December ’08 Bat-comics recap

13Jan09

Bad news, guys. Due to Bill Ramey—the great dude who runs Batman-On-Film—feeling way overwhelmed, he’s decided to cut my monthly column over on the site. I’m a little bummed, especially with NIGHTWING being temporarily cancelled, but Bill is going to keep me signed on for when NIGHTWING returns and has further extended the offer to review any one-shots/minis/etc. that might catch my eye.

Anyway, because Bill didn’t get the chance to put up my wrap-up for December, I thought I might as well post my  hard work on my blog. So enjoy! 🙂

Man, where did the year go? 2008—the year that gave us great achievements like Nolan’s The Dark Knight and memories like the sad and untimely passing of the brilliant actor Heath Ledger—is gone, my friends, but here’s a toast to another year of great comics (hopefully)! But before we move forward, let’s take a moment to look back on the last month of Batman comics.

The final month of 2008 kicked off with BATMAN #682, which was sadly humorously terrible. In “The Butler Did It,” written by that crazy dude named Grant Morrison, Alfred recounts Batman over the years and what the years could have been like had things gone differently. But the writing is so random and pointless, it’s practically bland. At least penciller Trevor Scott’s art is worth checking out. He delivers some pretty awesome portrayals of classic scenes from comics like BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Plus, I found it kind of amusing that if Bruce hadn’t become Batman, he would have ended up looking suspiciously similar to Clark Kent. Take that as you will.

Then there was DETECTIVE COMICS #851, the first part of Dennis O’Neil’s “Last Days of Gotham” story. The art by newcomer Guillem March is gorgeous, for one thing. (Hmmm, maybe we should just deem December Artists’ Month …) Anyway, although the first part of this two-part tale is weird as all Arkham—well, hey, it’s just weird altogether—I highly recommend reading the story overall (continued in BATMAN #684). O’Neil did with this story what other Batman writers right now haven’t been doing at all: showing us how our the characters are handling a Gotham without Batman. O’Neil hits the nail on the head with fantastically written character moments that get to the heart of what truly feels like Batman’s death.

Yeah, yeah, we all know he’s still out there. But if he wasn’t, this is how it would feel. Nicely done, O’Neil.

Not so much with Tomasi and NIGHTWING #151, though. You can read all about that eyesore and migraine-inducing story here.

Ahh … misspelled super-villains. This new version of Anarky in ROBIN #181 is a pretty cool baddie. With more Starbucks—err, I mean Sunbucks—jokes (“Bruce Wayne Overcaffeinated?”), you have to wonder whether Anarky isn’t strung out on caffeine, too, with that grand speech he made in the beginning of the issue. Fabian Nicieza and Freddie Williams II continue to team up to tell “Search for a Hero Part 5” (hey, maybe they were over-caffeinated, too!), which isn’t too shabby considering all the ominous changes that are occurring. And is it just me, or is everyone turning into Two-Face (check “Last Days of Gotham” to see what I mean)? Poor Harvey, he must feel so … cheapened. And what is that at the end, some sort of Red … Bat-Robin hybrid? When will the craziness end with these guys?

In BATMAN #683, Grant Morrison actually corrects his channel-flipping mess from the last issue—sigh, more like his entire run—with “What the Butler Saw.” This time it actually made a lot more sense and was pretty intriguing—something “RIP” should have been. Due to the effect of “the Lump” (yeesh, what did Clayface do to them?), we see Bruce Wayne’s life play out half as Batman, half as a Clark Kent wannabe. Yeah … all right, thankfully there’s more to it than that. And again, the artist doesn’t fail to impress. Scott gives Tony Daniel—one of my favorite comic book artists—a run for his money recreating some of these fantastic scenes (coincidentally, Daniel drew one of them recently). But the highlight of this issue comes later. Is it just me, or do some of the panels toward the end of the issue offer foreshadowing? Secret Bat-Club meeting with Alfred post-helicopter diving, maybe?

December also introduced a new title: VIGILANTE, written by Marv Wolfman with art by Rick Leonardi. The premiere issue was pretty humdrum, and it felt like the story was taking place a couple of dozen issues into an already established comic. On top of that, we pretty much know nothing about this new Vigilante other than that his name is “Dorian.” Still, it is only the first issue, and judging by the ending things have the potential to heat up. And hey, at least the art is good. (See that? Artists’ Month.) Let’s hope Wolfman takes a lesson from the ROBIN writers and adds a splash of caffeine to the pages for next time. Sunbucks coffee on the house!

There’s no lack of caffeine over in Kevin Smith’s BATMAN: CACOPHONY #2 (of 3), however. It’s just as hilarious as last time—and who would have thought that Maxie Zeus and his thugs could be so entertaining? Walt J. Flanagan’s art perfectly compliments the fun mood of the comic, which is utterly ridiculous yet simultaneously engrossing. Beware though: The mature content runs a bit high.

We’ve gotten three special issues of BATMAN in one month, and two of them are worth reading! Go DC! BATMAN #684 finished O’Neil’s “Last Days of Gotham” story, and though it’s still as weird as last time, things start to click into place a bit more. Plus, the character moments are classic, as is the art. Definitely check this one out.

Whew, what a month! But hey, there’s plenty more Battiness where that came from. Besides various trades, you can check out BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL #24. I’m not sure if it’s any good (cough), but the cover’s pretty intriguing, at least, if you ask me. Although rather inconsistent, I hear. SUPERMAN AND BATMAN VS. VAMPIRES AND WEREWOLVES (*gasp*) concludes with issues five and six. You can touch this one if you want, but the name just throws me off. In SUPERMAN/BATMAN #54, Superman has to help Batman be super-responsible. Heh. But hey, check out that cover! Karma’s not so nice, is it, Bane? Meanwhile, Batgirl settles some daddy issues in the final issue of the arc. BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #14 doesn’t seem to be knocking it out of the park, let alone hitting it. But if you feel up to it, Batgirl and Nightwing evidently go head-to-head in this one. They’re so cute once they’re grown up, aren’t they? BIRDS OF PREY #125 is being pushed off a metaphorical cliff along with NIGHTWING and ROBIN (at least Tomasi will go with them, right? … Right?!)—but first, Oracle and Black Canary go on vacation! Hey, if you have to go out … might as well do it on vacation … Uh, right? Finally, it’s Christmas in BATMAN: GOTHAM AFTER MIDNIGHT #8 (of 12)—jeez, long mini—and Midnight aims to deck the halls with Detective April Clarkson’s pretty blood. “Oh, the ho-ho-horror!” What, don’t believe me? Have you read the DC website’s issue synopsis? Talk about a bored staff …

What did you think about December’s comics—or hey, 2008 in Bat-comics, even? Happy New Year!

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3 Responses to “December ’08 Bat-comics recap”

  1. Sorry to hear your column got canceled. Were you getting paid? Hopefully not a dent in your bank account as well. It’s a shame, because I’ve only recently discovered you and I really like your writing style. Well, one column down, one reader up if it’s any consolation 😉

  2. I wasn’t getting paid, so no worries. Unfortunately, I write for three sites (not including my blog) and I only get paid for one of them … lol.

    YAY! I’m really happy to hear that—I’m always excited when people like my stuff! 🙂 It always makes my day.

  3. Sorry to see you’re losing your column. BOF is a great site and I’m sure Nightwing will be back eventually so I wouldn’t worry.


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