This Week in Comics: It’s always sunny in Gotham City

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.


Adventures of the Super Sons #9

Josh: This issue was a blast! Easily my favorite issue from this title in a while.

Dan: The standalone caper format works a lot better for this series; I got bored of the prison planet but never had the chance to tire of this wild west adventure. Instead, it was a pleasure to spend time with Jonah Hex again (well, a version thereof), and I loved witnessing Jon picking up the local dialect and a fancy new hat.

Jay: Ha, yes.  I loved Jon’s little quirks and mannerisms here.  Especially because they annoyed the crap out of Damian.

Josh: Yes, the quips were great! Even Damian had some. “Hold on to your… hats.” I’m sure that any Jurassic Park fans were expecting “butts.”

Jay: Like you, Dan, I get this was the most enjoyable issue in quite some time.  The Jonah Hex facsimile was a nice addition, providing a different dynamic for the boys to play off of.  Really, Hex is one of those characters I’m glad to see any time he shows up, even if I’ve never been super attached to him, so even if he was a robot duplicate I enjoyed his presence.

Josh: Yeah, I grew tired of the prison planet as well… Honestly, I’m just over Rex, but this issue more than made up for it. Jonah Hex is a great addition, and it gives both Damian and Jon something to play off of. I loved the joke about “a few days and four adventures later” that was so easily thrown away. I’m… kind of hoping we get a four-issue mini at some point. I mean, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Dan: It was weird and uncharacteristic when Damian said ‘’sup?’ and I don’t feel the Injustice Army are much of a threat to Earth (the Justice League would make short work of them). Though Godlewski’s art here is disappointingly textureless (this is particularly evident on the horses on the title page), his work is always clear and fun to skim through.

Josh: I think it would be hilarious to see the Injustice Army show up and get clobbered by the Justice League. Then again, maybe not since they’re all supposed to be kids. There could be a good laugh in there somewhere if it’s handled properly though.

All in all, this was a great read!


Young Justice #4

Josh: Alright, from one group of youngsters to another… Young Justice. What were your thoughts this week?

Dan: I think this story would have benefitted from being told in the correct order; its wrenching to go from the present to the past, then even further back, then back to the present, then back to the past again.

Jay: Agreed.  It’s not exactly jarring or hard to follow, but I don’t feel that the nonlinear approach is necessary.

Josh: It wasn’t necessary at all. In fact, if Amethyst’s flashback scenes had been included at the beginning of the second issue, the entire story would’ve flowed better. Nonlinear storytelling can be a useful technique, but there needs to be a purpose and reason for it, and that’s not the case here.

Dan: Meanwhile, Amethyst is easy to identify with; she’s never content with the status quo and tries to lift those around her from apathy with all the enthusiasm and naivete a teenager can muster. Though I imagine he would be exhausting in real life, Bart is a funny, inquisitive blast to be around in this issue.

Jay: Haha.  I do love me some Bart.

Josh: Me too.

Jay: Like you, I really like Amethyst.  Before this series my knowledge of her was “I’m aware she exists,” so I really didn’t bring anything into the book with her.  She’s a cool character, though. Amazingly enough it may have been those “round table” scenes that I enjoyed the most.

Josh: Yeah, I’m also unfamiliar with Amethyst, so I found myself enjoying her scenes quite a bit. I’m curious to learn more about her, and I’m looking forward to the team returning to Earth so we’re not in a “fish out of water” context with the team.

I also loved Superboy’s scenes, though I didn’t feel as though they flowed well from the previous issue. I did laugh when his daughter’s name was revealed. And I loved Bart’s “Where do babies come from?” I laughed out loud that.

All of this said, I am curious to learn how “old” Superboy is here. If he is a teenager still, then I have a bit of a problem with him having a kid. I just don’t approve of teen pregnancies. I know it happens, but I don’t think it’s the best approach for a role model unless you’re going to approach a story showing the hardships of having a kid so young. I know that makes me come across as a old man/ conservative, but I like the notion of kids being kids. I’ll be watching this storyline closely.


Suicide Squad: Black Files #6

Dan: The ‘Reverse Image’ storyline contains more padding than the shoulders of a 1980’s jacket. I was tired of this story ages ago and yet it still limps on into this issue, filling pages with recaps, running down corridors, spells that don’t work, inconsequential showdowns, and generic fire-fights. At least it’s finally over.

If you want magic and giant monsters, skip the muddled fray finale of ‘Rota Fortuna,’ read some Justice League Dark instead and maybe watch a tokusatsu movie for good measure.

Jay: Passola.

Josh: Yeah, I gave up on Katana’s story after the first issue… Which pains me because I love Katana, but not when she’s written this terribly. Should I write a fan-fiction? Perhaps.

I had hope for the Suicide Squad Black story, but it never really developed into anything interesting. Passola for me as well.


Deathstroke #42

Dan: Mattina’s variant cover was all that I got a kick out of in this issue. The book begins with Black Mask and Joseph recounting Deathstroke’s origins and earlier adventures; why do this now? This is the 42nd issue of the series! We know who Deathstroke is! It’s also nauseating to encounter Black Mask acting so sycophantically towards the famed mercenary (‘Deathstroke, our leader, has finally come,’ etc.).

Jay: When this series began I kind of liked Priest’s sardonic dialogue, as it gave a little dimension to Slade’s interactions with his supporting cast.  I felt like it was a meta way for Priest to say “I know this is ridiculous, so let’s just have some fun with it.” The problem is everyone in the book talks like that, and what first come off as pithy banter now reads like the writer’s barely-veiled contempt for the genre.

Dan: The main scene featuring the Teen Titans isn’t much better; I have no idea how they survived the first explosion, their ‘T1’, ‘T2’ etc. codenames are pointless (they already have codenames: Robin, Djinn, Kid Flash, Roundhouse, Red Arrow and Crush) and Deathstroke’s transmission to them is confusing thanks to being placed in caption boxes instead of speech bubbles.

Josh: It appears as though this will be nothing more than a desperate attempt to boost sales. There were moments that I thought were ok, but ultimately, I just felt that the entire story felt somewhat out of place and off-beat. I do think Priest captured the Teen Titans better than Glass has as of late, but nothing about this excited me.


Harley Quinn #60

Dan: It’s still not my cup of tea but this was the most I’ve enjoyed Harley Quinn in a while. The highlight is Basri’s storytelling; the panels flow together magnificently, especially in a scene in which Harley swings her laser guns around in an arc described in a series of panels like a stop motion animation. In another scene, the reader’s perspective mirrors Harley’s as she peers round a corner as we turn the page. Elsewhere, I hated that the book described itself as ‘artsy’ and loved seeing the Joker in his animated series suit.

Casper: I agree, Dan. That’s more or less what I wrote in my review too. The artwork’s really good in this one. The panels come to life and everything’s in motion. I also really dig the psychedelic element toward the end. It was just rendered really cool. But, yeah, the jokes don’t always land, which is a real shame because those jokes take away from my overall enjoyment. It really feels like the creative team is trying too hard at times. Except when Harley shouted that she’s an American death machine while standing on top of a mountain of dead monsters, shooting her laser guns. That was kind of amazing.

Josh: Ha!

Casper: I do hope that Humphries will provide a clear explanation as to why Harley is doing these trials and why the Lords of Chaos and Order have chosen her to attempt the trials. This is still unclear to me, and if there’s no answer at all then I’m afraid this arc might fall apart. I just can’t picture Harley as an agent of order. I’ve said this over and over, but the situation isn’t changing, so what else am I going to say? Oh well. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Josh: I’m passing on this. I’ve never been the biggest champion of Harley’s solo series, but I did find myself genuinely enjoying Palmiotti and Conner’s run. I’m sure I’ll pick up this run in trade at some point, but for now, there are just too many other comics that are too good not to read. If you haven’t been checking out our monthly Break from the Bat, then you need to do so because there are some incredible comics being published at the moment!


Justice League #21

Jay: Jorge Jiménez forever.

Josh: Right? The guy can write. He can draw. He’s super-model handsome. He makes the perfect latin-Superman… Like, Jesus sneezed when creating him and accidentally gave him a quadruple dose of awesome. Haha!

But seriously, the guy is practically at the beginning of his career… Can you imagine how incredible he’ll be another five to ten years from now? Twenty years from now? I can’t wait to see what he does overtime.

Alright, enough gushing over Jorge (though there will probably be more gushing about the specifics of his work later), let’s get to the story.

Dan: ‘The Sixth Dimension’ continues to be the best arc of Justice League in the Rebirth era. Snyder laid excellent groundwork in issues #19 and #20 for the World Forger’s revelations in this issue. The League are then presented with a big, juicy moral dilemma; although it’s clear that we’re supposed to be disgusted by the World Forger’s solution, Batman does make a good case for it. Aside from the main story, the presence of Shayne and the incarcerated villains holds promise. As ever, Jiminez and Sánchez deliver delectable artwork; every shot of the Future Superman has him looking down imperiously through his long eyelashes, a great digital effect makes it appear as if specks of sunlight pierce the leaves of the tree above Bruce and Dick, and the authenticity of the fourth-wall-breaking pencil is a pleasure.

Casper: Yeah, man, the artwork is great. I also enjoyed most of the issue, but I’m disappointed that Bruce doesn’t continue to question the utopia and the lack of villains. After all he’s seen, all the evil he’s encountered and fought and defeated — what makes him think that there’s not something really wrong in this utopia world behind the scenes? He should know better than that. Or at least be more skeptical than that. I don’t really understand why Bruce is written in that way here. Other than that it was still a good read!

Dan: Yeah, it is odd that Snyder nailed Bruce’s pessimism later in the book but not his paranoia in the Gotham scene.

Josh: I think it’s a feint. In the last issue, Bruce made a single comment questioning this place. I’m assuming that he played along with Dick for the sake of gaining information. The script even hinted at this notion when discussing the symbolism of Batman catching criminals at dusk. He felt at peace, but knew more darkness was on the horizon.

We need to remember that knowledge is power for Batman. He’s the only hero who “sided” with the World Forger, and it seems as if an opposing view would lead to trouble… Hence, he wasn’t sent to Apokolips with the other heroes. To me, it’s clear Bruce is working an angle, so I completely trust Snyder at this point.

And… I want to see all of the heroes and villains team up in the 6th Dimension…. Because that would be awesome!

What was the best book you read this week? Let us know in the comments below!