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What I Bought Today – Batman #24 (WARNING – SPOILERS)

So, I was at Heroes’ Beacon today (the shop where I buy my comics), and I got some awesome books, so let’s take a minute to talk about…

What I Bought Today

Now, as I tend to do many times when one book in particular is just a huge flipping deal, I’m gonna cover it on its own, and then do the others in a second post. With that said, let’s take a look at Batman #24!

…Okay, I gotta ask, does anybody else totally hear Padmé’s Destiny from Star Wars Episode III when they look at this? Y’know, from when Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Anybody? o.O

This issue kinda marks the halfway point for Zero Year. Not necessarily that it’s halfway done in terms of number of issues, but from a storyline perspective, the first half is done, that being dealing with the Red Hood Gang and becoming Batman. And yes, we do see Bruce Wayne in his first (in the New 52 canon, anyway) Bat suit, in all of its purple-gloved glory! XD And snark aside, I felt they really did a good job of bringing back the classic Batman costume and modernizing it. In fact, the reveal is done in a two-page spread, where Batman is swinging with a Red Hood in a pose meant to harken back to the cover of Detective Comics #27, AKA Batman’s first appearance.

In the Batcave, Bruce and Alfred begin piecing together a plot by Red Hood One, which seems to be slightly rushed with the appearance of the Batman. However, they’re still lacking on some details, so Alfred suggests Bruce go to see Philip, who is overjoyed to see Bruce alive. Philip admits the Red Hood Gang got to him, and while he’s had enough of Red Hood One’s shit, when he wanted to go to the police, the gang kinda branded RH347 on his chest, thus linking him to them. However, he does give Bruce access to the information he needs, and he and Alfred quickly deduce Red Hood One’s plan. However, while Alfred says Batman has to stop them, Bruce replies that Batman can’t, that there’s only one man who can stop the Red Hood Gang this time: Bruce Wayne.

Bruce decides to reveal himself as being alive…again, this time through an impromptu press conference, Commissioner Loeb deciding to send Jim Gordon down to check it out, and here’s where we get something awesome. Bruce asks everyone watching at home why they love Gotham City. And really, when you read Batman comics, you have to wonder why ANYONE would love Gotham. Even without the super-villains, it’s still Hell on Earth. There’s gangbangers, the price of living comfortably is insane, there’s too much rain, and it just seems to bring out the worst in so many people. So why would anyone stay there? For Bruce, the answer is simple: People come to Gotham to become something MORE. Gotham City challenges the people living there to make themselves more than they are. It dares them to become better, and does everything it can to stop them, and if one can take all it can dish out, they become something more as a result.

Anyway, once the speech is over, Bruce points to the building he’s been standing in front of all along, and reveals it to be the Red Hood Gang’s hidden base: A.C.E. Chemical. Red Hood One is creating a flesh-eating poison that they’re going to unleash upon the city, Having given away their position, the Red Hood Gang decide to take out Wayne, but in the confusion of them shooting rockets at him and the GCPD getting involved, Bruce manages to get inside. Red Hood One finds him and holds him at gun-point, but Bruce literally tells him he’s “so full of #$%”, that his concept of ‘life is meaningless if you can die at any time’ is crap, since what matters most is what you do in the time you have. Red Hood One has heard enough and is ready to kill Bruce, but the lights go out, and as can be seen from above in a GCPD helicopter, the whole area has blacked out, the outline of which now resembling a bat. Sure enough, as the lights come back on, Batman kicks the crap out of the entire Red Hood Gang, all the while Red Hood One watches from the shadows, his eyes fixated on the Dark Knight.

While Batman deals with the grunts, and impressively so for a guy only in his first year as a crime-fighter, Red Hood One takes aim at him, but is caught by a bullet from another Red Hood bouncing off his helmet. Red Hood One straight up executes Red Hood 347, which Batman realises to his horror is Philip, just as the police finally manage to bust in. Granted, while they DID have charges, considering the chemicals in the building, they obviously couldn’t risk it. Unfortunately, the deflected bullet causes one of the tanks to leak, which in turn creates a chain of explosions, so I guess it didn’t matter in the end. The police try to arrest Batman, but you can probably guess how well that works…as in, not at all. lol

Batman catches up with Red Hood One, who is trying to escape in a helicopter, but they tumble back into the building, there’s another explosion, Red Hood One is dangling over a vat of chemicals, Batman tries to save the poor bastard, but he just says it wouldn’t be any fun, and…well, you can probably guess how this ends. However, there is a twist. A while later, we see that Bruce and Alfred have updated the Batcave a bit to look a little closer to the more modern take we see nowadays. Bruce suggests it’s only a matter of time before people start piecing together that he’s Batman, and jokingly offers to share a cell with Alfred. Pennyworth, however, says that at least the Red Hood Gang is defeated and he can move on from them…However, it seems Bruce can’t. The body of Red Hood One was never found, and while Red Hood members all pointed to a man named Liam Distal as the leader, HE was found dead the day before.

Distal’s corpse was mostly dissolved in lye, so that it’s impossible to tell exactly when he was murdered. So, now there’s a mystery regarding the identity of the man he fought…Okay, I’m just gonna say it, it’s The Joker. Either Joker killed Distal weeks ago and took his place, or he was a patsy reading lines for Distal and only made the switch recently. It’s also possible someone else killed Distal, and then switched places with ‘The Man Who Would Be The Joker’ before Batman caught up with him on the roof at A.C.E. In the end, without more evidence, there’s no way to know……..Scott Snyder, you redefine what it means to troll your readers. XD

Huh. So THAT’S how he got those scars…Badumtish. 😛

At any rate, Alfred finds it unlikely people will figure out Bruce Wayne is Batman, relating back to his days as an actor. He used to try too hard to make the characters he performed just perfect, and leave no trace of himself in it, as to avoid seeming like a faker. However, what he learned is that the audience WANTS to believe in the actor. They want to forget who is under the mask, and become enthralled by the character, because the actor put so much hard work and passion into it. Add in the fact that Batman can pretty much make the rules of logic his bitch, and the everyday ordinary people of Gotham won’t WANT to know who Batman is.

Alfred and Bruce decide to make up after their most recent issue, but are cut off by a broadcast from Edward Nygma, who had become The Riddler. He delivers the second riddle of the Sphinx: ‘There are two sisters; each gives birth to the other. Who are they?’ Bruce, Alfred, and Commissioner Gordon all recognize it, just before Nygma calls for the ‘dark, dark night’, and our comic ends as he sets off explosions that cause a massive blackout all over Gotham City.

This comic is frigging awesome. The modernizing of Batman’s original costume is great, as is the little Easter Egg of the words “BK was here” on the roof in the two-page spread where Batman is revealed for the first time. Also, the result of his confrontation with the Red Hood Gang went VERY well. While I’m all too willing to say that the individual dressed as Red Hood One is the Joker, since it all but outright says that, the fact that we don’t see the transformation still leaves some ambiguity. And even if it IS him, we still don’t REALLY know who he is, and that’s how the Joker SHOULD be. As he himself said, “If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!” The ending where Riddler appears DOES seem kinda rushed, but I think that’s the idea, where Batman has defeated the Red Hood Gang, and yet only NOW is the shit getting real.

Anyway, that’s it for Batman this week, but we still have Nightwing, the Fearless Defenders, and Red Sonja to go through, so check back in a few when I talk about them. Ja né!

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What I Didn’t Buy Yesterday (And Why I Should Have/Shouldn’t Have) – Justice League #20, Batman: The Dark Knight #20, Batman: Li’l Gotham #2 (WARNING – SPOILERS)

So let’s talk about some books that I didn’t buy yesterday, why I should have/shouldn’t have, and ultimately why I didn’t. Let’s start off with Justice League #20.

First off, I only briefly skimmed through this book, and while I’m usually good on picking up details, I may have missed a couple here or there, so if you wanna know the full deal, read the book yourself. Anyway, we get to see the three newbies (FirestormElement Woman, and The Atom) take on DESPERO, of all people, who has the Kryptonite ring stolen from the Batcave last month, although he himself didn’t steal it, and it’s been altered to fit his giant fingers. However, while Despero is able to plough through them easily enough, he has less than stellar results when Martian Manhunter makes a surprise arrival at the Watchtower, telling Atom not to reveal that he was there after dispatching Despero, so she has to tell the other Leaguers that she managed to fluke her way into taking him down. After recovering the ring, we learn that, yes, in this continuity, Superman is still the one that gave the Kryptonite ring to Batman, just in case something happened where he was mind controlled or turned to evil or for whatever reason he might be forced to power Supes down. However, he’s less than thrilled when he finds out that there’s a box in the Batcave for each member of the League, each containing a fail-safe for each one. It’s at this point that Batman tells him other reason he doesn’t like the idea of him and Wonder Woman dating, as he shows Clark Diana’s box to reveal there’s nothing inside (shut up, don’t make that joke). Instead, should the need arise, Batman chose Superman to be his fail-safe against Wonder Woman, should the need arise. However, to keep things even, Batman hands him another box: The one containing the fail-safe against Batman, and insists that if Clark is truly his friend, he’ll use it on him if he’s ever turned rogue. We don’t see the contents, but whatever it was, it shocked Superman pretty bad.

So getting back to Rhonda Pineda, the new Atom, I’ve REALLY been enjoying her as a character. She’s smart, witty, and kind of a geek, as she apparently spends her free time shrinking down to enter and play MMORPGs. And yeah, as I made no attempt to conceal, I find her kind of hot, too… … …She’s the mole. She’s the one that hacked the Watchtower database and downloaded the entire history of the Justice League. It’s not entirely her fault, though. She doesn’t want to continue doing this, but she’s being made to. Turns out, she’s a member of the JLA, picked out to be the counter for Element Woman, and forced to do Amanda Waller‘s work.

So yeah, why didn’t I buy this issue? Mostly that, plus money, plus the Shazam mini-story that is, as per the norm, terrible. And I’m just gonna say this now: I’m dropping Justice League of America. Why? Well, remember how I said this book was headed to a not-very-fun place? I’m sorry, but it’s clear to me that the plot of this is essentially Suicide Squad with superheroes, except that some of the heroes on the team aren’t being written to be all that heroic. Just some free advice: When the most heroic members of the team are Vibe, Stargirl, and Steve Trevor, that’s a problem. Why? Because Steve isn’t even a superhero, Stargirl isn’t even an active member of the team and instead being made to work as their public face, and Vibe, while his reintroduction in the reboot has been pretty awesome, is still kinda young and feels out of place at times, like he should’ve been on Titans or something. Oh, and it gets better, because they’ve decided to BRING BACK DOCTOR LIGHT! No no, not the good one, the fucking rapist!…DOCTOR COX, I NEED YOU AGAIN!

THANK YOU, DOCTOR COX! Just…Geoff Johns, NO! Just, NO! I respect the hell outta you, and of course am sad to hear that yer leaving Green Lantern, but NO! There are characters that should be brought back and given a second chance, and there are freaks like this that need to remain dead and buried! NO!

SYMBOLISM!!!11!! OMFGWTFGENIUS!

Batman: The Dark Knight #20. First off, I wanna apologise to someone who shall remain nameless due to a pretty bad argument/discussion that broke out last night over this issue. But I digress, for all of the bad this series has had, this issue is the worst of all, and makes me so glad I dropped it a year ago. The story is pretty much crap, with Bruce continuing to grade to the point where he as a character is only motivated to make his life better by flashbacks of his parents, and Alfred actually starts talking him into considering hanging it up as Batman. But what makes me despise this issue more than any other? Well, remember that time I brought up the stupidity of Batman revealing his true identity to Natalya, the love interest no one cares about?

She’s dead. Oh, and not just dead, but she got the crap kicked out of her by Mad Hatter’s goons and then dropped out of a helicopter straight down onto the Bat Signal (see what I meant about symbolism?)…Y’know, I’ve mentioned before that I wasn’t an active reader before the relaunch, but I’ve heard some pretty sick tales of characters treated like this in comics, particularly women. And frankly, I am sick to death of seeing this shit!

And finally, that leads to Batman: Li’l Gotham #2.

So what are my thoughts on it?…None. Kinda the reason why I didn’t buy it: It was sold out by the time I got to the store. But I’m hoping to get an issue of it soon enough, and then I’ll share my thoughts with y’all…I will say that, even without reading it, it automatically gets points for having Damian in it, alive and well.

So that’s what I did not buy yesterday, though hopefully I buy one of them sooner than later. Leave your comments below, and I will see y’all next time. Ja né!

Scott Snyder’s Batman Retrospect – Batman #1 & 2

For many years, I had followed the tales of some of my favourite superheroes (in particular, Batman and Superman) through their movies and cartoon shows, but I had very rarely read the comics. I had some knowledge of what was going on through wikis, and then later on through an internet review show called Atop The Fourth Wall. Well, after watching AT4W for a few years, I decided in 2011 that I was finally going to start buying comics, but I wasn’t sure where to get started. That’s when AT4W host Linkara, AKA Lewis Lovhaug, started a little series called That’s All I’m Saying, where he was looking over the comics that he bought every week, mostly DC stuff. The main reason for it is because DC had just relaunched their titles in September of that year with the New 52, essentially a massive reboot of the DC Universe, and he wanted to share his thoughts on each comic for people who were new to comics or wanted some thoughts on these new books. From that, I got a good idea of what comics I wanted to buy…or so I thought, as two of the three comics I bought and collected originally, I now despise. LOL But there was one comic I bought back in the beginning of the New 52 that I’ve stuck with ever since.

Hello, and welcome to a short series here on Jyger’s Rant. I’m going to discuss what is, in my opinion, one of the best damned books in the New 52: Scott Snyder‘s Batman.

Scott Snyder's Batman Retrospective

So, let’s start off by laying out a few ground rules for this: I’m not discussing Scott Snyder’s work on Batman prior to the launch of the DCnU. This is mainly because I unfortunately haven’t read it all yet, and I don’t wanna leave anything out. I will say that The Black Mirror is supposed to be really good, though, and I have read Gates of Gotham and it really helps build the bridge to the current Batman book (People who have read the book will get that joke, others will just nod their heads and go along with it). Also, I’m not discussing Death of the Family and anything beyond it, since I’ve already covered it in What I Bought Today. No, this series will focus primarily on the Court of Owls/Night of the Owls story arcs, and specifically on the books in this one series to take place in them, though I will try to make small references to what was happening in the tie-in books. So with that in mind, let’s kick off with Batman #1.

We open to…some REALLY bad designs for some of Batman’s rogues gallery. Seriously, this is what they look like in this issue.

Oh hai, Professor Pyg! How is your sex life? XD

I mean, I love Greg Capullo‘s artwork, but I have no idea what he was thinking with some of these. Like, see that guy with the green question mark mohawk? That’s Riddler…SERIOUSLY. lol Anyway, Batman fights them as they try to break out of Arkham Asylum, but there’s simply too many of them. Then, all of a sudden, Joker shows up…and starts helping him beat the snot out of the Arkham inmates. Major WTF moment, but I’ll spoil it for you now: It’s Dick Grayson. He’s wearing some kind of mask that allows him to imitate ANYONE, that I believe he actually makes use of later on in his own book. Apparently, Bruce sent him to hide out in Arkham Asylum for a little while because he needed someone on the inside to monitor things, and apparently there was a guard there who was going crooked, and he had opened the gates to let the villains out when Batman came for him.

Later, Bruce arrives at the manor for a gala, which Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Damian Wayne are all attending. Apparently he’s going to be investing heavily in Gotham City‘s future, fixing up the city’s architecture and improving the public transit system. He also meets up with Vicki Vale (AKA Lois Lane in Gotham) and Lincoln March, who is running for Mayor and is VERY interested in Bruce’s plans for the future. However, Bruce is a little distracted by his new contact lens’ lip-reader showing Comissioner Gordon having a talk on the phone about a horrific stabbing incident, and decides he needs to go out to get some air.

Now THIS is GREAT artwork. 😀

Arriving at the scene of the crime, Batman meets with Harvey Bullock to discuss what happened. The John Doe is pinned to the wall by multiple throwing knives and was left to bleed to death. Looking over the crime scene, Batman finds skin tissue under the victim’s fingernails and a message written in paint thinner. Using Bullock’s cigar, Batman lights the message up to reveal it says “Bruce Wayne will DIE tomorrow”. The two realise that the victim knew he was going to be murdered and left the message ahead of time, Bullock feeling that only someone deep in Bruce Wayne’s inner circle would be able to get to him. As if on cue, Batman gets a call from Alfred, who has finished analysing the DNA from the skin tissue and found a single, perfect match: Dick Grayson.

Batman #2 picks up with Bruce Wayne plummeting to his apparent death after being thrown out the window of the top floor of Wayne Tower…And then cut back to twenty-four hours earlier, where Batman’s chasing a group of helicopter-borne statue thieves on the Batpod. Batman races ahead and gets the Batpod on top of a train, and, in a move that just proves how badass Batman is, he races the bike off the train and crashes into the chopper’s wind-shield…and all while managing to get back to the Batcave in time with Gordon’s arrival at the Gotham City Morgue.

Don’t play chicken with the Goddamn Batman. >:)

Using a scanner he rigged to the morgue’s security camera, Batman’s able to create a holographic projection in the Batcave to investigate the John Doe from before. He and the Comissioner deduce that this man was some sort of trainer, and they also discover the mark of an Athenian Owl on his right wisdom tooth. Between this and the knives baring owl emblems, Gordon is reminded of a nursery rhyme about the Court of Owls, an underground organization said to be running Gotham from behind the shadows. Batman IMMEDIATELY rules this out as a possibility, saying they’re just a legend but not being too open with why he believes that so vehemently.

Batman decides to cut the conversation short when Nightwing arrives, who makes a snarky comment about how Bruce will likely miss the old vent leading into the morgue. Dick recognises the man and tells Bruce that he’d been at the West Side Promenade’s groundbreaking. He’d been accosting Dick and gripped his arm, actually scratching him a bit while ranting that “They’re real” and that “They’re sending him for you…all of you”. Nightwing offers to show Batman the scratches, but as it turns out Bruce had already viewed the surveillance footage from the groundbreaking and just wanted to hear it from Dick, as well as get him caught up on what was going on.

I get a snicker every time I read that. XD

That night, Bruce has an appointment at Wayne Tower with Lincoln March. During it, Lincoln admits that he sees an ally and friend in Bruce, as they both lost their parents to tragedies in their youth, and that Gotham saved them. However, it seems that something dark has returned to Gotham, but before Lincoln can elaborate further, a man in a black owl costume attacks them with knives. Lincoln is taken out of the fight quickly, leaving Bruce to himself as he tries to save himself while also holding back, as he can’t give hints that he’s Batman. However, even after applying over a hundred pounds of pressure to his assailant’s windpipe, he can’t seem to knock him out. Instead, the assailant tosses him around like a rag-doll before telling Bruce that “The Court of Owls has sentenced you to die”.

Bruce is then kicked out the window, realising that by the time he reaches the gargoyles below, he will have fallen so fast that his arms would simply rip off if he grabbed for them. His attacker leaps out after him to make sure he finishes him off, but he’s made a terrible error: There was a hidden, thirteenth gargoyle installed by Henry Wayne to greet visitors to Gotham by air, far above the lower ones. Bruce manages to grab ahold of it while his would-be assassin falls to his apparent death below. Bruce feels confident this assassin was just someone looking to use Gotham’s legends against him and is sure that there is no Court of Owls, but little does he know that after the body is placed in an EMT to be taken to the morgue, the Talon of the Court of Owls awakens and kills the driver.

These comics are AWESOME. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo set the foundations of the story and the mystery of the Court brilliantly, and the horror tone is done so not to scare you away, but rather to scare you into wanting to know more. I hadn’t known that Scott Snyder was more well known for his work with horror-themed comics, but I learned pretty quick just how expertly he could mix that tone into a superhero/detective story like this. But trust me, much like myself back when I started collecting these, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Check in next time when I look at Batman #3 & 4, as Batman begins to uncover the horrible truths about the Talon, as well as Gotham’s past. Ja né!