Angry Review: Batman, Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo (Illustrator)

Batman, Vol. 7: EndgameBatman, Vol. 7: Endgame by Scott Snyder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

What the fuck just happened here?!
Wow. I officially loathe one of Snyder’s Batman stories.
Alright. I’m well aware that I’m going to be standing out here by myself, but I fucking HATED this. Like, I can’t even describe the rage I feel right now. Just pure fury mingled with crushing disappointment.
Well, what do you know? I guess could describe it!
Maybe Snyder has been the king of the Batverse for so long now, that he’s started believing his own hype? I mean,
really
?!
You may want to have those looked at, buddy.

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*deep breath*
I did really like parts of it. So there’s that.
Capullo’s art is amazing. Just spot-on, wonderful, and haunting.

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The facial expressions are perfect. Loved the way he drew…everything.

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Warning: Spoilers! Lots of ’em.
I’m not going to be able to properly bitch (or have a full-on tantrum), unless I can talk about what happened. If you haven’t read this yet, you may want to stop reading and come back later.

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Alrighty, the first part of the volume had me all aflutter!
Batman was fighting the leftover effects of Crane’s fear toxin, and he kept having these vivid dreams about his death. Julia was still helping Alfred with everything while he recovered, and it looked like their relationship was vastly improved.
I don’t know what happened in Volume 3 of Batman Eternal yet, but it appears they are living in some building previously owned by the Court of Owls. I hate the Owls, and I thought we were done with that whole hokey storyline, but I’m willing to let it slide.
Anyway, I loved Bruce’s interactions with Alfred.

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Ok, then Wonder Woman popped up outta nowhere and started beating the shit out of Bruce. She wasn’t making a whole lot of sense, and I thought it might be another dream. Apparently not…

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He managed to take her down, but, by that point, Aquaman & Flash were also both after him.
Boom! He pulled on his Justice-League-Taker-Downer suit, and incapacitated both of them. Nicely done! But he still didn’t know what was causing them to go nuts.

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And then Superman showed up, and everything became clear (ish).

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The Joker’s back!
And he’d managed to infect the Justice League with a special Joker Toxin. Batman narrowly escaped Superman, and (somehow) managed to get him, and the rest of the League, confined at A.R.G.U.S..
I’m assuming Alfred and Julia did this off-page, because when Bruce woke up (Clark hits hard!), the JL had already been hooked up to IVs.
Up next? Synthesize an antidote.
The bad news was that Joker let his toxin loose in Gotham, and it was spreading fast. The reallyreally bad news was that there seemed to be no way to make a working antidote.
I was on the edge of my seat by then, baby!
Why can’t they find an antidote?

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Ok, sounds pretty awesome so far, right?
Well, it was!
And then it all stared going downhill for me. At first, it was just little things (how did Joker managed to dose the entire Justice League?), but I brushed them aside, because I’ve been trained to blindly trust Snyder.
But also because of cool jump scares like this:

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But within that panel lies the problem.
I AM NOT FUCKING KIDDING ABOUT THE SPOILERS!
TURN YOUR ASS AROUND, RIGHT THE FUCK NOW!

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First, the fact that Joker was masquerading as the helpful doctor/intern from Arkham (Eric Border) that Batman has been working with, wasn’t a shocker to me. I’d been wondering when they were going to ‘spring’ that one on us. I mean, come on, he’s been shady from the start, but Arkham Manor pretty much confirmed it for me.
I can’t be the only one who was thinking that…

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The next step is a doozy.
The Big Twist is that the Joker can’t be killed. He’s immortal like Vandal Savage, Ra’s al Ghul, or Shovel Face from Twilight.
And he’s been around since (at least) the beginning of Gotham.

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DUM. DUM. DUUUUUM.
So…now we have some new convoluted Joker origin story? And he has powers? Has always had powers?
This explains why the skin on his face has healed itself.
Oh my God, I never thought I’d actually miss the fact that his face wasn’t attached anymore, but I’d rather have a totally human Joker without his fucking face, than WhatEverTheFuck Snyder was trying to sell me here.

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Still, I trusted him.
He’s the Goddamn Batman Snyder!
In my mind, I had full faith that he was going to iron out the kinks in this storyline.
It was an elaborate ruse! Or Bruce was in some Crane induced delusion!
The possibilities were whirling through my mind, even as I watched each corny plot thread unfold.

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Oh my! Joe Chill (exposed to the toxin) is waiting to kill a family. It’s been set up by Joker to look just like Crime Alley! Oh! Batman saves the family, but the toxin spreads to the adults, so he can only rescue the boy.
I’ll bet the boy is somehow part of Joker’s plan!

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Um…nope. Evidently it was just an excuse for Batman to save a kid.
Whuuuut?
Did we really need yet another reminder of the gunshot, the pearls falling, the sad little boy crying in the rain?

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Let me go ahead and answer that for you. No, we did not.
Whatever! In Snyder We Trust!
So when Joker broke into the Batcave and chopped off Alfred’s hand?

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I trusted him.
And when he stole the giant Dinosaur to use in a parade because that’s such an original fucking idea?

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I trusted him.
And when he had to go to the stupid-ass Court of Owls to find out if the Joker was truly immortal?

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I still trusted him.
Then have the world’s lamest fight with one of their Talons?

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I trustehhhh…well, if I’m being honest, I was starting to get pretty worried at this point. And, it turns out, I had every right to be.
Joker isn’t immortal, he’s just found some sort of a Lazarus pit to heal himself. Of course, the key to saving everyone in Gotham (from the toxin) is whatever’s in that Pit Juice.
*rolls eyes*

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The showdown culminates with Batman & Joker in a cave full of explosives.
They proceed to simultaneously stab and psychoanalyze each other to death.
Dr. Phil, what do you think it means when Joker lodges a playing card in Batman’s eye?
Well, Anne, I think it shows that they are definitely two sides of the same coin. They can’t live without each other, and so they will probably die in this cave together.
WhatTheFuck are you talking about, Phil?! Oprah lied to us! Self-help guru, my ass! You’re nothing but an obnoxious bully with a receding hairline, and smarmy grin.

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But it turns out Dr Phil was right.
Yep. They killed Batman…again.
I swear to God, I just now finally feel like I’m caught up on all of the shit from the last time he died, and they’re doing it again?
I guess Nubby Alfred could always step up as the next Dark Knight, if they wanna shake things up for a year or so.

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The final nail in the coffin though?
Batman left a note.

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Luckily, Alfred was able to translate the one word note that said Ha.
Blah, blah, balh…Batman’s story will always be a tragedy, because that’s the way he wanted it.
Live bravely, smile at the void, and eat cake…

Or something like that.
*vomits*
I can’t believe this shit. I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS SHIT!
You just did this, you idiots! Why don’t you kill off someone who hasn’t been dead in the past few years?
Green Arrow and Superman haven’t been dead in a while. Or how ’bout Hal? Maybe Spectre could come back and take him over again?
But no. Let’s kill Batman. Marvel got rid of Wolverine, so we need to off our flagship character, as well.
Great idea!

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*sigh*
Ok, the beginning of the story was great, and Capullo’s art deserves 5 stars all by itself, so this was not a total loss.
Again, I know most of you will love this, think it’s an ass-kicking story, and continue to worship this run. And I don’t want to argue with you, or try to change your mind. This is simply my (fairly worthless) opinion.

Ugh. I’m exhausted from hating Endgame so much. I’m going to bed.

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Initial thoughts:
Wow. I gotta think about this one for a bit…
My knee-jerk reaction is a hearty fuck you to Snyder.

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I received a digital copy from NetGalley & DC.

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Review: Batman: Eternal, Vol. 2 by Scott Snyder

Batman: Eternal, Vol. 2Batman: Eternal, Vol. 2 by Scott Snyder

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

For pure high octane fun Batman Eternal packs a pretty good punch. Plenty of crazy storylines weaving in and out, plenty of insane villains wreaking havoc, and plenty of the Bat-family heroes taking a stand against evil.

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It wasn’t until the very last page of this volume that I sort of took a step back and went..
The FUCK is this shit!?

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I’m not saying that this was bad, or that I didn’t enjoy it, but I was pretty annoyed with the ending of this one. And, yeah, I know it’s not The End, but…
Hmmm. I don’t think I’m saying this right. I guess what’s bothering me is that I just felt like I’d already read this story somewhere before. Did this feel regurgitated to anyone else? Anyone?
I mean, first of all, Hush is the Secret Villain behind a far-reaching conspiracy…
I know that’s been done before.
Is concocting needlessly elaborate schemes now considered Tommy Elliot’s superpower? Is it?!

Shhhh. Hush.
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And, second…

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!

Ok. And, second…
I’m not sure if Bruce has ever lost control of Wayne Enterprises before, but plenty of other superheroes have lost their companies, so (combined with Hush’s wash-rinse-repeat storyline) it didn’t feel like it was anything new or fresh.
After I finished, I felt a bit like a deflated balloon.
That’s it?

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BUT.
Before I got to the end, I was really entertained with all of the different threads of this volume.

Stephanie Brown’s Spoiler comeback was quite a lot of fun to read about. I’m not saying that there weren’t holes in this plot, but it was entertaining, nonetheless.

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And Catwoman! There can never be enough Catwoman in a Batman title, as far as I’m concerned. I love to watch these two do their little dance…

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Most of you already know that what happens –> here Crime lord? Am I saying that right? It sounds so cheesy…
Anyway, bad stuff happens to an innocent ‘someone‘ in this volume, and Selina decides that instead of trying to take the bad guys out, she should just take them over. There was a preview of her new title in the back of my copy, and it looks kinda cool.

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Alfred & his daughter both play a big role here.
Al gets jacked up by Hush, and his daughter finds out that he was keeping a few secrets from her…

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After a meet-cute with Batman, she reluctantly takes over as Penny-Two and becomes Bruce’s eyes and ears in the Batcave.
Also, Alfred gets to kick some undead ass with Bane in Arkham Asylum!
Shhh. Go with it…

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Lots of other stuff happening, as well. Batwing & Spectre get dibs on the paranormal angle, Batgirl & Red Hood do a little angry team-up, and Harper & Red Robin are getting closer to finding {insert random evil dude}.
It’s a Bat-family reunion!

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Well, not everyone shows up, of course.
Grayson is still playing dead/James Bonding it up over at Spyral, and Jim Gordon is still rotting in jail. Speaking of Gordon, his former protege, Bard, is still running around fucking up Gotham’s infrastructure as per Eliot’s instructions.
I was actually kinda hoping Barbara would have dropped him off that roof.

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Ok. I think overall this was fun, even if it was a bit unwieldy. Sure, some of it feels like old food that was scraped off and re-plated, but certain foods re-heat well enough. Volume 2 wasn’t as good as next day pizza, but it’s also not a total loss…like leftover nachos.
It seems like some important things are happening in this title that are going to affect the Batverse, so if you’re interested in keeping up with the current goings-on, this is probably a must-read. However, it’s super readable, especially if you’re willing to overlook a few of the nuttier aspects.

Thanks to NetGalley & the publisher for a digital review copy.

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Review: Detective Comics Vol. 4 – The Wrath, by John Layman

Batman Detective Comics, Volume 4: The WrathBatman Detective Comics, Volume 4: The Wrath by John Layman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


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I’d give this 3 and a 1/4 stars.

It’s called the Wrath, but that character isn’t really featured for most of the book. This is a very patchy collection of numerous stories.

There’s more about the Man-Bat, Kirk Langstrom, which is confusing, since Vol. 4 of The Dark Knight has a story arc about Abraham Langstrom (Kirk’s father) also Man-Bat! Hmm…turns out even Langstrom’s wife gets in on the act, as She-Man-Bat…though they don’t actually call her that.

Wrath is actually a super rich industrialist who comes back to Gotham and wants to change things for the better…Alfred makes some sly observations about this. Of course he wants to buy Wayne Enterprises, and Bruce doesn’t like him at all…in about 5 seconds, anyone with half a brain knows who he is…yup. It ain’t a spoiler unless you’re legally brain-dead. There’s a showdown, and Batman saves the day, but also lets the GCPD do things, and it repairs some of the bad feelings between the two (AWWW!!! Meh.)

There’s a story about Jane Doe, a psycho who has no skin, and can become anyone (sorta looks like a less weird Red Skull if she were a DC Girl) anyhoo, she’s killing tons of people and there’s a storyline with her and Harvey Bullock (nice to see Harvey finally getting used again!)

We see that Dick and Barbara are still not speaking to Bruce after the events of Death of the Family (though, having read it all, I’m still not entirely sure why…maybe someone would like to walk me through it? I have ideas, but…) though Batwoman shows up, but only to help the Langstroms try and stop all the Man-Bats who have been unleashed in the 900 Block by some bad serum (900 block story coincides with issue 900 of Detective Comics, or what would have been – clever eh?) given to everyone by Zsasz, who was given it by another uber baddy…the Emperor Penguin of Vol. 3…

It’s all to set something else up, and Batman has a showdown with him, which is actually a lot more taxing than the one with Wrath. I feel like Emperor Penguin got ripped off here, with the title going to Wrath…Not cool dude.
Batman gets help in the unlikeliest of places.

There’s a lot of Evil here, mostly from the uber baddies like Emperor Penguin and Wrath, and to some extent with Man-Bat, but he’s like the Curt Connors/Lizard of Gotham…trying to cure something with animals and fucking shit up along the way…sad storyline, but a bit confusing after how things end earlier in the book, and also no mention at all of his father’s actions as Man-Bat in TDK Vol. 4…hmmm…

Anyhoo, John Layman does the best he can, and there’s a bit more explanation of things that need it, and it is in no way bad, but it’s just very herky jerky, all over, and doesn’t flow much at all, it’s just a patchwork of interconnected Bat-Drama.

A decent read, but non-essential. Then there’s a story at the end about Bane, but not by Layman, and I barely read that…There’s also some very cool artwork by the 1000 artist who drew this volume…no joke, like 1000.

It’s good, and I’ll keep reading it, but Scott Snyder is on a whole other plain than everyone else in terms of Batman.


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Review: The Dark Knight Vol. 4 – Clay; by Gregg Hurwitz (end of series)

Batman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: ClayBatman: The Dark Knight, Vol. 4: Clay by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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This book is choc-full of evil villains. (It’s BATMAN! Duh…)

So anyhow, The Dark Knight has been one of the 4 main Batman titles, (Batman, Detective Comics, Batman and Robin) yet it’s probably the least known one. It made the mistake of having Gregg Hurwitz not write the first volume, he just drew it. Once he took over, things got better. Most of the Dark Knight seems to focus on villains and their origins (Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and this one…Clayface) and that’s a cool thing to do when Joker and Riddler (and Penguin to a lesser extent) dominate the rest of the Bat world.

I’m happy to see they’ve decided to go with the “original” Clayface, Basil Karlo, a very plain man who wanted to be an actor, but just didn’t have “it” to get noticed. Eventually he goes to Penguin to get help, and Penguin gives him some native thingy that turns his face to clay like malleability, so he can be a great facial actor. He in turn ends up doing things for Penguin, but things go wrong and he soon becomes all clay, but can become anyone he touches.

We see here that he’s taken as a very dangerous, almost invulnerable force. Arkham needs a special containment unit for him. We also see that he needs people to like him, as he stays calm in Arkham because his neighbour in the cells is a fan and they talk…only when he dies does Clayface go nuts. He takes it to another level, going after Penguin and taking him out, then seeks out the Joker to give him some Joker Gas/Serum. He then rampages thru town and takes people hostage to get an audience who he pumps full of Joker toxin so they laugh at his work non-stop.

What’s different here, is that Batman is written with just the slightest sense of humour…he and Alfred trade wits and barbs, and he even jokes around with Gordon (announces his arrival before he scares the shit out of Gordon in the dark.) The best part is when Clayface impersonates Gordon at the start of the book and kills a bunch of people…then later on, Gordon uses the Bat Signal, Batman appears and bitchslaps him…(sorry Jim, just had to make sure it was you)….HAHAHA effective but funny.

In addition, Batman actually listens to Alfred who tells him to get some help, and we get brief appearances of Black Canary and Condor (who? ya, no, this guy looks like a twat). Eventually Clayface is secured, and the sad chapter closes.

The next 2 books arc is called Voiceless, and is done entirely without dialogue. Alberto Ponticelli takes over the art here from Alex Maleev (who did a very good job with the Clayface arc, very dark muted tones and great use of browns). Alberto does different work, with good facial and body language artwork, but his is even more important in a wordless story.
The story is about a family of Mexicans, the mother works in a sweatshop, and when she accidentally breaks one of the angel figures she’s making, she is fired on the spot. She goes home and her young son is quite ill, she runs to the drugstore, which is closed, offers all her money to the pharmacist, who just drives off…you can figure out what happens next, since this is Batman…
They see advertisments for Gotham, and get into trucks to go there, but are separated. (Granny and young daughter in one, mom in the other) The Daughter and Granny are working in a Gotham sweatshop making Christmas ornaments, when Granny sees that granddaughter is alive, she decides to break out…but one of the captors sees her sneaking out a window, and well…that’s that.
Batman comes upon Granny’s body, and the art on this page is superb.

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It gets down to the very essence of what Batman is all about, and even now, looking at it for like the 10th time in the last 18hrs, the raw emotions just hit me very hard.

Well, long story short, Batman kicks the everloving shit out of the sweatshop folks, who of course, report to the Penguin…he rescues mom, has her reunite with the daughter in the hospital (cue more tears, Anne, you better take a box of hankies) and then throws down furious vengeance. Because this is still Batman, we see the Penguin get out of jail due to his many lawyers. Wayne Enterprises attempts to employ many of the workers, and we see the mother has a job there, as Bruce Wayne walks by and smiles at her in one panel.

The last page has Batman checking in on the family, and he smiles and waves to the little girl who waves back to him, then we see the final image…the broken angel on top of the Christmas tree, made up to look like Batman.

The final story is about the evilest villain of all: Abraham Langstrom, father of Kirk Langstrom, and new Man-Bat. Langstrom Senior is a corporate raider, who buys up companies and strips them for parts in a very ruthless manner, we also see that he owns pharmaceuticals and has no problem sending defective medicine to Africa to be used there because “It’s Africa.”. Yup, easy to dislike him. We also see he’s bullied his son, and is obsessed with being the Man-Bat and feasting on Flesh…well there’s a showdown with Batman of course, and the manner in which Batman takes him out eventually is draining…
(And thankfully, even in the midst of this, there’s a couple of jokes! Alfred makes fun of Bruce for saying Ouch while getting stitched up, and Gordon tells Batman people need to stop “Vigilante-ING” to which Bats replies “I don’t think that’s a verb”).

So all in all, a strong collection of 3 different stories, all relating to Batman, and giving us a nice connection to him and deeper understanding, all without extremely long and drawn out storylines. The Dark Knight is a great title to read if you like Batman but only want to dabble, or you want to jump in somewhere.

Sadly, this last volume marks the end of the series…I suppose it wasn’t feasible to carry this many Bat-titles, so we should be glad that this was around while it was. It’s also easy enough to read through separate from the major storylines, and good for filling your Bat-diction.


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Review: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (re-read)

Batman: The Dark Knight ReturnsBatman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

***NOTE: This was a re-reading in prep for reading DK2 (The Dark Knight Strikes Again)…I’ve already read it, and I’m going to stick with the 5 star rating, but more for what it means than if I just read it today and was born any time AFTER Michael Keaton’s Batman.***

1) There is no doubt in my mind, Frank Miller saved Batman. Between this and Year One, he’s got 2 of the Top 5, if not THE top 2 Batman books ever written, essential, and even essential for comics in general.

– Without Miller, there’s no Tim Burton/Michael Keaton Batman in 1989 (a movie, and event, which literally awed my 8-9yr old self in such a way that Batman will always be my #1, even more than 25 years later.)

– Without Miller, there’s no Christian Bale/Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy. (Year One)

Without Miller’s inspiration of Burton and later Nolan, does the Superhero Movie Franchise business take off like it does? I’m not sure, and if it does, is it the same? Does it carry the same gravitas? Or do these movies end up more like Superman? (No knock on the early Superman, but I can barely tell you a thing about Superman IV, which also came out when I was a kid, other than there was an Atomic Powered dude in a cape who looked like He-Man, and everyone else in the world thinks it might be the worst comic movie ever.

Without Miller, does Scott Snyder develop into the same writer he is? Maybe, still strong, but the same? No. Does he become one of the great Batman writers ever? No. Read Snyder’s current run on Batman (especially Zero Year) and tell me he’s not supremely indebted to Miller’s work (and this particular book).
I would then tell you that Miller plans to write DK3, which might be a great idea, or a horrible one, but then I’ll tell you that Scott Snyder is going to co-write it with him…and you’ll definitely check it out at some point.

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/12/0…

It’s hard for anyone under a certain age (and I think I just qualify as old enough, because I remember the Adam West Batman, and the comics being ho-hum until Jason Todd died and the Tim Burton movie) to realize just how useless Batman was before this. Miller also opened the door for everyone else to make him the DARK Knight, and to add their work to the canon.

That is huge, and for that alone, this book deserves 5 stars. When it came out, I think if I were old enough to have read it then, I would have given it 10 stars. So that’s that. It’s untouchable….in THAT way.

However…there is a lot of stuff about it that just doesn’t do it for me, and for others as well. I can see younger readers just thinking, who cares? Why bother, this isn’t original. I can see why too.

– The art…is 50% terrible…there’s some great stuff, but there’s also stuff so bad it wouldn’t be published today.

– It’s extremely verbose and wordy. If a comic is nothing but reading text and long winded internal monologues, at some point it becomes extremely tedious; Show me, don’t tell me! Otherwise I’d read a book. I want to see some wow splash pages too, not just words. Does that make me sound like a troglodyte? No I don’t think so. I understand some degree is allowed, and in many ways, at the time less speech bubbles was a new(ish) idea.

– The Politics of the Cold War and Reagan-era USA aren’t relevant to the readers of today…well…Russia does have a powerful military and single leader…and the US doesn’t like ’em much…but…no.
It can be dated at times, but that’s not a huge complaint for me (I like history and contextualizing oneself in the period) but I see why others won’t like/care/understand.

– TOO MANY TV screen talking heads. But again I think that’s just a commentary on the new-ish 24 hour news channels on cable that sprang up in the 80s (yes kids, there was a time when CNN and MSNBC weren’t a thing, and before the interwebs and cellular telluphones. We played with sticks and rocks and rode dinosaurs in black and white…). I think they’re meant to annoy the shit out of you.

What I do like, is that not only is Batman examined, but this gets into some of the stuff that would pop up later on in Marvel’s Civil War and other books: Superman is a government agent in exchange for freedom, Wonder Woman has left for home, Green Lantern is in space, and Green Arrow is some kinda survivalist nutjob (who hates the big blue boyscout). There’s examination of the legality/criminality of heroes within society and if they help fight evil, or encourage it’s growth. Even if Miller didn’t devote the whole book to the idea, the idea itself was latched onto by many readers who grew into the writers of today, and we see those concepts debated all over the Marvel and DC Universes.

It also gets to the core of Batman himself. Bruce Wayne is the disguise, Batman is the reality. Even if he deluded himself otherwise in retirement for a decade, the hunger, the drive, the spirit of the bat, it is inside of him, and finally comes out, just pushing everything and everyone else to the side. I love the way Miller gets that across, that he cannot escape it; he knows it in his soul, because the Bat IS his soul. The very essence of what Batman is is what keeps Bruce Wayne alive, and without it, there’s no point. The 55 year old man is able to do things a man 20 years younger would have trouble with, and it’s all thanks to, and because of the Bat. Bruce Wayne is irrelevant, Batman and the power of what he represents is key. And surprisingly, what Miller thinks Batman represents, or at least how I see it, is that Batman, for everything that he is, represents HOPE. If not hope, Batman is Gotham. The 2 are tied together, one cannot rise without the other, and both suffer in the absence of the other.

OK now it feels like I’m writing an English essay on a book report…That’s another thing, Miller’s work here was a huge help to the entire industry of comics, and graphic novels. There’s no Sin City without TDKR; I don’t think DC and Marvel become powerhouses, I think the comic industry takes an even bigger hit; Comicon, does that still thrive? I honestly don’t know, but interestingly enough, much like Gotham without Batman, Batman without Miller and this book, could not/would not have thrived or even survived. It would have been a shell of itself.

So there’s my 200 cents on the matter.

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Review: Batman – Zero Year: Dark City (Vol. 5) by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Batman, Vol. 5: Zero Year - Dark CityBatman, Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City by Scott Snyder
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OK, so time to actually review this…

A lot of my Shallow Reader friends have already covered most of what I would say about this, but I’ll briefly expand on what I thought…

1)Like Anne I loved seeing the giant penny do something! I also agree that Snyder’s 25yr old Bruce Wayne has more in common with Dick Grayson than the Bruce Wayne we’re used to. Good point as well that Batman has years to grow bitter and into the badass who has every angle covered that we’ll ever know.

2)This Batman is not perfect…he gets beat by Riddler, and people suffer for it. This is just like Anne says above, a perfect explanation for how the paranoia of over-preparation came to Bruce/Bats…by this early defeat and un-preparedness.

3)Much like Sam, I loved that Snyder made Edward Nigma/Riddler back into a force to be reckoned with. The exellent Arkham series of video games has done a magnificent job showing just how proficient, ruthless, deadly and prepared Riddler can be (much like his Dark Knight counterpart…) In many ways, Bruce learned as much about preparation from Riddler himself, as he did from his being defeated by Nigma. Just like we learn how Red Hood shaped Batman, we also see here that Riddler is no slouch, and even more dangerous than anyone else. Bruce learns a lot from his matchup with Riddler, and without it, wouldn’t be the same Batman we know and worship.

Hurrah for the Rejuvenational Rehabilitation of the Riddler!

4)I entirely agree with, and love that Sesana points to the aspects of Bruce and Alfred. Alfred’s little coda at the end with Julie Madison (kudos again to Snyder for being that aware of the history of Batman to throw her in here, in a small, but pivotal scene) shows just how deep the Gentleman’s Gentleman feels responsible for ‘Master Bruce’ and what sort of hope he holds out. In many ways, I don’t think Batman would be nearly the force he is without Alfred. Father figure, wise sage, battlefield surgeon (who I just realize now, might have picked things up from the Army as well as being Butler to Doctor Thomas Wayne…) and more patriarch of the Wayne’s than any actual Wayne since Thomas.

This is like getting to go back in time and see just how gut-wrenching it must be for Alfred day in and day out for years, decades, to see what young little Bruce turns into. The heartfelt moments between Bruce and Alfred really get to me, because it’s something we always know is there, but luckily, hasn’t been overdone by writers yet.

As for my own thoughts, I love the Riddler being relevant, I love the nods to Batman past, and I love that this just feels fresh, even though I’m sure most of us have read similar things in Batman many times before. I also liked the Gordon/Bats relationship development, even if it did feel a little convenient at points (Gordon/Bats relationship develops just like it did in Year One, with mistrust at first giving way to cautious trust.). Also nice to see Lucius Fox get some screen time (as well as a bit of explanation about his son, who some might know became Batwing #2). There’s just not a wasted note, everything seems to be planned out well, just like Batman would, years in advance so that every detail has been thought of.

I’m not sure the chronology, but I’m guessing this came out before Forever Evil…? If so, I’m not sure if I should just call out Papa Johns on the blatant ripoff of the ‘electronic item wired to heart of said Gotham superhero’ we see here, and the same one we see wired up to Dick Grayson in Forever Evil…but it’s the end of the year, and I’m almost out of negativity, so here’s what I’ll be charitable and do instead…Johns, as the cheese at DC, knew this was happening early in Batman’s career, so fast forward to Dick Grayson having his heart wired up to a device the same way Bruce had his wired up, and boom…Bruce realizes the Alfred role, and all of a sudden, has the humanity to realize that if he cannot value Dick as much as Alfred valued him, then he’s not prepared for that life. This would be a great explanation as to why Batman doesn’t just go practical here…sorry, it’s a bit off topic, but I wanted to address it, and I would love to know if anyone else noticed that before I mentioned it…

I just re-read The Dark Knight Returns (I took out The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and I wanted to be on the same page before I got into that), and it seems in many ways Snyder’s work ties in closely to Miller’s. That being said, I prefer Snyder’s, and Capullo is a WAY better artist than Lynn Varley. However, it’s interesting to see that this young Batman here (and in Secret City) could very easily have become the Dark Knight of Miller’s work (the comparisons between Year One and Secret City abound, and for good reason). I particularly enjoyed the page that was a clear shout out of respect and acknowledgement of Miller’s monumental work, leaving no doubt to anyone reading that Snyder and Capullo know and respect the history.

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Pretty Damn Cool.


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Review: Batman and Robin Vol. 4 Reqiuem for Damian, by Peter J. Tomasi

Batman and Robin, Vol. 4: Requiem for DamianBatman and Robin, Vol. 4: Requiem for Damian by Peter J. Tomasi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first issue is entirely wordless, all done with artwork, and a stand-out job by Patrick Gleason. It’s true, picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures say it all. There’s no way you could write what needs to be communicated…The use of the art form is at some of it’s best work here…the last page, where you see Bruce find a note Damian left for him…utterly heartbreaking; his reaction is spot on. I was also glad to see they focused on Alfred as well.

The rest of the book is Robin and (well the other Robins actually) Red Robin goes to stop Batman from making a terrible mistake and perverting the memory of his son (and features an appearance by a certain monster).
Batgirl tries to stop Batman from being overly violent with criminals, and it’s kind of odd what transpires…(view spoiler)
The next features Batman and Red Hood teaming up to stop assassins, but it actually ends up being for an entirely different reason, which rightfully angers Jason, and though understandable, it is sad to see.
There’s also a few appearances by Carrie Kelley (who was Robin in Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS) who was actually tutoring Damian in theatre and other cultural forms. It’s an interesting development, as she may be playing a larger role in the future…

Of course, the final issue of the collection features the other Batman to Damian’s Robin: Nightwing. Dick is written perfectly here. He doesn’t try to stop Bruce or change his mind, or get in his way, he simply lets him do what he has to, and instead of telling him not to, he goes along for the ride. I’m not ashamed to admit, the way Dick handles the situation left me a little misty eyed. I love how he’s turned out here, and I think maybe we’re meant to realize that, and balance it against Bruce never getting to see Damian get to grow the same way.

This is probably Tomasi’s best work on the title so far. I was more than impressed, and while some of the things didn’t ring entirely true, the motivation/emotion behind them made perfect sense.

I’m considering buying #18 as a single issue just to have the textless masterpiece by Gleason.

STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for people who liked Damian and miss him, and for people who like to see an emotionally damaged Dark Knight in his darkest days.

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