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BATMAN INC 12 REVIEW – Finally Retribution!

batman-inc-12BATMAN INCORPORATED #12

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka – Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

I was seeing a deeper red than this cover last month. Instead of holding in my hands the onslaught of Mecha-Manbat-Batman, we were taken to a land far away from Gotham for another box down on the BATMAN INC. org chart. Don’t get me wrong; it was a fine issue, but I’m bothered by the LLCing of superheroes and I wanted to see vengeance exacted on Damian’s killers. Morrison created one of the most enduring mythos in Bat history with this family consummated by blood; anything else simply can’t measure up.

I really don’t need to write this review other than the need to release a welling of geek. If you’ve been reading this series, missing these final issues is the equivalent of having a climax choked off by your mother walking in the room. No one should self-inflict such an intrusion on themselves. If you haven’t been reading this series, don’t start now – it would be just stupid. Kind of like going to a buffet and coming back to the table with a gob of whipped sweet butter. Delicious, but you missed the point of your journey.

No exposition, no getting up to speed–page one picks up exactly as we left issue 11 (excuse me, I meant 10 – passive aggressive off), with a wrath of rage coming straight at Talia Al Ghul’s slinky body and skeletal black mask. But Bruce’s first business is to take care of the man…thing…that was the guillotine operator in Damian’s demise, Leviathan. The architect will wait until next issue (better be next issue). Much of the issue was once again seeing the ingenious fight choreography that has become a staple of this team. BATMAN and Leviathan work the levels of Gotham City, making it a truly 3-D brouhaha. I won’t spoil the surprise of what’s under Leviathan’s mask after Bruce metaphorically and actually cracks through the clone’s armor, but it sits on a level of creepy that could only be devised by the madness of Morrison. It’s disturbing, but not nearly as disturbing as the fate that ultimately awaits the clone when it reports its defeat to “mommy.”

This will be a short review, because there’s no need to sell anything about this title, and it is only a small small fraction of the whole and enveloped joy that’s been BATMAN INC.

Next, “have you ever danced with the devil in her slathered skin tights?”

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 & RED ROBIN 19 REVIEW – Game of Clones

batman-and-red-robin-19-carrie-kelleyBATMAN & RED ROBIN 19
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Tomasi is a tits writer, Gleason’s magic stick is his pencil; whatever I say from here forward is ABSOLUTELY no reflection on the creators of this book. That is of course unless it was their idea to give us “just the tip” of “jazz hands” Carrie Kelly. In case you’re reading this review for the advertised WTF moment, I’ll tell you right now:  Carrie’s not Robin, she’s not even close to becoming Robin. Harper Rowe was more in the running a few months ago. Sadly the real WTF moment was a nary a whisper on anyone’s list as Bruce looks to resurrect Damian sans a Lazarus Pit.

First, I feel the need to educate the young bucks and buckettes of comicdom. Carrie Kelly was a young High School student from the future. The future as Frank Miller saw it in 1986 when he looked 25 years ahead to create his masterpiece the DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. While I find his modern work to be shit incarnate, back then Miller was a forward looking genius and in hindsight a sage prophet. I can’t even begin to, so I won’t even try, to set the mood of DKR. If we just focus on Carrie though, she’s a girl who idolized the then retired Bats. She comes from a home of not abusive parents, but certainly anesthetized by pot, pills, and the electric allure of 24 hour television. They bitch about the state of the world and how to fix it, but never put plan into action. Remember gang, in 1986 no one knew what Gen X and Y would be like as parents 25 years later. I think Miller hit the nail on the fucking head, even though he missed the part about posting inactive action on message boards. Carrie, not content to just be a passive observer in life, dons a Robin costume (most likely purchased online) and helps to fix the problems her bleary eyed parents simply bitch about.

I was really excited to see this sage satire reflected once again on the pages of BATMAN & RED ROBIN given we are actually in the timeframe that DKR took place. After all, the rewrites would be minimal since Miller did all the heavy lifting. Nope…this Carrie Kelly is a musical theater major that Damian was taking acting classes with. I’ll let that sink in a minute…

These book-end moments would have been fantastic, because again Tomasi is tits in my opinion, if it was anyone but Carrie Kelly. These sections especially resonated with me because I am the 1% of straight men in America with an MFA in theater, and chooses to watch PBS broadcasts of Les Mis on Sundays as opposed to Footballs. Carrie is a saucy and fun young adult, she really is. She also has a caring heart for Damian, which leads her to Wayne manor to find out why this young talent stopped taking lessons…and to get payment of course.  She is a good character, just not THE Carrie Kelly.

As for the rest of the issue I have nary a bad word for it. BATMAN is becoming unhinged; his grief over the loss of Damian (and the rest of the family) is wearing his soul incredibly thin. In a desperate effort to right Talia’s wrongs, Bruce actually finds a way to abduct FRANKENSTEIN to learn what made the monster come back to life. FRANKENSTEIN and his S.H.A.D.E. team are DC’s answer to the HELLBOY crew and sits as one of the most underrated titles of the New 52. Every issue has been amazing in weirdness and a touching exploration that the human soul does in fact exists within monsters. Sorry, back to BATMAN & RED ROBIN. So once Bruce deciphers where Frankenstein’s lab is located he flies a bound Frank to his Daddy’s lab and starts the dissecting.

RED ROBIN comes into the fray because of a desperate plea from Alfred. Great continuity here as Tim laments any contact with Bruce based on the events of “Death of the Family” and even better follow-through once the two finally come face-to-face-to-Frank’s dismembered head.

I loved this issue, I really did. I’m OK with an unhinged Bruce. It shows a level of humanity I wish we saw more of twenty-five years ago when Jason bit the big one. Gleason does amazing work playing the lighter fare of Carrie’s adventure, juxtaposed against the dark moments as Bruce tries to find the spark of immortality. I just have a lot of wishes after reading this. I wish this was old Carrie, not a New 52 Carrie. I wish I had seen moments with Damian taking acting lessons instead of it being a Ret-Con allude. I guess I wish I was in an editorial position at DC, which will never happen. So, if we take solely what is, this was a damn fine issue, just not the issue I would have written.

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.

 

 

BATMAN INC 8 – The End of “Tt”morrow

BATMAN INC 8 CoverBATMAN INC. 8

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

BATMAN INC. is beyond a praise worthy book, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out what to say. Simple platitudes like great story and art have become givens at this point – Morrison and Burnham’s respective prowess is well known. Also, my other reviewer’s trick of riding the spoiler wagon had its wheels thrown off a few days before the book launched – Robin dies again, in case you lived under a stalagmite the past few weeks.

This final BATMAN INC. arc, which I will call issue 8 the climax of, has been Shakespearean in delivery (even if the following isn’t): A family blood cursed and curdled, by a mother of maniacal means. A Father seeking intimacy with a son he’s barely seen. On friendship’s throne true love doth lie, before the final sword bids a young life good-bye.

Chide the New 52 all you want, in some cases it’s deserved. What is undeniable though is the clarity and focus The New 52 brought to BATMAN INC. I have hated this series’ mantra since its inception. Pre New 52, I enjoyed the title in execution alone. The idea of Bruce Wayne publically funding Batman is the equivalent to Clark Kent becoming a spokesperson for Pearl Vision. DO NOT call attention to the white elephant in the room guys – ever. Perhaps someone woke up to this fact or maybe they read my constant barrage of articles against this path – either way – post 52 this became more about Robin and less about Batman “it’s a small world.”

BATMAN INC. has served as a wonderful compliment to Tomasi’s work in BATMAN & ROBIN. B&R focused on Damian’s redemption from little psycho killer to real boy, while BATMAN INC. would push Damian two-steps back for every one step forward on his journey to redemption. I’ve always likes Damian’s arrogance, but BATMAN INC. made us all actually see beyond the “TT” to uncover the Wayne heart of gold that is tarnished each generation by tragedy.

Despite the epic event in this issue, this is only the climax to Morrison’s DC swan song. Even though Damian has had his final wonderful moments, especially his closing exchange with Dick Grayson, we still have four more issues to see the impact of this event. And no clone impalement on a sword can thwart a publishing schedule. I will continue this journey, but with a heavy heart. Morrison has always had a reverence for comic history and BATMAN INC. is no exception. He knew even back when conceiving this character he was going to kill him. In doing so he has successfully placated and instigated modern day comic fervor in one fell swoop. We all want lasting consequences in comics except when it’s a golden calf. As sad as I am to see Damian go and as crestfallen as I am to also lose Titus and Bat-Cow in this equation, Morrison and DC played this hand quite well. Could another Damian be grown tomorrow? Yes. Should there be? Fuck no!

Burnham made me once again fall in love with the visage of Damian, something I hadn’t experienced since Frank Quitely’s rendering. Burnham is dare I say a Quitely light – cascading only slightly into realism before it gets too real and thus ugly.

Now thankfully, it wasn’t just all of us who caught wind of Damian’s death. When he picked up USA Today last Monday and learned of his demise he called together a press conference to discuss his impending fate.

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 Kennedy clan.

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 & ROBIN ANNUAL 1 REVIEW – Rise of The Cute Crusader

batman and robin annual 1 coverBATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL 1

Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

Here’s a novel idea, “Let’s make comics fun again.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the facial puppetry and emotional turmoil embedded in Death of the Family. My Gen X cynical sensibilities are also all about the deconstruction of the superhero mythos. I like my comics dark, but even I sometimes require a brief respite from doom and gloom to renew my faith that the world is not just an exercise towards entropy and that life is something to revel in, not just get through.

BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL 1 has no dissent amongst the bat-clan, there are no heady moments of distrust towards Bruce, nor silver platters dripping with blood. Whether this is canon or not, (and I do have questions in light of Death of the Family), I don’t really care. Because when a comic takes my favorite Robin and infuses it with a little John Hughes Home Alone action, the result is soul-lifting comic gold.

Damian Wayne won me over day one. His petulance, emotional baggage and haughty attitude made him a damaged youth you couldn’t help but love. When he came on the scene, Daddy was finding his way back home from his seeming one way ticket to nowhere at the end of FINAL CRISIS. Damian became Dick’s problem, and for a year or so Damian tested Dick’s patience and decisions at every turn. Any character becomes dull without growth, Snyder did a bang up job in DETECTIVE by making the wall of aggression between the two Robin’s slowly erode and form some semblance of respect and dare I say love. The dynamic between the two was so delicious; I’m on record in quite a few reviews requesting DC never bring Bruce back. Dick and Alfred couldn’t rear the young lad all the way though, Damian’s arrogance would only truly allow for Bruce to guide and instruct him. Especially since Bruce wasn’t a living being, merely a specter of myth and legend as told by Talia and…well…the world.

When Bruce did come back, I was worried that he would put the young lad’s head through plate glass after one well misplaced “tt” of annoyance.  Especially since the moments before the DC Reboot, Morrison had portrayed Batman at his darkest. It looked as though Father would shun his responsibilities in favor of a life in the literal and emotional shadows.  Damian would have no hope of ever going beyond his surly and homicidal ways.

The New 52 changed everything though, and one of the greatest changes was a Bruce Wayne ready to be Batman and a Father. Wisely, writers didn’t have Damian just jump in Bruce’s lap and snuggle. Their maturation process together has been long and slow as each learns their role in a new family dynamic. Bruce has worked diligently to wipe away the killing machine to make Damian a true purveyor of justice and an actual 10 year old boy — very akin to the life of Dick Grayson in the silver age; Robin by night, normal kid by day.

BATMAN & ROBIN ANNUAL 1 is the perfect culmination of this Father/Son evolution. Of course a kid that runs around fighting crime will never be “normal.” But between Bruce’s love and patience, additions of four legged bat-friends Titus the dog and Bat-Cow (oh sweet sweet Bat-Cow), and a fair amount of work on Alfred’s part, Damian has now become what I will Grandfatherly call a feisty little scamp. His ability to go from fierce to adorable in one mere panel makes him simply one of the most unique and endearing characters in comics. Especially to Fangeezers like me who stand on the precipice of procreation.

So anyway Home Alone. In a clever turn of selfish altruism, Damian concocts a scheme to get Alfred and Bruce out of the country – and it actually works. Once Bruce and Alfred are following clues across Europe with Damon green screening himself one step ahead of them updates, we finally  get to meet Bat-Boy, Bat-Brat…oh hell with it…Bat-Mite!

The new Cute Crusader starts to hits the street of Gotham in pursuit of a gas eating monster and his ultimate master. Honestly this isn’t what stuck with me. What I remember are the moments of Titus as acting Alfred confidant. Damian’s pint-sized frame harnessing the horsepower of the Bat-Mobile. The  sheer joy in seeing a young man unfettered from the constant lessons that come with any Father and Son…engaging in anything.

Bruce’s story also pulls at the heartstrings when we discover Damian’s mystery is a step-by-step journey chronicling the courtship of his Grandparents. Alfred’s no slouch here either as he abandons the chase in pursuit of a little thespian time with some ole’ mates  at The New Globe.

Morrison may have spawned this relationship, but Tomasi is the right writer for now. Morrison is a master for hooking fans with his trippy ideas, but eventually his weirdness overshadows his characters. Tomasi knows humanity, not trip above it. This isn’t a judgment on either man, just a fact.  Also, Syaf does an amazing job with this book, particularly Titus and European locales. Both were equally majestic. This story deserved nothing less.

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.

BATMAN INCORPORATED 6 REVIEW – I’M GLAD I HELPED KILL JASON TODD

batman incorporated 6 coverBATMAN INCORPORATED 6

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

“You know what Jason Todd? I helped kill you 25 years ago. I was one of the legions who dialed 1-900-KILL-TOD and felt my parents’ wrath when the bill came so my voice could be heard. I felt a modicum of guilt for the decision and then felt the weight of that guilt subside with your return. All of my remorse went away when you found a good comic book and true direction in RED HOOD. However, after BATMAN INCORPORATED 6, I take it all back. I’m glad you died and I’m pissed you got to bang Starfire, because anyone who messes with BAT-COW will feel the wrath of Damian Wayne and Optimous Douche.”

OK, that feels better.

I chided Vol 1. Of BATMAN INCORPORATED. While I dug the idea of a bunch of Batman’s running around and once I got past the Knight & Squire issues I felt the execution was top notch, I just could not get past Bruce Wayne’s public declaration of financing BATMAN. I felt it was akin to giving Clark Kent contacts and still expecting us to buy his ruse. Essentially it opened the kimono WAY TOO far for comfort (and stretched  the believability that comic denizens are really that obtuse).

bat-cow-awesomeVol 2 though has completely shifted gears. Instead of Bruce travelling the world recruiting, all of his BATMAN’S have come back to the aerie in Gotham to battle Leviathan and their seductive mistress, Talia Al Ghul. Without the public declarations, trite cultural tropes, and Batman especially acting like an Amway salesman to get people on board, BATMAN INCORPORATED took on a persona I could get behind with the fullest of support.

The series also introduced BAT-COW, probably my favorite character of the NEW 52. I have no bovine fetish, what I adore is what BAT-COW symbolizes in my favorite Robin to date, Damian Wayne. Raised by assassins, spoiled beyond belief, and smarter than the average bear, Damian the little prick is easy to portray. And before you give me a petulant “ttt,” think about it. I’m right. For issue upon issue people wanted to beat this kid as he sassed off to Dick Grayson while Batman was on his sojourn through time. Since the return though, Robin the scared and is this issue reveals truly unwanted little boy has never been explored. Morrison rectified this with BAT-COW. In the adoption of this doe eyed creature we see the sad and all too often plight of only children befriending and anthropomorphizing animals for friendship. And it doesn’t hurt that the adoption took place in perfect juxtaposition with his killer side in BATMAN INCORPORATED 1.

Another reason I’m fully enamored with this volume, and this particular issue, is that Talia gets the best of all the worldly Bats and it’s up to the OB (original bats) to save their foreign asses. Squire, my least favorite of the international crew is hanging on the precipice of death at the end. I give a big Bally Ho to any writer that’s willing to off cockney stereotypes; with Morrison leaving DC I would pay him personally to rewrite My Fair Lady with Eliza turning to prostitution and heavy drug use at the end.

bat cow funnyIt wasn’t all shits and giggles for me this issue though. First there’s Jerk-Off Jason who takes a direct stab at BAT-COW in the Bat-Cave as the four Robin’s monitor Batman’s progress towards Talia in her abandoned warehouse maze of doom. Then there was a further blow to the fragile Robin ego. Hands down, Burnham draws my favorite version of Damian, making him look like a true little boy with a chip on his shoulder. What we hadn’t seen before in Robin though, was pain. In the past any emotional scars were firmly scabbed over with attitude. With Morrison’s words and Bunham’s art, my heart broke a little when she said the only reason for Damian was to have spare parts for Ra’s. It’s an epic blow to the little scamp that Talia then pours lemon juice on in the form of an epic cliff-hanger of danger to Damian or all of Gotham. I’m not going to say what it is, but the Judgment Scales on the cover will give you a clue and it’s a perfect swan song before Morrison he says sayonara to DC for a while.

I’ll buy anything with BAT-COW and receive a modicum of enjoyment from it, but in the hands of Master Morrison every BAT-MOMENT is Kobe instead of ground chuck including BATMAN INCORPORATED 6.

Oh, and fuck you once again Jason.