This Week in Comics: Don’t call it a Tutenkomeback

It was another week of comics, consisting of some great books and… some that weren’t as great.  Even still, we love talking about them all just the same.  We also love talking about comics with you guys, and definitely want to know what you thought of this week’s Batman titles.  There were a lot of them that we covered, so pull up a chair, bump some LL Cool J, and see what the Batman News team has to say about this week in comics.

Event Leviathan #4

Credit: Alex Maleev and Josh Reed

Batman versus Superman! Witness the interrogation of the decade as Bruce Wayne tears into Superman to find the missing piece of the Leviathan puzzle they both need. It’s a battle of wits and wills as the greatest detectives in the universe get together to figure out the why and how of Leviathan before it’s too late. And when that doesn’t work”¦in comes Lois Lane! From the creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, it’s another fully painted noir thriller that will tear a bloody trail through the DC Universe.

Casper: Ugh. Not this again. I closed this issue the moment that Batman said that everyone–including Ollie and his own son–are now officially suspects without providing any reasons why and I think that’s just silly. I can’t take this book seriously anymore and I’m not going to read it anymore. I strongly, strongly dislike this. I even stopped caring about Leviathan’s identity. The art’s beautiful, though, but I feel like it’s wasted on this book.

Jay: This… did not shred.

Michael: The book definitely relies on the reader just kind of going along with what the characters are saying, but I thought this was the most thrilling issue of the series so far. So many great sequences in this book, particularly in the second half. The group dialogue scenes are often odd with some missed jokes or questionable characterization, but I found myself really impressed with the Batgirl sequence with Plastic Man and Superman flying. It’s starting to actually feel like a mystery now, with a lot of different pieces and allegiances with the addition of Silencer and the other group of detectives at the end.

Nancy: I also loved the art. It was detailed and moody. I would’ve welcomed a bit more light now and again, but overall, I liked it a lot. I don’t think the story is going to hold up as a mystery because it feels so unfocused. We’ll see in a couple of issues, but if I can’t look back and see the definitive clues, however well they’re masked as we go along, I’m going to feel Bendis didn’t play fair. I have enjoyed Lois’s role through this, and I liked the interplay between Batman and Superman in this issue. I also liked the respect given Superman by his teammates. I really liked the ending.

Casper: All right! Despite really not liking this myself, I’m glad that you guys like it!

Matina: I’m with you, Casper. This story isn’t really clicking for me. This issue picked up the pace a bit at the end, which I found interesting, but the majority of the time I spent reading I was frustrated. It’s all feeling like a lot of Telling and not a lot of Showing, even with all the action that’s happened. I dunno, maybe the next issue will change my mind but for now I’m not a fan.

Jay: Superman gave it a slight shot in the arm, but it’s too little at this point.  I like Maleev’s aesthetic… generally speaking, but too often it looks sloppy.  There was a great Plastic Man line here, and Barbara’s reintroduction was pretty great.  But really, other than wanting to know who Leviathan is out of morbid curiosity I’m really not caring anymore.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Michael, Nancy

No: Casper, Matina, Jay

Check out Brian’s review here.

Batman Universe #3

The hunt for the Fabergé egg and the secrets it contains continues across the DC Universe, as Batman escapes Thanagar and Gorilla City, only to land with Green Lantern on Dinosaur Island! Can these heroes stop Vandal Savage before he unlocks the egg’s secrets? Originally published in BATMAN GIANT #7 and #8.

Jay: This, on the other hand, totally shreds.

Josh: Totally shreds! I think what I love most about Batman: Universe is how fun it is. While I don’t think I’d want this tone for the main title, I enjoy having the option to read a light-hearted Bat title. It’s also nice to see Batman interact with other heroes without having a constant reminder on every other page that the world is about to end… It’s refreshing.

Casper: I’m in two minds about this comic. On the one hand I don’t really like that all the characters sound the same and like they are all in their teens, but on the other hand I really enjoy the adventure vibes. Derington’s art continues to be amazing, too! This gives me Brave and the Bold vibes, and that’s never really a bad thing. So I think it’s a fun story, just really weird sometimes, and it also feels unfocused because Batman and his pals are constantly teleporting all over the DCU.

Jay: To be fair, I think that’s part of the charm.  Batman winds up in Gorilla City and then on Thanagar and then Dinosaur Island oh and now he and Green Lantern are going to be cowboys?  It’s… it’s like this book was made just for me.

Casper: What’s more, I wonder why Batman is asking Green Lantern if they should grab the egg and go? Dude, you’re Batman, you have contingency plans for your contingency plans — you don’t ask these kinds of questions! And the talk about dinosaurs felt out of place and forced; I didn’t care for it. All things considered, I guess I still recommend this, but I wish it was less childish and more focused. Derington’s art is definitely this book’s saving grace.

Michael: This was probably my least favorite issue of the run, but I still really liked it. Much more dialogue driven than previous issues and the action felt more like a background piece to the conversations. It’s one of the few books that makes me laugh, but Bendis is definitely stretching some character traits for a few jokes – the egg bit that Casper mentioned is a prime example. Now that the book seems to have fully formed into a “tour of the DC universe” style adventure, my excitement has dwindled just a little, but the change of settings will definitely give Derington ample room to show off how talented he is.

Matina: This is actually one of my favorite things coming out right now, for some of the reasons you guys aren’t enjoying it as much. I love the wacky vibes, and the adventure across the universe tone it has. Sometimes I want a serious story that does serious things, and sometimes I want a wild adventure across time and space, and if Batman gets to be a part of it, all the better. I think Batman Universe is generally a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying it for what it’s giving us.

Josh: I have to echo the praise for Derington’s art. DC nailed this marriage of creatives, and Derington is the perfect accent to Bendis’ scripts. There were plenty of times when I smiled while reading this, and that should stand for something! I think one of my highlights may have been when Batman got his wings! He had the slightest smirk, and it was awesome.

Jay: I mean, who wouldn’t?  Loving dinosaurs and being excited about flying.  Batman has never been more relatable.

Would you recommend buying this for $4.99?

Yes: Casper, Michael, Matina, Josh, Jay

No: Nobody

Check out Jay’s review here.

Detective Comics #1011

In order to carry out his contract and get what he’s owed, Deadshot must kill Lucius Fox. Batman isn’t about to let that happen, but without the use of lethal force, does he stand a chance against Deadshot? Plus, Mr. Freeze sets the last piece of his “Year of the Villain” master plan in motion!

Casper: This was a lot of fun! I thought the fight between Batman and Deadshot was kind of underwhelming because it was over so quickly, but, then again, in a fistfight against Batman, I don’t think Deadshot would stand a chance. I do really appreciate how likeable Bruce continues to be under Tomasi’s pen, and I love the kind of Bronze Age-y vibes that I get from this. The art is also really solid. Good stuff!

Michael: The fight between Deadshot and Batman was definitely a tad underwhelming, but this was about as good a wrap up I expected from this storyline. It’s also been a long time since I’ve felt warm and fuzzy reading a comic, but the two WWII soldiers staying behind on the island with Bruce making deliveries to them was a very nice ending.

Jay: I loved Clarence and Hiroshi.  They could have come across like a pair of cliched “irascible old men,” but they were charming and actually served the story pretty well.  And Bruce taking the time to drop off care packages for them?  Class.

Nancy: Agreed on the fight between Batman and Deadshot. I don’t remember seeing Deadshot lately, and this issue was a reminder that, unlike Slade Wilson, he doesn’t have a lot of other combat skills. I also liked the way Bruce and Lucius secretly worked together, and the art was very atmospheric.The faces were expressive, and the use of light in the jungle at night seemed realistic. There has been so much of Bruce as an angsty loner lately that I enjoyed this look at his warmer, more compassionate side. I would’ve rather waited for the backup story to start on its own, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it now. I guess the Mr. Freeze plot will take over the book next time.

Matina: You guys have said it all. It’s great seeing the warmer side of Bruce come out. I really enjoyed the comradery between Bruce and the two soldiers, and I felt things were wrapped up really well. I’ve said it before, but I really appreciate the smaller arcs Tomasi has been giving us. They just make the run really enjoyable, and give opportunities for nice conclusions like this story had.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Casper, Nancy, Michael, Matina, Jay

No: Nobody

Check out Jay’s review here.

Gotham City Monsters #1

Leviathan has dismantled S.H.A.D.E.-and that means Frankenstein is once again a free agent! Now he can set his sights on his former mentor, Melmoth, the one evil that got away. With bad things happening all across the Multiverse, this may be Frankenstein’s last shot at setting things right. Of course, Melmoth has his own agenda, and it’s going to take more than a lone monster to take him down. So Frankenstein heads to Gotham City in search of allies and recruits Killer Croc, Lady Clayface, Orca and vampire Andrew Bennett. But will even these dread creatures be enough to save humanity before the entire cosmos collapses in on itself?

Casper: I really had no idea what to expect going into this, but I actually quite like it. It’s very pulpy in a good way, and it’s great seeing Andrew Bennett again, as I,Vampire is one of my favorite comics because that’s what introduced me to Andrea Sorrentino’s art, and Sorrentino is one of my favorite artists. But I digress. I like that we get to see Monster Town again because it adds to world building, and I also think it’s pretty badass when Frankenstein cuts Bennett in half, but Bennett just pulls his legs back to his waist while bleeding all over the place and he says that that won’t stop him. The art is also on point; it’s nicely gritty for this kind of story, and it’s also very detailed, which I also appreciate. I do wonder where this is going, though, because on the final page, when that guy (his name is Melmoth, right?) is summoned, he talks about saving the multiverse. I don’t know if this story needs to invoke the multiverse, but we’ll see what happens next time. Cool first issue, though!

Jay: Yeah, this was fun.  Give me Frankenstein any day of the week and I’m happy.

Michael: I was incredibly surprised by how much I enjoyed this issue. Totally agree that I like the whole “pulpy” vibe and I really hope that doesn’t get lost in multiverse shenanigans as the ending suggests. Loved the art too. Not every character got the same amount of time to develop, but Orlando packed a lot into one issue.

Casper: Yeah man! There’s so much going on in this issue that it almost felt like two issues instead of one. As for the multiverse stuff … it’s kind of weird, because as much as I hope this will remain grounded and focused around Monster Town, if Orlando actually sticks to that, then what is the point in mentioning the multiverse at all?

Jay: Thank you.  I thought the Multiverse angle felt out of place, even if it has promise.  Frankly, I was a little underwhelmed when I saw Monster Town, as I thought that had been pretty much forgotten at this point, but Orlando actually made it interesting.  Then the dude pops out of the Multiverse and I was like “uh, yeah, okay.”

True story.

Matina: Haha I loved the bit where Bennett pulled himself back together. It really represented how I felt about this issue, it’s a lot of monster madness, a few well done cliches, and a whole lot of fun. I had a lot of fun reading this, and multiverse or no, I’m excited to see where it goes from here.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Casper, Michael, Jay, Matina

No: Nobody

Check out Michael’s review here.

Batman and the Outsiders #5

The Outsiders must stop Ishmael if they hope to rescue Sofia and bring her back to Gotham City to meet with Batman. But vanquishing such a fearsome opponent will have dire consequences, especially for one member of the team”!

Josh: I’m curious to hear everyone’s thoughts on this. I thought this was a vast improvement over previous issues, even if it is a fast read.

Jay: It’s definitely the best issue so far, even if it was almost too quick a read.  I’ll love it forever, though, since it’s the second exclusive preview that Comics Now has ever been given.  For what it’s worth, Supergirl was the first.

Casper: First of all, the conversation between Katana and Black Lightning was awesome. I really enjoyed reading that, and I think there’s more to it if you stop to think about it. Like Josh says in his review, there’s a lot to unpack! However, other than that I ended up getting kind of bored with this issue, and it’s a shame, because I was hoping that I would actually enjoy this a lot more than previous issues seeing as the heroes are finally trying to rescue Sofia. This is not a bad comic by any means, but to me it’s just that conversation between Katana and Black Lightning and then a couple fight scenes, and I don’t feel like this comic had more to offer than that. Sometimes less is more, but in this case I think the book was lacking some substance. I think the same is true for the art: Soy is doing a good job, but empty (or just plain boring) backgrounds just don’t cut it for me. I know Soy can do more, so I’m really disappointed that he just seemed to focus on drawing characters. That said, every time Black Lightning uses his powers, he looks appropriately intimidating and scary and that’s just awesome. But all in all, this isn’t a book for me. Maybe the story will pick up next time, but right now it’s just not doing much for me.

Matina: I didn’t mind the fact that the issue didn’t do a lot. I thought the conversation between Katana and Black Lightning was both fantastic, and gave us good teambuilding work. Team books often have so much infighting these days it’s nice to see one take a moment to let a couple characters get closer. I’m still a bit frustrated that it took so long to rescue Sofia, but I’m glad that it happened in this issue. It wasn’t a perfect issue, but I think this would fit well when read together with the arc.

Josh: I still think Hill needs to figure out how to write ensembles in this medium. It appears as though he’s still trying to find the balance of character, plot, and representation that’s successful.

Jay: Totally agree.  He writes each character just fine as an individual, but there isn’t a sense of cohesion at this point.

Josh: He really should have put Duke’s sub plot on the back-burner for this arc, and let Jefferson take the lead focus, with Katana essentially serving the same role, and then increase the focus on Ra’s a little more. That being said, things appear to be improving, so I’m hopeful for the future of this title.

I’m still wondering how much of these issues have been edited. It seems more apparent in Soy’s art than in Hill’s script here. The page with Cassandra and Duke was telling, because there’s one panel where Cassandra’s mask is perfectly fine, and then in the next panel, half of it is ripped. Now, this could be a mistake, but it also seems like it might be due to editing down and changing the original scripts to account for the editorial requirements. Across the board though, I suspect things will improve as the title continues forward.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Matina, Josh, Jay

No: Casper

Check out Josh’s review here.

Catwoman #15

After running a gauntlet of assassins to get her hands on the dossier detailing all the illegal activities of Villa Hermosa, Selina Kyle must go up against the big bosses of the criminal underworld. She must deal with their gun-toting mercenaries, yakuza hit women and the masked bounty hunter Lock-Up. All while still carrying a price on her head. Is there a way she can collect both big prizes herself and still walk away alive?

Casper: I just want to start off by saying this: it’s weird that a bomb explodes right in front of Selina, but that doesn’t seem to bother her at all as she continues to leap and fight and quip throughout the rest of the comic. Selina’s plot armor is strong in this issue.

Michael: I really didn’t find this impressive in any way. Nothing outright horrible, but completely forgettable. I love Catwoman, but this is about as generic as they come. As you said Casper, the action feels like there’s no stakes. There’s no twists in any action scene or the plot in general.

Casper: Yeah, you’re right. It’s just scene after scene and then there’s a conclusion, but there’s nothing really here to keep me invested. It was a quick read, but then it was perhaps too quick and too easy.

Nancy: Selina coming out unscathed from the grenade scene was a stretch for me too. She sustained costume damage, but no significant injuries, and I wasn’t sure what those panels were in that room for anyway. If you were a skilled assassin, wouldn’t you be sure your prey had no cover? Seeing Selina kick butt is always fun, but other than the twist at the end, I didn’t think there was enough of her cleverness on display. I didn’t love it, but I would read it for the conclusion to last issue’s story.

Matina: Yeah, the grenade thing just didn’t feel like it had the stakes it should have. I think my main problem is that Selina is over in Batman, hanging out with Bruce. She’s both very not-blown-up, and working on reconciling with him. So any real feelings of her being in danger, or connecting with how she’s missing Bruce feels a little bit mute at this point. Additionally, I agree with you all, the issue is very fast paced, especially the moment with the bomb. There’s no time to linger in the worry of walls closing in, or the threat of imminent explosion. It would have been nice to maybe cut on the action a bit to let readers really focus on the danger.

Josh: Yeah, I agree… This was fine. Just… fine. It’s miles better than the Nocenti run and had a fun tone to it, but it was completely generic. The only part of the book I actually enjoyed was when Gentleman Ghost dressed up as Catwoman and got shot. I got a good laugh out of that… But that’s it.

Honestly, if this book did anything, I think it just revealed how narrow creative teams have been concerning the villains that Selina can come up against. While the issues itself is half-baked, it did a decent job of showing the types of stories that can be told for future arcs or mini-arcs.

Jay: It has Gentleman Ghost and Lock-Up.  I am a simple man with simple tastes.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Nancy, Jay

No: Michael, Casper, Matina

Check out Michael’s review here.

Year of the Villain: The Riddler #1

Lex Luthor has presented dark gifts to super-villains across the DC Universe, setting off what can only be called the Year of the Villain. Unfortunately, resources are limited, so not everyone got something. The Riddler is one such person, and he is most displeased about it. Was this merely an oversight or a deliberate slight? The Riddler is determined to find out which-and so should you!

Jay: All of the z-snaps to Nick for the brilliant “Tutenkomback.”  My goodness…

Josh: Guys… I… I think I loved this issue. I laughed so many times while reading this. When I saw King Tut, I rolled my eyes… but then the entire point was that he is the butt of the joke! It was great. And the bit with the tiger roaring!  I’d read more of this any day!

Michael: I love Mark Russell’s work, his Flintstones run is an absolute gem, but his DC Universe work has been spotty at best. Wonder Twins has been a step up and I’m glad to see this issue is another step in the right direction for him in superhero books. It’s just really funny and he manages to always find a good angle on the cliches of whatever property he works on. He’s not a complete deconstructionist, but Russell’s work always feels like he’s pushing the boundaries of making your favorite characters a farce…in a good way. I wish he’d be paired up with better artists though, it’s not bad, but I’d love to see Russell’s work not necessarily drawn as a “comedy” book.

Casper: But I do think this issue has great comedy! I also really enjoyed Luthor’s speech. And Riddler had a solid arc throughout this issue, which was great to see unfold. Tut was funny, and I laughed when Batman finally punched him in the face. Also pretty cool how the perspectives are reversed and Riddler is the protagonist and Batman the antagonist — that doesn’t always work out well, but Russell pulled it off. This was just great entertainment!

Josh: Riddler did have a good arc. When I was reaching the end of the issue, I actually found myself thinking, “Where is Russel going with this?” And then, more importantly, when the issue ended, I thought, “I hope someone finds a way to continue this because I’m genuinely curious.” There was a clear sense of direction for the story, as well as Riddler as a character, and that’s something that’s been seriously lacking from DC lately.

Jay: I was fine with the way it ended, but Russell is still too broad with his writing.  Like, he approaches every script like it has to have some sort of biting commentary or satirical slant.  It works fairly well in Wonder Twins, but not so much here where he’s trying to be sincere.  Don’t get me wrong: I loved Tut, and thought he was the highlight of the issue.  That was almost to a fault, though, as Riddler’s arc was undermined by the fact that Tut is a bumbling has-been with tired schemes.

Matina: I found this book to be a lot of fun, the comedy was delightful, both visually (like with Batman having little bats on the soles of his boots) and within the text of the story itself. But I felt like it also worked with the theme of the book too. I haven’t read a lot of Russell’s work, but I see your point, Michael, in him finding an interesting angle on cliches. I know that Riddler isn’t always painted as a funny villain, but I’ve always been someone who enjoys him because has a sense of fun to him. Russell did a great job of taking that impression and turning it on its head by juxtaposing Riddler against Tut, and making both readers and Edward want more for him. I thought it worked, and I really enjoyed it.

Josh: I also want to praise Scott Godlewski’s art. I thought it was really strong and captured many of the same elements that makes Nick Derington’s work so enjoyable. There’s just a lighthearted nature to it that’s both fun and engaging. There also appeared to be a bit of a “gay eye” to the art as well. Was I the only one who saw/felt that? It was… interesting.

Would you recommend buying this for $4.99?

Yes: Casper, Michael, Matina, Josh

No: Jay

Check out Nick’s review here.

Young Justice #8

Lost in the Multiverse! The heroes of Young Justice must stay together as they fight to find their way home. Too bad they’re about to cross paths with their own evil look-alikes! Plus, the secrets of Jinny Hex are revealed in a special sequence illustrated by Elena Casagrande! Get set for some of the craziest stuff you’ve seen in years! (Spoilers!)

Jay: ::sigh:: Ignoring how silly it is that Tim’s new codename is his surname, I hate that he got his inspiration from a villain.  That’s… not cool, even if the script tried to convince us that it’s so obvious and clever because it’s right there.

Josh: The most dangerous bird!!!

Jay: I mean, ducks are jerks, sure, but come on.

Casper: Dude, yes, that codename stuff is silly. I hope that it was just meant to be some kind of joke and nothing more. I’d rather have Tim use the Red Robin monniker than Drake, to be honest.

Jay: That fight between Tim and Not-Tim was dope, though.  Excellent work from Timms.

Casper: Yeah, codename nonsense aside, I think this issue was okay, although I do agree with Nancy’s argument, which you can read in her review, that not knowing the narrator’s identity got in the way of the story. I personally tend to get really frustrated when I don’t know who is narrating a story (with a few exceptions; for example, I really love how the narration is executed in Milligan and Fegredo’s Enigma), but it annoyed me here. That said, I do like the character interactions and the art fits the fun, light-hearted tone of the story. John Timms is a cool artist!

Nancy: Thanks, Casper. I’m enjoying this book a lot. I got tired of the series of alternate worlds in the last issue, but this issue doesn’t hop around that way. I liked the way this story used its setting and seems to be focusing on the need to get home. I’m hoping this will be the last stop before they make it. I’m a fairly new YJ reader, and I’m enjoying discovering the characters. Because I find getting to know them easier when they’re in small groups, the focus on just a few members here was fine for me. I do want more time with the others next issue, though. I also loved the art. It was bright but detailed, and I thought the use of perspective was very clever and effective.

Jay: Against my better judgment, I think I’ll still recommend it.  Timms’ work was phenomenal, particularly in Tim’s fight scenes, and there’s still a sense of good fun about the book.  It’s barely a recommendation, though.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Casper, Nancy, Jay

No: Josh

Check out Nancy’s review here.

Justice League Odyssey #13

Sepulkore is activated! The entire Ghost Sector has been imprisoned and enslaved as a new realm of Apokolips, with Darkseid as its supreme ruler! Returned to power, with reborn New Gods at his side and the Ghost Sector as an implacable fortress, Darkseid sets his sights on the remaining universe! Can anyone stand in his way? Where are Justice League Odyssey? And what are the shocking identities of the heralds who now do Darkseid’s malevolent bidding?

Casper: You know, I went back to JLO #1 and read everything that’s been published so far, and I have to say that this book is really starting to grow on me. I liked this issue a lot, and I really dig Jessica’s return — that was badass. I’m by no means an expert on Abnett’s work, but I’m a huge fan of his Aquaman run (the King Rath saga in particular), so I know that he’s a great writer. Hopefully he can keep up the good work, and I think Conrad’s a good artist for this book — his art looks serious enough to fit the tone of the story, and he’s also a versatile artist that can draw the different environments pretty well. I’m looking forward to the next issue.

Nancy: Casper, I also read the entire arc. Coming into it midway, I needed the background to understand what was happening. The main attraction for me is spending time with Vic, Kori, and Jessica. I’m still figuring out what I think of Jean Paul, and Blackfire will never be a favorite. Yes, badass is a great word for this issue. I’m really eager to see what launches out that ending! I liked having new characters to expand the scope of the story, and there’s great potential for conflict in their mutual distrust. As far as the art goes, I particularly liked the detailing in the station and the way the muted colors kept that detail from becoming a distraction. I do wish the faces were more expressive in closeup. A couple of them are, but the expressions generally struck me as bland. Still, I liked it a lot overall.

Jay: We all know that death is meaningless in comics.  I was not the least bit surprised that Jess came back.  Even still, that scene ruled, and imbuing her with Omega Beams is pretty metal.  I was barely hanging on to this book up to this point, but now that the action is moving outside of the Ghost Sector I’m kind of invested again.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Casper, Nancy, Jay

No: Nobody

Check out Nancy’s review here.

Batman #78

In the first part of a “City of Bane” interlude, Batman receives help from an ally he thought he had lost for good: Catwoman! Still recovering from the beatings he took from Bane and Flashpoint Batman, the Dark Knight readies himself for a return to Gotham City, and it’s Selina Kyle who holds the key. She knows how Bane is fueling his regime, and she’ll help Batman shut down the supply line—but first she has to whip the battered hero into shape.

Casper: Um… okay. This is really confusing. The art really blows me away, it’s beautiful! But I don’t understand why this is even happening. Bruce, your hometown is under attack! No time for all this lovey dovey crap! Go, go, go!

Josh: I completely agree. When I was writing the review, I really had to question how I wanted to approach the issue. On my first read, I was extremely irritated by the fact that Bruce and Selina were just chilling at the beach while Gotham was going to crap. But at the same time, I’ve complained that King hasn’t allowed these two to have these conversations, and that they need to happen. This issue should have happened earlier, and I don’t disagree with that notion at all… But also breaking down the issue itself, what we actually get between the covers of the book, I thought it was excellent (with the exception of one scene).

And yes, I also thought the art was outstanding.

Jay: See, the art was quality, but it felt kind of exploitative.  Like, almost pornographic in how it presented Bruce and Selina.

Josh: Mmm… I see what you’re saying, but I disagree. Like Jason Fabok, Clay Mann draws characters where you can see all of their muscles and curves, and whatnot. I know that’s not everyone’s preference, but many artists share this style.

Jay: Right, and I’m not saying that his art is bad by any stretch.  There’s a difference between the way Fabok draws a character’s costume and the way Mann does, though.  Fabok still manages to make it look like clothes, whereas Mann makes it look painted on.

Josh: I think we have to acknowledge what is realistic versus what is blatantly inappropriate. There were definitely moments in Heroes in Crisis where Mann drew characters in questionable ways, but here, it all feels natural. Yeah, there’s the “Brah, that’s your wife?” bit with Selina wearing a sexy bathing suit… But this is also Selina Kyle. She wears a skin-tight cat suit as her costume and carries a whip. She used to wear thigh-high boots. She’s not going to wear a modest bathing suit. To be an equal opportunist, there’s also the scene of Bruce laying in bed. I don’t think it’s an unnatural pose, but something I can see anyone doing while laying in bed thinking. We also have to ask if these two weren’t “perfect physical specimens,” would we still think this felt pronographic? Probably not.

I mean, look, I’m a total prude in real life, but I don’t think sexuality is necessarily a bad thing. Mann also had the difficult job of creating visually engaging art in a book where practically the only thing to feature are two people talking. It’s a difficult feat, and I thought he handled it well.

Casper: Yeah, I see what you mean, Jay. Also, I don’t like that King’s dialogue often consists of these short, snappy phrases. Others have said this before me, but while this works well for off-beat books like Vision, I really don’t hear Bruce’s voice when I read King’s dialogue.

Jay: This style works for pretty much everything King writes except Batman.

Casper: It’s like I’m reading a robot that looks like Bruce and has been programmed to sort of act like Bruce, but it’s just not the real Bruce. I appreciate the sentiments in this issue, though, and I like some of the scenes (the scene on the final pages where they reconcile is pretty good), so it’s not like I completely hate this or anything. I also think this entire issue would’ve worked nicely as a kind of epilogue to the whole arc, or maybe even as a prologue, but now its impact is lost on me. I’m worried about Alfred and Damian — not about whether or not Bruce and Selina are going to get back together again! With King’s Batman/Catwoman series coming up, Bruce and Selina have plenty of time to reconcile and maybe get married and whatnot, but right now? This timing is way off.

Michael: The timing is definitely strange, but there was a line in there that hints that they are at the beach for a reason more than just rehabilitation. I could be reading too much into it though. I think this was some of King’s absolute strongest writing and an incredibly nuanced depiction of how relationships work. Josh’s review already mentioned a lot of scenes that carried a ton of weight and I don’t think there’s a book on the stands that comes close to being this hard hitting. The art is stunning and the issue finally gives clarity to what has been going through Bruce and Selina’s minds. I thought it was near perfect, even King’s dialogue didn’t come off as robotic as it usually does to me. I really hope King gives a good plot reason why they’re at the beach and my only hesitation will be resolved. I do agree with Casper that King’s Bruce is much different than the norm though.

Casper: The point about the nuanced depiction of relationships, which Josh originally brought up in his review, is a good point.

Matina: Yeah, the placement of this feels off, I like what the story did but I don’t like where it’s landed in the greater scheme of things. Even with the idea that they’re at the beach to recover and find something crucial, it just doesn’t have the tension it should after the last issue. Maybe it would have if the story had all been about the search for this key item, but I’m ready for Batman to be back in Gotham. I wish this whole reconciliation had happened a bit earlier. It almost doesn’t feel fair to either story: reconciliation, or what’s going on in Gotham to pace things like this. I want both to have equal weight, and the way it’s been done doesn’t seem to do that for me.

Casper, I’m totally with you on the robot speech, the first half of the book felt really clunky and if I’d tried to read some of those lines out loud they wouldn’t feel natural. I do think it caught it’s stride in the second half when Bruce and Selina were finally talking about things, but there’s still something about King’s dialog in general that feels very circular and repetitive that nags at me. All that said, I’m very glad to have seen a real conversation between Bruce and Selina about what happened between them. I actually really enjoyed the last few pages, they were gorgeous and something I’ve been waiting on for a while now.

Josh: I’ll be the first to say that King’s dialogue tends to read as robotic or like a drunk Captain Kirk (thank you Daniel Cheeseman!), but it worked for me here. King seemed to choose his words a little more carefully (aside from the waterfall scene), and I felt the awkwardness actually worked. Aside from the mission ahead of them, there’s an elephant in the room, and I think we’ve all had those conflicts with people in the past where we try to avoid or deflect because we aren’t completely sure what to say because we aren’t necessarily sure how we feel. That’s what I got from this issue.

I hate the way that King writes Batman as a depressed child who complains that Catwoman leaving him was the worst thing that ever happened to him. I think it’s crap. But he doesn’t do that here. King does explore the idea that there is a piece of Batman that is hurting though, and I think that’s fine. Bruce is above average in many ways, but he is human.

Jay: That’s an important, often forgotten distinction, and to King’s credit he recognizes it.

Josh: And I do think there is an emotional difference between him and Selina than the rest of his family, but that’s true with most relationships. Alfred is a father figure, so there’s a drive to not let him down or disappoint him. With his sons, there’s a desire to be the pillar of strength and serve as a role model. With a spouse, you don’t necessarily feel those weights or responsibilities. I think this is what King was touching on in the bedroom scene.

I know this isn’t for everyone, but I felt like King finally got the characters and relationship right without being overly melodramatic. In my review I mentioned picking and choosing what I feel is canon for Batman, and while I don’t include “City of Bane” in that, I’m definitely holding on to this issue and these conversations.

Nancy: Overall, I think I would’ve preferred to have this interspersed with what’s happening in Gotham—and, y’know, Alfred and Damian!—but I did think it was generally well done. I was very glad we didn’t get yet another replay of the boat versus street thing, though I thought we were about to at one point. Despite the diversion from the main story, I was glad to see the relationship issues finally addressed. When King is “on” with relationship conflict, he’s really on. One of the most moving comics I’ve ever read is his Batman Annual #2, “Date Nights, Last Rites.” This seemed equally strong to me. The way Bruce and Selina worked around to their issues seemed believable and I loved the fire scene and the last few pages. I agree that the story needed a while to find its stride.

The things that bothered me about the story are all peripheral, but they bothered me a lot. If “taking” this beach (which implies going against hostiles to secure it) is the key to taking Gotham, I’d like to know why. That’s part of the characters’ motivation and hints at conflicts they’ll face. If they need to “take” this beach, why don’t they ever do anything strategic, like recon, as well as training? And if there are hostiles around, why in blazes are Selina and Bruce traipsing around in costume? And taking off his cowl in the water? And leaving batarangs lying around? Speaking of batarangs, where did Bruce’s costume and gear come from? Selina fished him out of Himalayan snow virtually naked, and the Batcave is in enemy hands. So where did they get his stuff? If he has caches of gear around the world, maybe from the days of Batman Inc., fine, but I need the story to convey that.

Casper: Absolutely. I didn’t think of it while reading, but now that you bring this up — how did they get all the gear? I agree that this needs to be in the story, and not just left to the readers’ imagination. It also really bugs me that it’s unclear why exactly they are at the beach, but in this I’m willing to give King the benefit of the doubt and wait another issue, but I do think it’s one of this issue’s shortcomings.

Nancy: For me, this has been a shortcoming of this arc. We still don’t know why Selina was in the Himalayas, how she got unconscious Bruce to Paris, what was wrong with him that he was out so long but apparently didn’t need medical attention, and so on. I hope the story ties up those loose ends, but the longer they dangle, the less likely that seems.

Josh: Yeah, King has made it a habit to ignore key plot points that are needed. That’s why I always gripe about him not “working” his stories. It’s honestly lazy… But that’s also where I become torn when reviewing individual issues versus the arc. Where do we draw that line? When I think of the trade for this arc… I’m going to hate it. But this issue on it’s own, I thought it was quite good… The trials and tribulations of our job! Haha!

Nancy: I agree the art is gorgeous. The color wash in the sunsets and the firelight are particularly effective, and the detail of the costumes is great. Even the sunny scenes fit the romantic mood. I liked that Selina has abs. Her skimpy suit would reveal them, and I’m glad they were shown. Since I liked it overall, I’ll save my eye roll over climbing a cliff in stiletto heels.

Jay: In short, not even Matches’ Magic Mustache could save this for me.

Would you recommend buying this for $3.99?

Yes: Michael, Matina, Nancy, Josh

No: Jay, Casper

Check out Josh’s review here.

What did you think about this week’s selection of comics, Batman or otherwise?  Let us know in the comments below!