This past week, John Layman ended his excellent run on Detective Comics with #29, which also marks the end of his 3-part Gothtopia arc, in which the Scarecrow created a serum to make everyone happy and caused a mass delusion that Gotham was the safest and greatest city in America. He even managed to subvert all the heroes and drew in a number of… medically-oriented villains to his cause, such as Harley Quinn, Professor Pyg, Mr. Freeze and the Merry Maker. But now, the Great Detective is on to them, and the fight is for the future of Gotham and the entire American eastern seaboard.
When Gothtopia was teased out with Layman’s contribution to Detective Comics #27, I was pretty excited. In the New 52, it seemed to be a pretty unique story, and when all the tie-ins came, I was even more excited. Well, except for the Catwoman tie-in, which wasn’t all that good really. But, Layman delivered quite handsomely on the entire premise, and he wraps up things in this issue with a bit of the panache that I expected. Its not as good a story as the previous two issues, but I liked. And the art by Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert continues to be awesome, so that’s something as well.
It is pretty undeniable that Christopher Nolan’s grim and gritty take on Batman, a very apt portrayal given the character’s nature and the setting of Gotham, pretty much revolutionised superhero movies. In that respect, these movies have done as much to create the mass appeal of such movies as Marvel’s own movies have done in the last decade. But, there have been ups and downs as well, because these movies aren’t perfect, despite the illusion otherwise.
The primary issue I had with the movie was that it magnified the failings of The Dark Knight without offering anything to counter that extreme. It basically just failed hard, as far as I am concerned. For me, it is one of the most disappointing superhero movies I’ve seen to date. It is overly long, self-indulgent, and suffers from a villain who is undone by the story rather than the hero himself. It is a movie that has the purpose of shocking the reader, not entertaining. One can only hope that any future portrayals are better. In the meanwhile, here’s my review of the movie.
Note: The review contains some major spoilers for the movie.
A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.
And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.
I might have mentioned it a couple times before but Fall 2013 has proven to be a really good season for television, I feel. So many great shows got their start in September/October last year and while a few have fizzled out on their initial promises, far more have gotten better with each episode, developing and solidifying themselves, you could say. And NBC’s The Blacklist is one of those shows. Its a spy action-drama, but it flips the genre on its head and does something rather unique with it. And in a way, I can’t help but make comparisons to Fox’s Fringe, which too was a genre-flipping show that’s been really good, what little I’ve seen on it.
The first three episodes of The Blacklist did a pretty good job of laying out who all the main characters were, what their relationships to each other were, and what the overall premise really was. We also got introduced to a fair amount of mysteries, both professional and personal as far as the two leads Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington were concerned. Thankfully, the next set of three episodes carried on from there and were even better than the previous three. While also advancing the season story-arcs, we got some great one-shots and I’m definitely in love with both the actors and the characters.
Spinning out of the Wanted arc and then the Gothtopia tie-in last month, the new issue of Batgirl goes in a surprisingly different place as Gail Simone explores the thematic links between Gotham’s Bat-family and vampires of urban myths. As I keep saying, Gail Simone has made this title one of DC’s relative heavyweights since the New 52 relaunch, and its definitely one of my highest anticipated titles of each month. The Wanted arc was pretty damn excellent, and now it looks like we might be getting some smaller stories again, like the Ventriloquist 2-issue arc that we had before Wanted.
Barbara has been through a ton of things recently, and she is still picking up the pieces of her life. Its not easy, especially not when a madman comes into town, seemingly intent on some kind of righteous vengeance, a complete and total loon as it were. But she does gain an ally, someone who hasn’t been around in the series for a while and her return is quite fun indeed since I love her as a character and Gail injects a lot of humour in her scenes. To top it all off, Fernando Pasarin and Jonathan Glapion’s art is excellent as ever, another plus.
Frustratingly enough, just when the Zero Year arc on Batman is winding down to a close, we get a filler issue with a story that doesn’t begin for almost another two months. I’ve liked most of Zero Year that I’ve read so far, and while some of the things have been dragged on a bit, such as the entire second half of the arc involving the Riddler and Doctor Death, it has definitely been a fun story thus far, and I really, really want to see how it all ends. That said, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this story, and what I ended up getting was packed with a bunch of awesome it turns out.
Batman #28 is a story that sets up Batman: Eternal, which will be a new series that DC is going to launch in April this year, and is meant to be a weekly series, with a rotating cast of 4 writers for the first big arc. As such, the story is set in Gotham’s future, quite a few years from now, and it posits a world where Gotham has suffered some kind of near-apocalyptic event. Perhaps a zombie apocalypse? Hmm, that might be a good story actually! Anyways, this was a fun story with James Tynion IV coming back to co-write with Scott Snyder and this time the art isn’t handled by the series regulars, but by guest artists who I presume will be working on the new series.
John Layman’s run on Detective Comics is coming to a close very soon. The few of his issues that I’ve read, particularly the fourth volume of the new series, have been really good, and he has certainly impressed me with each issue. In fact, I’ll go one step further and say that he is one of my favourite writers at the moment. This weekend, I got to meet him in person at Comic Con India and it was great! Given some of my other plans this year, I’ll be reading his other series Chew quite soon, probably once his excellent Gothtopia arc on Detective Comics is done.
In last month’s celebratory issue, we saw the beginning of Gothtopia, a story in which Gotham is the safest city in America, by far, and where crime is at an all-time low. In fact, it is virtually extinct, except for suicide rates going up. Seemingly an Elseworlds take at first, the story quickly morphs into something else, and things really get interesting. In the new issue this past week, John fills in some of the blanks and shows how things got to this point. And Aaron Lopresti’s artwork is just as amazing as ever, supporting John’s script in every way.
After yet another break, one of Image’s newest titles returned to shelves this past week with its sixth issue. Across the five issues we’ve had previously, writer Greg Rucka and artists Michael Lark and Santi Arcas built up a well-defined post-apocalyptic (of sorts) world around the protagonist Forever Carlyle, a genetically engineered and conditioned woman who acts as her family’s ambassador and head of security. Its been a fairly good series thus far, and I’ve enjoyed what the creators have done. This isn’t the type of story that would ever be told at the Big 2 and Image is a perfect fit for this title.
In the new issue, we continue to get a wider perspective of the world and the setting itself. We are able to see just how the world works and how the Serfs and Wastes are treated by the Families. This is by no means a happy setting, bleak in the extreme actually, and this issue shows that off nicely. In fact, it highlights how ruthless this world is. And the art is quite decent. No big scenes here this time, and everything is more or less a subtle play on the larger themes.
If you’ve been following Top Cow news in the last couple of months or so, then you know that writer Ron Marz is back in the saddle for Witchblade, this time with artists Laura Braga and Betsy Gonia. Working in a world set after the events of Tim Seeley’s run with the Rebirth mega-arc, the new run is a great place for new readers to get into the series, especially for someone like me who kind of just tapered off with the title and has only read a few issues here and there. The new creative team has started off fairly strong and the Borne Again arc looks set to be a really good one.
The previous two issues were slow-burners, but not this one, for this one has much more action this time and it is paced well along with the backstory reveals, not to mention a guest appearance by someone unexpected! What I liked about this issue was that it really opened up the world of Witchblade lore for readers, whether new or old, and Laura’s art continues to be good, despite a few problematic areas here and there.
The only Catwoman issue I’ve read, in the New 52 or otherwise, is the recent Catwoman #25 which was a Zero Year tie-in and was written by one of my favourite writers, John Layman, and drawn by Aaron Lopresti and Art Thibert. It was a really fun issue that I picked only because it was a tie-in and because John and Aaron were behind it. I’ve heard far too many negative things about the current Ann Nocenti run to really be interested in picking up the series for long-term. But, that’s kind of where the Gothtopia crossover story stepped in.
John introduced Gothtopia in his short story for Detective Comics #27 and just a couple weeks ago we had Gail Simone doing a Gothropia issue for Batgirl, which I really liked. Both stories were excellent, so I managed to drum up some drive to pick up this issue. And I kind of wish that I hadn’t. Because this was mostly a very tiresome read with some odd artwork here and there. Not at all what I expected, even with the low expectations that I had of it. I’ve tried Ann Nocenti’s Katana in the past as well but that title didn’t work for me either. So I suppose, Ann Nocenti’s work really isn’t for me. Maybe I should try something else that she’s done that’s received some acclaim.