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review 2017-06-08 15:26
So, I loved this until the ending
Batman (2016-) #24 - Tom King,Jordie Bellaire,David Finch,Danny Miki,Clay Mann,Seth Mann

This was a more nuanced look at Batman, and what it means to be Batman, than I'd suspected when I first started reading.  On some level, it's fairly matter-of-fact, but if you want, there's much more to mine in this issue. 


The way that Batman deals with Claire is different than he does with any of his Robins, or Batgirl, or Batwoman.   Of course it is, although it's not because she's a girl.   He simply doesn't know her, and hasn't trained with her, or fought by her side as much as he had with any of the others. 


I think, given all she's lost, and given that it was her brother who really wanted to be the superhero, that it explains the difference.   Once someone committed in their world, they committed fully; they didn't fight, or hope for Bruce Wayne, or Batman, to tell them what to do.  A lack of commitment would have gotten Wayne himself, and thus Batman, killed over and over again.   How could he possibly tell a woman to fight if she wasn't sure she wanted to, on his word, and then expect her not to be killed?   (Since using her powers kills her, he couldn't possibly tell her anything expect 'do what you can do without using your powers,' too.)


And because he lets her in so closely, because her circumstances match his, and because she's so uncertain, they talk frankly about this life and if he's happy.   Which leads us to the ending. 


Which I found, quite frankly, forced.  I wonder if King was told to make this move, to be honest, which would be quite a departure from DCs earlier stance on the subject of superhero marriage.  Or maybe it's not: maybe there's a character death in the near future, although I doubt it given whom he proposed to.  Maybe she'll just laugh it off and say no, although I doubt it given what King's been building up to in this series.  I can't decide if she'll take time, or just say yes, although I'm really, really hoping it's not an immediate yes!


I really enjoyed this episode up until the last scene.   I finally nailed down why I felt it so forced at the time: given the talk throughout this issue, Bruce seems to have had these issues of happiness on his mind for a while.   Why he's Batman, and if that means he can be happy.   And yet, one talk later and he makes this huge commitment?   This from the man that researches everything?   This from the man who knows what a huge clusterfuck this can become?


I don't buy it.   I think he would at least take time to think about it, and I seriously hope the unnamed she does.   

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review 2017-06-07 14:11
DC Comics Essentials: Batman: Earth One (2014-) #1 - Geoff Johns,Gary Frank

Loved this reboot of the Batman.

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review 2017-05-20 00:40
Batman and Swamp Thing team up
Batman (2016-) #23 - Tom King,Mitch Gerads

When Batman and Commissioner Gordon find a body on the 84th floor - with no way in except for the window - they think that will be the most odd thing about the murder.   Y'know, until Swamp Thing shows up suddenly behind them, causes Gordon to make a WTF face.  


Even odder, at least to me, was not only Swamp Thing's revelation about his connection to the dead man, but his whole philosophy.   Does all of Swamp Thing get that weird?   Oh, man, I might just have to read the older series now, because I was laughing out loud at some parts.   (Gordon's reaction to seeing Swamp Thing, and Alfred's reaction to having to clean up after Swamp Thing come to mind.)


Most of what I've read of Swamp Thing has been, embarrassingly, in the new Hellblazer series, and only a couple issues of that.   I say embarrassingly because this is clearly a hole in my comic book reading, a hole that's due to me being a Marvel fanatic.   (Read as I only read Marvel when I started getting into comics.   While I've expanded since then, my teenage-fueled fanaticism along with a slight hiatus, mostly during college, means that I'm still sadly behind.)    I loved King's take on Swamp Thing.   It felt different than Hellblazer's take, although not conflicting with that take.   Different circumstances, different writers, and different aspects of the same character.   Hellblazer didn't feel quite as philosophical and quite frankly bizarre to me, although there was an aspect of oddness that was just taken for granted: it was weird, the characters had lived with that fact for a while, and just accepted it.   But then again, Constantine would.   Batman, who deals with science and detective work, questions this a little more, pokes at it, and I think this is where the completely and utter weirdness comes from.   When put up against a character who thinks purely logically, instead of metaphysically, it seems even more odd due to the contrast.   While people in Hellblazer questioned Swamp Thing on his history with Abby, and why he couldn't trust her, they simply accepted rather than trying to force his, or her, story into a little box.   (Batman doesn't really poke as much as he could, but even his inability to completely understand or accept some of the things Swamp Thing says creates a contrast.)   Or maybe I'm reading this wrong, because, y'know, I don't really read much Swamp Thing - or I haven't in the past.  I plan on doing so in the future. 


Something about the hint of humor, and the whole bizarreness of Swamp Thing wandering around Gotham just struck me.   Not as anything in particular, it just made this an incredible read for me.   The balance of those two elements, the ending in which Batman futilely tries to hold Swamp Thing accountable, the need he has to believe in what Swamp Thing says without truly having the faith that others in this universe do?   It all made an impression. This has a lot more than I expected, not because I haven't enjoyed this run of Batman.   And certainly not because I didn't know King could handle this.   (I do.   I reread the run of Vision all the time, and I keep finding new things.   Vision is what sold me on King, and made me want to read Batman: I was in it for the writer.)   It's more that while Batman has been saying a lot of things, it hasn't quite hit the balance this issue has.   While I've loved King's Batman so far, I'm finding this issue just is a high point for me as a reader.)


A slight aside then back to this issue: I don't always mention the art, by the way, and I'm trying to rectify that.   While I think it's important that the art and writing work together, I follow writers more than artists.   (That is, I will start buying a series for a writer, and it's rarer for me to do that for an artist.)   I think this tendency has caused me to not mention the art, or not saying much about it, but I've recently read a tweet by a comic book writer asking us reviewers not to  completely bypass the artist.   Fair enough!   If he was doing it on his own behalf, I'd side eye it.   But I actually think he has a good point: I, in particular, don't really give enough shout out to the artists.   (And it's not King, and I'm not saying who it is just in case he gets harassed for this.)   It wasn't punitive, it wasn't angry, it was just asking us to remember the artists since I'm apparently not the only reviewer who does this.   And I'm only taking the advice because I feel like I'm shorting the artists, and I don't want to do this.  


I've also, quite frankly, been afraid that by saying that some art is more typical of the comic book style, I'll offend someone.   While there is a general style - penciled, inked, then colored - there are some artists who paint their work or who used multi-media, and there is some purely digital art out there.   None of which is a better style than any other, it's merely different.   The real test is the artist's ability.   And Gerard does an excellent job, the more so the more I think about it.   Much of the humor is not merely in the writing, but in the way that Gerard presents the faces.   This issue would be sorely lacking without those small touches.  Not only that, the intro scene is grittier than the rest of the issue, which matches the scene perfectly.  (Which is helped by the coloring; as the issue gets relatively lighter, so do the actual colors.)


Just lovely all together.

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review 2017-05-04 14:51
Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirt... Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirth) - Tom King,Steve Orlando,Tim Seeley,James Tynion IV,Riley Rossmo

A real missed opportunity. This could have been a fun, crazy monster story, but it just never seems to find the proper rhythm.

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review 2017-05-04 00:37
Love, love, love!
Batman (2016-) #22 - Jason Fabok,Joshua Williamson,Brad Anderson

Seeing as I've read more DC this year than maybe the whole of my life, I consider this branching out.   I've also abandoned Booklikesopoly without meaning to, but mostly because it was too hard to fit what I wanted to read into that game.   I had to struggle to find something to read, and the truth is that buying books - even short ones - at the rate I do on a weekly basis means I have so much new stuff that I'm excited about, that I was reading that instead of Booklikesopoly book.  It's a combination of keeping up with my weekly comics, my real life, and anxiety over Marvel, the world we live in, who's in charge of our country, and school things.   (I had a pretty hilarious stress dream about school where one of the pre-class things you had to do - that effected how you did - was make plants grow, or at least keep them alive.  And when I couldn't, I pointed out I never could, and what did this have to do librarian science, and the answer was the same as every time I pointed out the buildings, and setup was different from when my dad and I visited: just trust us, this is important.   I woke up, panicking, telling myself I'd fucked up before class had started - and then remembered I had months to go, this was real life, laughed it off, and went back to sleep because it was too-early o'clock.)    Basically, I need my stress relief, it's comics, and if I wait too long, my comics pile up.   And I've started to realize that I join these games going 'yes, I'll be part of this big thing,' but the truth is that I'm happier reading at my own pace, and making my own decisions for the most part.   Which is why when I set up votes for what to read next, I was carful to pick out things I'm excited about.


Having said that, thank you to the creators, Obsidian Blue and Moonlight Reader.   This was a work of love and it was great for the community: so many people are not only playing, but enjoying, this game.   It's clever, it's thoughtful, and you obviously, so obviously, put so, so much effort into this!   It's a work of art, really, and it brought this community tighter together.  I look forward to seeing the rest of the game play.   That is to say: I appreciate this game, and what it's doing, and despite it not working for me, I love the concept.   I'm bringing it up now because the realization that I'm not going to be joining Booklikesopoly?   Hit me during this book.   And I wanted people to know, yes, I am dropping it out, it's for reasons that my reading habits don't mesh well with this game - between the high volume, shorter books and my habit of mood reading - and that I'm enjoying seeing others playing, so I hope that this game ends successfully and maybe someone else decides to run this again.   And I know neither OB or MR would think that I thought poorly of the game because of this, but I've come to the decision to do my own thing for various reasons.  


Onto the actual review, yes?   This is part three in what I've come to understand will be a four part crossover with The Flash, Batman's parts being one and three, and Flash's being two and three.   Given this issue, it makes sense: they wanted to bring back part of Flashpoint that dealt with Batman - Bruce's father as Batman in Flashpoint - and they wanted to use Reverse Flash and Flash to break the barriers between universes to not only go to Flashpoint, but to go to the Watchmen-verse to find out more about The Comedian's button.  The thing is: I'm not sure of 100% of what's happening. I certainly didn't reward Marvel for these crossovers.  I wanted to read for the writer many times, and hated feeling like I had to buy another book by someone I didn't know.   Or I wanted to read for characters, and didn't want to read a title that focused on another character.  Because of my long term emotional investment - not to mention monetary - in Marvel, I had more reason to read full crossovers with them.    Marvel seems to be worse about unwieldy crossovers though, ranging through four or five or more titles, and going out for a couple months.   With Batman and The Flash coming out twice a month, it means that this is one month, four issues maximum.   No preludes and epilogues.   It's more manageable, but my fatigue and distrust of crossovers stems from Marvel's practices. 


That being said, I probably would have enjoyed The Flash.  But I still resist these things.   I was also worried: DC doesn't have a previously on page, and in the past has made it notoriously hard to read mid-series, or in the middle of crossovers.   This was pre-Rebirth, thought and I figured I'd give this a shot.   Seeing how much I'm enjoying DC, and as a kick in the pants to Marvel, though, I may in fact get The Flash next week.   (As long as both parts of the crossover are still available.)   This didn't answer all the questions, but it's hard to get them all without reading all the material in a crossover.   Second issues in series were all but incomprehensible in The New 52; this second part of this crossover glossed over what I didn't, know, though, and told a story connected to the rest but also somewhat a stand alone.   I understood the story being told in this one issue, without having to read the corresponding issue in the Flash.   And that was a lovely surprise, so much so that I'm inclined to give DC more of my money. 


I may also reread The Button all together if I do this, and review it as one full story.   Some wonderful moments between Bruce and another version of his father, too, and while I didn't fully understand Thomas Wayne's decision, I understood his despair perfectly.   I understood because it wasn't just about Bruce, it was about the world he lived in, too, and nothing could erase the memories or the knowledge of how messed up his world was. 


Love, love, love.   Thanks to Tom King for really getting me into this modern take on Batman!

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