Thursday, August 11, 2011

Comics of the Week

The final issues of four Batman books came out this week. Each ended in its own way, and not necessarily for the best. Although there are still two more weeks to go until the DC reboot, this week felt like the last week to me, as the books left to end have not been my favorites.

Batgirl #26 was going to be difficult, no matter how you cut it. The character has the most uncertain future in the new reboot. Stephanie Brown will not be Batgirl in September, and we really don't even know if she'll be at all. I get the sense that Bryan Q. Miller had big plans for this book and the reboot decision really threw him off the rails. The previous issue was a lot of fun and seemed to be building towards a climax, but it was clear going into this issue that it was a climax that would have been nearly impossible to pull off in one issue. Instead, we have a story that reaches more of a stop than an end. I can't really say I blame Miller for the sentimental and somewhat meta touches at the end, though I'm not sure they came off too well. I sincerely hope he is given a chance in the coming months, to write another big book for DC, because some of the best books in the past two years were Batgirl issues.

Batman and Robin, as a series, has gone through several changes. It started with Grant Morrison on a very high note, bringing a freshness to the concept that was much needed. The character of Damian, in particular, was developed into one of the more interesting characters in the DCU, mostly in this title. Even as creative teams changed, the book always maintained a certain energy, thanks to the relationship between Dick and Damian. This relationship is what I will miss most in the new DCU. This issue, by David Hine and Geg Tocchini was interesting. Rather than giving us an ending, it's just another story, and a crazy one at that. What I think they managed to do was to subtly give a nod to the surreality of Morrison that was somehow all their own. The art didn't work in a few places and there could have been more focus on the Dick and Damien relationship, but I think just telling another story was a bold choice to take with this book.

Tim Drake is a badass. Throughout this series that's never been in doubt. As a whole, the series had it's ups and downs, but was always solid even during the few issues that weren't terribly exciting. Fabien Nicieza made a different choice than Miller and Hine in ending this series. He didn't go with sentiment and also didn't go with just another story. This story was not just a regular adventure for Red Robin. This was about a moment of truth for him and one that ends on an ambiguous note. At the end of this issue, reboot or not, Tim has a lot of decisions to make about what kind of man he is going to be, what kind of hero. He needs to decide what the balance is between vengeance and justice. He's always been the Robin that was most like Bruce but here he shows he is his own man or is at least on the verge of being his own man. It would have been interesting to see where Nicieza would have gone next with this character. I will miss this book.

I ran out of great things to say about Scott Snyder, Jock and Francisco Francavilla on Detective Comics several issues back. I repeat that this will be considered one of the greatest comic runs in history for years to come. This issue was no exception, ending the story just as strong as it started, if not stronger. Ending a title that has been around for 70 years on such a high note is a huge accomplishment. The tension that had been built throughout the run was not squandered by rushing the ending, which is a common problem. Snyder has proven himself to be a master storyteller, start to finish, with this. He took his time in all the right places and delivered a surprising and satisfying ending to both the stories of James Gordon and Dick Grayson.The art on this issue featured both Jock and Francavilla, in a seamless interaction of styles. This is an incredibly rare thing. In most cases, two artists working on one book, even when both are brilliant, can be jarring. At the end of the day, I don't really care who did what, because they are both masters and the results speak for themselves. It will be interesting to see Snyder on Batman in September, writing Bruce Wayne.

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