- May 5, 2021
Batman & More Comic Book Reviews for 5/5
This week wasn’t the best week, but also not the worst. It feels like I’m drawn to the same books week after week… after week. Guess what books I loved this week? Batman and X-Men, no surprise.
Guess what disappointed me? Pretty much everything else from DC. DC is starting to feel like a one-trick pony, or that friend who can only talk about one thing. With Marvel, it feels like I’m that one friend who can only talk about one thing.
The Next Batman: Second Son #2, written by John Ridley and drawn by Travel Foreman
This book is confounding to me. In the beginning, it starts with this slow melodrama about whose to blame for Tammy’s illness. This scene tuned me off to the book pretty quickly. What I don’t realize until later is how genius this opening scene is with the Fox family really. It sets up all of these emotional strings that keep coming back to tie characters together towards real, emotional drama.
Tanya Fox has this hate for masks after one tortured her daughter. She blames them all, even the bats for bringing the madness of supervillains to the city. Little does she know, one son is Batwing, the same vigilante who failed to save her daughter. Not to mention that the other son is on his way to becoming the next Batman.
Luke, also known as Batwing, can’t stand his brother for getting away with whatever crime his family covered up. By all accounts, anyone would Jace is just coward after running away from his actions. Based on how Luke refuses to respect Jace, there’s mounting tensions over what exactly Jace did. It’s made all the more evident with how Luke is overcome with anger that he blames Jace for the relapse in their sister’s condition.
At the same time, Luke is the one who failed as Batwing to save Tammy in the first place. He fails again as Batwing to get the cure. Jace, on the other hand, doesn’t fail. Jace succeeds in his promise to help to stop the people who prey on others, and protect his ill sister. In doing so, he doesn’t fail to keep the promise to Tiffany that he’ll help their family, unlike Luke.
There are so many interconnected relationships, with layers of drama. It shows how good Ridley is at weaving together subplots interchangeably.
The only real weakness to me, is the art. Travel Foreman’s art does not jump off the page. To me, it feels bland and almost lifeless. These characters struggle to show any emotion, it’s almost a necessity that the superheroes and villains in this book wear nearly complete face masks. After the good work done by the artists in Future State: The Next Batman, this is a bit disappointing.
This book could really use a more detailed artist, or maybe just more time to cook if he was rushed.
Batman #108, written by James Tynion IV and drawn by Jorge Jimenez
This is a special issue where the Bat goes away for a moment and lets us see the man. By doing this, the man is allowed to see Gotham in a different light. Tynion does a lot by letting Bruce and this new character, Miracle Molly, spend the issue just talking about what the Unsanity Collective is trying to.
It would be real easy for the writing to come off as sanctimonious or condescending. Listening to writers talk about people and how stagnant and fearful people are can only go so far. Tynion manages to breakdown the less fortunate of society down in a way that’s sympathetic, rather than judging. It doesn’t go out to make people feel bad for not fighting against society’s control everyday.
At the same time, it leaves no sympathy for the rich who have made the world this way. It’s good that Batman has been demoted from billionaire to millionaire in this run. It would fall flat if Batman, with all the money in the world, were to try and hold some kind of moral high ground over Miracle Molly and the Unsanity Collective. Even as a millionaire, Tynion’s Batman knows not to try that. He has a self-awareness to walk around with Miracle Molly and listen, rather than to assume he knows best.
It allows him to connect with this new character in Miracle Molly. She’s clearly gearing up to become a new great vigilante or anti-hero in Gotham. I hope she doesn’t turn full blown villain by the end, that would be beyond disappointing. I’m glad that what I originally thought was going to be a wacky clown character, is actually a breath of fresh air. It’s wonderful to see someone with a down-to-earth perspective whose not a Robin and also isn’t completely antagonistic towards Batman. She’s the next key friend he needs in his life. Together they can help Gotham City progress forward, and fight supervillains.
Jorge Jimenez’s art continues to stun, but truly the only thing I don’t love about this issue is the character designs of the Unsanity Collective. This is the best look we’ve seen of them and Miracle Molly, and they have some busy designs. They just have too much going on, and its distracting. I do love the colors and the Cyberpunk aesthetic they’re going for, but it can be too much.
It makes a bit of sense since they’re not supervillains, they’re somewhat regular people. Regular people aren’t going to wear iconic costumes with simple designs, but have complex styles. I do hope they kind of trim down all the fluff with these designs though. Miracle Molly so far deserves to be a breakout character, I’m here for her the whole way.
Crime Syndicate #3, written by Andy Schmidt and drawn by Kieran McKeown
The Crime Syndicate is not about an evil Justice League, but more like what if they were dicks. They feel more like anti-villains than anything, characters who do good things for bad reasons. This book has been about them quite literally saving the world. Outside of pestering and torturing of some other bad dudes, they have done little to prove they’re the opposite of the Justice League.
This book misses the point of its characters, but at the same time, it gets the characterizations. The Crime Syndicate quacks like the Crime Syndicate, but they don’t walk like the Crime Syndicate. They all talk a big game, but when push comes to shove, they come together to save the world. They just did so without caring about the collateral damage.
Plus, it took three issues to defeat Starro. I can’t tell if this was too quick or too long. It feels like the book is over based on the ending, but then there’s three issues left. We have the Crime Syndicate’s origin story, so what’s it gonna be about? This makes it feel like Schmidt should have spent more time digging into Starro. That or at least focus on the rushed reveal of all these asinine super-powered people. I say that, but because this book was doing nothing with the Starro conflict, it felt too long by the end of this issue. I’m glad it’s over.
Kieran McKeown does a good job with his art for the most part, but he isn’t making this book all that special either. The characters never feel as detailed, look as particularly intimidating, or appear as violent as they do on the covers. They don’t feel like villains. These characters should carry the weight of characters who are supposed to be the evil Justice League. They’re more like anti-heroes.
This book can be defined in one word, ‘eh.’
Green Lantern #2, written by Geoffrey Thorn and drawn by Dexter Soy
I’m someone who values the journey over the destination. When Game of Thrones’s ending sucked, I still continue to enjoy the other 90% of the show I loved. When Mass Effect 3’s ending underwhelmed, I still had 99% of the game that I love as well.
I loved so much of this issue. It tied into so many cool things, like the New Gods and their place as the Fourth World in Jack Kirby’s mythology. It made a quick and poignant reference to Cosmic Odyssey, a character-defining story for John Stewart… that I recently read and loved by the way. It even called out and explained why there are so many human Green Lanterns at the same time.
Then there’s the supposed prophecy of Earth being the home that creates heroes. The Guardians of Oa even state that Earth will become the eventual Fifth World. I’m not even going to get into how exciting that bit of foreshadowing is (because it will likely amount to nothing).
But all that pales in comparison this issue sets up the series to focus on John Stewart. After Kyle Rayner, John Stewart has been shafted the most by Geoff Johns among the Green Lanterns. He went from being number one and recognizes as one of the best, to just being another Lantern. He’s been slowly reinstated and propped up as the leader he is, and the best Lantern of all.
Then, just as Thorne acts as if he’s going to capitalize on all this good set up, he’s gonna give other unnoticed Lanterns their own things to do.
*HEAVY SPOILER ALERT*
Then he blows it all up in the last few pages.
Literally, he blows up the central battery, takes away the power of the Green Lanterns, and seemingly kills Simon Baz. He sucks the wind out of all of his sails. John Stewart is about to go on this epic adventure to explore the unknown, leading an army of Green Lanterns, without rings. I’m predicting a boring quest to get their powers back and figure out what’s going on.
Then there’s Simon Baz. Simon had the duty of protecting Oa, and training Teen Lantern to become a hero like him. He went so long with nothing to do after his duo series with Jessica Cruz ended, he was finally going to see some (metaphorical) screen time.
Now he’s dead. Thank you, for teasing me with a good time before you slapped me, Thorne.
What sucks the most is that Dexter Soy is stuck drawing it all. He makes what’s happening look so beautiful, but that can’t cover up all this shit.
Marauders #20, written by Gerry Dugan and drawn by Stefano Caselli
Marauders has been one of, if not my favorite X-book since the launch of Dawn of X. It has my favorite cast of classic X-Men, and it uses them to full effect. That’s true especially with Storm, so this issue’s heartfelt goodbye really hits home.
Seeing the crew come together to trade war stories about Storm before she leaves made me laugh. Honestly, it made me tear up a bit too. I love stories like this where characters just bond like this. We get to see how characters view each other, typically in comparison to how they do where they are now. With old friends like Kate Pryde and Iceman along with relatively new ones like Pyro and Emma Frost, Storm has had a good life among the Marauders.
This issue is tropey to the best degree. It utilizes the send-off party in the best way. I admit, I’m a little annoyed that we still don’t know where Storm is going, but that’s okay.
I don’t want to say too much to avoid spoiling anything. What I will say is that I’m still not a big fan of Caselli’s art. To me, its still the weakest party of the series, even after we had Matteo Lolli. I had a love/hate relationship with his art. I loved how he drew Kate Pryde but couldn’t really stand his Emma Frost and Storm. He made some characters appear more generic, and Caselli only heightens this problem. Now, I don’t even like how Kate is drawn half the time.
I do still like how Caselli draws Bishop and Pyro, though that isn’t saying much. I really wish Marauders would get the artist it deserves. It would great to see Russell Dauterman do an issue now and then after doing the covers.
Nocterra #3, written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Tony S. Daniel
I don’t know what it is, I’m just not as into this book as other people. While I love Scott Snyder’s writing, I’ve noticed that I only love his Batman, Swamp Thing, and his Justice League run. I’m hard pressed to say that I even like his more original stuff. Think American vampire and now Nocterra to get what I’m talking about.
The ideas he has are intriguing, but they don’t totally grip me on their own. His name gets me to read more than anything, searching for that original Snyder book that everyone is raving about. This one seems like a pretty standard trek across the country to find hope in the apocalypse and find Eden. Tropes aren’t inherently bad, and this tropey plot isn’t either. My problem is that the world isn’t special enough to make its use of these tropes special.
The apocalypse is incredibly bleak, almost grimdark bleak. The main character wades between complete pessimism and begrudging optimism with ease, and its strange. Then there’s the underwhelming villain. Black Top Bill just keeps threatening to kill people in violent, terrible ways. He thrives only on his cool design.
I don’t think this story is bad by any means, but I don’t know what to enjoy about Nocterra. Sorry to end this week on a bit of a downer.
This week was very middle of the road for me. I love the story-telling in Batman and X-Men this week, but that’s the same stuff I’m always enjoying. It’s starting to feel like I really only enjoy the same old stuff all the time. I’m trying to expand my tastes with Guardians of the Galaxy and Superman, which I do enjoy. At the same time, the amount of X-Men and Batman I read really has me second guessing myself. Am I really varying my tastes in any meaningful way?
Am I reading too many Batman and X-Men books? What books should I try out? Let’s make it so that I’m not disappointed by anything that’s not the same, ultra-popular stuff I’m always reading?
If you’re interested to see where these thoughts are coming from, check out last week’s article. For more inflammatory content, check out my recent video and article about my problem with Black Panther, and how the comic industry can do better by its black characters.