Thursday, March 12, 2009
If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'm afraid I'm about to go Full Nerd on several topics
1.) Rob Liefeld does a Rob Liefeld parody: Please visit Newsarama.com to see Rob Liefeld’s special variant cover for the last issue of Youngblood, which featured a bad drawing of President Barack Obama on the cover, and a few different drawings of Obama in the back-up story, each repeated multiple times in consecutive panels to reduce the amount of drawing that needed to be done to complete the short story. If your first thought when you heard Liefeld was drawing Obama on the cover of an issue of Youngblood was that it meant Obama would have giant shoulder pads or a million little pouches or a gun as long as he is tall, well, Liefeld just sucks the fun of making fun of him right out, since here’s Obama with a giant gun.
Matt Brady points out that the Obama’s over six-feet tall, which would put Chapel, whose posing next to him at seven foot and change. He looks more like eight-foot-something to me, but man, height aside, look how big Chapel’s arm is compared to Obama’s, how big his head is compared to Obama’s, how big his crotch bulge is to Obama’s. Basically, Chapel is a shaven Sasquatch.
Note Obama’s left hand…or the absence of it. Is it in his pocket? Hidden behind his body? Plugged into the gun? Does he just not have a left hand?
Anyway, the point is this: Rob Liefeld still isn’t a very good artist, and he shouldn’t draw non-Rob Liefeld characters, particularly real people, because he’s no damn good at it.
In other news, I just drank a cup of water while writing this, and man, that stuff is wet.
2.) It occurs to me that maybe my review of Battle For The Cowl #1 wasn’t negative enough: I read fellow Newsarama contributor Richard Renteria’s review of this week’s big Batman release, and it’s not a positive review. Renteria had harsher criticism for the writing than for the art, which is the opposite of myself, but he had some good points about some of the weaknesses of the book. I think writer/artist Tony Daniel’s hands were probably tied pretty tightly, since he was writing a story with 80 different characters that all had to start in once place that he didn’t get to determine and will presumably all end in a place that he won’t get to determine. But it was a very bad comic book.
A lot of the characterizations seemed rather unrealistic and, well, off to me, although I can’t say that Daniel was definitely writing the characters out of character. For example, Tim Drake/Robin didn’t really seem like Tim Drake/Robin to me in a lot of instances, but then, it’s quite possible that, despite the fact that I kind of grew up with Drake and used to think I knew him really well, he may have changed quite a bit, and that’s why he seems so different. I haven’t been following the Bat-books the way I did five to ten years ago, after all.
Some super-specific nit-picks…
—Richard mentions he has a hard time believing that just taking the Batman out of the picture could spiral the city into chaos so quickly (It’s only been a few weeks since Batman “died”/disappeared, according to Robin's narration). Certainly if it was just up to Nightwing, Robin, Alfred and the police, it’s not hard to see Gotham going to hell, but there’s about a dozen vigilantes throwing in to help out, and it is hard to believe that Batman’s many protégés with access to all his resources can’t seem to deal with ordinary street crime and gang wars even with the help of Black Canary, Wildcat, Oracle, Batgirl and others (As for Joker-level supervillain-y, none are on the street at the start of the story).
Additionally, The Black Hand had all but eradicated all crime in Gotham prior to “Batman R.I.P.,” as part of their efforts to take down Batman (Remember when Morrison’s run started, he had Batman go on vacation because there just wasn’t enough crime for him to fight in Gotham).
—Robin narrates that “Nightwing and Batgirl assembled The Network-- a group of our most trusted allies to help out in a crunch.” I haven’t kept up with Batgirl much since that awful, only quasi-in continuity “Boy Wanted” arc of Robin, but assembling groups doesn’t really seem to fall within the quiet, remote young woman who was completely mute until her late teen’s skill set. It’s certainly odd she would be involved instead of, say, Oracle, whose entire skill set is gathering information and acting like something of an air traffic controller for superheroes.
—Richard also mentioned how unlikely it was that, perhaps particularly during a time of such widespread unrest, all of the Arkham inmates were being moved from a prison back to Arkham Ayslum by bus. At night. The ease with which villains escape Arkham has long been a pet peeve of mine, but, again, this is something that isn’t necessarily Daniel's fault, as it’s been going on so long now.
In his first story arc for Batman: Shadow of The Bat, Alan Grant wrote a story called “The Last Arkham” which was about a new, hard-nosed administrator coming to the asylum, completely remodeling and updating it, and making it more or less escape-proof, to the point that the impossibility of escape from Arkham was a plot point in the storyline (That is, how was the murderer committing his crimes while inside a locked room?). I’m pretty sure that, despite the fact that the new administrator Jeremiah Arkham stuck around from that story, as did the villain it introduced (Mrs. Zsasz), the security level at Arkham was never really addressed again.
You’d think a billionaire with bottomless pockets like Bruce Wayne would have by now donated a billion or so to Arkham Asylum or gotten on its board of directors or done whatever it would take to make sure it was, like, the most secure and escape-proof facility this side of the Phantom Zone.
Anyway, in this story, all of the inmates are freed (like in “Knightfall” or Batman: Dark Victory...or was Long Halloween the Loeb/Sale series that had the mass Arkham break out?), and this time the asylum itself is destroyed, in an awkwardly staged panel (In which Black Mask says “Light it up, boys!” after the explosion).
—Black Mask is able to force all of Arkham’s inmates to follow him by giving them each “a chemical implant” as part of their sedatives, an implant that can be radio activated to cause their deaths. It’s not a bad method of controlling a bunch of people that would otherwise be uncontrollable I suppose, but I thought it was a pretty funny way to try and control a bunch of lunatics. Like, only a crazy person would disobey a man who could have them instantly killed, right? But oops, the Arkham inmates are all completely crazy!
—Daniel’s decision to focus on Robin/Tim Drake’s detective skills was well done, and was certainly in keeping with the character, but what was up with the part where he starts laying out evidence about the mysterious new killer Batman to Dick Grayson? Drake’s all like, it’s someone good, with experience, maybe someone we know. He uses batarangs designed by Bruce Wayne, and he had a bat-rope, so he’s obviously someone on the inside.
But neither of them goes on to state the obvious—it’s Jason Todd—not even when Drake is thinking to himself about the new Batman. How many options are there, really? The two former Robins know it’s not one of them, which leaves one of the two Batgirls, whom they’ve been working with, Alfred, maybe The Spoiler or Damian al Ghul, or, oh yeah, the only one of Batman’s former sidekicks who ever went on to become a murderous vigilante, Jason Todd.
—Robin refers to Batman as “my father” while narrating to himself, and it took me a few seconds to remember that Bruce Wayne adopted Tim Drake, so he’s technically his father now. Drake’s father has only been dead a little over a year now (DC time), and it’s strange that a character whose always felt really guilty about his relationship with his father would quit thinking of him as his father and embrace Batman in that role so quickly (I think Tim also changed his last name to Wayne, which doesn’t seem quite like something Tim Drake would do to me either, but yeah, I know, there is not real Tim Drake and he’ll do whatever his writers tell him to do).
—Damian al Ghul sure doesn’t seem a bit like Damian al Ghul. Not only does he seem more teenage in his appearance (and the fact that he’s interested in a girl), but he’s oddly incompetent. At one point he’s menaced by Killer Croc, and is so helpless with fear that he’s unable to do much more than scream for his mother. He even calls her “Mommy" instead of “Mother,” as he usually does.
Now I'm not saying Killer Cros is a total pussy or anything. Certainly I’d be afraid to take him on (I’d be afraid to fight a six-inch iguana without a very long, sturdy stick, actually), but the Damian that went off on his own to kill The Spook and his gang and took down Robin before shouldn’t have all that much trouble going a few rounds with Killer Croc, whose basic fighting skills range from wrestling to biting and gets his ass kicked by Batman, Robin and Nightwing on a more-or-less monthly basis.
—It’s not clear to me when Damian became so thoroughly embraced by the rest of the Bat-family. I haven’t seen him since “Batman R.I.P.,” but Alfred and Robin certainly didn’t like him one bit during that story, and it’s odd that Nightwing and Oracle not only tolerate him as they do here, but go so far out of their way to worry about his safety and seek to protect him.
—Wait, Killer Croc chased down a speeding Batmobile on foot and then shouldered it off the road…?
3.) Whoever ends up being Batman, it looks like there’s going to be a new Robin: If you read any DC Comics this week, then you’ve seen the DC Nation page, in which we see four panels of pencil art by Frank Quitely. Actually, the sentence of text from Dan DiDio that accompanies it refers to it as “some very special art for a very special new comic series” and says the title and team can’t be announced yet.
The artist is clearly Frank Quitely, the writer is almost definitely the frequent Quitely collaborator scheduled to start writing Batman again soon Grant Morrison and the title is apparently Batman and Robin, seeing as how these panels feature Batman and Robin (And Morrison confirmed it in an interview).
But who are the individuals who will be wearing the Batman and Robin costumes? It’s kind of hard to guess, because of Quitely’s style. His Batman looks like the Batman he’s drawn before, but I suppose his Dick Grayson in a Batman cowl might look the same.
In the DC Nation image, the Robin seems to be holding his breath as a form of pouting, the way little kids do, which makes it seem as if Damian is going to be Robin instead of Tim Drake.
This image at IGN also seems to indicate a very young Robin, and while it’s not inconceivable that it’s Tim Drake being drawn more like a teenager than a grown man than usual, the costume is a different one than the one Drake’s currently wearing, and resembles a heavily altered version of the one he wore when he first became Robin.
Batman has a new costume too. Well, at least a new belt. I would assume it’s supposed to be Bruce Wayne in the suit, as it would be strange for Morrison to bring Nightwing into his Batman story in such a big way now after barely mentioning him throughout the rest of the run (he didn’t really have any involvement until “Batman R.I.P.”).
If it’s anyone other than Wayne though, Nightwing/Dick Grayson seems the obvious candidate. That issue of Battle For the Cowl has Drake and Alfred trying to talk Nightwing into becoming the new Batman while he resists doing so, the variant cover for the issue featured a figure that was half Nightwing and half Batman, and on the front page of dccomics.com they posted links to two different Nightwing origin stories along with the origin of Batman and some Battle For The Cowl related stuff.