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.
Since my review of The Movement #9, it has come to my attention that the series is getting cancelled after issue #12, which will be in May. This is something that makes me really sad. Because it has been a series that dared to step out of the norms of superhero comics and do something radically different. It is an experiment that worked for a while, but unfortunately, due to various reasons, the series is now on the chopping block. With the new issue, the current 2-part arc comes to a close and after that we have two more issues to go. All we can hope for is that the series ends on a high-note.
In the previous issue Batgirl came to Coral City, hunting for a super-powered criminal. She ran afoul of The Movement though, and things ended up pretty bad though. And in the meantime, her target ran amok in the streets. This was the kind of the story that I really wanted to see on this title since its conception and Gail Simone delivered on it quite fantastically. It was a personal story, and that felt right at home for both Batgirl and the members of The Movement. And the art, headlined by penciller Freddie Williams II, was pretty decent as well.
I have put up with DC’s Forever Evil event for going on six months now, since last September. It started off fairly well I think, all things considering, but has kind of been wallowing along for a while now. With the penultimate issue in stores this week, I believe things are finally looking up, even though the new issue is still plagued by many missteps, and the story really is all over the place sadly. But I must admit that I get a weird kick out of reading this title, even though I haven’t been enjoying it all that much. On a very basic level, this is quite an interesting series.
In the previous issues, we’ve seen some big reversals for the Crime Syndicate, even though they still hold innumerable advantages over the heroes of the world and are almost unassailable. But, with Luthor’s Injustice League on the prowl now, things are changing a little bit, bit by bit. Because in the absence of the heroes of the world, whether they are dead or unreachable, it is up to the villains to save the world, quite literally, and any heroes alive who are still willing to make a stand are in very, very short supply. And the art hasn’t improved at all, which is still very disappointing.
It is not long before we finally get to see the new incoming creative team for The Flash, after Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul’s excellent run on the title, the recent one-shot by Christos Gage and Neil Googe, and now the second of the three-parter arc that Brian is doing with Patrick Zircher. In the last issue we got to see a more supernatural side of the Gem Cities as a ghostly killer from the past returns to haunt the two cities and we begin to get some insight into the very history of the twin cities. Now, in The Flash #28, we go much more further on every single level.
Unexpectedly, there is a guest star on this issue and it set up some really interesting narrative opportunities. It didn’t quite go as far as I wanted to, but I enjoyed seeing this particular team-up. And still, I loved the entire mystery that Brian has setup, including the mystery of Nora Allen’s death. And over on the art side, Patrick Zircher did a great job once again, putting his own spin on the Scarlet Speedster’s adventures as he deals with a supernatural caper that has deep ties to the Gem Cities.
Aquaman is one of those few DC books that nicely mixes in humour with otherwise dark events, and even just events with a huge scope at that which deeply and personally change the world-view of the characters irreversibly. But at the same time, Aquaman’s story is one about hope and determination. At several times during his run, Johns emphasised this and ran with it as far as he could take it. It proved to be a really good time. And now it looks like the new writer on the team, Jeff Parker, is cut from the same cloth because that’s pretty much what Aquaman #28 was all about.
In his first two issues on the title, Jeff worked to expand the scope of Aquaman’s world, introducing new characters and new monsters. And he did it in pretty good style too. Now in Aquaman #28 he finally makes two worlds collide as Aquaman finally learns of the newest threat to Atlantis, involving another conspiracy against the underwater empire. I really must say that I enjoyed this issue as much as I did the previous two. On the art side, I didn’t like it so much, because Aquaman and some of his supporting cast looked a bit beefed up and they didn’t look like their previous incarnations either. But it was overall still good.
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.
After a bit of a mixed start with its first three issues (the very first issue was a #0 issue), it looks like this series just might be getting back on track. I am a pretty big fan of Harley from the Batman: The Animated Series days and while the Harley that Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are writing is nowhere near the same Harley, whether in terms of characterisation or visual design, she is distinctly reminiscent of the totally goofball and oddball behaviour of that first appearance that catapulted her into the big leagues of DC’s characters. Its actually been quite fun to see how Jimmy and Amanda have been tackling her and despite a somewhat mediocre issue last month, my enthusiasm for this title is still fairly high.
The new issue is a Valentine’s issue. This is odd considering that we had Valentine’s a week back. I don’t see why this issue wasn’t released last week, two days before Valentine’s, to kind of fit that whole atmosphere and mood better. But still, it is probably for the best. I doubt that anyone celebrates Valentine’s by getting all violent and taking out a bunch of mass murderers and assassins who are coming after her. Yeah, definitely not. But that’s totally Harley! Kind of.
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.
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.