[Last week was an awesome week to go to the comic book store, but I only got these yesterday, because I was in Oxford and found out that the only comic book store in town closed. Oxford University is amazing but Oxford the town is not great. Case in point: A University town that cannot keep a single comic book store in business. Ridiculous. Anyway I wanted to do bullet point reviews of last week comics.]
Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert's Batman #666. Last week in free form comments James wrote:
"Geoff is right. Once again, Morrison puts himself up against Miller's Batman, with a tale of an uncompromising, ultra-violent Batman of the future. We seem to be back in New X-Men territory here, with Morrison admitting defeat in the face of what can't be changed/escaped. Morrison's fun, "bare-chested love-god" Batman has literally fathered a violent, anti-heroic Batman of the future (see: The Dark Knight Returns), exactly what Morrison wanted to get away from. Furthermore, the only way Morrison's Batman can defeat the last of the dark, violent, impostor Batmen* and gain primacy/immortality is to sell his soul to the Devil (Miller). Try as he might, Morrison couldn't replace Miller, and it is Miller's Batman that has assimilated Morrison's, and not the other way around. The silver-lining here, is that (hopefully) Morrison can now concentrate on doing his own thing, and stop worrying about Miller. J. H. Williams III and The Batmen Of All Nations seems like a perfect opportunity to do just that.
*I quite liked that just as the last one was a version of Bane, this next one was a version of the Azrael-Batman, with his orange face-plate and flamethrower."
It is freaky how much James is on my wavelength here. He has said all I would have said, exactly. I would also add that the Yeats quote is lame, and reminds me of Morrison's bad use of Milton in Batman: Gothic. (It may serve only to call up that book as another alternate Batman).
Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo's Hellboy: Darkness Calls #4. There is a great moment in which a guy catches his own severed head a split second before it hits the ground and a perfect weird little girl character in this issue, one of the best I have seen. But her speech about her story exemplifies what bothers me about Hellboy -- chunks of Mignola's research just sit on the page, undigested, and Hellboy just sort of walks around it, doing very little. The art is great though, and keeps me hooked.
Joss Whedon and Paul Lee's Buffy the Vampire Slayer #5. The art is not perfect, and there are moments that do not quite work (the out of control truck), but I thought this issue was very moving, and also dialed down Whedon's silliness, which in three running comics now is getting to be a little much, even for me. Newsarama thought the issue failed to make us care about the main character enough, but I thought the intriguing jarring story structure kept us from quite following everything until the end, at which point it is too late to really know this girl. I thought that was genuinely sad, and well done.
Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker's Immortal Iron Fist #7. I have heard complaints that the narration takes the reader out of the story, that the narration is too dissonant. I disagree. It turns out that the narrator of this issue is a character, but for much of it I just heard Fraction's own voice, the voice of his blog. It felt a bit like a Mystery Science Theater experience; I imagine this is what Fraction sounds like if you were to watch a serious kung-fu movie on his couch with him. "She beats people up. For money!" This is a different kind of harmony, and it is also different from Joss Whedon's ironies, which is nice.
Frank Miller and Jim Lee's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #6. I love this book: everyone is right about what is wrong with it but it all works on another level, as I have argued (hit the Frank Miller link below to see what I said). In this issue Miller continues to do ABSURD things with story structure, warping it sideways. I double dog dare you to read Jack Kirby's introduction of the Black Racer in New Gods and tell me that Frank Miller is doing something fundamentally different in his use of Black Canary or the introduction of Batgirl. In both the story is absurdly interrupted by some new character the writer felt like introducing. Goddam Batman became an Internet catch phrase for how absurd this book is, so what did Frank Miller do? -- he used it twice in one issue. Blake said it best: Exuberance is Beauty.
Mike Carey and Humberto Ramos's X-Men #201. Humberto Ramos does not suck, but he is not the artist for me. I had to order this without seeing it, and did not know Bachalo would not be drawing it.