DC Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17


How many Batman 
books is too many Batman books? Depending on who you ask there ain’t no such thing! We try to stay up on what’s going on at DC, but we can’t always dig deep into every issue. The solution? Our weekly round-up of titles coming out of DC Comics. Today, we’re discussing All-Star Batman 8, Batman 19, Batwoman 1, Superman 19, Trinity 7 and Wild Storm 2. Also, we’ll be discussing Green Lanterns 19 on Monday and Green Arrow 19 on Tuesday, so come back for those! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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All-Star Batman 8

All-Star Batman 8Spencer: It’s hard to trick Batman. We all know that, but for good measure, Scott Snyder and Giuseppi Camuncoli reestablish that fact early in All-Star Batman 8 by having Batman immediately see through the disguises of the Blackhawk agents posing as his sidekicks and teammates in one of those fist-pumping moments of uber-competence that Snyder and his Batman are all-too good at.

Reminding us of Batman’s ability to see through any trick, though, only makes it more effective when the Mad Hatter eventually gets through his defenses, making Bruce question what’s real and what’s an illusion. The triumph of All-Star Batman 8 is the way Snyder and Camuncoli incorporate the audience into Batman’s confusion. There’s not a single dialogue balloon in this issue — instead, Batman narrates the entire story himself. It’s fairly standard at first, but eventually Batman starts referring to himself in second person (“He thinks you don’t see him, but you do”), inviting the audience to place themselves in his shoes. As Hatter’s mind-bending deception grows stronger, though, he suddenly takes over as narrator, taking full control of Batman’s mind and how the reader experiences it. Our perception of what’s going on is just as muddled as Batman’s, and it’s a wonderful trick.

The full story of what went down between Batman and Hatter — both in the present and back before the Zero Year — is never entirely clear, though I’m inclined to believe that Hatter’s lying about pretty much everything. What’s certain, though, is that Batman’s victory this time comes from, not his uncanny perception, but his perseverance. Batman never gives up trying to find the truth, trying to find justice, and would rather risk death than live in uncertainty and fear. As always, Batman never fails to impress.

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Batman 19

Batman 19Patrick: Batman’s the man with the plan, right? One of his superpowers is that he is meticulously prepared for anything, like some kind of violent ultra-Boy Scout. So, just like Superman is often robbed of his Kryptonian superstrength to introduce a sense of danger, Batman occasionally finds himself backed up against a wall, with no plan and no prep. That’s where the drama kicks up a notch, and we’re no longer left with the certainty that Batman has a plan to get out of this unscathed. Tom King and David Finch’s Batman 19 casts Bane as the “hero” in a classic Batman “there’s no way he has a plan” story, pitting the Pride of Santa Prisca against the inmates at Gotham.

It’s kind cool to see the ol’ Arkham Asylum treatment applied to Bane. Both the Grant Morrison and Dave McKean’s graphic novel and the WB video game from 2009 set out to describe Batman by exploring his relationship to his enemies. With the script flipped and Bane standing in Batman’s place, it becomes a little bit harder to see those relationships, but this issue is no less effective at expressing the core of what Bane is. Essentially, Bane is a juggernaut. Unstoppable, and incapable of being thrown off balance by any of the inmates nonsense. He literally doesn’t even stop to acknowledge Maxi Zeus, who bookends the piece by muttering his way through Dante. But it’s not even like the rest of the speed bumps do much to slow him down. My favorite interaction comes early in the issue: Two-Face approaches and mediates on the duality of his desires in that moment, as a Two-Face is wont to do. Bane doesn’t entertain any of this — he is too singularly focused on his goal — and he lays out Two-Face in no time. At least he offers a superficial satisfaction of knocking him out with a 1-2 punch.

I think Finch’s work in this issue is fantastic. There is so little room to tell the stories of all the encounters King has scripted, but he manages them all with a tight, claustrophobic efficiency. Bane often appears as too big for the panels he’s occupying, and he basically swallows every page. 

This continues through the majority of Batman’s rogues, and there are really only two hiccups. Scarecrow’s fear toxin seems to affect Bane on a biological level, but he’s able to brush it off as soon as it gets to the psychological level, the implications of which are awesome. The second hiccup is with Riddler. Nygma acquiesces and hacks the New Genesis locks under the threat of breaking, but it’s fascinating to see King give Riddler a subtle advantage as the scene goes on. Riddler’s first line in the scene is a riddle: “When is a door not a door?” We never get his answer to that because Bane all “just open the goddamn thing or VIOLENCE.” He opens the door and then is allowed to both pose and answer another riddle. King has given us one hell of a Bane — one that continues to be a harrowingly warped reflection of Batman — but this interaction gets me excited for the calm menace of his Riddler.

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Batwoman 1

Batwoman 1Mark: Batwoman 1 is absolutely gorgeous. With a resume that includes working with Ed Brubaker on Captain America and Velvet, I consider Steve Epting to be a prestige artist. But if DC is angling to position Batwoman as a prestige title, the rest of the book needs to be more than basic.

I was feeling pretty good about the future of Batwoman by the end of Batwoman Rebirth 1, last month’s pseudo-prequel/zero issue, but that was based on the erroneous assumption that Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion IV planned to focus on the cliffhanging Commander Kane persona and move past the Batwoman we know. Clearly, that’s not the case (although Commander Kane might be a long term plan), as Batwoman 1 is only a minor variation on the Batwoman we already know.

But beyond all of that, I’m frustrated by the blandness of the issue itself. Tynion has always been a reliably consistent writer— albeit one who errs on the side of safe storytelling choices— but rarely to the cliched extent here. The sequence of events after Batwoman takes out the Dr. Martine in Kapalicarsi Market is ripped right from Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (never a flattering comparison), which in turn is borrowed from countless other sources.

Batwoman confronts Martine, “Tell me where to find the seller!” Martine chokes out a cryptic clue to Batwoman just as projectile weapon enters the frame and kills him before he can reveal too much. Batwoman turns. A mysterious assassin lingers nearby. Batwoman gives chase, but before long the assassin engages a rocket pack and blasts away to parts unknown.

I want Batwoman 1 to be more than it is, which is a frustrating feeling. What’s here is capital “F” Fine, but in a crowded comic landscape, and with a core fanbase as fiercely loyal as Batwoman’s, I don’t know how long Fine can cut it.

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Superman 19

Superman 19Michael:  If you’re going to make a comic book with a villainous magical imp who dwells in 5th dimensional playground then you need a high caliber artist. Luckily Superman 19 has Patrick Gleason at the helm, showcasing his imagination by detailing Mxyzptlk’s traps and games for Lois and Clark. First off I’d like to state for the record how creepy Gleason makes Mxyzptlk look throughout Superman 19. Visually Mxy has the style of a hybrid between an old man and a little boy, and Gleason plays up the levels of innocence and malevolence to an unsettling effect.

Gleason delights in the topsy-turvy powers of the maniacal imp, taking Lois and Clark through spirals of personal history, cosmic landscape boss levels and board games of Superman continuity. Mxy is a character who goes beyond the fourth wall and these artistic devices Gleason uses are a great way to embody that.

DC’s titles are getting closer and closer to the “mysteries of Rebirth,” no more so than Superman. Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason add another layer this week as they suggest that Superman was split in two, giving us classic Superman and New 52 Superman. I love the theme of this idea – New 52 Superman was Superman devoid of hope and optimism – but I’m curious how Gleason and Tomasi will spin this continuity-wise.

Jonathan Kent spends the issue in the “Island of Misfit Toys” dimension where he meets up with the banished souls of New 52 Superman and Lois who are seemingly resurrected at the end of the issue. I have no idea what happens next, but just want to point out that New 52 Lois and Superman lived and died and never ended up together. How strange is that?

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Trinity 7

Trinity 7Spencer: This issue bored me to tears. It pains me to say that — the idea of Lex Luthor, R’as al Ghul, and Circe forming a Dark Trinity has potential, and the Supes/Bats/Wondy fusion beast they battle is exactly the kind of wacko idea that first got me into comics, but the execution is just so dull. I think my main problem with Trinity 7 is that it’s overwritten. It’s full of purple prose; each character speaks like they’ve memorized a thesaurus, which isn’t exactly out of character for any of them, but considering they’re the only three speaking parts in the entire issue, it gets exhausting fast. Meanwhile, we’ve got internal monologues from all three leads mixed in with plenty of external monologues, dragging down even the action sequences with tons of text that, ultimately, has very little to actually say.

What it does have to say, meanwhile, is rather superficial. There’s no subtext here: Lex and R’as will flat-out state out-loud why they hate each other, and then give another variation of the same sentiment in their internal monologue, and none of it really digs into these characters. Lex hates R’as because he’s an assassin? Give me a break — even this more heroic Lex is far more complex than that. Their sniping could at least be fun, but again, Cullen Bunn, Clay Mann, and Miguel Mendonca play it out in the dullest possible fashion, refusing to let their cast ham it up or to dig into the fun or humor inherent to the genre. The cast comes across on the written page like actors bored with their script, which would be an astounding feat if it wasn’t so depressing.

Honestly, the only moment that worked for me at all was this moment of reflection from Lex as he battles the fusion monster.

This isn’t exactly revelatory, but it’s a take on Luthor that I enjoy regardless — he doesn’t hate gods and aliens and myth because he’s a scientist or a genius, but because he’s an egomaniac. R’as and Circe each get a page just like this one, but Bunn misses the point of those characters completely. He plays Circe like a bland, standard God, giving no insight into what drives her as an individual. R’as, meanwhile, freaks out with blind hatred over Batman, which is completely wrong. Batman is R’as’ enemy, yeah, but R’as has the utmost respect for him. It’s the whole point of their relationship.

Francis Manapul’s Trinity wasn’t a perfect book, but it was bright, fun, and hopeful even in its most awkward moments. Bunn’s Trinity isn’t giving me much reason to check back at all, except to see if Manapul’s returned yet.

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Wild Storm 2

Wild Storm 2Drew: For all of the dazzling near-future tech and mind-bending existential quandaries that typify writer Warren Ellis’ style, I’d say the key component is how relatable the characters are in spite of those alien elements. That is, while his characters are grappling with trans-skeletal drysuits and the morality of organizations that secretly control/protect the planet, their humanity is never completely obscured. In that way, the story of Angela Spica boils down to that of a woman on the run from everybody — some who might do her harm, some who might protect her, and others who just want answers. It’s The Fugitive, but with superpowers.

This issue is rich in the kind of casual exposition Ellis tends to favor, giving us just enough context to follow each conversation. And there are a lot of conversations. This is a very talky issue, but artist Jon Davis-Hunt manages to make it a visually stimulating one, as well. Some of that comes from inventive angles (there are a lot of dutch tilts in this issue), but I’m actually more impressed with his geographic discipline. Every shot makes it clear where in the room each character is standing, and where we’re observing them from. That requires meticulous attention to detail in his backgrounds, but also requires a clear shot structure, including some helpful establishing shots.

Establishing shots

These wide shots lend vital context to the closeups. It’s elementary stuff, but rare enough elsewhere (and deployed so effectively here) that it warrants praise. Ellis may still be holding back information from us, but Davis-Hunt definitely isn’t.

With all of our factions quickly zeroing in on Montauk, we’ll get more information about their motives soon enough. It’s not yet clear whether this is Angela’s story, or if she’s just the property that sets off a turf war, but I suspect that question will be settled in the next issue (and may depend on who gets to her first). It’s an exciting series, even if it is a little cryptic.

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The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?

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34 comments on “DC Round-Up: Comics Released 3/15/17

  1. This comment on Batman news pretty much sums up how I feel about this issue ” I know some people really liked this issue, but it honestly just felt lazy to me. It was basically

    “Reader is told that something is impossible”

    “Bane punches so hard it’s not impossible”

    “Bane beats up a random rogue”

    repeat x10.

    It’s a very amateurish way to write a “strong” character and it feels like King is getting more wrapped up in the hype of Bane than the actual character. Also now that we’ve got confirmation that those people hanging in the cave were the Robins, I’m just really annoyed. Not only did we apparently miss a really major fight completely off page, but the notion that he could just easily take all three of them goes against so much of what we know.” I also find it interesting that King is writing Batman as a villain and presenting him as a villain and Bane as the sympathetic hero. i don’t like the idea because of how badly I am Suicide was written, and how Batman was unnecessarily written as a villain in that. Batman is a character who means something for millions of people for decades and if King gives Batman a good motivation and reasoning for turning evil, and then a good redemption arc, then I will be fine with it. I hope King can fix this somehow. This run has been really bad.

    • It wasn’t too long ago that King was the most exciting new voice in comics…

      I wonder what would have happened if he didn’t sign that exclusive with DC. He would probably still be writing the Vision, continuing his exciting work with the space stuff he had planned. Maybe doing some more creator owned stuff with Vertigo or Image. Continuing being the exciting voice that he was.

      Instead, we have this disaster. King is probably going to have to rebuild his reputation, reprove himself as the guy who can write books like the Vision and Omega Men. Signing the exclusive was probably the best choice he had, but it has backfired spectacularly. Especially considering how obscure his other books were, it feels like it will take a long time to reach that unquestioned standing of one of the best writers around that he had just before Rebirth.

    • This is an interesting reaction. I find this characterization of Batman to be totally in line with the grim’n’gritty approach that has more or less defined the character for the past 30 years. I really think King is simply holding a mirror up to that characterization, forcing us to acknowledge that Batman is pretty much indistinguishable from his enemies. He’s picking apart the grim’n’gritty approach, sometimes by aping it uncomfortably, other times by satirizing it quite openly. I’m inclined to think that King’s run is to the previous 30 years of Batman comics what the ’66 Batman TV show was to the previous 25 years of Batman comics — it’s not asserting that all of the comics were necessarily bad or silly, it’s just pointing out how bad and silly the worst of it was.

      • The idea that Batman is just as bad as his villains has been thoroughly debunked, most recently in Scott Snyder’s run where Batman tried to escape his eternal dance with Joker and move on form his symbiotic relationship with his villians, but Joker comes back in Endgame and evolves to become more powerful just like Batman. Scott SNyder’s Batman debunks the idea that they are just as Batman, because Batman has a family he actually cares about and real human relationships (he is angry when Alfred is kidnapped, while Joker doesn’t care about Harley) Scott Snyder’s run is so good and one of the best Batman runs ever, especially after Morrison’s run where he realizes the repetitive cycle of his inescapable life, that Snyder’s Batman tries to break free of, but is stuck in due to Batman being an eternal gothic horror figure, but still moves a bit forward. He is forced back into it all because of the nature of Gotham and Batman. Such a genius run

        • I absolutely agree that Snyder’s run was fantastic, but I’m not sure any run, however successful, could be said to lay another interpretation of the character to rest. That is: Snyder’s run can’t debunk an idea across all of Batmandom because there are simply too many interpretations of the character out there. Indeed, there are many interpretations that outright contradict one another, but they’re all Batman. It seems to me that King isn’t so much reacting to Snyder’s run as he is the idea of a “serious” Batman, as has been interpreted by movies, video games, and pretentious comics over the years. This arc in particular is clearly riffing on Morrison’s Arkham Asylum which definitely made the case that Batman is just as unstable as the villains he fights. I personally think flipping the script such that Batman is one of the inmates, and the interloper is another villain is a clever way to drive that point home.

        • But Morrison’s run showed how every Batman story is interconnected, and how he has lived this one big life where all these events happened in one way another, Scott Snyder’s run is Batman realizing this and what it means for him, and King is messing up the character. King’s Batman doesn’t act like a master strategist, tactician, and detective, which are some of the most important traits about Batman, but instead King’s Batman acts like a complete idiot. He is treating Batman like there aren’t other Batman stories out there and there isn’t a definitive Batman . Sure there are variations to the character, but there still is a core character there of Batman . Quote from wikapedia “Batman’s primary character traits can be summarized as “wealth; physical prowess; deductive abilities and obsession” All of those elements are necessary for essential Batman, and I would also add in dressed like a bat, and driven by a tragedy. King’s Batman doesn’t fill that check list of what Batman is. If King wants to make a new character, then he should make a new character.

        • Id also add that King is writing in continuity Batman, and not an elseworlds story so his character needs to follow the the essential traits that make Batman Batman. There is a difference between expanding and exploring the character, and adding new dynamics, layers, and depths; and completely changing the character.

        • It’s funny: I understand what you mean, but I think King is acknowledging that there are other Batman stories out there, they’re just not the ones you want him to be acknowledging. Knightfall-era, Batman, for example, is a particularly pertinent precedent for this story, and I think King is capturing that, albeit with a bit more of Morrison’s swagger thrown in. He’s reaching back to history not necessarily connected with his immediate predecessors, but that’s exactly what Morrison did.

          I’m curious where you feel King’s interpretation isn’t living up to that list of character traits. Physical prowess, deductive abilities, and especially obsession have been on full display. Wealth is obviously important — King’s Batman has called upon tons of insane tech — but since we haven’t gotten a lot of non-costumed time in his run, we haven’t seen any of the philanthropy and other displays of wealth we associate with Bruce Wayne.

        • I’m not sure if this is just because King is bad at writing fight scenes, but King’s Batman is not a good fighter, for instance Catwoman takes out Bane with just kick, but Batman struggles to fight him. There have been a good 4-5 time King’s Batman has purposely lost. I do like how in issue 12 Batman fights through a bunch of henchman though. The big problem is how idiotic King’s Batman is. I am Gotham, Batman doesn’t know about two superhumans who have been in his city for two months, and doesn’t care enough to find out their strengths and weaknesses even after he is known them for over a week, just so King can make a deus ex machina ending for I am Gotham where their weakness is suddenly revealed, but not by batman’s detective arc. Also Batman is a terrible detective in that story and finds out that the suicide squad is involved because the soldiers numbers add up to 24, which makes no sense, and isn’t good detective writing. I am Suicide, I have talked at length before abut how Batman is a complete idiot with a horrible plan who isn’t a master detective or master strategist, and gets people unnessecaril;y in danger, against his character. I made a video on it https://youtu.be/qjY0TGt6d5k . In Rooftops, how come Batman doesn’t try to find out earlier who the real killer was, and prove it wasn’t Selina? King’s Batman does not act like a master detective and tactician.

        • Also King’s version of Batman being obsessed is more just pure insanity with Batman talking to his dead parents who he thinks are there. i have ranted at length about that before.

        • I guess these things just don’t bother me as much. In my mind, most comic book fights boil down to “villain is unbeatable until narratively convenient,” and I don’t think King has been any worse in that regard. Honestly, if there’s one Batman villain that should win some fights against Batman, it’s Bane.

          And I guess I’ve felt the same way about his intelligence. Batman can’t solve every mystery or anticipate every event, or it wouldn’t be interesting. He has to be caught off guard and in over his head, at least from time to time, in order to create actual tension. So long as he’s not overlooking things that are obvious to us, it’s hard for me to call a character an idiot.

        • I disagree on comic book fights lasting until narrative convenient. Good fight scenes have arcs to them, and create a sense of tension, as well as exciting moments. There are ways top create tension, and then there are fake ways to create tension like what King did in issue 11, with Batman pretending to react to catwoman betraying them, even though he knew, and nobody was around for Batman to try to fool. I agree that bane should be able to beat Batman, but King has Catwoman easily take out Bane, and Batman and Bronze Tiger are better fighters than Catwoman. I agree on intelligence, but Batman should be a master detective and the audience should and can still have suspense on wether Batman will solve it or not., There are cases Batman hasn’t solved, and people he hasn’t saved. Most great Batman writers succeed and write him as a compelling detective and write a good mystery, but King is just in your face, and writing the hype of the character instead of the actual character. Also, I have thought of most of the stuff while reading or after and thinking about it,and the character is just overlooking things that are obvious to any reader who has read a lot of Batman comics

        • Drew, I’m interested in why you would say that King’s Batman is riffing on Arkham Asylum, because if I was to say that anything was riffing on Arkham Asylum, it would be All Star Batman. THe way art and setting are used to find each villain’s particular wavelength is much closer to Arkham Asyum than anything I’ve seen out of King’s Batman.
          Arkham Asylum is more than ‘Batman is as crazy as his enemies’ (in fact, it isn’t even ‘Batman is as crazy as his enemies’. The climax is specifically about how he isn’t unstable, that he is free from the asylum. He has his issues, his ‘madness’ and he admits it. But the line about him stating that he is ‘stronger than them. Stronger than this place’ is specifically about the fact that he isn’t as unstable as his villains. The finale is about him going back inside the asylum, and using that strength to heal, to try and bring them out of the darkness – and actually getting a meaningful success with Harvey Dent). But the things that make Arkham Asylum up are the Alice in Wonderland comparisons, the way that reality is twisted into a more abstract an unreal landscape, the look at the villains from a different perspective. It is about Maxie Zeus’ relationship to the electrotherapy, or how the Tarot cards leave Harvey utterly unable to make decisions. Meanwhile, the preview of this issue has Maxie Zeus quote Dante, and generic Two Face stuff before Bane punches people. No attempt to find a new insight into the character’s psychology, to view the villain from a different perspective. There is a reason the one fight Arkham Asylum has is demphasised to the point of Killer Croc being nothing more than muscle while Amadeus Arkham’s journal narrates over it.

          If anything, the current story is reverse Knightfall. Instead of Bane breaking the villains out of Arkham, leading Batman to exhaust himself fighting them all, it is Batman breaking into Arkham, leading Bane to fight them all. But it appears to miss the key component that makes Knightfall work, which is the difficulty. Knightfall was long, and the key idea was that it was a marathon slog that truly tired Batman. It was all about seeing just how difficult it was to fight Firefly, and how much it took out of Batman to get that victory. In the preview? Bane just punches Harvey. Which is just boring writing

          Also, I feel the idea that we can just ignore the ideas of Morrison and Snyder’s recent runs because this is a more 90s inspired perspective is a bad take. There is no Plato style unchanging, eternal Batman that exists in the World of Forms. Batman as an idea is constantly changing, built on the foundations of what came before. When Batman returned to his pulp roots with Denny O’Neil’s work, the Silver Age wasn’t ignored, but it provided part of the foundation. And so it has continued, with the idea of Batman evolving and evolving, finding a new balance.

          I know Rebirth wants to return Batman to those edgier times, but that doesn’t change the fact that we have spent a decade with two great runs that specifically targeted those ideas and proved them false (and that is if we ignore how books like Arkham Asylum have been disputing this since at least 1989f). After spending a decade specifically addressing this stuff, I think it is worth criticising King and Tynion for returning to a Batman that the comics have moved past. This isn’t the era of Knightfall. This isn’t 1993. Its 2017. And the Batman books should act like it

        • For the record: previews are a terrible way of assessing an issue and its larger themes. It’s possible to get an impression of an issue based on an out-of-context scene, but it’s also possible that that impression is way off.

          Sure, in a very abstract way, this issue is a kind of inversion of Knightfall, but in a moment-to-moment, I-see-what-they’re-doing kind of way, it’s clearly an inversion of Arkham Asylum. Yes, it doesn’t get into the same psychoanalytic depths, but that’s mostly because Bane punches everyone before they can have the kinds of soliloquies they have in Arkham Asylum. I mean, everything points at Arkham Asylum, from the way Bane entered the building in the previous issue to the roster of characters Bane faces in this one. King is having fun squaring that interpretation of Batman and his rogues with the one that appears in Knightfall, and it really is fun if we allow ourselves to take it with the sense of humor King intends.

          And sorry, there’s no way you’re going to convince me that Morrison or Snyder’s interpretations HAVE to be followed closely, because they weren’t even followed closely while they were being published. Snyder’s Batman was published alongside four or five other titles where Batman was a lead, and those interpretations were wildly inconsistent. This has been true to some extent for decades, and while some eras are better at consistency than others, the notion of Batman’s characterization as having a strict continuity is nonsense. You might be able to convince me that different eras generally accentuate certain parts of the character, but there’s no way to argue that Tony Daniel’s Batman in Detective Comics was consistent with Snyder’s. I understand the head-canon that prioritizes Snyder’s interpretation over all others in the era, but I can’t understand the argument that King has more responsibility to Snyder’s precedent than Snyder had to his own contemporaries. Continuity is a vague, hand-wavy thing, and we have to afford different creative teams some latitude in finding a voice for the character that works for them.

        • Agreed with the last part, but King is 19 issues in and hasn’t found a good voice for the character and is breaking some of the essential fundamentals of Batman that make him Batman and not just a generic character, or another character who isn’t Batman. Morrison, Snyder, and most Batman writers both wrote a master detective and tactician who as a kid decide to wage a war a crime to help people and make sure no one felt how young Bruce did. He was an obsessed athletic detective with large finances that was driven by tragedy. Those are the most important parts of Batman, and King managed to mess them up.

        • I love detective stories, but not every good Batman story is a detective story. The Dark Knight Returns, for example, doesn’t have a whole lot of detective work, but is irrefutably an iconic Batman story.

        • Agreed. But DKR Batman doesn’t act like an idiot and fail to be a good detective. Not showing detective traits is different than going against a character’s detective traits. It seems King is hopefully going to fix this with “the button” and the war of jokes and riddles

        • My argument isn’t about continuity and having the facts the same. It isn’t about following closely, or about not being able to find your own take. It is about building on the ideas of the previous runs. It is about using what comes before as a foundation for the continuing evolution of the character. It is about always going forward.

          Batman is a constantly changing character. He begun as a killer (on rare occasions even using a gun). These features disappeared, and then the introduction of Robin shook things up again by turning Batman from a lone avenger to a character that had connections. The influence of the Batman serials approached Alfred from a new perspective, which meant the comics sent him to a health resort where he lost weight, grew some facial hair and the non particularly successful bumbling amateur detective elements were downplayed until they disappeared. The introduction of Catwoman, Batwoman and Batgirl were done to as a (clumsy) approach at exploring the sexuality of Batman and Robin (and, in the case of Batwoman and Batgirl, to dispel rumours of Batman being gay). Batman is a constantly changing character, and if your take ignores that, that’s the problem. You can’t say that the take is reflective of the last 30 years when it is ignoring the most recent decade (at least).

          Create something new, something different. That’s what we all want. Morrison did. Snyder did. I praised Telltale’s Batman as a great evolution of Snyder’s work, despite being a completely different take. In fact, the idea that Tony Daniel should be matching Snyder and Morrison is completely against my ideals. I never read Daniel’s Detective Comics, but I did read his Batman, contemporary to Morrison. And I had massive problems with Daniel’s run on Batman. But Daniel’s goal shouldn’t have been to match Morrison, but to make his best attempt at crafting his own take out, inspired by all of those that had written Dick Grayson before him. That was his goal (during this time, another writer who wrote Dick alongside Morrison excelled at this. While Morrison was writing stories that leaned into the theatricality inherent of a Batman who is actually Dick Grayson, Snyder took the exact opposite approach. Where Morrison asked ‘What is a Batman story like, when it is Dick Grayson?’, Snyder asked, ‘What is a Dick Grayson story, when he’s Batman?’ But the success came from how Synder built on everything that came before).

          And that’s the problem. Instead of building on previous runs to create a new take, we are instead going backwards. Ignoring every way that Batman has evolved to go back to an iteration so built on ignoring every recent that King and Tynion are literally writing a joke.

          And I mean literally. The Batman of Rebirth is literally a joke. It is an iteration so old and so outdated that it is the punchline of the latest Batman movie. Instead of building on previous runs to find the new take that evolves Batman to his next approach, we are re-litigating a debate so old, so outdated that the LEGO guys spent two movies laughing at how outdated it is.

          Batman has evolved. Batman has changed. Batman has grown up. So why the fuck can’t DC?

        • I just don’t buy the argument that Morrison or Snyder were that tightly locked into what came immediately before their runs. Indeed, I would probably argue that Morrison was more engaged in odd stories from 20, 30, 40, and 50 years before his run than the decade immediately preceding his own. The Batman and Son arc rather defiantly breaks with any prior evolution of the character, starting in medias res with the resolution of a decidedly silver age-looking Joker-copter. Honestly, there’s no way to reconcile all of Batman’s continuity in the way that Morrison did without ignoring the explicit turns of events that rendered many of the stories he references and riffs on as non-canonical.

          Snyder, for his part, ignored some of the key takeaways from Morrison’s run that emphasized the breadth and depth of the Bat-family. Sure, Dick and Alfred still played important roles, but Damian, Tim, Babs (to say nothing of Steph, Cass, or the rest of Batman Incorporated, though I suppose we can blame that on editorial decisions tied up in the relaunch [though we should then excuse King for the same reasons]) barely featured at all. In my mind, much of the evolution of Batman as a character came from his relationship with Damian, but I’m 100% okay with Snyder ignoring that because it would have hamstrung him with themes he didn’t want to address.

          Like it or not, Batman is a mythological character, who exists in multiple platforms simultaneously, so some adherence to a fixed platonic form is necessary. Things can change temporarily — Robins can die, Batman can be replaced, Alfred can lose his hand — but they’re largely going to snap back into a familiar before long. I get that that can be frustrating if you are particularly fond of any of those changes, but it’s really a necessary thing if DC is invested in the character being recognizeable throughout his history.

          To me, comics characters are closer to “unchanging” mythological characters like Santa Claus or Bigfoot than they are television characters who might grow and change in such dramatic ways that they’re different people by the end of a series. I put unchanging in scare quotes because they obviously do change over a longer period of time, as certain types of interpretations come in and out of fashion, and also because any one interpretation might be wildly different from another, but none could be said to be essential, so none can do damage to that platonic ideal. This is why we can forget forgettable runs, ignore regrettable runs, and generally maintain a consistent head canon without breaking our backs trying to explain how a character got from point A to point B — there is really only ever point A, with only temporary, looping journeys away from and back to it. There is no going backwards, just as there is no going forwards. Progress is an illusion in comics, and I maintain that King is perpetuating that illusion far better than your general impressions of Rebirth and sampling of previews could really communicate.

        • Two things. Snyder’s run does deal with how Bruce has been changed by Damian.
          Also, if Batman never moves forward or background, why isn’t he still just a gun toting shadow ripoff like he was in 1939. Also, I have been reading King’s run in whole (I skipped night of the monster men though). Also, Batman needs to King’s Batman is an idiot and terribly written with unrealistic laughable dialogue, and his Batman isn’t a detective, one of the most important parts of Batman.

        • Slerer, that last line was meant for Matt specifically — it’s clear you have read every issue. I think when it comes down to it, you just don’t like this run as much as you liked Snyder’s, so aren’t as willing to forgive what amounts to the same level of shortcomings. I think it’s perfectly fine to not like this run — different strokes and all that — but I think suggesting that King’s run is disrespectful or somehow destructive to the character is just hyperbole. He has a take you don’t like, but that doesn’t make it invalid.

        • Sure. I meant more the run is counterproductive, and in 5 years I don’t think the run is horrible to Batman. Batman has survived much worse. The run is just so frustrating. King gets these genius set ups and completely fails in execution making Batman not a detective, and giving I am Gotham a deus ex machina ending, and giving I am Suicide Michael Bay sized plot holes, when King is such a great writer working with such a great character. I think it might be the double shipping that have lead to it being not so good. King said on twitter the other day that he was disappointing in scripts he wrote saying “Taking a few days off from writing to read good stuff. Last few scripts I’ve done we’re…not good. Got to remember what good is.” Also, I’m not just saying King’s run is bad because I liked Snyder’s. I thought Rooftops was good, and the King’s story in the annual was amazing.

        • I didn’t really enjoy I am suicide either, as it felt light, but I dig this story. I think King’s tweet may have been in reference to recently written drafts, but I can’t be sure. But I am definitely enjoying his take on Batman as a little more imperfect and emotional. Batman being beaten up feels like BTAS, where criminals could outsmart and even beat up batman. That ratchets up the suspense.

          I get why you didn’t like Suicide arc though.

        • I liked the first issue and the suicide retcon. I thought I am Gotham was meh. i thought Rooftops was good, and his Ace story good boy is amazing

        • Are you talking about the same Batman and Son as I am? The one that begun with red skies, the Joker behind an atmospheric, noir Gotham? Holding a crowbar, an item whose symbolic menaing had just been re-energised by the arc just before Infinite Crisis? The one that then goes to the Batcave, where Alfred states that the growl in Bruce’s Batman voice is now being used all the time, reverent to the many identity struggles that Batman had been facing in the Brubaker/Rucka era? The story that begun the first phase of Morrison’s Batman run, which ultimately concluded with Batman RIP, with a villain moulded in the tradition of villains like Hush? There is so much more to that opening than just the Silver Age Joker helicopter. It has just as many modern touches as it has Silver Age touches. In fact, a big part of the early Morrison stuff, like the Black Casebook, was reinterpreting the older Silver Age stuff in a way that reconciled with modern approaches. The highly obsessive aspect of modern Batman is used to reconcile the silly Silver Age stories through the idea that Batman experienced these visions in an attempt to learn how to think like the Joker. Hell, I’d argue the main purpose of the first phase of Morrison’s Batman was to see how much old content you could inject into a throughly modern version of Batman until it burst. Batman RIP was all about taking things so far past the breaking point that we needed a new version of Batman, the big blockbuster Batman of Batman and Robin, Batman Inc and Snyder’s work. And throughout his run, Morrison was constantly using elements of the more modern books alongside the older stuff (first one that comes to mind? The Catwoman stuff in early Batman Inc is most certainly Morrison playing around with early 2000 Batman stuff). Morrison wasn’t just playing around with the Silver Age. He was playing with literally every era. He was building on literally every aspect of what came before,

          So was Snyder. He was constrained by the executive meddling, and yet he managed to emphasize the breadth of the Batfamily. From the very first issue, he not only rooted Bruce in his connection to his sons, but also took the baton and pushed the idea that the Batfamily should always be getting broader and deeper, through the cameo of Harper Row. The Court of Owls gave time to explore what Batman meant to the rest of the family, and ended with the Night of Owls, where the breadth of the Batfamily united against the Court (including the first Batwing, representing Batman Inc). This was followed by Death of the Family, an arc all about Batman’s connection to his family. Even as Zero Year was starting Duke’s journey, Snyder was using the Eternal books as celebrations of the bredth and depth of the Batfamily, stories built on the idea of a united front. And between Zero Year and Batman Eternal, Snyder was building his ultimate thesis, an evolution of Morrison’s ideas by saying we are all Batman, the the Batfamily is so broad, so deep, that it includes anyone who stands up to face the darkness. Maybe Snyder didn’t build on Morrison in the same way that Tomasi did, but that’s a good thing. He found another direction. And both should be honoured

          My point has nothing to do with continuity of lore. The only time I really get annoyed with continuity is Lemire’s work, and that is because reading Lemire’s work often feels like a guy going ‘Remember when Superman was split into Superman Green and Superman Yellow?’. That he is putting so much effort into be so reverent to stories he is getting so wrong.
          It is about the thematic progression. Ever watched Lindsey Ellis’ Loose Canon? It is a series all about the ways that our mythic characters have evolved throughout time. Because they have. Santa Claus has changed a lot. All mythic characters do. And they happen faster than we think. We live in a world where Star Wars and Mad Max, two franchises infamous for their sheer manliness, are now associated as feminist myths. While Leia has always been an important female icon, the fact that she was essentially the sole female character has always been a point a contention – until Ahsoka, Rey and Jyn have completely changed the conversation. Mad Max lacked a Leia type character, but regardless of what the next Mad Max movie is, regardless of whether it is a powerful feminist screed or something different, a Mad Max movie that doesn’t continue Fury Road’s tradition of providing a world that is just as full of strong woman as it is strong men will be seen as a betrayal.
          You are right that we should forget forgettable runs and ignore regrettable runs – I’m not talking about taking influence from Daniel’s forgettable stuff or All Star Batman and Robin. I’m talking about some of the great runs to come out in recent memory.

          Because progress does happen in comics. It isn’t an illusion. Batman has had five different, distinct characters as Robin (ignoring characters like Carrie Kelly). The Green Lantern mythos went from a guy with a magic ring; to a space cop; to Kyle Rayner, the last Green Lantern; to an interconnected mythos of seven different Corps. At Marvel, Peter Parker, the archetypal teen hero, has grown up and become an adult, and spent decades as an adult. The core Avengers 20 years ago is massively different to today – while Captain America, Iron Man and Thor will forever be core Avengers, character that were once essential mainstays, like Wasp, Scarlet Witch and Vision are now no longer as important. Meanwhile, Carol Danvers is more important than ever, and there is every appearance that this change is going to stick. As is the impact of the rise of Starlord on cosmic Marvel. Just because there are basic parts of the myth that must stay the same, it doesn’t mean that some elements can’t change, nor does it mean that new elements can’t be added (maybe even becoming essential parts of the myth).

          Maybe you are right, and it is about editorial. Just as Snyder’s plans with Cassandra Cain were massively changed by editorial, maybe it is the same with King. Considering this is a massive problem throughout DC, with so, so many books suffering these problems, it is likely. But that doesn’t change anything. The fact that this is what DC is today is a travesty.

          We are in an important time in our cultural dialogue, we have been for the last couple of years. A time where art at large is being challenged with the needs to mature, to grow up. And DC chose to go full GamerGate instead. It is a fucking travesty

  2. A shame Batwoman was bad, as that was a book DC really needed to work. Though it has been clear for a long time that DC do not care enough about Batwoman for this to work

    Tynion was a bad choice. His consistency has been reliable (ignoring his current, disastrous Detective Comics. I saw a preview of the next issue showing a flashback to Cassandra’s training where she had a conversation with her father. How do you fuck up that bad? The single most important part of Cassandra’s origin was that she was trained without the ability to speak, and that her father refused to talk to her), but he has always been a writer whose best work seemed to happen with careful guidance from Snyder. Stuff like his backups in Batman were strong, and the further away he got from that, the more disappointingly generic it got. If you wanted a writer to fit a book high profile enough to have Epting art, Tynion was never a good choice
    Also, giving Batwoman to guy who had had just royally messed up her character was a bad idea. They should have tried everything they could to distance it from the disaster that is Detective Comics.

  3. I really am enjoying King’s run on Batman. He’s not doing anything particularly new, but this feels a lot like Batman from The Animated Series to me. A little more emotionally vulnerable and petty, which works for someone who is essentially a childs fantasy. The discussion between Bruce and ALfred is telling in how it seems he’s conflating his actions with Bane’s (could just be a misread) and blaming Bane for some things he’s ultimately responsible for. Setting Batman as the antagonist is both an interesting twist in the story while totally in keeping with other similar actions (such as when he used villains to stop the joker).

    And I love the similarities and contrasts set between how Bane is solving a problem and how Batman will, particularly in the Riddler and Two Face interactions.

    In my opinion this is King’s strongest arc. Its interesting because while Snyder’s arcs felt like a movie, and Morrison’s felt like a novel, this feels like a television show. The issues have a self contained feel, and we see a new corner of the villain or Batman each issue. Its not Snyder or Morrison, but each issue keeps me just as entertained in what comes next.

    • I’ll echo this – especially the cool episodic nature of each issue. It’s not really that each issue tells a separate story (indeed, it’s really been one long on-going story from issue #1), but that each issue takes a new approach to storytelling. That makes each beat feel like a discrete nugget.

      Also, I’m totally down for Batman being the antagonist here – even if it’s just temporary. I fully believe that Batman will be able to get Gotham Girl the help she needs and then pass the Pirate back to Bane so he can continue his treatment. Bruce doesn’t need a permanent solution here, he just needs to keep Bane at bay for a couple days.

      • Oh wow, I’m honored by the dialogue 🙂

        I wonder if an apology will be the resolution. Batman admitting he’s wrong as the answer would be a new one I think.

        I’m curious about your thoughts on that scene? am I reading that right? Batman blames Bane for the death of Gotham and Gotham Girl being broken, but wasn’t that due to Batman sending them after Psycho Pirate? Is Batman just projecting, or is this the buildup to an “I AM BANE” scene?

        I also liked King’s take on the Riddler, he isn’t driven by Fear of Bane as much as he is the challenge of the door. Looking forward to when he takes center stage.

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