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.
DC’s Year of the Villain #1
Josh: So, we got our first glimpse of the direction DC will be taking the brand for the summer. Did you guys have anything that jumped out at you from this issue?
Jay: Leviathan is the one that has most of my attention. Year of the Villain feels like Forever Evil Redux, and I didn’t much like that story to begin with. Luthor’s asplodeyness was surprising, but I have my doubts that it’s permanent.
Casper: I don’t know. The Justice League stuff from Snyder and Jiminez looks like it might be a lot of fun, and I kind of like the idea of Batman, Green Arrow and the Question teaming up in Event Leviathan, but I guess I’ll just wait and see. I just want quality comics, whether they are part of a Year of the Villain event or not. So I’m not terribly excited yet, but maybe it’ll turn out great. Who knows?
Josh: Yeah, anytime I hear the word “event,” I cringe a little. That’s not to say I hate events themselves, but I’m not a fan of how they derail stories and titles. I was intrigued to read that despite Year of the Villain running through nearly every title, you wouldn’t need to buy each individual title. It appears as though it’s shaping up to be less of an actual event, and more of a shared universe with a single focus.
Casper: I’d still call that an event, though. Just not in the sense that it’s this big crossover storyline with every title being a chapter of that story, but DC is still trying to get people to buy the other titles through this event (even if they aren’t needed to get a full story). Now, I don’t have anything against that per say … I’m just not convinced that this is going to be as amazing as they say it will be. So, yeah, that’s why I’m not “hyped” or anything. I’m just going to wait and see.
Josh: I like that Lex is at the center of it all, but I’m not sure how I feel about his transformation, or the improvements he’s going to gift to other villains.
Casper: Yes, that’s one of those things that I’m unsure about — the “upgraded” villains. On first glance it looks a little bit like a gimmick rather than an actual interesting story element. I do like that Lex is written more like a villain again, though. I like him best when he’s an antagonist instead of, what we saw a few years ago, a member of the Justice League (although Geoff Johns wrote some awesome stories back then).
Jay: Yes, Luthor being an out and out villain is great to see. “Gifting” other villains with better stuff sounds weird, but it could work.
Brian: I feel like I read this so long ago and barely remember anything about it.
Josh: First off, I want to say that I’m happy to see Tom Taylor again. I always welcome him to a DC title, and I almost always enjoy his work. That remains true here. This is definitely different, but it’s good. I really enjoyed his approach to Darkseid and Desaad! This is easily the creepiest they’ve been in a long time.
Casper: Dude, Darkseid and Desaad were awesome. I really liked this issue. I had some problems with the opening pages, which I elaborate on in my review, but once that’s out of the way, this book really comes to life. I’ve always thought Cyborg was a cool character but never really connected to him in the way that I connect to Batman or Superman — but I really like how Taylor is writing him in this book. And as a big horror fan, I’m really enjoying the horror vibes here. I can’t wait to see the situation escalate and root for our heroes to save the day. The stakes are high. Bring it!
Brian: I’m not into horror, but I’m always willing to give Taylor the benefit of the doubt. I think this is written well for an issue #1, but I’m not nuts about Hairsine’s work here. Proportions are a little weird, including that one panel where someone shrank Scott Free’s head.
Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1
Josh: Alright, I was excited for this book, but when I started reading it, I felt lost. Do I need to go back and read Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II first before I read this, or does everything explain itself by the end of the issue?
Casper: I flipped through this issue and I like the designs of the characters, but I too haven’t read the second miniseries and I don’t really feel the urge to read this third installment. I really enjoyed the first run, but I think I’ll just leave it at that. With so many comics on stands — and so many things to read in general — this book just doesn’t take priority for me. I might revisit when all of it is out and I can read everything back-to-back.
Jay: I think we’re supposed to feel a bit lost. I touched on that in my review, that there’s something weird going on here and we’re figuring it out along with the characters in the story.
So, no, Batman/TMNT II isn’t a priority read, at least right now.
I’ve gotta say, other than the Krang/Anti-Monitor mashup and Bebop/Croc and Rocksteady/Clayface, I was pretty underwhelmed with the concept art Williams threw out a few weeks ago. The Turtles look like… the Turtles in slightly different gear, and Splinter-Alfred is a rat in a tuxedo. In context, though, I really like how everything looks.
Brian: I probably oughtta read this now…
Justice League #23
Josh: Can we just take a minute and talk about how high-energy and fun Snyder’s Justice League is?
Jay: Yes. Yes we can.
Josh: His work here is incredible! And Jorge Jiminez! There’s so much that I want to talk about, but I’ll let some of you jump in with some general thoughts before we start breaking down specific plots.
Casper: Bat-Mite versus Mxyzptlk was crazy. And dude, this entire arc, it’s such an adventure! I wonder what Batman’s contingency plan is and how he will use it to save Superman. And the League teaming up with the future version of the Legion of Doom is a fun reversal of the usual stuff, although I don’t trust the future Doomers one bit. I do think that the “Darkseid is” joke felt a bit forced, though, and I found it more annoying than funny, but maybe that’s just me.
And one more thing, and this is actually a question for Brian, but what do you dislike so much about “Justice formation?” XD
Brian: I don’t know, I think it just never becomes natural, no matter how many times I read it. Why not say “tried to achieve perfect justice,” or “absolute justice,” or anything else. We know the symbol on the knob and on Mars represent doom and justice, we get it. Stop calling it a formation already :-)
Jay: This arc has just been a blast from the get-go. It’s crazy without feeling irreverent, and Jimenez is turning in some stellar work.
The whole “it always comes down to a conflict between Batman and Superman” gave me pause, because no thank you. But then I thought about it and I think that Batman is just being manipulated by the World Forger.
At least, I hope he is, because… no thank you.
Casper: Or … Batman has an ace up his sleeve and he’ll do something that even the World Forger doesn’t see coming! O=
Brian: When Snyder and Jimenez are together, they REALLY click. Jimenez can handle the goofy and the grand, and I think he’s actually getting better. Seems like he’s getting a bit more creative with his inking than he did when he exploded into our consciousness near the beginning of Rebirth. It still looks like Jimenez, but it’s a more detailed, textured Jimenez, and I love it.
Josh: So… Batman punched his way through Arkham Asylum. I think, under certain circumstances, I’d find that cool… But I didn’t here.
Casper: Yeah … nothing really happened besides the punching.
Josh: Also, and I didn’t bring this up in my review but I started to… Did Bane know when Batman was going to wake up, or were all of the rogues just waiting there for days? Like, I’m imagining Batman stirring in his dreams, Riddler thinking he’s going to actually wake up, so he prepares himself to be obnoxious and give a riddle, only for Batman not to wake up. Meanwhile, Calendar Man is sharing odd information about days or time, etc, as Maxi does whatever the hell he’s doing… Like, Two Face definitely would’ve shot one or both of them had this gone on for more than an hour.
And why didn’t anyone actually leave? Someone should’ve been like, “Yo, thanks for breaking me out of my cell, but… deuces.” I also have this funny image of Bane not freeing Firefly, which upsets him to the point of finding a way to break out of his cell on his own just to make himself feel more important. My mind, people…
Casper: Yeah, you know, the issue seems so straight-forward in the way that it tells the story that you might gloss over these structural problems. But when you stop to think about these things, it really does become problematic. But, honestly, I am willing to overlook that if it wasn’t just a string of panels of Batman one-shotting a bunch of rogues. If at least we got to see Bruce return to the cave and start making a plan, or if he even went straight to Bane or something, then it would’ve been a cool setup for the coming conflict. But this … I mean, I really dig the artwork, but how I wish there was more to it.
Josh: Oh, and one final thing. Special thanks to Waller for lending Killer Croc for this issue.
Casper: Thanks, Waller.
Jay: I totally forgot everything (which was nothing) that happened here until Andrew reminded me that Batman punched his way through Arkham to say… “I’m tired and I’ll be back later.” That reminded me that I laughed at the absurdity of the final page, but it’s still just a whole lot of nothing.
Brian: I never thought I would get tired of seeing Batman dish out barroom justice, but here we are. All of this, and he never once kicks naked Bane in his naked pec…torals.
Young Justice #5
Josh: I thought this issue was fun! It was nice to finally see the entire group back together again and working as a team. There’s a great dynamic there, and it’s a large part of what made the first issue so magical.
Jay: Yeah, I enjoyed it, with some apprehensions.
Josh: There are going to be a lot of people who are happy to see Tim and Stephanie get the spotlight… but I’m really curious to get your thoughts concerning the forgotten memories and how they were handled. Am I the only one who thought this was weird?
Casper: I wouldn’t know what might be weird about it, because I haven’t been reading this series. But after reading your comments, Josh, I got curious and started flipping through the book and I read the Tim/Stephanie scenes. The first thing I notice here is that I already like those scenes a lot better than the ones we got in Tynion’s Detective Comics a while ago. I was kind of feeling the connection between these two characters, it didn’t seem forced to me, it was just there. Now, I’d just like to know, is Gleason still on art duties and does he just have a month off, or has he left the book altogether?
Jay: I really don’t know. Timms’ style isn’t bad at all and fits the book just fine, but yeah, I want Gleason.
Casper: Oh, yeah, Timms is doing a good job! He’s a good, professional artist. But if Gleason is still around then there’s a much bigger chance I’ll actually keep reading this. Either way, I think I might go back to the beginning and give this book a proper chance and I’ll see what happens along the way.
Jay: For me, the Gemworld stuff works better than the flashbacks. Like Josh said, the team dynamic is a lot of fun, and I think Bendis has a good handle on that. It’s the filler dialogue that made the Tim/Steph scenes a little harder to read. Like, “wow you’re hot/thank you” is just a little too twee and precious for me.
Casper: Huh, yeah. I forgot about that, but that “wow you’re hot stuff” was really strange and didn’t seem like a natural reaction at all.
Jay: Generally, though, I thought the missing memories explanation and investigation worked just fine.
Brian: I’m behind! Argh!
Adventures of the Super Sons #10
Josh: I… have a confession to make. I only read pieces of this book. I love Jon and Damian – especially their banter together – but I can’t stand Rex Luthor or the threat that’s been built for this book. Because of that, I skipped nearly every page with Rex, and just read the Damian/ Jon exchanges.
That being said, I got really excited when I saw the final splash page!
Casper: I didn’t get around to reading this one. One day I’ll sit down and binge all the Super Sons comics, but until then I’m afraid I won’t have much to say about this series other than that I adore Damian and Jon.
Jay: Frankly, this is light, frothy entertainment and nothing more. I’ll finish the series out, since there are only two issues left, but I wouldn’t argue with anyone who said they had no interest in reading it.
Josh: I’m still trying to decide how I felt about this issue. There were aspects that I loved, and others that I wasn’t crazy about at all.
Casper: For some reason this conclusion didn’t feel like a conclusion to me, but I don’t know why.
Jay: That’s how I felt about “The Lazarus Contract” too.
Casper: I also kind of forgot most of what happened in this issue, so that probably doesn’t help. However, I do remember how it ended, with Red Arrow shooting Deathstroke. I didn’t see that one coming. Speaking of Red Arrow, I think it’s hilarious that she sleeps with her domino mask on.
Jay: The ending was pretty much there to lead into the next Deathstroke arc, which is called “Deathstroke R.I.P.”. So this whole non-starter of a crossover exists solely to make Robin look like an even bigger butthole and to kill Slade. Eh
Casper: That must explain why it didn’t feel like a conclusion …
Brian: There is a black box at the top of the page. In its center, in white letters, one word: INDIFFERENCE. The rest of the page is a single panel of BRIAN WARSHAW not reading Deathstroke.
Harley Quinn #61
Josh: No surprise here, but I didn’t read this.
Casper: I think this issue just offers some entertainment, but beyond that it’s not a must-read by any means. I like the concept of a medieval fantasy version of Gotham and I appreciate that the story keeps such a steady pace. But there are also elements that seem artificial to me. For example, the only things that connect the Gotham Knights (the medieval/fantasy versions of, for example, Nightwing, Harvey Bullock, etc) to their original counterparts are their names (Nightwing is now Knightwing, and Harvey is now Harvey the Bullock) and their armors, which are of course based on their original counterpart’s costumes. But other than that they sound completely different, as if they are completely different characters altogether, to a point where this book might have been better off if it had featured original characters rather than weird versions of established characters.
What did you read this week? Let us know in the comments!