February 19th, 2009

These Weeks in Comics (Catch-Up Edition)

Batman #686: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader

I’ve heard some complaints about this Gaiman/Kubert joint. Specifically about how it measures up to Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.

I think those people are looking at it wrong.

WHttMoT is a whole different animal. Not just due to time, place and authorship, but b/c the Apocryphal Superman is completely different than the Apocryphal Batman. They’re different mythic traditions. So what shapes up to be by-and-large the same idea: an extended eulogy for the whole of the respective character –warts and all– aren’t really going to measure up side by side.

WHttMoT is supposed to be the last story of Silver Age Superman. Thanks largely to Grant Morrison, that’s no longer true but that’s a different topic.

WHttCC takes much more of a Canterbury Tales meets Eulogy approach to embracing the many faces of Batman and his extended cast. A perfect headstone to the deconstructive surgery Morrison has been performing throughout his run on the Bat-title.

Batman himself interjects throughout the book to tell you the book doesn’t make sense... you can’t say as you weren’t warned. It’s a good couple stories besides.

I recommend it. Whether you’re up on Batman or not, it’s fun and as an added bonus it’s literate so you can brag to your reading friends that you’re reading one of them there lofty graphic novels by one of them there lofty Englishmen.

Birds of Prey #183

Well, that tripped all over itself and fell teeth-first into the ground didn’t it?


I usually dig Tony Bedard but I’ve yet to be impressed with his work on Birds. He fills a place okay, but he’s short of compelling by a mile. And when you’re ending a book that’s made a bit of history every now and again, you’ll want to be compelling.

Chalk this one up to ending with a whimper and hope the future holds a better place for the crew.

Justice League of America #30

There’s no really good way to say this, so I’m just going to blurt it out. I’m really excited about the amount of “color” on the JL roster these days. A full third of the team is black (from African to hood-rat) and I think that’s a good move.

All welcome additions and JLA level talent too, no one feels added for tokenism. It doesn’t hurt that McDuffie is writing it, but that it doesn’t come across as forced is noteworthy all the same.

It’s a sin that should be exceptional in 2009, but let’s face it: it is. Here’s hoping it’s downright boring by 2010.

Plus, well, Milestone; and that’s just cool.

Also interesting to see that Final Crisis will be bleeding out into the DCU now that it’s over. That’s a little strange but certainly one way of doing things.

Robin #183

Birds of Prey ended poorly under the guidance of an otherwise good writer. Contrarily, Robin ended pretty great under the helm of a sometimes questionable writer.

I may not like Nicieza but he did as good a job as anyone could expect coming in like he did. I think Sturges is the only other nominee for the “Best Takeover of a Storied Book From It’s Primary Conceiver and Not Sucking” category. And frankly I’d probably give the gold statue to Sturges b/c he had the steeper climb.

It's a mediocre story but all the parts ring true and it's a nice wrap up for Tim and Co. It’s all a little tough guy for my taste, but that’s what Nicieza does. With that in mind he delivered on the emotiony bits, wrapped up three generations of Robin (four even!) and made me believe Robin could defeat Lady Shiva.

If that doesn’t pin your eyebrows to your hairline than you probably don’t know what I’m talking about on any level. If they’re still up there: yeah, I said it and you can borrow my copy if you don’t believe me.

Dark Avengers #2

The first issue was better.

I don’t forsee myself following this series. I like the Thunderbolts and I like Bendis – bullshit and all – but I just don’t see myself giving a crap two months from now.

It’s certainly okay, I just know myself.

X-Factor #40

PAD has gone ahead and asked reviewers to not spoil the endings of the last couple issues of X-Factor. That’s almost begging the internet to let you down. However, it’s either working or less people read X-Factor than should.

Either way, a nice couple punchy reveals, some good scares and a decent twist or two.

Truth be told: I kind of hope this series pulls itself up from the bigtime frowns its been delivering lately (in the good way, real emotionally draining kind of stuff) and maybe the end to this issue will mark the super-sad nadir of the series. I hope so, cause I don’t see it getting much lower.

I still think there’s room to be hopeful if you read between the lines a little.

X-Men #506

Lookit me still reading X-Men. It’s pretty decent too. It’s not super amazing but it doesn’t need to be. Just be consistently entertaining and don’t devolve into some sort of emo-paramilitary mess and we’re going to be just fine.

X-Men: Infernus

Yeah, the worst thing about this book is still that I’m not writing it. Otherwise it gets a passing mark. Which continues to be high praise considering the depth of my man-crush on Illyana Rasputin.

Marty’s Pick of the Litter
Secret Six #6

This is hands down the best book on the market right now. It’s complex, delightful and full of tough guys talking tough guy talk 25/8.

I know, I know, I just got done saying I’m not that into tough guy stuff. Allow me to clarify: I don’t like or need that in my book about teenage do-gooder, Robin per se.

In a book about Deadshot and friends? It’s essential.

And it’s delicious.

Plus its got enough twists, turns, doublecrosses and page-turning reveals to teach an entire generation what writing funnybooks is about.

Let’s just hear it for Gail Simone real quick. Motherfucker has made me give the barest crap if Bane lives or dies. That’s... nigh miraculous.

Brava, Gail. Brava.

That’s my comics story and I’m sticking to it.