This Week in Comics: Bane is looking for love

SDCC put us a little behind, but we were finally able to come together to discuss last week’s releases. So, if you’re all caught up with the announcements from this past weekend (and there were plenty!), then take a moment to hang out with us around the water cooler and let’s talk comics! Here’s This Last Week in Comics!

Justice League #28

The Apex Predator rises! Justice-Doom War is coming! This is the culmination of the Legion of Doom’s master plan, and they will take the Justice League to far-out places they may never return from…and do things the DC Universe may never recover from.

Brian: We’ve now got two consecutive issues on Justice League with Tynion doing a vastly better job. 

Jay: My word, you’re right…

Josh: Right!? I literally had this exact thought while reading the issue.

Brian: Seems like he’s found his way in terms of the dialogue, and with that working better, I’m able to get into the story more easily. Really enjoyed it. 

Josh: Yeah, I don’t want to knock Tynion, because he’s delivered some really strong work in the past. He just seems to have two gears: really good, or an over-talkative, melodramatic mess. That being said, his past two attempts have been really strong.

Jay: Totally.  He still likes to use the same “page turn to a dialogue-heavy double-page spread” trick a lot, but the rhythm of his writing has improved.

Josh:That’s actually a good point. I hadn’t really pinpointed it as the rhythm of his dialogue, but you’re right. 

So, to jump into specifics… I think the big talking point here will be Lex and Martian Manhunter. Any thoughts on how the issue ended?

Jay: I mean, like Brian said in his review, nothing like that will last forever.  My thing with this whole “Year of the Villain” stuff is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody in the driver’s seat.  “Metal” was clearly directed by Snyder, “Event Leviathan” is Bendis, and even “Forever Evil” was steered by Johns. This just seems like a story mandate that everyone was told to include, but nobody knows why.

Casper: Yeah, I agree, Jay. This whole thing does seem mandatory, and not like an organically unfolding story; I don’t even care about Luthor’s offers, let’s just get it over with! 

Josh: There isn’t any direction. And while we know this is building to play a larger part in Justice League, it still feels like it isn’t really building to anything because of that disconnect from title to title. It’s kind of like spinning a globe and seeing where your finger lands. Nobody actually knows their role, they’re just throwing out ideas and seeing what sticks.

As for Lex’s offers… I mean, the greater threat is intriguing, but part of the reason we don’t care is because we’ve endured an entire month of Lex saying, “I’d like to make you an offer”… And that’s it. We still don’t know what half of these offers are. 

Anyway, that’s beside the point because we’re falling into other titles now. Turning back to Justice League, I thought Lex’s… consumption(?) of Martian Manhunter was a little surprising. It clearly won’t last, but it was interesting. 

Casper: I thought the ending of this issue was really predictable. Of course Martian Manhunter and Hawkgirl walk into a trap. There’s nothing exciting about it because I saw that coming from a mile away. So I probably didn’t get as much out of this issue as you guys did. Frankly, I ended up bored, and I don’t really feel like I would want to read this again. Not that it’s a bad comic, I just feel kind of indifferent about it.

Josh: I knew it was a trap as well, but I wasn’t certain as to what that trap actually was. Because of that, I enjoyed the moment. Part of me also thought J’onn might have something up his sleeve as well… And who knows? He still might. If you’ll think back to Geoff Johns’ Justice League of America, there was the whole bait and switch with Martian Manhunter and Catwoman. Something could still play out. 

For now, though, J’onn feels like an asset that’s desperately needed by the League, so this does dwindle the sense of hope for our heroes. And to clarify, I think we all know they’re going to win, but the risk of sacrifice feels greater at this point. I thought it was a strong play overall. 

Any comments on the art?

Brian: I think having Sampere do the larger league scenes and limiting Fernandez to the Martian/Lex/Hawk scene was an excellent move. 

Jay: Like anyone, I’d prefer the consistency of a single artist.  If it has to happen that two artists work on the same issue, then yes, this is the best way to go about it.  And I dig both Fernandez and Sampere, so that’s a bonus too.

Josh: Agreed. 

Casper: I like the way they handled the art too. The art itself didn’t necessarily stand out to me as something amazing, but it was all right and looked nice. I particularly like the interior design of Luthor’s base; or at least, the entrance hall, or whatever it is, looks really cool. Like an old station of sorts. Excellent coloring too!

Josh: Yeah! I agree across the board. Haha! 

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?
Yes: Brian, Josh, Jay
No: Casper
Read Brian’s full review of Justice League #28 here.

Batman #75

“City of Bane” begins! Bane’s minions have moved into Gotham City, taken control and are ruling with an iron fist—including rounding up any villain who refuses to sign onto Bane’s program—and Batman is nowhere to be found. At least not the Batman anyone knows. It’s like someone has replaced the real Gotham City with a twisted funhouse-mirror version of it.

Josh: As I said in my review, I wasn’t a fan of this. Under different circumstances, maybe. But as it is? No.

Brian: Eddie and the Joker on the beat, Strange as the Commish—these are things that I would love in probably any other context. And I did enjoy the visual—Daniel and Morey absolutely killed it. I’m just tired of King’s story and want it to end. 

Josh: Exactly. On first sight, I got a little excited seeing Riddler and Joker as “cops”… but it was the sheer idea and boldness of it that excited me. A second later, that excitement vanished. 

Jay: Knowing I probably wouldn’t like what was to follow, I did enjoy the weirdness of Joker and Riddler as detectives.  It’s hilariously silly and something I want to read. Like, told completely straight. Joker asks Riddler how the wife is, all while nursing an ulcer and trying to give up cigs.

Josh: Hahahahaha! I’d read that level of weirdness!

But yes, you have a point about what follows. Once the actual story and context of everything kicks in, I completely lost interest. And I’ve had some people make the accusation that I don’t understand what’s taking place. Trust me, I do. I understand it. I know Bane used Psycho Pirate to convert the city. I mention this very thing in my review…  I just don’t think this concept is as impressive as King thinks it is. It’s honestly a little predictable. 

However, I do think this could’ve been interesting if approached differently. I want to slowly watch Bane take control. Not jump ahead in time when it’s already happened and get told, “It’s all connected. Things happened. Just trust us.” I’ve said this before, but all we’re really getting from King with each arc is nothing more than a detailed outline. I’m still over here waiting for the actual story.  

Casper: Yeah, I can see that. I was definitely entertained by this, though. I don’t necessarily think it’s a great comic, but I also don’t think it’s awful. But, like you guys, I probably would’ve enjoyed this more had the run not been as problematic as it has been. However, I felt like this issue at least had some sort of plot, character dynamics, dialogue, some cool action, and quite a lot happened in this issue as opposed to some of the other issues that King wrote, as he’s usually quite minimalistic.

Josh: True. That is a valid point. 

Casper: I do wonder, though, why Psycho Pirate is cooperating with Bane. Psycho Pirate could take control of Bane as well, right? The only one that Pirate can’t control is Ventriloquist. So what’s Pirate’s motivation exactly? Maybe I forgot, but I don’t think King ever stopped to explore that and flesh out the character through that. At the moment, Pirate feels more like a plot device than anything to me, which is not how you should be treating characters. Especially if you’re telling readers that said character is super important to the story.

Josh: See, I’ve wondered this same thing! It makes no sense to me why Psycho Pirate would just go with Bane. Unless there’s going to be a twist at the end where he’s either the big bad or enacts a coup to become the big bad – both of which would, again, be predictable – I don’t understand his motivations. I also don’t fully grasp what Bane is actually hoping to accomplish. Am I supposed to believe he really wants to rule a group of “slaves?” No. I’d believe this more if Bane came in, took control of Gotham, then abandoned it as a mere statement to prove that he can. 

Casper: Also, why does Bane have to rely on Psycho Pirate to take control? I’d assume that Bane’s perfectly capable of handling that himself.

Josh: Agreed. I don’t think Bane would view this as a respectable way of actually accomplishing his mission. 

Jay: Unless it’s revealed that Psycho Pirate was the real mastermind the whole time, which… might make this worth it for sheer ballsiness alone.

Josh: … Jay is zoning out again when I talk. I’m going to take that as a sign. Hahaha!

One last thing, I just wanted to comment on how Psycho Pirate is getting these rogues to follow Bane’s orders by making them “love” him… Anyone that has ever seen a movie dealing with witchcraft/ love potions knows the real story here is a comedy, and I’m sad we’re not getting that!

Casper: Anyway, those are some of my thoughts. It was an okay issue, I was entertained, but it didn’t blow me away. As for a recommendation, I think at this point, if you’ve come this far, might as well finish out the run. But if you’re looking to get into Batman, probably wait a while till the next creative team takes over.

Josh: Definitely wait. And no, I don’t think you have to finish this run. Haha! That’s mean… Go ahead and finish it if you’re a completionist like me. Then again, Tony Daniel and Mitch Gerads deliver some really strong art, so that alone might serve as enough reason to purchase the book. 

Would you recommend buying this for $5.99?
Yes: Nobody
No: Brian, Josh, Jay, Casper

Read Josh’s full review of Batman #75 here. 

Nightwing #62

After the epic conclusion to the Burnback saga, it’s clear that while he may have forgotten his past, Ric Grayson’s innate skills and instincts as a team leader elevate Team Nightwing to a new level. But what does that mean for the Blüdhaven PD, and what does that mean for a man who is looking to live a life without the baggage of his past to hold him down? Ric seeks comfort in Bea’s arms, but may find answers in another’s Talons as we dive headlong into the Year of the Villain! 

 Plus, Lex Luthor delivers the Court of Owls the means to own what they covet most: Ric Grayson.

Brian: Meh. I like Cliquet and Filardi’s artwork. Great action, nice texture to the colors. But this feels like it’s just treading water, same way as Red Hood. How long are we going to keep doing this silliness?

Josh: I’m guessing until the general audience grows tired of Nightwing and Dan Didio hers what he’s always wanted… For Dick to go away. 

But yes, it really is just treading water. Every issue contains the exact same character arc as the issue before. There is absolutely no progression, just the same story presented under different circumstances. The only new progression here is Ric revealing he used to be Robin/ Nightwing to Bea… And I have no faith that the character will stick around once Dick does return to himself, so I can’t bring myself to care.

Casper: I was about to say this, Josh. Ric’s reveal was some progression. But it’s also pretty much the only bit in the comic where I actually stopped to read what they were saying. Everything else I kind of skimmed over and I didn’t even read the last page with the offer.

Josh: I thought the use of the Court of Owls was wasted here. The entire issue did nothing but bide it’s time to get to the last two pages where Lex makes his offer to the Court… All I kept thinking was, “What a waste.” 

Casper: Yes, exactly!

Jay: Here’s how memorable Talon was: I totally forgot he was in it until just now.

Josh: I mentioned in my review that I would have approached this differently. For the first twenty pages of the issue, I would’ve shown everything that’s taken place since Dick was shot from the Court of Owls perspective. They’ve always cherished Dick and viewed him as an asset for their future, so I would’ve played into that a little. But I also would’ve diverted expectation and had Lex make an offer to one of the Notwings. That would have been an interesting read, set-up, and twist… Or, at least I think so. Haha!

Casper: I like your idea of how you would’ve approached the Owls, Josh. I would definitely read that! As for the offer bit, I think, honestly, there’s barely anything that can make that stuff interesting for me. I haven’t seen a single offer page so far that I actually liked, except the one in Catwoman because the art was beautiful, but that still had nothing to do with the offer itself. I wish we didn’t have to see all that offer stuff. It’s so pointless! However, Lex offering something to one of the Notwings could actually be used to start off some new intrigue and action, now that I think of it. It could be the premise for a new conflict. But, of course, it ends up being something really dull in this issue. Yawn.

Jay: Pretty much copy and paste what I’ve said the past few months.  Jurgens is doing the best he can with a squandered concept. Had he been on from the beginning it may have been different, but by the time he joined even the conceit of this idea having potential had worn out its welcome.

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

Read Josh’s full review of Nightwing #62 here.

Teen Titans #32

Lobo’s back—and he’s got his daughter, Crush, dead to rights! At least she can ask him about the identity of her mother, right? And as the Teen Titans square off against the Main Man, an enemy more sadistic than any they’ve ever faced before, questions about the team’s future are still hanging in the balance—that is, if they have any future at all!

Josh: I thought this was better than the last few issues. I’m going to give all of that credit to Lobo, and a little credit to the fact that the team didn’t have melodramatic bickering. 

Brian: Maybe it’s because I know the brats will win this time, but I’m just not interested in reading this. Seeing Lobo lose because his annoying daughter has a magical chain? No thanks. I did skim, though, and the “tournament of love” line from the Main Man is almost worth the cover price all by itself. 

Josh: Yeah… I’d have much rather had the chain help get some good licks in, but it would’ve been much better had Djinn delivered the strong blow. I mean, she has the power to do it, but it would also create interesting dynamics between Crush and Djinn. 

Jay: Lobo made it worth reading.  I have no idea what’s going on with that magic space chain, nor do I care, so this is me exiting this title yet again.

Casper: I didn’t like this because, especially in comparison to last issue, the action here is very lame. I also don’t feel like there was a lot of character progression for Crush, or anyone else for that matter, nor do I feel like there was any significant plot progression. Especially the resolution at the end felt very deus ex machina, and I feel kind of cheated. The art was decent, but this gets a no from me.

Josh: Welp… I feel like that pretty much covers it… A unanimous pass on Teen Titans. 

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