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Batman and Robin Eternal #1 [Review]

batmanandrobineternal001Story: James Tynion IV & Scott Snyder
Script: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Tony Daniel
Inks: Sandu Florea
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Cover: Tony Daniel, Sandu Florea, Tomeu Morey
Asst. Editor: Dave Wielgosz
Editor: Chris Conro
Group Editor: Mark Doyle
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: December 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

Against otherwise better judgment, I decided to check this out. I’m sure it had plenty to do with being a #1–a chance to “check it out” from the start, before things get deep. Also that I got the impression the series is due to focus heavily on the previous Robins–Dick, Jason, and Tim–which is something I’m quite interested in (particularly Dick and Tim). I also have the hope of it being a lengthy but mostly contained story, and while I’m really not thrilled at the prospect of a WEEKLY $4 book, since it’s not like I’m really following anything else from DC and Marvel at the moment, I might be able to tolerate a weekly dose at the higher price.

We open with a flashback, then jump to the ‘present’ with Red Robin, Grayson, and Red Hood pursuing someone; a bit of an action sequence. Scene skips abound as we get a moment with the new Batman interacting with would-be Bat-protégé Harper Row, then more flashbacky stuff, and Grayson encounters a costumed figure that could have used lethal force but doesn’t; we’re introduced to this “Mother” as a concept, and “The Orphan,” and ultimately get a fairly disturbing “reveal” for the ending of the issue.

Aside from the concept, probably the first thing I noticed with the issue was the art. I tend to enjoy Daniel’s work, and even on a hit-or-miss basis, this one’s a hit for me. I really liked the look of the issue on the whole–including Dick and Jason looking rather similar (thanks to metatextual knowledge of Jason’s creation/introduction back in the ’80s). Really no complaints visually.

Story-wise I’m less-keen on stuff. Structurally, I definitely appreciate the issue. I liked that we’re dropped in on action right away (rather than some “talking heads” situation), and I like that we get a bit of an overview of the characters that seem poised to be focal points of this weekly series. It’s silly details that hung me up–stuff like “The Narrows” as a location I don’t ever remember in Gotham prior to the Nolan films or the Arkham games, as well as stuff from Dick’s flashback to his first “super-villain” tying to those films. I can’t quite put my finger on why that bugs me, but it’s there. Hardly a “dealbreaker,” though. I have more concern with Batman–Bruce’s–actions and potential motivation, perhaps just on a metatextual level.

Whatever the specifics…I enjoyed this on the whole. The issue also felt thick (and it is–I count 30 pages of story to the usual 20ish) and so the issue is much more worth its $3.99 cover price.

Seeing the third volume of the paperbacks for the previous Batman weekly–Batman Eternal–also out this week plants the seed in my mind all the more that I might prefer to just wait for collected volumes…particularly given how quickly I lost track of DC‘s weeklies last year. If I’m not going to get around to/keep up with weekly issues and binge-read anyway…might as well wait for my preferred format.

Still…a good first issue, working well as a “pilot” issue and getting me interested, confirming that yes, I am (myself, at least) interested in where this story goes, whatever the format. And as a first issue…this is well worth checking out if you’ve any particular interest in Batman’s sidekicks.

Convergence – Week of April 8th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing with this week’s release of the #1 issue of the core mini and nearly a dozen #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

convergence001_wraparound_full

I’m not at all impressed with the cover, particularly as it appears just as an issue…but I give DC credit that this is a wraparound cover rather than having the two-panel image be an “interlocking” variant.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided–for this week, at least–to just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #1

convergence001Somehow, I was expecting a LOT more out of this, especially for the price. $4.99 is an awfully steep price for ANY single-issue–surpassing my hated $3.99 by a full additional 25%–and not delivering a whole lot for the cost. There are 30 story pages but also 4 “backmatter” context-pages detailing some of the “cities” in the issue.

While on some level I “know” that much of the issue involves characters fresh outta Earth 2: World’s End and presumably events of New 52: Futures End…there’s not one note anywhere in THIS issue that caught my attention referencing that. “See Earth 2: World’s End for the grisly details” or “See final few issues of Futures End” or whatever. So these are just characters that show up, and I can wonder what makes THEM so special that they get so much page-time? 

Having the “singular event” of Telos “broadcasting” himself to EVERYONE makes for a good rally-point for the first issues of the various tie-ins…something to tie them all together even if every other detail of the story has nothing to do with it…it roots them in the time-frame.

I was excited and looking forward to this issue, but sorely let-down by what I got. If the entire series was $4.99 I’d CERTAINLY pass…but it DOES drop to $3.99 after this. I’ll “grudgingly” pick up the next issue…but if it feels too much like this first one, I may let it go and wait for a (relatively) cheaper collected volume.

Convergence: Superman #1

convergence_superman001Despite HUGE changes around Infinite Crisis and beyond, I still clung to the notion that the Superman that existed up to the dawn of the New 52 was still somehow at least somewhat “my” Superman. As such, I was looking forward to this chance to revisit the character. 

Finding Superman powerless and in Gotham City was a bit of a surprise, as was learning that the whole city has been “trapped” in a dome for over a year (how “convenient” that Clark, Lois, AND Jimmy were all in Gotham at the time!). Clark’s played secret vigilante, unable to suppress the need to help others. Luckily for him, reaching the “end of the line” conveniently coincides with Telos dropping the domes and his powers returning just in time to repel a hail of bullets.

We learn that Lois is pregnant (presumably something that was able to happen due to Superman’s powers being gone), which seems to be one of the “final steps” that seem to be allowed in anything for Superman–once he has a kid it’s like that’s “it” for his story…so something as brief and temporary as this is–of course–the perfect time to “allow” such a development.

As a two-issue thing, it seems TOO short to be HALFWAY through the story already. That also makes it too short for so much space given to Telos’ bit. While I appreciate and am glad that’s there, I’d be glad for a PANEL of it, tying this to the core story but otherwise let this stand alone OR “assume” that someone has read Convergence #1 (or put the full speech FROM Convergence #1 into the backmatter for those truly curious).

And speaking of the backmatter–the recapping of stuff made me doubt myself, that perhaps this was Superman and Lois shortly after the wedding (circa 1997)…yet there was reference to stuff from the early 2000s as well, making for a very selective over-brief recap of only huge moments.

All in all I’ll be interested enough in the next issue, but I can’t quite “recommend” this in and of itself…either you’re interested in what I believe is immediately-pre-Flashpoint Superman or you’re not. 

Convergence: Batman and Robin #1

convergence_batmanandrobin001This issue picks up on a Gotham City where Batman’s back from being presumed dead/lost in time–it’s Bruce-Batman and Damian-Robin, sometime after Dick’s tenure as the Caped Crusader. Ivy’s largely responsible for the citizens of the city surviving–her control over plans has allowed for quality production of food–and the Penguin wants to threaten that. 

Batman and Robin arrive to spoil his plans, and encounter a Red Hood. Damian is jealous of how Batman seems toward his former Robin, which leads to some definite tension and an eventual having-it-out within the present Bat-family…right before the dome closing them in drops and they hear Telos’ message.

As with the Superman issue, I was glad we had the unifying moment of Telos’ message…but even moreso than in the Superman issue, it felt to me like it took up way too much space in this issue for this only being a two-issue story.

The backmatter was less than impressive to me, though it was more informative than the Superman one–I’m far more familiar with Superman than “later Batman” stuff. I have never liked the Red Hood character, and 11-some years later still have not “embraced” the returned-to-life Jason Todd…and probably never will. Having had a couple days to mull over the reading experience, I’m pretty sure I’ll only pick up #2 because of having bought #1…not for any particular interest in where this issue goes from here.

Given that pre-Flashpoint Batman essentially continued straight into the New 52, this is more like an alternate take splitting off briefly from a specific point more than it is revisiting something that’s been lost…and I do wish I’d chosen to go with the Batgirl issue instead to get Red Robin.

Overall Thoughts This Week

Even though I’m tentatively “buying into” this Convergence thing, the price of the books is a big issue for me. With 2013’s Villains Month and last year’s Futures End month, for my $3.99 and whatever-length story, I was getting that fancy cardboard stock and 3-D image cover…and the issues largely stood alone as functional one-shots. With Convergence, everything is $3.99, and I’m not even getting a slightly better quality coverstock, no fancy image technology…and this is a TWO-MONTH thing. Whatever I buy a #1 of, I’ll likely want to then get the #2…and if something would get my attention with a #2 I’d want to backtrack and also get #1.

Additionally, along with any of the issues I’d pick up, there’s the WEEKLY main/core series itself, so that’s already ONE “slot” taken up for anything extra I would buy. With the higher price point, 2 issues (the main title and a single tie-in) would almost match my buying all 3 weeklies for the last 26 weeks previous…and matching the quantity will be a significant bump beyond.

And since I’m already thinking quite a bit about possibly snagging whatever collected edition format is presented for Convergence as a whole (I’m guessing a hardcover for the core series and 4-8 paperbacks for the tie-ins) I’m already going to be rather heavily “double-dipping,” which is not very appealing to me for this. But…I’m eager enough to revisit some stuff and to read some of these that I don’t want to “just wait” and not read them at all…especially if there are some “surprise” things.

If I’m going to “double dip,” I’ll grudgingly do so on the main series and a handful of tie-ins…but I’m finding myself a LOT more “conservative” on other random books as a result. At the $3.99 “premium price” I am not going to buy half the event just to pay top dollar for collected volumes. Since I don’t even know what titles will be collected how (for example, will we have one or two volumes apiece for a Convergence: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Convergence: Zero Hour, Convergence: Pre-Flashpoint? Or will we get the series collected by “family” with Superman books clustered, Batman books clustered, etc.?)

Given my gripes and concerns…probably the largest reason I find myself looking forward to anything more is the simple notion of getting a couple months of Superman, Superman: Man of Steel, Adventures of Superman, and Action Comics again. There’s also stuff like Shadow of the Bat, which I believe the original ongoing was the first actual continuity Bat-book I got in on at its start, back in 1992 or so. And that I recently listened to the GraphicAudio adaptation of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and this strikes me as a sort of 30-year successor to that story.

DC Futures End Month, Week Three

FUTURES END: SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #1

futuresend_supermanwonderwoman001This issue caught me a bit by surprise, as apparently it’s the 2nd of a 2-parter, continued from the Wonder Woman issue. Not what I expected, and not something I was thrilled with, but hey…it is what it is. I read it anyway, even though I might’ve waited to track the first chapter down. But I wasn’t in the mood for that game, and since I feel like I’m always going on about how it isn’t horrible to “figure things out” in context, no reason not to put that to the test. Sure enough, I was able to figure out quite a bit just by reading alone…it helped that the nature of these stories is that there’s been a time gap anyway, so I’m already mentally wired for not having “the full story.” That said, this was one of the better issues in terms of story and felt like it really could have been setting things up for a new status quo in the ongoing if this wasn’t just a five-years-later deal. As I’m already following Soule’s run on this book anyway, it’s good–to me–to have this issue in there as well.

FUTURES END: BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1

futuresend_batmansuperman001I expected an actual fight between Superman and Batman in this issue. What I got instead was a Batman-centric story, where the confrontation happened sometime in the five-year-gap and left Batman in bad shape for where this issue picks up. Not following the ongoing series, I don’t know where this fits…whether it’s dropping any hints or particularly drawing from that. This issue also felt rather familiar in terms of Batman suiting up against Alfred’s advisement and putting himself in a situation where his body’s ready to fail him and he’s doing irreparable damage to himself, etc. I picked this one up on a whim…I had not planned ahead of time to get it, and it unfortunately proved more disappointment than not: I should have left this one on the shelf.

FUTURES END: SUPERGIRL #1

futuresend_supergirl001Of the various DC titles, this is the one that I’m probably most torn on. I liked stuff last year enough that I went backward several months on the title and kept up with it for several months after, though I did eventually let it go. This issue plays off from last year’s introduction of the Cyborg Superman, bringing us a Kara who is now herself a cyborg…though it quickly becomes apparent that the Cyborg exerted a certain amount of influence over her that takes old friends to bypass and get her back into her right mind. While certainly not an “ending” story, this one definitely felt like–if not the start of a new chapter–certainly the ending of one. There are plenty of questions about what happened in the Five Year Gap, and I’m all the more interested in Kara’s story simply for the various places her story can go, and hoping that it would never turn out like this. I’m also left quite curious about her relationship with other characters, particularly Captain Comet and whether that’s just a possible development or if it’s been dealt with in the Red Daughter of Krypton arc or such.

FUTURES END: JUSTICE LEAGUE #1

futuresend_justiceleague001This is the concluding/second chapter of the two-parter begun in Justice League United. On the whole it’s this massive battle between the heroes and former hero Captain Atom, who is determined to break free of Mars no matter the cost–to the heroes, to himself, to the planet itself. And of course, the heroes have to gang up to stop him, while also dealing with the other freed villains. While in some ways the cost to the characters is higher than it might be in a regular ongoing story, it doesn’t feel all that permanent. More like the end of an arc leading to a new creative team and/or new status quo on one or more books. All in all the issue isn’t particularly memorable for me except in seeing Captain Atom play Dr. Manhattan on Mars (the latter actually based on the former). I got my 2nd chapter of 2 that I intended, though on the whole nothing particularly special to this for me.

FUTURES END: BATMAN AND ROBIN #1

futuresend_batmanandrobin001I don’t know much about this Heretic character nor do I much care. I was expecting something more Damian-centric, be it memorial or I don’t know what. Instead this is just some teaser issue with a possible future-Robin, who (from this issue alone) I know nothing about and haven’t a clue why I need to care (nor how Batman’s gotten along this long in his apparent condition over Damian…which is not to suggest anyone should merely “get over” such a hurt or loss just because it’s been 5 years. That the focus of the issue is Batman’s pursuit of the true identity of this Heretic, that he does indeed get his DNA sample…it’s infuriating to me (as this is a one-shot) that we as readers do not get let in on whatever the truth is…and this made me feel like the issue was a waste. Apparently I expected at least some sort of cliffhanger-like ending stating who the Heretic was…or even was NOT. If this were a continuing issue, I’d be totally fine with what I got as it’d be likely to pick up next issue. As-is…I’m directed into the Robin Rises stuff, and I’m not going there in single issues.

FUTURES END: GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #1

futuresend_greenlanternnewguardians001I grew up with Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern. I get that I’ve hardly read anything with the character in years, and don’t know much about the status quo of the character for the last 30 or so issues’ time (and several GL crossover/”house events”). But from solicitation text and the cover, I sure expected more Kyle than I got. This was another passing-of-the-torch sort of issue, though I’m actually only GUESSING that this White Lantern was Kyle, based on the cover: nothing in the issue itself that I noticed confirmed or pointed out that this was Kyle, and at one point some name-dropping made me actually think perhaps this was Hal. Along with Batman and Robin this was definitely–for me–a stinker of a book and one I really would have been better off not getting. This is also the only one of the books this month with these 3D covers where the logo was given the treatment rather than just the image the logo and such is placed upon.

OVERALL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 3

Outside of the Supergirl issue, this week was pretty much a stinker for me, despite being one of the higher ones in terms of my expectation and such. Supergirl was definitely my favorite of the bunch, both the cover itself as well as the story. It may have been a circular logic sort of thing, but I didn’t even get around to reading these for a few days…and it was really only the Supergirl issue that pulled at me…the others I mostly read this week because I didn’t want to have NOT read them before the week four books would be out. Some of this is probably also blame to be lain at the feet of the price, and sticker shock this month, as virtually every one of these DC books has been a $3.99 book I would not normally get…and is on top of a bunch of other stuff, both regular and new.

Off the top of my head I’m most looking forward to the Booster Gold issue. Other than that, probably Red Lanterns and Superman…we’ll see what else may or may not grab my attention for the final week of the month…

The Weekly Haul – Week of September 17th, 2014

Another monstrous week price-wise…outside of Batman Eternal and the $1 reprint/special edition of Gotham Central #1 (perfectly timed for Monday’s premiere of Gotham) (and the freebie Banned Books Week guide), everything was that price point I so despise…but at least they were the spiffy 3-D covers that sucked me in again this year!

weekly_haul_september_17th_2014a

And of course, perhaps conspicuously so, one might notice the absence again of anything from Marvel. Such a shame, especially considering how much I enjoyed the X-Men in the ’90s and certain parts of other stuff in the last 10-12 years.

weekly_haul_september_17th_2014b

Definitely a good-looking crop of the DC 3-D books for Futures End this week. Might be the classic-looking yellow-and-red logo against the blue field, but I think that Supergirl cover is my favorite this week.  I wasn’t going to pick up Batman/Superman…but figured it’s a one-shot, already spending a lot for the week, it’s Batman, and Superman…so I might as well add it to the pile.

So here’s to a lot of interesting reading and the third of four weeks of getting fairly deeply re-acquainted with a bunch of DC output.

DC Villains Month, Backtracking

villainsmonthcatchup

With the end of Villains Month and all the issues I wound up getting, I still found myself curious about a few more issues…and ended up “backtracking” and picking up several of the “leftover” 2D editions for a few issues…and figured I’ll offer some some thoughts/commentary associated with each of these same as I have all the rest this month.

ARCANE (Swamp Thing #23.1)

foreverevilarcane001I jumped into Swamp Thing at the start of the New 52, but never got to “meet” Arcane himself. I’ve heard of the character through the years, been aware that he existed, but never actually encountered him. I also–based on where I left off when I dropped the title before the Rotworld stuff or whatever it was–knew “something” was going on with Abby, so her appearance here (while not to my taste) isn’t all that “shocking.” It’s interesting finally meeting the character, and it’s easy to see just how dangerous he really is; I could also tell that there seems to be some retconning going on as he interacts with Abby. No problem with the story or art; this one issue is not enough to draw me back in to the ongoing series, though it gets my curiosity up where I’ll be interested in learning where things go, down the line…and/or perhaps I’ll seek the series out in bargain bins someday or snag the issues digitally if there’s a sale or such. Definitely enjoyed this, and I’m glad I picked it up.

BIZARRO (Superman #23.1)

foreverevilbizarrow001Bizarro is another character I’ve really never cared that much for. I didn’t mind the interpretation used in Byrne‘s Man of Steel mini, and the Bizarro’s World arc not long after the Return of Superman wasn’t bad (as I recall). But I’ve never been thrilled with the more recent version from the early-2000s to present. However, having checked out a number of the other Superman-related villains’ issues this month I figured I’d check this out, and have to say that I found this at least somewhat “interesting.” I actually think I’d prefer this interpretation of the concept to a singular character, as this makes more sense to me than some backwards quasi-duplicate of Superman. This issue fits the “Morrisonian” aspects of my understanding to the New 52 Superman, and this felt like it would’ve been right at home in the pages of Action Comics moreso than Superman, but c’est la vie. As an issue I “backtracked” on, I’m glad I didn’t pay $3.99 for the 3-D cover as I’d’ve been particularly disappointed…but as a 2-D edition “after the fact” this was a good read.

H’EL (Superman #23.3)

foreverevilhel001I’d already bailed on the New 52 prior to the recent H’El on Earth Super-book crossover, and never paid attention to any of the solicitations or covers for that story, so knew virtually nothing of the character until seeing this cover. This was another issue that I got–backtracking–because of having grabbed other Superman-family villains’ issues, I figured I might as well be a bit more comprehensive in my “experience” for the month. While I don’t entirely buy into the time travel aspect of stuff, I still felt like I got a better handle on this character from this issue…enough that if there’s a single-volume collected edition of H’El on Earth I might be inclined to try to get/read that sooner than not. Along with that, I’m ALMOST inclined to watch for the Action Comics Annual, except I actively want to keep from getting sucked into more monthly titles right now. I probably would’ve enjoyed this had I bought the 3D edition when I had the chance, but I’m satisfied with the 2D edition and simply having read the issue.

PENGUIN (Batman #23.3)

foreverevilpenguin001The Penguin was one of the earliest Bat-villains I remember becoming familiar with, in whatever iteration. I don’t think I consciously noticed the shift in the character from washed-up umbrella-guy to master gangster, but now that I have noticed that, it’s a fitting role for the character, in my eyes. This issue touched on a number of things I do like about the character and associate with him–from his past having been bullied to present-day exacting revenge upon those (and other) bullies, as well as being a kingpin-like character. I also definitely enjoyed seeing confirmation that he’s not JUST some backseat leader…this Penguin is dangerous on multiple levels and quite capable of wading in and getting his hands dirty, doing his own dirty work, when provoked. This isn’t enough to get me to rush out and buy the recent Penguin mini-series…but if I find the collected volume for a decent price I’m more inclined to check it out, or might even be inclined to on a whim buy the issues digitally since they’re all well into the discounted 2+ months old range. All that said, this issue felt rather short–it pulled me in and the whole thing flew. I’m actually rather disappointed that I didn’t pick this up the week it came out…but content with having read it as I did rather than waiting til sometime later.

TWO FACE (Batman and Robin #23.1)

forevereviltwoface001I’ve got a mixed history with Two Face…generally I’m not that enamored with the character, though I’m not necessarily going to avoid his appearances. I did avoid this issue earlier in September…but found myself curious and so tracked this down to read for the immediacy. I’m not all that impressed by the issue’s story–of the character using his coin-toss to decide to help or hurt Gotham–but it “works” with what I know of and think of regarding the character. It might have been the quick read of flying through the issue but I didn’t get much “substance” from this, and really didn’t feel I gained any particular insight into the character or anything of much interest to consider watching for later. This was just sort of a slice-of-life/what-he’s-up-to kinda thing to me. I would have been quite disappointed buying this at $4 (or the marked-up $10+ I saw the 3D edition going for)…but as a $2.99 issue, not AS disappointed.

DC Villains Month, Week Four

BANE (Batman #23.4)

foreverevilbane001 It’s rather discouraging to see such a great character go to waste. But, seems that’s what’s happened with Bane in the New 52. I was hoping for something with a lot more depth in this issue, than I found a year and a half ago in The Dark Knight #6. But this seems to be pretty much that same Bane…the one that–to me–truly seems to ignore 15 years of character development and depth. The issue basically shows us Bane recruiting an army to “take back” “his” city (Gotham) as if his only goal has ever been the taking of Gotham. He’s making use of a modified Venom, which flies in the face of what I saw as one of the character’s greatest strengths and the poignancy of the second Vengeance of Bane issue: his rising above and overcoming the need for Venom, and consistently proving himself powerful and smart with no use for the drug that had once had such hold on him. What I get out of this issue is pretty much a caricature of the character circa 1993 with none of the depth/growth/developoment that made me continue to like the character beyond the Knightfall arc 20 years ago. I see no reason to care about or be interested in this New 52 Bane, and I suppose I’m thankful to “get” that from a single issue rather than investing in an entire multi-issue arc…such as the Forever Evil tie-in mini this issue was probably aiming to “sell” me on picking up as a continuation.

SINESTRO (Green Lantern #23.4)

foreverevilsinestro001 I quite enjoyed the Sinestro Corps War a few years back, and enthusiastically followed all the Green Lantern stuff for years, but gradually trailed off. My past enjoyment of Sinestro as a character was the “selling point” for me for this issue, once I’d decided to get some of these Villains Month issues. I’ve been very loosely “aware” of stuff the last couple years in the GL side of things, so was not totally lost with this issue. It was cool to “catch up” a bit on Sinestro–even from a point of view outside of his own. While the “witness” is not entirely reliable to me, the overall context seems to me that we’ve had some extra detail added to Sinestro’s background–including his introduction into the GL Corps–that fits within established stuff. While not quite enough to spur me back to the monthly issues, this was an enjoyable glimpse back into the GL side of the DC Universe and hint at what I should expect as I gradually get caught up with the collected volumes from the last couple years.

BLACK ADAM (Justice League #23.4)

foreverevilblackadam001 I really wasn’t going to ‘bother’ with this issue. I’ve not been a huge fan of Black Adam except under Johns‘ writing, and I hadn’t cared for what I’d seen second-hand of the New 52 Shazam stuff…and was not at all interested in buying Justice League for the “backups,” and generally figured the Shazam side of things was no longer for me. But a friend’s into Shazam, and knowing he’s interested sparked my interest…as well as realizing that hey, this IS by Johns, so why not? And even though I am not “up to speed” on the New 52 status quo of the (formerly?) Marvel family, this issue provided some interesting details, and left me more curious about other New 52 stuff than any of the other Villains Month issues. With a collected edition of the New 52 Shazam story thus far just out, I might actually be inclined to check it out and see where I land thanks to this issue.

METALLO (Action Comics #23.4)

foreverevilmetallo001 I have never been a particular fan of Metallo, though I got kind of attached to the Byrne version introduced in Byrne‘s Superman #1. That take on the character–as he showed up with differing amounts of power and control over machines, the machine with a human brain basically–is the one I prefer. I’m not a particular fan of the former military John Corben or the ties to Sam Lane and Lois Lane. It just seems a bit too complicated having a major Superman villain be basically just a girlfriend’s spurned “ex.” Technically this issue does what I would hope for–introduces me to the character, shows how he got the way he is, and shows what he can do. But my lack of interest in the character in general taints that, and left me fairly cold and honestly did nothing to spark my interest in where the character might go from here. I’m pretty sure I remember Corben showing up in one of the earliest issues of the New 52 Superman (unless that’s blurred with Geoff JohnsSecret Origin mini from a couple years ago), and this issue hints at a prior battle with Superman, so it would seem to me the only real “significance” of this particular issue is the “introduction” of the “Kryptonite heart” and technically being the issue in which Metallo is recruited by the Society.

PARASITE (Superman #23.4)

foreverevilparasite001 If I’ve not been a fan of Metallo, I actually dread Parasite. I think the only time I found the character relatively tolerable was the 1990s Superman: The Animated Series. I especially disliked the character’s transformation in the mid-90s’ comics to the tapeworm-round-mouthed blob, and the continued round-mouthed look in general. And it seems the character was just redone in the last few years in JohnsSuperman: Secret Origin arc. So having yet another version of the character isn’t that appealing. As I read this issue, I found myself wondering why, exactly, I had even bothered to buy it–I grabbed it “off the shelf” not having pre-ordered it–when I should have “left it” same as I did the Bizarro issue (a character I likely would have preferred over this) and H’el (a character I’ve yet to actually read anything with). At least this issue confirms for me that I’m STILL not at all interested in Parasite, and saves me investing in a longer story than just this one issue.

KILLER CROC (Batman and Robin #23.4)

foreverevilkillercroc001 I think this is probably one of the better versions of the character I’ve seen; it definitely works for me, at the least. I never really cared for the grey-skinned version of the character on the Animated Series, and wasn’t all that fond of what I saw of the character in the early/mid ’90s (specifically around Knightfall). That version “worked,” though and I liked it better than the later “Leatherhead-lite” version that was further mutated a few years ago to look more like a “real” crocodile. This issue shows a Killer Croc that is green-skinned, some of the looks of a crocodile, but much more human-looking overall without losing the “monster” appearance. Something to this take on the character doesn’t go over badly for me. I like that the character’s still more muscle than anything else, yet he shows some room for brains, and definitely has a fairly disctinct “place” within the Gotham hierarchy of Batman rogues. I won’t specifically seek anything else out with the character just as a result of reading this, but the issue lets me know that handled similarly I probably won’t dread another Killer Croc story down the line.

Batman and Robin and the Library

After the death of Damian Wayne a couple weeks back, I put several requests in with the local library system. A number of the books came in at once, and I’ve been really enjoying the recent read-through.

For “free” I’m getting to read the entire original run of Batman and Robin, as well as the first volume of the New 52 iteration of the series. I’d actually forgotten how short the first run was…later this year the New 52 run will match the original.

Sometimes I get so caught up in fleshing out my own collection that I lose sight of the fact of what an AWESOME resource libraries are. Of course, if you don’t turn the books back in by their due date, you open up a whole other kettle of issues…

batmanandrobinfromthelibrary

Digital Transition: Requiem and The Walking Dead

brucemourningI bought into the hype and had the foresight to email the local comic shop the Monday morning the week Batman, Inc. #8 came out.

However, I did not display the same foresight for any of the “Requiem” issues that have come out since then.

I’m not particularly interested in Detective Comics with a $3.99 price point, ditto for Batman itself.

Much more interested in the Batman and Robin title, but as stated…I managed to lack the foresight to request a copy of the latest issue be held, and it’s not part of my pull file.

But I’ve also been–increasingly seriously–considering a transition to “going digital,” and I’ve been somewhat experimenting with that. This weekend feels like it definitely bore fruit in that regard.

digitalbatman018I get tired of wasting time and gas running around to various comic shops for an issue I may have missed (I hate using the phone, but that’s an issue entirely its own), especially when it often leads to me buying other stuff I normally wouldn’t, out of some kind of “guilt” of spending a lot of time in a shop and not wanting to walk out empty-handed; or even simply of reaching a minimum  purchase price for using a card.

There’s also the “immediate gratification” thing as well as “convenience,” to say nothing of the mere fact of owning a tablet now and being able to view full-page comics at almost “normal” size.

So in one quick expense, I was able to–at about 10pm Saturday, long after any comic shop would be open, and from the comfort of the chair I was sitting in, having just finished an episode of Person of Interest–purchase Batman #18, Batman and Robin #18, and The Walking Dead #108.

digitalbatmanandrobin000and018With The Walking Dead, I decided after all the stuff with #100 that I was gonna go back to waiting for the collected volumes. But then decided I was going to miss the experience of the monthly single issues, of fully keeping up with the story.

So, since I was then grudgingly willing to consider an ongoing prospect of purchasing twice…why not try buying the single issues as digital, and saving the collected volumes to be my sole print purchase for the series?

I’ve yet to make the follow through on print–I don’t think I’ve bought a collected volume since 13, as I’ve been keeping up with the singles–but I’ve followed one entire 6-issue run of the series now digital-only, and don’t particularly miss the print.

digitalwalkingdead103to108Yet another benefit to going the digital route–the issues are basically “always available” and never “sold out.” I don’t have to race to the comic shop ASAP on Wednesday to buy a digital copy of whatever issue; and if I don’t decide til late Saturday night that yeah, actually I DO want to go ahead and read that after all…I don’t have to wait til Sunday, Monday, or Wednesday to get back to a shop and hope they even have the issue in stock TO buy.

Also keeps me clear of the speculation side of things. I want to READ the issues. If I was in it for the speculation, I probably would’ve sold my Batman Inc. #8 already–but having been spoiled, I wanted the actual issue as a piece of history in the Bat-story. I don’t yet know what all the Requiem stuff will be–so far it doesn’t seem to be a single arc or such, so it’s kinda nice to hold off on purchasing until I’ve thought about it.

DC’s The New 52 – Buy/Borrow/Pass

batman001I’ve been listening to Comic Geek Speak’s coverage of the New 52 this month, and I rather like their ratings–rather than giving some hard number out of a total number, they rate the issues with whether they’d recommend one buy the comic, borrow the comic, or “pants” (pass) on it.

superman001As this week begins the second month, I’ve had a chance to try the titles I wanted to (actually wound up 16-17 beyond the 12-13 I’d originally intended). Ultimately, there’s no way I can afford to buy 29 titles from DC every single month…so while there ARE some titles I’d otherwise be “willing” to give a longer chance, I’ve made my decisions based on the first issues and varying factors involved with those.

BUY

  • Action Comics – It’s got history behind it. And it’s Superman. I’ll let it go on “habit.”
  • Animal Man – a great read, and really interested in where it goes.
  • Batman – Included Dick, Tim, Damian, and Bruce as well as Batman..basically was what these #1s should be.
  • Batman and Robin – Can’t quite see resisting a second issue. Giving Superman 2 books, I’ll allow 2 Batman books as well.
  • Demon Knights – Didn’t much care for this, but then heard CGS’ analogy that it’s D&D with the DCU. THAT I’m all for.
  • Fury of Firestorm – Lotta potential here, and with Ronnie AND Jason.
  • Green Lantern – Just ‘cuz. It’s GL, and if I’m gonna follow stuff in the GL-side of things, this is the title I’ll go with.
  • Justice League – Got my quibbles with it, but I’ll give it another issue before I completely give it up for decompressed.
  • Justice League International – Has Booster Gold, it got the team together in the #1 issue, and it’s got potential.
  • Resurrection Man – Abnett and Lanning, a fairly original (compared to what I’m used to) concept, I’m interested in where it goes.
  • Superman – In context of the New 52, my favorite of the #1s…I was excited enough to give it the full review treatment. ‘Nuff said.
  • Swamp Thing – After reading #1, I’ve now read the first volume of Alan Moore’s stuff. I soooo want to like this after all these years.
  • Teen Titans – Loving the Tim Drake stuff, the costume, etc. With Tim as the lead…I’m all for seeing where this goes.

BORROW

  • Batgirl – A morbid curiosity about Babs’ “miracle” and how her history post-Killing Joke is handled.
  • Blue Beetle – Might be persuaded to bump it to a buy, but for now just thinking I may go for the collected volumes.
  • Detective Comics – Already going with 2 Bat-titles, and not interested enough in the villain and other “WTF” stuff to it.
  • Green Lantern Corps – Used to be a “given” as a companion book to GL, but I’m hesitant to fully re-invest in single issues on the GL stuff.
  • Green Lantern New Guardians – I’d love to read a Kyle book, but not interested enough anymore in the rainbow corps stuff monthly.
  • Nightwing – Has potential, but I’ll likely grab the collected volumes; and already got 2 Bat-books for present.
  • Red Lanterns – Can’t quite see this lasting longterm, so I’ll get it in collected format if anything.
  • Static Shock – A fun book, but just can’t quite see bumping any of my Buys for this. I’ll be interested to see/hear where it goes, though.

PASS

  • Batman: The Dark Knight – Already have other Bat-books to go with, and just not a title I feel like following. It’ll have to get through the Borrows before it’d make it back to a Buy.
  • Captain Atom – Did not care for it, and don’t really have any active interest even in where it goes.
  • Deathstroke – Pretty much same as Captain Atom, though it’s got a much better shot of making it to a Borrow.
  • Flash – Most likely to make it up to a Borrow, but seems I’m most likely to be able to “get” what I care for via wikipedia or such.
  • Grifter – zero interest after #1 in where this goes.
  • Justice League Dark – Actively turned off by the opening issue and its lack of Constantine, among other things.
  • Stormwatch – Might be well written, but just did not interest me. If it becomes as major as rumours say, I can always play catch-up or get the beats via wikipedia.
  • Superboy – No pretense at being the character I care about in any shape or form, and I hear I’ll get a dose of him in Teen Titans, anyway, so no need to follow the solo book.

From the back of the bandwagon: My DC New 52 thoughts, Week #2

Batman and Robin #1

batmanandrobin001This was not on my original plan to pick up. But there was something to the cover, and the logo, and even the concept in general that I decided I actually WAS interested in at least checking out. I was too late to snag this at my usual comic shop, but went to another across town (where I wound up buying 5 more #1s that I’d not intended to get). I think what ultimately got me about this issue was that the concept is sound, and I’ve tended to like Tomasi‘s writing…I just haven’t cared for Gleason’s art, and grudgingly put up with the art when this team was on Green Lantern Corps. But given the dynamic between Batman and Robin–I rather enjoyed it with Dick and Damian, and was intrigued at seeing Bruce and Damian interacting. The villain of this issue triggered a huge sense of deja vu for me–I’d swear I’ve seen this villain before, but I cann’t place him as to where. An early issue of the Batman Reborn saga, perhaps? And despite my general dislike of Gleason‘s visual style, I think that was particularly on the Green Lanterns, with the human faces. His Batman is much more to my liking, though still not 100% thrilled with Robin’s look. Still…I hate to say it, but I think I’ll be back for Batman and Robin #2. (7/10)

Green Lantern #1

greenlantern001This was yet another title that I was not planning to pick up. A couple months into Brightest Day I decided to drop the singles and just keep up with GL through the collected volumes. So I was going to hold to that with this relaunch. Instead, I was totally hooked at the concept of Sinestro as a GL again. And with this supposedly a jumping on point (even if the GL books aren’t actually rebooting story-wise), I decided to jump in. And I have to admit–I’m hooked. Sinestro as an unwilling GL, forced to deal with the fact of being a GL even though there’s an enemy corps with his name makes for a lot of potential. Seeing him deal with some of the Sinestro Corps and the reflection of what he himself once did to his homeworld leaves a lot of room for exploration. Hal being stuck home and ringless doesn’t feel like anything new…and by the end of this issue, looks to be potentially a limited engagement sort of situation. Though I’ve generally really enjoyed Mahnke‘s art, especially on the Blackest Night stuff–it didn’t seem nearly as stand-out here. Of course, this wasn’t nearly as action-packed as the early issues of Blackest Night, and perhaps in my time “off” I’ve built up expectations that are a bit too high. Yet, the art’s not bad at all in my eyes. I don’t know that I’ll stick around for the entire arc, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to pick up GL #2 to see where things head from here. (8/10)

Resurrection Man #1

resurrectionman001I vaguely remembered this title from the 1990s, back when the New 52 were announced. A few weeks earlier, I’d wound up snagging a copy of the original Resurrection Man #1 (with the little circle “hologram” on the cover) from a bargain bin, so decided I would be interested in checking this new series out. Given the character’s been in limbo for a lot of years, I was curious at what would bring the character back to being an active part of the new DCU. Add to it that this is Abnett and Lanning, and I was basically sold on it, sight unseen. Now, something to Dagnino‘s art really gave me a sense of ’90s deja vu in the early pages of this issue–perhaps because (again) this is such an unfamiliar character I’m not used to seeing as part of a mainstream DCU. As such, the visuals fit the book quite well. The story’s a bit more unfamiliar, and I really have no clue who anyone is. But seeing the main character die and come back with some new “ability” each time he “resurrects” has something to it that keeps things interesting. I’ll be back for #2. (8/10)

Superboy #1

superboy001I’m not sure what I expected of this title, exactly…but what I got wasn’t it. I can’t tell if this is supposed to be the same Superboy (essentially, despite the reboot/relaunch) that I’ve known. But this seems like a whole new character, almost a new “origin.” Given that the New 52 seem to have varying degrees of newness about them, I’m a little put off here. Among other things, this feels a LOT like the introduction of the new Guardian (during the 7 Soldiers stuff?) where the “original” had been killed and this is a new character cloned from that one. Particularly with the “loss” of Jonathan AND Martha Kent, this comes off as a much different and less personable character to me. The art’s not bad, and the story isn’t bad in itself–just that it quickly comes off as something I’m not all that interested in. Maybe another perspective or some clarification would pick that up for me…but for the moment, I’m just not all that engaged or interested (all the more having read “Superboy Goes Bad and Beats Up the Teen Titans” back in 2005 heading toward Infinite Crisis. I can’t speak to new readers 100% new to the concept, but as a “clone” of Superman, this is NOT “the adventures of Superman when he was a Boy” but it does not feel, either, like the likely adventures of Connor…and I really have no interest right now in a brand-new Superboy. (6/10)

Demon Knights #1

demonknights001Maybe I just don’t pick up on certain subtleties…especially when it’s a subtlety buried in the midst of one issue when I’m actually reading a bunch back to back. But this one just doesn’t stand out to me the way it seems to be to others, and I don’t see the tie to Stormwatch here. Of course, I didn’t much enjoy Stormwatch, so…yeah. It was the cover that “sold” me on this–when I had to go to a second comic shop to get Batman and Robin, I told myself that if they had this in stock, I’d give it a try. The art wasn’t bad, and definitely fit the tone of the story. The story itself was semi forgettable, but not bad. There’s an air of “fantasy” with the supernatural here, and this is definitely a side of the DCU I’m less familiar with, as it really gets away from the “superheroics.” I also found Etrigan to be more interesting NOT being a “rhyming” demon. But I do think that overall, this title’s one that while not entirely uninteresting, I’m just not hooked enough to arbitrarily come back for a second issue. (6.5/10)

Deathstroke #1

deathstroke001My first exposure to Deathstroke was his appearance in an issue of Superman back in 1992, shortly before Superman’s death. At the time he was just another colorful character, and it was a bit of time before I even realized he was a “villain,” given that he had his own ongoing series. Mostly lost track of him until Identity Crisis, and since then I’ve had mixed feelings on the character. This was one that I picked up having decided to grab a few extras to take advantage of a promotion (buy 5, get 1 free). The cover’s not terribly impressive, nor is the logo. The story wasn’t all that thrilling (though humans modified with “Clayface DNA” does seem ‘new’). The “twist” at the end drastically affected what I thought was shaping to be an interesting sort of supporting cast for the title, and in its own way does a disservice to holding my interest. The art’s not bad (though doesn’t blow me away), and something about Deathstroke’s current design seems somewhat “off” from what I’d “prefer” for the character. All in all, not a bad issue–this seemed to somewhat stand alone as a “pilot” and while I don’t necessarily want my time back, unless someone else does a job in “selling” me on it, I don’t see picking up #2. (6/10)

Red Lanterns #1

redlanterns001I have to admit–when this title was announced, I was quite excited. A Lantern Corps other than Green getting its own book! Of course, it’s been well over a year since I stepped off the monthly following of all the Brightest Day stuff, so my interest has cooled a bit. Until the New 52 was announced, I’d figured this title had been scrapped. But I opted to give this first issue a try, as I’ve found myself particularly drawn back to the Batman and Green Lantern sides of the DCU. There’s some potential here, but this feels like something better suited for an official mini-series than ongoing. The story here seems to be coming out of the War of the Lanterns–which I’ve not yet read–but I can follow along well enough. The art’s good, too–I’ve generally enjoyed Benes‘ work. All in all, I think I’m going to probably pass on later issues. I see this being a limited story that’ll make a decent collected volume, and that’ll be the preferred way to read it, for me. (7/10)

Grifter #1

grifter001I’m not sure why I picked this up instead of Legion Lost #1. Perhaps because I’m avoiding the Legion of Super-Heroes, as they’ve never really been my “thing” on the whole. I really don’t feel like I know anything new of this Grifter character than I knew before the issue, and can’t totally separate him from being one of “those Wildstorm characters,” especially with the multiple Wildstorm relaunches and events and such I’ve read through the years, a couple of which I’ve tried to get into. The art’s not bad, but the story doesn’t grab me at all. I can’t tell if the character’s crazy, or who the “voice” is really supposed to be; nor how much this may be dredging up characters or concepts from early Wildstorm stuff (Daemonites, perhaps?). I have enough knowledge to feel unfulfilled here, though I wonder if there’s enough in the story to hook those unfamiliar with any of this. Maybe things’ll improve, but this was one issue too much for me, at present. (4/10)

Animal Man #1

animalman001I passed on this one for the first week. But heard plenty of praise for it and so decided to check it out for myself. Wound up being fairly impressed–I’ve never read Morrison’s run on the old Animal Man series, nor did I read the recent mini-series; but I kinda enjoyed what I saw of the character in 52. The story and art for this issue weren’t bad; I was interested to see Buddy’s family interactions, and it was neat seeing some of the ways he can use the animal powers in every-day life–both instinctively as well as to serve his own purpose (such as getting to sleep). The ending of the issue was thoroughly creepy, but served to hook me–I am highly interested in the next issue and where this is going…there’s something to the involvement with animals that gets to me. Offhand, I think this was one of my favorite of the New 52 so far, in the overall experience and stuff sticking with me. (8/10)

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