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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.

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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.

Death of the Family Checklist

OCTOBER 2012

Batman #13
Batgirl #13 – Prelude to Death of the Family
Catwoman #13 – Prelude to Death of the Family

NOVEMBER 2012

Batman #14
Batgirl #14
Catwoman #14
Suicide Squad #14

DECEMBER 2012

Batman #15
Batman & Robin #15
Detective Comics #15
Batgirl #15
Nightwing #15
Red Hood and the Outlaws #15
Suicide Squad #15
Teen Titans #15

JANUARY 2013

Batman #16
Batman & Robin #16
Detective Comics #16
Batgirl #16
Nightwing #16
Red Hood and the Outlaws #16
Teen Titans #16

FEBRUARY 2013

Batman #17

Continue reading

Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Quick Rating: Not Wonderful
Story Title: Revenge of the Red Hood part two: Scarlet

Batman and Robin vs. Red Hood and Scarlet.

batmanandrobin005Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Pete Pantazis
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Covers: Frank Quitely and Philip Tan
Publisher: DC Comics

I really enjoyed the first issue of this series. It had a sense of excitement and freshness, and just that great sense of things being new and much better than the recent past. However, at this point, even some of what I liked in that first issue is wearing thin…and the "honeymoon" is definitely over.

This issue picks up with Red Hood and Scarlett confronting Batman and Robin. Red Hood’s determined to kill all of Gotham’s criminals and doing so while replacing the "Batman brand" with his own "brand." Scarlet–a girl the duo tried to save earlier in this series–has been manipulated into playing Jason Todd’s game, serving as his "sidekick." We continue to see the Gotham populace react to the bloody vigilantism as well as a more specific reaction from Jim Gordon.

I don’t know what it is, exactly–perhaps Morrison‘s writing style–but this story feels like it got rather convoluted in a hurry. I’ve never liked Jason Todd…I always thought the best story with him was the one in which he "died." The character seemed so much more effective in that tragic role. Now, it seems the character is little more than a bloodthirsty psycho.

Not liking the character, and not feeling much "connect" to the story, this story’s quickly growing stale for me.

The art for this issue doesn’t really do it for me, either. It’s not bad, but it’s somehow just not to my liking, at least not in this issue. It does a good enough job overall of getting things across, but other points I find myself doubling back to try to figure something out. Though I’m not caring for the style lately, Tan does do quite a good job of keeping a visual style similar to Quitely‘s opening arc. There’s a different look and it’s easy to tell that it’s not Quitely…but the style is not some huge departure visually.

All in all…if you like Morrison‘s denser writing style, if the art appeals to you, and/or you like seeing Jason Todd as portrayed of late…this issue’ll be well worth it. If not…you’ll probably enjoy one of the other Bat-books more.

Ratings:

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

Batman and Robin #5 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 2/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

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