There really isn’t any reason for you to read this review. By now you already know about Scott Snyder’s beyond awesome run on Batman and his Joker storyline “Death of the Family.” Any comic book fan should already have their comic read through twice by now and have it sealed away somewhere so that their grandkids can sell it for material wealth. So this review isn’t about whether or not you should buy this comic. That answer is a simple YES!!! But this review instead will be about the validation of how great the conclusion is to the best Joker storyline since Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke.”
Issue seventeen begins pretty much where the last one left off with Batman and his family captured and held at the mercy of the Joker. And while Batman and Joker held hostages are about as common as bad Michael Bay movies, there is a level of tension that ninety-nine percent of comics fail to achieve. I literally had to stop reading this issue twice because it was so bloody intense. And this speaks tons about Snyder’s level of writing. There honestly isn’t anything better out there that brings as much emotional impact and depth to a well structured story. However despite the fact that I could praise this book until Judgment Day, there is one gaping flaw that comes with a minor spoiler alert. No one dies. Sure the Joker disappears with the idea that he is dead, but we all know he’ll be back. I just can’t walk away from this comic without thinking it could have been more if it wasn’t a part of a larger continuum. For example Snyder couldn’t kill off Batgirl because they would have to cancel her comic and put Gail Simone in the unemployment line. I understand why the cop outs are there, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are there. Good news is that there is a dynamic shift in the Batman family and I’m eager to see where Snyder takes it. Hopefully we’ll be reading great Batman stories like this from Snyder for a very long time.
I hate saying anything bad about the work of Mark Millar. If I do, I feel like I’m saying something bad about Jesus. Millar is such a beyond awesome writer that I eagerly throw his stuff to the top of my comic pile regardless of whatever else I might need to read that week. However it is that same standard that leaves me underwhelmed after reading the last issue of “Hit-Girl.” The comic isn’t bad in any real way, but rather shallow when compared to Millar’s other works. There just isn’t any real emotion to give us the gut punching impact we have come to expect from a Kick-Ass book. Hit-Girl spends most of the issue killing more people than all of the serial killers of Southern California, but we don’t care because they’re all unknowns. Even the big boss who actually had some lines of dialogue feels like a waste because he was never really given a place within the Kick-Ass universe. He is just a meatbag for Hit-Girl to gut all over the comic panels. Sure it works for shock value, but it doesn’t go any further than that.
The debate that has been going through my head is whether or not “Hit-Girl” is a prequel or a sequel. I consider it a prequel to “Kick-Ass 2” because it was published afterwards and comes off as an addendum. And prequels should only be done if they expand on the story by giving better insight. For all of their crappyness, the Star Wars prequels at least showed us that Vader’s story was that of a tragedy rather than the evil badass we know and love. Those movies tell the story in a very bad way, but at least come off as a story that needed to be told. However “Hit-Girl” doesn’t do that, but instead just conveniently ends just like it began. I hate saying that this series comes off as a lame attempt to cash in on this comics’ most popular character, but I can’t help and feel that way.
Gail Simone was fired from “Batgirl.” Then there was a huge public outcry from her very righteous fans and she was hired back. But, unfortunately, it wasn’t for the reasons it should be. She was hired back because DC got caught doing something awful instead of being hired back because of the slam dunk awesome writer that she is. The whole affair showcases some of the larger issues that are affecting DC, and they are showing less and less ability to beat Marvel for dominating market share. And the sad thing is DC has a great deal of talent working for them. I would hate to see great characters like Batman thrown to the wayside because DC’s upper management allowed them to fall into a dark age. But on the upside, maybe one day we’ll see a Gail Simone/Carol Danvers comic.
The sixteenth issue of “Batgirl” is a perfect example of why Gail Simone is such a breathtaking writer. It is a no holds barred emotional skydive of awesome. Not only does this issue have an ample amount of Bat-on-Clown violence, but it delves deep into Barbara Gordon’s psyche. We learn that Barbara had not only undergone great physical damage by the Joker, but her time spent in the wheelchair darkened her mind to feelings of fear and vengeance. In a lot of ways, this issue is about Barbara taking back her life, to no longer live in fear. It’s why I love this book so much. Because not only does it have well executed action, but it has deep emotional layers as well. Some might even peel it back enough to see a hint of female empowerment, but I personally think that’s reading too much into it. The drive to take back your life can affect anyone, male or female. This is a story about a person who stared evil in the face and just kicked it in the balls.
My only small minor gripe about this comic is that I read Batman #16 first, and it kind of spoils the ending of Batgirl. It doesn’t show us the game, but does reveal the final score. Also, as a matter of principle, I hate having to read other comics to find out the end of a storyline. But I’m already reading Batman on a regular basis, so I guess it doesn’t matter too much. I can’t wait to read Batman #17 to see how everything wraps up, and I also can’t wait for all the future comics of Gail Simone. She is truly something special and hopefully DC will have the three working brain cells to think twice about letting her go again.
Give them hell Simone, give them hell.
All-New X-men #1 & #2
Due to stocking issues that are beyond my control, I’m a little late getting my hands on the first issue of “All-New X-men.” Good news though, I was able to get both issues on the same Wednesday, and thus, was able to read them back to back. I was just going to read the first one, write this review, and then get to the second one when time allotted. But I became so involved with the story I found it impossible to do that. Truly, I was actually disappointed that I have to wait to read the third issue. I’ve said in the past that I like the writing of Brian Michael Bendis, but I’ve never gushed over it like a nerd with a non-special edition version of “Star Wars.” His work can be different to the point of off-putting, but I mostly enjoy his style to some degree or another. The general premises he uses can seem a little recycled, but the amount of wit and characterization he brings to the table outweighs it most of the time.
His first story arc of “All-New X-men” is a prime example. It’s basically a story about X-men from the past meeting the X-men of the future, and this isn’t really something new. In fact, X-men teams/characters have done so many time travel stories that I wouldn’t be surprised that some of them are trademarked by Marvel. But, despite that, Bendis is so engaging here that you don’t care that it’s another time travel story because all of that is just a backdrop to his dialogue and characterization. There is an extremely good focus on Hank McCoy (a.k.a. Beast) as every little plot tread comes to a very fast head. Sometimes I can’t really identify why I like something so much and then wonder if I really do like it or if I just want to like it. However the fact that I can’t wait for the next issue is a clear indicator that I really like this comic. My comic shop better be well supplied in the future. Heads at UPS will roll otherwise.
Avengers vs. X-men #12 (of 12)
Huh… no one died. Well, sort of. Chuck X bought it back in issue eleven, but comic books like to top off a climax with some major character’s death. Something to really top everything off before you’re ready for that cigarette and forced cuddles that keep you from just falling asleep. There was a major change in the affairs of mutants, but I’m surprised that no one besides Charles had to die for it. If anything, the comic surprised me a good deal. I was expecting the conclusion to be as inconsistent as the rest of the series. But with Dark Phoenix Cyclops being the only story thread really left, this issue was able to focus wholeheartedly and bring us a satisfying end. The predictability of the end was sort of a mixed bag, and left me a little stunned as a whole. Not everything turned out as I expected it to, but still left enough natural conclusion to feel that the ending wasn’t too off base.
AvX isn’t the end all and be all of comic books, but a certain amount of applause must be given to Marvel for pulling this off. The story had its peaks and valleys, and could have probably have been condensed into seven or eight issues. But the ending actually feels complete without any lame copouts or reset buttons pushed. Something in the Marvel Universe actually changed, and I was just surprised the industry still had the balls for that kind of thing. Let’s just hope they can hold on to that scrotum shack and don’t collapse to market demand to just reverse everything they changed.
Hope true believers.
Justice League #12
Every once and a while, an event in a comic book will transcend the typical circles. Like the “Fantastic Four” issue where Johnny “The Human Torch” Storm “died.” People who never even stepped into a comic book shop before were asking about purchasing a copy. Another such issue comes around as Justice League issue twelve has Superman dancing tongues with Wonder Woman. Personally I don’t consider it a big deal since Frank Miller had them breaking a hole in the sky in “The Dark Knight Strikes Again” over a decade ago. I suppose it’s a bigger deal now since the relationship seems to be a part of the new continuum. With that in mind, it still doesn’t strike me as hard because a relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman always seemed like a perfect fit. Not only has Lois Lane been a complete (censored by the God of Derogatory Genital Words and Phrases) since the reboot, but there has always been that sexual incompatibility most famously brought up by the movie “Mallrats.” Lois Lane was always just the chick in distress that Superman needed to save, and I’m actually happy to see her left to the side of the road since comic books have evolved a great deal. Plus Lois is only a seven, while Wonder Woman is an easy ten.