Tag Archives: bruce wayne

BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1 – Perfection on Paper

batmansuperman1BATMAN/SUPERMAN #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Jae Lee
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Perfection on paper. The only thing I didn’t enjoy about BATMAN/SUPERMAN 1 is the fact it didn’t come out 22 months ago. Pak and Lee have effectively given me exactly what I wanted from the New 52 by recreating the true beating heart of this universe from the beginning. BATMAN/SUPERMAN is the collision of optimism and cynicism, light and dark, hope and despair. It’s the superhero embodiment of life and the human condition. And it comes enveloped in lush art and deep mystery. AND IT WAS THE RIGHT WAY TO RELAUNCH THE DAMN UNIVERSE!!!!!!

As far back as FINAL CRISIS I cried out for DC to reboot; the universe had become too cumbersome and complex to sustain itself, much less welcome new readers. I asked them quite simply to launch with two titles: ACTION and DETECTIVE. It was my belief that the other characters of the DC Universe were contrivances of another age. In my wild fantasies I imagined a universe that would begin with Batman and Superman, and then introduce new superpowered companions more indicative of today slowly, patiently, organically from story instead of forcing the stories into the characters. As much as I love Booster Gold, the man and the future he came from were reflections of us looking outward from the optimistic 80s; likewise for many other of the 52 titles that time has now proved were no longer necessary (at least that’s how I view cancellations). I got my wish with EARTH 1, but my unborn child will be in college by the time those books reach issue 10. Thankfully, I can now delightfully rejoice in the corrective measure on the more rapidly scheduled BATMAN/SUPERMAN . No, it’s not going to cancel out 50 other titles, but I can tell just after one issue it will add the much-needed steak to the less than soulful sizzle that birthed the New 52 in the land of “5 years before.”

Actually, totally forget “5 years before”, because this book simply starts “years ago.” I give kudos to the team for addressing my chiding and fan outcry about this corner DC painted itself into (especially when you start doing the math on how long Bruce Wayne would have had each ward), and I give congratulations if it was an accident. Either way, this nebulous time that was is far more palatable than an actual number.

Secret identities first, powers later. This was another misstep, in my opinion, from the New 52 launch. We got all action and no heart. In BATMAN/SUPERMAN we open with Clark Kent hunting down Bruce Wayne for a story about Wayne Enterprises. Even the inner dialog of both men is surprisingly without powers, as both reflect on the lessons taught to them by their parents. The ray of light that was cast by the Kent’s and the dark pall of the Wayne’s deaths in part created these heroes; it should be the first thing that’s acknowledged when retelling their origins. The next thing that needs to be addressed is the environments that they grew up in. If one part nature, one part nurture is right, what we see and absorb as children is just as instrumental as DNA in shaping who we are. We learn about the soul-sucking nature of Gotham from Clark’s POV as he traverses the streets looking for his story.

Once the two meet, back when Bruce wore a stocking cap as much as he wore the cowl, the book shifts into sixth gear. A fight between children that Clark chooses to interrupt as Bruce sits creepily on a park bench introduces in one scene their different ideologies of self-sufficiency versus the need to protect all life. You’ll gain a much greater respect for Lex Luthor’s hatred of Superman for depriving us of our own evolution once you read Bruce’s rationale for letting the fight continue…well, at least I did.

After Bruce tells Clark to bugger off we get into the meat–excuse me, plot–of the story. It was already pretty meaty on characterization up until this point. Bruce ends up in Metropolis on the trail of someone killing Wayne Enterprises executives. I won’t spoil who the killer is; suffice to say, though, she is merely a puppet of the arc’s true big baddie. Here’s also where Bats and Supes meet for the first time in costume…well, at least I think it is. I thought the first time they met was in JUSTICE LEAGUE 1; however, all that Ecstasy I was dropping back in ‘11 could have clouded my memory.

This scene doesn’t last for long, though, since the killer was merely bait to bring Batman and Superman together so Superman could be boom-tubed to a corn field in Kansas. The person behind the booming remains a mystery, all we know is she speaks in cryptic verse and is presumably a denizen of Apokalips. The where, however, is not the cool part–it’s the when. T-shirt Superman ends up face-to-face with today’s Batman, packing a Kryptonite shield. The boys tussle until things are broken up with the appearance of Pa Kent.

BATMAN/SUPERMAN poses a lot of questions as a first issue should, but those questions also lead to a scrutiny of what has come before. In JUSTICE LEAGUE 1 it was the first time anyone saw a boom tube; likewise, as I mentioned earlier, it was supposed to be the first meeting between Bats and Supes. I mean, they both say it so it must have been true. This book exudes subtle layers of genius in art and story. Lee makes every panel worth examining in some of the most original layouts I’ve seen all year. It’s the direct opposite of the universe’s bombastic and superficial launch of yore. I just hope, though, we’re not in for a ret-con, an easy mind wipe that will make young Superman forget these events, or–the worst of all sins–not even acknowledging these continuity landmines. If you have bailed on DC, come back for this book alone. For those of us who have remained steadfast fans, do yourselves a favor and forget all that has come before to truly revel in this book’s goodness.

BATMAN & RED HOOD 20 Review – The Loneliest Place of Dying

batmanredhood20coverBATMAN & RED HOOD 20
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

As sad I was to see Damian Wayne flayed by his clone self, this death has given DC writers a fresh direction to take the Dark Knight – namely Bat shit crazy.

A week ago in BATMAN INC we saw BATMAN transform himself into a Batman-Manbat-Mecha-Azrial-Zoid for his final confrontation with Talia. This week we get to see a softer unhinging of his skullcap. Where BATMAN INC. was an aggressive “fuck you,” this is a much softer mind-fuck with Jason Todd as the prime target.

I think BATMAN might have a slight case of Asperger’s Syndrome. Most can reasonably rationalize the human experience to external events. We can judge how others react with pretty good accuracy to things we might say or do. Not BATMAN. What seemed like an altruistic reach out to exact vengeance on the assassins Talia hired to kill Damian, turns into a horrific macabre dance of mistrust and short sightedness on the part of Mr. Wayne.

I’m getting ahead of myself though. To feel the full impact of Bruce’s parental boner…wait that sounds bad….screw up, we need to go back to page one. The issue starts with a reappearance of Carrie Kelly appearing at the mansion front door to give Bruce back $9,000 of the ten grand he paid Carrie for Damian’s acting lessons. It was a great moment that helped flesh out Carrie more with an intense integrity, it gave Alfred a new distraction, and my favorite moment of all in that it gave Titus a new care giver. All Tomasi had to do was throw in Bat-Cow and I probably would have shed a tear. So despite Bruce’s inability to feel, it looks like Carrie will become a permanent fixture in Wayne Manor thanks once again to Alfred, the true heart of the Bat-Clan. Dan Didio warned me after my rant on Carrie’s first appearance to be patient and wait. He was right. She’s no longer just a cosplayer anymore; there was some definitive sass and spunk this time around. I still don’t think we need a new Robin yet, but Carrie is now a seed I am more comfortable watching germinate. I would still like a little more Miller infusion, but I’m willing to trust there’s a slow burn chance I’ll still get it.

Next guest is Jason and here is where there is some very tender emotion displayed through male bravado and machismo. After some wonderful interchanges in the cave, which I won’t ruin here, the two take flight to Africa to show would-be assassins why they shouldn’t take contracts to kill kids. Of course the two open up barrels of ass kickery and there isn’t a trigger finger that remains unbroken. Unfortunately after this moment is where Bruce truly shows why he should never have another sidekick. Instead of heading home Bruce takes Jason to Ethiopia where the Joker shuffled off Mr. Todd’s mortal coil. The reason? Bruce hopes that by visiting the land of crowbars and dynamite, Jason will unblock the memories of his resurrection so they can be applied to Jason.

Here are the reasons in no particular order this was monumentally stupid on Bruce’s part:

  1. You lied again Bruce. This is the reason Jason is the only Bat friend who will talk to you. Don’t say you care about vengeance when you’re really just trying to find a Lazarus Pit for Damian.
  2. You selected the one ex-Robin with more Daddy issues than a stripper who works for quarters. Seriously, Jason always felt like he was in Dick’s shadow and now you put him in Damian’s. I voted to kill Jason almost thirty…wait…I mean three years ago, so trust me I hold no sacred calves. But I truly felt bad for Jason after this.
  3. Most people don’t like to revisit horrific experiences. Just because you like visiting the Crime Alley lamppost a few times a week Bruce, that’s just not how normal folks operate. There’s a reason the term suppression exists, most of us choose to block out the bad.

And that’s how we leave the issue, because while Jason has issues one of them is not the ability to process emotions like those of us on the normal spectrum.

Don’t let any of this come off as a negative critique. Bruce…BATMAN has been almost far too normal for too long. The middle aged man in me has a soft spot for kids and family, but the teenager in me still screams for this man’s life to be anything but happy. Hells yes BATMAN has Asperger’s syndrome. Because the only other option is sociopath, and that’s a line the epic heroes can never cross.

The loss of Damian is shaping up to be the loneliest place of dying to ever test the mettle of the  Bat.

BATMAN INC. 9 REVIEW – A True Requiem for a True Hero

BATMAN INC 9 CoverBATMAN INC. 9
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche, Ain’t It Cool News)

Now THIS is a Requiem. We have an honest-to-God funeral, angst, conversations about Damian, you know…all the stuff you do to honor our flesh meat once it has expired. I wasn’t sure how we would get more action than Damian’s demise last issue, the kid had more shit shot at him than Sonny Corleone in a Jersey tool booth – and that’s not even counting the brutal beat down delivered by his clone self. But through some imaginative backwards and sideways storytelling we get just as much action and as I mentioned a second ago, a book worthy of the Requiem moniker.

The more I read this title; the more I realize how truly integral Burnham has been to its success. It may seem like an obvious statement, but I disagree. Sometimes…many times in comics these days, writer or artist can go on autopilot because of the immense talent of their counterpart. Normally I give all props to Morrison, as a comic writer myself, I get that the author is usually telling the artist what needs to be drawn. Burnham goes above and beyond those brief descriptions though. Whether Bats and company are laying Damian to rest or fighting their way out of the Leviathan occupied Wayne tower, this issue is very sparse on words. Instead Burnham aptly does the heavy lifting to show the disbelief, then fear and finally the ultimate rage Damian’s death has brought to the family. The escape from the tower is equally sans dialog, but rife with action as the Bat boys leverage some VERY heavy artillery to clear out a hole and bring Damian’s body back to the cave. Also the fight scene between Bats and clone Damian had some very very clever moves.

I also loved this issue because it looks like the concept of BATMAN INC. is about to be dismantled as the Gotham PD decides to kowtow to Leviathan’s demands. I won’t rehash it here, but I’ve droned on for thousands of words in the past about my issues with Brue Wayne publically funding Batman. It’s akin to Clark Kent doing advertisements for Pearl Vision. Don’t call attention to something we have all decried in the past as a comic contrivance that would never fly in the real world. Also, we see a final toe tag being put on Great Britain’s Batman, The Knight…sorta. Knight will return and I like the direction much much better than the Eliza Doolittle tropes of yore. There was true emotional weight to Britain’s mourning.

As for the family, the relationships are more tenuous than ever before. These events compounded with Death of the Family is pushing Bruce to a brink of solitary no return. If you don’t believe me look at the interchange between Bruce and Alfred. You seriously want to give the old limey a hug after Bruce rails on him for letting Damian leave the cave.

You know who else I wanted to hug? Bat-Cow. I’ve loved the animal additions to the cave from day one. Titus became Robin’s Robin and Bat-Cow was a symbol of Damian’s desperation to live some of the magic childhood should be rife with. Finally Bat-Cow has her true moment in the sun as a final remembrance to everything Damian was before Bruce ends the issue in a barbaric yawp of emotional agony.  I will say this final panel could have used a word bubble though. Without a high level of imagination one might think Bruce is having a wicked back spasm.

Since the launch of the new 52, BATMAN INC. has been more a second issue of BATMAN & ROBIN each month. That’s a compliment. It’s also a sign of what’s to come in my opinion. Without Robin, without a huge amount of support both in story and in the real world for a publicly funded Batman and finally without Morrison, I think BATMAN INC. is bankrupt. It’s been a great ride though, and everyone involved should get their own Bat-Cow for a job very well done.

BATMAN 18, BATMAN AND ROBIN 18 REVIEW – LET’S WAIT UNTIL THE BODY GETS COLD

batman-and-robin-18-coverBATMAN 18, BATMAN AND ROBIN 18
Writers: Scott Snyder, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Andy Kubert & Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool)

Whose 4’ 6” and got fucked by their Mother harder than Oedipus? Too soon to Damian’s death? Just wait, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Before we get into what I consider to be BATMAN’S egregious misstep, we’ll start this review on the positive note with BATMAN & ROBIN 18. Tomasi and Gleason deliver some of their finest work to date and a lesson on the brilliance of simplicity and surprise. No gimmicks like Nuff’ Said’ or any major marketing hoopla allowed the unique delivery of this wordless mourning to completely floor me.

That’s right, no dialogue, no thought bubbles nor nary a call-out box sully  this fine tale of a BATMAN unhinged by grief. From the mansion to the streets of Gotham Tomasi’s pacing  and Gleason’s purty pictures perfectly lament the loss of a son and a savior. As Alfred cleans the mansion of Master Damian’s last visages while choking back tears, Bruce goes into what can only be described as a fugue state of anguish. Even though the physical pictures of Damian have been tucked away and draped over, every step Bruce takes Damian’s specter walks with him – even sliding down the bat pole.

Once out of the mansion the ultra-violence goes into high gear, Bruce is going to make the world as well as a very famous light pole on crime alley pay for the loss of his child. The one montage page of this night of terror is worth the price of admission alone.

To put the icing on this delicious cake, Tomasi pulls one final heart string. Titus, the Bat-Dog, became as integral to Damian’s existence as his “Tt” verbal tick. He was Robin’s Robin and is left in a house that is now emotionally bankrupt. When a comic makes me feel this much while breaking conventions, it gets an extra mylar bag to keep it safe for the ages.

batman 18 coverNow for BATMAN 18. First off, it’s a fine issue. I like Harper Row as a character; she entranced me with her Tim Drake style of sleuthing out BATMAN’S black boxes a year ago and his identity this issue. I like her Brother and I now like her jailbird father as an antagonist. What I can’t abide though is lack of commitment. Through Death of the Family and now Robin’s demise we’ve been promised a razing of the Bat’s spirit.

As a character born of tragedy, it’s a necessity for BATMAN to go through times of solitude. His existence since the start of the New 52 has been pretty shiny happy in contrast to past epochs. So as much as I will miss Damian I was ready for a period of a darker BATMAN. Well, thank God I read BATMAN & ROBIN first this week, because even though there are moments of brutality from Bruce this issue they are tempered by Harper’s reappearance.

Again, if this issue came a year from now there wouldn’t be one shadow of criticism cast upon it.  Snyder does a great job showing a Bruce once again obsessed with his mission and Mr. Kubert is a welcome change to keep the art style fresh. Harper’s Father is sadistically horrific to her and her Brother. When Bruce isn’t being consoled by Harper his sadistic and exhaustive rage is utterly appropriate given his recent losses. And the moments with Harper, stupendous! Especially when Bats punches her through a fence.

Snyder has emphatically stated that Harper is not the new Robin, but does a sidekick by any other name kick less side? I don’t care if there’s a new Robin…someday. I also think Harper would be a fine choice to don the red and green…someday. But despite Damian’s small stature he cast a large and deep shadow over the Bat universe – a shadow that shouldn’t have light cast upon it yet. We all need to live in the shadows for a while, a place of centering solitude. This is especially true for the Dark Knight.

With the recent announcement of Year Zero exploring the time before time, six years ago, I fear Damian’s mourning will be no more than a month long affair. There’s some wisdom to still be found in ageing grunge acts. This moment is already lost, but when the next favorite son falls I implore DC to heed the words of Pearl Jam and Just Breathe.

 

 

ROBIN APOLOGIZES FOR FORGETTING TO DIE

damian wayneDamian Wayne, the 4th Robin, Apologizes for Forgetting to Die During “Death of the Family”

Gotham City, uhhh NY (we think) – On the steps of Wayne Industries’ headquarters in downtown Gotham today, Damian Wayne, the heir to Wayne Enterprises and sometime superhero (all the time brat), expressed his moderate sorrow for forgetting to die during the Joker’s recent slaughter spree some in the press dubbed Death of the Family.

“Tt,” Wayne said as he took the podium. He continued, “I’m not sure exactly why I’m lowering myself by justifying my existence to the troglodytes of Gotham City, but Father’s PR people said it would engender good will from the street. Tt.” At this point Wayne Industries’ director of PR, Harold Allnut, rushed the microphone and whispered in the petulant young man’s ear.

Harold_AllnutWayne continued, “Apparently I was supposed to let Pennyworth or the street urchin, Jason Todd, shiv me in the Batcave as Father danced with the devil in the pale moonlight. However, Titus needed to go out for a walk and Bat-Cow required a thorough brushing.” “Honestly if we could get better help than a waifish octogenarian, I would feel far more comfortable shuffling loose this mortal coil.”

“My plan right now is to allow my Mother to be my undoing sometime tomorrow afternoon.” Wayne said with surprising little fear or remorse.

vicki-valeSurprisingly, Gotham’s favorite son and Father of Damian, Bruce Wayne, was not present as his son announced his impending doom. Reporter Vicki Vale however was “somehow” able to issue this statement by Wayne from an undisclosed location, “Look, his (Damian) Mother and I had an affair like twenty years ago. I can’t help it the Al Guhl family has a gestation period longer than a prehistoric elephant.” Wayne brazenly continued, “I’ve had fun with the kid, but I’ve had fun with every small boy I’ve brought in my house and if Gotham is lacking in hope, it ain’t lacking in small young boys for me to live with and put in mortal danger.”

Wayne shocked the world a few years ago after return from a sojourn to a methadone clinic in Arizona when he announced that he was Gotham’s famous caped crusader Batman. Even though the announcement was merely meant to announce Wayne’s funding of the Batman, since the audience wasn’t occupied solely by Helen Keller, most put two and two together. This led to a wide depression across Gotham city for our collective mass stupidity and blindness over the years.

The conference concluded with the same little fanfare that began the event, “That is all, thank you, I guess, for your time. Tt!”

With this death of Damian Wayne, Gotham is left to wonder whether the Wayne legacy can prevail given it’s clear that God has a bigger vendetta against their survival than the Kenendy clan.

BATMAN 17 REVIEW: Death of The Family…We Were All Wrong

BATMAN 17 COVERBATMAN 17

Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche -Ain’t It Cool News)

The frenzied pace that has been Death of the Family doesn’t stop for the opening pages of its final chapter. The eyes are wide open, the narcotics and concussions have worn off, and at last the platters are ready to be revealed. What follows will be one of most divisive moments in comics this year.

The “reveal” that we’ve all been waiting for, the thing that was theorized so much it approached Godwin’s law seconds after the series was announced (and no the Joker is not Hitler, just in case those folks thought they were right), is a delight of massive morbidity. It’s an atrocity exactly on par…I mean exactly….with the fate that befell the Joker at the start for the New 52.

Face…it’s what’s for dinner. Dick, Damian, Jason, Tim and Babs are all served a hearty helping of their own puddum puddin. It was a moment of horror, insight into the true face of evil, and a poignant, if batshit crazy poem to Batman’s one Achilles’ heel as Joker uses this to moment to show just how soft the family literally is beneath their respective masks.

And then we find it’s all just a fugazi, a falsehood meant to satisfy the sensationalists of the world who needed this to culminate in physical, not emotional entropy. The truth is The Reveal has been in front of our faces all along. I would say, “No pun intended,” but I’m honestly not sure there isn’t some kind of meta level joke in all this being played on us as well.

The true purpose of The Joker’s plans in Death of the Family was revealed two months ago when the clan found out the Joker had been in the cave and Bruce never told them. Death in the Family was all about deconstructing trust. It’s ultimate purpose was to separate all of the Bat titles so each character can find a light to grow outside of Bruce’s shadow. And more importantly add much needed continuity distance from the carryover Flash brought back with him from the Flashpoint universe.

So, no one’s dead, the atrocity is that of the sprit:  Babs’ limbs all function, Jason didn’t take another crowbar to the face, and Damian still faces more danger from his mother in BATMAN INC. than he does inside the Bat-Cave. I know there will be fans who will cry foul in the fact the worst thing to happen to any character is a waft of ultra potent Joker toxin. But, when I’m asked the inevitable question of whether I liked Death of the Family the answer will be, “Yes, but only if…

Only if Bruce truly has to fight his way back into the family’s hearts and souls (including Damian). Only if once Snyder sets his sights on Metropolis we see other writers truly embrace the foundation Snyder laid before them. Only if DC commits to taking a break from Bat cross-overs for a while to let each character develop independently. This last point is most important. Snyder did what he does best, he built mythos through history. Now its time to honor this path and tread it truly, press forward with more tales of detective work in the now and let history come organically moving forward.

Death of the Family is a tragic story of love unrequited. This is the Joker’s tragedy. Even though he knew who Bruce was all along, it was never about exposing Batman, it was about keeping him hidden so the game could on and on and on….

DEATH OF THE FAMILY REVIEWS: BATMAN 16, BATGIRL 16, BATMAN & ROBIN 16

death_of_the_family

DEATH OF THE FAMILY: BATMAN 16, BATGIRL 16, BATMAN & ROBIN 16

Writers: Snyder, Tomasi, Simone
Artists: Capullo, Gleason, Benes
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

A King, a bride, a prodigal son and a silver domed serving platter seeping with blood: This isn’t a Don Mclean song; it’s the latest happenings in the Joker’s reign of terror against the Bat-Clan. “Death of the Family” is the panacea of how events should be run, with the sum being greater than the whole of the parts while not forcing readers into imbibing every mother-loving book to understand what the hell is going on. Synergy has also been the mantra of this series. Each book has kept chronology straight and truly built off the last and this week’s books are the absolute proof in the proverbial pudding.

Now, since I’m a completest I’m reading every tale, even the ever so tangential DETECTIVE, but this is my compulsion at work, not a mandate from DC. Every character has their beef with the Joker, and with only a few weeks left we now stand at the precipice of his grand plan’s fruition.

Before we pontificate, let’s SEE what these penultimate series of books have to tell.

batman 16 coverBATMAN 16

Snyder delivers the most esoteric of this week’s offerings, with the motivations of the Joker still only being understood by him and him alone. He’s blathered abo;ut breaking up the family for issues now, so Bats could reach his full potential, but the means to accomplish this end seem haphazard at best. However, when dealing with a psycopath it’s probably best not to understand.  When last we saw Bats he was on his upward climb into the mouth of madness that is Arkham Asylum. Now Bats is cowl-deep in the crazies following a maze of gore that lead to his throne. Yes, the King has returned and his court consists of Penguin, Two-Face, Riddler and of course the Jester himself. Why Joker is anointing Batman remains unknown, the joy in this issue remains firmly steeped in Joker’s twisted sense of humor. Endomorphic inmates dressed as the JUSTICE LEAGUE, flaming horse torpedoes, and a double cross on his accomplices are what keep the pages turning. The issue ends as all will this week, Joker gently lifting the lid on a silver domed serving platter.

Batman_and_Robin_Vol_2-16_CoverBATMAN & ROBIN 16

Gleason still wins the award for creepiest representation of the Joker’s rotting Halloween mask. It’s attached, but not really. It’s intact, but not really. It’s creepier than Poltergeist’s Carol Ann in a movie with the two chicks from The Shining, really. While I’m still partial to Joker’s macabre puppetry with his flesh mask in last issue, Gleason does a great job of still making this the face of fear. Likewise Tomasi hits ever psychological chord expertly to make Damian believe he is in a mano-a-kido against dear old Dad in a fight to the death. Obviously it’s not, but Damian’s belief rips off his emotional scabs to reveal an epiphany that not all “bad” guys should be killed. As with BATMAN, the last page is the Joker serving Robin…something under a silver domed serving platter.

batgirl 16 coverBATGIRL 16

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate an unraveling of the mind. No, not Joker’s, that ball of yarn has already been undone. Barbara’s sanity is what’s at stake in issue 16 as she becomes the wedded wife of Mr. J. Why is the Joker suddenly interested in betrothing BATGIRL, well, we’re still not sure. Again, it has to do with tearing the Bat-Clan asunder, but it’s still inconceivable “how” Joker’s scheme will all come together. Benes balances beauty with horror in this issue, giving us one of the best rendered Barbara’s we’ve seen. I’ll also say there are a ton of other artists on this book, but not once was the shift jarring or out of place. Each artist hand-off was so perfectly timed with the movement of the plot chapters; I honestly thought the changes were merely Benes making stylistic shifts for mood. This issue also answers the age old question about how long Barbara was Oracle (or merely wheelie-bound) in the New 52. The answer, about a year. Simone delivers her final piece of goodness in redeeming James Gordon Jr. (sort of). Since Snyder took Jimmy J on in DETECTIVE, he has become one of my favorite new Bat villains. And clearly one of the Joker’s favorites as well. This issue, as with all others this week, ends with the Joker revealing something to Barbara under a silver domed serving platter.

What’s Next?

All right, now let’s speculate. The serving platter at the end of each issue this week is a pretty good indicator that Alfred is what’s for dinner. I find this to be too easy and convenient. I still don’t believe we are to take the “death” in “Death of the Family” literally. It’s too easy, and Snyder has already alluded to the fact Joker wants BATMAN separated from the family, but not necessarily shuffling off any of their mortal coils to achieve this end. Also, to kill Alfred would do anything BUT tear the family apart. Let’s be honest, they would band together to pound the Joker into white jelly if he touched one combed over hair on Alfred’s head.

Basically, we still don’t know Jack…or Joker.