Friday, February 29, 2008

Comics Out February 27, 2008

All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder 9. Scott has already reviewed this for us, but let me say two things. First let me plug the Batman book linked in the toolbar on the right; the essay I contributed to it explains why I love this title even though, like almost everyone else, I started out hating it. If you hate this book, my essay might turn you around. Second, as an artist as well as a writer you have to think Frank Miller's real reason to write this issue was to play up the visual absurdity -- yellow Batman and yellow Robin serving lemonade in a yellow room with the Green Lantern standing around unable to do anything about it. This issue continues to support the claims in my essay -- Miller brings the crazy, and the crazy is good for a character like Batman, who is such a franchise at this point. But their prank -- both with the yellow and with verbally harassing Green Lantern who is, in Miller's hands, more than a little dumb (Miller hates cops and hates space cops most of all) -- turns serious. The emotion is maudlin but it should be -- this is not a realistic portrayal of emotion. This is the emotion of a Mickey Spillane novel. And Mickey Spillane, if you missed the memo, is awesome. ALSO: how easy is it going to be for DC to roll out an anti-Green Lantern Batman action figure? All toy companies ever do is get a mold, then put slightly different paint jobs on it (jungle Batman, Winter Batman), and toss in some props (vine, sled). All they need now is some yellow spray paint and a drink pitcher from Barbie's pool set.

Batman 674.
I liked Morrison's writing here, and now I am wondering if his Batman run will be a failed masterpiece along the lines of his New X-Men run -- some great ideas, some great stories, some great artists, some bad artists, some misfires, some serious weak points. At least he fully has my attention again. The answers to who are the other Batmen was pretty satisfying, as was the narration about the king of crime. The art is OK, and we will see where we go from here. As for Morrison's claim that his Batman is 35 and has basically been through everything the stories say he has, it surprising me that Morrison has such a rational explanation. To me the irrational history of these characters was the best part of them, because that chaos requires strong revision. And all of Morrison's frustration with Miller evidenced in interviews and the comic book itself suggest that this is not mere history for him.

Kick Ass 1. Not as pointlessly sadistic or unlikable as I heard over at Newsarama, though surely electrocuted testicles was too far -- being tied and beaten by criminals would have been enough for anyone who can think of violence as anything other than sexual. But overall, not great either. The main character is not as unlikable as Wesley Gibson, but there Millar wanted the audience to see themselves in the main character. Here I cannot help but think that his target audience is Hollywood, and we are all here to make that happen for him, like the friends drug up to see a band play for no reason other than that there is someone in the audience who could give them a contract and it would be best to hear us cheer.

There was a con but I did not keep up with it. Let me know if there is anything I should know in comics news.


James said...

Kick Ass: I liked this a lot more than I expected to, though again, I'd read a lot about an unlikable lead and the whole thing being overly nasty, which isn't really what we got. Plus, you can never really go wrong with John Romita Jr.

[b]All-Star Batman:[/b] This Miller/Morrison thing is getting nuts. In that Newsarama interview, Grant Morrison says he's treating his run as if every Batman comic has happened to the same guy, including goofy silver-age stuff like the Rainbow Batman. Not a week later, there's a Frank Miller comic where Batman spends the majority of the issue slathered head-to-toe in Process Yellow paint. Insane.

Somehow, even though it's been shunted all over the place and officially comes out next week (I believe), my store got copies of Casanova #12. SPOILER: It's awesome.

scott91777 said...

If I could plug Batman Unauthorized as well but for a different essay: In "Holy Signifier, Batman" the author maintains that the TV show (the 60s one) is actually the most enduring depiction of the character because it is out and out Batman-as-product which, at the end of the day, is what Batman really is; he's a trademark.

On the other hand, we have Miller's earlier Batman work (TDKR, Year One) which is widely considered the pinacle of Batman-as-art.

So, as Geoff just pointed out, with the easy visual sell of the series what we have with All Star B & R might, in fact, be the culmination of these two seemingly disparate elements of the character.

Marc Caputo said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa ,whoa...where was the bad art on Batman?

Jason Powell said...

For what it's worth, Geoff ... I was indeed "turned around" by your Batman essay when I saw it here on the blog.

Not enough to actually buy the comic, mind you (I'm really trying to stop spending so much money one comic books), but I was convinced that All Star Batman is something I eventually need to own. Somewhere down the line I'll ask for the Asolute edition as a birthday present or something. (Happy belated 29th, by the way. Rock on, fellow Pisces and -- hey -- cry me a river re: turning 29. I turn 30 in seven days.)

Geoff Klock said...

James -- GOOD! Another part of the Morrison-Miller rivalry! Thanks!

Marc -- the video game stills on the prose issue were easily some of the worst comic book "art" I have ever seen.

Jason -- fair enough

Marc Caputo said...

Oh, THAT. OK, got me there. I thought that's what you meant, actually.

Ping33 said...

I loved that Batman and ASB&RTBW came out the same week again. It further ferments my idea that both Miller and Morrison are playing with the same concept: The historical inconsistency of Batman. While Miller makes it sing, Morrison throws a whole crap-load of stuff at the wall and very little sticks. It's almost as if Morrison thinks that the act of throwing it all up there makes it worthwhile, it doesn't.

In All-Star we get the classic: Introduction of Robin cover and the issue manages to live up to it with the 'show of emotion' at the end. It is here where Batman moves past his ultra-violent noir birth-cry and moves into modernity. In realizing that he has created a soulless killing machine in Robin he takes a step back (not unlike Miller himself following Dark Knight Returns.) The fact that Miller puts all of the fanboy doubts about his whole All-Star run into Batman's mouth is pure genius.

The Morrison issue was strange. Having a ton of great ideas end with a whimper is nothing new for the Mad Scottsman (see: JLA: Rock of Ages; Invisibles V3, New X-Men, The Filth and probably more) but here he ends an epic time-traveling/demention-spanning mind-bending epic as a cheap Manchurian Candidate meets the X-files hokum.