Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Comics Out Friday January 2nd 2009 (Umbrella Academy, Final Crisis: Secret Files, and Morrison's Batman))

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.

11 comments:

scott91777 said...

I know I'm going to pick up the Gaiman Two parter that's coming up, not just because I like Gaiman but because I also like Andy Kubert.

neilshyminsky said...

Quitely with Morrison on Batman? I might start reading it again...

James said...

Morrison isn't actually confirmed as returning to the title at all - beyond a vague "we hope he'll come back to some Batman at some point" - so the Morrison/Quitely rumour/wishful thinking is actually our best hope at the moment?

Re: Umbrella Academy - I, too, am "feeling" it more this time out. Way doesn't seem to be trying quite so hard.

scott91777 said...

Worth pointing out: 2009 is the 70th anniversary of Batman and, at the rate they're putting out the batman comic (I actually assume this is why the series is bi-weekly right now) it will reach its 700th issue this year. Perfect time for Bruce Wayne to come back, no?

Then again... Jean Paul Valley was the Batman at the time of issue 500... so maybe not.

Christian said...

Technically Zurr En Arh was a previous story, that Morrison retooled. As was Damian. So his contributions were revamps?

Geoff Klock said...

Christian -- I am not the person to knock a good revamp. After all Shakespeare was not the first person to write the Romeo and Juliet story, for example, he is just the one that did it best.

hcduvall said...

Much as I have been enjoying Umbrella Academy, timely and well-crafted with serial beats as it has been, I think I'm going to opt to wait for a trade. Though curiously, I don't think the first storyline reads as well in trade.

The Winter Men finished in the Jan 2 shipment, and the Winter Men was the best 6 issue formerly 8 mini-series to span 2005-2009.

Christian said...

Geoff-- Oh I agree 100%, but technically they aren't "new creations," which is how I understood your comment at the end. Or maybe I just need to learn how to read, now that I look at it again.


And I really need to learn how to spell Zur En Arrh.



Due to an error (read. idiot) in distribution, not a single comic shop in the country have received their shipments the last three weeks, so I have nothing new to report.


Other than I've been rereading Phonogram and really enjoying it. I think I like the second series better as of yet, but maybe that's because I get all the music references now and the youth scene resonates more with me.

Anonymous said...

I just picked up Phonogram in trade. I have some quibbles, but overall it's v. good. Closest thing I've yet seen to a Tim Powers novel in comic form.


Doug M.

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