Batman: Endgame Review

The latest story arc in DC Comics’ Batman has ended and it seemed to serve as almost a sequel to the previous Joker story arc ‘Death of the Family’, also written by Scott Snyder and illustrated by Greg Capullo. The premise is that the Joker has returned to Gotham after he was defeated in the ‘DOTF’ story. It seems he’s been masquerading as an employee of Arkham Asylum for months and has been watching and waiting to strike. He begins his attack by creating some kind of Joker infection and infects members of the JLA and set them against Batman. Things go from bad to worse as the Joker reveals himself, much to Batman’s shock, and proceeds to unleash his virus upon Gotham as a whole, plunging the city into complete chaos. It’s a race against time for Batman and his allies to find a cure and save the city.

Okay. On the whole, it was an all right story. A Joker story is always worth a read. There was quite a bit of technical jargon that really didn’t add anything to the story, but I guess the writer had to make sure we all knew how smart he was. Mission accomplished. The story was well paced and it did manage to have me hanging on for the next chapter. The art, as usual, was incredible. Mr. Capullo was a revelation during his years on Spawn and time has only sharpened his skills. No one can do jagged teeth like Greg.

There were issues however, and at this point I warn of spoilers ahead. If you haven’t read the complete story, along with the back up stories in the first five books, be warned. That said; let us continue.

I can only say that I HATE what Snyder did to the Joker. To attempt to re-create him as some supernatural, immortal being is without a doubt the worst idea ever. The Joker is a homicidal maniac. Simple as that. That is the beauty of the character. No powers. No supernatural elements. Just a twisted mind with way too much creativity. That has always been the Joker’s strength, much like Batman’s strength has been that he also has no powers. Just a man who has pushed himself to extraordinary levels of excellence. I grew to miss the Joker of the pre-52 era. It interested me to see what he would do knowing he was just a man, which made his crimes all the more heinous.

I am also mixed on the ending of the story. I understand that Snyder is setting up the next story arc, but I feel the whole Batman’s missing thing has been done to death. Did he really kill Batman? Is this going to be the most risky gamble in the history of DC Comics? I don’t know. It seems almost every writer has had his ‘faux-Batman’ story and the list of characters who have worn the cowl in Bruce’s stead has been growing rather long over the years. I fear that this is just an attempt to make a bold, controversial change simply for the sake of change and making some claim on the character.

On the whole, I liked the story, but truly pray that there is something up the road that can repair the original status of the Joker, because if what they’ve set forth sticks, I don’t think he’s going to be as interesting anymore. But all that is a discussion for another time. Until then, go ahead and pick up the issues, or wait for the paperback collection. The hardcovers are way too expensive.

Happy reading!

Comics Review For April 1, 2015

Well, the day has finally come. DC is ending its weekly titles Futures End and Batman Eternal and begins Convergence. I don’t normally review comics, only mostly because I don’t get enough to offer what some would consider to be a suitable review, but in this instance I have to offer my two cents. No change expected.

First. Futures End. I have been following this title since issue #0. I was intrigued by the time travel angle and I enjoyed how there were so many branches to the story. It reminded me of 52 and Countdown from just a few years ago. It was like a soap opera that spanned the DC universe. However, in the cases of 52 and Countdown, the endings came with some kind of sense. I hate to say this, but the final issue of Futures End was a bit of a let down. After a year of following all these seemingly unconnected storylines, we find they really are unconnected and the core story that set the whole thing into motion fell apart almost as fast as we were made to think we were heading to a real ending. That’s the worst part. The story ended pretty much where it began with no real conclusion. It seemed like it was just setting up a new title to being after Convergence ends. What bugged me was the lack of closure with so many of the other storylines that had been seeded over the year. They left a lot of loose ends and I don’t like that.

Alternatively, the final issue of Batman Eternal was the exact opposite. I didn’t follow this one, but I picked up the first issue and now I have the last one too, and it connected perfectly. The story lines all came together in the end and it ended, as much as a Batman story can end. It set the stage for the next year in Gotham and as much as I’ve had a problem with the New 52, I am interested in seeing where this goes.

Two endings, and now a beginning. Convergence #0. There has been a lot of rumors, hints and ads about this event. I was interested from the start because it’ll be nice to see ‘my’ characters return, if only for this last story (they have already stated the New 52 continuity will stick after this event). The first issue looked like it picked up a little after Superman:Doomed #2 and really just sets the stage for the coming conflict and we get our first look at the new villain Telos. The art was good and the concept is interesting. Plus it’s good to see talent from when I was more invested in these things at the helm. All I can say is I will follow this path and see where it leads.

New 52 Still Sucks And I Know Why

As many who have been reading my blogs, it is popularly known that I hate the New 52 over at DC Comics. Basically, they took 60 years of continuity and flushed it down the toilet in order to offer up a flashy redo in order to reach a younger demographic. Abandoning quality for flash. I’ve read some of the books since this launch and I’ve tried to get into it, but I just haven’t been able and I think I just realized today exactly why. It’s the lack of respect for the artists that came before.

In the comic book industry, there’s always been a sort of reverence for the past. Characters and other elements would carry the name of a beloved writer or artist as an homage. These would always be little nods that many fans would pick up on. It was usually done because the artists of the time owed their careers and inspiration to the artists of the past who blazed this path in the first place. Today I read a comment on Facebook about a current issue of one of the Batman titles and the story had to do with Harvey ‘Two-Face’ Dent’s past and in true New 52 fashion, they changed it from the original narrative. I haven’t read this book so I don’t know how it has been changed, and that’s not really the point. Someone left a comment that was critical of ‘The Long Halloween’. For those who don’t know, The Long Halloween was a special 12 part story written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Tim Sale. It set a new bench mark due to the scope and quality of the story. It is a classic, but because of the New 52, that story never happened. The new turks at DC took the helm and in their way said ‘thanks for the hard work people, but we’re dumping your story and doing things OUR way from now on’. It’s an insult to the great work that has come before to disregard those efforts so callously. I’m sure in their heads they still respect these artists and their contributions, but by erasing the continuity from the canvas like this, it’s a real back hand. I realize the New 52 doesn’t remove the story in real life. The story exists and is in print, but something feels wrong about the information it revealed being removed from the history of Batman and his characters. This is the kind of lack of respect that plagues the New 52 and that’s why I can’t get into it. Every page, while well drawn, drips with a subliminal disdain. Especially when you consider how many titles have been cancelled and how many characters have been dropped since the launch. It tells me this new universe wasn’t quite as well planned and thought out as they would have you believe, and isn’t  that their job? They need to figure out every detail. They need to know which characters are in the universe and which aren’t. They need to know the relationships that exist between these characters as well, and so far, I don’t see that they do. It’s like a bunch of kids came up with a cool idea and without really thinking it out, went ahead and did it and now we’re stuck with a mess of colossal proportions.

BTW, the latest horror is that the new Joker’s Daughter is getting her own monthly title. Really? I haven’t read any good press about this character and they’re putting her in a monthly? I hate this new incarnation of Joker’s Daughter. The last one had a little sex appeal at least. This one is horrible. She’s dressed like a lesbian and instead of her face being made up, she has the Joker’s rotting face strapped to her head like a mask. I’d say they’re getting their ideas by pulling suggestions out of a hat, but I think that’s giving them way too much credit. They really should have just used the New 52 as a branch universe like Marvel did with their Ultimate line. Do all the crazy crap you want and twist the DC universe however you like, but leave the main universe alone and let it flourish on its own. Let the readers decide which stories they will follow rather than cram this crap down our throats. God I hate the New 52. This is one case where DC could have taken a lesson from Marvel.

Geek Out

Okay. It’s nerd rant time. First, to those who aren’t in the loop, DC comics rebooted their entire universe and refer to it as the New 52. This new continuity supposedly cancels out the old one, so basically 70+ years of history have been flushed down the toilet so they could repackage their characters in order to appeal to a younger demographic at the cost of quality of story and characters. Most obviously the history of the characters have become horribly muddled and distorted.

I’m not even sure where to begin, but I’ll try to make this as brief and as organized as I can manage. Let’s go. I’d like to use Batman and Superman as prime examples of the horror of the New 52 because its their continuities that are the most fractured. First thing to know is that in the New 52, it’s only been 5 years since the superheroes have showed up. Remember that. 5 years.

In this timeline, Superman is not the celebrated hero we know and love. He is hated and distrusted by the world at large, as are all other superheroes. Superman, who is invulnerable, now wears a suit of armor. My question here is if you’re invulnerable, why do you need armor? The suit has no other quality. It doesn’t have a computer on board to feed information or anything like that. Also, in this timeline, Doomsday never happened. My issue with that is Doomsday was the story that began a chain of events that brought us Steel and Superboy. If Doomsday never happened, how did those two come into being? I’m not sure about Steel, but I understand that Superboy is now some weird underground science project. Kind of like the previous origin, but not exactly and frankly, I think they got it right with the ’93 Superboy because he grew from a spoiled brat clone of Superman into a mature and capable hero in his own right. I also am pissed that the Clark/Lois relationship has been taken away. Now Superman is dating Wonder Woman. Wrong, wrong, wrong! Clark needs to be with Lois. By falling in love with a human, Clark was better able to truly understand the human condition and that made him a better hero. Superman with Wonder Woman makes sense on paper, but it’s like two gods mating and they really have nothing to offer the other because their view of the world is very similar. Lois gave Clark a real perspective of life.

Now Batman. This one is even more confounding to me. First, it’s only been 5 years, yet he has all his allies and villains in place. You mean to tell me he went through 3 Robins in just 5 years and Dick Grayson grew from teen boy wonder to Nightwing in just 5 years? And the way Batman interacts with the characters makes it seem like he’s known them and has been dealing with them for a lot longer than just 5 years. Most notably was the Joker. From their interactions, I can only assume all the crimes Joker has committed are still in place, yet somehow he squeezed all that horror into a mere 5 years. And then there’s Bane. Some mentions have made it clear that the Knightfall storyline still happened, yet that seems hard to  believe that Batman could  have amassed such an army of villains in such a short amount to time and have his back broken and recovered so quickly. Also in a current issue of Arkham War, Jim Gordon makes remarks that lead one to believe that the stories Contagion and Cataclysm also happened. That’s a lot to squeeze into just 5 years. And let’s not forget how other characters in the DC Universe were pulled into those stories. Where was Jean Paul Valley aka Azrael? Catwoman? Huntress? All part of the bat family and all integral parts of those stories yet missing or incompatible with New 52 history.

Now DC is doing something called Zero Year which is basically Batman before Year 1, I guess. I haven’t really been very interested in reading this one. It, like everything else in the New 52, makes no sense. They gave Bruce a buzz cut which I find baffling because if this is pre-year 1 batman, what happened to the buzz cut, because clearly he eventually grows it out, according to the first 23 issues of the new Batman title. From what I have gleaned from paging through the issues, it seems like Zero Year is supposed to fill in the blanks of Batman’s history, but are we to believe that he met and engaged with all of his enemies in just one year? When the comic first started back in the 1940’s, it took Batman years to build his rogues gallery, yet they’re trying to cram them all in at once now. I’m just sick of all this backtracking and revising of history. The editors at DC should have figured all these details out before they launched this campaign because while they may not care, the readers do.

They don’t know if Clark Kent’s parents are alive or dead, as they have not yet been seen in any story. The time doesn’t make sense. In a recent issue of Batman/Superman they were talking as though they had been working together for decades, yet they’ve only known each other for 5 years. Also, Superman is now a bratty, whiny fool instead of the proud, strong and stalwart hero he was intended to be. He’s immature and throws little temper tantrums. In that same issue of Batman/Superman, Batman informs Superman he doesn’t need any help when he clearly does. The Superman I know would just go ahead and help, but this one scrunches up his nose and flies off being mad and thinking, ‘If he doesn’t want my help, fine.’ What? That’s not a Superman response. The point of a hero is to do what must be done despite nay sayers or anything else. The point of a hero is to do what is right. Plain and simple. Superman would never leave a friend in need, whether he was told to do so or not.

I also think the omission of the Justice Society of America is a real sucker punch. Those characters came from the golden age and were around during WWII. They had a real cultural importance. They also showed that even though they were older, they were still formidable heroes. DC’s answer to this was to create an Earth 2 and they brought back the JSA, but as younger and edgier. I always thought the reason comic book characters were older was because back then, the kids would regard an older authority figure with respect and would take the lessons of selflessness and doing right to heart. By making the heroes their peers, the kids are less likely to pick up on these traits.

I know the fan boys are eating this New 52 up like pigs at the trough, and the talent over there is bright and a lot of it looks really good, but I miss my old DC universe. I miss Superman sans armor. I liked the characters as they were because they showed their evolution and development over the years of adventures. Let’s hope DC will see the light sooner than later and bring back our heroes.