It’s Friday, so it’s that time again, friends: time for This Week in Comics. While we cover plenty of books here at Batman News, we like to discuss those books with each other too. Plus, with weekly reviews, you may get an idea of what, say, Brian thought of Justice League, but… what about Casper? What did he think about it? Did Josh think it was a solid entry in the generally excellent series, or was it more of a mixed bag? And how about Jay? Just how excited did he get when he saw Captain Carrot show up this week?
Well read on and find out, as we bring you yet another weekly “round table” discussion of this week’s Batman and Batman-adjacent books. Like Andrew said last week, it’s like a podcast… that you read.
Also, shameless plug: Brian and I have a podcast. Check it out.
After you’ve read This Week, of course.
Justice League #26
After being off-planet for so long, the Justice League must try to pick up the pieces of their lives—but Lex Luthor has other plans. If he has his way, he’ll show all of humanity that the Justice League will never be there in the world’s time of need!
Brian: So this is one of those “nothing really happens,” catch-your-breath stories in the wake of a high-energy arc. I’m okay with that sort of thing in concept, but I’m not sure it’s executed all that well here. After reading it, I have two dominant impressions: it’s nice to see J’onn taking the form of John Jones again, however briefly; and, Tynion’s biggest problem on this book is that thin line between high drama and melodrama.
Jay: Yeah, a little bit of “downtime” is okay. I thought this was serviceable. Not much happens, but after the bombastic greatness of “The Sixth Dimension” nothing really needed to. Good to see Javier Fernandez getting some high-profile work, too.
Casper: Yes, it’s a pretty chill issue. I enjoyed Tynion’s prose during the opening pages and the closing pages, too. I usually dislike it because it either distracts from the visuals or ends up being unnecessary exposition that could have been communicated better by being part of the actual story, but I think that this time he writes in a calm voice and I just liked reading that. I also enjoyed the banter between Green Lantern and The Flash, and I liked seeing all the different Justice League teams. But I really hope that DC isn’t going to force this weird Hawkgirl/Martian Manhunter romance to happen. Not with Hawkman right there on the same page as Hawkgirl. That would be … weird.
Jay: There are some good ideas there. I think it would be better if J’onn and Kendra second-guessed their relationship, thinking they’re supposed to have feelings for each other because of Shayne’s existence, but ultimately realizing that his parents aren’t them. They’re friends, but not meant to be together romantically. Otherwise, yes. Weird.
Brian: Thomas Wayne: Hold my beer. So I can dig up my wife’s bones. And beat the <bleep> out of my son. Because naked Bane.
Jay: Hahaha. Real.
Casper: Yeah … that’s also weird.
Josh: For the most part, I enjoyed this. I agree with the everything so far. I think Tynion’s mistake was trying to create melodrama. There’s already so much drama in the situation the League is facing that melodrama only diminishes the feeling of that threat. I kind of liked the opening scenes with civilians, and wish we would’ve gotten a bit more of an in-depth look at that. I would’ve like some of the heroes’ first-hand encounters with citizens who oppose them.
That being said, I loved seeing some of the interactions with the League and various members of the Multiverse. Plus, Captain Carrot is always a positive!
Jay: Captain CARROOOOOOOOOOOOT.
Casper: Captain Carrot, <bleep> yeah! \m/
Josh: Am I the only one who felt like there could have been an additional issue between Justice League 25 and Justice League 26?
Casper: That’s a good question.
Jay: Maybe? Or if there were more “downtime” issues than just 26. Give us an issue dealing with the repercussions of the Sixth Dimension, and then another that’s more character-focused like this one.
Josh: Yeah! I kind of wanted to see the League react to the state of the Earth and then interact with the World Forager. I’m imagining the World Forager placed the call to arms with the Multiverse. That would’ve been a nice set-up for this issue as well. The inclusion of the Multiverse here felt a bit, “Oh, by the way, this is happening,” and I selfishly wanted more.
Casper: Those are good points. I didn’t think of that. But an extra issue definitely would’ve helped the narrative.
Jay: At least we know Jarro is alive. That’s all that matters.
Teen Titans #31
Lobo brought Crush into this world…and now he’s gonna take her out! But the timing couldn’t be worse for the Teen Titans, with Damian’s secret prison exposed to the rest of the team, not to mention Deathstroke’s death looming over them—can the team put their drama aside to help Crush battle her deadbeat dad? Or will Lobo be the final nail in the coffin for the newest Teen Titans?
Brian: You know, I wasn’t going to read this, but I had some extra time, so I did. And I’m actually really glad that I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed it. But I fear that I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. See, for me, we are all Lobo in this book. We all want desperately to smack Crush into the sky with a pole-mounted basketball hoop. We all want to smash Crush with a train. We can’t, so we get to live vicariously through the Main Man.
Josh: Hahahahaha! Your comment is so wrong, but so right!
Jay: Lobo, you say? Be right back.
Casper: I guess I’m with Brian, although I don’t necessarily enjoy this because Lobo gets to punish his daughter. But the main reason I enjoyed it does have to do with the Main Man.
Casper: I usually enjoy Lobo’s puns and insults, and that isn’t any different here. It was fun to see Lobo again. But I do hope that there will be some character development next issue, because a father and daughter fighting to the death only stays fun for so long, and no matter how much I enjoy seeing Lobo, this issue really doesn’t have a lot to offer for me beyond that.
Brian: Can’t argue with that last point, but I think Glass suffers from the melodramatic tendencies that afflicted this title in The New 52, so I’m not sure character development would be very satisfying here.
Casper: I agree, Brian. But having static characters punch each other for an entire issue isn’t very satisfying, either. At least not for me.
Josh: Yeah, there’s no denying that Lobo brought all of the fun here. I especially loved the opening scene. In fact, this is probably the most fun I’ve had with this title yet.
You’re right about Glass suffering from melodramatic tendencies though, Brian. This whole approach with a bickering team has grown quite old, and Glass keeps falling back on that. The team and the legacy of these characters deserve better than that.
Casper: Hear, hear!
Jay: Ok, I lied. Still haven’t read it, but Lobo at least got me interested. That’s more than I can say about… literally everything that’s gone on in this book over the past year.
Josh: I mean… All you really need to know is that a bunch of teenagers go back and from between, “Oh my God! We’re teen superheroes and totally awesome!” to “You did what?!? I’m not your friend anymore!” and back to “Oh my God! We’re teen superheroes and totally awesome!” Oh, and the in the occasional “something, something about The Other” to remind you that there appeared to be a point to all of this in the beginning.
Here is… oh wait, nobody reviewed this book.
“The Fall and the Fallen” part three! Is this the end of Gotham City? Bane’s army of villains is taking over the city, and Batman’s back is against the wall. With all the things Bane has done to him over the last year—from breaking up his wedding to trying to assassinate Nightwing, and then invading Batman’s mind to expose his most terrible fears—could this be the worst hate the Caped Crusader has ever encountered?
Josh: I didn’t bring my censor, so I promise to keep myself in-line here. Anyway, Batman. This happened and it’s a thing. I’m actually curious to hear what, if anything, people enjoyed about this issue because while reading it and writing about it, I kept feeling as though I should like it – or at least the idea of it – but I didn’t.
Jay: So, I really liked the font of the cover blurb. Very old-school, Sergio Leone style.
So ends the nice things I have to say.
Josh: Ha! I didn’t make that connection on my own, but you’re spot on. Honestly, both covers of this issue were fantastic. I was tempted to buy a physical copy of this for the sake of having that cover… but I didn’t.
Casper: But it’s true that those covers are magnificent! Especially Janin’s. I love how the Batman logo is basically the desert sun and the colors just scintillate!
Brian: I liked the absurdity of it for a few pages, Thomas Wayne singing “Home on the Range.” When King tried to hone in on the point, though…that’s when I started to get tired again.
Jay: For real. And the “who’s in the coffin?” twist… I’m just so exhausted that it didn’t even faze me.
Josh: It didn’t do anything for me either. And I’ll agree with you, Brian, that the absurdity of Thomas singing “Home on the Range” could have been intriguing, but I feel like King has become too reliant on the absurdity of too many things for there to be any impact.
I also want to slap Bruce and yell, “This isn’t your father. Snap out of it! Also, he teamed up with a psychopath and actively helped said psychopath beat the snot out of you! Get it together!”
Casper: On a more positive note, I do really enjoy Bellaire’s colors, though. They create an immersive atmosphere. I also liked Janin’s art well enough, even if it’s mostly an empty desert landscape.
Jay: Right, but the art has never been the problem in this book.
Casper: True, but I still like praise good art when I see it! And in this issue, there’s just something about that desolate landscape that speaks to me. This overwhelming sense of dread.
But other than that … pretty much all that happens is that Thomas sings while fighting (I usually dislike it when characters talk during a fight scene, so you can imagine how I think about him singing during fights), and there’s some banter between him and Bruce, and … that’s it.
Jay: You know, I just connected these dots, but the desolate desert landscape is reminiscent of Grayson #5. That was one of the best issues of that series, also from King and Janín, but completely different from this in terms of both story and quality.
Casper: Yeah! I was thinking of Grayson #5 as well; I remember that issue fondly.
Brian: I really liked the artwork in general and agree with Josh’s review that it’s Janín’s best in some time. I really dig the BvS-esque Batman-in-a-duster look that Thomas is sporting, too. I just wish this was another book.
Josh: Yes! I genuinely love that look. I think King is fond of this look too, and I’m going to bet that he’s directing this in the script. Bruce had this same look when he and Selina went to confront Talia.
Casper: Hmmm. Maybe not another book, but just a more interesting read with less plot holes. I do have to say that the scenario of Bruce trekking through the desert with his father and his dead mom piques my interest. I mean, I know it’s out of character and all that jazz, but this scenario is so peculiar that I’m curious to see where King’s taking it, despite all the problems that I see in the book and the ones that Josh pointed out in his review.
Brian: I definitely want to see where it’s going, too. And by a different book, I meant “I wish this great artwork had a better context.”
Casper: Oh right! — in that case, I agree.
Josh: I think we all agree. I am curious to see where King takes all of this as well… I’m also hesitant, though, because I feel like I keep falling into this mindset with his Batman arcs, as well as with Heroes in Crisis, and they’ve left a bad taste in my mouth.
That being said, at this point I hope they revive Martha and it ends up being Earth 2, crazy Joker Martha… That would at least be oddly entertaining. I don’t have much hope for anything else winning my favor.
Blüdhaven is burning! Ric Grayson and the Nightwings are helpless against the rampage of Burnback. Will they be able to pull themselves together as a team in order to prevent Blüdhaven from becoming ash? Confronted with their most dire threat yet, Ric and the Nightwings must find a way to come together if lives are to be saved.
Jay: On the one hand, Jurgens is doing his darndest to make this seemingly never ending arc at least somewhat engaging. But man, he feels like a talent wasted on this.
Josh: His talent is definitely wasted.
Jay: Would I read a Dan Jurgens penned (and penciled!) Nightwing series? You know it.
Casper: In a heartbeat.
Jay: And to his credit, he’s doing the best with what he’s been given, it’s just that what he’s been given isn’t much at all.
Josh: Mmm… Debatable. I feel like he’s just trying to get through this mess.
Brian: So, I haven’t been reading this at all, and I’ve been happy to make fun of Ric Grayson based on the name alone. But honestly? I really enjoyed reading this just now. I know it’s a slog for Nightwing fans, but taken on its own merits, it’s a solid bit of entertainment up until the metagene discussion. I even liked the “I wouldn’t call that a monster” bit—felt like something from a different time. And I think Cliquet’s work looks outstanding!
Casper: I actually enjoyed reading this too, much to my surprise, though I agree with you, Brian, that the metagene discussion was a bit forced. A lot of telling over showing. Another thing I dislike is that Ric is once more talking about how he doesn’t remember anything, but I guess that this bit of criticism is like beating a dead horse. I doubt it’s going to change any time soon.
Josh: It won’t change until they move past the Ric Grayson direction.
Casper: Yeah, I’m afraid so.
Jay: Which better be soon. Surely they won’t keep him off the table into 2020, which is when he turns 80.
Josh: Uh… Look, I gave this issue a 4.5/10. On my initial read, I felt the same way each of you do. It wasn’t that bad. It was a little fun. I didn’t care for the metagene conversation… And that was about it. But then I started digging in to the issue, and my opinion began to slip from there.
I mentioned in my review that this is beginning to feel like a paint by numbers formula that Jurgens is using to just throw down a story until he doesn’t have to write this atrocity anymore… And quite frankly, who could blame him. To be more specific though, he’s literally approached the last three issues with the formula of: Pages 1-5: remind the readers of who Ric is, and that he’s rejecting his past. Pages 5-10: introduce the featured Notwing of this issue, have them acknowledge Ric’s skill, but then have them question whether he can be trusted. Pages 5-15: Have featured Notwing attempt to fight the fire monster with blunt force, have Ric assist/ save featured Notwing, then allow the Notwing to come to the realization that using something that stops fire is the best course of action. Oh, and since this is the end of the arc, we’ll spend pages 15-20 putting Notwing Zak in a near-death experience to create drama and tension like we’ve done for the past two arcs, but don’t worry… He’ll survive! TA-DA!
Jay: Notwing™️ is a trademark of Jay Yaws, LLC, a subsidiary of Comics Now.
What were your favorite books this week? Do you agree with our assessments, or do you take issue with some of our piping hot takes? Let us know in the comments below, and keep the conversations going.
Also, we’re still holding tryouts for a few open slots on the review team, so if you think you have what it takes (and you love Batman), then find the submission guidelines here. We believe in you.