Thursday, April 02, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: April 1

This was a highly unusual New Comic Book Day for me, because I ended up writing about most of the comics I bought and brought home from the shop for my weekly contribution to Robot 6. So if you're interested in me talking about Batman Eternal, The New 52: Futures End, Earth 2: World's End and Convergence #0, you need not stick around here, but can instead go check out my post on Robot 6. While there, you'll also want to check out Tom Bondurant's "Grumpy Old Fan" column, as Robot 6's resident DC expert tackles the same four issues.

Because I wrote about most of the comics I brought home from the comic shop this week, I wasn't sure if I should even bother with an installment of "Comic Shop Comics" this week, but, well, I had to post something tonight, so I'm going to discuss some of these much more cursorily than I normally would.

Batman Eternal #52 (DC Comics) I didn't really care for the first issue of this series, in large part because of the sub-par art which failed to sell a pretty pivotal moment, the moment that launched the direction of the series, and I didn't care for these last few, at least in terms of the twist reveal of the real villain behind the villain behind the other villains, for reasons I've discussed here and elsewhere previously.

I like much of what happened in the 50 issues between the first and last ones though and, on whole, think Batman Eternal was a pretty good comic book series that I really enjoyed, and was glad to find waiting for me at the shop every Wednesday. I'm hopeful that they will do another weekly series soon, with a similar creative process (Batman writer Scott Snyder co-plotting with James Tynion IV, a small staff of writers taking turns on the scripts). The one area that could use improvement would be in the art; if DC can't lure Trinity alum Mark Bagley back, then maybe they could at least get enough issues in the can before they start releasing it so that the artist need not change every issue or so, but would instead change every arc or so. Also, a single cover artist would be great. Like Cliff Chiang, for example, or Jae Lee, both of whom have been killing it on their recent cover for this series. That's Lee a providing the cover above.

Given the expansion of the Bat-family in this very series, which added Spoiler and Julia Pennyworth, and made Harper Row into Bluebird, and the fact that Batwoman will soon be joining Batwing in booklessness, there are plenty of characters who could use a title to hang around in.

Anyway, let's take a look at a few pictures before I shut up about Batman Eternal for a good long time.

So before Lincoln March appeared out of left-field to slit Arther "Cluemaster" Brown's throat at the end of Batman Eternal #51, Brown had cut Batman's costume off, so that Bruce Wayne was wearing nothing but his bat-pants and bat-boots (That's another thing I didn't care for about the ending; Cluemaster does indeed seem to be dead, which makes a certain amount of sense since the writers would feel the need to deal with his knowledge of Batman's secret identity. Still, I'm not a big fan of killing off characters, as live one's usually have more story potential than dead one's, and it makes little sense to me to build Cluemaster up in this story just to never uses him again. Also, if Spoiler is going to remain an active crimefighter, it would be nice if they kept her supervillain dad around for a while).

Bruce disappears off-panel briefly, and when we next see him, he's wearing this improvised costume:
Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira
Just before the above panel, March has Batman on the ropes, and is about to finish him off, when Spoiler appears, punches the villain to the ground, and then backs up to pose with this massive assemblage of Batman's allies:
Pansica and Ferreira
As you can see by the fact that Talon—remember Talon?—is there, Penny-Two went pretty deep in calling in allies to help out Batman. I was kind of surprised and disappointed that the Justice League, or at least Superman, aren't in that picture as well, but then in the following panels, March runs away and ends up evading capture, which I guess would have been harder to buy if The Flash or Superman were there to chase him.

Still, I can't help but wonder what Superman was up to while Gotham City was being burnt down and his super-friend was just a stab or two away from death. Superman should really at least glance in the direction of Gotham with his super-vision every once in a while, you know?

Hey, here's another scene set inside Noonan's, which is the name of the bar that much of Garth Ennis and John McCrea's Hitman was set in:
Robson Rocha and Guillermo Ortego
If you've read any of Hitman—and you should read every single page of it, as it is the best—you'll realize The New 52 Noonan's doesn't look a damn thing like the original.

Of course, with Six-Pack and Section Eight soon to appear in the post-New 52 DC Universe, I wonder if we'll be seeing any of Noonan's, and if it will look anything at all like the rather typical, lame-o bar in the panels above.

Finally, my very favorite part of this issue was set in the Rows' apartment, wherein we learn that Stephanie Brown is going to be living with them. Stephanie walks in on Red Robin Tim Drake flirting with Harper, and it makes for a pretty awesome scene:
David LaFuente
I was never a big fan of Stephanie Brown, and I never really liked her as Tim's love interest or girlfriend, but even I have to confess to a certain amount of excitement upon seeing them meet for the first time here, and apparently sharing a moment (And a moment drawn by David LaFuente, no less!).

I can't imagine what the title would be, but I would love to read a comic book series about Tim Drake, Stephanie Brown and Harper Row as a crime-fighting team/love triangle. Maybe in the next Batman weekly series they can introduce Cassandra Cain...

Convergence #0 (DC) Well this was a pretty annoying comic book. The $4.99, 30-page comic consists of nothing more than various Brainiacs talking at New 52 Superman, eventually laying out the premise of the series. All of the Brainiacs (save one) that Superman conversed with were actually manifestations created by the sentient planet that Superman found himself imprisoned on. That planet takes a humanoid form and announces to himself his intentions to pit the inhabitants of the many cities from doomed realities on his surface in deadly, kill-or-be-killed combat against one another.

It's what anyone at all interested in Convergence already knew; actually, the comic itself never even names the planet-charater—it's Telos—so chances are that if you were at all interested in Convergence, you already knew more about this event than is even contained within this zero issue.

Ethan Van Sciver provides the artwork, so it's pretty nice-looking stuff, although I'm a little mystified as to why the issue exists at all, and why  they didn't save Van Sciver for the series proper.

Gotham Academy: Endgame #1 (DC) As I said about Batgirl: Endgame, I read Batman in trade, so I had and have no real idea as to what "Endgame" is about, other than involving the Joker and an apparent new application of Joker venom to turn people into something between Jokers ala Joker's Last Laugh and zombies ala, um, every zombie movie and comic ever.

As with the Batgirl tie-in, this is a very, very loose tie-in, one that is apparently set during an outbreak of Joker zombies in Gotham City, but otherwise doesn't intersect with the plot of Batman in any direct fashion. And, again like the Batgirl tie-in, this one-shot is able to retain the style and look of the title book more than the story arc it's tied to.

In other words, Gotham Academy: Endgame is far more Gotham Academy than it is Endgame.

While Joker zombies roam Gotham, the students of Gotham Academy are all gathered in the gymnasium for safety. To pass the time, our heroines Olive Silverlock, her enthusiastic sidekick Maps and her frenemy Pomeline tell one another Joker stories. Kind of. In actuality, none actually feature the Joker proper, but do feature scary, Joker-like figures. Each of these three short scary stories has a different artist, so this is basically a horror anthology with a framing sequence, the framing sequence featuring some of the characters from the regular monthly series.

Those scary stories are all actually quite good, and all rather scary (They're all superior to those in the similar Lumberjanes #9, where the gals try to earn their "If You Got It, Haunt It" badges).

Regular writers Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher handle the framing sequence, while artist Jeff Stokely handles the art on that sequence. The three stories within the story are all written and drawn by three different artists: Clio Chiang, Joy Ang and Vera Brosgol.

It's great stuff, and hopefully there will be enough Joker fans who pick this issue up for the Edgame part of the title and become intrigued enough with that framing sequence to try out Gotham Academy, which is a really neat series that I hope sticks around for some time yet.

The New 52: Futures End #48 (DC) This 49-part weekly series ends with a gigantic fuck you to readers, as it ends precisely where it begins: (A) Batman Beyond and a small group of sperhero resistance fighters in the nightmare future of 2049, ruled over by Brother Eye and his killer murder-borgs.

Things have changed, but only slightly, and now that it's over, it's apparent just how much of the book was spent on pointless, circuitous, go-nowhere sub-plots and how low the stakes really were. It would appear this was nothing more than a 1,000-page lead-in to June's Batman Beyond #1...?

It's hard to imagine a less-satisfying ending to the series, as this didn't even address some of the questions it raised within the last few issues. For example, did Tim doom all of the Earth-2 refugees by convincing the Brother Eye satellite to detonate itself? And how did Mr. Terrific, who was on Earth-2, get to Earth-0 in order to invent Brother Eye, if Tim stopped him from ever arriving?

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