The Week in Revue (Aug 28 – Sep 3, 2013)

Spotlight

Batman Incorporated Special #1

(w) Chris Burnham, Joe Keatinge, Dan Didio

(a) Chris Burnham, Ethan Van Sciver, Jason Masters

DC Reviews

Batman/Superman #3

(w) Greg Pak

(a) Jae Lee

Justice League #23 –> DC Comics News Review!

(w) Geoff Johns

(a) Ivan Reis, Joe Prado

The Flash #23

(w) Francis Manapul, Brian Buccellato

(a) Francis Manapul

Marvel Reviews

Captain America #10

(w) Rick Remender

(a) Joh Romita Jr.

Young Avengers #9

(w) Kieron Gillen

(a) Jaime McKelvie

Spotlight: Batman Incorporated #13

(w) Grant MorrisonBMINC_Cv13_qd0etomkpt_

(a) Chris Burnham

“This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.”

Eliot’s words ring true for Grant Morrison as he brings the his seven year long Batman saga to a close with Batman, Incorporated #13, an issue that reminds readers that epic doesn’t have to be grandiose, and true meaning can be derived from hollow actions. The story of Leviathan and Batman’s worldwide crusade to end a network of pure evil that even infected Gotham City began before the start of Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1, and Talia al Ghul’s influence over the Dark Knight’s life began long before that. Batman Incorporated in the ‘New 52’ is the endgame to Morrison’s Batman saga, wrapping up years of intricate storylines, emotional swelling, and some of the lowest and most desperate points in Bruce Wayne’s life. Morrison has put the Caped Crusader through quite a bit in seven years, and this final chapter not only does Batman Incorporated justice as a series, but it closes Morrison’s run with Batman at a point that challenges future creative teams to play with and expand upon what’s been built as well as what’s been torn down.

** SPOILERS AHEAD. READ THE ISSUE FIRST. OR DON’T. I’M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT TO DO. **

Batman Incorporated #13 opens with the showdown between Batman and Talia, swords in hand. Each of them exists, emotionally, at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their son Damian’s death. To Bruce, Damian was everything. Damian was his only son, the future of the Wayne name, the future of Batman, and the future of Gotham City. While he was still a father to his son, Bruce believed Damian could be anything he wanted to be, and Bruce was just fine with whatever Damian would eventually choose. Though they swung through the city at night as a crime fighting duo, and even though Damian held a sword to Bruce’s nose at their first meeting, Bruce and Damian’s relationship wasn’t much different from many kids and their fathers; they simply didn’t understand each other.

To Talia, Damian was a failed experiment, raw data used in her conquest to destroy Batman once and for all. At one point, this fact may have been different; Talia may have once loved the idea of Damian as a son, when he was very, very young. But when Damian decided to leave the League of Assassins and join his father in Gotham City, Talia became resentful and created Leviathan as revenge. Well, that and Batman creating an international web of allies. “You chose to make war. I gave you an unbeatable villain. I did this all for you, in my spare time,” Talia laments as she watches her former lover crumble under the influence of fatal poisons. Talia never loved Damian because he was never more than a tool with which to strike at the Dark Knight. How do you break an unbreakable man? Destroy the thing he holds most dear. In hindsight, Damian could never have survived past Morrison’s Batman work.

Leviathan is an incredible Batman villain. But Leviathan is not Talia al Ghul, nor is it the grotesque, hyper-enhanced clone of Damian Wayne, the Heretic. Leviathan is the idea of evil that overtook those who had nothing else, and chose to follow it’s tempting call. Leviathan promised a new world order, and the more people that joined the cause, the closer to that goal Leviathan could get. How does one punch and kick a creed, a religion, or a superstition? For Bruce and Robin, the fight was against Talia. They looked away as the bigger picture was staring them in the face; Batman Inc agents found dead, more and more recruits to the cause of Leviathan, Talia’s training of a ‘roided out Damian hellbent on murdering Batman and taking his place. These are things Bruce should have prioritized. Instead, Leviathan manipulated Bruce’s mind to suit it’s own needs.

The tension between Bruce and Talia is what makes Leviathan such an unbeatable, yet nearly nonexistent enemy. Talia even so much as admits to Leviathan’s frailty when she explains that, “If I fail to return, Leviathan will release it’s hold on Gotham. Kill me and save your city. Kill me or I kill you.” Without Talia, Leviathan is nothing, but she has nothing but Leviathan with which to fight her dark detective. This is it for Batman and Talia.

Whether you subscribe to Grant Morrison’s wacky narrative style, his Batman saga has been a landmark of DC comics over the past seven years. Throughout his runs on Batman, Batman and Robin, and finally Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Morrison rewrote the book on Batman. He gave us Batman’s son, then took him away. He killed Bruce Wayne and let Dick Grayson wear the cowl before Bruce came back. He made Batman go global, and the implications were mesmerizing. There have been many great Batman stories, and many great Batman arcs, but a Batman saga; that’s all Morrison. Batman Incorporated #13 is the end of Morrison’s Batman story, but it’s not the end for his characters or his various plot points. The final pages of this book bring up a whole slew of unresolved issues that leave things open for the future. Damian Wayne and Talia al Ghul may be dead, but what does that mean for Batman, Leviathan, and the League of Assassins? We’ll all just have to keep reading.

GRADE

10/10

The Week in Revue (July 31 – Aug 6, 2013)

Spotlight

Batman Incorporated #13

(w) Grant Morrison

(a) Chris Burnham

DC Reviews

Batman Annual #2

(w) Scott Snyder

(a) Wes Craig

The Flash Annual #2

(w) Brian Buccellato

(a) Sami Basri

Trinity of Sin: Pandora #2

(w) Ray Fawkes

(a) Daniel Sampere, Vicente Cifuentes

Marvel Reviews

Guardians of the Galaxy #5

(w) Brian Michael Bendis

(a) Sara Pichelli

X-Men #3

(w) Brian Wood

(a) Olivier Coipel

Batman Incorporated #10

(w) Grant Morrison     (a) Chris Burnham, Jason Masters, and Andrei Bressan


** SPOILERS AHEAD! **

** BUT IF YOU’RE READING A COMIC BOOK REVIEW, YOU PROBABLY ALREADY EXPECT THAT, HUH? **


Holy Batman, Batman!

Grant Morrison seems insistent on seeing Batman’s world — literally and figuratively — burned to the ground. After offing Damian Wayne and Batman, Inc. agent, the Knight, he’s basically given up all pretense about Leviathan and the nature of Talia al Ghul’s evil machinations.

Also, something that’s been bugging me is the timeline of events. I know, I know. don’t worry about the continuity — enjoy the story for what it is. Unfortunately, DC made it a point to release a slew of “Requiem” issues mourning the death of Robin. Well, where do those other Bat-book issues fall? How much time has passed since Damian died and has Batman been doing other things (like stuff in his other titles), or does all of that “Requiem” business happen after the final issue of Batman, Incorporated?

Whatever.

So, Azrael makes his ‘New 52’ debut this month when Bruce goes to him for his armor. It’s the kind of deus ex machina element Morrison utilizes from time to time that seems to work for him, while coming off as cheap under lesser hands.

Nightwing, Red Robin, and Red Hood are all off dealing with their own situations, illustrated over two pages by Andrei Bressan, who manages to botch all the character faces. Dick Grayson and Tim Drake look duck-faced, and Jason Todd doesn’t resemble his generic, black-haired, handsome look at all. In fact, Todd looks like he’s been punched in the nose a half-dozen times. I normally wouldn’t point out details like this with such scrutiny, but with the rest of the issue looking so good, Bressan’s rushed-looking work really hits the brakes on the narrative momentum.

It’s unfortunate, but Batman Incorporated #10 feels very much like the filler issue it is instead of being a stepping stone toward Morrison’s endgame. It is, technically, but there’s a lot of exposition, a lot of waxing poetic about the idea of crime and the concept of justice. In a way, it almost feels derivative of Morrison himself. These are ideals and themes he’s used in Batman stories in the past, and instead of feeling conclusive by nature, it seems repetitive. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the issue, because I seriously enjoy Morrison’s work. It’s just not the strongest issue of the series.

GRADE
7/10

The Week in Revue (Apr 24-31, 2013)

——- DC Reviews

The Flash #19
(w) Brian Buccellato     (a) Marcio Takara
DC’S “WTF” MONTH CONTINUES WITH A BRAND NEW VILLAIN FOR THE FLASH!

Batman Incorporated #10
(w) Grant Morrison     (a) Chris Burnham
MORRISON’S EPIC BATMAN SAGA IS WINDING DOWN!

I, Vampire #19
(w) Joshua Hale Fialkov     (a) Fernando Blanco and Andrea Sorrentino
FINAL ISSUE! AND REALLY, FIALKOV’S FINAL ISSUE FOR DC! DANG.

——- Marvel Reviews
Young Avengers #4
(w) Kieron Gillen     (a) Jaime McKelvie
LOVE ME SOME YOUNG AVENGERS! 


Avengers #10
(w) Jonathan Hickman     (a) Dustin Weaver
HONESTLY, IT’S SUPER HARD TO KNOW WHAT HICKMAN IS GOING TO THROW AT US NEXT WITH THIS SERIES. WHATEVER IT IS, THOUGH, IT’LL BE GREAT.

Uncanny X-Men #5
(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Fraiser Irving
IT’S THE ORIGINAL COMIC BOOK WITH ‘UNCANNY’ IN THE TITLE, NOW THAT THERE ARE, LIKE, 30.

The Week in Revue (Mar 27-Apr 2, 2013)

——- Spotlight

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Steve McNiven
THE GUARDIANS RETURN TO THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!

——- DC Reviews
Batman Incorporated #9
(w) Grant Morrison     (a) Chris Burnham
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE MOMENTS AFTER THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE?

The Flash #18
(w) Brian Buccellato     (a) Marcio Takara
THE TRICKSTER ACCUSED OF MURDER? AND A SPECIAL CROSSOVER WITH…DIAL H!

Justice League Dark #18
(w) Jeff Lemire and Ray Fawkes     (a) Mikel Janin
THE CONCLUSION TO “THE DEATH OF MAGIC!”


———- mini reviews
Aquaman #18
(w) Geoff Johns     (a) Paul Pelletier
“DEATH OF A KING” BEGINS HERE! A NEW ARC IN THIS ACCLAIMED SERIES!

Superman #18
(w) Scott Lobdell     (a) Kenneth Rocafort
H.I.V.E. MAKES IT’S NEW 52 DEBUT AS THEY TRY TO TAKE OVER METROPOLIS!

Teen Titans #18
(w) Scott Lobdell     (a) Eddy Barrows
FALLOUT FROM “DEATH OF THE FAMILY” AND THE DEATH OF DAMIAN WAYNE! GUEST STARRING THE SUICIDE SQUAD!

——- Marvel Reviews
Age of Ultron #3 of 10
(w) Brian Michael Bendis     (a) Bryan Hitch
MARVEL’S POST-APOCALYPTIC EVENT CONTINUES!

Uncanny Avengers #5
(w) Rick Remender     (a) Olivier Coipel
WONDER MAN, WASP, AND SUNFIRE JOIN THE UNCANNY AVENGERS!

Young Avengers #3
(w) Kieron Gillen     (a) Jaime McKelvie
MORE AMAZINGNESS FROM GILLEN AND MCKELVIE ON THE LANDMARK SERIES!

———- mini reviews
Fantastic Four #5AU
(w) Matt Fraction     (a) Andre Araujo
AN “AGE OF ULTRON” TIE-IN ISSUE!

The Superior Spider-Man #6AU
(w) Christos Gage     (a) Dexter Soy
AN “AGE OF ULTRON” TIE-IN ISSUE!

EXTRA! EXTRA! (Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2013)

Avengers #4

(w) Jonathan Hickman (a) Adam Kubert

After a brilliant opening salvo, Jonathan Hickman brings Hyperion back into the fold of the main Marvel universe with a beautifully written and drawn backstory outlining Hyperion’s journey from his dying universe into ours, as well as a great main story about A.I.M. scientists experimenting on one of the Origin Bomb landing sites. Hickman is not one to let plot points dangle, and even though Ex Nihilo and Abyss aren’t trying to remake Earth anymore doesn’t mean their actions don’t have lasting consequences. It also takes a lot of talent to make A.I.M. scientists feel like a real threat, but that’s exactly what’s happened in Avengers #4, which turns the fledgling terrorist organization into a dark and foreboding group that has agendas we won’t see for a while yet. Even though Avengers #4 brings the focus to Hyperion, the entire issue still feels as big and grand as previous three.

GRADE: 9/10

Batman, Incorporated #7
(w) Grant Morrison (a) Chris Burnham

As Grant Morrison starts winding down his years-long Batman epic, Batman Incorporated #7 introduces a more lethal and less subtle version of Leviathan than we’ve ever seen before. And even though we know Talia al Ghul has been behind it all, it’s the concept behind Leviathan that’s become the true villain; Leviathan cannot be defeated because Leviathan is an idea to inspire fascist terror worldwide the same way Batman is an idea to inspire fear in his enemies. At this point, Batman Incorporated is the best Batman series currently being published, most due to the fact that Batman’s history wasn’t erased with the ‘New 52’, meaning Morrison’s epic stayed in-tact and we’re finally getting to a conclusion nearly seven years in the making. Grant Morrison has been molding Batman into a specific image for a long time, and Batman Incorporated #7 signals the beginning of the end, both for the Morrison era of Batman, as well as the war between Batman, Talia, and Damian Wayne — something that will surely have huge ramifications for the Bat Family’s future.

GRADE: 9/10 

Superman #16
(w) Scott Lobdell (a) Kenneth Rocafort

Yet again, Scott Lobdell comes up severely short with Superman #16, a “H’el on Earth” chapter that basically only serves to reiterate what’s been happening in Superboy and Supergirl, even though those aren’t very interesting either. Really, nothing happens in this issue beyond plot exposition and a blink-of-the-eye fight between Superman and H’el  that’s over before the next panel — there’s nothing redeeming about Superman #16 because there’s nothing new. The only saving grace for this issue is Kenneth Rocafort’s gorgeous artwork (how they get such a talented artist to stick with such an awful writer is beyond me). “He’l on Earth” has been a generally disappointing crossover that hasn’t offered much in the way of quality storytelling, cool revelations, or interesting character development.

GRADE: 6/10