This Week in Comics: Harley Goes Bird Hunting

For this week’s This Week in Comics, we have a special guest joining us! Peter J. Tomasi!

No. No, we don’t. I’m sorry. That’s a lie. There is no special guest. It’s just your merry band of Batman-News reviewers. Sorry guys. This is my (Josh) first week hosting This Week in Comics, and I wanted to jump in with a big bang… But I couldn’t even get Andrew to join the conversation. When I asked, he just laughed at me.

No… No, he didn’t. No, no. That’s a lie too. I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I didn’t even ask him. I couldn’t build up the nerve to ask him. Why? Well, Andrew “I used to do all the reviews all by myself for two years straight” Asberry is kind of a big deal. You know? You don’t simply contact Mr. Asberry. You have to contact his peo- It’s a whole thing.

BUT! As I said, you’ve got Jay, Brian, Casper, and I discussing a number of releases! And yes, I did have to bribe all three of them with the promise of purchasing an omnibus of their choice so they would join me this week, but that’s completely beside the point. The point is, we love Batman, we have potentially cool opinions about comics, and we’re here to discuss said comics! Anyway, here you’ll find all of the Batman News reviewers discussing last week’s releases. We also have links to full reviews from the Comics portion of the website– it’s the best part of Batman News, by the way. Tell your friends.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

The origin of Batman…together with the origin of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? The stories are familiar, but through the prism of this altered reality, clearly not the same. An uneasy feeling sets in that everything is not what it seems. But the Laughing Man pays a visit to a familiar Turtles ally to make sure this world stays exactly as Krang has remade it.

Brian: Holy crap! This was really good! Why haven’t I been reading this?!?!?

Josh: So, the big thing worth talking about here, in my opinion, is the combined origin story of Batman and the Ninja Turtles. I know it’s not continuity or anything, and I know it’s not even true as far as this story is concerned, but I thought it was interesting. It’s definitely not something I expected when this series was announced, but I find the idea of it fun. And honestly, I wouldn’t mind a series showing their early days in this universe. Why not?

However, I do think it’s weird that they have such different costumes considering their shared upbringing here.

Brian: The costumes are one of those things that I’ll allow, logical problems aside, because they’re so dang cool. 

Josh: I mean, I won’t disagree with that. It was just something that did cross my mind. I also tried to imagine if Batman dressed like a turtle, so… Haha!

Jay: I think it’s fair to say that Freddie Williams did most of the heavy lifting on this one, yeah?  The writing was fine, but man Freddie killed it.

Josh: Oh, no doubt! Freddie does incredible work! There’s a reason I paid to have him do a commission one year at SDCC! 

Jay: Oh nice!  Who was it?

Josh: Midnighter and Illyria (from Angel/ Buffy). I also have to give a shoutout to his wife as well. It’s a little unknown fact, but she tends to help him with his inks. 

Jay: Huh.  Didn’t know that.  Cool tidbit there, Josh.

Josh: But seriously, the guy can draw some great, entertaining art, and you always know his work when you see it. 

Brian: I loved seeing Eastman’s black and white Raph mixed in with everything else. Really cool idea, and I’m sure both Williams and Tynion were nerding out HARD.

Josh: Yes! This was an element that I wasn’t sure about early on, but that I ended up loving when I actually saw it!

Casper: I had intended to catch up with this series so I could chime in here, but I haven’t caught up yet. Better luck next month, I guess, but I definitely want to see the art!

Josh: The good thing about this chapter is that it feels pretty self-contained. You can pick it up and understand what’s going on without having to read the first two volumes. 

Jay: Right.  Knowing that they’ve teamed up before adds to the story, but not knowing that doesn’t detract from it, if that makes sense.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Jay, Brian, Josh
No: Nobody? Maybe Casper? Only time will tell… 

For a full commentary, check out Jay’s review of Batman/ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #3!


Batgirl #36

Batgirl escapes the madness of Fox’s Den only to discover Vulture is hot on her tail and itching for revenge. Does she stand a chance against this bird of prey? Meanwhile, the fight for Gordon Clean Energy rages on as the workers discover the greatest threat to their employment future is Batgirl herself!

Jay: This was fine, but definitely set up like a season finale.  

Josh: Yeah…

Jay: You can tell that this creative team was cleaning house to make way for the next.  I am curious to see where Castellucci takes Barbara, given where she winds up at the end of this issue.

Josh: I’m in the same boat. The fact that Barbara moves to the Narrows seems like that was all Castellucci, but Scott also seemed to leave some plots open to a degree. Particularly Jason Bard and James. I suspect we’ll be seeing more of them. 

Jay: Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.  James adds an interesting dynamic, but Bard still sucks.  You’re probably right, though.

Josh: More than anything, I’m curious to see how Castellucci writes Barbara. The one thing that I thought Scott had nailed was Babs’ portrayal. It’s been a good while since I’ve felt that Barbara was depicted as a smart, respectable, morally centered force that isn’t afraid to challenge authority if she disagreed with it. So many writers recently have essentially “Stephanie Browned” Barbara that I find it annoying (no offense to Steph. I like her… but she and Babs are two different characters). 

Jay: We’ve talked about it at length multiple times before, but there is a sense of regression with a lot of these characters that they’re only just now working out of.  Cass isn’t really the strong, confident heroine she grew into, for one, though she’s making some strides I guess. And yes, Barbara is Stephanie to the Nth degree. And then Stephanie is just trying to out-Barbara Barbara’s Stephanie and…

…I think I lost it there, but you know what I mean.

Brian: I hadn’t thought about it, but yeah—that’s what I haven’t liked about Babs in recent years—very much like Steph, and I struggle to like Steph in much of what I’ve read. Still need to hit that Batgirl run, though. 

Josh: Oh! Definitely read that! The Steph Batgirl run is great!

Casper: That moment where Babs tries to save Shark from the inferno, but then Shark pushes her away, that’s really powerful. I really felt that.

Brian: It was one of those things that maybe should have been corny, but it really touched me—and I haven’t even been following along with this book. Simple, selfless acts are powerful. 

Jay: That was some great, subtle storytelling there for sure.

Josh: Definitely! This is an example of some of the great character work Scott was doing/ setting up. It wasn’t uncommon for characters to surprise me under her pen, and that’s refreshing. 

Even the Terrible Trio in general… I can’t remember if I ever actually enjoyed them, and I didn’t mind them here. And Vulture was surprisingly menacing. Though, I do have a small qualm with Babs getting stabbed and then just walking it off to attend a business meeting. 

Casper: Yeah, the plot armor is strong with her this issue. Or at least it is in that specific moment where she gets stabbed. Also, you guys say this reads like a season finale kind of episode, but I’m not sure if I see it in the same way. I do have to say that I haven’t been reading the entirety of this run, but, despite the splash page at the end that shows Batgirl being awesome as she leaps through the Gotham night, to me it just read like the conclusion to a middle of the road arc. But maybe that’s just me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, though, I just didn’t feel like this was really the ending of an entire run. As if Scott will just be back next month with a new arc.


Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Jay, Brian, Josh
No: Nobody

For a full commentary, check out Josh’s review of Batgirl #36!


Harley Quinn #63

The final trials of Harley Quinn have begun…and the stakes have never been higher! Will Harley succeed in becoming the Angel of Retribution? Or will she fall short, only to suffer the same fate as all those before her? 

Plus, a mysterious new comic by M. Clatterbuck appears…in which Lex Luthor makes Harley an exciting offer!

Josh: I have a copy sitting here, waiting to be read… But I can’t bring myself to actually read it. I just keep looking at it thinking, “There are so many other things I want to read right now…”

Casper: Yeah, you know? There are some beautiful human moments in this issue with Harley and her dying mother, but this issue’s all over the place and doesn’t know what it wants to be. Hospital/family drama? Psychedelic mismatch of anime and cartoon? Weird campy randomness, introducing a character that immediately dies and doesn’t add anything to the comic? Hmmm. At least Schmidt’s art’s on point this month. Other than that, my advice is to skip this one in favor of a different comic. Actually, we just did a Break From The Bat article with lots of cool comic recommendations, so definitely check that out!

Brian: You know, I never read Harley, but I checked this one out, and it was actually pretty fun. Death screwing up and getting embarrassed, Harley just being goofy—I actually liked it. Sometimes it’s a bit much, but for the most part, I think it was pretty good. If you’ve got money in your comics budget that isn’t otherwise allocated, why not?


Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Brian
No: Casper, Josh 

For a full commentary, check out Casper’s review of Harley Quinn #63!


DCeased #3

Heroes, villains and gods have fallen. Cities have collapsed. The virus threatens to reach below the waves and even to the island of Themyscira. The race to save planet Earth is on! The surviving members of the Justice League have learned the secret to the spread of the virus, but is it already too late to stop it?

Jay: I don’t know how Tom Taylor does it, but he manages to take some of the silliest ideas that look like they should not work and turn them into engrossing, affecting entertainments.  This was genuinely sad.

Josh: I know! 

Casper: The Superman stuff was incredible. I love every second of it! 

Jay: Other writers would have ended with Clark’s eyes literally burning with rage.  Instead, Taylor and Hairsine make the right choice in showing his sadness at losing his father… again.

Tom Taylor knows how to write good comics, guys.

Josh: Agreed! The work Taylor is doing with Clark is great. We’re getting to see so many sides of him: the hero, family man, leader, friend. Everything being done with him is superb, and the scene with his parents at the end of the issue was just heartbreaking. 

Same with Damian. He always puts up his tough-guy front, so to see him shut down to a degree says a lot about how he views and loves his father. 

Casper: I just wish there was some more plot progression in this issue, and I also wish the Harley Quinn stuff was either executed differently, or just not included at all. I hate the Harley Quinn stuff in this issue. But, dude, the Superman stuff … Maybe I ought to stop saying this at some point, but: I want Taylor to write the Superman ongoing right fricking now.

Josh: Haha! You want a Superman series by Taylor, and I want him on Batman. Honestly, I would take both. 

Jay: Yes, I will have the steak and the lobster, please… With a side of macaroni and cheese.

Brian: What’s the macaroni and cheese in this metaphor? A Bat-Mite limited?

Jay: Shazam, obviously.  He is the Big Red Cheese.

Josh: And now I want Red Lobster. Anyway, back to the point… I think what we love about Taylor is that he understands these characters on a fundamental level, and whether it’s Superman or Batman, we want to see him take these characters back to their core representation.

Casper: I mean, a World’s Finest run by Taylor would be okay too, Josh. Remember those three issues of Batman/Superman a few years ago that Taylor wrote?

Brian: YES. Batman tearing off Lobo’s fingers, Lobo getting fragging pissed at the bastich. AMAZING.

Josh: Yes! Again, more proof that Taylor needs to be on a high profile book for DC!

I want to circle back to Casper’s comment about plot progression and Harley real quick. As far as plot progression is concerned, this book has an interesting problem where it’s moving at the speed of light, while also barely moving at all. I think the title would have been better had it been slated as a maxiseries at twelve issues instead of six. We’ll have to wait and see. But considering we’re already halfway through the book, I feel as though we’re going to wish we’d had more time and pages with this story by the time it’s all said and done. 

Jay: See, I think a 12-issue maxi would have been too much.  This story isn’t especially thin, I’ll grant it that, but it’s not super deep either.  I think it’s kind of the same situation as Young Justice right now, where everything fits with the story being told, it could just be shuffled around a bit to flow better.

Josh: True. And maybe it doesn’t need to be 12 issues, exactly. Maybe it could be 8 or 9. I just know we’re halfway through the book and we’ve yet to see any real action take place to try and resolve the issue at hand. I’m concerned that the final three issues will be so plot driven that we potentially miss out on some cool moments.

As for Harley… I mean, it is what it is. She’s a money grab for DC, so I expect her to be front and center. I didn’t mind her shooting Joker. It was definitely satisfying to a degree. I was a little disappointed to see the Birds all as zombies. When I saw that first panel of Huntress, I thought, “Who is this?” because it was so shadowed. Then, a moment later, I was internally yelling “Noooooooo!!!!!” Haha! I kind of wanted to see her go full-on 90’s Huntress rage here, but I guess not…

Casper: To be honest, I don’t think Harley shooting Joker is satisfying at all. It’s very predictable, and also incredibly convenient how a shotgun drops right in front of Harley as she runs away from Joker. 

Jay: Yeah, for real.  They were going for a moment of great liberation, but I just… didn’t care.  I know their relationship is horrible and should not be romanticized at all, but this did nothing for me.

Casper: On top of that, the previous issue set up Harley’s encounter with Joker in close quarters, but rather than showing us that encounter, the creative team skips over it entirely and suddenly we see an exploding building and Harley shooting Joker. That’s a cop-out in my book. But that’s just me. I don’t want to spend too much time repeating what I said in my review … but I guess I did anyway.

The Birds, though. I actually kind of liked that, because I didn’t see it coming like that, but at the same time I’m kind of desensitized to all these heroes turning into zombies, so I’m kind of in that in-between place of liking it and not caring about it.

Josh: Yeah, that’s where I feel a longer issue count could come into play as well. If we saw more heroes before being turned, there could be some intrigue as to who is still normal or not. That being said, the pieces and players are starting to come together. Mera and Black Lightning will undoubtedly have a part to play in the coming issues, and I desperately need more Green Lantern Black Canary!

Casper: More GL Dinah! Hear, hear!

Josh: Also… I want to see someone pulling a Michonne from Walking Dead with some zombie slaves. Ra’s, Bane, Cassandra, Talia… I honestly don’t care. I just want it to happen. 


Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Jay, Brian, Josh
No: Nobody

For a full commentary, check out Casper’s review of DCeased #3!


Justice League #27

Eons ago, the Monitor, the Anti-Monitor and the World Forger stopped the rise of Perpetua—but can they overcome billions of years of mistrust to work together and do it again? 

Plus, Lex Luthor’s offers across the DC Universe haven’t gone unnoticed—Martian Manhunter is aware of “the Offer.” And J’onn J’onnz will pay the price.

Jay: While I didn’t feel quite as strongly as Brian did about this, there’s no denying it’s Tynion’s best solo outing on the title yet.  It dragged in spots, but when it dove into the Multiverse and the Monitors it was incredibly engaging.

Always good to see Javier Fernandez getting some high-profile work, too.

Casper: I agree, Jay. This is a nice read. There are some funny moments too, like Atom calling Mera and telling her that he accidentally refracted part of the lab into hypertime, and now they have a dinosaur problem. 

Josh: Hahaha! That was great!

Jay: That is what we call “written just for Jay.”  And it was. And it was beautiful.

Brian: I just mentally swapped Jay in for Ryan in that panel. Jay is the one with the dinosaur problem.

Jay: “Problem.” 

Josh: I’m with Jay on this one. The notion that this is a problem is subjective.

Casper: It’s small moments like that that I really appreciate though. The part where Starman and Shayne have a little bonding moment is also awesome.

Josh: Oh, yeah! Starman has yet to win me over this entire run, but he definitely did here. It was a great, endearing character moment for him. And Shayne has a lot of potential as a character too! I’m looking forward to what they do with him. 

Casper: I’m still super skeptical about where they are taking Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl, though, but so far I’m glad they’re not forcing some weird, out-of-place romance down our throats.

Jay: Right?  I think I said it last issue, but I’m glad they’re going for awkward more than romance.  Like, J’onn and Kendra think they should be falling in love, even though they don’t really belong together.  It’s charming to see them interact that way, and adds to Shayne’s character too. I mean, how would we feel if we saw younger versions of our parents who had no romantic interest in each other, but they needed to get together so we’d be born?

…and I just realized that is Back to the Future.

Brian: Kendra hits the most relevant point in her discussion with J’onn—they have a responsibility to Shayne. The future world that Alpheus showed them was not their actual future, so the awkwardness of any potential birdsing-and-beeing makes total sense. But there is a boy from that reality here now, and if anyone has responsibility for him, is it not these two? It’s like a Clark/Conner situation, but a little more complicated.


Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Casper, Jay, Brian, Josh
No: Nobody

For a full commentary, check out Brian’s review of Justice League #27!


Adventures of the Super Sons #12

It’s been a long road, but Superboy and Robin have finally made their way back home! Unfortunately, an armada of about a gazillion juvenile super-delinquents is back too, and these pint-sized hell-raisers are out to conquer Earth! It’s the final battle between the son of Batman, the son of Superman, a big fan of Lex Luthor and whatever a “Doomsdame” is in this epic finale to the Super Sons saga!

Jay: See, this is the kind of weirdness I wanted to see from this series from the beginning.  You can tell Tomasi really cares about these boys, and it shows in the writing, but this whole book was pretty much a non-starter.  It wasn’t bad, it was just… there.

Casper: Non-starter or not, I still intend to one day sit down and read all the Tomasi et al Super Sons comics in existence. It’ll be awhile until I can, but one day I will. Damian and Jon are awesome together.

Josh: In fact, they are awesome together! Tomasi wrote some great scenes with these two boys, I just wish the story itself would’ve lived up to the quality of their interactions. Generally speaking, I think the biggest miss was with Rex. I never got behind him, and that hurt the book as a whole for me. 

Jay: Rex would have worked as a minor speed bump, but he was a full highway’s worth of construction with an intergalactic detour.

I tried to make that metaphor work, guys.  I tried.

Brian: Love Tomasi, love Jon and Damian, but never started with this one. 

Jay: It could have been six issues and it still would have felt too long, honestly.  This is a book that I feel really bad about not liking, because the creative team is great and I love Jon and Damian’s dynamic, but it just never clicked.  Not even with Space Cabbie(s) and an android Jonah Hex.


Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Nobody
No: Jay, Josh