I have no idea at all if Jason Aaron even knows I exist, let alone the particulars of what comics I like, but at this point, I can come to no other conclusion:
That dude has got to be writing comics only for me at this point. But he’s not the only one, and that’s the subject of tonight’s installment of The Internet’s Most Shirtless-Batman-Loving Comics Reviews! Here are my thoughts on a couple of the comics I picked up this week!
Return of Bruce Wayne #2: If you don’t like this comic, then you’re stupid and I probably hate you.
I’m not even kidding. If you asked me to come up with my ideal plot for a comic book, it would be very close to this, a story where–spoiler warning, and seriously, if you haven’t read this, stop here and go do so, then go read David Uzumeri’s annotations for this issue–Darkseid uses The Omega Sanction to turn Bruce Wayne into a living time bullet, counting on him fighting his way through time by sheer shirtless Batmanly determination, while still solving other mysteries and Batmanning in different eras, only for Batman to be one step ahead of him all along. It is, in all honesty, everything I want from a Batman story and more.
It gets to the heart of Morrison’s vision of Batman as a character, much in the same way that Final Crisis: Superman Beyond was his vision of Superman writ large. In that story, nothing can hold the Bleed, but Superman can, but here, he’s taking it to the next level. It’s not just that nobody could survive the Omega Sanction and being lost in caveman days–but Batman can–it’s that Darkseid is aware of this and took advantage of it, doing to the 21st Century exactly what he did to Orion in Final Crisis, launching a last spiteful “from Hell’s heart, I stab at thee” strike at the world that defeated him, and that Batman knows all this and is still going to defeat him.
It’s the extension of everything Morrison’s been doing with the character since JLA and Superman’s explicit assertion that Batman’s the most dangerous man on Earth, and it’s one that comes up again and again in his work, from his role as the Justice League’s master planner to the scene in R.I.P. where the Joker talks about how no matter how crazy he gets, Batman draws another mental box around him. It’s his defining trait.
Morrison’s Superman isn’t defined by his powers, he’s defined by his morality; the defining scene of All Star Superman isn’t Superman fighting Solaris or even Lex Luthor, it’s him stopping the girl from committing suicide. It’s that he cares. And in the same way, Morrison’s Batman is defined by one trait: He is, quite simply, the World’s Greatest Detective. No one, not even a god, can out-think him.
Every now and then I’ll have a conversation about Batman (surprise!) with my pal and ex-Cracked editor Jay Pinkerton, and he generally takes the tactic of calling me an attention deficit spaz who only wanting Batman to fight gorillas in space, while I tell him he’s a narrow-minded child for thinking the grim-and-gritty street vigilante is more valid than other portrayals. If we were sitcom roommates, we would’ve long ago drawn a line down the middle of the apartment, where Brave and the Bold can only be watched on one side. And yet, we both think this is one of the best comics we’ve ever read, because the core of the character is valid, even in a bizarre (and to me, awesome) milieu of sun-eater dragons and time travel.
On the art side of things, Frazer Irving does an amazing job here, just as he did in the similarly puritain-themed Seven Soldiers: Klarion with Morrison. What’s different here, though, is how he’s able to effortlessly go from Batman fighting an Elder Thing to the sci-fi styled Vanishing Point and the literal collapse of the universe to the 17th Century version of street crime, jumping from one to the next in an absolutely beautiful story. There are great, simple tricks that he pulls off perfectly–the shadow of “Mordecai’s” hat shading his face like Batman’s mask, the jaw-dropping shock on Malleus’s face at the end–and the whole experience is fantastic, especially given that Irving was handed the unenviable task of following up Chris Sprouse, who was equally perfect in the first issue–and who seriously needs to draw Morrison’s run, for real you guys.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that I liked it.
I liked it a lot.
So much, in fact, that talking about anything else at this point just doesn’t have the same zing. There was a surprising amount of great comics this week–Thunderbolts, Weapon X, Fantastic Four, Secret Avengers, Thor, even a surprisingly fun Brave and the Bold that I’m sure I’ll talk about when the second part comes out and the fan-service-filled final (for me) issue of Power Girl–and a couple of real stinkers, but you guys know where my heart lies.
If you’d like to discuss them, or any other comic you liked this week, have at it!