Reviews and the discussions they inspire are a big part of why readers visit the Batman News comics section. So an article in which all of our reviewers engage in a discussion about that week’s titles? Why, you’d think it’s 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 plan: at the end of every week we’ll post a lengthy conversation that illustrates 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 the Comics Section‘s 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.
Unfortunately, Casper is under the weather and won’t be joining the discussion this week. But he’s with us in spirit, and with that in mind I will try to picture him as a friendly ghost… now, what would that look like…
Josh: They should’ve titled this “Little pig, little pig, shoot me now.” I did not like this, and I really wanted to. So, that’s a shame… Brian, what were your general thoughts?
Brian: You either love King’s run on Batman or you hate it, and sadly, I’m in the second group. This issue reads like tragically misplaced self-assurance.
Elena: I’ve said all I can say about this book in my review. I’d prefer not to have to go back and look at it again to mine for more comments.
Josh: *Takes note* Ask Elena about Batman #62 every week. Got it. Haha!
Dan: At the beginning of the issue, I was feeling lenient about the narration because it was necessary to let us know Bruce’s plan for freeing himself but after that, the stream of consciousness just got increasingly painful to read. This was mainly because it didn’t sound anything like Batman!
Josh: I think you hit the nail on the head. I was fine with the narration in the beginning as well because we were discovering what Batman’s situation was. It was almost like we were on the mission with him… But then the narration just kept going and repeating itself. He kept acknowledging Pyg. He kept acknowledging he was in a slaughterhouse. He kept acknowledging he couldn’t hear. Once we established the situation, King should’ve done something to move on to an actual narrative. Instead, he decided to breakdown everything Batman does or would do, but most the time I didn’t even hear Batman’s voice.
Dan: Yeah, yet again, King couldn’t stop himself from deconstructing the dark knight. I don’t want to harp on about his shortcomings as he’s receiving unwarranted and unacceptable abuse on social media lately, but this issue contained neither imagination nor insight. A break from the story’s progression to delve into the protagonist’s mind can work (e.g. see Batman & Robin #17, 2013) but this overripe nonsense definitely doesn’t.
Brian: I think the biggest problem here is that most of King’s run has been non-linear, choppy narrative, so the impact of these “nightmares” is a feeling of more of the same, rather than a break from the norm.
Jay: Credit where it’s due, Gerads makes the proceedings feel appropriately icky and disturbing. Professor Pyg is gross, and I felt like I needed a shower after reading this. I… think I mean that as a positive. As far as the writing, I’m just weary of the “wait and see how it all pans out” game.
Josh: I definitely enjoyed Gerads’ art here. I can’t say that it’s a style of art I’d want to see on every issue, but it worked for this issue. He definitely made Pyg feel like Pyg. I came into this issue excited to get some crazy Pyg goodness, and then there was no dialogue so… Womp, womp.
In the end, I feel like this issue was a waste. We gained nothing from it, and it didn’t lead the title anywhere. It even failed to deliver in examining Batman’s psyche or thought process when in action – which appeared to be what King was going for. And you could make the argument, “Well this is a dream.” Well, I would still like to read a story and feel like I gained something from it once I’ve finished it. There’s literally nothing to gain from reading this issue – not even a good time.
Justice League #15
Josh: Alright, moving on to Justice League.
Brian: Fun story, not-great dialogue. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but that’s where I’m at with Tynion on this book.
Jay: Agreed. It’s not the most expository Tynion’s ever been, but it still lacks the poetry and finesse that Snyder is able to wring out of even the longer passages.
Elena: I bailed at the giant green wall of exposition. This is just not a style of storytelling that interests me, especially in comic books, but it’s what Snyder and Tynion seem to do.
Dan: Haha! That was definitely the weakest part of the book; why do I need a lecture on the procedure for getting a vault on Thanagar Prime? Nonetheless, I enjoyed this issue as it finally answered some questions (including the revelation that the universe is banding together against Earth for breaking the Source Wall) and piqued my interest for issue #16.
Jay: See, I like heists, and it’s always fun seeing the setup before the score goes down. I didn’t have too much of a problem with it here, other than the aforementioned clunkiness.
Josh: I felt like this issue started strong, got weak in the middle, then ended strong again. I know this arc is supposed to lead into a huge arc….
Elena: They’re all huge arcs with Snyder.
Josh: …and I feel we got inklings of what that arc will entail here. The whole multiple universes and realities bit immediately made me think of the New 52 though. And then they kept mentioning “she” and “her,” and I was convinced Didio was bringing Pandora back. Looks like it’s just Perpetua… I have no idea who that is.
I want to add that the idea that Thanagar, the Green Lantern Corps, and the Dominators all teaming up to support a notion or outcome that opposes what our heroes stand for seems likes one hell of an event story though… Just saying, DC may have stumbled upon a gold mine without realizing it.
Young Justice #1
Brian: That was FUN.
Jay: SO much fun.
Josh: INSANELY fun.
Elena: Not my cup of tea.
Josh: There’s always one.
Elena: But this is excess done right. It’s got tonal consistency throughout, all of the characters get some space to shine in their introductions, and Tim just looks amazing!
Dan: Even though I didn’t feel like I’m the right audience for this book, I did have a nice time reading it. The team all arriving in Metropolis on the same day and meeting each other in the space of a few minutes irritated me but the cheerful vibe, the humourous villains and the return of beloved characters soon made me forget all that.
Josh: Yeah, there were definitely times where I felt the narrative was a little manic, but the characters and their overall joy was infectious. Plus, I’m perfectly ok with the fact that Bendis was essentially like, “Let’s not waste an entire arc getting these guys together. Let’s knock that out in the first issue so we can move straight into the story.”
Dan: The alternate covers are gorgeous (especially Jimenez’s and Shaner’s) and Gleason’s artwork is as impressive as ever; the cool use of shadow when Amethyst is introduced, and Wonder Girl entering the fray were my favourite bits. In the latter, Cassie’s shift in body language, her determined expression, her position above the action and the way she’s partially silhouetted against the sun all add up to a fantastically heroic panel.
Josh: I loved that moment! Honestly, I pretty much loved every character. Cassie was great. Tim was great – and kicked ass. But for me, the really winner here was Impulse. I loved him. He was the perfect representation of every fan who was excited to see this book return! And then there was Connor…with scruff!
Brian: This book is what Teen Titans has needed to be for some time, and if I were DC, I would quietly remove TT from publication for a while.
Josh: I can’t bring myself to disagree with you.
Jay: Anyone want to join me in launching Jinny-Hex-News.com? She was a delight.
Josh: *Nervously looks at his planner* Umm… there’s a Young Justice sale going on at Comixology right now. Haha!
Elena: I can’t believe this comic just happened.
Elena: There is so much bad writing here I don’t even know where to start. Everything from the finger-wagging cop to the guy’s been shot and is covered with blood, but “he’s fine and let’s work out our team deets” is just nonsensical.
Josh: I’m not going to lie, I almost expected a jumping team-high-five at the end. Even the mortally wounded dude.
Elena: And I get that “Ric” is experiencing an altered personality due to his head injury, but yeah, the fact that he’s otherwise in prime physical condition and can still do acrobatics stretches credulity to the next level.
Josh: This is what really kills me. And this goes back to the whole Tom King pitch. As unhappy as I am with King’s Batman, the fact that he wanted to explore Dick Grayson having to relearn everything could have been incredible. He related it to a family member of his having a stroke. I believe it was his uncle, but King mentioned that he had to relearn how to talk, walk, use certain motor functions… That, with Tim Drake taking over as Nightwing? Give me a year+ of that! And we can still have Young Justice, just say this Nightwing arc takes place before all of that… It’s a missed opportunity for an incredible story.
Elena: Josh, your observation in your review about Batman ’66 is spot on. This book is so campy, but seems like it wants to be taken seriously. If they went full camp, maybe it could even work. But tonally the story and the writing and art are all just at war.
Dan: The dialogue is particularly awful and I’m tired of hearing Ric’s perspective on his old life. His brief guilt over Zak getting shot was a step in the right direction (albeit marred by the automatic recovery and the gunshots making ‘pop’ sounds) before it all went wrong again. Scarecrow’s defeat was abrupt, easy and ridiculous.
By the way, H-Wing is a stupid name.
(Last gif, I promise.)
Dan: Also, last issue, the Nightwings encountered Scarecrow in verdant Cardy Park but when we rejoin them, they’re standing in the middle of a street. How could this series get any worse? Maybe add the Joker’s Daughter into the mix?
Josh: That’s a definite. Just seeing her hands in this issue made me cringe.
Jay: By no means do I particularly like this whole plot, but I’m able to endure it because there’s no way it lasts. I’ve said it before: there are some decent ideas here, like an amnesiac superhero who has to decide if he even wants to remember his past life, it’s just that the execution isn’t there.
Josh: Oh, definitely! I’ve tried to make a point in sharing what I think could’ve worked well in my reviews, but my overall unhappiness with nearly everything in Nightwing at the moment is hard to mask.
But to piggyback your note on execution…
(Ok, REALLY, last gif…)
Batman: Kings of Fear #6
Josh: We’ve reached the end of Kings of Fear. I thought this issue had some really nice moments in it.
Elena: The part where Alfred literally turned into the embodiment of Satan there at the end was very amusing.
Josh: Ha! I liked that the book acknowledged the impact Batman has had on low-level crime. It was a little heavy handed, but the story made a point to call out comics for always focusing on the “big moments” rather than embracing everything. Even we’ve discussed how every story now is big. It’s either the end of the world, Gotham getting destroyed, the entire city is in danger, etc. I miss the street level aspects of Gotham’s heroes. Kings of Fear helped deliver that aspect.
Dan: I wasn’t a fan of Kelley Jones’ art before this series but I’ve really warmed to it. It’s so gothic and dramatic; perfect for Batman. Scarecrow was a bit pathetic, the tale of the analyst who found love was too long and overall this was a slow conclusion to the story but at least Bruce learnt a lesson.
Jay: This series is the best work Kelley Jones have ever done. Usually I’m pretty ambivalent toward his style, but man if this book wasn’t just stunning. Insanely creative artwork all throughout. The writing was pretty good too, sure, but this was definitely a showcase for Jones.
Josh: Completely agree! There’ve been times where I despised Jones’ art, but I’ve loved his work here. Maybe I’ve grown as a reader to appreciate art, or maybe he’s gotten better/ had more time to work on the book… Either way, his work was wonderful here, and it really made Batman: Kings of Fear something special.
Harley Quinn #57
Elena: There’s a lot going on in this comic book. Maybe too much. Could do without Mirand’r and the trials, though. Seems like overkill spackle on top of what could be an otherwise interesting story? That said, there’s a whole lot of weirdness going on between Batman and Harley here.
Josh: Honestly, Guillem March’s cover was good enough that I went ahead and picked the title up to give it a shot… That shot lasted all of three pages. At least I purchased a nice cover.
Adventures of the Super Sons #6
Brian: Tomasi is one of my favorites, but there’s limited time, and other books are winning. Maybe I’ll catch this in trade.
Jay: I remember next to nothing about this issue. Tomasi is one of my favorite writers too, but this series just isn’t taking off.
Josh: I agree with you, Jay. I love Jon and Damian together, and I love Tomasi, but the book is currently just ok. The interaction between Damian and Jon continues to be an absolute blast to read, but there’s not much of a hook to the story. I was happy to leave Rex Luthor behind, so having him back was a bit of a letdown.
I almost get the sense that Tomasi had ideas he’d pitched for the original Super Sons, that DC liked, so they decided to do Adventures of the Super Sons to keep those ideas, but perhaps scrapped whatever the original long-arc was intended to be. I have no grounds to make that statement, I’m just saying it comes off that way.
And to be clear, I don’t think this is a bad book, but when your time is limited and you’re reading dozens of other books… This one can very easily get pushed to trade waiting.
Suicide Squad Black Files #3
Elena: I was trying to read this for Gentleman Ghost, but the Azucar character just offends me.
Josh: I really enjoy Azucar…
Elena: I just find her to be a cheap stereotype, but it’s possible I’m sensitive to certain representations in media. Another problem I have with this book is just that I can’t seem to catch up. I have literally no idea what’s going on. Katana looks really nice. +1 for the Eaton/Faucher art?
Josh: That’s about the only thing going for the Katana book. I actually skipped the Katana story for this issue. I just can’t bring myself to read a script that was as bad as the two issues leading into this. I made the mistake of holding out hope that the story would get better over time during Suicide Squad’s Most Wanted, and I was sadly mistaken.
As for the Suicide Squad: Black story, this chapter took a dive compared to the first two issues. The story is all over the place, and while there are some ok moments, the overall narrative didn’t jive with me like I expected it to. There was just too much talking and grand-plan-revealing. Actually, there was too much everything, and that prevented the narrative from being able to breathe.I would’ve preferred it if this issue would’ve just dealt with the physical confrontation, then perhaps the reveal of why Faust is doing what he’s doing… But, you know, show us, don’t have the character tell the opposition. That’s just lazy writing.
Dan: I found ‘Rota Fortuna’ really confusing and muddled. Plus, Sebastian Faust isn’t a formidable villain, and he’s nicked Doctor Fate’s stance on magic from Justice League Dark. Though it was silly, illogical and barely involved the Squad, I preferred ‘War in Two Worlds,’ mostly thanks to Briones. The body-swapping could have been confusing but his large panels and detailed art make it all totally clear. Also, I really like Kobra’s redesign.
Josh: Yeah, I can see the comparisons to Dr. Fate in Justice League Dark, however, I do feel the reason why Faust wants to end magic is quite different. Had this book focused more on the fact that magic is a give and take, how it takes from it’s users – as well as what the extremes of that notion – then this would’ve played out much better… But it didn’t.
Brian: I’m not interested enough to make time for this, but if the buzz is strong enough, there’s always the trade.
Jay: Pass part deux.
Archie Meets Batman ‘66 #6
Jay: That was fun. There wasn’t ever a point where the miniseries was particularly great, but it wasn’t bad either. Just a bunch of light, silly fun.
Josh: I’m going to have to circle back to this. Since it wasn’t part of DC’s publishing cycle, I kept missing/ forgetting about it. Sorry, everyone. Sorry, Jay.
I am interested though.
Josh: Did anybody read this?
Jay: There was lots of talk about Zeta Beams. All it really did was make me wish I was reading an Adam Strange comic. I… really don’t know what to make of this. What is Priest trying to say and do? Granted, the same thing could be asked of his entire Deathstroke run, but this arc especially is just bizarre.
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 my sticky note drawing of Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks.