“Batman R.I.P.: Part 5”, written by Grant Morrison, illustrated by Tony Daniel, published by DC Comics
Grant Morrison’s Batman epic is nearing its end with Batman #680, the penultimate chapter in the “Batman R.I.P.” story arc. This issue sees Bruce Wayne, still dressed in the gaudy guise of “the Batman of Zur-en-arrh,” storming the gates of Wayne Manor, now inhabited by the accomplices the Black Glove. Meanwhile, the Joker makes his grand entrance onto the stage, and the Black Glove tips its hand, finally revealing who the mastermind behind Batman’s demise is.
Grant Morrison’s writing is as laden with motif and symbolism as ever. Red and black patterns are found throughout the book and are given several meaning, from Batman and Robin, to love and death, to suits of cards, to rich people. Morrison’s got his trademark depth down, and while the big twist at the end is easy to see coming for anyone with a little knowledge of Old Testament Bible history, it still manages to leave the reader on seat’s edge, begging for the next issue.
Morrison’s portrayal of the Joker is also noteworthy. He manages to strike a balance between the gritty portrayal of the Joker seen The Dark Knight, and the outright insane version made popular by Batman: the Animated Series. Its a rare occasion where the Joker comes off as dangerous and crazy without sacrificing his intelligence or turning him into a gimmick. Except for one terribly out of place and out of character line where the Joker makes a reference to wikipedia, Morrison is on top of his game with this book.
Tony Daniel’s art continues to be a dynamic force in the book, making what could be a very slow story feel like its alive with action, even when its not. Guy Major’s deep, full, and vibrant colors help to this end, steering the story far from the dark, grim, and gritty attitude most often associated with modern Batman. Daniel should also be credited for drawing a Joker that actually looks like he might survive a round or two with Batman. His Joker – hulking in front of Batman, clad in suspenders and pinstriped pants while brandishing twin straight razors – is about the most intimidating Joker I’ve seen.
This issue is definitely more build-up than it is payoff, but it does its job succesfully. It picks up the pace and builds excitement going into what should be an incredible finish to an ambitious story.
Here’s hoping there’s not more delays crossing the finish line. B+
Khepri.com is taking pre-orders for Pixu #2. It’s the end of the psychological suspense story started in the SDCC exclusive first issue, written and drawn by Becky Cloonan, Fabio Moon, Gabrial Ba, and Vasilis Lolos. Its definitely worth checking out.
Okay, it seems I slipped up once or twice while listing my $40 pull list for October. The biggest problem is that I somehow overlooked the Superman: New Krypton Special. I’m certainly not missing out on that, especially after what a big deal last year’s Sinestro Corps Special turned out to be, so here’s my updated and corrected final pull list:
- Action Comics #870
- Batman #680 (held over from last month)
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #19 (delayed until November)
- Captain Britain and MI:13 #6
- DMZ #35
- Final Crisis #4
- Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2
- Final Crisis: Submit
- Four Eyes #1 (which is written by Joe Kelly, who does not write Godland. That would be Joe Casey.)
- Invincible Iron Man #6
- Northlanders #11
- Runaways Vol. 3 #3
- Superman: New Krypton Special
- Uncanny X-Men #503
- X-Factor #36
Sorry about the confusion folks. Resume your regular broadcasting schedule.
Newsarama posted an interview with Brian Michael Bendis about the upcoming Dark Reign story arc and the Dark Avengers book that will be spinning out Secret Invasion and all I could think was “it really is the ’90s all over again.”
The best they could come with is “Dark Reign”? At best, that sounds like the name for an extremely generic video game. And a new Avengers book called Dark Avengers? They’re not even trying to hide the “grim and gritty” anymore.
And while we’re comparing current times to the ’90s, the Avengers are now easily the equivalent of the ’90’s X-Men:
- Formerly a team of colorful costumed heroes, now mostly turned into “dark, morally ambiguous, anti-heros”? Check.
- One good book turned into a whole line of mostly mediocre books? Check.
- All of those books constantly hijacked, with their own stories thrown on the back burner, so that they can be used for franchise-wide, shallow, continuity jumbling crossovers? Check.
- Creating new characters at a break-neck pace? Check. And what’s worse is, while the X-Men were at least limited to mutants, the Avengers can take any character, currently existing or new, and somehow shoehorn them into the Avengers line in order to boost sales of one book or another (Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s Immortal Iron First was good enough to stand on its own, but I don’t think it was coincidence that Bendis happened to add him to the New Avengers team just when the new book was launching).
- All of this at the cost of decent plot, depth, and characterization? Check.
So when does the next bust come?
Is there good news in this story? Yes, and his name is Jonathan Hickman. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my hands on much of his work in my area, but what little I’ve been able to sample I have loved and The Nightly News is near the top of my wish list. Hist involvement in the new Secret Avengers book alone is enough to perk my interest.
Besides that, the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D. being crippled is one I like. To me, the organization has been too far reaching in the Marvel Universe, especially since they became global, and they’ve been inconsistently portrayed as, at times, all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-powerful and, at other times, totally inept and useless, depending on the whims and needs of the author writing them. It needs to be taken down a notch, but my fear is whatever is coming with Dark Reign will only be worse, or merely a temporary stunt. We shall see.
So I’ve been wrestling a bit with the way I buy comics lately. I’ve realized that there are some weeks where I just don’t care about buying comics because my budget doesn’t allow me to buy more than one or two on that week. I considered switching to only buy trades, going as far as to cancel my pull list, but then after agonizing over it for a couple of days I changed my mind. Instead, I decided to steal a concept form Craig Reade over at ComiXtreme and create some rules and guidelines for my $40 pull list. So here they are:
- My base monthly budget will be $40
- A tax rate of 9.75% shall be added to each book’s cover price.
- Bags and boards will not be included in expenses, as they are not technically necessary for buying comics
- Any money left over in the budget each month will be “banked” for use later on overages from “Giant-Sized” issues and the like.
- I will try out at least one new comic a month. This will hopefully prevent me from getting into a slump where I’m getting bored reading all the same stuff and continue to pick up books of lowering quality out of habit.
- Money from unreleased books will be banked, for overage uses or to pay for the book when it does arrive.
- If a book is not released as solicited for two consecutive months it will be dropped. This one is most open to being bent and broken for various reasons, but its a good rule of thumb to have.
Good? Good. I guess all that’s left is to bring out the first pull list. Note that usually I will try to add books onto the list that are starting new story arcs rather than jumping in the middle of one, but you have to start somewhere right? so here we go:
Action Comics #870, #2.99, DC Comics. Due out 10.18.08. Geoff Johns has breathed new life into this series and with All Star Superman just wrapping up, this book is now the #1 Superman title on the stands.
Batman #860, $2.99, DC Comics. Due out 10.1.08. This one is actually a hold over from last month. Not sure why it was delayed, but I’ve loved Morrison’s Batman R.I.P arc so far (as well as most everything else Morrison does), so I’m willing to wait.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #19, $2.99, Dark Horse Comics. Due out 10.1.08. I just found that this has been delayed until November, which is dissapointing. I love Buffy, but I hope Joss can get this last issue out before handing off writing duties for a while again.
Captain Britain and MI:13 #6, $2.99, Marvel Comics. Due out 10.15.08. I finally tried this series out last month after hearing it continually recommended by friends and sources on the web. I was suprised by how much I found myself caring for character I know little or nothing about. I’ll definitely be on board for the next issue.
DMZ #35, $2.99, DC/Vertigo Comics $2.99. Due out 10.22.08. The end of the “Blood in the Game” arc left Brian Wood’s DMZ ready to take a new direction as it enters its second half, with Matty taking a role being ina position of power rather than just an observer. I’ve loved this series since issue #1 and see no reason to drop it any time soon.
Final Crisis #4, DC Comics, $3.99. Due out 10.22.08. I’ve begun to go pretty tired of the big event comics that have been out of the big two, but Grant Morrison’s epic has the depth that most crossover comics lack. As a huge Morrison fan, seeing him at the helm of DC Universe on “the day evil won” is a little dream come true.
Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds #2, DC Comics, $3.99. Due out 10.15.08. Though I’ve never really read much about the Legion, its hard to beat a superhero comic written by Geoff Johns, and the fact that it ties into Grant Morrison’s curretn DC Universe epic just makes it sweeter.
Final Crisis: Submit, DC Comics, $3.99. Due out 10.10.08. A Final Crisis tie-in one-shot taking a look at the Crisis from the eyes of two super-beings on the run, written by Grant Morrison himself? I’m in.
Four Eyes #1, Image Comics, $3.50. Due out 10.3.08. I’ve been hearing some good things about writer Joe Kelly, especially concerning his series Godland which is coming to an end soon. This new series sounds pretty interesting, and it’ll be my first exposure to his work.
Invincible Iron Man #6, Marvel Comics, $2.99. Due out 10.10.08. Matt Fraction is hottest rising star in comics right now and after reading the first volume of Casanova I knew I had to find room in my budget for his Iron Man series.
Northlanders #11, DC/Vertigo Comics, $2.99. Due out 10.29.08. Brian Wood’s viking series gets ready to enter its second 8-issue arc.
Perhapanauts #8, Image Comics, $2.99. Due Out 10.24.08. Been wanting to check out this light-hearted sci-fi/horror series for a while, and their Halloween special seems the perfect time.
Runaways Vol. 3 #3, Marvel Comics, $2.99. Due out 10.22.08. Terry Moore’s continues his stint on Runaways, and while its not as good as Vaughan’s, its still pretty decent in it’s own right.
Uncanny X-Men#503, Marvel Comics, $2.99. Due out 10.15.08. As a big X-Men fan I happy to see that Matt Fraction was joining Uncanny’s creative team with issue #500. I was less happy to find that Greg Land was the new artist. So far the series’ story has been good enough for me to deal with the art, but its one that’s close to chopping block.
X-Factor #36, Marvel Comics, $2.99. Due out 10.22.08. X-Factor looks like its finally on the rebound after being hijacked by crossovers for a while. Hopefully it will find time to pick up on the threads left by the Quicksilver and Layla Miller one shots realased in recent months.
And that’s all of it. I’ll be back with reviews of my pulls each week, as well as other news an commentary throughout. Thanks for reading.