A little behind with this post because of the holidays -- I also got confused and I think some of the things I picked up on the 2nd actually came out the week before. Nevertheless.
The Umbrella Academy: Dallas. The more I read this comic book the more I like it. The two guys at the beginning, in the masks, are absolutely terrifying, and I am starting to think that this book may have the potential to transcend its huge debts to the X-Men and Doom Patrol. In a world with Casanova and All Star Superman this book was just pretty good, but now that those series are off the table, this is one of the ONLY books I find myself looking forward to, though I am feeling pretty down about comics lately. Jesus shit those guys were scary.
Final Crisis: Secret Files. I call Shenanigans. Grant Morrison and J.G. Jones are listed on the cover and Frank Quitely was promised in the solicitations. Actually Morrison is listed second on the cover out of four names making me think he was the second most important person contributing -- actually, they listed the two writers followed by the two artists even though the second writer barely contributed to this. Basically the entire comic book -- certainly the only story in the comic book -- is Len Wein and Tony Sashstein's origin of Libra, which is a bad idea since most of his story is a rehash of his one comic book appearance from the 70s which DC already reprinted as a sort of Final Crisis preview six months ago. Then there is one page of nonsense by Ruka, one page of text notes about the anti-life equation by Morrison and four more pages of sketchbook material by Jones and Morrison that should have been in the original sketchbook comic. The Morrison prose is sort of interesting, and clears up a bit the connection between Seven Soldiers and Final Crisis -- though surely that should have been in the story and not as some kind of a director's commentary: this reminded me of nothing more than Richard Kelley's explanations of Donnie Darko: there is something to knowing that was what he had in mind but it is sort of his job to actually put that on the page somehow. Anyway Morrison's thoughts on the subject are, as I say interesting, but the are not 4 dollars interesting.
Batman 683. I enjoyed these last two issues of Morrison's Batman after really being annoyed with the conclusion to Batman RIP. I especially hated the ending to Batman RIP once I started reading around the internet -- apparently one of the working theories of Dr Hurt was that he was the evil self Batman rejected in the Tibetan Ritual, almost Batman's Casandra Nova. That is a GREAT idea and I cannot understand why that was not the reveal at the end. Certainly Morrison's Batman has a lot in common with his New X-Men run -- sporadically great and sporadically so badly made it is unreadable, with large swaths of awful art. One thing Batman 683 does wrong is that it adds insult to injury with the claim at the end of the issue that we should "Follow the Dark Knight to his Last Adventure in Final Crisis 6" -- after promising that Batman RIP was some kind of "final story" two issues later we get the next "final story." Obviously there is not going to be a final Batman story, but that does not mean you should just announce the end every few issues with no connection to what is inside. Maybe they did that in the old days or something, but in an auteur culture you just loose all your credibility.
This story was the high point in the run for me, a really nice tribute to Batman's history, and a brilliant idea about how Batman can make even his memories a weapon. The art was not great, but the end of this was really nice with the Lump and Alfred. I even liked how it was isolated from Final Crisis -- it felt right since it was basically all in Batman's mind. I look forward to reading the conclusion in Final Crisis 6 actually. This issue also featured one of Morrison's major anxiety of influence tropes -- the canonization of key moments of a character's history with his own contributions to that history prominently displayed. See All Star Superman, which hits major Superman moments (Luthor, Bizarro, Doomsday) but does not fail to give major time to Morrison's recent contributions, Solaris and the future Superman and Golden Superman from his DC One Million. See also New X-Men Here Comes Tomorrow, which pays tribute to the Sentinels, Days of Future Past, and Dark Phoenix but also Casandra Nova, Fantomex, and Sublime. Batman 682-683 takes us on a whole ride of Batman's history, but the end is a big kicker -- the Lump knows everything about Batman (wonderfully he can trust Batman to get revenge) but is dying. Batman says "you need a jolt to get you moving?" His memories -- his history -- destroyed the Batman clones, but you know what resurrects the Lump Neo style? MORRISONS CONTRIBUTIONS TO BATMAN"S HISTORY! "You need a jolt to get you moving" is followed immediately by memories of Batman's purification ritual in 52, the Thogal ritual, Damian, and the Batman of Zur En Arrh, all from Morrison's Batman run. That was the jolt Morrison thought the Batman mythos needed. Pretty good stuff.
That said this may be time for me to get off this book, unless the art gets better. Because that final image is really less than inspiring and I need something inspiring right now. If Quitely joins as is rumored I will pick it up; if not I may switch to the trade.