Monday, August 1, 2016

Not-Very-Deep Thoughts: The July 20 and 27 DC Edition (HERE BESPOILERS!)

Batman #3:  The set-up -- of Gotham and Gotham Girl's parents seemingly giving away their identity to an F.B.I. agent that 30 years of comics-reading experience tells you is not to be trusted -- is great.  Of course he's not to be trusted.  But, I totally didn't see it coming that he was Matches Malone.  It was a great start to the issue.  Looking at the two main Bat-titles at this stage, King and Tynion are both telling stories of logical conclusions.  If the Colony in "Detective Comics" details the military deciding to reverse-engineer Bruce's technology for its own purposes (see below), we learn that Gotham and Gotham Girl are inspired to become who they are because Batman once saved Gotham and his parents' lives.  They throw themselves into charity work and eventually face a dangerous "situation" in a developing country where they working as aid workers that they seem unable to prevent.  We're led to believe that this experience inspires them to use their father's wealth to buy their powers, after he tells Matches that they asked for him to wire a substantial amount to them.  Over the coming issues, King is clearly going to test their earnestness.  Batman asks them to keep an eye on the city so he can investigate Kobra, after they followed up shooting down the aircraft in issue #1 with blowing up a bridge in this issue.  As we saw last issue, Hugo Strange is working with Amanda Waller to use Psycho-Pirate to do...something.  All we know is that he plans on somehow rewiring Gotham's thoughts to make them...better.  He seems poised to start with Gotham and Gotham Girl.  Not nefarious at all, that Hugo Strange, no, not at all.

Detective Comics #937:  First things first:  can I just tell you how happy I am that we can like Tim again?  He probably suffered the most under the reboot, turning into an arrogant and drippy tool.  As we learn in this issue, he's still a genius:  after all, he constructed his own network of Bat-trains using Gotham's abandoned subway tunnels.  But, he's also Tim again, like when he humblebrags about his ability to get into the Colony's computer systems for a "milli-second."  His charm is back, and I'm thrilled to see it.  But, Tynion isn't just nailing the characterization.  The plot is great as well.  I loved that the Army decided to create the Colony in the wake of Batman's success during "Zero Year," taking down the Riddler when they couldn't.  As I said above, it's a rare moment in comics where actions have repercussions and motivations make sense.  The Army isn't wrong that a team of Batmen could take out threats before they happened and hiring a Tim analogue to reverse-engineer Batman's weapons makes total sense.  Plus, we know understand that the Colonel was keeping tabs on the Bat-family because he wanted to recruit them.  (I still don't know how Clayface became part of the Bat-family, but I'm willing to just go with it.)  I can't wait to see Bruce, Kate, and the team go to war with the Colony, because, man, someone using Bruce's idea for their own ends?  Mad, he will be.  In other words, we have a well plotted and scripted story that has me excited for the next installment:  "Detective Comics" may hold the record for me for the most consistently strong run.

Justice League #1:  Hitch starts this issue essentially with the end of the world, as the Justice League tries to respond to the fact that every fault line in the world became active.  It's an interesting premise, because it shows the Justice League incapable of fully confronting the threat.  Cyborg is trying to stop a runaway train, Flash is finding a missing girl:  it's micro help in the face of a macro event.  The event itself is initially portrayed as a natural disaster, but two threats that could possibly be behind it reveal themselves over the course of the issue.  First, we have what appears to be the Brood (if we were in Marvel Comics) invading Gotham and, I believe, Johannesburg.  Then, we have a power calling itself the Kindred taking over people and stripping the Flash and Green Lanterns of their powers.  (The victims' eyes glow red, making me wonder if it's not the Red, like in "Earth 2.")  At this stage, it's unclear how the two entities are connected (or if they are).  As interesting as it all is, it's also just a mess.  I get that Hitch is trying to show us the Justice League overwhelmed.  But, instead of just the League feeling confused, I am, too.  Sometimes it's good to be confused, since it helps you feel what the characters are feeling.  ("Civil War II" #3 was a good example of that.)  It doesn't feel that way here, though.  Hitch makes the threat so enormous -- an extinction-level event, as we learn -- that it's obvious that the heroes are going to win.  It's not the X-Men losing the 600 embryos in "Extraordinary X-Men:"  the League literally can't lose because DC Comics isn't closing shop.  Hitch can still keep it interesting by giving us insights into the characters as the League confronts this threat, but it's not clear how well he's going to do that from this issue.  I guess we'll see.

Nightwing #1:  So far, so good here.  Dick has traded in Spyral for the Parliament of Owls, and we open this issue with him preventing Kobra from assassinating an Italian parliamentarian.  (Kobra is really getting around lately:  they're blowing up airplanes in "Batman," they're assassinating leaders here.  I don't really know much about them, so I wonder if DC is peppering their series with references to them in advance of a larger event later.)  However, the Parliament is unhappy with Dick's non-lethal methods, and he's being paired with a Parliament-approved operative named Raptor for "training."  Seeley also makes it clear that he's playing the same type of long game that he did in "Grayson," since this issue opens with Raptor taking down a woman seemingly working for the Parliament itself.  Is he some sort of double agent?  It's unclear at this stage.  However, Seeley might overplay his hand a bit when it comes to Raptor.  Like Tiger, he's portrayed as significantly better than Nightwing, declaring that Dick needs a better mentor than Batman was.  (Nightwing is unaware that he trailed him and fails to even remotely hold his own against him in their fight.)  Plus, he seems to have a fight computer similar to Midnighter's.  As such, this series seems exactly like "Grayson" but with the names (Spyral, Tiger, Midnighter) changed.  I mean, I liked "Grayson," so I'm not necessarily opposed to that.  But, hopefully Seeley has some surprises in store here to make it feel less derivative.

Titans Hunt #1-#8 and Titans #1:  I finally read "Titans Hunt," and I seriously recommend it for anyone that found themselves confused while reading "Titans:  Rebirth" #1.  It firmly establishes the new status quo for the Titans.  Four years ago, the Teen Titans were forced to forget who they were as a team so that a demon (I think) named Mr. Twister could not use their powers to open a gateway to bring an even more dangerous demon to Earth.  (Maybe Dr. Midnight himself?)  We learn that Twister began whispering to Lilith (the telepath that performed the mindwipe) a year before the events of "Titans Hunt," making her remember the team's past.  She tries to protect the rest of the team, but the other Titans are eventually reminded of the truth, and they assemble to take on Twister.  In a nice move by Abnett, the team is able to defeat Twister because they're no longer as easily manipulated as they were as teenagers.  Abnett even leaves a cliffhanger for "DC Universe:  Rebirth," since Dick realizes that one of the ten of them -- Wally, as we know (but they don't know) -- is still missing.  In other words, if I'm following the story correctly, we're essentially dealing with a ret-con within a ret-con:  only because Dr. Midnight messes with the DC Universe's history does the Titans' encounter with Mr. Twister result in them forgetting each other.  In other words, the Titans didn't just lose the ten years that Wally informs Barry that everyone in the DCnU lost:  they even lost the four years that they would've had together in the DCnU had Twister not intervened.  When I initially read "Titans:  Rebirth" #1, I thought that they got back that five years when they remembered Wally.  But, now it appears that they only got back this year or so that they were actually together.  In this issue, Lilith plums the depths of Wally's mind for hints of Dr. Midnight (even though she doesn't know that she's looking for him).  However, her probing awakens Abra Cadabra, who claims that he's responsible for disappearing Wally.  That revelation works in the framework that "Titans Hunt" established, the ret-con within the ret-con.  At some point after Twister broke up the Titans, Wally was then thrown into the Speed Force.  I'm definitely intrigued to see where Abnett goes with that.  (Also, Wally looks, um, handsome, particularly on the variant cover, and I'm excited to see more of him, too!)


  1. I tought that the one messing with the DC continuity was Dr Manhatan from Watchmen? Is Dr Midnight ? I'm confuced. Since I stoped reading comics all togheter.

  2. Ha ha ha. Good catch! It *is* Dr. Manhattan, but I care so little I apparently just wrote Dr. Midnight by accident. I'm definitely not feeling this "rebirth." That said, "Detective Comics" is solid, and I don't hate the "Batman" plot for now.

  3. I stoped around Death of the Family, goth tired of the never ending treaths of the big two, just reading independent in trades, one and done histories, I enjoy them more for now.

    1. But I keep reading your reviews out of habit and I think because I want to know more o less what happens to some of my favorites characters