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New Comics Outnumbered by Bargains This Week

Having decided not too long ago to let FF and X-Men: Legacy go when they were the ONLY new comics due out that week that I would buy, and neither was officially on my pull list. I found myself in a similar position this week, but this time, didn’t want to pass up the new TMNT issue, and the Hardbacks sale was incrementing to 80% off this week.

I totally forgot that I was going to stick with digital for Batman, Inc. (d’oh!), but still found several new hardcovers…and a vintage box of TMNT trading cards still in their original packaging.

20130424newcomics

All told, this week’s haul cost me less than the cover price of the Ultimate Comics Doomsday volume.

The local comic shop–Kenmore Komics–started off with these various hardbacks at 50% off cover, and the discount’s been increasing 10% each week. Next week–assuming anything other than Ultimate Human is left–I may snag a few other volumes.

But for now, I think this sudden huge influx of new hardcovers is about done, though I’ve got a short list of books I’m after that I’m probably going to have to pay a lot more for individually.

Skipping Wednesday

batmaninc009onipadFor the first time in I-don’t-know-how-long, I’ve actually “skipped” a Wednesday trip to the comic shop.

The last few weeks have been expensive. I’m pretty sure the entirety of my actual pull list is all $3.99 comics–Valiant, TMNT, All-New X-Men–and even some of the stuff I’ve been getting “on the side” withOUT officially adding to my pulls have been $3.99 stuff.

And along with the high pricing, it seems that things CLUSTER. Leading to weeks like this–where the only two issues I’d be picking up are not even part of my pull list–FF and X-Men Legacy; two of now-all-too-rare $2.99 books. As neither title seems to be particularly integral to any other title or ongoing events, and I’ve not had any trouble tracking either down, I figure even if I wait til next week or have to swing through another comic shop, not gonna be any real problem getting them. And though I’ve been passively enjoying both titles, neither has me chomping at the bit to read “the next issue,” so this MIGHT even be a test for myself if I even want to continue with them (I didn’t even notice I’d missed issues of Thunderbolts until 2 or 3 came out after my last issue, so I’ve let that one go).

I did (digitally) buy the new issue of Batman, Inc. to read. I’ve rather firmly opted to stick to digital-only for the Requiem issues, specifically AVOIDING the hassles of not being able to grab ’em off the shelf myself for “collectors” snapping them up cuz of the whole death-of-Robin thing (or just fellow readers also checking things out).

So…no comic shop this week, at least not the “regular” or “usual” comic shop visit. Maybe later I’ll touch on that issue of “clustering,” particularly where if the Valiant books were actually spread out more, even one more book planned for print-edition purchase would’ve justified the trip to the comic shop.

My "history" with Robin and dead sidekicks

ghostrobinMy earliest experiences with “current” Batman comics was back in Spring 1989, and involved the end of Batman: Year 3 and the start of Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying, as well as The Mud Pack that ran in Detective Comics.

I remember being surprised to learn that Robin had DIED. Here on the cover of Detective #606, we see Batman before the grave, Robin’s ghost pointing accusingly at him.

In the issue itself, it turns out that Batman’s facing a shape-shifter, momentarily rocked by seeing Robin “alive” before the realization of a shape-shifter kicked in.

For me, as an 8-year-old, this was Big Stuff, though. I knew there was a gap between my grandfather’s comics and these…and the fact that Robin had died since Grandpa’s comics really illustrated (to me) that this was an older Batman. I didn’t know much about “continuity” at the time, but I “got” the passage of time and “knew” characters had grown/changed/etc.

I gradually pieced things together from Continuity (yeah, even an 8-11 year old could do that, back in ’89-’92!) and learned that 1. this was a SECOND Robin, that had died–the original had gotten older and became Nightwing; and 2. he’d been beaten to death by the Joker.

deadrobin01

Thanks to the local library system, I was eventually able to access and read the tpb of A Death in the Family, witnessing the death of Jason Todd for myself.

Meanwhile, though extremely sporadic, I was around for Tim Drake’s introduction as Robin–first in A Lonely Place of Dying, and then in 1992 where he was still fairly inexperienced, shortly before Knightfall and his rapid growing up and graduation to his own solo book, etc. (I’d missed much of his training and officially taking the name Robin in the DCU, though.)

II got the Robin III: Cry of the Huntress mini-series, and the first couple issues of the ongoing series, and had picked up the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual.

I got back into the series a few years later around #50; backtracked immediately to #46 or 47 and kept up with the title; a couple years later I bought a set of the first 40 issues, and tracked down the intervening specific issues, such that by the time the series hit #100 I had the full run to that point. I fell away from the title for a couple years, but again tracked down the back issues to fill in the gap, and kept up for several years.

deadrobinstephanie

I was there for the all-too-short span of time that Stephanie Brown was the “first” female Robin, and her apparent demise in the War Games event. I read Identity Crisis as the issues came out, and was horrified and moved at the death of Tim’s father.

I used One Year Later as a jumping-off point, but got sucked back in around the Batman: RIP story, and yet again filled in the gap. I then continued into the first year or so of the Red Robin series, when Damian Wayne was made the new Robin for Batman and Robin, when Dick had taken over in Bruce’s absence. I’ve yet to track down the latter half of the Red Robin series, though it’s on my to-do list.

I picked up the first several issues of the New 52 Teen Titans run specifically for Tim Drake/Red Robin, but for a number of reasons basically gave up on the New 52 as a whole.

And now, this week, I picked up Batman, Inc. #8, and witnessed the death of another Robin.

deadrobin02

It’s been a long run. I started out 4 years younger than Tim Drake, and now I’m 2 1/2 times the age he was in Lonely Place of Dying. I’ve seen him grow into the role, and learned of Jason’s past, and saw the interaction/brotherly relationship develop between Dick and Tim. Saw Tim leave the role for a bit, with Stephanie Brown stepping in; then her “death” and Tim returned to the role.

batman676After the supposed “death” of Batman in Final Crisis when Dick took over as Batman, it seemed like Tim was kinda shoved out of the way so that the then-still-fairly-new character Damian could officially be Robin.

And now Damian’s dead, and I’m curious about where the Bat-books will go from here, how Batman will be portrayed in light of this new loss.

While we didn’t know at the time that Stephanie Brown wasn’t dead, not much was really done in light of her death; not the way there was with Jason Todd died. No Robin suit in the Batcave, and not much seemed to be done showing Batman without a Robin (Dick and Tim were still around).

But this seems likely to be more on the scale of Jason’s death.

batmaninc(vol2)008In the “meta” sense–interviews, rumors, hearsay–it seems likely this character death may be pretty final. At the least, this is rather sudden–seems just a couple weeks ago Death of the Family ended, we saw that Damian (and the others) were (physically) ok, and it seemed a bullet had been dodged–no major character in the Bat-family had been killed.

Then the “news” broke the other day, Batman, Inc. #8 spoiled quite handily DAYS before the issue went on sale.

So there’s the marketing, the hype, the spoilers, the speculation (I emailed my LCS Monday morning, so a copy of the issue was waiting for me at my convenience Wednesday).

Yet, there’s that Death’s Revolving Door in comics…a character dies only to be back within a few months or a couple of years.

Shamefully…I’m finding myself with a rekindled interest in Robin; in all the Robins…and especially in the idea of catching up on both iterations of the Batman and Robin title; possibly other Bat-books in general.

Batman Incorporated #8 [Review]

batmaninc(vol2)008The Boy Wonder Returns

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Art (pgs 6-9): Jason Masters
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Associate Editor: Rickey Purdin
Group Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Chris Burnham with Nathan Fairbairn
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

DC suckered me.

I’d read and heard rumors throughout the Death of the Family stuff going on that we might get a “big death” in the bat-family, and it seemed like most guesses were going toward either Alfred or Damian. Of course, that proved to be yet another Major Joker Story where the scary madman doesn’t actually kill any major characters.

Then I caught wind of this issue–and as the bulk of the comic fans On The Internet learned a couple days ago…this issue gives us that “big death.” Thanks to DC, the “news” was out days before the issue, SPOILING its otherwise surprise for many comic readers–myself included. I’m almost ashamed to say that the spoiler/confirmation of the “big death” prompted me to get this issue.

I recall picking up the reprint of Son of the Demon a few years back, when Morrison‘s run started–and I’m pretty sure I picked up the first couple issues, at least, of his run, not long after Infinite Crisis. With this slightly-muddled memory of being there at the beginning, I wanted to be here at the end. And…my very first Batman comics were less than a year after the death of the second Robin, Jason Todd.

So, Batman Inc. #8…that’s what this review should focus on, right?

This is my first issue of the title. Batman Inc. was not part of the first wave of New 52 titles, and so I gave it a pass when it did premiere. I don’t think I even got around to reading any issues of the original iteration preNew 52. So other than the loose concept–that Batman has agents all over the place in a more formalized structure–I come to this cold.

This issue opens with Robin (Damian…I’m still not totally used to Robin NOT being Tim Drake) flying into an ongoing battle, and connecting with Nightwing. Meanwhile, Batman is fighting against Talia al Ghul (Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter, mother of Damian). Red Robin’s part of the mix, fighting elsewhere. Nightwing and Robin have a moment–the original Robin and current Robin, on their own time as Batman & Robin. Enter an armored warrior from Talia’s end, and the two realize they’re in trouble. Nightwing falls, leaving Robin to stand against this Goliath-figure.

As Robin leaps to the attack, agents outside the fight interfere, and the boy is wounded numerous times, while calling out to his parents to stop this fight.

And for the third time…Batman finds himself with a dead Robin…perhaps the most personal of all, as Damian was his own flesh-and-blood son.

Story-wise…this is a painful issue. Most of the fighting fits, and seems like just another large-scale incident with superheroes involved in some city-wide invasion or such. But the scene of Damian’s battle is just…brutal. Despite all I know of the character–and the character certainly being “old before his time,” this is still a child…and it’s (to say the least) not at all a comfortable scene. I have no idea what Batman and Talia are fighting about this time, the details of their present issues…maybe I’ll find out via Wikipedia or listening to the inevitable podcasts covering this issue, etc.

Visually, I have no problem with the art–even the multiple artists didn’t throw me at all. Reading the issue, I just kinda sped through, taking in what’s going on, and honestly would not even have NOTICED there were multiple artists had I not specifically read the credits to list above for this review.

It was probably a mistake for me to give in and allow much weight be given to this issue. “The death scene” is only a couple pages, and easily recapped. Unlike 1988’s A Death in the Family, I’m reading only a single issue, so it’s not like this is the culmination of several issues’ reading, building to a climactic moment. This is me having a specific moment spoiled by mass media and deciding to read the issue for myself rather than simply read ABOUT it.

As a standalone issue, I’m not all that thrilled with this. I didn’t really pick up on much context of the “why” to the fighting or other context (I’m sure this’ll make more sense read in a collected volume, in-context). But sadly…I got what I paid for. I witnessed the brutal death of another Robin…a visual I’m uncomfortable with, yet get to live with today, and moving forward.

Batman: The Dark Knight #1 [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 3/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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