Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Comic Shop Comics: February 24th

Batman & Robin Eternal #21 (DC Comics) This issue, scripted by James Tynion and drawn by the art team of Tony S. Daniel and Sandu Florea, is set entirely in the vague, "Several Years Ago" flahback past, and narrated by Batman. It details the secret origin of Harper Row, or, more precisely, how Batman chose to deal with an 11-year-old child that Mother had selected to be his next Robin, and the secret origin of Mother herself.

The story, on its own, offers an interesting meditation on some of the basic questions about Batman and his Robins and, perhaps, on the idea of genre standbys like sidekicks and personal tragedy-as-a-motivation-for-heroics. Of course, it can't be taken on its own, as it's just a chapter in a Batman comic that is all about Batman's confused and confusing New 52 continuity.

I...couldn't quite make sense of this. The flashback must be set somewhere in Year One or Year Two of Batman's career, at which point Harper Row is 11 and Dick is 15. She was meant to be his next Robin, but he chose not to take her in, for fear that it would only fulfill Mother's philosophy of child soldier-making, and so his next Robin would end up being Jason Todd...who, like Dick, seems to be quite a few years older than Harper, who I guess is only 15 to 17-years-old now? That can't be right, can it?

I actually found the part where Batman decided not to take Harper and Cullen Row in (could he even do that, given that they still had a parent?) because he didn't want Harper to be so close to the Batcave and its secrets, and decided that the best thing he, an actual billionaire, could do to help these kids after the death of their mother was to capture there father and threaten him into being a good dad to be pretty hilarious.

Daniel's art is...well, it's Daniel's art. The crime-fighting montage on pages two and three includes a panel that I was fairly certain depicted a motorcycle chase in which The Ventriloquist was driving a motorcycle while Scarface fired at the Dynamic Duo with a machine gun from the sidecar, but, on closer examination, I realized that the little guy in the tiny, blurry, poorly-drawn sidecar was actually The Penguin.

As usual, then, Batman & Robin Eternal is rather frustratingly mediocre, although this particular issue at least toyed with some interesting ideas, and gave me some stuff to think about. Mostly if this is really what co-plotter Scott Snyder always had in mind for Harper's origin, or if this entire storyline is something of a retcon of the story he had originally written for her in his head.

Like, if Damian Wayne hadn't proven so popular, and DC decided not to resurrect him, would Harper have been Robin V? Was she always meant to have this secret history with the Batman? Was she created with a tragic backstory involving an international conspiracy to kill her mom? Hmmm...

Saga #34 (Image Comics) Still no explanation as to why The Will got so fat, but his hallucinations of The Stalk do get kinda sorta explained.

Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe #11 (IDW) I love the story commentary that follows each issue of Tom Scioli and John Barber's Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe, which is still the best ongoing, serially-published comic book on the stands, but it does present a problem–after I read it, I feel that reviewing (or even just "reviewing") the issue is a little harder, as they tend to spell out all of their influences, inspirations and allusions, and I hate to just parrot them.

This issue, for example, features a 12-page sequence that flashes back to Duke's training of his little brother Falcon that is an extended–if hyper-compressed–reaction to and commentary on 1980s era military movies, including all of the expected scenes, but Scioli and Barber actually name the specific films each allusion refers to.

I can say that it's hard to believe that the sequence is only 12 pages long. Well, 11-and-a-half pages. Especially since two of those pages are splash pages, and some have as few as three or four panels on them. I don't think I'll ever understand exactly how Scioli can make so few panels and so few pages tell so much story, but every issue of this comic book reads much longer than it's actual page count. This issue, for example, felt like it contained an entire graphic novel between a framing sequence, but there are only 20 pages of story in this issue, and many of them are splashes or double-page splashes.

As for that framing sequence, Cybertron itself transforms, and the astronomically huge robot it becomes is apparently preparing to feed on the sun.

The biggest, craziest, headiest, most ambitious comic being produced today continues to be big, crazy, heady and ambitious.

I should also note that this issue not only features Big Lob (with bigger hair than in G.I. Joe: The Movie and Budo (made awesome by the accentuation of his silliness; I love the background detail of him getting up in the middle of the night to watch Duke and Falcon fight and feeling the need to put on his dumb samurai helmet the way you or I might put on a sweatshirt), but also Quarrel, a Joe I have never, ever heard of (She was apparently a European figure, based on a repaint of Scarlet pieces). She stands in for Jinx in a weird, word-for-word recreation of a scene from G.I. Joe: The Movie (which of course introduced Falcon), and is introduced as "A Swiss Army Knife Expert," which, well, just let that sink in. Of all the weapons to be an expert with...

1 comment:

Sean said...

I'm guessing that the drug The Will is taking to induce those hallucinations is like pot: it causes one to get the munchies. Taking a lot of it over time will cause one to over eat and get fat.