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 Batman 22, Green Arrow 22 and Green Lanterns 22. Also, we’ll be discussing Superman 22 on Wednesday, so come back for that! As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Spencer: Like the previous issue, much of Batman 22 takes place over a single minute, following Bruce and Thomas Wayne’s Batmen as they do battle with the forces of Flashpoint’s Wonder Woman and Aquaman while the Flash rebuilds their cosmic treadmill. Unlike Batman 21, this issue is more concerned with emotional heft than technical wizardry (probably due to Joshua Williamson taking the lead in scripting it over Tom King), and it’s a smart choice. This is a powerful comic, and it’s been a while since I’ve read a moment as affecting as Thomas’ goodbye, or a moment as impactful as Bruce’s final message to his father.
The one thing Bruce wanted to tell his father wasn’t his accomplishments as Batman or how much he’s missed them or anything like that, but simply that he’s become a father himself. I wasn’t expecting this — we know Bruce loves Damian, but he’s usually not this emotionally naked about it, and that hits hard, and it continues The Flash 21‘s theme of exploring how powerful and elemental those parent/child relationships can be, even into the third generation.
It also continues “The Button’s” theme of dancing around what this crossover actually is, with each issue more concerned about delivering a focused, self-contained story than actually exploring the mechanics behind Thawne, the Button, or the assumed involvement of the Watchmen characters. I’m going to take that as a good sign, that DC is more interested in using whatever big event they’ve got planned to explore and further define their characters rather than exploit their properties for shock value. I hope I’m right on that one.
(I recently read an interesting fan-theory positing that it’s Superboy Prime, not the Watchmen characters, behind the events of the New 52/Rebirth, and while I don’t want to get too invested in a fan-theory, this issue’s revelation that the forces behind Rebirth have kept the darker, edgier Flashpoint timeline around seemingly just to prolong Thomas’ suffering and to motivate Bruce certainly feels more like a Prime move than a Doc Manhattan one. We’ll see, I suppose — though God only knows if it’ll be in Flash 22 or not.)
Green Arrow 22
Michael: Star City is on fire! Green Arrow 22 opens with The Ninth Circle’s plan of chaos and terror already in action. Seattle’s transportation, shelter, and defense systems have been targeted and over 500 people are dead.
As ever, writer Benjamin Percy makes alarming comparisons to the current political nightmare that is the Trump administration. The Ninth Circle’s chaos isn’t their real goal but a distraction — something Trump’s antics are often accused of being. Nick Domini is settling in to his role as the Trump Seattle Mayor: dodging questions, blaming the prior administration, and playing on that popular notion of “this once great country (city).”
You can tell that Percy has a great amount of respect for Black Canary, as Dinah is usually Green Arrow’s unwavering conscience. She boils down the battle between Team Arrow and The Ninth Circle as hope vs fear — another resonating parallel to reality. Oliver defends the people of Seattle for not knowing what they were getting into with Domini/Trump. Dinah counters that by voting for Domini, they voted for this chaos.
Juan E. Ferreyra killing it per usual with the artwork. There is something so beautiful, haunting and expressionistic about his work that really makes a story stand out. Along with great action and striking layouts, he’s got a real knack for color. Dinah and Ollie’s Domini debate takes place in a graveyard, the sun piercing through the treetops, heightening the orange hues of the fall leaves around them. He does a good Ollie finger wag, too.
Green Lanterns 22
Patrick: You ever look at someone with a career you’d like to have and ask “what did they do to get there?” It’s an intimidating question, and not always helpful. Everyone — and I mean everyone — has a different path to success. And success only comes after more failure than you could possibly imagine. With Green Lanterns 22, Jessica Cruz is finally starting to meet some of her would-be peers and is discovering what it’s going to take to erase that “would-be” modifier. It’s the very relatable story of what it feels like when the group you want to be a part of is bigger, stranger, and more exclusive than you thought it would be.
The issue starts with Jessica and Simon en route to Mogo. Obviously, that’s scary shit, especially for someone who’s never been off planet before, so it’s no surprise when a panicked Jessica Cruz orders her ring to stop. Of course, this isn’t the smartest tactical decision, but hey, that’s not how depression, anxiety, and mental illness work. Luckily, Kyle Rayner is nearby to offer some characteristically empathetic comfort. This is all writer Sam Humphries reminding the reader how we expect Jessica’s illness to be treated — with patience and compassion. Even when Simon’s frustrated with her, or she’s the only one who can stop the Crime Syndicate, she’s given the leeway to address her emotional issues before eventually rising to the occasion. By the same token, arriving on Mogo seems like it’s going to be a dream come true for Jess — a whole planet just there to support and understand her! Artist Ronan Cliquet obliges with just about the brightest, happiest drawing of Green Lantern home-base I’ve ever seen.
Green Lantern green is such a bright color, and the designs of the corpsmen are often so goofy, that scenes with them are usually tempered with heavy shadows and ominous starfields. Here, Cliquet happily gives us Lanterns at their most content, peaceful and well-lit. Which of course, sets us up for Jessica’s most crushing disappointment.
Whatever she thinks she’s earned, she hasn’t. Kilowog busts her down to a non-lanterned state as soon as he recognizes she hasn’t been through training. I’m usually quick to jump to ‘Wog’s defense, but man is it shitty to tell someone that their experience doesn’t count because it wasn’t the same as yours. Guess what? We all have different experiences!
Oh, and you know what genuinely surprised me? That soft twist at the end of the issue: Jessica Cruz is partnering with Guy Gardner and Simon Baz is partnering with Kyle Rayner. Most of the reason I didn’t see it coming was because I assumed we were still pairing Greens and Yellows — something this issue takes a second to acknowledge for people that might be reading this without picking up HJ&tGLC. It’s a shame, because this really is one of those moments where Humphries’ story is more powerful without having to mix in the Sinestro Corps. Jessica’s supposed to feel inadequate within her own group — that’s the depressive feeling of not belonging, even when you do belong. The greater Green Lantern mythos is mucking that up a bit, by making the group a less clearly defined thing.
The conversation doesn’t stop there, because you certainly read something that we didn’t. What do you wanna talk about from this week?