From New Books for June 8, 2005: I’m pretty busy today, so I’ll have to keep it brief. It’s just as well, as I was a bit disappointed in four out of the seven books I picked up yesterday.
Bruce Wayne, romantic and driven.
In IBATMAN DARK DETECTIVE #3, thngs really heat up between the reunited Bruce Wayne and Silver St. Cloud, during the days, while at night (when does he sleep?) the Batman wages his never-ending war against no less than three industrious, hard working and methodical socio-paths (Boy, those guys have work ethic – perhaps this is the energy that comes from following your bliss?) and Silver wrestles with guilt (she’s engaged to someone else.). It makes for a weird contrast: high blown romantic rhetoric verses carefully considered criminal lunacy. Sometimes it amazes how much weirdness we comic book fans manage to just take in stride. I picked up BATMAN LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #192 for Seth Fisher’s wonderful art (and I wasn’t disappointed – if anything, his storytelling has improved since his two part fill in story on Arcudi’s Doom Patrol). I was surprised how much I enjoyed JH Williams and DC Johnson’s. This is a believable extension of Miller’s Bruce Wayne from Batman: Year One. Dedicated and driven, Wayne works himself to exhaustion (really, he’s becoming an accident waiting to heaven) while driving his closest allies (pre-acid Dent, Capt. Gordon) away, when he hits on the novel idea of recruiting a network, like the Shadow before him. (Meanwhile Victor Fries begins his slow descent into tragedy.) This story flowed together remarkably well, it’s definitely the stronger of the two Batman stories I picked up this week. (Though both offer interesting, and divergent views of the Batman. Englehart and Rogers Batman is an extension of their Bruce Wayne, a creation that enables his personal mission in life, whereas Williams, Johnson and Fisher’s Wayne has no life outside his Batman persona, and doesn’t want any.
Men of Steel
MAJESTIC #4 - Perhaps it’s because I didn’t read the previous issue, but Abnett & Lanning’s confrontation between an alternate universes’ Hadrian 7 and Lord Majestros felt pretty light. There’s something about the books visual style and coloring that works against whatever drama there is in the script. Still its always nice to see Spartan robots filling the air, at least for this old WS fan. While LEX LUTHOR MAN OF STEEL #4 didn’t quite reach the dramatic heights of the first and third issue of this mini-series, Azzarello’s prose and Berjemo’s art remains as engrossing as ever, and this chapter was definitely one of the weeks best reads. Here we watch Luthor get swept up by his own rhetoric and out-sized passions. (I understand a version of this Hope character has appeared before: could anyone summarize the context?) The great man is definitely heading for a fall here, like the poor god of mischief (never thought I’d say that!) in Rodi and Ribic’s Loki miniseries (also highly recommended). I wonder how Azzarello plans to (or if) use the fact the Question sabotaged his Science Spire (see Veitch and Edwards fun Question miniseries) next issue.
Payback & Redemption
While JLA #115 and JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #12 had their strong points, I have to say I was disappointed by both books. The art in both books was quite impressive, but both stories suffered from abrupt changes of scene, which I found pretty frustrating at times. I’ve never seen Batista and Farmer work together before, but with the exception of the last sequence on a Gotham rooftop (which felt oddly cramped, and the shade of red in the sky had the effect of flattening the figures) their take on the “satellite JLA” in JLA #115 was rock solid and compelling. They did a great job with the debate that opened the issue (though I couldn’t help think they would’ve hashed this out by now). Given how dangerous the Society is, now that their collective memories have been restored, I’d be surprised if Batman didn’t come around to the “satellite leagues’” point of view on the matter of the mind wipes and lobotomies, even if he never quite gets over the fact they tampered with his mind. That said, I think we really should’ve seen them get their revenge on the “satellite league”, and not just have their bodies fall out of the sky. As for JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE #12, I really liked the first two-thirds of the book: the story was clearly heading to an exciting, if costly, climax. Then Sister Superior suddenly regains control of herself, and pulls a deux ex machina ending out of her ___, saving the say, but abruptly killing all of the suspense Kelly and Mahnke had been building through the last hard-driving storyarc. Then suddenly, we’re in the midst of the denouement and everything’s ‘hunky-dory’: I just couldn’t buy it. (However I am glad that the conclusion left the door open for more adventures featuring the Elite (though I doubt Manitou Dawn will ever be as compelling a character as Manitou Raven), and Coldcast survived. I’d really like to see him team up with Batgirl again, sometime in the future.
An Alternate Apocalypse
HOUSE OF M #1 was a perfectly decent introduction to what’s going to be an all-encompassing alternative worlds story. (We could’ve used a pause like the one between the last scene in Genosha and Parker’s alternate future in the last chapter of Justice League Elite discussed above.) I liked the way Bendis & Co. portrayed the issue-long debate between the pro- and anti-execution camps, with Emma playing the resident realist & devils advocate. (A role she might get typecast in from here on out.) Pietro has never been so symathetic. Ivan Coipel draws the cutest Wasp I’ve seen since Pacheco’s in Avengers Forever.