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.
Josh: Well, this took a turn for the worse, didn’t it?
Dan: I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about Gotham Girl. Scared? Sympathetic? Is she insane or is she a petulant brat? Whatever Williamson is going for, it’s leaving me as cold as Mr Freeze.
Josh: I honestly get the feeling that Williamson doesn’t even know what he’s going for. He’s got her attacking and harming people, then has Flash proclaiming she’s innocent… But in the last issue, Flash was saying she needed to be dealt with, while Batman was claiming she was innocent. The entire lack of logic boggles my mind.
Jay: The whole thing feels as aimless and inconsequential as “The Button.”
Dan: Meanwhile, Batman warns the Flash that someone is trying to put them at odds with one another and Barry responds by picking a fight with him. Sigh.
Elena: They’re both alarmingly immature, aren’t they?
Josh: Yes. It’s coming off as school-yard nonsense.
Dan: Although the beams emitting from Henry Clover had me thinking he’d gone out in a hail of bullets.
Josh: I thought the same thing. What was the point of even bringing Gotham back anyway? He didn’t do anything… except explode.
Josh: I assumed this issue was going to reveal who was behind all of this, but it didn’t. I mean, I assume it’s Bane, right? But if it’s Bane, then that begs the question as to who was helping Gotham and Gotham Girl before they ever met Batman. I kind of feel like this story is digging its own grave.
Dan: I enjoyed March’s playful pencils in this issue. The stacked skyscrapers that open the issue give the reader a clue that we’re in Claire’s fantasy, Gotham (the man, not the city) is imposingly gargantuan and furious, there’s a cheeky Dark Knight Returns reference, and Batman kicks a zombie’s jaw off!
Brian: I dropped Batman from my “buy” list a few months ago, and I’m close to dropping it from my “read” list. I don’t think I have anything else to say.
Casper: It’s just such a weird comic. I pretty much agree with everything you guys said. I get that Batman and Flash are torn by grief, but while they are on the job I’d expect them to be more focused. They can show some of their emotions because that makes them human, but I agree that it’s just weird to have them act so immature. It’s literally Flash saying, “I want to save the city and fight Claire!” And then Batman saying: “No, Flash, no! I want to fight her!” And then Flash: “No, shut up, Bats! It’s my city! Go away, you pointy-eared punk!” So they are literally fighting about who gets to fight Gotham Girl. That’s just silly.
I also don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about Gotham Girl. She wants to be a hero but acts like the complete opposite? I feel like her “origin story” was supposed to give us some insight into her character, but instead it made things more vague for me. It’s okay to write crazy characters, but I’m missing a sense of direction for her. They kind of cast her as a villain here, but I’m just not entirely on board with it. I feel like she’ll somehow end up as a hero anyway, or maybe she’ll actually die in the end as well. Except there’s also the element of her future marriage to Duke, which King hinted at back in Batman #5. In that same issue, King even hints at Gotham Girl killing Bruce at some point in the future. It’s all just really confusing right now. I just wish the writers would give me a reason to get invested in her character arc. But so far she’s been all over the place and I don’t know what’s going on anymore, or why I should care at all.
Lastly, and this is just a minor nitpick, I dislike that Batman and Flash are able to just have a conversation while in the middle of all the chaotic fighting. They should be focused on the situation, not distracting themselves and each other by talking each other’s ears off. That said, I love Guillem March’s art, though! It’s really good! Looks like he had fun drawing this issue, and that’s always nice to see.
Elena: I totally agree with your last nitpick as well, Casper, and mentioned it briefly in my review. Comic books have come a long way and really shouldn’t exploit the static nature of panel art as an excuse to squeeze in as much dialogue as they can.
Jay: I dig heists, and this felt kind of like that on a smaller scale. It was nice seeing Selina in her element, as it were.
Dan: I was kind of done with zombies after reading Batman, so I’m glad they didn’t feature too prominently in this issue. Instead, Selina faces off against the protector of the Reliquary, and it’s a satisfyingly even match. Plus, the bejeweled protector standing imperiously with her devil dog against an ornate window made for an impressive, detailed splash page.
Elena: Definitely the best panel in the whole book! Loved that, and the images where she swoops down past the balconies to the ground floor.
Josh: Yeah! That was my favorite page! And the way Catwoman was drawn, her movement during that flip… So good! The art is definitely the best thing about this book.
Dan:I didn’t like the page in which Selina conversed with Oswald as much. Although it’s cool the way Penguin’s eyes glitter from the shadow of his hat, I found his design too simple and the page overly cramped.
Josh: I didn’t like how vague the entire set-up/ plot with Penguin is. There’s no context. And I suspect it was intended to be that way, but I almost felt like it was done out of laziness rather than intrigue or mystery.
Dan: By the way, since when has professional thief Catwoman left the scene of a robbery by the front door?!
Jay: Professional Thievery Rule #1, Article C: always do the unexpected.
Elena: That’s one of several black beans in the book for me. Why is she leaving by the front door and why is Penguin accosting her? She didn’t take the job, but she went after the prize anyway? It’s not actually clear from the narrative that she turned him down.
Josh: Yeah, this is part of what I was referring to pertaining the set-up. None of it was very clear. As for Selina using the front door… I mean, can we technically say she stole it since she was given permission to take it in the end? Perhaps she was like, “I just got the crap knocked out of me, this object is awkward, I left my thieving bag with Maggie, and I’m tired… Front door it is. It’s not like she doesn’t know I’m taking it anyway.” Haha!
Elena: Also, there’s that weird moment where the dobermans are supposed to be growling at noseless Creel, but they’re just standing around? I really like Kalisz’s art overall, but now and then the action doesn’t really track.
Casper: The best part for me was the fight scene between Selina and the protector of the Reliquary. It seems to me that too many fight scenes these days are just splash pages cramped with illustrations of our heroes striking cool poses. I want my fight scenes sequential, always, and when they’re not it doesn’t bother me that much, but I do think it’s a bit lazy to not use the comic form to its full potential (unless there’s a good reason). So I’m just glad to see such a cool fight scene in this issue. Definitely the highlight for me.
This was a quick read, though. I had finished it so fast that it caught me off guard a little bit, and I feel slightly empty afterward. Like nothing truly significant really happened. Of course that’s not entirely true, because we see the resurrection of Mrs. Creel’s son. On the flipside, though, I do appreciate that this book isn’t filled with exposition and unnecessary dialogue. As a fantastic artist herself, Jones knows how to rely on the art to tell the story and this is definitely one of her strengths — even when she’s only taking care of the writing.
Josh: For me the book is simply all over the place. And am I missing something? I thought the Creel’s and the detective were arrested. Weren’t they? I can’t remember. I’ve essentially been reading the book each month, then immediately moving on.
Casper: Yeah, I feel you Josh. That’s kind of how I’ve been reading this as well. You know, I still enjoy the series, but I’m starting to wonder if I’m better off reading this in trade.
Justice League #18
Dan: This was by far the worst issue of the current run.
Josh: I agree!
Dan: Ferry’s cartoonish, textureless artwork isn’t of an appropriate standard for the company’s flagship title, the story only moved forward by an inch, and endless, wordy pages were spent on the dull minutiae of Vandal Savage and Lionel Luthor’s discovery of stuff we already know.
Josh: Yeah, when I finished the issue, I literally said, “Welp, that could’ve been executed in two or three pages.” And I’m with you on the art. I wasn’t a fan.
Elena: I actually liked the art, different as it was. It has a nice crispness to it and it goes well with all the zany coloring. Even so, I got to page 7 and then it all went south with yet another “tale of the glowy thing”. Oh no no no. Enough of that. I’d rather just look at people punch each other than suffer through exposition about magical whatevers. And once again, I fully recognize that I am just not the audience for this book and that’s okay. But a wall of words is a wall of words and nothing has induced me yet to fully engage with this book.
Josh: Elena’s nightmares consist of a wall of words written by James Tynion.
Elena: Ha! It’s nothing against Tynion; it’s true no matter who’s writing.
Josh: I will admit that about halfway through, I found myself reading about a sentence or two per page to see if anything seemed necessary… And it didn’t. Skipped a few pages to prevent from torturing myself.
Casper: I also liked the art. I guess it’s just not the art style that one would expect to see in a Justice League comic. As for the series in general, I was really enjoying the first arc, but I just lost interest along the way. It feels like it’s all over the place and jumbled rather than a focused narrative. Or maybe that’s just me because I struggle to retain the information delivered through all the exposition. I just don’t care enough to sit down and read through all of it. It would be nice if the creative team dropped another amazing arc that will get me interested again. But honestly, reading Justice League has started to feel like a chore, and if this continues I think I’ll just drop the series altogether.
Brian: Count me in on liking the artwork—at least the distinctness of it. Ferry has some weird anatomy at times, though (look at Lionel’s two hands when he’s holding the piece of the Totality), and there are spots where the storytelling is confusing. I actually enjoyed the story much more than most of Tynion’s other tries at JL. The story moved (even if it was in voiceover-flashback mode), so I didn’t feel like I was drowning in dialogue.
Jay: Here’s how forgettable this issue was: you guys were talking about it being the worst so far and I thought that it was the one with the J’onn/Luthor conversation on Mars, so I was taken aback. Even being “reminded” about this issue’s events I barely remember what happened. That’s pretty much what I thought of it.
Dan: For about the millionth issue in a row, Ric’s internal monologue informs us ad nauseum about how he isn’t who he used to be and what a struggle that is. Meanwhile, Babs is inexplicably threatening people and laughing at the very notion of a relationship with Dick Grayson. Hell has truly frozen over: The most consistent, intriguing character in this book is the Joker’s Daughter, a character I’ve long wished Doctor Manhattan would permanently blast out of existence. She’s got a less irritating look, a new demented plan, and the target of her cruelty is a ruthless councilman.
The art in this issue is more than the script deserves. Moore’s proportioning is perfect, leaving the reader with the feeling they’ve been looking at real people in real places.
Elena: Dekal’s variant cover is gorgeous! And I agree about Moore’s art–it’s so beautiful and Ric looks like Dick instead of some slovenly bar bum at long last! But yeah, unfortunately the script is still all over the place. My take on Babs is that she’s just playing off their relationship, but it’s hard to tell.
I totally agree about Joker’s Daughter, too. I’m definitely intrigued; thought her introduction with the councilman-jacking was really nicely done. Maybe she’ll shoot Ric in the head and he’ll come back to himself and we can get on with things again.
Josh: I can’t believe both of you just said you liked Joker’s Daughter… You’re letting me down. I was immediately annoyed by her “triggerhappy” comment, and I found her ramblings to the councilmen grating. Maybe it was because the lines kept referencing her arc in Nocenti’s Catwoman, and anything related to that run makes me nauseous.
Elena: Maybe it’s because “Ric” is so unappealing she’s exciting by comparison?
Brian: I popped in to see how this was for myself, and I’m not impressed. The issue reads well enough, and Moore’s art is definitely nice to look at, but I think the layouts are actually pretty bland on most pages.
Josh: You know, I’ve gotten so used to reading in the guided view that I didn’t even think about looking at his layouts. I’ll need to make sure I flip through issues to see the full page after I read them.
Brian: And I can’t stand TJD, so there’s that.
Josh: Oh, thank you! I was starting to question my sanity.
Brian: Overall, it was better than I was expecting, but I don’t feel like I should have been reading this.
Josh: Oh, definitely not. If you don’t have to read it, then don’t do it. I just don’t have the energy to hate-read the book each month, so I’m going to approach each issue and try to find what I do enjoy.
Brian: Another thing—the interplay between Ric and Bea feels a bit forced. The softy thing carries on maybe one iteration too many.
Josh: You know, I thought that too, but at this point in the story, they’ve been “dating” for months. One of the issues with Scarecrow covered months worth of time within that single issue alone, so when I reminded myself of that, it didn’t bother me as much. And the softy bit only bothered me because Dick – excuse me, Ric – hasn’t been written consistently since this entire nightmare started. And now I’m thinking of everything I hate about this run…. Can I go back and change my score?
Casper: I haven’t been keeping up with this, to be honest, but apparently not a whole lot has changed. I love Travis Moore’s work, of course, but I feel like it’s wasted here, which is a shame. And, like Josh and Brian, I can’t stand JKD, either. So aside from Moore’s work, I’m 100% not interested in this book at the moment. That’s all I have to say for now.
Jay: Once again, some interesting ideas that never gel. Joker’s Daughter notwithstanding, of course. I was actually fairly engrossed in the town hall meetings, weirdly enough, and like seeing that side of life in Blüdhaven: normal citizens doing what they can to make the city better. The team of Nightwings isn’t working out the way they want it to and is just a ton of dead weight, but the idea is there. Honestly, if this wasn’t an established superhero book and had a bit of polish, this arc may not be too bad. The problem is it’s all pointless and feels like it’s being done out of spite. With Dick’s 80th anniversary coming up next year, this story isn’t really heading into it with any sort of momentum or excitement.
Teen Titans #27
Dan: I was glad to see two traditional staples of this title return this week: downtime with the heroes, and a little romance. That said, I found the reticent badass/comforting friend dynamic overused across the pairings here.
Though Chang’s penchant for enormous facial features can be overwhelming at times, I liked his work in this issue. You can feel Robin’s anguish in the opening splash, and the detail on the city in Djinn’s flashback is phenomenal. This section of the book is elevated by Maiolo’s bright palette, a strong, new origin story from Glass, and Chang’s unique dream-like layouts.
Elena: I just got fixated on that one overhead shot of Crush’s place–the dimensions on that are so bizarre, it’s like a funhouse room or something.
Red Arrow and Robin are the only two characters that don’t seem totally over-designed to me. Everyone else is like a parody: the goofiness of the costumes, the hair, etc. The dinner scene at the Wu house just highlights the ridiculousness of it all. I think I would enjoy the incongruity if I connected with the characters more, but honestly, I like Mrs. Wu more than any of the kids.
Elena: And then we have the Djinn interlude and it’s delightfully rendered–absolutely stunning layouts and beautiful soft colors. But I honestly don’t like this character, don’t care about her backstory, and don’t really want to read about her in a superhero comic. It’s almost like in the absence of Dick having a relationship with the otherworldly Kori, now we have Damian and little miss “not so innocent”.
Josh: I don’t mind Djinn and I like what they’re teasing with her, but Glass needs to hurry up and follow-through with one of these set-ups. In the grand scheme of things, we haven’t really progressed the plot any further than we did in the first issue. I do have a suspicion that The Other is Djinn’s brother, or Djinn herself though. Hopefully we’ll get answers at some point.
Brian: Best thing about the main cover: Robin’s enormous balloon lips are covered by tape. I actually kind of like Djinn, and I wish this issue was a little more space for her backstory and not the jumping from pair to pair. The artwork is indeed very nice in the flashbacks, with the layouts winding like smoke from a lamp. The rest of the book doesn’t interest me as much, but I haven’t been reading this run, so I don’t have the investment with the characters.
Josh: Honestly, Brian, you’re not missing anything with the other characters. They’re all coming off as a bit of cliche. Which is a shame, because there’s definitely potential there. I just think she needs to be more like Lobo.
Jay: Dropped this before Percy even left and I haven’t had any desire to pick it up again.
What did you read this week? Which reviewer did you find yourself agreeing with most? Is James Tynion IV paid by the word? Tell us in the comments!