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.
Teen Titans #29
Josh: This issue surprisingly puts the breaks on things considering this is a crossover “event,” but I thought this was one of the better issues of Teen Titans in quite a while.
Dan: If you’re into plot progression, then you won’t enjoy this issue. Right in the middle of an event, Glass decides to spend some downtime with the team at Mercy Hall, examining where they’re at psychologically and exploring their romantic aspirations, in keeping with Teen Titans tradition. Sometimes it’s interesting (Wally becoming Emiko’s moral compass and the sincere exchange between Red Arrow and Deathstroke) and sometimes its not (Wally digesting his recent discovery over 7 pages feels like filler, which you definitely don’t need if you’re expanding a story into multiple titles, and Damian struggling against his programming is painfully well-worn territory).
Casper: While it might not be the best move to spend some downtime with the team, as you say, Dan, I do think this is a nice little interlude. Like a calm before the storm, I guess.
Josh: Yeah, I felt like it created more tension in the story itself. We already know there’s a good chance Deathstroke will escape, and if he does, it’s going to take the team, as a whole to stop him. So, you already have this tension of “What’s Deathstroke’s plan and when will he initiate it?” and now you have the building tension of the team being at odds… But thankfully, their disagreements actually feel like legitimate disagreements rather than a tiff that’s blown out of proportion.
I will agree with you though, the bit with Wally stretched on for too long, and the Crush/ Djinn thing felt out of place for the moment. Any thoughts on the art?
Dan: Although I’m not crazy about Chang’s crude style, it is always clear, and I found Djinn’s body language pretty funny when she’s kissed unexpectedly in this issue.
Casper: Chang’s art is growing on me. I used to think it looks kind of weird, but it has its charms. However, I’m still not completely invested in this story. Maybe when it’s all out and I can read these issues back to back I’ll like it better.
Josh: Yeah, when I first stumbled onto Chang’s art, I can’t say that I was a fan. When I started reviewing his work for Batman Beyond though, I started seeing how technical he was, and his gift at storytelling. I’ve grown to really appreciate his work, even if his style isn’t necessarily my favorite.
As for the title as a whole, it’s been a mixed back that’s in need of direction. We’ll see if this crossover streamlines anything, but I’m not feeling completely certain that it will.
Dan: As Josh pointed out last week, ‘Knightmares’ has been a nightmare for us as readers. Issue #68 was the lowest point of the series so far and I had to wonder if issue #69 would be even worse; thankfully it’s a step up. This is Paquette’s best issue in a long time, showcasing handsome layouts courtesy of the sheet music motif, excellent gothic architecture, nostalgic costumes (albeit overused in King’s run), and his beautiful take on Selina.
Casper: I really love Paquette and Fairbairn’s work here, especially the scenes with Bruce and Selina. As a musician, I dig the music motif, and it’s almost like I can hear the pages where we see Bruce and Selina dancing, which triggers a strong sense of synesthesia. The art also conveys Bruce and Selina’s relationship really well. Honestly, I could look at those pages for hours. The colors are amazing too. It’s all such visual poetry.
Josh: I agree with both of you! Paquette’s art is masterclass during the scenes with Bruce and Selina. This is also one of the first “dream stories” where I felt the visuals actually represented a dream. Each turn of the page was essentially a transition to a different time and place. It’s like when you have a dream where you’re in your house, then you open the door to your bedroom and suddenly you’re walking into Target. For me it worked. And, yes, it was absolutely stunning.
Casper: I also liked the conversation that Bruce has with Selina, even if it wasn’t anything new, but I just liked it for what it was. The words and the illustrations work well together. So, yeah, reading this part of the comic certainly was a nice experience for me.
Josh: Yeah, I mean, I was frustrated because it was all just regurgitation, but I still thought it was written well. I gave the issue a favorable score. I mean, I mainly discussed opportunities in the book because I think the title as a whole needs to course-correct, but overall I enjoyed it.
Dan: Unlike previous issues of ‘Knightmares,’ we get to see events taking place in the real world. A lot of readers have been waiting for this because stuff taking place entirely in Bruce’s brain isn’t likely to have much consequence for the ongoing story. Unfortunately, what we get here is an accidentally erotic wrestling match intercut with out-of-character dialogue.
Josh: Insert 70’s porn music here. Or 90’s… Whatever works for you.
Casper: Yeah, what the heck happened there? I kind of like the idea of contrasting the elegant, swaying movements of Bruce and Selina with the brute force of Bane and Thomas, but I don’t feel like I get the Bane/Thomas pages. Bane seems like a big dummy, all brawn and no brains, repeating for the umpteenth time that same old phrase: “I am Bane!” And Thomas … okay, so he wants to be the only Batman, and that’s why he wants Bruce to stop being Batman? I don’t know if I read that right. I probably didn’t, did I? I’m so confused! XD (I just hope Thomas has a badass secret plan and we’ll see father and son working together at some point.)
Dan: It’s hard to be scared of Bane when he’s naked, and Flashpoint Thomas’ attitude is very different from the last time we heard from him in ‘The Button.’
Josh: Yeah, I agree. I’ve come to the point where I just accept naked Bane. King has been doing that since the start of his run, so it is what it is.
As for Thomas… Oi… Like, this is Heroes in Crisis levels of mismanagement of a character. I’m with Casper in hoping that he has some type of plan.
And while I think you’re partially right of your understanding of Thomas, Casper, I don’t think Thomas wants to be the only Batman… I just think Thomas doesn’t want his son to be Batman. I don’t think he wants his son to live with that burden… So, you know, he’s going to join up with a guy who wants to cripple or kill him.
Casper: Yeah. I guess it’s just a weird sequence no matter how you read it. Anyway, I ended up equally loving and hating this issue, which I find kind of interesting in and of itself. I’ve certainly had mixed feelings about a work of art before, but this time I don’t really know what to do with it. If it was just the Bruce/Selina pages, I would’ve loved the shit out of it — I wouldn’t even care that it doesn’t do anything new or add anything substantial to the larger narrative. But it’s not just those amazing pages. This book goes from beautiful and inspiring to straight-up nonsensical.
Brian: I did not like this issue at all. Paquette’s artwork in the Bruce/Selina scenes is indeed amazing, but I’m tired of King’s takes, and the Bane/Thomas stuff is just nonsense. Naked Bane is funny, and we’ll always have that, but in the end, the mark of this series is going to be artists having the best showings of their careers, paired with a super talented writer having the worst of his.
Dan: Thanks to Mooneyham’s scratchy, muscular, Milleresque style, Expendable Nightwing Fill-in #3 (a.k.a Hutch) looks cool on the opening page. That doesn’t mean I need to witness an extended sparring session with him, or spend a day in his shoes. This might have worked nine issues ago if Dick had been placed in a coma, but by now every reader is ready for the real Nightwing to return. There’s no point getting attached to the substitutes. By the way, has there been a single issue of Nightwing in recent memory that hasn’t included Ric redundantly explaining to us that he’s not the same man since he took a bullet to the head?
Josh: I’m in agreement with everything you said, Dan. While this issue is fine, it’s too late. People don’t care anymore. They were upset with the change in status quo, and when DC had the opportunity to build up these new characters, they failed to do so. People put up with poor storytelling with no substance for months, now vehemently reject this entire idea, and DC is now wanting to try and correct what they didn’t do to begin with in hopes of salvaging this experiment. It’s not going to happen.
Also, we have a new villain that wants to kill cops, and there’s only one new character that’s been introduced in the story, and she hates cops…
Casper: I skimmed through this book but didn’t feel like actually reading it. With so many things I have to read — comics and other written works — this isn’t exactly a priority for me. I kind of like the art, though. Especially the colors. But both Mooneyham and Filardi put energy into their art, and that opening page is really cool. I love that the first line is: “Bring it.” But other than that this just still doesn’t interest me enough to sit down and read the entire issue.
Brian: I skimmed, as well, Casper. Mooneyham’s stuff feels old in the best way, but that’s all I can say either way.
Justice League #22
Josh: You know, this wasn’t great, but it wasn’t as awful as I thought it would be.
Dan: If you’re the kind of person that read the many appendices at the end of The Return of the King, this might be the issue for you. With the exception of Bat-Mite’s arrival, this isn’t a particularly entertaining instalment (Gotham City’s answer to Scrappy-Do actually shouts ‘Let me at ‘em!’ when he shows up). Instead, it offers a kind of cerebral pleasure you might get from reading non-fiction or perusing old Greek myths on Wikipedia (in fact, the purposes of the monitors that feature here align perfectly with those of the Fates). We get some clarification of the story we’ve already been told by Alpheus, and it’s quite satisfying to witness landmark events like the birth of the Anti-Monitor and the establishment of his vitriolic motivation. Meanwhile, Barbatos’ cameo is disappointingly demystifying and Perpetua makes for a generic, power-hungry villain.
Josh: Yeah, for me, while the entire issue was nothing but exposition, I thought it revealed enough interesting details that I appreciated it. Unfortunately, for me, it really diminished the threat that Perpetua is supposed to represent. Her downfall looked too easy here.
Also, and this is a minor gripe, but I feel like this issue was out of place. I feel that this story would’ve worked better closer to Perpetua’s reveal. Now we’re in the middle of this whole other dimension with the League, and we’re pausing that at its peak to tell this story.
Casper: Obviously, I love Manapul’s work. I also like the high fantasy aspects here. However, stating that the sixth dimension is also the highest dimension seems like a missed opportunity to me. I think that, especially in a superhero universe, we should be able to go even higher and more abstract than a sixth dimension, because saying the sixth is also the highest seems like a somewhat arbitrary limit to what can be done with the material. Moreover, I’m unconvinced by Perpetua as a villain for now. I expect to forget about her existence in this story until she shows up again and I’ll go like, “Oh yeah … that’s her!” All things considered, I just want to go back to Snyder and Jiminez’s story, because that’s the story I’m invested in. So I agree with Josh that the timing of this story is a bit off. That said, I do like that we get to see the origin of the multiverse as well as Alpheus the World Forger, Mar Novu the Monitor and Mobius the Anti-Monitor.
Brian: More details in my full review, obviously, but this issue seems built around Perpetua character moments, but the dialogue is too clumsy for those to land well for me.
And Dan, I’m one of those mooks who read the LOTR appendices, and I pride myself on being able to pronounce all of those tricky names and words better than the rest of you uncultured simpletons.
What books did you read this week? Why do you think Tom King hates seeing Bane in pants? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) how much are you currently enjoying the bat-titles? Talk to us in the comments!