Behold! Batman: Trendsetter.
Man, everybody’s got those treads on their boots these days. They’re like the iPhone of the DC Universe.
But enough about footwear! It’s Thursday night, which means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Raucous Comics Reviews! And while it doesn’t have quite the same sparseness as last week, it’s still pretty light. There are, however, a lot of great trades this week, including the long-awaited Annihilation Classic hardcover, which means we are now living in a time when both Rocket Raccoon and Devil Dinosaur have been collected.
Anyway, Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and here’s where I inform your purchases with spurious logic and irrelevant anecdotes!
Batman Confidential #22: Despite my desire to get away from “Year One”-era Batman stories (with the exception of Matt Wagner’s work, which is always welcome), I’ve been picking up Batman Confidential over the past few months because I will buy pretty much anything Kevin Maguire draws, and while I was planning on ditching it for greener pastures once his run was over, that was before I realized the new arc is written by Andrew Kriesberg. Kriesberg, as I’ve mentioned, is the writer who brought us the pure awesome of Helen Killer, and I figured if his Batman stuff was half as good as that, then it’d be well worth reading.
And while I was right about it being half as good, it’s actually a little disappointing.
The story focuses on the aftermath of Batman’s first encounter with the Joker, specifically revolving around the GCPD’s first shot at handling a supervillain after Batman slaps the cuffs on him and drops him off at headquarters. It’s an interesting concept, but it has the misfortune of coming out at a time when the film version of that exact event, which was absolutely incredible, is still fresh on everyone’s mind. Anything that’s less exciting than the Joker’s jailbreak in The Dark Knight is going to suffer by comparison, and since everything from “Would you like to know which ones were cowards?” to “I just want my phone call” was riveting, it’s going to suffer a lot.
And that’s not necessarily the fault of the creators. As much as it’s possible that Kriesberg wanted to do a story that would capture some of that movie magic in the comics–which itself was already done to near perfection in Gotham Central, which I have to imagine was an influence on TDK–but let’s face it: It’s just as likely that this story’s been sitting in a drawer for a year waiting for its slot in the rotation. Still, it can’t be separated from what’s around it, and it comes off as a bit of a letdown.
As for the art, well, once you get past the fantastic Stephane Roux cover, there’s another problem: Scott McDaniel. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike McDaniel to the point that a lot of other people do, but I can completely see how the same stylistic tricks that made his art so energetic on Nightwing ten years ago have evolved into things that hold him back now, and partly thanks to a few weird coloring choices, there are vast sections where everything just looks off-model.
There’s potential here, and honestly, I’m willing to give Kriesberg another shot based solely on his record as the man who gave us Frank Miller’s The Miracle Worker, but right now, it’s looking pretty grim.
The Corps #0: So here are two things I learned about Rick Remender at HeroesCon. One: He is probably one of the funniest pros I’ve ever met. And Two: His hair is perfect. Just ask Rachelle.
Despite those two crucial facts, though, his comics–which I’ll admit to only having read a few of–have never quite clicked with me. It’s not that they’re bad books, but they just don’t hit me quite the way they should, and even with the inherent hilarity of Devil’s Due replacing GI Joe in their lineup with a book based on the
cheap knockoff surprisingly similar 3.75″ figure line, I was expecting this one to be about the same way. Even worse, actually, since I remember seeing an interview with Remender where he talked about wanting to get away from cartoonish bad guys, and–with the exception of phenomenal books like Queen & Country–my interest in military fiction pretty much evaporates once plots to take over the world with mind control perfume are no longer an issue. So yeah, expectations here were pretty low.
And really, I should’ve known better, because this thing is a hoot.
Seriously: To kick off the eight page preview story here, Remender opens with a woman named Dusk taking out enemy mercenaries with throwing knives that she pulls out of her stockings while tarted up as a cross between a peasant girl and a Whitesnake video, and by the end, he’s written what is not only the best dialogue exchange of the week, but maybe the best one all year:
Beautiful. I cannot wait for the ongoing.
Invincible Iron Man #6: You know, it’s not every day that Iron Man–whose entire deal is that he’s wearing a billion dollar suit of technological armor designed to live, walk and conquer–ends a fight by stripping down to his underwear and bashing a dude’s face in with a rock. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the closest we’ve ever gotten to that was the one time in X-Statix where he fought an equally naked Guy Smith, but that’s beside the point, which is this: I’ll be damned if it’s not a pretty exciting way to cap off a story.
This issue marks the end of the first arc on Iron Man by Matt Fraction–who, as everyone already knows by this point, continues to rock along as one of my favorite creators–and while he pulls it off excellently, I can’t imagine it was an easy job. It’s sort of the opposite of what I talked about above with Batman: Confidential: Fraction’s story was launching with the release of the Iron Man movie that was not only a great, amazingly well-received picture, but actually made people want to read about Iron Man again after a couple years of waning interest from Marvel playing him as a villain opposite guys like Captain America, Spider-Man, the Hulk, and one nonsensical fight with Thor. Enter Fraction, facing not only the challenge of living up to the movie, but winning over fans that was expecting more of the adventures of a tin-plated cryptofascist.
But it works, and it works very well, for the same reasons that he and Ed Brubaker’s work on Iron Fist was so good. With this story, he’s boiled Tony Stark back down to his basics as a guy so full of guilt over his creations being used for evil that he uses the culmination of his life’s work to stop it. And it doesn’t hurt that the book’s got the photorealistic Salvador Larrocca and the son of the bad guy in the movie–a holdover from the late, lamented the order–either. Of course, that’s not exactly news to anyone, but with the first highly enjoyable arc finished, it’s worth repeating: Solid stuff.
Marvel Zombies 3 #1: Over on Twitter, MW wrote a brief, yet thoroughly accurate review of this one: “It should be retitled, ‘Machine Man From Nextwave Returns to Be Awesome.'”
And he’s not wrong. I’ll admit to being more than a little burnt out by the Marvel Zombies franchise–which at this point has almost gotten to the level of “If it’s Halloween, it must be Saw“–and after the disappointing showing of Marvel Zombies 2, in which the humor of the first one was largely traded for hamfisted pathos, I was willing to write the whole thing off. But then I saw that this one was being written by Fred Van Lente, and considering that he’s one of the creators behind both Action Philosophers and the best title Marvel’s got going right now, Incredible Hercules, so I was willing to take a shot. And it’s awesome.
Seriously, reviewing this thing is next to impossible, because like the first, it’s based largely on the humor inherent in the goofiness of super-heroes fighting zombies. But just so you understand why I’m so thrilled with it, here’s a brief list of what’s in this issue: The worst Initiative Team ever, which includes both ’70s sorceress hottie Jennifer Kale and Steve Gerber’s 1970s Space Jesus, the Aquarian. Zombie Deadpool, who hungers for the flesh of the Fourth Wall. Portal–yes, Portal from Darkhawk–who is now in charge of defending the Nexus of All Realities. And of course, Zombie Morbius the Living Zombie Vampire.
And also Man-Thing’s in it. And Machine Man. And really, if those two combine like Voltron to form Machine Man-Thing by the end of this, then it might end up being the best thing to come out of the franchise.
Street Fighter Tribute: Because apparently, I’m the kind of person who buys a forty-dollar book of pin-ups based on a video game. Who knew?
shut up i really like street fighter okay
And as brief as it is, that’s the week. As always, questions about anything I read or skipped this week can be left in the comments section below, although odds are if I skipped it, it’s because of one of three reasons.