Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: December 23

Batman & Robin Eternal #12 (DC Comics) This issue continues the major sequence from the previous one, in which Dick Grayson and Harper Row learn of Cassandra Cain's origin–and Batman's secret deal with Mother to acquire a perfect Robin–via psychic exposition provided my the mysterious telepathic character dubbed The Scluptor. Batman apparently told Mother he wanted to be directly involved with the creation of this particular Robin, shooting that Robin's parents to death himself with a gun, which seems to narrow the Robin in question down to Jason Todd. But does that really work? Because Jason Todd is the worst Robin. Actually, I don't know if it even works as all, as I don't know if Jason Todd's parents were shot to death or not; I just know that Dick's and Tim's weren't. Ed Brisson handles the script this issue, while Javier Pina and Goran Sudzuka handle the art chores. It all looks pretty good.

DC Comics Bombshells #7 (DC) Another blasted, Marguerite Sauvage-less issue of Bombshells. Given that Sauvage's art was the very best part of the Bombshells so far, that means that this is yet another disappointing installment of the otherwise excellent series reimagining a World War II-era DC Universe where most of the super-people happen to be ladies.

This issue is the first part of a new story arc entitled "Allies," and, in it, we return to the homefront to see how things are going in Gotham City during Batwoman's absence. As was telegraphed in an earlier chapter, Harper Row has indeed become Batgirl, along with her friends from the garage she works at. In fact, there are a whole bunch of girls–and a couple of boys–who pick up bats and don masks to become Batgirls and Batboys. By the last panel, artist Mirka Andolfo's allusion to a pretty famous photograph, there are eight kids in the Gotham-based, baseball-themed vigilante gang. These include Batgirls Harper Row, Bette Kane and (most surprisingly) Alysia Yeoh, plus three other Batgirls whose civilian names I didn't recognize at all (If any of you do, however, do tell; I was kinda surprised they had that many Batgirls and didn't name any Cassandra, Stephanie or Barbara). As for Batboys, we've got Cullen Row and Tim Drake.

A side-story that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the overarching Bombshells plot, but simply to expand the setting to include more characters, "Allies" focuses on characters standing up against a crooked landlord to defend immigrants/refugees, busting a corrupt orphanage and, because this is a superhero comic still, fighting a giant robot.

It's interesting because of how tangental it is to the series, I suppose, and because, purposefully or not, it meta-references a once-popular, Golden Age sub-genre that's long since disappeared: The big city kids gang comics. I suppose it's also interesting that Bennett has made Alysia into a superhero character in this reality, whereas she was originally just a supporting character with a somewhat clumsy, inclusion-focused introduction in Batgirl.

Saga #32 (Image Comics) I once called out the poor placement of a dialogue balloon in a Nightwing comic that made it look as if Dick Grayson's butt was talking, so I suppose I should point out that there's a panel in this issue where it appears that Alana's vagina is talking to Marko:
That's right, Alana and Marko are in this issue. After the last time-jump forward, we check in with Hazel's parents and a few other characters, and see what they look like and what they've been up to in the years since Hazel went from toddler to little girl.

It's...well, it's Saga. It's rock-solid consistent. You either love it as you've always loved it, or you're not reading it.

Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe #10 (IDW Publishing) Hey, it's the latest issue of the great comic book series currently in production! Last year, Tom Sicoli and John Barber's Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe was my favorite comic of 2014, and what I considered to be one of the best comics of 2014 (which aren't the same thing at all), and now that 2015 has only one more Wednesday left in it, I feel confident saying the same thing for this year.

This issue is fairly Joe-focused in terms of scale, with only Megatron and Perceptor appearing for much panel-time, at least before the last few pages, where the Joes learn of Transformers creation myths. As is always the case, this issue is full of so many awesome things, it's hard to settle on the most awesome. I really liked the simple, throwaway panel in which Tunnel Rat drops a machine gun into the kitchen where Roadblock has been working, and Scioli draws the belt of bullets that feeds into it in this beautiful, whirlpool-ing curlicue.
There are an awful lot of deaths issue–I counted six Joes and two Cobra characters KIA–and they're all pretty spectacular in a I-never-expected-to-see-a-G.I. Joe-character-die-in-that-particular-fashion kind of deaths.

I'm torn on my favorite part; either the fact that The Dreadnoks have to sit at the kiddy table during a Cobra banquet feating the destruction of the Earth (according to everyone in this comic, the Earth ended and the only human beings left alive are those on Cybertron) or the three-panel battle between Snake Eyes and Stormshadow, which is fantastic.

I sorely missed the creator commentary by Scioli and Barber that generally follows each issue, but in its place was something equally cool: A prose story by the pair featuring Shockwave's attempts to resurrect his dead brother Soundwave, and Snake Eyes' taming of Ravage as a steed, upon which he travels to the Transformers underworld. I never thought I would have any interest in Transformers-related prose fiction, but I'll be damned if this wasn't as well-written as anything else in this series, with some nice turns of phrase, a few really funny bits and the same sorts of inspired, unexpected but ultimately logical connection-drawing that the pair have engaged in, like linking Megatron to the angel Metatron.

Oh, and this story notes the origin of the slur "Gobots," which is what the Joes have been calling the Transformers. I mean, you and I know where it comes from, but, according to Snake Eyes, it comes from a movie in his fictional universe, Gobots Vs. M.A.S.K.. Does IDW own the rights to those two franchises? Because something tells me that, if they do, we'll be seeing excerpts of that film appearing in the pages of this comic at some point.

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