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.
The Rogues have been chased through Central City, Metropolis, Gotham and they are tired. They have been sundered, their relationships frayed, and now they have their backs to the wall. Everyone is after them, all the supervillains who now obey the Crime Syndicate that is. That’s been the theme of this mini-series from the start. The series has gone from situation to situation in each issue and I’ve wondered if there was any particular plan to all of it, whether it would all come together for something significant.
The latest issue, out this week, continues the story of the Rogues vs the Royal Flush Gang, and a gang they are indeed. The Rogues are now prisoners of the Royal Flush Gang, being taken back to Central City for a date with the Crime Syndicate. And this is when the Rogues really come back together. I loved this issue, quite frankly, because the story moved forward, and it went back to its roots of the Rogues’ rebellion against the Crime Syndicate. And the art was pretty much on point too.
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.
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.
The end of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Zero Year arc on Batman is just around the corner now. From the very first issue of this arc, they’ve both delivered a fantastic reading experience (minus #25 which was a bit of a downer), and the extended art team has also been on top form. Retelling the origins of as iconic a character as Batman is no easy feat, but I feel that the team has performed admirably thus far. With Batman #27, out yesterday, we are in the final arc of this chapter, and the dominoes are all beginning to fall together finally.
In the last couple issues, we’ve seen a ton of character exploration while the plot continues to progress forwards. The overall arc took a bit of a detour with introducing a new villain in Batman #25 and while we have yet to see much of him, or the Riddler for that matter, the story has been good. Seeing a young Batman’s violent interactions with the Gotham City Police Department, and Gordon in particular, has definitely been a big highlight, and this issue is all about that.
This month, the Forever Evil event moves into its second half. Till now, we have seen a lot of things happen here (yeah, I say that every time) and of all the four distinct books, Rogues Rebellion has been the most entertaining. It has sat on the fence between comedy and serious, with a mostly well-handled execution that makes it one of the best event comics DC has out at the moment. But, till now it has also been little more than a villainogue as I mentioned in my review of the previous issue. In fact, the entire event has been about that and lots of ignored, minor villains and supervillains have stepped up to the plate and it all has been quite interesting.
With the new issue, writer Brian Buccellato introduces a new (to New 52) supervillain group while also introducing one of Gotham’s more notable crime lords and his own gang. With the Rogues currently in full limbo and Captain Cold off on his own with Lex Luthor’s Injustice League, Rogues Rebellion has taken a rather interesting turn and I have to say that despite the fact that the series isn’t really moving forward all that much, I’m having fun. The art remains excellent and the writing is mostly consistent. There is little more that I could ask of this creative team.