SPOILERS: Batman #12

I don't know if you know this, but Batman isn't exactly a happy guy.

SPOILERS: Nightwing #10

New city, same shade of gray... but not for a lack of trying.

Stack Rundown, 12/4/2016

Here's an image of Batman looking at a dog. There you go.

Stack Rundown, 11/27/2016

2016 takes something else from us, and this time it's Chew.

SPOILERS: Detective Comics #945

The gift of Clayface, TAKE IT IN MAAAAAAAAAAN. (reference!)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Hopes and Wishes for Batman in 2015


Well, it's a new year, and if memory serves me correctly, I usually do some sort of retrospective on the year we just had as well as giving my predictions (as well as hopes) for the Gotham books in the coming year. Given how things are going recently, it's probably safe to say that my predictions would be way wrong in the wake of stuff like Gotham Academy and Gotham by Midnight, but hey, might as well, right?

So here we go. I'll be going down the list of each and every book (with the exception of Arkham Manor) giving my thoughts on it currently, and where I'd like to see it go next year.

Batman

Let's get the big one out of the way early, shall we? As you may know from my posts on Endgame, I think Batman is killing it right now. After Zero Year, which I thought was a bit too long, this current story arc pretty much floored it from the word "go." So while a good chunk of last year was me wishing Zero Year would just wrap up already, it's safe to say Batman closed out 2014 in a really strong way. 

So where do we go from here? Well, Snyder promised "smaller" more "detective" stories afterwards for awhile, but recently on twitter he had acknowledged that, but followed up with something along the lines of "and then I think of something crazy and they let us do it." So, possibly waiting on those smaller stories again. That said, it's hard to guess where Batman might go in the next year. Endgame seems to be closing the loop on what Snyder has to say about the Joker, and I'm predicting Batman Eternal will end up in being Lincoln March part two, so unless Scott just wants to use the Riddler again, I feel like the only safe bet is that we'll get something completely new from team Batman. We've gotten teases that things are going to be wildly different by the time DC books start to publish normally again following Convergence, which could mean anything. For me, I'm just going to guess that Joker exposes Batman's identity, as some large payoff to the joke. I don't know. I wouldn't exactly be psyched, but when I think of things that could be different stemming from the current story arc, that's the only thing that comes to mind.

Then there's the question of all the things Snyder has set up with smaller elements and supporting characters who've yet to get any real spotlight or development like Harper Row, or now this Duke Thomas kid seems to be turning into somewhat of a focal point... but I think that'll be handled elsewhere, which brings me to...

Batman Eternal

There's some serious love/hate going on with me and Eternal. I love the concept, the general idea, but HOLY SHIT this weekly format has gone from a blessing to a curse, real quick. So many weeks where the story just barely progresses, nothing happens, and it's just BLAH. I've made my Lincoln March prediction, and I stand by it in hopes that things wrap up well in these final three months... but it's hard to say if they will. With the way the pacing has gone, it's difficult to fathom that the book will deliver on everything it has to (villain reveal, Bluebird, Spoiler, etc) in an effective manner, aka giving everything the time it needs instead of just throwing everything together at the last minute. I think I finally realized what has been the turning point for me and this book, and it was when each issue stopped jumping around with multiple plot points. It used to be we'd see a little of Tim and Harper's story here, some of Barbara's there, and so on... But for the longest time it's been nothing but Batman acting solo, and the rest of the characters have suffered for it, and that's why I'm worried their stories won't wrap up well in the end... but we'll see. 

A year two of Batman Eternal has been all but confirmed, with a different structure and different scope coming along with it. I've suggested that I'd like to rather see the book turn into a bi-weekly title, that way the story is forced to be tighter, move quickly, and doesn't have a whole lot of time to dick around with stuff like "Batman fights a riot guard!" because WHO CARES!? This is where I feel like characters such as Duke Thomas will be developed, since it's pretty clear that Snyder doesn't have the time/space to develop his creations in Batman proper, give or take a few one and done issues that'd focus on Harper. Ultimately I just want Batman Eternal to be better, because I know it can be. This weekly was architected by Snyder and company under Mike Marts' editorial direction, so I'm really interested to see what year two would look like under Mark Doyle's, and hope that all elements introduced recently can come into play, creating a really cohesive Gotham. 

Batman and Robin

Well, Damian is back, so that's a step in the right direction, but he's also basically Superman now, soooooo that could be weird. I'm looking forward to what happens with super-powered Damian Wayne about as much as I am concerned about it. This is one of those things that could be stupidly fun or it just as easily could be stupidly... stupid. We'll see. If there's one thing I want to see from this book a little bit more (but know we'll probably not get any of it) is a little more interaction between Damian and the rest of Gotham's cast. It's fucking crazy how isolated Batman and Robin have been to Batman and Robin. Robin, the general concept of character, is such a huge part of the Batman mythos, but in the New 52, he was rarely seen outside of this title, relegated to a few cameos lasting maybe a couple panels, pages if he was lucky.  I understand that Tomasi really wants to focus on the father/son relationship between Bruce and Damian, which makes complete sense, but Damian is a character who plays so well off of others that it's almost criminal he rarely gets to be seen interacting with them. One thing that absolutely NEEDS to happen, somewhere, I don't care where, is Damian questioning Dick Grayson's death. He needs to figure it out too and just be a smug asshole about it, in a little brother catching big brother smoking cigarettes behind mom and dad's back sort of way.

Detective Comics

Tec is a weird book, in the sense that it's the last Batman book that remains in the past in terms of old ways of approaching Batman books... IE "put as many books out with Batman on the cover as you can." It's the last Batman book out right now which doesn't really have a unique hook to it. Batman is the flagship title, Batman and Robin has the Damian element, meanwhile Tec is just sort of another Batman book. Now, that sounds a little more insulting than I intend it to be, because I think the current creative team is more than capable of producing an entertaining book (especially in the art/colors department), but at the same time, the current only hook it has is "Batman is in it..........."

When Manapul and Buccellato took over the book earlier in the year, they produced an outstanding looking book that fell flat for me in a couple places regarding the stories. I found the new characters they created to be ultimately uninteresting and the whole premise of the story to be sort of old-hat "Gotham changes you!" sort of stuff. Now, they're doing a story with Anarky and well, that's alright, I guess? It could end up being fun, but if at the end of the day you could easily describe it as "It's a Batman story with Anraky in it" well then that's just highlighting my problem with it. Come to think of it, that sounds a lot like what Batman: The Dark Knight was, a book that could be describe as "Batman with _____ in it" and that's no good. It's hard to say what could be changed in order to make this book more unique/exciting, because at the end of the day, it's a legacy title, it has Batman in it, it sells, and I don't feel like the higher ups at DC would feel the need to fuck with it too much. All I want is something interesting to read, and if the book just keeps on keeping on, then there may come a time where I just get bored with it.

Grayson

Grayson hands down was one of my favorite books of last year, so as far as I'm concerned, it can keep on doing what it's doing. There are just a few things I'd like to see from the title, some I know are coming, others that we've gotten no hint of, I'd just like to see. 

First, we're going to need more Helena, lots more Helena. The Annual story got changed from an oversized Helena story, which would have been awesome, to just another chapter in the Paragon arc (which, while being good, the actual Paragon part of the book has been my least favorite element so far). Shit happens, things get shifted, but the writers have made mention that Helena's story will be told, and damn it, do I want it to be. 

I'd also like to see a lot more in-depth Spyral sort of stuff. We don't need to blow the top off so to speak, but there are a few elements that were left up in the air that need to be addressed... Mainly Kathy Kane. 

Now, here comes the crazy idea that I'd like to see... Cassandra Cain. She technically appeared in the New 52 Futures End Batgirl issue, but anyone with any common sense knows those don't matter and will never come to pass, so I don't really count that as a "debut." Meanwhile, in Grayson we got this band of murderers known as Fist of Cain, Caine, Kane, whatever, coming back. Let's say a reimagined  David Cain is their leader, let's say he has an assassin daughter who wants something better, let's say Spyral/Dick Grayson brings her in to the school, and in a bigger picture type deal, let's say Dick eventually sends her to Gotham in order to escape Spyral. I feel like that could work 100% and would be cool to see.

Batgirl

Batgirl went from being one of my least favorite books amongst the line (to the point where I dropped it earlier in the year) to leading the charge in Mark Doyle's effort to produce books more varied in style and content. Is the new Batgirl polarizing? Sure. But I've bought all in, as I'm finding the new style a lot more entertaining and better looking at the same time. It's still early in the new direction for me to comment on what I'd like to see be done, so I don't have as many thoughts on it now as I do for a couple of the other books, but that said, after Burnside gets established, I'd like to see some old faces make cameos in the book. It'd be fun to have lighter stories told with some of the more serious characters (similar to Stephanie Brown's Batgirl issues with Damian guest starring) and I flat out just want to see Babs Tarr draw some other heroes as well.

Gotham Academy

Let's continue with the new shit, shall we? Gotham Academy is one of those books where on the surface, I should have no business liking, but fuck that, because damn do I enjoy this little high school drama set it Gotham. I've said it on the site before, but I love how this book has really incorporated Gotham itself into the setting, doing stuff like using offhand mentions of events from other books to deepen mysteries amongst the cast of characters, stuff like that. The book has continued to keep my attention on every page, teasing lots of hidden secrets, all of which I want to see explained, mainly Olive's origin, her relationship with her mother and how Batman factors into all of it. So far so good on Gotham Academy's front. 

So what would I like to see? Just more Gotham-ness. I feel whenever the secrets start to get revealed, we'll get some of that, but past what we know (or may not know) is coming, the idea of Gotham Academy is sort of wide open, I'd honestly just like to see guest stars, or at least references to them, stuff that just keeps the book connected to everything else and makes you say "oooooh" when you put things together. The Endgame tie-in solicit mentions something about someone with a  crossbow roaming the campus and well, Helena Bertinelli uses a crossbow, she used to be a teacher (still is, actually) so... I don't know what they would do with that, but it'd be cool.

Gotham by Midnight

This is a lot similar to Batgirl in that it's sort of early, so it's hard for me to say what I want to see coming from this title in 2015. What this book does well is absolutely nail down the sense of atmosphere. I've said this for both issues, but Fawkes' script matches absolutely perfectly with Templesmith's art, and the two really compliment each other. To be honest, the atmosphere that has developed in this book is what has kept me invested these first two issues, because as noted in my reviews, I'd actually like to see the book utilize Gotham itself rather than just be set in the city. How many books take place in New York City, just because? For a lot of them (I'd argue most) taking place in NYC is completely irrelevant because it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. Generic, big name city that's easy to set a book in... Gotham is different on the other hand, because it's fucking Gotham. If you're going to put "Gotham" in the title, everything that comes with it better be utilized, rather than it just being a marketing ploy suckering people who go "OOOOH-BATMANZ" in to buy the book. Basically, I want to see this book do what Gotham Academy does so well and make Gotham an actual key element, rather than a backdrop.

Catwoman

You can't get much worse than where Catwoman was for much of the year... Honestly, it's best we not talk about what was, and just be thankful we got something different (anything different, really). With Selina Kyle's rise to power in the Gotham underworld, the tone has shifted dramatically within her book, all for the better. Genevieve Valentine and Garry Brown have done a great job of taking one of DC's worst books and making it readable at the very least, and then going above and beyond to make it standout amongst the crowd. Catwoman at the moment is a few f-bombs and bits of graphic/mature content away from being a Vertigo book, only published by DC, which shouldn't come as a surprise given Mark Doyle's tenure as a Vertigo editor. So, going from complete garbage to pretty unique is something to be praised, that's for sure.

Not everything has been a hit with me though. I don't care about this Eiko lady pretending to be Catwoman, nor do I really care for yet another Catwoman vs. Black Mask story, it's all been done before... but I probably shouldn't mind those elements as much, because March's solicit seems like Catwoman will be changing again. As much as I like the crime element to the book, it seems that like Arkham Manor, it was one of those things that wasn't meant to last and I seem to remember around the time of the announcement of this new direction, Genevieve Valentine had mentioned something about writing an arc, which could either mean that was all she had discussed with DC or with another new direction, they might want to get someone else. Who knows. That said, while I enjoy Kingpin Selina, given how poorly she'd been portrayed as Catwoman for the past year and a half plus, I'm still kind of dying to see a really good take on Selina in her regular role... and I'm going to go back to my time-tested desire and say while I like the Valentine/Brown team, and would welcome the idea of them to continue on the book if given the chance, if by some stroke of editorial magic we get a new Catwoman direction with Tim Seeley's name attached... well then...


That'd pretty much be it for me.

Harley Quinn

I mean... what is there to say about Harley Quinn? It's immature, inappropriate, and insane, which make this book an absolute joy to read every month. So as far as I'm concerned, there's not really a whole lot to say other than it should just keep being it's special brand of stupid (in the best possible way). With the Power Girl stuff recently, I'd like to see more elements of the DCU come into play, similar to what I assume the Valentine's Day special co-starring Bruce Wayne is going to be. I'd also like to see Chad Hardin and Alex Sinclair go back to the style they were using early on in the series, all the various art tweaks since have... well, I wouldn't say they've gone "down hill," but I would say they're rolling down a slight slope.

New Books?!

With Batwoman and Arkham Manor not returning in June, I'd guess that at the very least there will be two open spots for new Batman related books. So, let's go through a few options of what I'd like to see.

First choice for me is a relaunched Birds of Prey, with a lighter tone similar to that found in Batgirl. If it was up to me, I'd ignore everything that came before it in the New 52, because that book went from promising early on to a complete shit show once the writing change happened. I'm usually one for continuity, but holy shit... Just no. Obviously, you'd have to use Barbara Gordon and Black Canary, but a new Birds book would be a great place to showcase some of the new (and old) female characters who've found their way into Gotham, like Harper Row, Stephanie Brown, and Julia Pennyworth. I just want a Birds of Prey book where they're all friends again damn it, not this everyone hates everyone bullshit that the New 52 Birds turned into. When I've said something about relaunching Birds on twitter, people have often commented along the lines of "and they could give Gail Simone a chance to write it again!" and well... I'm going to say no. I don't mean that with any offense towards Gail Simone, but I'd rather just move on than dwell on the past in hopes of recreating it, which was somewhat my problem with her and the New 52 Batgirl. Having written Barbara Gordon for so long, there was just something completely off to me about her writing this new take on Barbara, it was like George Lucas going back and "fixing" the old Star Wars movies. So I'd rather just find someone new to bring a new direction to the Birds... I'm just going to point out that Brenden Fletcher favorited a tweet of mine saying I'd like to see a Batgirl style relaunch of Birds of Prey... so that could mean something, or it could mean absolutely nothing. It's fun to speculate... PS. Kurtis Wiebe was also apparently up for a Birds of Prey writing gig at some point, and if you read Rat Queens, I'm going to suggest you not tear out your hair right now.

GIVE ME A DAMIAN WAYNE SOLO, RIGHT FUCKING NOW. It's been long enough, it's time to bring back the Robin solo. Damian Wayne is one of the most entertaining characters in the current Bat universe to not have his own book. This would also address my desire to see him interact with more of the Bat Family, past the dedication that Tomasi has to exploring the father/son relationship between Bruce and Damian. Batman and Robin and Robin could totally coexist, outside of that confusing sentence. It should happen. It's time.

Then... I don't know, something out of the box. If you'll notice, my two suggestions are very conservative wants along the lines of traditional books, yet stuff like Gotham Academy, Arkham Manor and Gotham by Midnight are very untraditional type books. I'm not sure I'm creative enough to think of some out of nowhere concept that would fit in Gotham and be totally awesome to read... but I'd fuckin' read anything that's put in front of me like that, that's for sure... I'll try though...

Bat-Cow and Barnyard Friends? 

Oh damn.

Hey Mark Doyle, call me.

Also, last minute idea... Bring Batman, Inc back in some way... That'd be cool, maybe... if they found a creative team with a ton of talent and ambition to match.

8 comments :

  1. When comparing Batman and Detective, you could say that Batman is where the epic more outlandish superhero events take place while Detective is more grounded and closely shows Bruce's talent at investigating crimes.
    When you think about Dark Knight though, you could tell it only continued in the New 52 to have a Batman book every week. At first it was more of an action book that showcased Finch's art and then came to focus more on the villains. The book had its moments but was mostly irrelevant. That's why when it was cancelled, I was fine with just having the main three.

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  2. Re: Your Batman sort-of-prediction (Joker revealing Batman's identity), I think that's quite possible. It hadn't occurred to me, but it would make a good deal of sense. It could actually open up a lot of new story possibilities, for better or worse. In some ways, it would make Batman/Bruce Wayne similar to Iron Man/Tony Stark in the Marvel U. Marvel has all but done away with the notion of secret identities with the exception of Spider-Man. Should DC do the same? I dunno. It's an interesting hypothesis with some cool possibilities.

    Re: Grayson, I'm in total agreement; one of my favorite books, period, not just Bat-books. Issue 5 (We All Die At Dawn) was my favorite of the year. Seeley, King, and Janin are doing some very cool and interesting things. They're really making the Spyral/espionage story-arc payoff. As for your Cassandra Cain idea, I think you just made a lot of fans happy.

    Re: Tim Seeley in relation to the Catwoman title, I think he's really talented and DC should totally lock him down to an exclusive contract insofar as possible. I could see him writing a lot of excellent DCU books in the future if given the opportunity.

    Finally, I still think Gotham By Midnight still sounds like a bad Skinemax erotic superhero series.

    Re: Batman And Robin, I think the title has gotten a bit stale, which might sound silly given the fact Robin has just returned. I'm all for Tomasi and Gleason continuing to write a Bat-title, but I'm just not sure we need the father/son book that it started out as anymore. That ground has kind of been tread already. After the Super-Damian arc, I'm not sure what purpose the book serves, other than giving us Damian every month and probably garnering solid sales for DC. It's a bit like Detective Comics for me, actually. Not totally sure what the hook is anymore.

    Re: your Batman, Inc. idea, as silly as it sounds, you could totally merge it with your desire for a Robin solo and do a twist on the old Brave and the Bold. Robin: The Brave And The Bold? Just have Damian team up with anyone and everyone on monthly basis. Aquaman, El Gaucho, Green Arrow, Knight & Squire (need a new Squire!), etc. Why the hell not?

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  3. How about a Red Robin/Bluebird ongoing. It's interesting tha of all the Bat-Allies, Tim has had the least to do with Gotham. Teaming him up with Harper could make an interesting dynamic, and could give them both a larger presence in the overall Bat-Universe...

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  4. Regarding reviving Birds of Prey, remember Starling? She was awesome, and then Simone threw her away. If she came back, that book could be pretty cool again.

    Also, I kind of thought that when Arkham Manor was announced, it would center more on the villains of the asylum and the doctors and guards. Arkham Asylum: Living Hell was one of my favorite miniseries. But instead, this is Batman undercover, solving a crime, occasionally talking to one doctor (who secretly will turn out to be exposed as the Joker in the near future that's already happened in another book), and it's also only a miniseries. I'm still reading it, but it's not what I anticipated. So I'd like a monthly ongoing that takes place in Arkham that centered on the revolving cast of villains that come and go (cuz that's what Arkham does best is allow them to leave in some fashion), and the doctors, like Jeremiah Arkham himself and guards like Aaron Cash, and maybe since it's the new 52 they can retcon Dr. Anne Carver's death, among new characters who are the main cast, and new, interesting inmates, and Batman is rarely seen, just talked about. I realize that constricting an ongoing to one building is difficult, but that's why I'm not a writer.

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  5. My apologies. It's been a while, and I totally forgot that Simone hasn't written this volume of Birds. I went and looked it up. Christy Marx was the writer at the time of Starling's departure.

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  6. It will be interesting to see how DC handles Grayson's/Robin's 75th this year. after all it seems like they learned from Superman's mediocre 75th anniversary after seeing the fanfare for
    Batman this year. Hopefully it's simply not just a happy ending for Dick & Babs in Convergence...

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