|Please note: There are two covers. I got this one.|
I'm not sure to what extent co-writers Stewart and Fletcher might have intended their arc to read as a sort of rebuttal to the previous, thirty-odd issues by Gail Simone—with their dark, ugly, angry and violent tone—but this sure seems to underline a major difference between their Batgirl and who she was (And to be fair to Simone, a large part of her portrayal of Batgirl was likely editorially mandated, as I'm sure she didn't decide all by herself that The Killing Joke was going to be the only post-Crisis story to remain in continuity).
So in this issue, Batgirl battles herself—rather literally—in order to save Burnside and all of the supporting characters we've been introduced to over the course of the last few issues.
Reading this, I wonder if that pro even reads Batgirl (a title whose title character who was never really un-covered, and went from wearing a goofy suit of Hollywood superhero movie battle armor to this more realistic, cosplayable homemade costume). Because not only is the book full of beautifully drawn beautiful people—like a CW drama, the cast of Batgirl seems to very between sexy and drop dead gorgeous—but I can't recall ever seeing Black Canary wearing less clothes than she did in this issue.
I was a little taken aback by this, the first page in a four-page house ad for DC's upcoming, two-month Convergence event, which appeared in all of the DC books I got that were released this week:
First off, I'm glad that DC decided to go this route for their tie-ins to the current Batman story arc, rather than having it intrude on the regular titles as they previously did with "Death of The Family" and "Zero Year," as those ended up interrupting the other books in sometimes weird ways, and lead to some weir collections. Also, while I'm reading Batgirl monthly, I'm reading Batman in trade, so it will be a few months before I get to the "Endgame" story arc, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to follow along.
I was actually planning to skip this book, assuming it would be collecting with all the other tie-ins in an eventual Endgame trade, but then I noticed that the regular writing team was still writing (Cameron Stewart does not provide breakdowns, however), and while it's missing Babs Tarr's art, maybe the chief pleasure of Batgirl, the art inside was so gorgeous I didn't want to not read it.
That's provided by Bengal, of whom I know nothing. Is Bengal a man, woman, or tiger...? I don't know. But Bengal's art is, as I said, gorgeous.
The biggest difference between this book and the regular issues of Batgirl, however, is that while each of the current creative team's issues on the monthly have been very full, very satisfying reads, this took about three to five minutes to read, and that's with occasional pauses to drink in Bengal's expressions or laugh at Babs having a Batsmiley emoticon on her Batphone.
That's mostly because this is a silent issue.
Now, I have no idea what's going on in "Endgame," although it appears to involve The Joker jokerizing the Justice League and the populace of Gotham City, as he did in Joker's Last Laugh. Here it appears that the Joker venom turns people into rictus-grinned zombies (had they different expressions, this wold just read like a zombie comic), and they appear to be attracted to sound, like the zombies in World War Z (the movie; I didn't read the book).
That would explain why this is a silent issue.
As for the plot, it's so tangental to "Endgame" that one need not have any idea what's going on in it; "The Joker has jokerized people" is the takeaway as it applies to this book, and it's apparent from what's in the issue itself. Batgirl is helping to evacuate the non-Jokerized, and she saves a little girl from the Joker zombies, through a combination of punching, kicking, coaching, bus-crashing and hang-gliding.
Beautiful art, lots of action, a few funny moments—it's worth reading, but man, I was acutely aware of how goddam expensive comic books are these days while I did so.
This issue has another great cover by Cliff Chiang, and interior art that's less so—but not bad at all—by Fernando Blanco. At least Chiang has the advantage of being a little more symbolic on his cover than Blanco had to be in his interiors. In the scene depicted on the cover, Bane is actually wearing a giant suit of robot armor, and Baman appears to be about to ram him with a fighter jet, despite the fact that he's on a crowded city street (I'm pretty confused about what's going on with Bane in general here; he put on a giant robot suit of armor to fight in a cage match for the entertainment of the patrons of a dive bar in Gotham? And then he fought The Red Hood for a few issues? And here he just sort of wanders away from Red Hood? Maybe it's not Bane, but a Bane mask on a robot; he barely even talks, let alone gloat and speechify like Bane, after all).
So in this issue, scripted by Kyle Higgins from Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV's plot, Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth both get to beat the hell out of major Batman villains, the sidekicks all have their equipment restored so they can continue their fights with the various "leveled up" Arkham escapees, Cluemaster has an exchange with Spoiler which seems to indicate they both know who the real villain is, and, as previously mentioned, Batman flies a jet at Bane.
The series has grown rather frustrating for me, but in a good way, I suppose, as I'm frustrated by not knowing the solution to the mystery. I just hope it's not who I suspect it is, and that it turns out that Snyder and the rest of the writing team have been playing fair with us all along. And that the resolution and denouement of this gigantic story arc turns out to be a satisfying one, whether it occurs in this title or elsewhere.
All in all though, I like the villain used for several reasons...one of them being that it's a villain I've never, ever been the least bit interested in (So you know it's not The Scarecrow then, right?) and another what a surprise it is that it's him.
So once again we have a pretty incredible Cliff Chiang cover, of the sort that really makes one wish he was drawing interiors for this or another Batman series. I especially like how his Tim Drake looks like a teenager and his Batgirl looks young, but significantly older (and taller!) than Tim. Chiang also does a nice job of drawing them all banged-up pretty badly, but still making it clear that this is not a group you want to fuck with, no matter how many pints of blood they might be down. Batgirl still looks tough and determined, like she's getting her second wind; Batman looks like he's about to rip someone in half. Also, the color scheme—Chiang seems to have colored this himself—mutes the more garish, lame-ish aspects of Red Robin and Red Hood's costumes, while highlighting the characters' wounds.
Really a great, great cover. Unlike the other DC weekly I'm reading, Batman Eternal hasn't had a single cover artist throughout its run. While Ryan Sook's constant presence on the covers of Futures End have really allowed him to essentially tell the story of the book in 50-some images, Batman Eternal's covers vary in style and quality as often as the interiors do. After the last few weeks though, I kind I find myself wondering what the book might have looked like if every issue had a Chiang cover on it.
This issue opens with Batman having just crashed a fighter jet into Battle Armor Bane (yes, that's insane, and kind of dumb), and then Batman goes from sidekick to sidekick, helping them win their fights with their respective mini-bosses, before ascending to the rooftop where the first page of Batman Eternal #1 was set and meeting the mastermind of the whole plot.
Like I said, it's an interesting reveal, and it's more-or-less fair, which was something I was really starting to worry about, as so many clues pointed to it being a character that hadn't appeared in the series at all.
Alvaro Martinez pencils and Raul Fernandez inks this issue. It's a fine-looking book; not the best in the series by any stretch of the imagination, but not one of the worst ones either.
Hey, that's me!
I did pick this up specifically because I thought it was Mignola doing Frankenstein—and it is—and because I assumed it was divorced from the "Mignola-verse" stuff, as it didn't have "Hellboy" or "BPRD" in the title or on the cover. When I picked it up to read it and saw the tiny "From the pages of Hellboy" atop the cover, I sighed. I haven't kept up with Hellboy at all. I started it in trade many, many years ago, but it just got so big that I've never had the time or sense of direction to sit down and read it all. I will someday, I'm sure.
Luckily, as Allie went on to explain, Mignola's Frankenstein and a few of the other characters in this issue did appear in previous titles, but having read those titles is not terribly important—certainly I didn't feel all that confused while reading the issue, even when Hellboy and Frankenstein's monster appeared in a Mexican wrestling ring together in a flashback—and what little history one needs to know is in the book itself.
Mignola restricts his drawing to the cover, which is really too bad, as I think his art style is a perfect match for this character, particularly the square-headed, movie version, which seems to have informed the design a bit. He writes, with Ben Stenbeck providing the interior art and Dave Stewart coloring. I liked Stewart's art quite a bit, it's got a touch of the Mignola-esque about it, particularly when drawing monsters and totems and creepy people, but is otherwise a bit rounder, softer, fuller...more realistic, I guess.
It's the mid-1950s, and the monster stumbles upon a witch in a temple in the jungle. He recounts his life story to her, in a series of panels that show the troubles he's endured over the century and a half of life he's had since his creation, while a guy who looks like George Washington watches him in a magic mirror, and sends one of his several strange minions after Frankenstein, intent on adding him to his collection.
It's really too bad that I read most of the Dark Horse comics I read in trade format, because their serially published comics are a pretty great package. It's 22-pages of ad-free comics, a four-page preview of an upcoming Mignola book, and a two-page letters page—for $3.50, a nice compromise price between DC's standard $2.99 and Marvel's standard $3.99, but with more content presented in a more reader-friendly way.
As for the title, it looks like it may be quite literal, as this issue ends with Frankenstein plunging into darkness when the temple he's in collapses on him. I'm hoping he lands in Wonderland, but only because Frankenstein's Adventures In Wonderland would be awesome. Not that this is shaping up to be the least bit shabby or anything. I just want to see Frankenstein flip the table at the Mad Tea Party and go "HHRRNNNGH!" to all the wordplay the Wonderlanders through at Alice, I guess is what I'm saying.
This comics has dinosaurs fighting dinosaurs in it, and is therefore worth your time.
This one maybe a little les so, although it does check in with four different groups of characters—five, if you separate Superman from
This week's issue is drawn by Stephen Thompson, Jack Herbert and Vicente Cifuentes, and the story they're tasked with drawing seems to be one that's entered the tying-up of loose ends phase. Unlike Batman Eternal, there's no mystery mastermind to puzzle out here, as the main villain was revealed at the beginning of the story and the series has been all about stopping him/it from coming to power, and what's next for the characters and plot lines started here is pretty apparent: It will continue, or at least lead in to, Convergence.
Frankenstein dies in Amethyst's arms, giving her new resolve. Superman, Shazam and Firestorm do some clean-up in New York City, with assistance from Dr. Polaris...until he escapes. The book reminds us that King Faraday, Sgt. Rock and some dumb lady superheroes that filled up page-space earlier in the series still exist. And Mr. Terrific, The Atom, the Batmen and friends realize that as bad as Brainiac might have been, Brother Eye is going to be whole other problem. The book ends with Brother Eye turning the corpses of all those dead SHIELD agents into cyborg zombies, which, you'll recall from the nightmare future of the #0 issue, is what he did with all the dead superheroes in 2044.
He also totally dies this issue (That's not a spoiler is it? It's on the cover). But I wouldn't worry too much, as another Batman is going to go back in time to fix all this crap—and I assume that will explain how this ties into Earth 2: World's End and Convergence—and he's got a new monthly book coming up in June.
Scot Eaton penciled and Scott Hanna inked this issue, which also seems to provide a happy ending of sorts for Grifter, Earth-2 Lana Lang and Fifty Sue, who end up having pretty much nothing at all to do with the overarching story arc, aside from being among the earlier characters to run afoul of Brother Eye. So what exactly was the point of the whole Grifter/Cadmus/Fifty Sue storyline? Oh right; year-long weekly series.
I really like Wonder Woman's expression on that cover. I imagine the heroes are all supposed to be looking up at...something, bt Wonder Woman looks like she's regarding the logo of her book, and not feeling particularly enthused about it.
This $3.99 issue has two stories in it, the first of which is one of the better I've read in this anthology series. It's written by James Tynion IV, who is not a guy I would have expected had a really great, really funny Wonder Woman story in him based on his previously published work, and drawn by Noelle Stevenson, who I would have expected to have a really great, really funny Wonder Woman story in her, based on her previously published work.
In their story, "Wonder World," a 15-year-old Diana visit Man's World and discovers a few of its joys, like ice cream, friendship, rollerskating, ice cream, video games and ice cream. It's great stuff, and oh how I wish it wasn't just a single story in the Wonder Woman anthology book, but the first issue of a new Wonder Girl series by Tynion and Stevenson.
That's followed by writer Heather Nuhfer and artist Ryan Benjamin's much more conventional story, in which Wonder Woman does more typical superhero stuff: Punches meteors, fights robots, discovers and thwarts corporate sabotage by Lex Luthor. It's basically a Superman story with Wonder Woman playing the part of Superman. Benjamin's art is art is incredibly dynamic, but sacrifices clarity in a few key moments.
*Last night I read Kinoko Inu - Mushroom Pup Vol. 1, and I was sobbing at the end of the last chapter, when Mushroom Pup gives Hotaru his message. That is one great comic.