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.

 

Batgirl #33

Jay: You know, I remember enjoying this issue well enough but can’t remember a single thing about it.  That’s disappointing, but this title has been pretty strong for the past several months so it’s not all bad.

Josh: Haha! We basically stepped away from the main story for Barbara to confront/ deal with the reality that Jim is no long in prison/ a mental ward. It was a solid issue, and while it may have been mandated by editorial, it definitely didn’t feel that way.

Dan: The way Scott effortlessly drops James into her story is impressive, and the call-backs to The Batman Who Laughs really give you the sense of a shared universe (which happens rarely in DC Comics, outside of forced crossovers). To me, the strength of this issue is largely reliant on how Scott capitalises on the set-up in later issues; I’m hoping this isn’t the last we’ve seen of James Jr.

Josh: Yeah, I agree with you, Dan. This did work well with The Batman Who Laughs, and despite how good it is, I am a little disappointed that this issue is falling after The Batman Who Laughs #3 since this issue takes place before then. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this, but the suspense of the story was ruined since we knew James didn’t – and wasn’t – going to kill anyone. The idea that James may have hired Cormorant was also lost because of this… And yet, Scott still managed to make this issue a good read.

I’m curious to get your thoughts on Babs becoming slightly unhinged. There were times that I felt she went a bit too strong, but if anyone would bring this side out in her, it would be James Jr.

 

Batman Beyond #30

Josh: I’m not going to lie, I debated on whether or not I would read this, and I eventually did for the sake of this post. While I don’t regret that decision, I do find myself feeling a little indifferent towards the book itself – especially considering previous issue’s abrupt ending.

Dan: With the exception of Dick being a good moral compass, and Shaner’s excellent portrayal of Bruce (a detailed, realistic version of how he looks in the cartoon!), I didn’t really dig this issue. The Joker looks weird now that I’ve got used to Booth’s lithe interpretation, I’m sick of hearing about the death of Jason, and this issue overturns one of the main developments of Jurgens’ tenure. The dialogue is the worst aspect:

  • Each of the Jokerz address one another by name, clearly for the reader’s benefit.
  • Barbara comes down with exposition overload: ‘Given my own past with him, I couldn’t agree with you more, Bruce. But as difficult as it is to comprehend, that twisted maniac is gone.’
  • Terry joins in with ‘It’s like he’s frozen in place’ during an action scene.

No-one talks like that!

Jay: Let Doc Shaner draw everything please ok thank you.

Josh: Ha! I won’t argue that! Shaner is an incredible artist, and this is easily the best this book has looked for as long as I can remember.

Jay: For real though, after the abrupt ending of the previous issue this put a decent bookend on the story, even if it was still pretty muted.

Josh: Yeah, it actually did. I think the last issue felt abrupt because the Joker died, but the story itself continued here. And the ending really helped drive that idea home. There was almost even a “classic” vibe in the way that Joker died… but not really.

 

Heroes in Crisis #7

Brian: Not sure why I’m still reading this, but I am.

Jay: That title page was all sorts of gorgeous, I’ll give it that.

Josh: It really is. Despite the numerous opportunities this title has, its art is not one of them.

Jay: Even if I don’t have any investment in the story and don’t like any of the implications set forth here, at least it feels like the story is going somewhere now.

Josh: I’m not so certain it is going anywhere yet though… I still feel that this is King just trying to throw us off of the trail. There’s to much that we don’t know or understand to know if we really are going anywhere.

Dan: I’ve bought every issue of this series in hard copy and though the appalling story progression makes me regret it, Mann’s art remains something to treasure. The expressions on the characters are perfect in this issue, and the splash page of Wally in the field of flowers is impressive. The latter scene is unfortunately marred by the fact I’m not sure what’s going on, and the way Tom King can’t miss an opportunity to quote poetry.

Josh: Oh, King and his poetry…

Dan: I like Fornes’ art but its really jarring in this series; it’ll look even stranger in the trade. Harley is irritating and Batgirl acts nothing like the hero we know and love, but I did enjoy Batman sullenly defending his Bat-Radio.

Casper: I totally see that, Dan. I’ve also bought every issue in hard copy so far and I regret it for the same reason, but I also still appreciate Mann’s art, so it’s not completely lost…I think. Well, my wallet actually does think so, but whatever. I guess I might as well just go on picking up the final two issues if we’re this close to wrapping up.

Josh: As unsatisfied as I am with the story and its lack of actual progression, I can’t deny that the art of every issue has been spectacular. I’d definitely say that it, alone, is well worth the price of each issue.

Casper: You know, I think reading this all in one sitting, or at least with less time between each chapter, this story might be a bit easier to read and enjoy.

Josh: Perhaps… Or it could be even worse. I think it’ll ultimately decide on how King wraps the story over the next two issues.

Casper: I do really dig the interaction between Batman and Flash, though. And that one panel from Mann, where we see Ivy — that one’s great. Her pose, her expression, and also the coloring by Morey, is what makes this perhaps my favorite panel in the entire issue (though, of course, the title page is way up there as well — holy shit that’s beautiful). I also like that Babs, Harley, Booster and Blue Beetle are teaming up. Hopefully we’ll have some momentum next issue, because the conclusion is right around the corner!

 

Justice League Odyssey #7

Dan: Like Heroes in Crisis, this series had a good premise but totally squandered it.

Josh: Yes.

Dan: There’s still no direction to the story, nothing for the reader to anchor themselves to. Though we’re seven issues in, nothing much has happened and there’s no particular sense of how close we are to the end of the arc. Issue #7 treads water again by throwing in the dull obstacle of Starfire losing control of herself.

Josh: I don’t know if I’d go that far. Williamson definitely didn’t do a good job of setting up an engaging or interesting story, but Abnett is taking active measures to try and course-correct as best as possible. He has to try and salvage this mess that Williamson created because DC isn’t going to let him just drop everything and start over.

Jay: The writing and plotting are noticeably better since Abnett came on board, but I agree with Dan.  There’s a good concept here, it’s just been squandered with an aimless plot.

Dan: Despite a wasted double-page spread early on in the issue, and the weirdest hug ever, I like Conrad’s art here. His work has more definition than his predecessors on the title, and the heroes look cool when posed this dynamically (particularly in the book’s final moments).

Jay: Jean-Paul and Kory are an… interesting pairing, I’ll give it that.

Josh: What? You’re not shipping this?

I didn’t get a couple vibe from this, but it did remind me of the caring individual that Jean Paul Valley was pre-Flashpoint. It’s nice to see that side of him again. Actually, it just nice to see a writer that understands him.

 

The Silencer #15

Dan: This was a serviceable issue, but nothing special, I’m afraid. I found the main story engaging even though I couldn’t help wonder why Talia doesn’t just blow the ship up (maybe with Honor and Raze on it as well if she’s intent on destroying all evidence of the Leviathan programme). Meanwhile, seven pages is way too many to spend on Blake’s humdrum story. Smoke’s motivation seems inserted purely to bring Honor and Blake back together again; it would be much more believable if her vendetta was against Talia. Marion’s proportioning and perspectives are decent, but a lot of his art is also scruffy and cluttered, particularly at the beginning of the book.

Jay: Still a solid book, even if it isn’t out and out extraordinary.  I like that Honor’s husband has something to do now. Shame that this title is ending in a few months.

Brian: I actually really enjoyed this one—due in no small part to Marion’s work. The Silencer may be ending soon, but someone needs to take up Honor’s story again in the future.

 

Parting words for Elena

Andrew: I’ve begged, I’ve pleaded, I’ve done everything short of stand in her backyard with a boombox over my head, but I’m afraid that I have sad news, everyone. Our dear Elena Carrillo has announced her retirement with her stellar review of Detective Comics #1000.

Elena has been a part of Batman News ever since I passed the torch almost five years ago, and in her time as comic reviewer she has written nearly four-hundred articles, many I would consider to be among the very best pieces of comic book commentary the internet has to offer. Batman News simply will not be the same without her brilliance, humor, and heart. Thank you, Elena.  

Josh: Wait… This wasn’t just a publicity stunt while Elena took a week off? She’s actually leaving?

Jay: Elena, you were the best of us in so many ways, elevating everybody else in the team through your skill, knowledge, and wit.  You’ll always be family, and we’ll miss you.

Josh: Whoa, whoa, whoa… Are you telling me I just inherited Tom King’s Batman indefinitely? *BEEP*

Brian: You were one of the reasons I got plugged into Batman News as a reader, and one of the reasons I started reading comics, and one of the reasons I felt proud to get the gig reviewing books for this site. You are a cornerstone of the integrity of Batman News, and we will have to work hard to keep our efforts worthy of that legacy. Enjoy stepping back—but keep your toes free and close to the water.

Casper: :(

Dan: Very sorry to see you go, Elena; your warmth, humour and talent have made you a pleasure to work with.

Josh: *Cries uncontrollably* Why!?!?!

In all seriousness though, Elena is a cornerstone of the comics section of Batman News, and that will never change. The quality she’s brought to the site makes me proud to be part of this site. Her voice, opinion, and knowledge will be missed… And yes, I’m still hoping we can steal her time for special circumstances.


Don’t just tell us what you read this week, please join us in saying good luck and bon voyage to Elena in the comments below! And, yes, we will be doing a group discussion post for Detective Comics #1000 exclusively.