Batman, Incorporated #1 (2012)
Wonder Woman #8 (2012)
Batman, Incorporated #1 (DC, 2012, $2.99)
When I buy a book with a #1 on it, I expect something a little more coherent than this, much less accessible. The first page is a flash forward to Bruce Wayne being arrested in a graveyard. Returning to the present, a double page spread is wasted on Batman and Robin jumping over some crates. The pair chase a masked thug into a slaughterhouse. The workers inside, wearing armor under their overalls, don horned goat masks and attack the heroes. There's a bunch of fighting in cow blood. Robin almost gets killed by a sniper. Robin states that he's converting to vegetarianism, and decides to adopt a cow, dubbed Bat-Cow. A demonic gangster named Leviathan makes a lieutenant eat his own brother. I guess he employes Man-Bats, who kill the lieutenant. Mention is made of Robin being Talia al Ghul's son, and she's placed a half-billion dollar bounty on his head. Robin is also Batman's son, but isn't pleased about his father's resurrection, and preferred working with Dick Grayson.
What. The. Fuck? I've described what I read in the first twelve pages of this book, and I've kept up enough with current comics to understand most of it. That said, what's the deal with the beef? Did Robin sever the tendons behind that one guy's knees with batarangs? Why does Talia want to kill her kid? Why Bat-Cow? I vaguely remember militarized Man-Bats from early issues of Morrison's Batman run, but I don't know anything about them. Referencing the first volume of Batman and Robin and that mini-series where Bruce Wayne traveled in time only confused me. I seriously forgot that this wasn't the first issue of Batman and Robin volume 2, since the art resembled Frank Quitely and Robin's story is central to 20 of the 22 pages, plus the cover. I catch the factoids, but I have trouble contextualizing them, or more importantly, having any of it mean anything to me.
The extended Bat-Family appear on only two pages, and I don't know these guys or get much from their dialogue. The Dynamic Duo story then picks up with obvious bait for an inevitable switch. I do not give a shit. The art by Chris Burnham is really nice, but Morrison's script rubs my nose in how much work he's put into three Batman series over something like five years. I haven't read much of them, and have no desire to based on how excluding this tale was. Take out all the up-its-own-ass continuity, and there isn't much actual story here, so fuck this shit.
Exiled #1 (Marvel, 2012, $2.99)
This book, a stand-alone that sets up a crossover between two issues each of Journey into Mystery and New Mutants, is the opposite of Batman, Incorporated #1. As with the previous review, I only know as much about the titles as I can glean from solicitation copy and odd articles on comic news sites. In fact, I'm much more ignorant about the Marvel titles, since their continuity doesn't get near the coverage, and I read virtually no related titles. However, all the backstory needed was presented in a two page spread containing ten narrow panels and bricks of text. At first, I was like "oh, damn," but the text was informative and intriguing.
The second two pages introduced what I assume to be an entirely new character, who I find immediately interesting. The next page uses effective expository dialogue to establish that status quo of the New Mutants. They don't introduce each character, but you get a feel for their dynamic and how their story relates to the current plot. I haven't read a story about Dani Moonstar in years, but as this one progresses, I finds out everything about her relevant to this tale. Later, Loki as a kid turns up, which I was already aware was a thing, but even if I didn't, the necessary characters and characterization are presented here. Crazy stuff happens, but I'm oriented enough to get the parts I'm supposed to and want to read more about the parts that have yet to be revealed.
Kieron Gillen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning provide very good writing that involved me in characters I would not normally give a shit about. Maybe for once having three guys team up to write a book allowed each to bring their strengths to the table, but however you slice it, they're a fuck ton better in this outing than Morrison in his. The Marvel guys clearly have their own dense worlds of continuity to deal with, but they escort me through all that, where Morrison just dumped crap on and over my head. I'm not wild about Carmine Di Giandomenico's art, but that's down to my personal aesthetics, rather than any shortcomings on his part. This was a good book, and I'll have to make more of an effort to seek these writers out in the future.
Wonder Woman #8 (DC, 2012, $2.99)
Nobody put a #1 on this cover, so I won't give it as much grief as Batman, Incorporated #1, but I didn't like it much. Wonder Woman and Hermes travel to Hades to save a kidnapped friend. Finding her also means uncovering a few twists. A new version of the god Hades puts Wonder Woman into a position where she has to negotiate, and things don't work out as planned.
Happily, this book held no real mystery for me in the process of reading it. It's not the kind of Wonder Woman book I want to read, but I know the basics of the material well, and I've kept reasonably abreast of things through the internet. I don't want to see Bodyworlds refugees chopped up by Diana with a sword, and in general the book is more dark and fucked-up than I can appreciate. The art by Cliff Chiang is very appealing, and despite my distaste for the material, Brian Azzarello's script presents it clearly. It was a brisk, functional read, but not my bag.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
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