought: ugh. Pity, too, as I was enjoying the balance of the characters and loving the stupidity of the Throwbacks and Jurgens’ whole characterization of the Joker. Hopefully this cyborg-mecha nonsense won’t last.
Dan: I agree with Elena; the Joker’s voice and actions are on point…until the final page. Reinventing himself with tech is silly; he was never about being a physical challenge to Batman.
Josh: At least it wasn’t as bad as that giant Joker’s Daughter robot from Detective Comics during the New 52… As for Jurgens’ characterization of Joker, I’ve read the past few issues clearly hearing Mark Hamill’s Joker reciting these lines. It’s near perfect for me.
Jay: Yeah, this book is never at the top of my list, but it isn’t at the bottom either. It’s a pretty consistently okay book without wavering either way. Like Brian, I’m no fan of Booth’s style, particularly when it comes to the way he draws faces, but he turned in some good work here.
Dan: I like the way Booth draws Melanie’s hair, and Batman and Robin look suitably heroic flying against a Neo Gotham skyline. On the other hand, there’s too much blank, white background and the Joker doesn’t look scary enough for my liking.
I was perturbed to see Terry taking a date break in the middle of a crisis, and master strategist Bruce Wayne hasn’t been firing on all cylinders lately; he should have predicted that the Joker would attack the Jokerz, and he’s been so devil-may-care with Matt that I hope the Joker kills him.
Josh: Is it bad that I agree with you? I went from rooting for Matt to become Robin back when he was looking for the Justice League ages ago, to absolutely hating him…
THE SILENCER #12
Elena: I really wish Derenick could find a way to make Talia’s ginormous boobs even more distracting. #sarcasm.
Josh: Ha! I think that’s actually on Jack Herbert, but either way, you’re right. Carry on.
Elena: Yeah, that’s all I’ve got.
Josh: What!?!? This is such a good book!
Jay: I hate that this book (like pretty much all of the other New Age Of Heroes titles, to be fair) has had a revolving door of artists, because the storytelling is always great. I wish Abnett had a penciler who could help carry out an entire arc before somebody else stepped in.
Josh: Yeah, the rotating artists coming in and out mid-arc really seems like DC’s way of saying they don’t care about these titles… And it’s kind of hard to get behind a title as a reader when the publisher is sending that message.
Jay: Bogdanovic was a great fit. Bring him back.
Josh: I’ve been happy with every artist except for Romita, so I’m happy with any of them – Bogdanovic, Zircher, and now Herbert/ Derenick, but consistency for an entire arc would be nice. As for the story, I love that I find myself surprised every few issues. Just when I think I know where the book is headed, it takes a sharp right or left and journeys down a path I never expected it to take. I’m also still fully invested in Honor and her family, and Talia is the best she’s been in years! Overall, there’s a lot of good here, and I hope people actually give The Silencer a shot – especially with the first trade out now.
Seriously, The Silencer is a solid book, so if you haven’t read it, take the time to do so.
OLD LADY HARLEY #3
Elena: Lord have mercy, this comic revels in how much of a hot mess it can make–and maybe you have to appreciate its audacity a little. But I’m sorry, the revisionist past history with Harley and the Joker is complete and utter nonsense. What little of my intelligence I can afford to spend on this book is affronted.
Part of me wants to admire how bonkers the Thunderdome cage match is, but this is such expendable trash I don’t even know how to enjoy it. And is Harley made to look like a cockroach with those hair antennae on purpose? All that said, I’m mildly piqued by the closing image. Not enough to ever want to pay for this book, but I’ll read it if it’s handed to me, I guess.
Injustice Vs. Masters of the Universe #6
And there you have it. We don’t really have a way to wrap up this article in a way that makes it feel like a natural conclusion just yet… so here’s a short little comic I scribbled last year. It’s nothing all that original mind you, I just turned a favorite scene from A New Hope into a set of sequential images, but I hope you enjoy it nonetheless. At the very least it illustrates how we here at Batman News are an eclectic bunch that have interests that do indeed go beyond Batman.