ratcreature: RatCreature as Spock (trek)
I've been thinking about the ST:AOS timeline. Presumably it is like the TOS reality until the Kelvin is destroyed by Nero. But when I thought about that, how do the timetravel events work that have various future crews (from the regular timeline) interact with the past pre-split? Like how did the events of Star Trek: First Contact happen in the AOS reality? I mean, which version of the future characters have now ended up in the past? Or am I approaching this wrong? This makes my head hurt.
ratcreature: RatCreature as demon victim, Supernatural-style, i.e. eviscerated, pinned to the ceiling and burning alive. (supernatural)
Not exactly a reprieve from the comic posts, but it's about the Supernatural comics, so no people wearing their bright underwear on the outside! :D

Supernatural: Origins #1-3 (written by Peter Johnson, art by Matthew Dow Smith)

First, I like that the art doesn't try for photographic likeness, because that is really hard to pull off well in tv tie-in comics, i.e. far too often the likeness is mangled and/or the drawings look stiff. So I'm fine with the art being stylized. One major problem is though that the artist doesn't seem to be able to draw small children. Baby!Sam in particular just looks really, really odd. Also the coloring doesn't always work for me.

As for the story, cut for spoilers )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Okay, figuring out the reading order was a bit of a pain in places, especially between ASM and the main Civil War series since I just couldn't get a real grip how the events sort out into a single timeline for Spider-Man. (A bit more on that below.) Also I haven't bought all the tie-ins, so I'm missing chunks, and I think I've rad the specials (War Crimes and The Return out of order).

Anyway, the Civil War issues I read were:
Road to Civil War: The New Avengers Illuminati
Amazing Spider-Man #529-538
Civil War #1-7
Civil War: Front Line #1-11
Civil War: The Return
Civil War: War Crimes
Civil War: The Confession
Civil War: The Initiative
New Avengers #21-25

Overall I quite enjoyed Civil War. cut for lengthy rambling )
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
As evident from my last couple of posts I seem to be drifting back into a frame of mind for regular comic reading again. For a long time (well in fandom cycles anyway), I didn't keep up with monthly comics. That was only in part because of the various, never-ending "event" messes, but also simply because my interest in things and my fannish mental space tend to be somewhat cyclic-- possibly governed by mysterious and opaque mechanisms, that I'm never quite able to predict myself. (Hence the phrasing "seem to be" above.)

Anyway, anticipating the eventual return of my interest, I continued to get several of my subscriptions and orders, mostly based on a mix of which characters I'm into in principle, which writers I frequently liked before, and at least in the case of DC, which issues seemed kind of central to their universe restructuring (I know it is weird, not to mention the path to bankruptcy to buy a bunch of comics for well over a year, or more like over two I guess, even though you are not even reading them, but I was certain that I eventually feel interested again, and from a collecting standpoint I like single issues just better than getting trades later on, besides the expenses stretch out this way when you buy a bit every week).

So now I have a large pile (well, actually it's some shortboxes) of comic backissues that is somewhat intimidating, and I'm not sure which order would be best to read, whether I should just plod on reading weekly issues consecutively in publishing order or read some arcs first, or something else.

Since I'm more involved with DC I (used to) follow more series there making catching up more complicated. Obviously even from just being on LJ with a partly comic fandom f-list I've gathered that DC canon in particular is somewhat, um...fraught? at the moment, and has been for a while, and I don't want to kill my reemerging interest through aggravation either, though I suspect what exactly is found to be aggravating and horrible is bound to differ from fan to fan to some extent at least, and I think I'm already spoiled for most (un)deaths and several other things that put people off, since I mind spoilers for comics less myself, especially considering my longish reading abscnce which made staying spoiler free and in fandom not feasible. And well, obviously some things you just have to get through to follow other parts, that are hopefully better.

Anyway, my main focus of my DC interests are the extended Batfamily, the "core" Justice League, anything with Dick Grayson (even when not connected to Batman stuff), Barbara Gordon and Roy Harper, the Flash (mainly Wally, but I like the others too), and to some extent Tim Drake. And well, I also really like Animal Man. I stopped reading somewhere during or maybe in the build-up of the War Games crossover in the Batverse books, and in the middle of that Identity Crisis mini series in the JLA. The comics that I continued to get through my "reading hiatus" and thus don't have to track down, are the Batverse books, the Identity Crisis and Infinity Crises mini series (including some of the "countdown to" and "aftermath" books, but not all, like, I got the one with Nightwing, the OMAC Project miniseries and Villains United and I think I bought the Donna Troy special, but not the Rann-Thanagar war thing or the Spectre stuff), the main JLA series and the Justice League of America relaunch of it, Flash, Green Arrow, Teen Titans, Outsiders, Superman/Batman, Checkmate, that new Atom series and 52.

Because I tend to really like Grant Morrison I also have all of the Seven Soldiers series. Well except for one issue missing from one of the series that I somehow didn't notice was absent in my comic pile that week, and couldn't find later on yet, so I'd probably need to find a scan of that one somewhere before reading, but I don't think it is part of the continuity anyway.

As far as Marvel goes, I mostly follow Daredevil and Spider-Man, and also get Astonishing X-Men, and since I'm caught up with DD, that mostly just leaves me with a decision whether to read these Civil War and Civil War: Front Line limited series I've gotten parallel to the Spider-Man and X-Men stuff or separately, but I didn't get all the tie-ins and such. Actually I think I may have bought some of the Avenger issues relating to Civil War (I had tried to get into the Avengers during that "Disassembled" thing, because I liked them in the JLA/Avengers x-over, but the Scarlet Witch plot annoyed me, so I didn't really get into the series). Still it shouldn't be as complicated as sorting out the best reading order for my DC backlog. I also have the Supreme Power and Squadron Supreme stuff and Next Wave series (though iirc I'm missing Next Wave #9 for some incomprehensible reason, that is while I'm fairly sure I had it ordered, by the time I bagged the accumulating pile of comics I found all issues except for #9, which is why I haven't read it yet.)

So, any advice for the paths of least frustration resistance to slowly tackle my considerable comic pile with a sound strategy? Or should I just go stoically by publication date to recreate the initial reading experience?
ratcreature: RatCreature as evil Sith (evil sith)
I'd like to preface this post with the disclaimer that Star Wars isn't my primary fandom, and seeing how I don't rewatch/reread sources often or intensely even in fandoms that I'm into more, it's been ages since I last saw the original trilogy, I have seen the prequels each only once or twice, and I am not familiar with any EU material first hand either, if I don't count seeing the occasional comic scan or book quote illustrating fan discussion. Also I suspect I should have gotten a beta reader for this post. (Do people even get beta readers for this kind of thing? It shows how rarely I post meta, I have no clue.)

The whole subject of the prophecy in the prequels left me confused. Not to slight the movies (I enjoyed them a lot, I do count myself as a SW fan after all), but it did seem to me that this prophecy, its actual meaning, and how it relates to Anakin's/Vader's actions in both trilogies wasn't that fully thought through, though perhaps extra material somewhere outside the cinema-versions of the movies, i.e. novelizations, DVD extras, whatever, might make things clearer. The thing is, after having read some significant amount of SW fanfic and the occasional SW-related LJ post, I fully expected to have picked up either prominent theories existing in the extended canon or brilliant, and thus widely accepted, fan wank that makes sense of it all, kind of like I pick up details from JKR interviews in HP fandom, even though I never read the interviews, just plenty of fanfic and sometimes, though less often, discussion posts. But so far I haven't. Or rather what I have seen proposed in fanfic and the (admittedly few) meta posts I've read doesn't make it much clearer, not so that the prophecy and its impact would "click" for me.

So I'm trying to muddle through this...

Read more... )
ratcreature: headdesk (headdesk)
I was browsing the official Supernatural site which is one of those annoying all Flash things you can't properly navigate, but have to click at random. However, at one point you can get to this Flash version of John Winchester's diary, which looked interesting enough as far as supplementary website stuff goes, so I started reading that, and once again marvel at the stupidity of TPTB. Because there's this diary entry from December 13, 1983 in which John talks about how the police investigation of Mary's death brought no result, and he writes "All the forensics are back, and they didn't find a thing. No fingerprints, no DNA, no blood, nothing at all left of my wife's body, no sign of anyone else in that house." And I'm just WTF?!?

I'm fairly sure DNA analysis for crime scenes wasn't done as a standard investigation thing in 1983. I mean, I still remember it being all new and controversial much later. Actually according to this wikipedia entry it wasn't even invented until 1984 and first used only in 1986, and looking for DNA traces at the scene of an unusual house fire is not something I think would be done even with a technique that was just new instead of not invented yet.

Thankfully I have no problem to ignore stuff they merely put on websites, but still... *headdesk* It's not that I mind slightly wonky forensics, science or police procedures or facts, I'm not nitpicky, but to be this anachronistic is totally stupid.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
After reading about Huntress, I've now read the 2000 retcon of her origin story myself, Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood (written by Greg Rucka, pencils and inks by Rick Burchett, except in #5 and #6 which have inks by Terry Beatty), and overall I liked the story. I was of course spoiled by reading summaries, but I have to say that from just knowing Huntress from guest appearances in BOP and such, and the Nightwing/Huntress series, I wouldn't have expected her to act like this.

Even having read summaries, the end still had something of a sucker punch effect on me. I mean, she doesn't do it herself, but she arranges for Santo Cassamento, the man who ordered her family to be wiped out and also her biological father, to be killed, because she wants revenge, because "blood cries for blood." She asks her uncle Tomaso Panessa for a favor, and while we don't hear her words then (I guess mostly so that it'll hit you harder as a reader later on), it becomes clear that she asks him to kill Santo, and tells him where he'll be able to find him, or something to that effect. Then she arranges it so that Santo has to be at that drug shipment personally, by beating up on his goons, meets Santo outside, letting him believe that he's still blackmailing her with his knowledge of her identity, calmly takes off her vigilante garb after he went inside, and stands by outside while he is murdered, not swayed in the least by the Question/Vic's pleas to stop it either. She also placed an anonymous tip so that Tomaso will go to jail. And as her final act we see her throwing her crucifix down into the water by the pier (which, as far as I can see doesn't reappear in her guest appearances in Batman and Detective after this series, even though she still wears her old costume, not the current one).

I think what hit me, is how she takes off her costume before standing by his murder, as if she somehow doesn't want her vigilante persona tainted by this revenge killing she arranged. It was a really powerful scene, but it changed my view of her.

Unrelated to the Huntress stuff, what's up with Tim and Barbara in this series? Here Barbara knows Tim's identity, when she didn't in BOP #19 which was published the same month as #2 of this series. It's not so much that I have a problem with her knowing, I mean, in a way it's kind of weird that we were supposed to believe she didn't in BOP #19, despite things like Tim's rescue from NML, which should have made the connection between Robin and Tim quite obvious to Oracle, I think. It just doesn't fit.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Has anyone been able to make sense of all the mafia families that pop up in the Batman books? I mean, in Huntress' backstory it's made sound like the "Five Families" had divided Gotham among them. Those five families were the Bertinellis, the Berettis, the Galantes, the Inzerillos, and the Cassamentos. In the gang wars during the prohibition the Bertinellis came out on top. The Cassamentos had been their rivals, supported by the Inzerillos, but the latter changed sides. Anyway, later the Panessas arrived, but the Bertinellis didn't want to share with a sixth family, not even when Franco Bertinelli, Huntress' father married Maria Panessa. Then came the Palm Sunday massacre, orchestrated by the Cassamentos(?). In its aftermath the Galantes were on top, the Panessas were in, once again Five Families.

So how do the Falcones (from Year One and Long Halloween/Dark Victory) and the Maronis (Two-Face's origin, e.g. in Batman Annual #14, also Long Halloween/Dark Victory) fit in? Both of those play fairly important roles in the early career of the trio of Batman, Gordon, and Dent, so it's not like they could be discarded, and they don't just appear in LH/DV which could be disregarded as apocryphal in the details. And assuming Anthony Zucco (the one responsible for Dick's parents' death) was some kind of lower level mob, to which family did he belong?

Of course in addition to the Mafia there's some other organized crime in Gotham too (the Lucky Hand Triad, the Escabedo Cartel, the Odessa Mob, the Burnley Town Massive...), though some of that is confined to certain neighborhoods. But clearly the Maroni and the Falcone families are supposed to be mafia.

And how does Malfetti fit in? (in case you lost track that is the mob boss from the Nightwing/Huntress series) Do I even want to know if there are any more? Do we get diagrams at some point?

ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, I'm kind of researching the main Batverse characters I don't know very well, because I (intermittently a.k.a. the crazy person in that corner over there, banging her head against the wall) am still in the middle of my Batverse summary draft. Though unfortunately not "in the middle" as in "half done" yet. (And just what was I thinking, when writing that seemed like the thing to do?!?)

And I have a question for the Huntress fans. As I understand it there are at least two post-Crisis origin stories for her. One from the 1989 Huntress series, and a different version from the Batman/Huntress: Cry For Blood mini-series by Rucka from 19922000. I have read neither myself, just summaries, so it's hard for me to evaluate stuff. Anyway, they contradict each other.

In version one (from 1989), she's kidnapped and molested with six by the Smiling Man who's employed by a rival crime family, and her family is murdered while she is in college by an assassin called Omerta. As a result of that she leaves for Sicily to train to become the Huntress.

In Rucka's origin story her parents are murdered when she's very young, and she's sent to Sicily for protection. There she learns martial arts, the crossbow handling and such, finds out eventually that her family is mafia, starts to despise them and decides to fight crime.

I guess Rucka's version is the one that's in continuity right now, at least I've seen that version referred to in comics I read. The entries in the official DC SF&O are a bit vague and non-committal, like the BOP SF&O only says that her parents were killed "in her youth" which could fit both versions. And besides the dating of her parents murder, I'm wondering whether bits of the kidnapping and molestation are still canon? Help?

ETA: I misread something, somewhere and Batman/Huntress Cry For Blood is actually from 2000 not 1992, making one version post-, the other pre-ZH, so that explains the change.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So, the events in that fateful night when Dick Grayson's parents die, and young Tim Drake watches, what do you think happened wrt Batman's appearance on the scene? In the scenario that Tim tells to explain how he made the connection between Dick Grayson and Robin, the two key pieces are the quadruple somersault and Tim witnessing Batman swoop down into the ring and examine the ropes. That's how it happens in Year Three (1989), how Tim tells it to Dick in A Lonely Place of Dying (1989). In all later versions, I've found, as well as in the Secret Origins #13 (1987) that was published earlier, Batman doesn't swoop into the arena in full spotlight, but investigates later. In Robin #0 (1994) in the brief flashback panel we only see Bruce Wayne at the circus, and Dick says that he didn't even believe in Batman until he was shown the cave, though we can probably disregard that as incongruent with all other versions. In Robin Annual #4 (1995) Batman first runs into Dick Grayson later the same night, outside, when he investigates and Dick eavesdrops. In Dark Victory (2000) it's not impossible that Dick runs into Batman later that night, as we don't see those events, but their first conversation seems to take place after Bruce Wayne took Dick in, but anyway only Bruce Wayne is shown in the scene of the Graysons death as onlooker. In LotDK #100 (1997) we see Bruce Wayne more or less discreetly remove evidence from the scene without any disguise, besides feigning clumsiness, and change into the Batman costume in his car, and encounter Dick later that night during the investigation.

Besides all the other differences (like whether Zucco dies from an heart attack, whether the ringmaster is involved and eaten by lions, etc etc), the thing with whether or not Batman appeared in the circus arena stands out, because it's central to Tim's explanation how he discovers Robin's identity. OTOH it makes more sense that Batman doesn't swoop into the arena with several hundred onlookers just to take a look at the rope and possibly comfort Dick.

So -- what's your vote for the most likely scenario? Was Batman in the limelight that night or not?
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Do we see somewhere what the full current version of the oath that Dick has sworn is? I've seen scans of that panel from Golden Age comics where Dick swears an oath by candle light, that (what we see of it) goes "And swear that we two will fight together against crime and corruption and never swerve from the path of righteousness!"

And in Gotham Knights #11 when Dick quotes that oath to snap Bruce out of his autohypnosis, he quotes it as "to fight crime and corruption and never swerve from the path of justice" which is close enough, I guess.

However, when Batman refers to the oath for example in Robin Year One, he makes it sound as if there was a section about absolute, and unquestioning obedience included:
Batman: "You once swore an oath to me. If you put that costume on, you'll honor those words to the letter and never again question my orders."
Dick: "Even if it means watching you die?"
Batman: "Yes. Without hesitation."

Now it might be just me, but that sounds as if the oath has undergone some major revisions or at least expansions from the original one, which didn't have anything in it about obedience without hesitation, not just as if they had the lecture about following orders before.

Visually the candle light oath scene is referenced at the very end of Dark Victory, for example, but we don't see the words there.

So do we see this new and improved oath in full somewhere?
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I've reread Robin: Year One, the mini-series, not the 1995 annual, and now I'm wondering whether Bruce even reported Dick Grayson missing after he ran away, and what Child Protection Services had to say about that (if anything). Okay, so Bruce has covered up the near-fatal beating, by bringing him to Leslie rather than a hospital, but at some point it must have aroused suspicion that Dick is absent from school. Even if he went back briefly after recovering from his injuries and running away, someone ought to ask questions, no? I mean, Dick is what, twelve? Thirteen?

Of course it's not unlikely that Gotham's other authorities are just as corrupt as the police was especially early in Batman's career, and Bruce Wayne simply paid them not to ask any questions, about what happened to that gypsy circus kid he took in, and nobody really cared. And maybe he bought the school a new computer lab, or something.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
So crazy person that I am, I am kind of trying to write a first draft of a comic Batverse overview for [livejournal.com profile] crack_van, because the Batverse really deserves to be pimped. A lot. So while I'm valiantly struggling to come up with ways not to make the character backgrounds and storyline descriptions ridiculously long, and possibly with footnotes *facepalms* -- lots of footnotes explaining alternate versions, because I'm irrationally afraid to be kicked in the head by people reading it, whose favorite version of the pivotal character past moment is a different one -- I'm rereading bits and pieces, and I'm reminded all over again of why I love the characters so much.

For example young Bruce Wayne. I mean, he's one traumatized little kid, and copes with the loss of his parents in a scary way, but he is also just awesome. He makes the decision not to let something like his parents death happen to someone else ever again in night of the murder, and in a way it's really a thought that an eight year old would have, like, it's not an especially realistic goal or anything. It's not a grown up thought of helping victims of crime, or reducing crime, or saving as many lives as possible -- possible doesn't figure into it. He swears on the grave of his parents that it'll never happen again. But the dedication and drive the loss of his parents start within him, in a way I admire that, because it's not resigned but defiant even against impossible odds. And he keeps that goal, and his oath in mind even as an adolescent and adult, he never revises his goal into something achievable.

I think he's a great person for that. I mean, as far as my reactions to the death of close relatives like my mother or my grandparents go, it just resulted in me being depressed, and kind of fatalistic about death happening, it's not like I decided to dedicate my life to rid the world of cancer or anything. And okay violent death is of course different, but I never got the impression that it was about vengeance for Bruce, or about that particular mugger. I really admire how he takes his pain and transforms it into a force for something positive. Even though his way is probably not the "sanest" one to deal with death, after that night's events he is at least never passive or a victim again.

I mean, in many depictions of the murder and it's aftermath, you can see the moment he makes this decision, when his look turns from that of a scared kid, into the look of someone determined and scary, like this one from Year One, or in the one from the Zero Hour Batman issue, I linked to above. He is still afraid of course, but it doesn't paralyze him anymore. He faces his fear and uses it. I also truly envy his focus-- not exactly in that I would want to be that extreme myself, but-- it may be kind of scary, that he's so single-minded, yeah, but once he's certain of his goal he works to achieve it, and does so with all he has.

First he molds himself exactly into what he wants to be, both body and mind, then later he transforms his home into the perfect base for his mission, his company into the machinery to generate the technology and immense funds he needs, but he doesn't just fight as Batman, at the same time on the Bruce Wayne side of his war against crime he uses Wayne Enterprises to generate wealth and jobs for Gotham, is a philanthropist who gives money to charities, all to transform Gotham.

Um, I think, I don't really have a point, except that I adore the ingenuity of Bruce's whole setup.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
First, I don't collect the comic tie-ins for the animated universe, but maybe I should get the Batman Adventures #16 in July, I mean who could resist a description like that? cut for those who avoid even the solicitation spoilers )

Second, like some (many?) others I feel a bit apprehensive after reading the recent solicitations for the upcoming months. Again cut for those who avoid all spoilers, but I haven't read any beyond the texts and images of the DC solicitations for June and July )

Still, overall I look forward to these events, and hope that the stories and the changes will turn out okay in the end. The thing is, as a fan I'm kind of conservative, I like things like they are, after all. But it's also true that a bunch of stuff I like quite a lot, is the result of storylines I wouldn't have voted in favor of if they had put up a readership poll to decide. I mean, had I been a DC reader in the 1980s I'm unsure whether I would have been in favor of the Crisis, almost certainly I wouldn't have voted for killing Barry. I doubt I would have been in favor of killing Jason in that reader poll they actually did on that, though he is my least favorite Robin. And okay, the story of Jason's death itself is cringe-worthy (and I know I repeat myself far too often on this topic, but that story is at the very top of my list of things that ought to be retconned and retold in a better way, preferably so that it makes a little more sense and without Chomeini as guest star), but it led to a lot of cool developments in the Batverse. I wouldn't have voted in favor of crippling Batgirl either, and yet I adore Babs as Oracle. And okay, I'm still a bit disgruntled about how they handled Hal becoming Parallax, but I like Kyle as Green Lantern. That is to say, even if the story itself isn't great, the balance in the end is still often positive.

I could probably list a couple of things more, but I think it comes down to the fact that overall I tend to trust the DC writers and editors to care about the universe, and that I'll like a lot about any changes they're going to make. Even though my first impulse as a fan is always a conservative one-- like I said, I like it how it is, so why mess with the status quo?-- there are also cool opportunities in universe changes.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
...just not not right now. Ahem.

I've finished reading Dead Heat (Flash #108-111 and Impulse #10-11), and overall I enjoyed it a lot, not at least because I like stories with the speedforce playing a prominent role, however one thing bugged me: The way the speedsters talk about Johnny Quick's suicide made them sound like one of the more disturbing cults out there. I mean it's great for them that they're so sure of their afterlife, but still-- when Jay tells Jesse who mourns her father "Your father was a fine man... and, god, I'm going to miss him. But be glad for him, Jesse. After a lifetime of living in darkness, he finally saw a light that took him in and made him whole." (quoted from Flash #111) --it somehow bugs me. It's not only how content they seem to serenely seek out and embrace their death (joining with the field or not, they are still dead) when they feel their time has come, because the speedforce calls to them, which is vaguely disturbing to hear from people who are not terminally ill or in a lot of pain (which are the only circumstances I have encountered that sentiment), it's also that apparently to have their desired afterlife, they can't just wait for dying of old age in their sleep, they have to die through their form of ritualized suicide, by running as fast as they can, and then if they're lucky enough (or favored by the speedforce, or whatever), they can join with it. Which is what reminds me of some wacky cults who tell their members they have to kill themselves in some specific fashion to get into heaven.

I mean, I've been wondering whether in the aftermath (i.e. the funeral in Flash #112) the other speedsters told the assembled heroes that Johnny Quick didn't really die in the fight, but decided to join the speedforce because he "finally saw the light". It doesn't seem that way-- at the funeral Johnny's ex-wife Libby (the retired Liberty Bell) is grieving and fairly bitter, and blames it on the costumed adventuring that he's dead. It seems she assumes he died because of the fight. I assume the speedsters must have told her something about why they are so certain he's not going to reappear, because otherwise I have a hard time how anybody in the DCU would accept someone as dead without leaving a body behind this quickly, just because he apparently disappeared in a big boom of lightening.

I now want to know much of this stuff the speedsters share with their team mates, and what those team mates think of this. I mean I can't imagine that their views on this go over well with everybody.

Another thing I'm ambiguous about is that in Dead Heat we get to see Wally inside the field, which on one hand is cool to see, on the other hand I liked that it was left open and mysterious in Terminal Velocity, and in a way seeing it on page this time, made that less effective. However it's still a really cool sequence in Flash #111 (page 15, 16, 17/18, 19, 20), not at least because even though Wally is in (or at least only one step away from) nirvana-like bliss, he still has a sense of humor as he brings Savitar to join the other speedsters: "And the certainty that all those who have journeyed here before me take care of their own... however they must. So long Savitar. Learn to play well with others."
ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
I've just read Flash #106, and I'm wondering, this James guy who's with Piper, when they and Linda meet for lunch, is he Piper's boyfriend? And who is he anyway? (When Piper says to Linda that he's no expert on relationships James interjects "Oh, I don't know..." and in this conversation it seems he and Piper share a house.) And who is he anyway? I couldn't find a James on the main site I use to look up Flash info, besides James Jesse, the first Trickster, and that guy looks very different, e.g. Trickster I has long blond hair.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
Last night I've read the Terminal Velocity arc and the issue after, dealing with its fallout, i.e. Flash #95-101, and when I went to bed I had this thought about how Flash's experience is in a lot of ways similar to Animal Man's (first) death and rebirth through the Red in the Flesh and Blood arc in Animal Man #51-56. Since then I looked at the Animal Man issues again, to write this entry -- it's been a while since I read them -- and it wasn't quite as parallel as my half asleep brain thought, mainly because Animal Man recognized his "power field" before his first death, also Buddy is less able to hold on to his previous personality, while Wally manages to push his new insights into his subconscious. But I still think their "near death experience" stories are similar in a lot of ways, because totally different superpowers work on a similar structure, which I find neat. Also I think it's interesting how differently they and their families deal with these things.

Now, it's not exactly uncommon that superheroes die only to come back, whether through magic, some cosmic entity, timeline anomalies, or whatever plot device is en vogue then, however I think that both Buddy's and Wally's experiences stand out. Not only because they both come back changed and actually remember things (while sometimes superheroes don't remember and don't change much, it's not that unusual that the death/resurrection plot is used to tweak or change the character's powers), but also because both do it by themselves -- through discovering a deeper connection to the source of their powers, i.e. the "Speedforce" for Wally, "The Red" (a.k.a Morphogenetic Field) for Buddy. Subsequently that "rebirth" and with it their new awareness of their respective "field" changes their powers, ends up being a spiritual experience for them (though some will get more extremist about it in the long run than others, I mean it's not like Flash has founded a Speedforce church -- I hope *g*), and also leads to tension in their relationship to their "normal" spouses who remained behind and didn't share that revelation. Even though for both their wish to stay with their loved ones longer, and to protect them, was their primary reason not to surrender to the field, but to cling to life and come back.

a more detailed look at this, cut for lengthy quotes about the Speedforce and The Red, and their nature )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
That Jeph Loeb is fond of the Silver Age isn't exactly news. For example, IIRC it was him who brought back Krypto in 2001. Which always reminds me of Morrison's meta-run on Animal Man, where Buddy is at that place where comic characters that are written out go until they come back, and it's said that the animals have really bad chances of returning -- apparently not quite that bad, at the current rate I wouldn't bet anything important on that we'll never see Super-Turtle as part of any Silver Age revival, or that the Legion of Super-Pets is really gone for good.

And it's not just Krypto, Loeb did these stories about Krypton that from what I've seen draw from the Silver Age Krypton a lot, he obviously likes the World's Finest team-up, which is why we now are back to Superman and Batman being fairly close, if not quite like pre-Crisis, as of Superman/Batman #6 Lex Luthor seems to be back to his "mad scientist" persona, and now in Superman/Batman #8 we get Kara back, though it's not quite clear yet whether she's truly a Kryptonian relative like the pre-Crisis version. Not to mention that in Superman/Batman# 8 we also get Batman picking up Red Kryptonite, and when exactly did that come back into the comics?? I wonder how long it'll be until the gold, white and blue kryptonites come back. In the end it doesn't even matter all that much whether this Kara Zor-El is truly from Krypton (it's not as if there weren't enough Supergirls and Power Girls with confusing origins already), for this overall trend to chip away at the Superman reboot from 1986.

It's not that I don't find a lot of this Silver Age stuff charming and all, but well-- while I'm not the greatest fan of Byrne's Man of Steel mini series, I think it was a good thing to get away from all the Kryptonian super clutter. It's simply more powerful when Superman is truly the last and only survivor.

Thus I'm kind of torn about the Superman/Batman series, especially with Loeb once again writing Superman soon. I love the double POV and the whole take on the World's Finest Team and their relationship, and while I wasn't that fond of Ed McGuinness cartoony style, I think Michael Turner's art is gorgeous. I'd have bought #8 for the Gotham skyline in the splash page alone, but I don't think we really needed another Supergirl. I guess I'll be okay as long as she doesn't get a horse with a cape. Or hangs out with Streaky the Super-Cat.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
A little while ago when I talked about reading the recent Flash issues which give Wally a secret identity, I wondered how this worked. I mean beyond the "Hey, let's use The Spectre as a giant plot device that works in weird and quirky ways" level. Like, how did The Spectre do it, and what exactly was the nature of his intervention, etc. And then yesterday I read this essay with an introduction/theory of how Hypertime works, and started to wonder whether you couldn't use Hypertime to maybe make the plot device a bit less whimsical from an intra-universe perspective.

Now, I'm not familiar with The Spectre, but I read about his powers (that link goes to the page for the previous Spectre since the one for the current doesn't details Hal Jordan's powers as Spectre), and that bio lists things like "The Spectre is intangible, can fly, turn invisible, inhabit and animate inanimate objects, and sense the intentions of people in the place where they plan to carry those intentions out. The Spectre knows many secrets of the universe and its inhabitants, though even he is not omniscient. The Spectre can sometimes get glimpses into the future, although this is not without great difficulty."

And Hal's powers as Spectre may be different, and probably that has been explored in the most recent Spectre series, but since it's the same Spectre force inhabiting him they ought to be similar, and I have to say that at first glance at least, causing all the changes necessary for this secret identity creation if he does changes only inside the main timeline is hard too swallow. What Hal says in Flash #200 is "I can't raise the dead, Wally. Not in any pleasant way. And like Barry I can't change history. But I can help. [...] You regret revealing your identity to the world. Putting your loved ones in danger. I can't stop that from ever happening--but I can fix it so that from this day forward--no one will remember who the Flash is. No one will remember Wally West is the Flash. No one will remember Barry Allen was the Flash." The Spectre ask Wally to run, and apparently somehow the combination of both their powers controlled by The Spectre made not only the memory changes but also changed physical objects revealing the identity, like that statue of Barry Allen, and I assume that extends to news archives, tv records and the like. Another complication is of course that it is possible to recover the "lost" memories with a sufficient trigger, like Batman researching Flash's identity to find him when he goes "missing," Batman telling Wally he's the Flash etc.

Now, after I read the Hypertime essay, about how Hypertime makes it possible that timelines intermingle, I had this idea. What if the Hal didn't made countless manipulations to the main timeline (though I know the conversation between Flash and Batman in #205 makes it sound like that, but it's not like either of them would be aware what exactly happened), but somehow manipulated Hypertime, making the main timeline interact with a second one in which history really was that neither Flash's identity became known, made them feed back into one another, collapsing both those timelines into the new one. Like the description above says, as Spectre Hal knows a lot about the universe, he also has experience *cough* in messing with time and reality, and while as Spectre alone he may not have the power to manipulate Hypertime, with that knowledge he could have used the Flash's powers in some way to collapse two timelines he's chosen to get a result like this.

With that hypothesis of what he did his statements make more sense. He didn't change the "past" in either separate timeline, but merged the two, ones with very similar events, and with it all people, objects, records, in both timelines merged as well. Since the timelines are so similar, it wouldn't make a difference for most things, so the intermingled objects and people would be exactly like they were before. The conflicting event, i.e. the revealing of Flash's identity, in the new version came from the second timeline. And it helps explain the odd way the memory recovery works too. If you think about the two timelines as intermingling states it makes sense that people know and not know that Wally West is Flash until the final timeline settles, and like an observer makes two superimposed quantum states "collapse" into just the observed one-- like in the thought experiment with Schrödinger's cat-- the confrontation with the previous knowledge makes the person become aware of Flash's identity, and "collapses" the memories into the final version. And maybe whatever it is what intermingles when timelines intermingle within Hypertime can be interpreted in terms of probabilities, so when this superimposition of timeline versions settles into the final one, you could calculate the probabilities of how the final timeline will turn out. Only the probability of that memory of Flash's identity settling into the memory version of the first timeline is much higher if the person worked with Flash and really knew him as Wally, than if there are few and inconsequential memories of public appearances and such.

It still kind of makes your head hurt, but I like that much better than The Spectre doing all the changes to all people and objects directly. This way he would just have to know which timelines to choose from all of Hypertime so that their merging would lead to the desired result (with a high probability anyway).
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
Obviously 6 a.m. in the morning after a night of no sleep is not a time to be able to follow websites on DC's Hypertime, even less so essays on why/how Hypertime is very different from the pre-Crisis Multiverse concept. Still the Hypertime site looks really interesting, and I'm definitely going to check these essays out when my brain is less addled.
ratcreature: RatCreature is buried in comics, with the text: There's no such thing as too many comics.  (comics)
I tried to look into the Justice League comics, that is post-Crisis but before the current JLA series, to see what prior JL incarnations there have been, and whether any look interesting, etc. and I didn't even get as far as to look up which titles there were before becoming confused. I knew that at one time the team split into Justice League Europe and Justice League America, but what is this Justice League International? And is there more than one of those? And something with the issue numbers is confusing, too.

* Some research (mostly here and here) later. *

Okay, so in 1987 the series started as "Justice League", the members seem to have been: Batman, Martian Manhunter, Black Canary II, Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate, Blue Beetle II, Guy Gardner, and Mister Miracle.

Then with #7 still in 1987, it became "Justice League International", and there were some changes to the team, Captain Marvel and Dr. Fate quit, Captain Atom, Booster Gold and someone named Rocket Red with various, probably significant, numbers ("Rocket Red #7"? "Rocket Red #4"?) join. That series lasts until issue #25. Then it became "Justice League America" in 1989 but the issue number continue with #26, and the new "Justice League Europe" starts as its counterpart and lasts until #50.

Then in June 1993 the "Justice League Europe" starts to go by "Justice League International" but the issue numbers also continue, that being the reason why the issue numbers of the series called "Justice League International" don't match, but go only from #7-25 and #51-68, which are really two different series/teams. In June 1993 another series/team starts, the "Justice League Task Force" and I'm not sure how that team relates to either of the others (but looking at the descriptions that one has Nightwing in it).

As an aside, these various Justice League teams start to look as complicated to keep track of as the gazillion of different X teams and titles from Marvel...

So basically it's like:
JL --> JLI --<         
               JLE --> JLI
                       JL Taskforce 

Anyway, the new "Justice League International" lasted till September 1994, so I guess Zero Hour had an impact on it? I'm still not sure how the "Justice League Quarterly" title that ran from 1990 to 1994 fits into it. Both the JL Taskforce and the Justice League America series lasted summer 1996. Then in September a "Midsummer's Nightmare" started the lastest JLA series with the Justice League in its current configuration.

I still have no clue which (if any) of these might be worth reading. (I mean, do I really want to know about the numbered Red Rocket guys?) The one comforting thing is that I don't really have to worry about it yet, because I for now I can catch up on the current series first, if I want more Justice League, and that series seems to be straightforward enough, if you don't look at the ton of available specials.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
I've been wondering when and how Batman and Superman reveal (or find out) each other's secret identities as Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent (in current comic continuity), and which issue(s) tell of this. The version of their first meeting as it is told in Man of Steel (mini-series) #3 (Nov 1986) -- I don't know if there are others -- doesn't have a mutual revelation of secret identities.

I did some web research, but what I found surprise me, mostly because I previously thought that Superman and Batman found out about each other early. The Superman FAQ has a question on who knows of his secret identity and says that "Batman discovered the secret (ADVENTURES #440, May 88)". I then browsed that site some more and found a three part article Superman & Batman: World's Finest Team, that takes a closer look at their relationship.

That article tells a bit more Adventures of Superman #440. It's apparently continued from Action Comics #594:

Superman asks for his help in trying to determine who has been keeping a scrapbook of his feats before his official debut as Superman (unknown to Superman, Ma Kent had been saving clippings, and her book had been stolen).

Batman brings Robin along to meet Superman. It isn't clear whether this Robin is supposed to be Dick Grayson or Jason Todd. While Robin stands slack-jawed (repeatedly saying "wow!"), the two discuss the scrapbook.
Superman checks back with Batman in Adventures of Superman #440 for three pages. The meeting is made a bit edgier this time. Batman is in his Dark Knight persona, wondering where Superman is. "I don't like standing idle like this. Gotham is a garden that needs constant weeding". Batman doesn't bring Robin this time and he is abrupt with Superman ("As usual, your humor eludes me, Superman.").

As to the scrapbook, Batman says that he wasn't able to come up with anything except, "the only absolute fact I was able to glean from the thing ... is that you're Clark Kent". Humorously, Superman's first thought is "Maybe I should have enlisted the help of the world's *second* greatest detective!" Batman adds that as a matter of "professional courtesy" he won't reveal Superman's dual identity to anyone.

Superman shows that there are some brains with the muscles when he replies, "Oh, I'm quite sure you won't do that ... Mr. Wayne." Batman almost slips off his batrope as he thinks, "and to think I took all that effort to line my cowl with lead foil."

(quoted from Superman & Batman: World's Finest Team - Part 1 (of 3) by Sean Hogan)

Reading this summary confused me a bit. Both the Unofficial Guide to the DCU site as well as the Unofficial Chronology Site put this in present day, and make the Robin Jason Todd. Thus Batman didn't know Superman's identity until Year Seven (in the ultra compressed "official" DC timeline that seems to have a bizarre "10 years rule" ever more compressing events as time goes on) or even Year Nine (in the timeline constructed by the Unofficial Chronology Site, which attempts to be consistent wrt to actual events unlike the SF&O timelines), which is the year Jason becomes Robin.

While this is consistent with Legends of the DC Universe #6 which tells of the first meeting of Dick Grayson with Superman (and it isn't that scrapbook case), somehow I always imagined them finding out about each other much earlier. I vaguely remember reading stories set before Batman teamed up with the first Robin, where he still knew of Superman's identity. Right now I can only find ones which aren't all that central to other continuity and probably weigh less heavy, e.g. LotDK #24-26, Flyer, a story set explicitly 18 months after his debut as Batman, when he refers to Superman as Clark (LotDK #24 p.17), which I didn't even read until recently, yet I thought they learned each of other's identities early on even before reading that. And I'm not sure to what extent the World's Finest mini-series from 1990 written by Dave Gibbons was intended as in continuity or as standalone, but reading that fit with my impression (which apparently I can't fully trace right now) that Batman and Superman found out each other's identities early, because there's also no Robin, yet they know each other.

Are there other versions that explore the identity thing further or retell the version from 1987? I haven't read the World's Finest twelve issue maxi-series, does that one maybe cover it? I'd really like to read relevant issues covering this more in-depth than the Adventures of Superman issue mentioned above seems to do, though I guess I'm going to look for it too. So if anyone has further reading suggestions and/or more insight into this, it would be much appreciated.

(Note: I first posted about this a while ago, but moments later noticed I'd overlooked things, so I deleted that post and reposted after having read more, just in case you saw the previous post appearing and then vanishing on your flist and wondered about it.)
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
The first post, and the second post of this series.

BTW, I should mention that in my notes and eventual comparisons my interest isn't really in establishing a consistent timeline, other sites, like the Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe do this much more thoroughly than I ever could, also with special attention paid to Batman and Nightwing. Of course I'll mention the timeline information that is given in an issue, but I won't try and make it all fit to find the "one true sequence of events" as it really happened in the fictional universe, or explore timeline and chronology problems at great length, though I might link to timeline problem analyses/conjectures other people did, in places where I find it interesting.

Anyway, in the last post I looked at Batman's origin story in Year One. Right after Year One (in the publishing order, not in the internal chronology), Batman #408 (Jun 1987) starts the series of stories with Dick retiring as Robin, and Jason taking on that role. I'll look closer at those aspects in the (projected) posts on Nightwing's origin. However, there is also information about Bruce and his past in "Did Robin Die Tonight?", i.e. Batman #408 (Jun 1987), and I'll comment on some Bruce characterization I found interesting, too:
lengthy notes on Batman #408, with quotes and links to scans )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
The first post is here.

The first section on Batman (of which this post is the first part) covers stories/issues I'm aware of which deal containing information about Bruce Wayne/Batman's childhood, his years of training and travel, as well as key moments early in his vigilante career that formed the present day Batman. Like I explained earlier, I'll deal with key first encounters separately.

Issues/stories are listed in order of their first publishing date. The ones I haven't read (yet) are marked with a "*" (For those I linked to the sites I took the information from, the numbering of the resource sites is the one I used in the first post.):
a longish list )

Now a more in-depth look at these stories, starting with the central Year One storyline, which I'll also use as a "baseline" to compare other stories to, because it is at the core of modern Batman continuity. As is often pointed out [1] [3], Batman didn't get a "clean" break in his continuity during Crisis with a neat retelling like Superman, however Year One has a similar function, even if there was no full rewrite.

Year One, i.e. Batman #404-#407 (Feb - May 1987), gives us the following information (I won't summarize the whole plot about corruption and organized crime in Gotham, but just highlight some stuff, especially since I'll cover the early history of Batman, Dent and Gordon in a separate post. I guess everybody just a little interested in the comic version of Batman -- and who else would read detailed comparisons of information on his origins? -- will have already read Year One anyway):

notes on Bruce/Batman in Year One )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Batman continuity has been on my mind a lot lately. I've noticed that I have trouble to keep track of the different versions of key moments in the characters' history, mostly for Batman and Nightwing, because those two are the characters I'm most interested in, and consequently I read more (and more "conflicting") stories about them, but it happens with other characters too. So I decided to make notes of what versions I've read so far. Clearly this is a work in progress, but I thought others might be interested in my efforts at organization.

When I started to organize my knowledge of their origin stories, and to write a post on it, it soon became clear that it would be a very sprawling post, and it got worse and worse, and then I realized that the blogging options for me were either to wait a rather long time, where interesting posts would be scarce in my blog (even more so than usual), because my fannish time and energy meanwhile is going into the monster post, or to make it literally a work in progress, and post it as a series, which would spread the (hopefully) interesting content over a bit of time in my blog (and keep each part at manageable lengths for the readers too).

My first project is trying to piece together an overview of Batman's origin story, i.e. the details of his parents murder, what's known about his childhood, his years of training and travel, as well as key moments early in his vigilante career that formed the present day Batman. Within that, the first meetings between Batman and his enemies as well other superheroes and allies are a chapter of their own. I don't think it's practical to divide it much further, like to make separate sections for "pre-murder childhood," "Wayne murder," "pre-Batman training and travel" and "early career" because in many stories several or all of the above are touched upon, and to separate them would divide the notes on each story needlessly. However the first encounter stories are often separate, and in cases when they are not, like for much of the early history of Dent, Gordon and Batman, and the eventual origin of Two-Face, those are often co-origin stories for all the characters and are the main plot of the stories, so that treating them separately makes sense and is more practical than to mush that together with the often briefer references and flashbacks to his childhood and the like.

Second project will be Nightwing's history, details of his parents murder, the Robin I origin story, how he became Bruce's ward, and the origin of his Nightwing persona. Then at a later point maybe posts on other characters, like Batgirl I/Oracle and Robin III.

The method I've decided on for each of the sections is to first post a list of all stories/issues that I know of which contain relevant information or (re-)tell key events of that time. I'll list them in their publishing order and mark those which I haven't read yet with a "*". In that list I'll also briefly mention why the story is relevant (at least if it isn't self-evident from its title), and for those I haven't read I'll cite the website that referred to them, however my detailed notes only cover the comics I've read myself, and I'll just expand on them later. If those lists are missing important or even minor issues, I'd love to hear about those. I mean, right now I've only read a small portion of the available canon, and browsed a couple of websites, there's no chance these lists are complete.

In the detailed notes I'll mention in the later stories where they contradict the ones published earlier, but not vice versa, mostly for practical reasons, because otherwise the cross-referencing becomes a nightmare fast, and keeping track becomes much harder. Maybe I'll include "bi-directional" referencing in the final version, once I have all notes at hand.

Of tremendous help for staying on top of the continuity facts have been:
  1. The Continuity Pages for Batman

  2. The Unauthorized Chronology of the DC Universe

  3. The Dark Knight FAQs

  4. The Unoffical Guide to the DC Universe

In the places where I mention issues I haven't read yet, but have read about in those resources, I'll link to the specific site from which I have the information.

The second post, where I actually start to examine Batman's origin's will follow shortly.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Okay, I should be sleeping at way past three in the morning, however instead I've been wondering about Batman, secret identities, and personality splits, and how I've seen the relation and balance between the different aspects of Bruce/Batman's persona handled in the comics dealing with this. I blame it on reading JLA v3 #50-54 earlier today.

And just for the record, it is really annoying when characters make camp like this in my mind, the last time that happened had been with TS, and somehow Jim and Blair with their neat 65 episode canon, fairly normal personalities, and their small regular supporting cast have never been this much trouble. Not like Batman, Nightwing, and Gotham in general. They brought less gargoyle decor too. I mean, I assume fanfic writers learn to live with characters (and thoughts about characters) clamoring in their head, but I actually don't think much about the characters in most of the fandoms I'm interested in, except when I'm discussing them intentionally. They and their history don't pop up in my mind at inappropriate and inconvenient moments, or deprive me of sleep. I guess I can count myself lucky that it needs a high level of involvement and exposure for this to happen.

So, in this JLA story the superhero identities get split from their "cover" or human identities for those JLA members who have both, i.e. there are suddenly Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Plastic Man, Martian Manhunter and Flash, as well as Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Kyle Rayner, Patrick O'Brian, John Jones and Wally West, while Wonder Woman and Aquaman remain whole.

And I found the way Batman's split was handled interesting, because it was different from the "usual" way the personality parts "separate" in Batman storylines. The split identity thing is a fairly common theme in Batman comics (at least in recent ones, I haven't read that many of earlier ones yet). The integrity and unity of the Bruce-Batman personality isn't very stable, despite or maybe even because his amazing mental abilities and discipline.

I mean, he can make the conscious decision to forget whole aspects of his self, like he did in Transference (in Gotham Knights #8-11), where he made himself "forget" that he was Batman to protect himself. Transference ended January 2001 (the cover date), when the JLA issue #50 is from February 2001. Obviously that's not a direct correspondence to the internal timeline, as the chronology relation between different series isn't easy to figure out, but his personality integrity sure took a lot of battering around that time. Not much later in Close Before Striking (Batman #588-590, running from April to June 2001) he overidentifies (to put it mildly) with his alter ego Matches Malone, foreshadowing his identity problems and then mental breakdown during the Bruce Wayne Murderer? storyline. In Gotham Knights #24 Bruce talks to "Batman", sees him, hears voices, and can't clearly remember all his actions. And at least if you consider the recent one-shot Batman: Ego to be in continuity, that hasn't been the first time Bruce sees Batman as a corporeal entity he can talk to. In Batman #600 during Bruce Wayne Murderer? he then declares "Bruce Wayne" to be the mask. Anyway, lots of complicated identity problems.

But all the identity splits I recall in the Batman comics have in common that, broadly, "Batman" is both the trauma and the coping mechanism, while Bruce Wayne is the "rest personality," whereas in the JLA story Bruce Wayne remains as a "normal" human with the trauma, but without the coping mechanism of "Batman" and the skills to channel his anger, whereas "Batman" has the (superhero) skills but not the drive of the (human) trauma.

I found this view of the different aspects of Bruce-Batman's persona interesting, because it draws a holistic picture of how the aspects are interdependent, and approaches the topic of the sometimes warring parts of him from a different angle than all the "split personality" stories that culminated in Bruce Wayne Murderer? Which I liked too, but ultimately I like that Batman and Bruce Wayne are parts of a whole, neither more "real" than the other, nor possible as separate, even if the "whole" in this case is rather complicated.

I'm not sure I'm expressing myself really well, but then you can't expect much from insomiac pre-dawn rambles. *g*
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Now that the team on Robin changed I actually read the latest Robin issue instead of getting it for my "to read eventually pile" -- which btw is not meant as a comment on the quality of the previous team, I just haven't gotten around to them. My pile of comics to read is ever growing, not just with superhero stuff, I also still collect European comics and US indies after all, so for now those Robin issues are in good company with many others ranging from historical fiction comics about the Paris commune to funny animals comics.

Anyway, I used the change of teams as a jumping on point, and I figured that this would also be a good opportunity to do some background reading on the current Robin, a.k.a. Tim Drake. I had already read A Lonely Place of Dying, which introduced Tim, and now I read Rite of Passage, i.e. Detective Comics #618-#621 written by Alan Grant, pencils by Norm Breyfogle, inks by Steve Mitchell, in which Tim's mother dies, and his father ends up paralyzed and in a coma (apparently Jack Drake will get better eventually, at least I recall seeing him with his second wife in a Gotham Knights issue and he was neither paralyzed nor dead, but I don't know yet when/how that recovery happens).

I really liked the psychological parts of the story, the insights into Tim's mind, and his relationship with Bruce/Batman -- the evil Voodoo priest plot parts, um, not so much. I liked how ambiguous and complicated Tim's feelings, especially about Batman and becoming Robin, are. It's 'survivor's guilt' in a way, but with a twist, because Tim wonders whether the death of his parents might be the necessary "rite of passage" he has to go through before he can finally become Robin (something which at least at the beginning he wants very much), just like it was with the other Robins. Of course when Tim voices this thought to Alfred at the end of #619, Alfred is rebukes that, and some part of Tim also knows that his desire to be Robin didn't cause his parents misfortune, but the feeling is still there. And at the end of #621 he wonders whether his association with Batman will suck him into "a lifetime in hell," thoughts that are mirrored by Bruce who is feeling guilty for not saving Tim's parents and feels like "The night-monster. The man who taints the lives of all around him." and fears that by allowing Tim to become Robin, he'd cause Tim to become like himself. Also I really like how the sequence in #621 (from page 18 to the first half of page 21) illustrates those feelings, especially the transition from Bruce giving comfort to Tim seeing him as threatening Batman, and then the POV shift to Batman's thoughts. And that even though the facial expressions of grief aren't drawn that great. Okay, so the bat-shadow effect isn't original, but IMO it works here. (If you haven't read them and want to take a look at those four pages, I've uploaded images of about 100k each, the smallest size where the text was still somewhat recognizable, for you to look at: p. 18, p. 19, p. 20, and p. 21.)

I look forward to read how those issues will be followed up in the Identity Crisis story line and the Robin mini-series, i.e. the issues which have been reprinted in the Robin: A Hero Reborn TPB (though I intend to get them as single issues if possible).

BTW, when I sometimes talk about specific pages or panels in my entries, do you (i.e. whoever reads this) like it when I put up scans of the pages and link to those? Or doesn't it matter and you skip checking out the images as a waste of bandwidth? Then I wouldn't bother in the future, but I thought that maybe sometimes it could be helpful.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I was feeling grumpy and depressed, because I'm home alone with my cold (yeah, still *grumble*), and wasn't feeling up to going out, but then I decided that lying in bed, zapping through 24 hours news channels who intercut terror alert news (*) with New Year's celebration pictures wasn't the way to go for New Year's Eve, and I should really start New Year on a more positive note.

So I thought about what I could do to improve my mood, and I decided to take a look back on one of the most fun things for me in 2003, which was getting into Batverse fandom. It's my newest main fandom, and I'm still feeling the squee a lot.

I'm still feeling very much as a newbie too, but I've learned a lot about the universe, the characters, and DCU continuity, though I was (and still am) puzzled and confused a lot. So I present you A Newbie's Journey into Batverse Comic Fandom, and hope it conveys a bit of the fun I had this year with discovering this cool fandom.

A Newbie's Journey into Batverse Comic Fandom )

Now that I'm in a much better mood, I wish a cheerful: Happy New Year! to all of you.

(*) There was some kind of "intelligence" on a supposed car bomb threat against a military hospital here, which led them to close off the whole parts of the hospital's neighborhood, complete with armed security forces, armored vehicles, car searches and other fun stuff (still ongoing), and now local and federal authorities are squabbling whether that is an overreaction or not, i.e. the federal authorities argue that the reaction now lowered the chance to catch the two people they suspect of planning that attack, whereas the locals argue that they had to react as precaution,...and it doesn't help that they're from different parties either.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
After over two months of not adding anything to my Batman site (yeah, I suck), I started writing the entry for Detective Comics #785 tonight. I like rereading the issues with an eye for detail and references. I like looking into other comics and to search the net to find references, contradictions, stuff in general. It's a fun (though fairly unproductive) way to spend many hours. You notice things like that Batman's statement in DET #785 that he never fought together with Green Lantern I in Gotham is contradicted by the backup story in Gotham Knights #10, Guardian, which tells a version of their first meeting that shows them fighting together in Gotham (although they are far from at ease with each other then). I learned that the guy in the background of the GL Grundy flashback is called the Fiddler and was a member of the second Injustice Society together with the Sportsmaster, however I couldn't find other references for if/when he worked with Grundy. I mean, I would have never noticed all that without indexing. (It's up to you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. *g*)

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