Saturday, May 7, 2011

New Comics!: The Bat Edition (HERE BE SPOILERS!)

Batman and Robin #22:  This issue wraps up the "Dark Knight vs. White Knight" storyline.  It's a more or less satisfying conclusion, but Tomasi leaves a lot of loose ends.  First, we're never really given insight -- throughout the storyline -- into how Batman and Robin know where and when to go to find the victims.  They save the Langstroms in issue #21 and an entire group of people in this issue, but we're never told how they deduce where they are and when they're going to jump.  I guess we're just supposed to take that on faith.  Second, it remains unclear what the liquid the White Knight was using does.  He uses it to illuminate Arkham Asylum in this issue, but it's unclear how the liquid does so.  In issue #21 he uses a bomb of sorts to do the illuminating, but here Commission Gordon said they just saw a bunch of "bright sticks."  Is this liquid the same liquid he uses to try to drown the inmates?  Finally, Tomasi never returns to the creepy tree we see the White Knight tending in issue #21.  It's clearly important -- we see him tending a smaller version of it in his cell in this issue -- but Tomasi just sort of leaves it hanging there.  I mostly liked what Tomasi did here -- the first issue of the storyline was particularly strong -- but the loose ends leave me feeling a little disappointed.  I'm hoping he tightens up his story telling as his run continues.  All that said, I'm looking forward to his handling of the Red Hood, because his depictions of the relationships between the Batmen and the Robins were top-notch. 

Red Robin #22 ("Judgment on Gotham:"  Part 2):  This issue isn't bad, giving us probably the most coherent explanation of what Azrael and the Crusader want Batman, Catwoman, and Red Robin to do.  Nicieza provides a meditation on faith that frames the action and also gives us some insight into Tim.  He does it in a way that never gets excessively preachy or cynical, which is a tough dance for any discussion of religion.  I raised an eyebrow at two comments, though.  First, Nicieza seems to be saying that the current Azrael -- Michael Lane -- was the former "insane Batman."  But, he wasn't; Jean-Paul Valley was.  I'm surprised the editors would let that sort of mistake slip, so maybe I missed something?  Tim also notes that the Mayor was "torching a part of the city so the construction companies he owns rebuild it."  He seems to be referring directly to the Ragman secondary feature in "Batman:  Streets of Gotham," which unfortunately didn't get finished before the title was canceled.  I don't think we actually knew why the Mayor was setting the fires, so we seem to have DC giving us that here.  Both eyebrow-raising moments, though, sent me to Wikipedia and my back issues, distracting me from the main story.  It's a shame, because, again, it was a pretty solid issue.  I'm also still unclear on Ra's role in the story, but I'm sure we'll get more clarity on that next time. 

Gotham City Sirens #22 ("Judgment on Gotham:"  Part 3):  OK, at first I was kind of annoyed with the fact that Selina Kyle gets to defend the orphanage, because, really, it seemed to have that twinge of sexism.  Why can't Selina fight for the Mayor and leave Red Robin to save the orphans?  He is one, after all.  But, eventually, it made sense, given that it ties into the central plot point, Selina being asked to kill the sister who went to live in the orphanage.  I'm not a long-time Catwoman fan, so I'm not really sure what her relationship with her sister is.  But, this plot point seemed a little forced to me, like they just dug up her sister so that she could be all Women in Refrigerators and ask Selina to kill her for God.  Selina actually gives as good as she gets on the religious banter side of the house, but I'm still not really sure what Azrael and the Crusader's motivations are.  Why now, suddenly, have they decided to hold Gotham responsible for its sins? 

Batman #709 ("Judgment on Gotham:" Part 4):  The ending of this story is disappointing for a few reasons, unfortunately.  First, throughout the series, we seem to have unreferenced references to the "Azrael" series:  Dick commenting that Azrael was supposed to have taken care of Fireball, Azrael stabbing Dick with his sword (heh) as we saw in flashback in "Batman" #708.  I really hate those sorts of moments.  I get eight (nine, maybe?) Bat-titles.  They already forced me to buy "Gotham City Sirens" #22.  Implying I've got read yet another side-title (about a character I have never, ever liked) just to understand what's happening in the flagship title is showing a hell of a lot of chutzpah.  Second, Ra's al Ghul's role in this whole affair is still unclear.  Is he the source of the "visions" that sent the Crusader, Selina Kyle's sister, and the Prodigy to Gotham?  If he wasn't directing Azrael, then why did Azrael suddenly decide to put everyone through these tests in "Batman" #708?  Finally, how did Azrael get his hands on Fireball, since Ra's al Ghul was last seen amping up his powers?  Azrael had to have known that, since he knew Fireball could destroy the city.  Yet, he seems totally bewildered to have been under Ra's thumb.  Third, Dick is totally an amateur here.  I mean, yes, I get that he's disturbed by visions of beating up the Prodigy, but I don't really believe that he'd fall apart so utterly and completely as he does here.  As Tim says, if it weren't for him, all of Gotham would've been destroyed.  This sort of story would've worked better in the first few months after Dick became Batman, showing his learning curve.  But, here, it's a pretty significant step backwards for Dick and, as Bruce himself implies, makes you wonder whether he's able to handle being Batman.  Finally (yup, I've got more), the Prodigy's comments to Dick at the end -- where he tells him that he knew his friend Dick was watching and left him -- are just absurdly pat.  This arc had some potential, but, in the end, I'm just left felling meh about it, which is, unfortunately, pretty par for the course for this title lately.

No comments:

Post a Comment