This month’s issue of the “Justice Society of America” (JSA) is the first issue of the post-Geoff Johns era. Comic book veteran Jerry Ordway is writing and penciling a two-part story prior to the new writing team of Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges come on board in July. Many fans of this title were sad to hear the news of Geoff Johns exit and I’ve been hesitant to continue collecting this title as many times when a popular writer leaves a book, the quality of that title drops. Geoff Johns work on “Teen Titans” was great and that book hasn’t been the same since he left.
I’ve just finished reading this month’s issue and I’m happy to say that at least with what Ordway has done with this here, the quality of writing for this book has not gone down. The story finds founding JSA members Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Flash (Jay Garrick), and Wildcat along with fellow member Liberty Belle trapped within the JSA headquarters at the hands of Alan Scott’s son Obsidian. Has Obsidian gone insane once again or is truly doing this to protect the members of the JSA.
Lets find out…
The conclusion to “Batman: Battle for the Cowl” is here. I enjoyed the two previous issues of “Battle for the Cowl” immensely, but for some reason this issue left me wanting more. I’m not sure what else I wanted or expected from this issue, but the issue was a bit of let down. This is of course the storyline which names the new man to take over the role of Batman. For months now we have all assumed that the man who takes over is Dick Grayson aka Nightwing the first Robin and that the new Robin will be Damian Wayne Bruce Wayne’s illegitimate son. At the end of the issue, everything seems to be revealed as far as who’s the new dynamic duo. Who are they and what did we see in this issue? Lets find out!
Rating: ** 1/2*
A bit of a disappointment this time around for the creative team of Andrew Kreisberg and Scott McDaniel. I’ve been raving about the writing that Kreisberg had been doing with his previous story arc in “Batman: Confidential” which was entitled “Do You Understand These Rights?”. This was a great story that presented a retelling of the first time Batman captured the Joker and brought him in for booking at Gotham Police headquarters. The Joker that Kreisberg portrayed in his story was fantastic; funny and evil at the same time; the way you would like to see the Joker in any comic book story. The peanut murder was a classic! I highly recommend picking this story arc as a trade or going to your local comic store to get the back issues.
I was looking forward to the “Bad Cop” storyline because it’s a direct sequel to the “Rights” storyline and Kreisberg and McDaniel have returned to tell the tale. This wasn’t a bad story, but it also wasn’t a great story. If you’re a Batman addict, I would recommend it as it maybe one of the few Bruce Wayne/Batman stories we maybe seeing for a while. If you can do without Bats, then I would pass.
Rating: *** 1/2*
This week we have the release of issue two of Geoff John’s Flash mini-series Rebirth. The story picks up where we left off in the first issue with Savitar death at the hands of Barry Allen and all of the other Earth’s speedsters suffering from some sort of shock. Savitar was able to escape the Speed Force through Barry’s body, but as Barry ran and caught him, Savitar turned to dust. Before he died, he made reference to Barry being the beginning and the ending. Why did Savitar incinerate when he touched Barry and why the other speedsters where affected as well is our big mystery.
Ethan Van Sciver once again provides the art work for this series. Van Sciver is quickly becoming one of the best in the business and DC is lucky to have him under contract. I loved his work on the Green Lantern Rebirth series and he hits it out of the ball park here as well.
Barry Allen has returned to the DC universe as the Flash, but his secret identity has also resurfaced in the world. To the world, Barry Allen died. We discover that when Barry returned, Wonder Woman was able to use government connections to create a back story where Barry faked his death went into the witness protection program. I think that’s a cool idea; simple and believable. We also get a retelling of Barry’s origin here in this issue and how Barry was obsessed with proving his father’s innocence for the murder of his mother. His father unfortunately died in prison. Geoff also shows us some flashbacks prior to Barry becoming the Flash with his first meeting of his future wife Iris West. We also see how he first started using the bow-tie. I don’t know much about Barry’s history so whether this is all new or a retelling is unknown to me. One of these days I’ll go back and look at the reprints.
The real story however is what’s happening to Barry.
According to the publication “Chase’s Calendar of Events”, “Detective Comics” # 27 hit newsstands on May 1, 1939. Wikipedia has it as May 2nd, but since I’m a librarian, I’m going to go with Chase as a more reliable resource. Instead of going through a history of Batman and talk about such things as the 60s TV show and the recent Chris Nolan Bat-films, I’ve decided to take a more personal approach. I mean lets face it, as a comic fan you know the history of Batman already. For you older fans you’ve experienced it first hand. Some of you are old enough to remember watching the 60s TV show when they first aired on ABC. So I will discuss my experiences with the character.
I will be 35 years old this July. So I have been alive for half of the 70 years that Batman has been in existence. My first experience with the character did not come with a comic book. It came with a TV show. I was introduced to Batman with the old Hanna-Barbera Super Friends cartoons. In these cartoons, Batman was far from the cool character that we would eventually see in later years. In fact, the Super Friends Batman was pretty lame. The character was portrayed as being just about helpless if he didn’t have his utility belt. Still, I liked him and Robin and I liked super hero cartoons in general. Looking back at these old cartoons with my oldest son who is four, I do not enjoy them because they are quality stories and adventures. I enjoy them more for nostalgia purposes and laugh to myself at how lame some of the things are on those old shows. But had it not been for the Super Friends, I never would have been introduced to the character.
At the same time these cartoons were on Channel 11 here in NYC, they also would air re-runs of the 1960s Batman TV show. Again, Batman was not the cool character that he is today. Adam West’s interpretation of the character was of course very campy. A young man who works in my library as a page looks at old clips of the show on YouTube and wonders how this show was successful and I said that this is all we had; this was all we knew about Batman.
I was not aware of what was going on with the comics at the time I was watching these shows. I did not begin reading comics until about 1984 and then I was only reading Marvel Comics. I picked up an issue of Batman sometime after I started collecting and the book didn’t really interest me. I don’t really remember why, but it wasn’t until 1989 and the first Tim Burton Batman film that coaxed me into giving Batman comics a second look. I vividly remember leaving the Valentine theater in the South Bronx on Fordham Road. My friend Elliot’s grandmother worked there as an usher and we were able to get in and see free movies. I enjoyed the movie and wanted to continue the Bat-experience so I decided to go to my comic book store that was located just down the block.
I’ve been picking up the “Battle for the Cowl” (BFTC) one-shots and mini-series that have been coming out. Normally I don’t pick up all of the spin-offs of event books, but because it’s Batman, I’ve been getting them. Some of it’s been good and some of it’s been bad. I wasn’t expecting much from the Arkham Asylum one shot so I was happy to have really enjoyed this story after I read it. I enjoyed it so much I decided to write about it.
This issue reminds me a lot of one of favorite comic stories, “Arkham Asylum: Living Hell” by Dan Slott. In this story, Slott introduces a slew of unknown residents of Arkam Asylum including Humpty Dumpty and Jane Doe. The writer of this issue of this BFTC one-shot David Hine sort of picks up where Slott left off and introduces a few characters of his own.
In the story, Arkham Asylum has been destroyed. It was destroyed and most of the inmates are now on the loose thanks to the Black Mask (see the BFTC mini-series). The director of Arkham Asylum, Dr. Jeremiah Arkham has returned to the ruined asylum to try and find some of the inmates who were not in the general inmate population. These inmates include: No Face, Mirror Man, and the Hamburger Lady. What’s interesting about these new characters are as of right now, they don’t seem to be threats to anyone. They just seem to be mentally ill people. Now that may change - especially from what we see in the ending of this story. Maybe these characters were introduced as new villains for the new Batman and Robin debuting next month. I don’t know.
Part two of “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” is finally here. After a long delay, we see the conclusion of the so-called last Batman story. Is it really the last story? Of course not. The story of Batman does not end here. It is simply a new beginning. A new beginning for Bruce and a new beginning for the world of Batman.
In the coming weeks, we will see a new man take over the role of Batman with the end of “Battle for the Cowl”. Then we will see this new Batman, along with a new Robin, fight crime as the new dynamic duo. But before all of this happens, we have the conclusion to this story. I enjoyed the first chapter of this story. It continued the surreal type of storytelling that we saw Grant Morrison present with his RIP storyline. I think the difference in this tale and that one is that although it was surreal, I still understood what was going on in “Whatever Happened” and I enjoyed the overall story. I didn’t have to reread it the way I did with RIP.
In “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” Batman is dead - or at least he appears to be. A funeral is being held in Crime Alley with all of his friends and enemies coming to pay their respects. Batman is viewing all of this with a mysterious stranger. Part one ended with Batman trying to figure out what’s going on. So what is going on here? Lets see…......
The final part to the King Tut storyline is here. This was a very good story. It’s funny after reading this story, I almost wish DC went with the funny 1960s version of King Tut, but as I said before DC has Maxie Zeus to fit that role so it would be redundant here.
The Riddler and Batman continue to match wits as they work together to take down King Tut. When we last saw them, it looked like the were caught in Tut’s trap and died in an explosion - obviously they escaped. Similar to the old movie serials we are shown exactly how they escaped just prior to the explosion. I like the relationship here between Batman and the Riddler. I think writers Christina Weir and Nunzio DiFilipis do a better job of this pseudo good Riddler than what Paul Dini was doing in over in “Detective Comics”.
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez is still a master with his artwork. Some great action sequences that help tell the story. Batman and Riddler save the day and send King Tut off to jail. However, by the looks of the things, this will not be the last time we see Tut as he now has a queen to help him rid Gotham of Batman.
“Batman: Confidential” continues next month with the return of the creative team of the previous story arc Andrew Kreisberg and Scott McDaniel. They team up once again to to tell the story of the police officer who has gone insane thanks to the actions of the Joker. See you next month for the beginning of the two-part storyline entitled: “Bad Cop.”
Rating: *** 1/2*
This was another great issue of the “Battle for the Cowl” (BFTC) mini-series. As readers know, Tony Daniel provides the artwork as well as the story for this mini-series and he continues to do a great job. The story so far has not only lived up to the hype, but in my opinion it has surpassed what I thought we’d get here. As I mentioned in my previous blog about the first issue, I thought giving Daniel the task of writing this story was going to be a mistake. Most of the time big events tend to let me down, and I really get excited when they don’t let me down.
This series is a must read for Batman fans. Although Bruce Wayne does not appear in this story, he is here spirit. The foundation of what Bruce believed in and what he stood for is the center of the story. Who will continue his mission?
The story hasn’t had any real surprises so far. Its been pretty straight forward in the direction it’s heading with Nightwing becoming Batman and Damian becoming Robin. It’s almost too much like getting hit over the head and saying that this is exactly what will happen. However, you never know, there could be a turn coming and maybe Tim Drake becomes Batman. Who knows.
The story picks up where we left off in the last issue with the gun totting Batman aka Jason Todd, attacking Nightwing and Damian.
Rating: *** 1/2*
The Flash is back! “The Flash: Rebirth” mini-series begins the story of Barry Allen’s return to the DC universe. This is a new experience for me because the lead Flash for me has always been Wally West. In the 200 plus issues of Wally’s Flash book, Barry Allen has popped up in several storylines. He would be pulled from the time stream before he made his Crisis run so he could come and help Wally. Now as a result of the events of “Final Crisis,” Barry has been pulled from the Speed Force where he has existed since the end of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and he’s now alive and well ready to continue to live his life. But the question remains why was he pulled and how?
In this issue, writer Geoff Johns paints an almost dark Batman type of Barry Allen. All he seems to care about now that he’s back is getting back into the game and fighting whatever threat there is out there. He doesn’t want to go to the parties or parades that are in his honor. He feels that since he’s been away for so long, the world has passed him by and he needs to catch up immediately and start fighting. He seems almost obsessed with it.
From the few stories I have read that contained of the character of Barry Allen, he seems like a much different person here in this issue. Has his time within the Speed Force changed him? I don’t know.
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