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The Weekly Haul: Week of November 8, 2017

This week was a pretty solid week for new comics, with several issues I was actively looking forward to, some just interested in, a surprise, and a couple bargain-bin issues!

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This week has the concluding chapters of The OZ Effect in Action Comics and A Lonely Place of Living in Detective Comics. There’s this week’s new issue of TMNT/Ghostbusters 2.

The latest Metal one-shot/special/tie-in, and the new issue of Fighting American. And since I’d bought the "#800" variant of Superman #34, figured this Wonder Woman one would be a nifty match (I hope whatever Batman one will be as easy to get!).

As said last week, something like this is where a variant actually IS warranted, "fun," a nice nod, etc. And it’s a hugely great thing that it’s NOT–after over a year and a half of "Rebirth numbering" now jumping the titles to the legacy numbers. (Action Comics and Detective Comics are definite exceptions, where it works, as they ONLY have ONE "gap" into which the low-numbers and style CLEARLY differentiate them from their 1930s/1940s counterparts…as opposed to cramming three, four, five-plus #1s/2s/3s/etc in to a single number string).

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The new Mister Miracle and Ragman issues; cases where mini/maxi-series are interesting enough to get as singles…especially when NOT all are "default-priced" at $3.99. These may not be Rebirth-branded titles, but that does not disqualify them (as default) from $2.99 pricing. Same goes for Gotham City Garage (which is–I believe–essentially a "reprint collection" of digital-first chapters).

Then from some Vertigo bargain bins, I snagged the two Swamp Thing annuals; only added $1 to my total, so definitely well worthwhile.

All in all, not a bad week’s worth of issues…though I have GOT to get everything from the last few months rounded back up and properly sorted, and dive in to actually READ, after leaving everything aside to charge through 60+ Savage Dragon and related issues!

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Detective Comics #965 [Review]

detective_comics_0965A Lonely Place of Living Chapter 1

Writer: James Tynion IV
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inks: Eber Ferreira
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Covr: Barrows, Ferreira, Lucas
Assistant Editor: Andrew Marino
Editor: Chris Conroy
With Gratitude to: Marv Wolfman, George Perez, and Jim Aparo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: November 2017
Cover Price: $2.99

I’ve gotten woefully behind in actually reading Detective Comics, though it seems it should be one of my favorite titles. But I was a bit put off by the supposed ‘death’ of Tim Drake early in the new run last year, and wasn’t in a big hurry to follow anything "long-term" with that for a number of reasons. And time passed.

Recently, I was quite excited by a familiar-looking image, in an ad for the then-upcoming (now here) Detective Comics story A Lonely Place of Living. For the cover alone, standard or variant (in an extremely rare bit of sentiment) I was going to get the issue ASAP: it’s a callback to my own earliest days "in comics." My first-ever issue of Batman was #439–the closing chapter of Year Three; my second issue was #440…the opening chapter of A Lonely Place of Dying, which is where this story gets its title (sorta like the recent The Lazarus Contract‘s title playing off the classic The Judas Contract).

So for nostalgia alone I was gonna get this issue. But given continuity things of the last six years, I didn’t know exactly what the story itself would yield, outside of the story title and the cover playing off the classic.

We open on a flashback–Tim confronting Dick as he visits the circus he grew up with, showing him photos of Batman going off the deep end and explaining that he knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and that he–Dick–is Nightwing, formerly Robin. In the present, we find Tim being questioned by Mr. Oz–recently revealed to be (a?) Jor-El, father of Kal-El (Superman). We’re treated to brief flashbacks to the events of A Lonely Place of Dying, and then the beginning of the original Robin mini-series as Tim dons the duds and officially becomes Robin. Jor-El reveals his "truth" to Tim even as Tim exerts some control of the situation. He soon finds himself in contact with Batman…only it’s not the Batman he expects…rather, it’s a Batman he swore would never exist. Before much can come of that, the two find themselves facing possibly the most dangerous creature Oz had captured, which leaves us waiting for the next issue.

I would have to actually go back to the original issues or one of the collected editions on my shelves to confirm, but the dialogue in the flashbacks hit pretty darned CLOSE to my memory of the exchanges between the characters, and honestly gave me a slight chill at the way the flashbacked-scenes brought up memories for me.

As of reading this issue, I already knew the "big reveal" of Oz’s identity (though I’m still not sure if or how I’ll accept it–I’m still waiting for some other swerve and imagine it’ll be quite a long time before I’d accept it as the canon it’s being presented as and not just another plot point on the way to something else). I definitely dug Tim’s ingenuity, seeing that despite his time as a prisoner, he’s continued working on a way to escape (and after another earlier escape that we saw in Superman Reborn).

I was not prepared for/expecting the older Bat-Tim to show up or be any part of this at all…I honestly initially saw him as "just another character" of no significance; some swerve to this story or some trap for Tim or some such; it was seeing someone’s comment about the Titans of Tomorrow story that jogged my memory and contextualized the character…making this all the more cool as a story.

I’m not particularly familiar with Tim’s story or origins from 2011-onward; really since before 2009 as I’d lapsed as a reader early in the Red Robin run, and got right back out of the New 52 iteration of Teen Titans that I’d tried at the start. But at least for this opening chapter of A Lonely Place of Living, I feel like I’ve got "my" Robin back, "my" Tim Drake.

Which is a rather personal thing for me as the character debuted AS I got into comics…

Story, art…all in all, this is an excellent issue, certainly for playing on my nostalgia. The story is strongly rooted in continuity, in history…and the art just looks good, with nothing taking me out of the story. This issue just is.

If you’re a fan of Robin, or Tim Drake, or the current run of Detective Comics, I highly recommend this. Really, even if you aren’t a fan of them…this feels like something big, and all the moreso to me personally. Only this first chapter in and I already know I am absolutely looking forward to the inevitable double-dipping of getting the collected volume, and wondering what form that might take–as well as whether or not we’ll get any new version of a collected volume of the original A Lonely Place of Dying story!

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The Weekly Haul – Week of September 28, 2016

As far as visiting a comic shop goes, this was another "small week" for me…with actually only one totally new-this-week issue!

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Action Comics has remained an immediate-buy for me, even when it’s out the same week I expect the monthly shipment from DCBS. For "only" $2.99, the title has remained thoroughly enjoyable to me and well worth the immediacy to get to read it day of release.

At a friend’s recommendation, I’d checked out Teen Titans last week, though it was actually from the week before, with it following up on the situation with Tim Drake. But much as with Justice League #52 with the Lex Luthor "prologue" to the current Action Comics run, I wanted a copy in print to file with all my Rebirth stuff. (I passed on the Teen Titans: Rebirth issue as I’m expecting the DCBS shipment in the next couple days and figure I could wait a couple/few days rather than double-purchase numerous extra issues).

Finally, in part listening to a podcast with folks discussing the Mike Grell Green Arrow run, I decided to snag the first volume. I know there are already at least 5 or 6 volumes, with a 6th or 7th solicited for December, so I know it’s a good series of volumes with plenty available…not like I’ll get stuck only being able to read 1 or 2 before having to resort to singles or such. While not the "fat volumes" I’ve been preferring for late-’80s/early-’90s reprints from DC, at the smaller issue count, it has a smaller price…so…c’est la vie.

$21 for an all-DC purchase of a 6-issue TPB and 2 new/recent issues…where the same would likely have been $30ish for a Marvel purchase.

Batman Beyond (2015) #1 [Review]

batmanbeyond(2015)001Brave New Worlds, part 1

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Chang with Maiolo
Editors: Dan Didio & David Pina
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $2.99

I truly had no intention of buying any DC stuff in June, let alone trying any of the nearly-half-as-many-as-the-New-52-launch-not-even-four-years-ago new titles. Yet, despite not yet reading most of New 52 Futures End, I had stuff spoiled for me, namely the death of Terry McGinnis and that Tim Drake was the new Batman Beyond…and given it’s Tim Drake, from the present shunted out of his time into the future (not the Tim Drake seen in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker that progressed to the time in a linear fashion), I was interested.

Add to that that this is "only" $2.99 cover price (and I feel like I haven’t seen a $2.99 comic in AGES!), I figured I’d check it out….AND show SUPPORT for the price-point!

We open on some Jokerz, and a fight with Batman…excuse to show off the time period a bit, the Bat-suit’s abilities, the Alfred AI (think Iron Man’s Jarvis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe), and that the character now is a man out of time. The Jokerz were stealing a device that would reveal Gotham to Brother Eye, which would allow the city to be targeted and destroyed. Batman goes to the closest thing he now has to "home" and interacts with a new supporting cast–Nora and Matt. Matt is Terry’s younger brother, who appears likely to have some definite "issues" with Tim, and Nora took Matt in after the Brother Eye attacks. Tim then heads out to see if there’s more left of the world than Gotham, and winds up fighting a Brother Eye cyborg Superman, and then meets an old ally who is in the present through linear progression.

The story works…and definitely does well for me AS a first issue. We’re given a good structure for an introductory issue: shown a dangerous, criminal act in progress (one that actually threatens the entire city), we see the hero in-costume enter the situation and defeat them, saving the city. We see the man behind the mask, we’re introduced to a couple of major supporting-cast characters, and exposition gives us some background on recent goings-on and status quo details. We’re given a larger, more dangerous situation for the hero with some story threads tying back to the big story that led to this title existing, and then we’re introduced to another likely supporting character with a cliffhanger to leave us wondering how this character will factor into things. We see the title character, we see him in action as well as downtime, meet supporting characters and touch on the general status quo, elements to play into the larger arc (if not series in general) are seeded, and we’re given cause to come back for the next issue.

I applaud Jurgens‘ work here, and would like to say that I’ll definitely be back for the next issue…but I’m honestly not sure about that, and I’ll detail why below.

The art is very good–the issue’s a treat to look at; character designs are good, the flow of action is easy to follow, and it does what the art should without calling attention to itself AS art.

Probably my biggest problem was the double-half-page candy bar ad breaking this up…it was annoying and distracting, and very unwelcome in an age where I’m not mentally trained to "expect" such ads. I pointedly ignored it as best I could but it was a case of "the more you try to ignore it, the more you notice it."

I should want to come back for the next issue on price point combined with Jurgens‘ writing combined with the nostalgia factor for the classic Batman Beyond cartoon combined with this being actual DC Universe combined with THIS Batman Beyond being Tim Drake, a key character I have grown up with in comics since his very introduction. If any of those reasons are of interest to you, I certainly recommend this.

But on a personal level I’m not really interested in contemporary New 52 DC stuff (which this is, even if the branding/label has been dropped), and I’m reading between the lines on things that shunting Tim Drake into the future is a means to remove him from "present-day" continuity where his presence has been quite problematic for the established timeline and would run counter to the use of Damian as Robin (Dick is presumed dead and now works as a spy, Jason is off doing his own thing as Red Hood, and now there’s no longer a Robin/Red-Robin running around to muddy up Damian’s claim to the title).

If Batman Beyond remains a self-contained title and all, I may try keeping up with it for a bit just for the Dan Jurgens and Tim Drake factor. That will be an issue by issue basis and be heavily influenced by its ship-week and however many other issues I’m picking up and how interested I am "in the moment."

Red Robin #9 [Review]

Quick Rating: Solid
Story Title: Collision (part one of four)

Beginning with apprehending a Killer Moth, Tim reacquaints himself with Gotham before retribution from Ra’s al Ghul begins…

redrobin009 Writer: Christopher Yost
Penciller: Marcus To
Inker: Ray McCarthy
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Assistant Editor: Janelle Siegel
Editor: Mike Marts
Cover: To & McCarthy
Published by: DC Comics

I’ve long been a fan of Tim Drake, and until the One Year Later break and price hike several years ago had followed the character since long before he even had his own series. And though I read a handful of issues toward the end of that series, and the previous 8 in this series…Red Robin #9 is maybe the first issue that has felt like there’s still that same character to be read that was in Robin.

We begin a new 4-parter in this issue. Tim reacquaints himself with Gotham, takes down someone in a Firefly costume (as the costume and person behind the name changes so much), has a moment with Connor (Superboy), catches up with new love-interest Tam Fox, and we see Vicki Vale prying into "Bruce"’s life. When Ra’s al Ghul ruins Tim’s good moment, Tim puts everything else aside to turn for help–pride be darned–and finds someone in the Batcave he had not at all expected.

The art for the issue’s good…my main complaint is that I still don’t like the Red Robin cowl–but I do like the way Tim himself is depicted. The visuals actually look like I’d expect for a comic, which is a definite plus; nothing that’ll blow one away with awesomeness, but significantly better than a lot of art in comics out there.

The story is decent–something about it leaves me wondering how firm a direction there is for this book. In a way, we have Tim–less than a year in–feeling much like the star of the 180-some issue Robin series, and quite unlike the dark, brooding character that began this current Red Robin series…almost like the primary difference is the costume instead of an attitude or specific story/character direction.

At the same time, it’s refreshing to see that a story doesn’t have to be exactly stretched or compressed to six issues for a "graphic novel" collected format–four-parters are ok, too. What’s rather frustrating, is that the four-parter this issue begins appears to continue directly into Batgirl #8…which is, for me, an entirely unplanned-for purchase, to say nothing of the fact that Batgirl #7 isn’t even out yet, I’m told. The cover has zero indication of any crossover…just a fairly "generic" or "iconic" shot of Red Robin, where I would expect a story continuing into another title would have something on the cover to indicate the crossover.

While one would not have the context of the "Eurotrip" and the setup of things from Tim getting on the bad side of Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Assassins, this isn’t the most horrible point to jump on the title. Still, the issue’s fairly standard, and not much here to truly draw someone in outta nowhere if they’ve not already been "on the fence."

Ratings:

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

Red Robin and Booster Gold: A Tale of Two Books

Red Robin

I’ve long followed Tim Drake’s adventures. His first appearance was in the Batman: Year Three arc, the final issue of which was my very first-ever Batman comic to own. The very next Batman arc was the Lonely Place of Dying 5-parter crossing over with New Titans, that officially introduced Tim Drake to the Robin role. I had initially missed–but quickly caught up on–the original two mini-series the character had, bought the Eclipso: The Darkness Within annual that summer, and the first year or so of the ongoing series following Knightfall.

While I’ve not been a completist regarding Tim Drake’s series (I have the 3 minis and the ongoing up to One Year Later as well as a couple of the Batman: RIP tie-ins and the series finale), I’ve generally enjoyed keeping up with the character. His changeover to the Red Robin identity brought me back, and while I was somewhat interested in where the character’s headed, told myself that I’d stop at Yost‘s final issue (Red Robin #12), as the end of that story seemed as good a jumping-off point as any.

However, I couldn’t resist checking out what Nicieza‘s going to do with the character, and bought the first issue of his run–Red Robin #13–and quite enjoyed it. I’m fairly torn on sticking with the single issues, though and lean toward simply waiting for collected volumes. At the least, I’m confident that Nicieza‘s got a good grasp of what Tim Drake’s all about, and the character is in good hands moving forward.

Booster Gold

Along similar lines, Booster Gold is a character I’m familiar with going back to 1992’s Doomsday / The Death of Superman arc. The character has matured quite a bit since then, particularly throughout 52 and the current ongoing series. Aside from guest appearances, the character was largely off my radar, though, from the late 1990s until 52.

I initially picked up the ongoing because of Geoff Johns‘ writing, and having been hooked back into the character during 52. I considered leaving when Johns left, but the announcement that Booster Gold’s creator, Dan Jurgens, would be taking over after a short interim team kept me onboard. With Jurgens‘ departure, I decided that I would probably step away as well.

Still, like with Red Robin, I couldn’t resist picking up the first issue with the new creative team (despite an ugly cover) to check ’em out, see what they seemed likely to be doing with the character. And again, I have to admit that I’m intrigued. Though this is the “Bwa-Ha-Ha” creative team, they keep a decidedly serious angle on the character (just with that humor thrown in), which is a welcome element: both in having the humor as well as them not in their very first issue discarding everything that’s come before. Instead, they seem to be leaving in place what’s already come, and are simply building from it…moving forward with a look back in the rear-view instead of turning the whole car around to GO back.

Also as with Red Robin, I’m not sure I want to stick to the single issues…but I’m definitely likely to be interested in the collected volumes. Lack of interest in the single issues is a comics-in-general thing for me, and not indicative of the creative teams’ quality.

Other thoughts

In the wake of the huge Blackest Night event across 9 months or so, and the majority of comics seeming to be hitting the $3.99 price point with virtually no stop in the $3.25 or $3.50 range, I’m burning out. I’ve also been increasingly frustrated at collected volumes either being over-priced for what they contain, or being a superior “package” to the single issues, as they often make me feel like I’m almost being “punished” for buying single issues.

Rather than burn myself out entirely and buying strictly out of habit and such, I’m looking at starting from scratch as to what titles I’m going to buy and keep up with, and probably cut loose a bunch of others for a time, as I can play catchup later if needbe–whether single issues at a convention or collected volumes from the comic shop or Amazon.

Red Robin‘s the only Bat-book I’ve been getting after deciding to bail on the Batman Reborn stuff last summer, and Booster Gold‘s been the only “general-DC” book I’ve been getting after opting to stop buying JSA when Johns left (I tried the first issue after and wasn’t sold on the new team).

And now as I look to pare down my buying even further…I’m likely to let these two titles go primarily for budgetary reasons. Red Robin will likely tie in to the Return of Bruce Wayne and/or whatever follows that, and Booster Gold‘s likely the same, as well as having ties to Brightest Day and Generation Lost.

If you’re interested in either character, where they’re going, or the creative teams…I still very much recommend them, and my choosing to let ’em go does not feel like a statement of quality as much as sacrificing books that seem likely to play into larger stories I’m not willing to risk getting pulled into on top of these books.

Red Robin #9 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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