Thursday, June 04, 2009

Comics Out June 3, 2009 (Batman and Robin and Seaguy)

Jason is taking a deserved break with his Claremont posts, going down to once a week before his big push to the end, so I thought I might write about two interesting comics this week in his place.

Batman and Robin 1. There was nothing I disliked about the Morrison and Quitely Batman and Robin issue. but I think the fact that I wanted it to be on the level of All Star Superman 1, the Morrison and Quitely debut on the OTHER most iconic comics character, set the bar too high. I was not crazy about the new Bat-mobile -- Quitely is a design genius (see the We3 armor for example) -- but this did not do it for me. (Nor did Morrison's OTHER new Bat-mobile which debuted a bit into the first part of his Batman run). None of the writing or dialogue really jumped out and grabbed me the way Morrison has in the past, though there is nothing here I would want to call bad. I was not crazy about the Toad villain, the middle of this issue was all talky and set up-y, and I was not crazy about the image of Batman and Robin falling from the car, which I think was meant to be pretty iconic. I missed Jamie Grant, the colorist from All Star Superman (though I think my favorite design thing in the issue was the yellow on the cover which is just so striking when you know Batman covers are almost always built around black, and I love how lanky the two of them are). But Morrison said in interviews that Quitely really explodes next issue and this all felt like set up -- I bet if I got this issue and the next at the same time I would be way more excited. The final two pages, with Pyg, deserve special mention, as they scared the shit out of me -- I cannot remember being so disturbed in a comic book, in spite of the fact that Pyg seems to have quite a lot in common with Morrison's Joker (bloody butcher's smock is very much like the bloody surgical gown, and both are circus characters). The preview also caught my attention -- I like that it looks like Hurt will still be in play, though it seems strange to show him with the keys to Wayne Manor since he already had them, if I am remembering this right. All in all, I know these guys can deliver a hell of a comic book and I think I need to see more of the whole to really get into it. Next month is the month. Quitely drawing the treads of boots is a great touch -- and one that reminds me of Frank Miller, Morrison's great hurdle, and the thing that dragged him down on the earlier Batman issues. Quitely firing on all cylinders is what Morrison needs to get the escape velocity to escape Miller, as he got the velocity to escape Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow in All Star Superman.

Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye 3. Jog, I think it was, argued that the first Seaguy mini was all about Morrison reacting to working on his uneven New X-Men and being controlled by editors and having his changes wiped out of continuity. I feel like this second Seaguy series is about Morrison reacting to his uneven Final Crisis experience -- the mind whacked crowds here, for example, very much recall the anti-life equation crowds of Darkseid, and the "Eye Spy Your Death" stuff feels very much to me like the was DC callously kills of characters like Martian Manhunter and Batman for shock value -- and tells us how it is all such a fun ride, this crazy DCU. Even the way Mickey Eye harvests wishes -- basically just a variation on the earlier Seaguy about how bad corporations control even the imagination -- reminded me of Superman and the wish machine. And She-Beard blowing the horn reminded me of Superman singing to save the day, and the magic horn in Final Crisis 7. And the Mickey Eye hoods like Justifier Helmets (you do seem to do as you are told once they are on). Death as a character, and a flame thrower, and talking animals and beams from eyes, and a mind controlled superhero woman with a sword -- all in Final Crisis and Seaguy both. Even Doc Hero towing the rides reminded me of the Green Lanterns towing the planets. I hope Seaguy continues as a kind of therapy for Morrison, a shadow to his work on iconic titles, where he gets to unload, breathe, revise, comment upon his more visible projects (am I wrong in thinking Seaguy's existence is based on a deal with DC along the lines of "If I do your big thing you let me do Seaguy"?). If the Seaguy in the first series was put back the way he was because Morrison's changes in New X-Men were all being written out of continuity, then here Morrison is feeling stronger about things (and who wouldn't be after All Star Superman) -- Seaguy knows the changes he made are only superficial (Seadog will be replaced; the system remains unchanged) but he is able to resist the temptation to take his place (Morrison as architect of the DCU) AND he gets the girl -- they kiss over the X of cross swords (Morrison's X-Men trouble finally transcended). And new adventures await -- a third Seaguy story, and Batman and Robin. What a pair they might make.

14 comments:

scott91777 said...

I'm in agreement with you in that there was nothing I DISliked about it, however, I was a bit disapointed... I wanted there to be MORE in this issue... specifically, more BATMAN AND ROBIN... especially Batman and Robin in action... Granted, we got a lot more Batman and Robin than we did in the first, what, 7 issues of Miller's Batman and Robin but, I was hoping Morrison would keep the action moving. As you said, I look forward to seeing Quitely take off in Issue 2.

I have no problem with Mr. Toad. On his own, he's not that great but, I think, his main rold is to just be a member of the Circus of Strage, of which Professor Pyg is supposed to be the central figure.

You're right, the image of them jumping from the Batmobile felt like it was SUPPOSED to be iconic but it fell a little flat.

I also wanted to see more of the '60's-TV-Show-Done-Seriously' that Morrison promised us.

I have faith that things will pick up next issue (especially since we've only got Quitely for two more at the beginning and then the last three).

Jake said...

the 60s show update was there, I felt, especially Dick figuring out an nonsensical "riddle" (Did you know that dominoes are also called bones?) just as he would have as Robin on TV. Also, the sound effects worked into the art was a cool update not only of how typical comic sound effects are used on pages but also of the cut-away sound effects of the old show.

Jake said...

"an nonsensical"


duh.

Matt Jacobson (formerly Ultimate Matt) said...

There's also Morrison continuing to comment on/attack Miller's All-Sat Batman. Dick's comment that he "would've killed to have a flying batmobile when he was Robin" seems to be a direct attack on Miller's flying Batmbolie (I think in issue 3 or 4 of ASB&R) and Robin's "meh" reaction. Morrison loves the wonder and joy of these things; Miller's undercutting of that probably annoyed him.

scott91777 said...

Jake,

You're right about the riddle, I noticed that but I wanted to see MORE of that.

speedreeder said...

Well, I liked it, usually the first issue is a big set up issue, so I took it with a grain of salt.
Reading this, It seems like the whole first part of the Morrison run, killing Bruce Wayne, etc, was a set up for this. Now Morrison is, more or less, free to do what he wants. I think he mentioned that he wanted this Batman, to be like the 60's Batman show but also like a bad acid trip. By the last few pages, I was getting that feeling, creepy, creepy stuff.

I thought about it, and we've had well over 20 years of Batman being a jerk and being all dark and moody. Now let's see Batman jump around on some giant appliances or fight some alien possessed musical instruments! It seems like it would be impossible to do with Bruce Wayne around, but maybe Dick and Damien can pull it off.

speedreeder said...

Loved Seaguy BTW, it actually moved me. The last part when he said bye the Chubby was a pretty touching moment, and that Seaguy gets the girl was a great ending. Morrison is making comics fun again! I can't wait for the final arc.

Jake said...

I guess chalk up all the issue's supposed deficiencies to the 22-page limit. As you guys have said, there is NOTHING you disliked, so, y'know, the "more" you want is just gonna have to wait until more issues come out. I feel like if every issue was as good as this one, the run would be up there in the top 3 Batman stories with Miller's 80s stuff.

If you think about it, a lot was included already. Dick's personality as Batman, his reasoning, his changing the Bat-"system" with the relocation of headquarters. Damian becomes more complex. New villains introduced--it's hard, you gotta give them pages to breathe, since (bad) comic book fans are so resistant to accepting anyone outside of a hero's established rogues. Maybe you just wanted more of the ol' whiz-bang action? I guess I can see that...but I'm just gonna anticipate issue 2 instead of perceiving that as a sort-of-but-not-really-but-STILL fault.

Dougie said...

Grant Morrison was chatting outside Forbidden Planet in Buchanan Street today. I wondered if he was asking the manager how well B&R is selling?

Anonymous said...

I thought the art in B&R had an odd was over it that made it look muddy. Other than that, nothing I disliked, but nothing really grabbing either. The first issue of his Batman run had faux Lichsteins, which were awesome.

To answer your question-- Back when Seaguy II and III were announced last year, it seemed specifically tied to his doing other things for DC like Final Crisis.
-Joe Gualtieri

Triumph of the Underdog said...

Here is my beef about Dick Grayson being Batman:

Part of what I like about the character is his struggle with the knowledge that he will one day be Batman. In a lot of ways, that's what has kept him interesting to me. Now he actually is Batman and I don't care.

Sort of like John Conner in the Terminator movies I care more about Conner when he is just a kid who isn't sure he even WANTS to become the future messiah. Once you see Christian Bale as this post-apocalyptic badass, the quantum, will he or won't he energy of the character vanishes.

scott91777 said...

Triumph,

It's also worth pointing out that all the other multiple occasions that Dick Grayson has become Batman, most significantly as part of the epilogue to the Knightfall story, tend to take away from the significance of him being Batman THIS time. The only difference that THIS time being that, as far as he knows, this is permanent.

I think that's why I sort of liked the idea of Jason Todd being Batman...

Jake said...

I think the majority of readers probably never read Knightfall and think this is the first time it's ever happened. I know I never read it. I know Bane broke Bruce's back in it, that's all.

Graham said...

I'm surprised no one mentioned Professor Pyg being literally dressed as a Pig, and his mask being something straight of the Saw movies...

I'm also very interested in seeing how he manages to change into the Henry Higgins' style character we last saw crucified upsidedown in Batman #666. And definetly agreeing that the final pages were one of the most terrifying "kill your henchmen to get the villain over as a serious threat" sequences I'd ever read. Morrison is really good at depicting this kind of cruelty...