Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Comic Shop Comics: January 27

Batman & Robin Eternal #17 (DC Comics) This issue is partially set in St. Hadrian's School For Girls, the secret headquarters of the super-spy agency Spyral, which Dick Grayson has been working for ever since Grayson launched. At one point in this issue, Harper Row is sneaking around the school, and says to herself, "If only Spoiler could see me now!"

Spoiler is, of course, Stephanie Brown, who is also Harper's roommate.

So here's a problem. St. Hadrian's Finishing School For Girls, secret headquarters of the super-spy agency Spyral, first appeared during writer Grant Morrison's run on Batman, Incorporated. Specifically, in Batman, Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes #1. In that comic, Batman had one of his agents go undercover and infiltrate St. Hadrian's, and that agent was, of course, Batgirl Stephanie Brown.

Now, that issue was published before the New 52 reboot, which wiped Stephanie Brown's entire existence out-of-continuity (at least until she was reintroduced with a new origin in Batman Eternal), and yet the storyline itself continued on through the other end of the reboot. So here we have yet another example of the goddam stupid motherfucking New 52 reboot fucking with DC comics, past and present. And that's "present" as in just published today.

The reboot wouldn't have been so bad–well, I mean, it would have been bad, but in a lesser, or different way–if it was an actual reboot, but the writers and editors of Grayson and now Batman & Robin Eternal were apparently enamored enough with St. Hadrian's and Spyral that they didn't want to not use them, and so they kept them, even though the comics that introduced them are incompatible with the ones using them.

Old pros Scot Eaton and Wayne Faucher pencil and ink this issue, respectively, and the figure-work is all strong, even if the action is messy and hard-to-follow. The plot, scripted this time by Ed Brisson from the James Tynion and Scott Snyder story, plods on.

Black Canary #7 (DC) I'm kind of torn on this title, and this issue is a pretty perfect illustration why. It's the climax of the storyline that's run through the entire book so far, resolving most of the plot threads (but not the identity of the blonde ninja in white). It involves a character that I as a reader am supposed to know and/or care about, although I've never met him before his appearance in the cliffhanger ending of last issue, so apparently he appeared in one of Black Canary's earlier comics, the New 52 versions of Birds of Prey and/or Team 7.

The nature of Ditto and the creatures that were pursuing her is finally revealed, and Black Canary (the character) and Black Canary (the band), have to save the world by playing rock music to destroy a bizarre alien monster.

That's where I'm torn. On the one hand, Black Canary-fighting-aliens seems a little...wrong. Like Batman or Green Arrow, the character seems appropriate for alien-fighting in a Justice League comic, but not so much in her own comic, as the milieu doesn't seem right for this sort of sci-fi.

To writer Brenden Fletcher's credit, he does center the alien's nature around sound and music, making it more appropriate for this Black Canary comic, but I don't know, it still feels slightly off to me. Canary, whether she has her cry or not, seems to me to be an inherently street-level, "realistic" hero when not in the Justice League, so having her fight aliens in her book seems a little too Silver Age (and the fact that it's all done completely deadpan only accentuates that discordant vibe).

Maybe it's just me.

On the other hand, page 14 is amazing, easily the coolest thing I saw in a comic book this week, and, in general, artist Annie Wu and colorist Lee Loughridge pulled off some pretty amazing sequences here, given some incredibly challenging subject matter. At the risk of spoiling things too much, suffice it to say the band and their allies are battling a kaiju invader capable of absorbing any and all sound.

Like Gotham Academy, which Black Canary writer Fletcher co-writes, I almost never find myself liking an issue of Black Canary as much as I want to like it, nor is it ever, even at its very best, as good as it looks.

I don't know. Maybe I just want Annie Wu drawing Chuck Dixon scripts of Black Canary fighting crime, or for Fletcher to commit to some sort of fun mystery-solving, crime-fighting rock band concept, rather than this often awkward mash-up of straight-faced silly sci-fi and references to shitty comics DC couldn't pay me to read. As is, I think Black Canary mostly just coasts on its great artwork, and I think about dropping it the entire time I read every issue, save for when something as cool as page 14 occasionally occurs.

Saga #33 (Image Comics) We begin to find out what happened during the last time-jump in this issue, which pretty much exclusively features characters we haven't seen much of in a very long time. Writer Brian K. Vaughan re-introduces Upsher and Doff, the two telepathic fish-people reporters who are partners professionally and romantically, and has them finally able to resume investigating the story of our heroes, which means a reappearance from Ginny, the cute bat-girl and a very unexpected appearance by a character who somehow got really, really fat during the course of the last year or so.

I thought this dialogue was really rather cute...
...especially given the cover credits of this particular issue.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up #14 (DC) Writer Sholly Fish Fisch once again crafts a pretty much perfect crossover, one that includes just about every conceivable character and reference imaginable. Scooby-Doo and the gang help Aquaman and Mera take on Black Manta and Ocean Master. Vulko, Aqualad, Aqua Girl, Arthur Jr., Topo and Tusky all appear, while Fisch's dialogue and artist Dario Brizuela's artwork references New 52 Aqua-family addition Salty, Aquaman's appearances on Batman: The Brave and The Bold, as well as his pre-Super Friends cartoon and even the "Death of a Prince" storyline.

There was only one thing I didn't like about this–two, if you count the fact that Daphne and Velma wore one-piece bathing suits–and that was the fact that Scooby wore a snorkel rather than a scuba tank throughout. That's not how snorkels work. Scooby should have drowned, right...?

Wait, I just thought of a third thing I didn't like. I didn't like the title "Wet 'n' Wild," not when "Scuba-Doo" is much more appropriate...although surely that must have been used as the title for one of the roughly one million Scooby cartoon episodes and comics that have been produced in my life time...


Jer said...

Your post strikes right at the core of why reboots are a really bad idea and can never actually work properly. To do a reboot "right" you have to simplify. Cut characters and ideas back to basics. But neither DC nor Marvel can do that - they have to publish X books per month, there are too many fans to keep happy, writers don't want to throw out good ideas just because of the demands of a reboot, etc.

So the reboot gets halfassed. Both of DC's reboots have been halfassed in exactly this way (the second somehow even more than the first - probably the extra decades worth of ideas that nobody wants to throw out).

DC would have been much better off making an Ultimate style universe instead of a reboot. Much easier to not add ideas to a new universe when the old universe is still there to play around in.

Robert Jazo said...

Honestly I think they just should have let Morrison finish Batman Incorporated in the "old" DCU. They could have billed it as Morrison giving a send off to the Pre-New 52 Batman the way Alan Moore did for the Pre-Crisis Superman in "Whatever Happen to the Man of Tomorrow?" Since it would no longer be the "real" Batman, Morrison would have been allowed to go hog wild at the end and it would (somewhat) avoid continuity snarls like the one you are talking about here.