ratcreature: RatCreature as zombie. (zombie)
First, the whole Harry Potter thing is making me jittery. I haven't sought out the leaked copy because I'm not about to slog through hundreds of pages as crappy photographs, that's just unpleasant for reading. Not to mention that I don't really reread the HP books, so I'd rather read it the one time as proper book. But it is hard to keep away, knowing other fans have already read the book and are talking about it, even though my f-list is good with not spoiling me so far. (*insert the obligatory dire threats here*).

I will only get my copy on Saturday and I'm not the fastest reader, so at the earliest I'm going to talk about Deathly Hollows on Sunday if at all, and then I will of course use cut-tags and be very careful not to mess them up accidentally.

But until then I definitely need to distract myself with fandoms besides HP-- those still exist after all, even if half of my f-list apparently decided to avoid LJ and sometimes the internet entirely to be on the safe side. Anyway, thus I'm going to talk some more about Batman comics, in particular:

Year One: Batman/Ra's al Ghul #1-2 (written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Paul Gulacy, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti)

One of my main reasons to buy these (besides being a general sucker for all Batman comics DC publishes) was actually that I found the three color covers (black, white, and red) really attractive. I like the interior art okay too, but not as much as the covers (take a look at cover #1 and cover #2). If only the story had lived up to the packaging...

For the sake of my sanity I didn't even try to figure out why this is published as "Year One". I don't think this is supposed to fit in Batman's "Year One" or even just his early career, but rather after Batman: Death and the Maidens? But I don't have Ra's al Ghul's backstory that present. Maybe it is because of some flashbacks in the comic, and those could be made to work somehow in his first year.

First, while the basic idea that the Lazarus Pits affect death and life's balance in general was neat (even if what exactly their connection is was never really explained in any remotely consistent or logical way), the plot built around this was too thin for 96 pages. On the bright side, it had zombies, which is always a plus, but I can't say I enjoyed much else.

And even the zombies weren't particularly great specimens. Okay, so destroying the Lazarus Pits somehow stopped and even reversed death, thus the zombie problem, but I didn't really get why that particular horde of disgruntled undead was after Batman.

The action sequences were plain confusing sometimes, like when Batman was running from the zombies I had no idea how he suddenly got into the Batmobile again after, or if that even was still the vehicle he started out in earlier that night, which was definitely a car not some sort of glider. Yet later his vehicle could suddenly fly. Traditionally the car can't, right? So maybe what he used then wasn't the car, but some magically appearing Bat-Glider or whatever that was supposed to be, that we don't even see him remote call as far as I could tell. Maybe the Batmobile car transformed into a glider.

I also didn't understand what happened to the zombies he lured into that supermarket, did he lock them up there somehow? I couldn't tell, later it seemed he did lock them up, leaving them to rampage there, but why didn't they smash the glass?

Other times the action was just boring. You can tell that a comic has too little plot if it shows a frelling snowmobile chase over eight(!!) pages. Eight. I like certain kinds of action in comics, but snowmobile chases just don't come across that well in this medium. Certainly not if they last eight of the 48 pages in an issue and that on top of other chase scenes. And in a fairly pointless flashback at that.

Anyway while we get zombies, we don't really get to see Batman fight them for plain zombie fun, he flies flies around the globe interspersed with boring Ra's al Ghul flashbacks about some magical peach, and then Batman happens to find a monk chanting the Lazarus Pit formula, yet Ra's al Ghul followers were too stupid to figure that out... The whole thing made no sense to me.
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)
I adore A Lonely Place of Dying for many reasons, for example it has some of my all time favorite Batman art. I adore the art because it uses art for storytelling to its full effect. A while ago, in this post to [livejournal.com profile] scans_daily I posted examples for panel transitions, covers, and intercuts I really like, but another awesome effect is how we see events from Tim's viewpoint, without knowing who Tim is, and that he stalks Batman and Nightwing only because he wants the best for them.

It's incredibly creepy to see with the eyes of a stalker, to watch Batman from a distance with cameras and binoculars, to browse through a scrapbook with all those photos, something which is made even creepier because it's put inbetween the intimate scene of Alfred caring for the injured Bruce, so that even the snapshots and clippings we see get an intimate quality. For a long time we only see his hands, holding binoculars, and cameras as he spies on Batman, watches Kory and the other Titans, rifling through photos and articles, opening the door to Dick's apartment even...

And it gets to me every time. I know it is Tim, I know it's not an enemy stalking them, uncovering their identities, and still it gets to me, because even knowing it's Tim and seeing through the "stalker's" eyes I still somehow identify with the "prey," I think, even as I reread it.
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: WTF!? (WTF!?)
This takes the term "Batmobile" way too literally. (the panel is from the sword & sorcery Elseworld "League of Justice")
ratcreature: WTF!? (WTF!?)
Jon Jonzz the "Slim Green Lord of Glam Rock"
teen-angst balladeer Bruce Wayne of the Pennyworths

I have no words.

However the really disturbing images come later when they do Silver age spoofs in the "Hall of Silver Age Elseworlds First Pages", like Robin as Squid Wonder, Gorilla Grodd as Christoph Columbus, or Batman as Adam with the Joker as snake.

(The pages are from the 80 page Elseworlds Giant from 1999 that was never published in the US but some shipped to the UK, apparently it's really hard to get and quite expensive, however I downloaded a copy, and now have to cope with the consequences. The images in my brain. Ack.)

ETA: I fixed the link to teen-angst balladeer Bruce Wayne...


Apr. 15th, 2004 21:55
ratcreature: WTF!? (WTF!?)
Did you ever want to see Dick Grayson in a curly, blond wig? No? Me neither. Not that this stopped the creative team of Flash #142 from doing just that. But the whole next page with Wally and Dick is great friendship stuff (though you'd think Dick knew how to fasten a wig so that it doesn't shift just because of a hug), and I like that Dick is Wally's best man.

Also, Wally & Linda preparing for their wedding: so very cute and adorable!!!

Still. The Wig.
ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
So my Easter-time Flash binge reading continues, and I found this costumed criminal in Flash #130, The Fashioneer ... No really that's his name, and apparently fashion houses pay him to use his "time power" to "send styles back in time so that designers can get a jump on their competitors." And okay, I find it odd that he wouldn't simply get game scores or lottery numbers for himself, but what I am really wondering is, what kind of fashion house would trust someone dressed like that to pick out the successful styles from the future collections he sees?!?
ratcreature: RatCreature as Flash (flash)
Am I the only one who finds it oddly amusing that in Flash's suit the Justice League call-button is located between his belly button and his crotch? (the panel is from Flash #127)
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)
Who comes up with these kinds of "supervillains"?? Okay, so they're called "Rogues" in Flash comics, but still -- Rainbow Raider?!? (also notice Trickster's fearsome rubber chicken, which I suppose could be some kind of deadly weapon in disguise with Trickster, and yet, it looks very silly nevertheless)

And just when thought that this had to be a low for villain names, I get introduced to one called "Crazy Quilt". WTF?

In case you're wondering, where I came across these... um... colorful characters, I'm reading Underworld Unleashed.
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 begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
First the bitching: this series is seriously overpriced. Even with 64 pages and no ads the price of $6.95 per issue is too much. I mean, I prefer stapled comics to the prestige binding, because you can easily see double pages without hurting the spine, so I actually don't mind that, and don't wish the format was different, but it's just too expensive for 64 pages. The reason I'm nevertheless buying the single issues is because I suspect DC is going to release it as HC edition before publishing it as trade, and with eventually six issues of 64 pages each, i.e. 384 pages, they even might publish it in two trades, so it's not certain that I'd end up paying less than for the single issues, and I prefer collecting single issues.

However, once you forget about how much money you handed over -- which happened quickly enough in my case -- the series is a lot of fun, and I think it's well worth reading. I'm not very familiar with the Silver Age DCU, and haven't read the stories New Frontier draws upon and retells, and there are many characters I don't recognize, but it stands very well on its own. I guess the reading experience becomes more layered the more background you know, but it's not necessary to have that knowledge.

Basically New Frontier takes the Silver Age DCU and transplants it from the goofy and campy comic reality of that time as which it was first published into the real world of those times (well a more "real" world anyway), transforming it in the process. And it's fascinating, one of the rare cases in which the mixing of real world politics and superhero comics actually works for me. Usually it's something that I think tends to end in a narrative disaster, and more often than not unintended utter ridiculousness, because the assumptions and internal logic of the two just don't mesh without some serious effort. But IMO it works here, and totally it sucked me in.

You get the comic elements like giant dinosaurs combined with McCarthyism, the KKK, and the build-up to the Vietnam war, J'onn J'onzz learning about humanity through television (and it was a great sequence to see him try out shapes, and to see him as Bugs Bunny) and watching 1950s space invasion movies, the historical "space race" combined with (behind the scene) covert ops of the DCU Suicide Squad and the like... and it works. And I like Cooke's versions of the characters, too.

I'm very curious how the different narrative strands will come together in the second half of the series. New Frontier takes its time to establish the characters and the setting, but it doesn't read slow or drags. And I'm impatiently waiting for the next issue to come out, as its unfortunately on a bi-monthly publishing schedule now, which isn't surprising with the length and just a single writer and artist (except for the coloring which is by Dave Stewart).

Anyway, I like this way of paying tribute to the DC Silver Age a lot more than resurrecting it one piece at a time in the main continuity.
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 begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
I think the primary reason why there's so little personal stuff in this blog is because inertia rules supreme in my RL and it would be really, really boring if I were to write at length about how the most activity-like thing I've done the last days was to try out the bread baking machine my siblings got me for my birthday last Sunday (in short: bread is really much easier to make with such a machine, and it turns out better too). Also it's kind of embarrassing. Ahem.

But on to more interesting topics, namely: Comics!

Birds of Prey #62-65 (written by Gail Simone, pencils by Ed Benes and Cliff Richards, inks by Alex Lei)

So far I enjoy the Sensei & Student story a lot. I like how Simone writes the characters, but I like even more that the story has me hooked with its plot. I want to know how it turns out, there's plenty of suspense: the as of yet mysterious threat/attack Oracle's computer system faces is creepy, I'm curious whether Black Canary will accept Lady Shiva's offer despite her apprehension (btw [livejournal.com profile] kerithwyn has put up some scans of Dinah's nightmare of the consequences of accepting), I like the plot with Chesire and the senator... Also I'm really starting to like Lady Shiva, and I gained at least some appreciation for Chesire. In the unlikely event that anyone even remotely interested in these characters isn't getting this, IMO you really should.

Batgirl #48-50 (written by Dylan Horrocks, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Jesse Delperdang)

Horrocks doesn't quite write Batman like I see him, however I really like the art team, and I'm shallow enough to enjoy pages and pages of fight scenes when they're done like this. The story about the improved Soul drug made from corpses is kind of wacky, IMO, and I'm a bit dubious about Batman's tactic of fighting as therapy, though I guess I can see him act like that if I squint a little, especially if he was partly under the influence of Soul-- I have a hard time seeing how he would cause a huge explosion on a bridge with all those innocent bystanders otherwise, and I hope Bruce Wayne is going to make some generous donations or something to make up for blowing up a bridge to fix Batman's relationship problems. As many others have noted the Batman/Batgirl smiling and cuddling gave us some weird visuals. Though #50 had some good lines, like Barbara to Batman after he explained his "therapy": "You're crazy." Batman's reply: "So they say. But it works."

Flash #80-83 (written by Mark Waid, pencils by Mike Wieringo, inks by Jose Marzan Jr.)

I'm reading Flash back issues kind of randomly and out of order, which probably doesn't help me follow the sometimes convoluted storylines any better, but at the moment I'm just buying those stories of which my store happens to have all backissues available, and this leads to some haphazard selection. This story features Flash's ex-girlfriend Magenta, and reading up on her background just made my eyes glaze over (I got lost somewhere around Raven in an evil form implanting parts of Trigon's soul into her, I guess you just had to be there for the relevant Titans issues...), but that didn't turn out to be that important for the story anyway. The story, "Back On Track", has Wally working together with Kory and Nightwing to fight some intergalactic arms dealers who set up shop in Keystone City, and it was fun to read. I'm missing something of the Titans background causing Dick to have some kind of existential angst, but taking place, I think, around the time when Batman chose Azrael as replacement during Knightfall can't help with his self-doubt either. I thought it was sweet how Wally tries to involve him to cheer him up. Also we get lots of panels with Wally carrying Nightwing piggyback, which no matter how sensible it is, still looks kind of dorky, and IMO alone makes this story worth picking up.

Finally a totally random domestic Superman scan, which I uploaded for my feedback to [livejournal.com profile] corinna_5's funny SV/QEftSG x-over, but which is just so cute that I'll link to it here too. It shows Superman being really sweet, and cooking macrobiotic special dishes for Lois in his Superman costume. (In case anyone's interested, the story the panel is taken from is in the Superman 80-Page Giant from 1999.)
ratcreature: RatCreature begs, holding a sign, that says: Will work for food, with "food" crossed out and replaced with  "comics". (work)
I've decided to get over myself and just ignore that huge pile of comics, which I all wanted to talk about at some point, but which is just getting more intimidating, while my recollections of what I wanted to say fade.

Instead I'll just talk about two comics from last week. I wanted to comment on two more (Legends of the Dark Knight #177 and Nightwing #91), but it's getting close to four a.m. here and my head hurts (not from the comics, probably from staring on my monitor too long though).

Gotham Central #17 (written by Greg Rucka, art by Greg Scott)

I have to admit that even after 17 issues I'd still love to have an overview, from something like an SF&O issue, just listing all the cops, their first names, last names, nick names, ranks, and with whom they are partnered. I know I've said this before, and I admit it is getting better, and I like that each arc seems to highlight some character(s) so that gradually we get to know them better -- but honestly, on the top of my head I couldn't list even half of them with full names and ranks. I don't know whether it's my scattered brain, or something intrinsic to the stories, but it is starting to seriously bug me.

This issue also showed the quiet, tedious part of police work rather well, and because of the personal plots interwoven with it, it wasn't actually boring to read, but personally I like some more action. I guess I'm juvenile that way. Though I liked the cliffhanger with Huntress showing up at Vincent's place. See, already I can't remember his last name *looks it up* del Arrazio, Vincent del Arrazio, it's like learning frelling vocabulary in school, I always hated that too. The people writing the "Next month in..." bits also seem to have problems, because there it says 'The action focuses on Detective Azeveda who gets a surprise visit from an "old pal" who just happens to go by the name "Huntress."' when the last panel this issue shows Vincent and Huntress meeting, and I doubt she also knows Josh Azeveda. (And yes, I had to look up Azeveda's first name, because I didn't remember that either.) Finally I think this habit of putting the title and credits at the end should be stopped, I want to see the title of a story in the first couple of pages.

JLA #94 (written by John Byrne and Chris Claremont, art by John Byrne and Jerry Ordway)

After reading a few older JLA issues, and some feeble, in the end futile internal resistance, I've finally resigned myself to being interested in the comic Justice League, and I figured I might as well start getting the new ones. I'm neither a particular Byrne nor a particular Claremont fan (I don't dislike them either, I just haven't read much by either), but a new story is usually a good time to start getting issues, and since DC would want it to be attractive to people into Byrne and/or Claremont who haven't read the previous JLA issues it probably would be enough of a standalone for me to get the story without major confusion, and ease into the on-going JLA. And I was mostly right about that. I mean, of course I experienced the by now all too familiar confusion, like I have no idea who this Manitou Raven guy who (seemingly?) died on page two is, but overall I had no problems.

So a great evil threatens (whatever, I wasn't that impressed with the foreboding, but then generally magic stories are my least favorite, so I'm biased), children with low-level meta potential are disappearing, Batman notices a pattern, the JLA investigates, and Clark gets mind-controlled by some cult (apparently those who abducted the children), and then bitten by its vampire leader. So far I'm not really exited about the story. For example somehow mind-controlled and even vampiric Superman here is much less creepy/scary than I think he could be.

Still it's early in the story, and I liked the art, which in a way was charmingly retro. I think a lot of the "retro feel" is due to the use of thought balloons and additional omniscient narrator boxes, which has become unusual. I mean, if you get internal thoughts, the most common way these days seems to be to have the thoughts of the POV character in the narrative boxes and no thought balloons. Still, I liked the retro. And on the completely shallow side, with my new found Flash appreciation I noticed that Byrne draws a rather cute Wally West (or you can see both the retro thought balloons/narrative boxes and Wally here).
ratcreature: RatCreature as Superman (superman)
So I'm kind of spamming my blog tonight, sorry about that, but why hasn't anyone *looks at [livejournal.com profile] cereta* told me that during the Intergang/Soames storyline in Nightwing there was an Action Comics tie-in, i.e. Action Comics #771 (written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Pascual Ferry, inks by Alvaro Lopez), with Nightwing coming to Metropolis and working with Superman? Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cereta I really like the two together, and think we don't see them side by side nearly enough, or I just don't know about it, like I didn't know about this one.

Superman catches Nightwing because at first he thinks he's a suicide, but of course Nightwing is just being his usual airborne self, and then carries him in his arms (Nightwing: Now can you put me down before you start calling me "Lois"? -- Superman: Hm.), then they're on a stake-out together with Superman calling Nightwing a nickname, "'Wing", of course they also successfully beat up bad guys together, and at the end they promise each other to keep in touch. (Superman: "If Intergang has taken an interest in Bl├╝dhaven you may need some heavy lifting." Nightwing: "I might take you up on that. Not sure what I could do in return." "Just keep me in the loop. This little episode would have slipped by me. I'm glad you're more trusting than your mentor." "He's got a more suspicious nature, Superman. And he's never taken the time to get to know you.") That made me feel all fuzzy, because really Batman and Superman have been working together for a long time, yet Nightwing claims he's gotten to know him better. *squee*
ratcreature: RatCreature's toon avatar (Default)
I'm sorry that I've been so quiet lately. Over the last week I started a number of entries in my head, but for some reason my energy level had been that of a wilted vegetable. Then yesterday evening I got a sudden high fever, so now I really feel like crap -- though better than last night, I even saw a doctor this morning because I felt so awful, who was however rather unimpressed and sent me home with the advice to rest and drink a lot. Duh, I didn't need a doctor to tell me that, but apparently I wasn't about to die anytime soon, despite feeling like it. *g* Anyway, I hope that my former mildly crappy state was connected to the infection that now's causing my fever, and I'll feel alright again once I'm over it. So as a kind of stand-in for the "real" entries, I would have written had I felt less crappy, you get this, in no particular order:

  • The last Angel episode was great, Muppet!Angel rocked, however I had that self-esteem song stuck in my head for almost a day.

  • I enjoyed the last two Daredevil issues, i.e. 56 and 57, a lot, and I loved the cover of 57.

  • I've also read the first issue of The Pulse, which was good, but I think it's in the Ultimate Spider-Man continuity, so I'm missing some of the backstory. I've started to catch up with Ultimate Spider-Man (I once again fell victim to [livejournal.com profile] kerithwyn's pimping) but I have only read the first couple of issues so far.

  • I've also read a couple of older Batman comics, for example Year Two. The good news is, that I can now include information from that issue in my series of posts on Batman's origin story, the bad news is that I was quite underwhelmed with the story. I also read the Teen Titan's Spotlight issue #14 with Nightwing, which also left me unimpressed and its art isn't really good (I think it's the faces), but someone knows fannish kinks or we wouldn't get a tied up Batman in a slave auction setting, with some thug selling him for demasking and killing to the highest bidder and Nightwing coming to his rescue. So that kind of made up for some of the comics weaknesses.

  • I also read some older Action Comics Weekly with Nightwing and Speedy (that story, "The Cheshire Contract" ran from #613-618), which had lots of nice relationship stuff, e.g. Nightwing talking to Roy about his breakup with Batman. I've also finally read the more recent Arsenal mini-series, and I'm liking Arsenal more and more.

And not that it is in any way relevant, but I'd really like a laptop so that I could use my computer from bed.
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: Procrastination is a Lifestyle. RatCreature in a hammock doing nothing. (procrastination)
I'm in the process of writing this long entry on the origin stories of Batman and Nightwing, what changes there were in continuity from Crisis to present day etc. (at least as far as I'm aware of them). That projected entry turned out to be rather more work than I anticipated when I had the idea for it, so it's not finished yet. Still on the upside while doing the research for it, I'm (re-)reading lots of comics with a focus on, or references to their origins, which is fun.

So I also came across The Secret Origin of Nightwing in Secret Origins v2 #13 from 1987, which -- I think -- isn't fully in continuity anymore, after the changes in Dick and Bruce's breakup story later as well as IIRC some changes in the details of Dick's parents death, but it is still fun to read and slashy for its framework story with Nightwing and Jericho.

I haven't read the New Teen Titans issues during which this takes place, and I'm not terribly familiar with the NTT arcs, but details weren't that important, and Nightwing also recaps the key events. Anyway, they are on some alien planet, Kory just (or not that long ago anyway) had this political marriage to Karras, so Nightwing feels, understandably, down and pours out his heart to Jericho, while they sit bare-chested in a tree. Okay so Jericho is bare-chested, Nightwing wears his first costume, which only partly shows his chest, and at the end Jericho gives Nightwing a "holographic thought painting" (a technology from that planet) of an odd, fluffy, golden creature with wings and fur, that also looks really gay.

I need to start reading those 1980s New Teen Titans issues soon.
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 really liked Giz and Mouse in Hunt For Oracle, and now I've just read Nightwing #55, the scene where Blockbuster lets the contract killers and other villains fight against Shrike, to see who's the "fittest" to get Nightwing. Giz and Mouse are on the sidelines as Shrike beats Stallion to pulp, and I just love the third panel on page six: Mouse looks away, Giz covers his eyes with his hand and also turns his head, his distressed squirrel covering his head trying to hide, and Mouse says "Giz..." then Giz "I know Mouse, this is not our scene." the squirrel "chee!" And later they (predictably) pass fighting Shrike. Somehow Giz and Mouse are just, uh, "cute" in a way. Likable, and not totally messed up. I have to find out in what other comics and series Giz and Mouse have appeared so far and track down copies of those issues...

Uh, just sharing my delighted "squee" moment, I guess.

ETA: I scanned the panel I described. You can see it behind the cut-tag )

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