This Week in Comics: The moment we stopped rooting for Batman

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 #71

Brian: At this point, I’m rooting for Bane.

Dan: I think I’m rooting for Bane, too. First he punched Gordon, and now Tim.

Jay: Seriously.  These are not the actions of someone we should be rooting for.

Dan: Way to alienate your audience. Stay classy, Bruce.

Brian: Also, I wish Bane was naked at the dinner party.

Josh: Damnit! Why didn’t I think of saying that in my review?

Jay: Gross.  And same.

Dan: Me too! King should have a contract that obligates him to make Bane naked in every scene for the rest of his run. ‘Naked Bane. I am going to break your damn back’ would be much more palatable; if the dialogue has to be puerile, I’d rather it were funny as well. Batman also calls him a ‘fragile, feeble-minded fool.’ Ouch. Sick burn, Bruce.

Josh: Sick burn, indeed… Although the child in me is still waiting for a penis joke.

Dan: A more traditional version of Bane features on the cover; if you’re in the mood for Andy Kubert’s unique style, you might consider the cover one of the issue highlights. That’s not to say I don’t love Fornes and Janin. As with last issue, their styles don’t coalesce well, but at least the distinction serves a purpose here, with Janin showing us events that are definitely happening and Fornes presenting the moments we can’t be sure are truly taking place…

I felt it was very theatrical of Thomas Wayne to arrive at the manor at the same time of night his counterpart from this world died, then it struck me as odd that Alfred was politely serving ‘Master Bane,’ then by the issue’s end, I didn’t know what to believe.

Josh: Yeah, I’m right there with you. I don’t know what to believe either. I feel like I’m being overly cautious concerning this though. I spent months defending the “we don’t really know what’s going on, just trust King” stance on Heroes in Crisis, only for King to not deliver. He basically just threw things in that were completely irrelevant to  throw readers off. I feel like I got burned.

Dan: Ric saying ‘That’s not who I am. Right now.’ reminded me again how much I hate Ric, but also made me laugh. The second sentence feels like King poking fun at the Nightwing situation (which is ironic since he set it in motion).

Josh: #DickNotRic… As for King setting it in motion… Yes and no. His plans were clearly very different, so I don’t blame him for Ric.

Jay: It’s weird.  I love Janín, and I love Fornes.  The fact that they each took separate stories was much appreciated, but even with some stellar visual storytelling on a technical level, I was still left cold.  It certainly doesn’t help that I really do not care about this story in the least.

Josh: Agreed. I touched on this in my review, but while I love both artists’ work, I don’t like them being paired together.

Casper: I just wish that Batman and Bane would say something other than “I will break you” for once.

Jay: Right?  Bane is more than just “breaking the Bat,” and Batman repeating that phrase is just weird too.

Josh: One of us really needs to take screenshots of all the panels that Batman or Bane say anything to do with breaking the other, and make a collage video. But… whoever does it has to record themselves saying the lines in their best Batman, Bane, and perhaps Catwoman voices (I can’t remember if she said it back during “I Am Suicide”). Sorry for my randomness, Casper. Carry on.

Casper: Well, I mean, knock yourself out, Josh — haha! Anyway, I get the sense that this is supposed to be as much a psychological war as a physical war, but so far neither Batman nor Bane has been saying anything particularly intelligent and it’s mostly been brawn over brains.

Josh: I completely agree! I think part of the problem is that so much of the actual story is happening in between the pages, and that’s preventing us from getting the meat and potatoes we all want. I’ve described King’s Batman as feeling more like an outline than an actual story, and I think that remains true here.

Casper: And, please, stop punching the wrong people, Bruce… I think I’m also rooting for Bane now. Bruce has been annoying, to say the least. But, that said, I agree with Dan: when I finished the issue I didn’t know what to believe anymore, either. I, for one, like that about the comic because it makes me curious about how this is going to play out.

Josh: The only thing I’ll add is that I enjoyed seeing the Bat family acting like they actually care for one another. I feel like writers have been separating them, and I appreciated the small effort King made to show some unity here… Also, he included Huntress. But I’m not biased at all… Promise. Haha!

Justice League #24

Josh: Can I just say… The start of this issue reminded me so much of Tomasi’s Superman, and now I miss that run desperately.

Brian: There’s a lot to love here. Plenty to laugh at, Jimenez continues to get amazinger, and you can feel the conflict swelling almost to the burst point. Can’t wait to see how they wrap things up. I do wonder how Batman will be redeemed in all of this, though.

Dan: Yeah, he’s really playing the long game, isn’t he? I wasn’t enamoured by the Superman prologue (I already care about what happens to him; I don’t need to be reminded of his relationship with his son) but the rest of this issue was a blast.

Jay: That’s fair.  As a dad myself, I can’t get enough of those kinds of scenes, especially when they’re handled as well as Snyder or Tomasi and Gleason write them.

Josh: (Whispers) Yes.

Jay: Like you said, though, we’re already rooting for Superman to escape so we don’t really need it.  I like it anyway.

Brian: I really like the intro, too.

Casper: Overall, I really enjoy this issue a lot. Contrary to Dan, I love the Clark/Jon intro, but I think that’s mainly because I’m a huge fan of those two and any time they’re together is a good time (at least, if it’s written/illustrated well, but that goes without saying).

Josh: Yeah, I think Dan brings up a valid point. We’re already rooting for Superman, so it isn’t needed… But man did I love it! As for Batman… I’m curious as well. So many writers have been trying to diss Batman lately, so that makes me a little nervous. I trust Snyder though.

Also, Brian gets an award for using “amazinger.” Those need to be Comics-Now t-shirts… Just saying… I’d buy it. Haha!

Jay: I smell a Patreon perk!

Dan: Although this issue is mostly just one big chase scene, Snyder manages to pack in at least one revelation and a lot of hilarious quipping. I like hanging with the aged, benign Legion of Doom. All the goodbyes are a bit frustrating when it’s a race against time, but they have heart aplenty I love the exchange between the Flash and Grodd.

Josh: I’m with you on all accounts here.

Dan: Jiminez fires on all cylinders, as usual.

Jay: Jimenez and Sanchez for everything forever please and thanks.

Dan: Alpheus, though humanoid, looks delightfully otherworldly, towering over everyone else and seeming to glow from within, and my favourite panel of the week features a characterful, heavily shadowed shot of Sinestro glowering triumphantly as he takes the fight to the Apokoliptian armada.

Brian: YES. Sinestro gave me chills, rediscovering the cold light of fear.

Casper: Oh, yeah. Sinestro’s pretty badass in this. The cliffhanger was cool as well, but I’m ready for Batman to side with his friends and use that giant suit to beat the crap out of the World Forger and the others. Snyder and Jiminez are putting so much emphasis on Batman siding with the World Forger that it just has to be a ruse. So hopefully next issue we’ll see Batman fighting alongside his friends again. I mean, if it’s not a ruse, then I’ll be seriously questioning what’s going on in this arc.

Josh: Yeah…

Brian: As I said in my review, this issue is a test of two moral philosophies. On Superman’s side, right and wrong are largely absolutes, and these principles can not be compromised. On Batman’s side (on the face of it, at least), right and wrong are dependent on outcomes (the “utility” argument). The intro is essential to illustrating both Clark’s philosophy and his own unease when it produces bad outcomes. Also, it’s amazingly rendered by Jimenez and Sanchez!

Jay: Again, Jimenez and Sanchez for everything forever please and thanks.


Nightwing #60

Jay: Credit where it’s due, Jurgens is at least trying to get us to care about the Notwings.

Josh: Again! How did I NOT think of this? *Sigh*

Dan: The fact that Rebirth Nightwing has reached 60 issues is testament to the readership’s love of Dick Grayson, not Ric. The latter again speaks dismissively of the strangers from his past that care about him this issue. That’s Batman, Batgirl and Alfred to us, the audience that loves those guys. If DC wants this series to last much longer, they first need to jettison Ric. At least Louw’s handsome variant harkens back to better times.

Josh: I didn’t put this in my review, but I responded to a comment pretty much saying the same thing. People are buying this book because of their love for Dick Grayson, not Ric. And, quite frankly, the sales support this. During Seeley’s run, he was averaging sales of roughly 50,000 units per issue (on a double-ship schedule no less). When the Ric Grayson arc started back in Nightwing #50-51, the book sold around 35,000 units. Now, as of April, the book is sitting below 25,000 units… This clearly isn’t working. And by that, I mean Ric Grayson and the Notwings (thanks Jay!).

Dan: As I’ve said before, the flashbacks that have been fleshing out the new Nightwings in recent issues are too little, too late. No-one cares about these characters. Nonetheless, we ride along with ‘Sap’ this week. He’s a white, lithe, muscly guy with dark hair, dressed in Dick’s Rebirth outfit, so I keep confusing him for the real Nightwing. His motivation is confusing too; he says he’s testified and his collars have been set free on technicalities. Surely being a Notwing means he can’t even testify so how is the mask going to help? Maybe he’s going to threaten the criminals and the judges into behaving (à la Batman: Year One)?

At least Mooneyham has found his niche. His rough style suits the action in this issue; he makes the fiery opening scene dusty, dingy and claustrophobic.

Josh: I’m hit and miss with Mooneyham. I tend to dislike how he draws people, but that’s merely preference.

Casper: You know what? I was going to just flip through the issue, and then I started reading it, and even though I didn’t actually read every word balloon and caption (because a lot seemed redundant so I didn’t feel compelled to keep reading everything), I was entertained by the artwork and the action scenes. They were put together well. Nice colors, too!

Josh: Well… They pull together well until you take and realize they’re trying to stop a fire with blunt objects like axes… Anyway, carry on.

Casper: Ha! Yeah, that’s true. I should’ve been more clear about what I meant: I just like the aesthetic, and the axes amuse me. But I also realized — after not having read many of the previous Ric issues and, at best, merely having skimmed some of them — that it really feels like I haven’t missed anything.

Josh: Honestly, you haven’t. None of these characters have progressed in months.

Casper: The Ric/Bea thing is still going on. The cops are still the Nightwings. Ric is still a cabbie. There’s a random fire monster that they need to stop, which looks like pretty standard superhero fare, so it’s whatever, I guess? Maybe I missed some subtle character- or plot progression because I haven’t really been keeping up with this series. But it sure looks like this has been a very static story that just isn’t moving forward at all. I’m even somewhat surprised that I made it to the end of the issue, what with it being so uninspiring to me. Honestly, with so many comics on stands — and such a wonderful backlog of Nightwing comics — why should I be reading the current Nightwing run? Can anybody answer that question for me?

Dan: I can’t think of a reason, that’s for sure. You’re absolutely right about the static nature of this series.

Josh: Yeah, and I think that’s the key here. You have to do something with your characters and books. Especially if you’re going to test a concept like this. People are already turned off to the idea of Ric Grayson, and not taking the story anywhere past its initial concept is only going to damn the idea even more… Which I think most people are okay with honestly.

Jay: Best we can hope for is that they’re biding time for something big late this year or early next year.  If not, this is a pointless exercise.


Teen Titans #30

Andrew: Rough week for Robins.

Dan: So, Deathstroke is dead (or is he? Any bets on how long before he returns?).

Josh: Based on the editor’s note, it looks like he’ll be dead until his next issue… Which begs the question, “Why even do this?” All of the drama behind this action feels false now, and, yet again, another crossover event is wasted for the mere sake of trying to boost titles.

Dan: How to follow up on this dramatic turn of events? Well, if you’re Adam Glass, you just spend a whole issue on the team bickering.

Jay: Twenty pages of “heroes” being jerks to each other.  Not my favorite trope in comics.

Casper: Nope, I didn’t enjoy this, either. I’m tired of seeing heroes fighting each other for no good reason.

Josh: Me either… Glass is trying to make this book too many different things for too many different people. You can’t please everyone. Just focus on telling a good story, and stick with that. I keep going back to this, but the book started so strong with the Teen Titans Special. I know people didn’t respond well to the dark tone of the book, but it would’ve been better had Glass just stuck with that rather than try to please everyone.

And what was with that ending? It screamed, “We need our team to be a team again, so let’s give them a threat that will force them to come together!”

Dan: Chang tries in vain to make the best of a dull script and gives us full-page shots of each member of the team throughout (including one of Djinn with a hilariously disproportionate head), and Roundhouse gets in one good quip about cardio, but otherwise this is an entirely skippable issue.

What did you read this week? Let us know in the comments below what you thought of this week’s titles.