Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Comics Out 14 February 2007

1. Grant Morrison and John Van Fleet's Batman 663 (a stand alone issue about the Joker; this is Morrison's return to the book after a hiatus of a few months)

2. Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men 20 (part two of six, and four issues from the end of the run)

3. Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba's Casanova 7 (the conclusion to the first "album" [collection])

I was sent a preview of the Casanova issue, and reviewed it (very spoiler free) recently on January 22, 2007 -- check the archives. I will review Astonishing and Batman in the comments when I get the chance.

In comics news this week, Newsarama has Marvel and DC solicits out (All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder 5 will be out in May). Two other random bits of news: one from last week:

1. The Green Lantern went into the Bleed suggesting that the DCU is going to adopt the idea from Ellis fully, allowing characters to cross to and from the Wildstorm universe and beyond.

2. I have not read Spiderman: Reign; it is apparently a Dark Knight Returns take on Spiderman, which could be fun if it was parodic and done right (but it is probably not done right). At one point in the story (spoilers ho) we learn how Mary Jane died (this story is set in the future like DKR): Peter tells us that it was not just his blood that was poisoned by the radioactive spider, but all his "fluids" -- he says he was killing her every time he loved her. Radioactive Semen. I don't know if that is very funny, or very very wrong.

Review. Recommend. Discuss.


Geoff Klock said...

Astonishing was what it has been for several issues: just wonderfully plotted, deft, smart fun.

But Morrison's return to Batman was a total disaster. A 22 page short story with pictures it is overcooked and overwritten, packed to the bursting point -- and not in a fun way -- with too many similarly gothic metaphors, like a short story for a high school creative writing class. It was exhausting to read, and a comic book should never be like that. It was also crushed under the weight of other Batman stories he alludes to: Frank Miller's All Star (I'm the goddamned Batman), Arkham Asylum (the setting and the art, and the idea the Joker has no core self), the Killing Joke (the relationship between the two characters is right out of that book), and Batman Animated (Harley Quinn). Interestingly, I said Morrison's first four issues were weak for Morrison but felt like a great issue of Batman Animated -- simple and for kids; here he breaks from Batman Animated violently by writing a very dark story in which the Joker turns on -- guess who -- the character who was imported from Batman animated.

Geoff Klock said...

That is a gut impression; I need to think on it some.

Pat Moler said...

You ever consider giving a try at writing Graphic Fiction, Doc Klock?

Paul said...

Respectfully disagree with your assessment of the new Morrison Batman. You're right that the issue is overcooked and overwritten, but it's deliberately so, meant to evoke old Doc Savage-style pulp stories (Warren Ellis did a similar pastiche in a years-ago issue of Planetary). Although the casting of Batman and the Joker as codependent demigods running amok among hapless mortals is familiar ground for Morrison, it's a compelling way to frame the stale dynamic between the two that hasn't been tried yet to my knowledge (although I'm ashamed to say I haven't read Morrison's Arkham Asylum, and god knows it's not like I've read or watched every Batman thing ever made), and worth exploring for a bit. More interesting was the use of Harley Quinn, and the idea that the Joker's love for her is the only thing that makes him human, while Batman makes him the monster. The Joker's choosing his love for Batman over his love for Harley is what makes him crazy.

It's not a perfect issue; the graphic designer in me was constantly thinking of better ways to lay out the text to let John Van Fleet's paintings breathe more, and the story just seems to stop rather than conclude. I wouldn't want to see this sort of thing every month, but it's a nice way to spin Batman vs the Joker Take 9 Million.

Also, did you notice this thing got the Code stamp on the cover? I got a kick out of that.

Pat Moler said...

Oh, and I'm repulsed by the entire Spider-Man:Riegn storyline. That's not what Spidey's about. Spidey's supposed to get his happy ending and all. He's not a tragic hero like Batman. With Batman it was perfect, He's completely absorbed in being Batman. So DKR made sense. This DKR story with Spidey is as out of place as if they had Punisher hanging with Archie....Which I just realized actually happened, but was done in good humor.

Also the radioactive sperm thing is horrible. Plus, Spidey had his "Fluids" looked at by Beast once to check to see if he could concieve a healthy child. I don't recall beast saying, "Your sperm is poisoning the woman you love."

I'm sure most will agree, hopefully.

Thacher said...

The glaring, obvious similarities to DKR in Spider-man Reign make it almost impossible for me to enjoy. The use of newscasters to flavort eh exposition, the fact that the newscasters are named "Miller" and "Varr," Spidey's continued monologue to a friend/ally that's not there any more, the gang of child outcasts that become allies and even just the notion of "oh, it's a crazy dystopian future." Radioactive Spider-spunk just makes the whole thing comically awful.

My biggest problem with the Morrison Batman issue is that, for an issue that was touted as "this will be the new status quo for the Joker," it's very unclear as to what that status quo is. In fact, given the unique nature of the form of the book, it still leaves me wondering "So, what's he going to look and be like when he's drawn in a traditional comic way again?"

mitch said...

Astonishing was great... in particular Cassaday's art during the crash scenes was really exciting. I love the Beast canabalism jokes.

Batman, Batman, Batman. Grant Morrison's Batman (not that one could rightly call it "his")is the exact opposite of All-Star Superman. If All-Star is a great love affair, then Morrison's Batman is the same girl after the break up. Now all Morrison's little Morrisonisms (His "edgy" prose style "Where dreams turn solid and bleed" and his pseudo science in classifying the Joker as a "superpersona") just annoy the piss out of me now.

Jason Powell said...

"You're right that the issue is overcooked and overwritten, but it's deliberately so, meant to evoke old Doc Savage-style pulp stories (Warren Ellis did a similar pastiche in a years-ago issue of Planetary"

Alan Moore also did this in Tom Strong #10. Don't know if that's relevant, really, but it's all I can think of to contribute ... (note, Moore's pastiche was only one 8-page story in a 24-page comic -- maybe Morrison's mistake was carrying on the idea for too long?).

mitch said...

Oh! And I want to know how you plan on defending 52 this week, Ping. Haha. I've gotten back into the series and have enjoyed the past five or six issues a lot, but this week, whew boy, what a stinker. Nothing but filler as far as story goes and some really inconsistent art. And also, this is one of the few weeks out of the year when Wednesday was actually a holiday. Why no Valentine's Day reference?

neilshyminsky said...

fyi, Geoff, Whedon and Cassaday will actually be doing 5 more issues - rather than an issue 25, though, they'll be ending their run with Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men.

and someone correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't that final page of AXM 20 not make sense? how did these aliens not know who was supposed to destroy their planet when they had a picture of COLOSSUS DESTROYING THEIR PLANET in a tomb for several hundreds or thousands of years?

Geoff Klock said...

Pat: Maybe.

Thatcher: A VERY good point about Morrison's Batman. I also thought of that as I read. He claims to reinvent, but we don't see it.

Mitch: yes, in that form Morrison becomes annoying.

Jason: doing a 22 page story rather than an 8 one was part of why it was bad, but only part.

Neil: oh, that is cool. One extra issue. You make a fair point about the last page. That does seem like an error. I will have to re read to see of there is an answer to that, but there might not be. The answers I can come up with are not very satisfying: they drew it recently (after the psychics pinned it down), they didn't tell people including Ord (?), they just found it, I don't know. That is going to bother me.

Pat Moler said...

When will Doctor Klock be you official title, Mr. Klock?

Geoff Klock said...

When I get my doctorate. I am mostly done but it is a slow process. You will know when I know because there will be a whole post about it with a picture of me in robes.

Ultimate Matt said...

You know, I actually ended up liking the new Batman, although I agree it was overwritten and entirely gratuitious. I admire Morrison for strecthing out and trying a different writing style, this time full prose. Kudos on that, although a mainstream Batman comic, which he was supposedly writing just to do a fun Batman book, was not the best place for it. Context aside, I enjoyed it. I'm going to post some more stuff at my own blog, where I just posted some thoughts on my agnosticism and other comic reviews for this week.

Matt Brady said...

I just read Astonishing, and while the characterization was great, and I'm enjoying the story and everything, that last page also bothered me quite a bit. Here's another possible explanation: Seeing the X on the picture's belt made them realize it was an X-Man, but they didn't know which one (hell, maybe they can't tell humans apart very well), and Ord never figured out it was Colossus because Peter didn't have his uniform on when he revived him. Wow, that's a stretch. Most likely: it was a cool ending splash page, so screw sense-making.

Hey, did anyone else read Rex Libris? It's a pretty cool comic about a librarian who fights monsters and aliens and stuff. I'll probably have a review of the latest issue up on my blog soon.

Geoff Klock said...

Ult. Matt: you mention another problem with Batman, similar to the problem with New X-Men: this is his fifth issue in his Batman run and it does not match his first four at all.

Matt Brady: I have not seen Rex Libris. Sounds good.

craig taylor said...

So Green Lantern goes into the Bleed and crosses into the Wildstorm verse... I hear that Majestic came over to the DC universe and fought Superman. Captain Atom crossed over to the Wildstorm universe in the over-long mini-series Armegeddon, which led into the recent Worldstorm relaunch.

Apparently, a big part of 52 is the return of the multiverse (or maybe Hypertime?).

In JSA, the universe of Kingdom Come returns.

And Damien Wayne (Batman's son) apparently has a part to play in this.

With Mark Waid and Grant Morrison pretty much the creators of the hypertime concept working on 52 all they had to do was talk Geoff Johns into the idea.

Has anyone seen the solicits for Batman 666 yet? I don't know if I should laugh or cry? Right now, I'm doing both.

Also in Ultimate FF Mike Carey used Ellis's idea of Universes stacked on top of each other to great effect. (Not sure if I got that exactly right as I didn't read the Ultimate series where Ellis introduced the idea.)

Matt Brady said...

I think Ellis first used the "stacked universes" concept several years ago in X-Man. There was a story where this guy from one of the "higher" universes went crazy and started destroying as many of the "lower" universes as he could. It was pretty interesting.