Secret Origins Vol.2 by Brian Azzarello

Secret Origins Vol. 2 (The New 52)Secret Origins Vol. 2 by Brian Azzarello
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It took me several days to read this tombstone. I am just going to do one line impressions of each story, ’cause I’ve had a long day and this is not worth it.

Chapter 1: In which the Stone family is introduced through some lame dialogue and DC screws up their own timeline while Victor deals with anger management issues.

Chapter 2: In which Bruce Wayne has a George Clooney chin but not the vinyl suit and Jason goes for ninja training to deal with anger management issues.
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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: Batman: Under the Hood Vol. 2

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Yep, you guessed it. It’s red. His head…uuurr…helmet…aahhh…hood, I mean.

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Winick’s Under the Hood storyline is stupid good. Should be required reading for any serious bat-fan. And while I thought Vol. 2 was not quite as fantastic as Vol. 1, it’s still awesome. Beware of some spoilers for those unfamiliar with the Red Hood or this story.

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This book jumps around a bit. Winick fills in the gaps between Jason Todd’s death and resurrection in this collection. Judd also follows up on Vol. 1 and the fall-out from Red Hood’s ongoing war with Black Mask. I always thought of Black Mask as a second stringer at best before this run. Not really original. Been there. But, I actually like the angry fuck now. His back and forths with the Hood were well done and gave him some personality.

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Some other great moments include Alfred reminiscing, Batman continuing his search for an explanation as to what happened to Jason after his “death”, and the final showdown between Batman and the Red Hood. Judd’s Joker was pretty sick too. You didn’t think Jason was gonna let him get away with killing him did you? There were a couple of things I should knock off half a star for including issues with the casket investigation, the weak connection to Ra’s Al Ghul, and not using Deathstroke more. Love Slade.). But I’m not, because Judd’s entertaining and ambitious story is ballsy and he took a real chance bringing back a character most thought of as being better off dead. Jason’s Red Hood remains to this day and I still like the guy more now than I ever did when he was Robin.

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DC also brought in some great artists to complement Winick’s epic. Doug Mahnke returns along with new artists Shane Davis and Eric Battle. All three killed it and provided some beautiful work. Easily as good as the first volume in terms of consistency and I loved it. Jock did the covers for the individual issues and this might have been his audition for another Batman classic, the Black Mirror(read it).

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Recommended to all my Batman peeps.

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Review: Batman: Under the Hood Vol. 1

Batman: Under the Hood Vol. 1Batman: Under the Hood Vol. 1 by Judd Winick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I own both volumes of the original collections of this story. Vol. 1 includes Batman 635 to 641 and there is a new edition of this title that collects both Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Batman 645 to 650 and Batman Annual #1) in one book. I will be reviewing both of these volumes separately. Just cuz.

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Be warned, some spoilery stuff in this one folks. Judd Winick proved with Under the Hood Vol. 1 that he can not only can write a great story, but one of the greatest Batman stories ever told. I couldn’t help but think of Brubaker’s epic run on Captain America and the birth of the Winter Soldier (equally epic) when re-reading this one for Red week. Judd introduces us to the new and improved Red Hood in this kick-ass Bat-tale.

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Review: Batman/Superman, Vol. 2: Game Over by Greg Pak, Brett Booth (Illustrator), Jae Lee (Illustrator)

Batman/Superman, Vol. 2: Game OverBatman/Superman, Vol. 2: Game Over by Greg Pak

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was weird.
The first two (or three?) issues are sideways.

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I found it sort of off-putting because it’s an awkward way to hold a hardcover comic book. I mean, it’s not like it’s all that difficult to turn something to the side, but it got on my nerves after a few issues.
Or maybe I’m just a big whiner-baby?
Anyway, the gist is that Toymaker accidentally invents the World’s Deadliest Virtual Reality game.
I enjoyed the banter between the boys, but the story itself was just ok.

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In a (sorta) continuation of the gamer story, Batgirl, Supergirl, Red Hood, Krypto, and John Steel show up and help our guys kick some alien butt.
Again, it was an ok story. There were a few memorable moments between Barbara and Steel that made me laugh, and I enjoyed seeing Jason Todd show up and kick a little ass.

Next up was a crossover with the World’s Finest aka Power Girl and Huntress. In the last volume I’d read, PG was having some problems controlling her powers, and this seems to be a continuation of that storyline.
They also throw in a character from Earth 2, Vol. 4: The Dark Age. You don’t strictly need to read those to understand what’s going on…but it wouldn’t hurt.

The art is distracting, because Jae Lee isn’t the artist for the whole volume. His art sort of pops up in the middle and slaps you around a bit, disappears, comes back for one more kick in the junk, and then leaves.
If you’ve seen Lee’s stuff, you know it doesn’t play well with others.
He should have either drawn the whole thing..or nothing. I know that sounds awful, but it gave the book a really odd feel. One minute you’re looking at normal characters, and the next you’re eyeballing stuff from fairyland.
And, again, I have mixed feeling on how well like his stuff for a superhero comic.

There are stunning moments like this one:
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And then stuff like this:
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The fuck is that?!
Is he smiling?
Is the yellow alien planning to hug them to death?
I mean, it looks like he’s found his Happy Place to me!
And then there’s that oddly placed plane, that makes it look like he just farted out a jet.
Nothing about that panel looks like it belongs in a comic book. Nothing.

I like the Batman/Superman stuff, so I hope they don’t give up on this title. I’d just like to see something more cohesive and maybe more…fun?

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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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