Thursday, May 18, 2006


So I'm addicted to Gotham's night life, and have been since I was four. Here's what I think about what happened in that hellish city that may either be in New York or New Jersey, depending on what DC Comics editor you ask.

BATMAN/DETECTIVE COMICS

These two books have been running a single, 8 part storyline the past two months--Face The Face. It's part of that whole One Year Later thing regular readers know I just love. Essentially, this story is showing us what Gotham looks like after Batman took a year off to find himself and possibly take up crocheting.

To this jaded reader, the new Batman looks an awful lot like the Seventies Batman. Gone is the dire FORCE OF JUSTICE driving aspect of his character, replaced by a Batman who works happily alongside Robin, gives compliments, and talks about how he 'needs hope'. I suspect group hugs will soon follow.

To be fair, this story is something Batman stories haven't been in a long time: it's pleasant.. Even though the story deals with the assassination of several Z-rate villians (all from the late Eighties and Nineties, when the Batman titles were terribly adrift, unable to decide if they were following the grim militaristic tone set by Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or aping previous eras, or remembering that Batman is supposed to be a detective, and actually solves crimes instead of just beating the living shit out of people), it's not like anyone actually likes the villians being shot. I mean, KGBeast? Mockingbird? The ever crappy Ventriliqist? Who gives a flying? They were embarassing back then, and it's nice to see DC Comics getting rid of them.

So, bereft of a compelling story, we just sit back and enjoy seeing this new Gotham. Batman forgiving Harvey Bullock for being a dirty cop. Nice shots of the Batplane. Batman working in the Batcave. It's all very familiar and comforting, like an old blanket. And I can see it getting old very, very fast.

ROBIN #149--Assault on Precinct Nine

The joy at actually having a Robin comic that doesn't cause internal bleeding continues with the sophomore issue. But it also slips a bit, but not enough to cause loss of blood. New writer Adamm Beechen thankfully writes Robin as a sixteen year old boy still trying to prove himself, and not as the all wise forty year old in a teen's body that Geoff Johns tends to favour. The story deals with Robin being implicated in the apparent murder of Batgirl (but in fact it was actuallly another Z-rater called Lynx--don't worry, I've never heard of her either), with the Teen Wonder breaking into the local cop shop to get the dead Batgirl's costume. Because he needs clues and stuff.

Beechen has Robin spouting one liners like a certain wall crawler at times, and it's not hard to see the Spider-Man influence. The story also seems to be part of a much larger League of Assassins storyline, with Lady Shiva herself making an appearance. Seems like this story is going global. That's also welcome in the Robin title--even though Robin often travels to other planets and dimensions over in Teen Titans, his own book has often been a bit more urban and less sci-fi. I'm curious as to how this will play out. And I love those R-darts the Teen Wonder throws. Gotta get me some of those.

CATWOMAN #54--The Replacements, Part Two

Selina is still a mom, and Holly is still getting beat up by the Angle. Oh, wait, now she's kicked his ass. AND it's been filmed by some guy with a vidcam. AND it's now on late night television. AND we still don't know who the father of Selina's baby Helena is.

I loved this issue, and I adore Will Pfeifer's run on this title. Of course, we're supposed to think Batman is the dad, because we're geeks and know that on Earth-2, Batman and Catwoman married and had a baby called Helena. But it was Slam Bradley's son, only because he's dead.

Sure, it's only a matter of time before a)Selina becomes Catwoman again, b)gives her baby away, or c)the baby dies. Only lower rate heroes like Arsenal can be parents. The top line heroes in DC Comics can only have children that they adopt as sidekicks. Everyone knows that. Still, this is a good, solid book.

BIRDS OF PREY #93--Progeny, Part Two

I always think this book is going to be cancelled. The writer, Gail Simone, is getting more and more high level assignments at DC. The story arcs she writes always seem ready to end the series. The idea that a comic based solely on female characters can continue without being axed seems inevitable. But it's still here. And I'm thankful for that.

We're still dealing with whatever arrangement Lady Shiva and Black Canary worked out--essentially, they trade existences (Shiva works with the Birds, Canary undergoes the same brutal martial arts training Shiva underwent in Asia), while the rest of the Birds try and protect Crime Doctor from the League of Evil Badasses he's currently defected from. Huntress is wonderful, the scene with Shiva climbing on top of a speeding car and leaping to take down aerial pursuers is just too damn cool for words, and I'll always love Barbara Gordon, even if I fear she's about to become the new Batwoman. And having a bratty teenager look at the Birds and proclaim "Oh, look. It's half a six-pack of hookers. How sweet." was just the cherry on the comic cake.

So of my four Gotham books, Birds was the best, Catwoman came in second, Robin was third, and big daddy Bats had better surprise me, and soon. If the villian turns out to be Two Face, I'm gonna scream. Maybe even write something nasty on the Bat-Signal. You know I will.

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