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 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 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 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*)
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Did you ever start writing a blog entry, thinking that you had a point or an argument, and then a few paragraphs into it you just sort of lost track, or rather noticed that what you are saying doesn't really lead anywhere, and turned all rambly, but you already spent like an hour an a half on it and don't want to abandon it? Well, this is that kind of blog entry...

So anyway, a few days ago [livejournal.com profile] sanj posted in the [livejournal.com profile] gotham_gazette about how hard it is to "convert" people to Bat-fandom, and what could be done to make it easier. (Somehow I'm not really happy that the fandom vocabulary for this process is either reminiscent of proselytizing some religion or, with the alternative "to pimp," of soliciting seedy sex, but I digress.)

And I'm down with the goal of attracting more fans to the Batverse, I'm just not really sure that a primer would work, that is, I'm not sure people don't get into Batverse comic fandom because there isn't enough info on what happened before, or because they don't know where to start reading, or even because comics are expensive. Don't get me wrong, comics are expensive -- compared to watching tv at least, and having a good primer does help with easing into reading the comics: character bios, recommended reading lists (for main events, for important character moments, etc.), synopses, excerpts, FAQs, etc. all that is very helpful. I mean, after a couple of months I still have to look up things that are confusing and unfamiliar to me.

Still, I think the main "problem" goes deeper, and I put "problem" in quotes here intentionally, because I think while it prevents (some) people from getting into the Batverse comics, it's inherent and not really a "problem" as such, like, say, that comics are expensive is a "problem" -- I think most comic fans would like it if comics still had so large print runs that they were cheaper and the artists and everybody else involved could still make a living. So what is it?

First, it might be self-evident, yet is still worth pointing out in the context of "promoting" Batverse comics to reach new fans: some people just don't like reading comics. Incomprehensible as this is to me as a lifelong comic fan. And I don't mean that some people are sort of "snobby" and don't take the medium seriously as something adults might enjoy. Sure that happens, just like some don't get why one could be interested in tv series or sf, but I haven't really seen that attitude much in the broader (media) fandom. It's just, far more people are familiar with tv as a narrative medium than with comics (reading cartoons now and then really isn't the same), and at the same time that comics became less common, their visual language has developed further, just like in any other media, but fewer people followed those changes or are used to them. Like, I've really noticed that some people have problems to "read" comics, when I showed them some. Not the text or the images, but they just don't get the whole. I imagine it would be much like someone familiar only with very early movies, like from the 1920s, trying to follow a modern movie which uses lots of cuts, or something like that. It's not that there is some insurmountable barrier preventing understanding, but it is unfamiliar and takes time getting used to. Fairly often if you want to convert someone to Batverse comic fandom, you might well have to convince them to give a "new" medium a try, and not just a fandom.

Second, you just have to approach continuity differently than for tv series, and I've noticed in myself that I just have to get over some of the "habits" that I acquired during a few years in tv fandoms, or otherwise I'd see things as "failings" that are also really cool if looked at differently, and in fact also strengths of a source as sprawling and diverse (and as a result also often overwhelming and contradictory) as a long-lived comic universe. Anyway, I've talked about the challenges Batverse canon presents compared to for example the typical tv series canon before. It comes down to that in tv fandoms there is a strong emphasis on knowing all canon, if you are a "real fan." Or at least knowing of all canon if you haven't watched everything. Even in "fanfic-centric" fandoms like TS, where a fair number of people seem to be into the fandom more for the fanfic than for the show, those who haven't seen the eps are most likely aware of what eps there are, and what, at least in general terms, happens in each.

For example when I first found TS fandom I had only watched up to the middle of season two, because that's what had been aired here before a hiatus started, and I was looking on the net whether there were more episodes in the US. And soon, even before I figured out how to get tapes, I was aware of all the episodes aired then (it was, iirc, towards the end of season three around the time Crossroads first aired in the US), and read at least summaries. And it was fairly easy to get the gist of what everybody was talking about and feel reasonably certain about events and characters. It helped that TS wasn't a show where I was worried about being spoiled for episodes before having the chance to see them, unlike Buffy for example. I might not have known all canon first hand, but I knew of all canon, was aware what canon there was and knew what I didn't know, so to speak. And it didn't take more than an afternoon of reading episode summaries, reviews and some transcripts.

With Batverse comics even that is impossible. Okay, I guess it is possible in that the totality of all DC comics, and thus all comic canon involving Batman and related to Batman, is a finite set, and with enough resources you could possibly buy them all, and probably there are even indexes out there somewhere giving summaries of everything (though I haven't found one yet), but for practical purposes, there is no way new Batverse fans can orient themselves in the manner new tv series fans are used to. Nor would that approach really make sense for this comic continuity.

A couple of times I have heard someone say that they can only write (or even get into) series with a "closed" canon, i.e. after the series ended. Obviously to those fans the Batverse will be a hard sell, no matter what. I mean, they could choose some fixed time period and decide to be just into Silver Age Batman or something, but I'm not sure that would work for them either. And that might be an extreme example, most fans don't seem to have a problem with series that are in production after all, but I'm just saying that there sometimes people might not "convert" to the Batverse, no matter how appealing characters, stories and themes may be to them. (There might be a better chance with all those fans who are frustrated that their favorite shows are always cancelled prematurely. Even if a comic series get discontinued, chances are that your favorite character will appear elsewhere or at least that you can still spend a lot of time catching up with collecting all past comics the character was in.)

Of course all of this isn't an argument against compiling a "primer" like Sanj proposed, I think primers and such are helpful for the (potential) newbie fan, and I think that excerpts showing key moments cater more to the comics' strength, especially their visual appeal and the art, than continuity overviews, timelines and such things do. Much like vids are more likely to lure new fans to tv shows than "dry" episode guides or transcripts. (As much as I really enjoy all things related to continuity and the organization of information relating to it, it's probably not the most obvious attraction, and accentuating that image of "it's all really complicated" is maybe not the best way to go either.)

Um yes, this is the point where I stop without any conclusion or point, but hey, I put a warning at the beginning. <g>
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
This will probably turn into a rant, also, though I usually don't use cut-tags for comic spoilers, the following post contains spoilers for Batman #615, which only arrived in the stores two days ago, so I decided to use a cut-tag.

Read more... )
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
To keep track of minor characters through DC crossovers drawn by several different artists it would be really helpful, if each character kept the same appearance, hair color, and general skin tone through out. I mean for example in Robin #86 Vincent Del Arrazzio has sometimes brown sometimes blond hair, not black though, in Detective Comics #754 definitely black hair. Which so far isn't problematic, since in both issues he's called by name. However, I'm trying to figure out who the blond detective in Gotham Knights #13 is (with a vaguely similar haircut to the black haired detective), and I would have figured this to be Tommy Burke, however in Batman #587, the black haired guy is called Burke. I mean, I have a number of names and a number of members of the M.C.U. and I'm trying to match them consistently, and it doesn't work. I tried to look them up in other issues, and I have found one other instance of Del Arazzio, in Joker Last Laugh #6, where he is called by name and definitely has blond hair and the looks close to the blond guy in Batman #587 and Gotham Knights #13. I've found another one in Detective Comics #765, but there he's not looking much like anyone familiar, and the whole hue of the scene is mostly greenish, so no reliable color reference is possible. My best guess is that the black hair in Detective Comics #754 is a mistake. That's just one example, I could continue this griping for a couple of others too.

I know people don't always wear the same type of clothes in RL, but it would really help, if the M.C.U. detectives were drawn somewhat more consistently. Like, you can almost always recognize Eric Cohen because of his skullcap (though why he doesn't always wears glasses remains a mystery), Crispus Allen almost always wears an impeccable three piece suit, glasses and is bald, and has a beard (that he's black also helps somewhat, though skin color really isn't a reliable indicator, since it can change quite a lot depending on who's doing the coloring and what the color scheme of the scene is), Harvey Bullock is easily recognizable because he's disheveled, not clean shaven and always wears a loose striped tie etc. But some others are much harder to recognize.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I didn't do anything today except reading comics, reading fanfic, and watching some tv. I didn't even cook a meal.

Anyway, as I was reading some Batman comics (in the broader sense, my recent reading were some issues of Batgirl, Batman, Detective Comics, Catwoman, Robin, Birds of Prey, and parts of mini-series like Arkham Asylum: Living Hell and the recent Titans/Young Justice crossover) I noticed lots of stuff and started to think about blog entries I might write, but instead of doing that I gave in to inertia and rather read some more comics, with the result that I forgot most of the interesting things I wanted to say. However a few things stuck with me, in no particular order:

- Batgirl #28 illustrated for me why I often find Spoiler so annoying, yet still like the character in a way. I liked the interaction between Cassandra and Stephanie, especially the scene where Stephanie talks about her issues with her dad, how nobody could understand how it is with a supervillain for a father, and then she asks Cassandra about her dad and finds out that it's David Cain. Their conversation finishes like this:
Stephanie: You've been listening to me whine about having the Cluemaster for a dad, when your dad's like...the scariest killer on the planet?
Cassandra: Yeah.
Stephanie: When my dad was mad at me he'd lock me in the closet--what did yours do?
Cassandra: Shot me.
(They both break into laughter.)
Stephanie: Oh, man. I can't beat you at anything.

And that's really the point: Stephanie is all about her awful childhood and becoming a superhero because of her dad's crimes, but really compared to what some of the other characters went through, it's blown out of proportion. Which in a way is realistic, because she's a teenager, and teenage angst is all about being wildly out of proportion, still it can be annoying. But at least in her less self-involved moments Stephanie realizes this. And I liked how she and Cassandra bonded over this, and started to become friends, especially since this was a really hard time for Cassandra with Batman still on the run, and the whole Shiva thing just behind her. But then a short time later Stephanie turns up again, and says that she won't be around for training anymore. I'm not sure yet what to think about this, because I haven't read yet what happens in the Robin title at that time, so I don't know what the "some stuff's come up with... Tim. And other stuff." refers to. It can't be the Spoiler related storyline in BOP around that time, i. e. Black Canary helping Stephanie / Spoiler to deal with her dad, followed by a pronouncement from Black Canary that she won't train her. As I understood it, those events led Stephanie to ask Cassandra to train her in the first place. Anyway, just from this Stephanie doesn't come across as very sympathetic in the way she treats Cassandra.

- I got the story that first introduces Giz and Mouse and how they became a couple (it's a subplot in Catwoman Vol. 2 #28-30, but I mainly got them for Giz and Mouse, whom I like a lot ever since reading Hunt For Oracle), and I wasn't disappointed, they continue to be my favorite minor characters, though they aren't quite as cool back then as they are in their more recent appearances. Still great though, and they have bigger roles there, which is a definite plus. And I really want to find some complete minor character issue index for those two, so that I can track down every issue with them and indulge in fangirl-like squeeing at Mouse, Giz and his squirrel Goober some more.

- I wish I would trust DC continuity more, but when the Joker appeared in the current Hush storyline in Batman (in #613 and #614) my first reaction was to worry how (and even if) they'd explain his sudden escape from the Slab, which after all recently got transported to Antarctica. I mean, recently they changed things in a way that the Joker's escape is a big deal, it can't be done in a simple "The Joker broke out of Arkham tonight." fashion anymore, and in the current Detective Comics storyline, Dead Reckoning, the Joker is still at the Slab. Of course Detective Comics and Batman stories aren't exactly simultaneous outside of crossovers, but still roughly at the same time, so I assume that Hush takes place after Dead Reckoning, and I really hope that Hush will give an explanation for the Joker's escape, after all it's not yet finished, and I truly enjoy the storytelling in both titles right now, though a bit more in Batman.

- The backup story in Detective Comics #776-780 is near the top of the list of the most awful and stupid stuff I've seen recently.

- I like the Montoya storyline about her being involuntarily outed at the PD that started in the two newest Gotham Central issues #6 and #7, though I'm apprehensive about its potential to turn into a very cliched story.

- The current Nightwing storyline is much more interesting and character driven than its advertisement as "Nightwing vs. Deathstroke" made me fear initially.

- I thought the art in Gotham Knights #41 truly sucked, because the style didn't fit the series at all. The inconsequential story wasn't much better, and the only explanation I can come up with for why they would postpone the resolution of the Alfred cliffhanger from Gotham Knights #40 for this is that the current regular artist team needed a break or something.

- The current art in Batgirl is much worse than in previous issues, I hope they'll change teams soon, because I'm starting to like the character, but I won't spend money regularly on something with art like that. Also Superboy is annoying, though I guess he's supposed to be.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I got a copy of Gotham City Secret Files & Origins from April 2000 today, and it's a neat resource on post-NML Gotham City. It has a city map, that shows key locations (not very detailed, but it still gives a general idea), conceptual sketches of part of Gotham City's skyline and some of its memorable buildings, and a plan as well as overview sketches of the Batcave, all of which might be quite useful for fan art (probably also of interest for fanfic). Sure, you can see all of that elsewhere too, but I think it's still nice to have some of that in an easy to find issue with at least some annotations. And the one longer story telling the first meeting of the new Batgirl with Catwoman (written by Scott Peterson and Kelley Puckett, pencils by Paul Ryan, inks by Walden Wong) was quite enjoyable too, and introduced several areas of the rebuilt Gotham as well. Though I would have liked some more info about Gotham and its buildings, and (as usual) the "profile pages" on characters are not particularly interesting or informative.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I'm sure it's not the only version of Oracle's origin story (I don't think anything is ever the only version of some important continuity with DC...), and I have no idea whether this one is the most recent that counts in current continuity either, but I enjoyed reading Oracle -- Year One: Born of Hope (writers John Ostrander and Kim Yale, artists Brian Stelfreeze and Karl Story, colorist Mark Chiarello) in Batman Chronicles #5 (from summer 1996). I liked the other two stories less -- Decoys offers an episode from Gordon's past, Of Mice and Men one from Bruce's childhood before his parents' murder -- still Batman Chronicles #5 is worth getting.

In case you're interested in more details of what happens in Oracle -- Year One: Born of Hope, an entry cataloging that short story is the newest addition to the Batverse Resource. Despite recent lack of progress, I haven't abandoned that project, it just goes slooow (that I'm a slacker doesn't help...)
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
I just finished reading Batman: Bruce Wayne Murderer? (in single issues) and I have no idea how the timeline in this story is supposed to work. Some parts have to take place sort of "interlaced" but I have no idea how all the overlapping storylines fit together. I mean there are the Bruce Wayne Murderer? parts, but simultaneously there's the prison riot taking place in the Nightwing series, the kidnapping case in the Robin series, the Blue Beetle thing in Birds of Prey, the stuff with Spoiler's dad...

What I have a problem with is particularly the timelines of Robin's and Nightwing's appearances at the different places, and who is with Oracle at which times and in what sequence, I could mostly follow the other characters. So if I'm trying to sort out the main characters movements in each issue it goes something like this:

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? Prelude: "The Fool's Errand" -- Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure
Batman / Bruce and Sasha are arrested early in the morning in the manor after a night of crimefighting for the Fairchild murder.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #1: "Procedure" -- Detective Comics #766
Bruce and Sasha are booked and taken to the police station, the cops say it "is not past six" yet, during the day (?) they are interrogated, Alfred hears the news and leaves Brentwood Academy, leaving a note to Tim (it seems to be evening, night or early morning as Alfred leaves, at least it's still dark.)

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #2 -- Batgirl #24
Earlier that morning Oracle hears the 911 call, Nightwing is on police patrol, Batman not reachable. Batgirl arrives at the manor when Bruce and Sasha are arrested, leaves after the police found the gun.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #3: "Bustout" -- Nightwing #65
The night of the murder Nightwing is on patrol as Nightwing, he changes into to his police uniform around dawn (?), by the time he shows up for the third shift the murder is already on the news, he bribes a fellow cop to shift his duty to a prisoner transport. The riot in Lockhaven starts, Nightwing visits Bruce in a holding cell, after that he drops off Oates (the cop with whom did the transport) at some strip bar for "on duty fun" promising to pick him up later (as far as I can tell he never does in any of the later parts), and visits Oracle. He's with her at the end of the part, meanwhile in Blüdhaven Lockhaven prison burns.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #4: "No Exit" -- Gotham Knights #25
Alfred is on a train getting to Gotham, Bruce's arraignment hearing is in the afternoon. Dick picks up Alfred at the station, Alfred goes to the hearing, Dick waits outside, afterwards they part in front of the court house. Barbara visits Bruce, who's now at Blackgate.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #5: "The Gun" -- Birds of Prey #39
Oracle runs a virtual battle simulation for Blue Beetle, it's (most likely) the evening or night after the hearing (?), after Blue Beetle leaves, she contacts Dinah. It is the next day (Blue Beetle's doctor's appointment takes place that Oracle arranged for one o'clock). Dinah is at the clocktower, Oracle tells her to investigate Fairchild. Oracle visits Sasha as a lawyer. It's evening (?) when Spoiler shows up at Fairchild's place and encounters Dinah there, Oracle is still in her car.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #6: "The Thin Line" -- Robin #98
Tim meets Alfred as he is about to leave. Tim knows that Bruce told Dick to back off the investigation when they met in holding. It is day as Alfred leaves, so the darkness at the end Detective Comics #766 must have been just before dawn. That day Kip's kidnappers wait for an opportunity. We see the Spoiler at night trying to get into the Batcave, where she meets Batgirl, both can't get in. It's evening when Kip's kidnapping takes place. Tim (without costume) tries to pursue, but falls, he's lying unconscious on a street at the end of the issue.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #7: "From the Inside Out" -- Batman #599
Sasha and Bruce are both at Blackgate. It's night at the start of the issue, another day and night passes, then during the next day Alfred visits Bruce, the next evening Bruce (or rather Batman without costume at that point) beats up the Aryans shortly before lights out, the next morning the headline reports this.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #8: "Timeless" -- Detective Comics #767
Blackgate from Sasha's POV.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #9: "The Unusual Suspects" -- Nightwing #66
Nightwing is with Oracle, the first time we see the clocktower it's a bit before four. When Nightwing heads out it shows a bit after eight (though it's dark?) The Lockhaven riot is ongoing. Nightwing investigates Moxon, when he comes back to the tower the clock five past eleven. Oracle informs Nightwing about the Lockhaven situation and he heads towards Blüdhaven. He confronts Amygdala inside the prison. (That scene is directly continued in the opening scene of Nightwing #67, where he finishes that fight.)

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #10: "Innocent Until" -- Gotham Knights #26
In the opening sequence Nightwing stands on a bridge pillar looking over Gotham harbor towards Blackgate (at night). He talks with Robin, this talk is talking place after Oracle visited Bruce in Blackgate, and that Nightwing says "Oracle went to see him when he was still in Blackgate" could indicate that it takes place after Bruce went to the meeting with the DA (though that doesn't really fit with the rest of the issue). Alfred is at the manor, cleaning, Leslie visits (still night). Nightwing is with Oracle after his meeting with Robin (the clocktower shows half past three now), Oracle says they already had this conversation (about the possible guilt of Bruce) referring to Nightwing #66, most likely the first conversation there. Still at night (the clocktower shows a time either ten before eleven, or five before ten, but by now I assume the times are just random...) Robin comes to talk to Oracle, he and Nightwing talk while they fight some criminals, Nightwing leaves Robin to talk to Alfred, who's in the Batcave, Leslie visits Bruce at Blackgate (it's still night).

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #11: "Where the Road Ends" -- Robin #99
Tim wakes up from unconsciousness, runs back to the school, then to Oracle to use her computer resources in the kidnapping case. He meets Spoiler and Dinah who are with Oracle, who check Devlin Davenport's statement, Spoiler and Robin deal with Kip's kidnapping. Tim goes back to the school, where he get the phone call from his father telling him that he's broke.

Bruce Wayne: Murderer? #12: "Switchback" -- Birds of Prey #40
Spoiler is together with Dinah (probably soon after the end of BOP #39, where they also where together), it's night, they go back to the clocktower to meet with Oracle. Dinah and Spoiler leave to deal with some of Spoiler's family problems. Meanwhile Blue Beetle calls Oracle informing her about his heart condition, afterwards Blue Beetle is attacked by some robot bug someone sent to him. Back at Oracle's place Robin is there, talking to Oracle about Fairchild and what she knew about Batman's identity (Nightwing is not there), Spoiler and Black Canary attack Riddler and Cluemaster (Spoiler's father) at Spoiler's home. Robin is still with Oracle as they hear the news reports of Bruce's escape. Robin leaves, intending to go to the Batcave, Nightwing has heard the news too and is driving back to the cave too.

I tried to figure out how the sequence of events is, especially all those visits by Nightwing, Robin, Dinah and the Spoiler with Oracle at the clocktower, and how what the different people do (and how much time seems to pass) could possibly fit together, but I have no idea.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
Maybe I should just give up on DC continuity. This afternoon and evening I've been reading The Long Halloween and now Dark Victory, both by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and I really enjoy them, except for the continuity glitches. I'm in the middle of Dark Victory now, and this version of the death of Dick's parents contradicts current continuity in a major way: in Dark Victory, after the death of Dick's parents Bruce doesn't appear as Batman in the circus, but Tim Drake's origin story as Robin III (in A Lonely Place Of Dying) hinges on Tim seeing Batman and Dick Grayson together, because that was the starting point for Tim to make the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Dick Grayson and Robin.

On the upside, I really like Tim Sale's artwork. I think his use of lots of bold shadows contrasted with the thin lines is gorgeous and works really well for Batman. Back to reading (and ignoring continuity) now...
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
You know, I really expected the Zero Hour version of the Two-Face incident in Robin #0 to be consistent with the Robin: Year One version, what with both being (co-)written by the same person, i.e. Chuck Dixon. But they're not. Aargh.

In Robin #0 Two-Face sets up the double gallows with Batman and the new district attorney, Aldrich Meany, who succeeded Harvey Dent (interpreted by psychologists as Dent trying to kill his former identity as crusading prosecutor symbolically), whereas in Robin: Year One #2 Two-Face sets up a pseudo-trial for Judge Lawrence Watkins, accusing him of murdering Harvey Dent, because he allowed an appeal for that mobster who then scarred Dent's face. In Robin #0 Two-Face asks for ransom from the city, in Robin Year One #2 he doesn't. In Robin #0 Robin asks for the coin to be tossed and the scratched side is up, so Two-Face lets the district attorney hang, Robin throws a baterang to cut the rope, but there's water under the gallows so the district attorney drowns; in Robin Year One #2, Two-Face tosses the coin first on the question who hangs first, clean side the judge, scarred side Batman, clean side is up, so the judge is first, Robin dares Two-Face for two out of three, if the clean side is up again the judge won't hang. Robin wins, however he wasn't specific enough, thus Two-Face doesn't hang the judge, but lets him drown. Not to mention that in Robin #0 Batman doesn't have a sack over his head at the start, or that in Robin #0 Nightwing says to Tim that Bruce adopted him then etc.

But really, why couldn't the main points of the Two-Face story stay roughly the same? The two comics are only a bit more that six years apart, and Chuck Dixon wrote both of them (Robin Year One together with Scott Beatty), and Dennis O'Neil is listed as editor in both.

< whine > Also I'm still stuck with the back pain, and though it's getting better it still sucks. Not only haven't I cataloged any more Batman comics, effectively halting my slow but steady progress on that project, I also haven't made any progress on a paper I should be working on, nor have I started the drawing I have an idea for, because all of these (like most things I do for university stuff or fun) require sitting for a longer time. I haven't even managed to read texts I'm supposed to, because while I can read lying down it sucks for taking notes on the texts, and also I'm very likely to fall asleep when I read in bed, no matter whether I was tired before I lay down or not. < /whine >
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
For the most part my DC reading is confined to Blüdhaven and Gotham. Blüdhaven has criminals and the occasional psycho, Gotham has lots of psychos as well as its share of regular criminals, but the cosmic power struggles are mostly absent, or rather happening elsewhere. Still, some overlap with the rest of the DC universe is inevitable and there aliens, energy beings, time manipulations, cosmic incidents and the like run rampant. And I'm wondering if there's any kind of system to the aliens that made some kind of contact with earth in the DCU, or, like, consequences of these contacts beyond the odd superpowered (half-) alien and some (near) apocalypse or dropped off death machine every now and then.

Okay, there's Superman from Krypton, and since that planet's been destroyed it's understandable that there isn't much contact or further consequences (except for evil AIs and such, of course). But it's not like he's the only alien running (or flying) around on the DCU earth. I have no idea which aliens were the first ones humans in the DCU encountered, or since when they know they're not alone, but in the present day there are plenty of aliens, and they don't seem to have to hide. I guess when you already have Atlanteans and descendents of Greek Gods running around aliens don't really make a difference anymore, but still...

You have anything from kids that are the half-alien genetic experiment for an invasion force (or something like that, I mean Argent), to fugitive alien princesses now working as supermodels (i.e. Koriand'r), to the alien "Mr. Mind" worm, and I'm not even reading the titles that really have all kinds of aliens in them, like the Legion series. And I wouldn't have a problem with that, except that there doesn't seem to be any system to this beyond the convenient use of the "alien" explanation as a deus ex machina plot device for all sorts of things. I just can't help my impression that the DC first contact scenarios are about as well thought out as the DCU timeline continuity, which is not very.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Batman (batman)
[livejournal.com profile] cereta recently brought up the topic of Batman obsession. To that I can just say that buying strange looking merchandise is harmless. I just spend well over an hour tracking down the Romany dialogs in Gotham Knights #20 so that I could provide translations (though I don't speak Romany) for its entry in my Batverse resource site. Thankfully I was correct in my assumption that the writer used web resources so I didn't have much problem to find the phrases. It didn't help though that the comic made at least two typos (typos that are not due to different transcription systems) in the Romany parts... it's no wonder I don't have success in googling misspelled phrases.

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