This Week in Comics: Batman goes Looney Tunes (again)

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.


Batman #67

Jay: It’s no Batman/Elmer Fudd, but it’ll do.

Really wish Lee Weeks had penciled the entire issue, but Fornes’ style complements his well enough.  It plays into the uncertainty of “Knightmares” too, going from one look to another.

Elena: I loved this. I can’t help myself. It was thrilling on the first read and hilarious on the second read. Almost pitch perfect in every way for me. Just wish it wasn’t part of this nightmare slog.

Josh: I… Uh, I think I need to take the two minutes it took me to read this, to re-read this…

Dan: I’m glad you guys liked this one, but it wasn’t for me. I agree Fornes and Weeks work well together and they both seem to be channeling Mazzucchelli, which is always a plus. Viewed in isolation, it’s a gripping chase; the action flows very well and there’s plenty of rise and fall in the fortunes of the hunter and the hunted…but that’s all there is to this issue! Its as if King just wrote a script that said ‘Guys, I haven’t got any ideas for this one so just make it a silent chase across 20 pages.’ I think plenty of readers will enjoy the nods to Porky, Road Runner and Wile E Coyote, but i found them indulgent and out of place in main continuity. Also, it’s yet another pointless, inconsequential dream, this time with even less insight to offer than usual.

Elena: I can well appreciate that, Dan; for me the fact that King didn’t try so hard to make a point was precisely why it worked for me. I’m tired of ham-fisted screeds on the “meaning of it all”. Give me something exciting, something fun, something I can actually engage with instead of something that casts me in the passive role of having everything (and simultaneously nothing) explained expositionally or through endless speechifying or via analogous high-falutin’ references. I’ll take the bald honest goofiness of Looney Tunes any day over any kind of literary pretension.

Dan: Excellent point! It is pretty wonderful to get a break from all the character dissection and high school philosophy we’re usually presented with.

Casper: I’m with you, Elena. I love this issue! The main reason I’m drawn to comics is because of the sequential art — this is a super important aspect for me. Words in a comic, to me, always come second. That is not to say that I don’t care about the writing, of course. I mean, I am a writer myself and I’d really like to professionally write some comics too. But, anyway, if it’s a comic that’s (mostly) silent and it features top notch sequential art set against detailed backdrops and it’s soaked in beautiful inks and colors, chances are I’m going to have a good time. With this issue I don’t even mind the larger narrative of the Knightmares arc. I’ve “read” (or rather, experienced) this book a couple times now and this is one that I can pick up at any time in the future and just enjoy for what it is. All the visuals flow so well that it’s almost like I’m watching an animation. This comic is organic, alive. Definitely one of my favorites from King’s run — I’m so glad I picked up a hard copy. I recommend this issue to all Bat-fans. Whoo!

Josh: Ok, I read the issue another six times times now (kidding, it was just a second read). I’m with Dan’s original stance – not a fan. And yes, while I agree that it is nice that King isn’t trying to force “the meaning of it all” down our throats again, I would have liked for there to have been a point or at least progression. I don’t know. I found no purpose in this issue, and therefore no purpose for it.

I mean, look, the art is great, and I don’t want to take that away from the book, but I’ve been having a serious problem with the lack of effort put into books lately from the writing teams. I’m sorry if we have opposing viewpoints, but this is a joke in my opinion.

I guess my stance is that in 68 issues, King has barely done anything with Batman… This is just another issue of him not really doing anything. When his run is over, unless something changes drastically, we’re going to look back at it and remember the wedding… Which in a number of ways was a failure. Compare this to Snyder’s run before him. What do we remember? Court of Owls, Zero Year, Endgame. Look at Morrison’s run. His stint on Batman was only around 30-something issues, and we got Batman and Son, Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, The Black Hand, RIP… I just can’t bring myself to get behind this. When reading comics, publishers ask us for a commitment, and I don’t feel as though King is respecting that. I mean, seriously, if any of us weren’t getting review copies, would we actually be buying this? I know I wouldn’t…

Elena: I would have bought this one.

Josh: Yes, because you read it and enjoyed it, correct? But what if you had dropped the title because you were dissatisfied? That’s my point. You wouldn’t have known you were going to enjoy it. You would have been more skeptical. If you already had the feeling that the book was wasting time and money – something I think we’ve all expressed concerning King’s Batman run – then we have to ask if we’d really have purchased this. That’s my point. Had this issue fallen in between one of the runs I mentioned previously, I probably would’ve been less irritated with this chapter. But it didn’t. It fell right in with roughly 30-40 something issues in total that have felt pointless and gone nowhere.

Anyway… I’m done ranting now. If you enjoyed this, I’m glad you did. I’m just so desperate for this book to actually do something that it greatly hindered my experience.

Elena: I think it’s easy to get disappointed, caught up in the frustration of a story that just seems to be in spin. I totally share that frustration and I gave up on this arc a long time ago. Also, don’t forget that my love for Batman in general is very tied up with my love for Joker, and King gave us something simple (elemental, almost), about the relationship between these two characters, which we have not had for too long. So yeah, it’s easy for me to love this.

Brian: I love profound comics, and I love comics that are simple, well-made entertainment. I think both can be extremely satisfying. King’s attempts at profundity in Batman usually come up short for me, so this is a welcome change.

Jay: That was clearly Road Runner on the roof, though, and not Wile E. Coyote.

Note: Andrew Asberry came out of comic review retirement to talk about this comic with Brian on the Comics Now Podcast. You can listen to that episode here.


Teen Titans #28

Jay: Oy.  Lots and lots and lots of talking just to set up this crossover.

Josh: Lots of talking… And I’m still not completely sure why Damian suddenly needed to go after Slade. Did I miss something?

Elena: No.

Dan: Is Damian growing as a character? Not in Teen Titans, that’s for sure. Not only does he look about five years younger than the Supersons version, his arrogance is off the scale, rivalling that of his first appearance. How can he think he will succeed where the Justice League have failed (especially with the half-arsed plan the team cooks up)?

Casper: Exactly. It always seemed weird to me that Deathstroke would go up against the Teen Titans, but there have been some cool comics depicting that scenario in the past. I do kind of feel like it’s been done by now, though, so do we really need to see the World’s Greatest Assassin fight a bunch of teenagers again? Also, Damian has already had evil assassin try to corrupt him before: he’s Talia’s son, dammit! XD

Dan: After the innovative art in issue #27, I found this a disappointment. Are those sheets of paper or iPads on the meeting room table? If Slade is right where he wants to be, why is he grimacing and straining at his shackles?

Casper: Yeah, I don’t know. I like some of the angles in the panels, which keeps this visually interesting enough for me, but I agree with you, Dan. Those examples you mentioned are rather weird-looking. Anyway, can’t say that I’m excited about this, mostly because the story’s premise doesn’t seem all that interesting to me.

Josh: If we’re asking various questions of “why,” then let me jump in. Why is everyone telling Damian about Deathstroke when Damian has more experience with him then all of the other heroes combined? And why isn’t he telling them that? Also, why isn’t he informing them that he’s held his own against Deathstroke – on his own – more than once? And why is DC trying to force us back down the path of “Lazarus Contract?” Wasn’t that story so poorly constructed that it practically ended the previous Teen Titans run?

I promise I’m not in a bad mood, I’m just fed up with DC’s approach to “storytelling” lately.

Elena: I think you might be in a bad mood. But I agree with you on this one.

Josh: No, really, I’m not. There are just three titles out of the four that we’re covering where simple plotting is a problem for the issue, arc, and or book itself. I mean, people are getting paid to tell stories, and we’re essentially paying them to do that… And it’s not really happening. I don’t think consumers/ readers saying, “Hey, writers… Why can’t you seem to tell a story that asks and answer who, what, where, when, and why?” is asking too much.

Brian: Haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but it’s looking like maybe I shouldn’t?

Josh: Mmm… TBD. I mean, some of the action is decent here, but overall, this isn’t a positive start.


Nightwing #58

Jay: I’ve defended some of the ideas in this title, if not the execution, but come on.  This whole arc is nothing but wheel spinning for no reason whatsoever.

Elena:  Someone please explain to me the leisurely opening conversation while the Nightwings are getting dressed during which there’s so much drama and no urgency whatsoever, despite the fact that they have to hurry because it’ll take eight minutes for the police to get there. It’ll take that guy eight minutes to get into his spandex alone at this rate!  The book is full of such nonsense. It literally reads like something written in the 70s and I can’t tell if it’s intentional (and therefore brilliant) or just really bizarrely naive.

Josh: You had it right with “nonsense.”

Dan: Hahaha!  I think the opening scene was a belated, misguided attempt to inject some personality into the new Nightwings. It’s too late; I don’t care what happens to any of them!

Jay: Agreed.  They’re all blank slates.  Their only identifiable traits are their different hair colors, and that one is a girl.

Josh: And, ironically, the female cop has been immensely more interesting in this issue and the previous issue just by being a cop… That should say something.

Dan: The worst line in this issue was Dick/Ric saying, ‘I may not be Nightwing anymore, but I’m part of the Nightwings now.’ This just exemplifies the identity crisis this series is suffering. Is he Ric, some guy starting a new life or is he Nightwing, the beloved superhero?

I didn’t hate everything in this issue. There’s a pleasant clarity to Moore’s artwork, even if some of the distinctive romantic touches that featured last issue are absent. Also, the Joker’s Daughter is a surprisingly fun villain, apparently taking cues from a couple of live-action Jokers with her philosophy of causing a scene to get people to care and the excellent line,  ‘Just wait until they get a load of me. Not these people, of course. They’ll be dead.’

Elena: Yeah, I find I actually like the Joker’s Daughter here (have I lost my mind?). Moore’s work spackles over so much weak writing with beautiful pictures; that’s for sure!

Josh: I’m torn with Joker’s Daughter here. She is fine here, but the writers failed her. Her “attack” is a convoluted mess that just doesn’t make sense.

Elena: I completely agree about the wide open room full of doors and windows in which no one is making the least bit of effort to actually escape.

Josh: I discussed this in my review, so I won’t go into it again, but I actually feel as though JD is getting the short end of the stick here. Not as bad as Dick is, but it’s still a shame. And yes, Moore’s art is spectacular. It is the one thing I look forward to each month when I read this book.

Casper: Moore’s art is pretty cool, but I still don’t care about the story. I didn’t actually read it, either, just kind of flipped through it. However, I did read the final pages with Babs and Dick in the taxi, and suddenly I’m feeling the urge to go to my book case and reread a few Nightwing and/or Grayson comics. Not because I particularly enjoyed the taxi scene in this issue, but just because I kind of miss the real Dick Grayson. I guess I’ll just stop even flipping through these issues, too, but do let me know when something interesting happens that you guys think I should check out.

Jay: The taxi scene was fine.  As much I’m firmly in the camp of #DickAndBabs4Eva, I got a good laugh at his “you’re leaving?  I’ll make time” line.  And DC insists on not calling him Dick anymore…

Brian: #NORIC4ME


Justice League #20

Jay: Jarro is love.

Casper: Jarro is life.

Elena: Jarro is completely off the charts. That was absolutely hysterical. You guys know I struggle with Justice League, but I read this with this look on my face:

Josh: So… I read the “More like Deathjoke! Am I right?” line from Jarro… And I immediately thought, “Yaws.” Now I read Jarro with Jay’s voice in mind, and I seriously hope I’m not the only one! Haha!

Jay: You’re not wrong, Josh. #Deathjoke

Dan: This issue is a blast! I love so much here that I’m going to have to bullet-point it:

  • The epic cover. Jimenez has put a lot of thought into the composition, flow of the capes, variety of poses, etc. I wish they’d made it a gatefold or a series of covers, rather than making the rest of the scene variants, though.
  • Napolitano’s retro font for the arc title is cool and appropriate for the high-concept romp; it reminds me of The Twilight Zone and Joe 90.
  • Jimenez and Sánchez grace us with expressive faces, a detailed House of Justice, the eerie glow of Future Clark, and the unique texture of Mera’s suit.
  • Batman isn’t impressed with the utopian Gotham. That’s so Batman. If I were him, I’d be wondering not just where the villains are, but why the world needs superheroes at all if it’s such a perfect place to be in the future?
  • The eccentric concept of using a Multiverse as a weapon evokes Grant Morrison in the best possible way. I felt my faith in the series waver a little during ‘Drowned Earth’ and ‘Escape from Hawkworld’ but I love this kind of story.
  • Seeing the League with different costumes and relationships, and John meeting himself without hair, reminds me of the Justice League cartoon episode, ‘A Better World.’ I dig alternate realities so I’m glad Snyder explores the sixth dimension a little here instead of launching straight into the action (creating an alternate Justice League is something that can be done with little imagination but that isn’t the case here; its evident Snyder has given this universe some thought). I hope we get more of this next issue.
  • Speaking of taking the time to explore fun and interesting ideas, the Jarro dream sequence was a hilarious joy to behold. All afternoon, I’ve been singing ‘Whiskey in the Jar,’ with extra emphasis on the ‘o’ at the end of the chorus.

Josh: Dan, all of your points are spot on.

Brian: Jarro is downright amazing and hilarious, and it’s hard not letting one page frame the way I look at this entire issue. But there’s really good stuff besides all of that, too. The utopian future society that the League has built seems too good to be true, and we know it’s too good to be true because of where our Superman ended up in the last issue, but it takes the World’s Greatest Detective to well and truly crack the facade. When Batman asks “where the hell are all the villains?”, I get chills. The rest of the League certainly evidence some doubt, but Bruce is the one.

Casper: And Bruce should be the one. Reading this, I was wondering why nobody was questioning any of this, until they started questioning it. Especially Bruce’s reaction was spot-on. I imagine him asking many more follow-up questions, too.

Josh: Completely agree! Bruce should be the one. He’s the skeptic of the team. He questions everything simply for the sake of certainty.

Casper: I also want to say how much I appreciate this arc so far. It’s psychedelic in a sense, and I love that. Most of my favorite comics are psychedelic comics! Besides, it’s pretty clear to me that Jimenez is having a ton of fun, because he can really let his imagination run wild, and I like that Snyder and Jiminez came up with the story together: everything just connects, you know? Also, Snyder’s dialogue is really nice: it flows from character to character in a natural way, and nobody is excluded. Everyone has something to add to the conversations.

Josh: There’s definitely something magical about people as talented as these two coming together and brainstorming an idea. They’re both killing it.

Casper: Man, Snyder’s on a roll these days — The Batman Who Laughs is awesome and Justice League is awesome, and these two series couldn’t be more different! If you’re into comics, please do yourself a favor and check out both titles. Enjoy!

What books did you read this week? Let us know in the comments!