Tag Archives: greg capullo

BATMAN 25 REVIEW – Zero is Hero for Continuity

batman25 coverBATMAN #25 
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche - Ain’t It Cool News)

Personally, Zero Year is EXACTLY what I wanted from the New 52. It’s clear, concise and the continuity is seamless. Take last week, for example: a superstorm threatens Gotham and Metropolis, and our heroes in both towns are being molded by this force of nature, one internal and external crisis at a time. If you want the inward reflection I highly recommend last week’s ACTION annual as Clark tries to wrestle a storm. The outward forces shaping came in the form of DETECTIVE where we see a young(ish) Jim Gordon dealing with corruption in the GCPD as the storm and Gotham’s blackout rages on.

There’s nothing big or bombastic like Parademons. It’s giving us time to get to know the characters – an osmosis of change instead of a slap to the face. It allows old continuity to carry over organically, in an explained fashion. Zero Year is my start of the New 52, even if historians end up disagreeing. I also think it’s a salvation for any fans who felt shunned post-FLASHPOINT. I’ve talked with a lot of fans, I’ve heard a lot of grievances about the “youth”anizing of our heroes, I’ve heard (and agreed with) the confusion caused by the 5 years before in some titles and the present in others. Zero Year is the fix, folks. Please come back–the universe is far more welcoming right now.

Zero Year also lets DC keep FOREVER EVIL humming without the oft fan complaint that other books aren’t acknowledging the event. Whoever’s idea this “event” was, you deserve blowjobs while eating ice cream.

The last arc of BATMAN introduced us to a pre-faceless Joker. Now, the Riddler is the focal point, but at the same time isn’t. As much as he is the overarching villain causing the blackout in Gotham, sending Batman on a goose chase of epic proportions, other forces seep into play to provide nice vignettes against the grander threat.

Our two new introductions come in the form of one Pamela Isley, a young botanist intern who is on the crime scene when some scientists are force-fed bone growth serum that turns them into marrow trees. Fangeezers can guess where this is going, but the mystery for noobs is firmly in place until Isley gets her foliage on.

The other threat is a resurrected Golden Age baddie by the name of Dr. Death. He’s made a few appearances in the new 52, but they have been few and far between. They’ve also never been this gruesome and in your face. The thing I liked best about this character is an origin shrouded in book-end mystery. The book opens with a flashback of a unit in some desert shithole uncovering a trap door. Flash forward to Gotham, the blackout, Isley bones and a turncoat Lucius Fox possessed by death. Then we flash back to the desert shitscape with a Humvee simply driving away from the mysterious hole.

A grand story driven by smaller beats has been missing from this universe for too long. As much as I enjoyed “Court of Owls”, I’ve been reading comics for 30 years. My brain could fill in holes or back story to make the proceedings come alive in a way a new reader couldn’t.

Before I walk away, two more things. Capullo did yet another amazing job on the art duties. He truly gave the piece a differing tonality between the bookends and main storyline. Snyder also did a great job coordinating the events of last week’s DETECTIVE COMICS #25 for synergy with the man who is Jim Gordon. While cynics will say DETECTIVE was just the origin of the bat signal, there are subtler beats redefining Gordon as a person.

With wafts of Frank Miller’s DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, I’m far more intrigued by this latest BATMAN “Zero Year” arc than I was the last one–and I loved the last one.

BATMAN 17 PREVIEW ART – U WRITE THE PANELS

Something wicked this way comes, but for now it comes in black & white. I received these two images today from DC Public Relations unveiling some of the action sequences for BATMAN 17.

Obviously they won’t give away the store this early, but I think it’s cool to see images before they reach the final production stage.We can obviously discern a few things from this….

  • Joker and Batman are in the cave, which makes Bruce arrogant or stupid with his statement the Joker doesn’t really know the identities of the Bat-Clan.
  • Joker’s face is still held on with a headband, so his face hasn’t come back.
  • OK, that’s all I got 

Since we don’t have dialog I will handle the chores. 

ENJOY!!!

BATMAN 17 PAGE

 

PANEL 1

BATMAN: I BOUGHT YOU SOMETHING FROM ADAMandEVE.com!

PANEL 2

BATMAN: THE WORLD’S FIRST ANTI-GRAVITY DILDO

JOKER: BUT WOULDN’T THAT JUST SHOOT UP INTO A WOMAN’S THROAT WHEN YOU TURN IT….

PANEL 3

JOKER: …ON

PANEL 4

BATMAN: SEE WHAT I DID THERE, YOU THOUGHT IT WAS A DILDO, BUT IT’S ACTUALLY A FLOGGIN’ ROBIN DETONATOR.

JOKER: THANK GOD, I WAS REALLY GETTING TIRED OF HAVING TO KILL THESE KIDS WHEN THEY GOT ANNOYING.

PANEL 5

JOKER: THIS IS A FAKE SMILE, I WAS REALLY EXCITED ABOUT THE DILDO.

BATMAN 17 PREVIEW

 

PANEL 1

JOKER: RED ROVER, RED ROVER, BATMAN COME OVER.

PANEL 2

JOKER: SO HOW MUCH IS AN ACTUAL CORD OF WOOD? IS  IT LIKE A CUBIT?

BATMAN: NO ACTUALLY A CUBIT IS SIMPLY THE LENGTH OF THE FOREARM. A CORD IS AN AREA OF MEASUREMENT.

PANEL 3

JOKER (OFF SCENE): ALL RIGHT, WELL HOLD THIS WHILE I GET A CALCULATOR TO FIGURE THIS OUT.

PANEL 4

BATMAN (OFF SCENE): CALCULATOR? THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT YOU KNOW?

JOKER: NOT IF YOU HAVE A WINDOWS 8 PHONE. WELL THEY’LL SELL YOU ONE, BUT IT ONLY WORKS WHEN THE MOON IS FULL  AND LINDSEY LOHAN IS IN HEAT.

PANEL 5

BATMAN: WINDOWS 8 PHONE, YOU SERIOUS? I’VE HAD RESERVATIONS ABOUT KILLING YOU IN THE PAST. BUT IF YOU’RE SO CRAZY YOU WOULD BUY AN OPERATING SYSTEM THAT’S WORSE THAN WINDOWS ME, YOU DESERVE A LITTLE INTERNAL BLEEDING.

PANEL 6

JOKER: THE GUY AT VERIZON SAID IT WAS JUST AS GOOD AS AN iPHONE AND THE BATTERY LIFE IS 20 MINUTES LONGER. IS THERE AN AMBULANCE APP?

BATMAN (OFF SCENE): YES, BUT ONLY ON iOS.

All images courtesy of DC entertainment. Words, not so much. 

 

 

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 13 Review – Terror Gets a Whole New Face…Literally

Batman 13 CoverBATMAN 13
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)

I don’t envy Scott Snyder…admire yes…envy no. BATMAN until now has been Snyder’s own personal playground, keeping in line with the mantra that New 52 will be just that – new. Instead of rehashing old villains with modernized hoodies and emo tendencies, he was given the freedom to do what he does best, rewrite history to create something entirely new. Different than the Johnsian approach of finding an insignificant silver age sliver, Snyder completely rebuilt the Gotham mythos from the ground-up by instilling the new ruling elite – The Court of Owls- during Year One of the Bat titles.

Now Snyder is faced with not only building on and beating the success of the last year, but doing so with a full-set of Samsonite nostalgia around his neck. In addition to juggling a set of Robins a little too close in age for the comfort of most fans, he must now make one of the most iconic and terrifying villains in comics…iconicer and terrifyinger. He must also do all of this without hanging himself in the noose of Nineties nostalgia that permeates this epic “Death of the Family” Bat bonanza crossover of titles.

Everyone, including this reviewer, assumed The Joker was out for the count after last year’s skinning of the clown prince’s face in the pages of DETECTIVE. Of course I was never naïve enough to think Joker would be gone for all time, but I certainly didn’t expect an appearance until there was some event where the Flash went really fast so they could retcon the Dollmaker’s handy work into oblivion. Or at the very least, pull a switcheroo and show us that it was not the Joker’s skin mask sitting in the GCPD evidence locker, but just some poor inmate Mr. J put in Pancake makeup.

Shame on me for doubting, because the Joker is still a sans skin psychopath and the big joke that keeps him laughing has taken on a new “face” of evil that seems to terrify even fervent followers like Harley Quinn. In fact, the whole beginning of the book is an edge of the seat hide and seek inside the powered down police headquarters where Jokesy has come to finally rob that which was once his. As he makes his way through the station, we only have Gordon’s flashlight to illuminate the trail of carnage as The Joker narrates through the PA system. From darkness to light all we have to comfort us is the every other panel of illumination. One-by-one officers’ necks are snapped liked brittle twigs as The Joker begins to relay information that hits a little too close to home for Gordon – and I mean that in the most literal sense possible. Babs anyone?

We actually never see the real Joker until the end of the main story. And sorry, I’m not going to tell you who his first actual first intended victim is. Instead, we’re treated to a series of charlatans in clown makeup. Each fake prince sends Batman and the GCPD on a goose chase of protection that involves a brilliant scene locking down Gotham’s mayor and ultimately leads to the chemical factory where the Red Hood fell into a vat of skin bleaching chemicals oh so many years ago…wait…I mean five years ago.

Now I will spoil who was under that hood because without the spoil I can’t lead into my unequivocally favorite part of the book – the back-up story. Joker recruits his girl Friday, Harley Quinn, to don the Hood as he goes after his real prey. This part of the main story ends with Harley showing fear for the first time towards the once adored Mr. J and the back-up story shows us why. In a scene that made me feel so dirty I needed a shower afterwards, we see only Harley, scared and under an interrogation light. Snyder and Capullo perfectly deliver fear with the respectful balance of art and words having Harley literally strip off her clothes as the Joker strips away any ounces of self-respect she might have gained during her time on SUICIDE SQUAD. Once she’s inside the famous Red Hood tux, Joker leads her to believe that step two to becoming part of the gang again will involve a little slice dice for her pretty little pudum so it can be reapplied poorly with band aids and bubble gum. Snyder has the Joker explain in meticulous detail the agony he went through during his skinning and the minutia of trying to remain human minus the thing that defines our humanity most. Just as you think the cutting will begin…BAM…she’s standing with a Red Hood on as the Joker cackles away into the night.

It’s hard to outdo the insanity of past Joker scribes like Moore, Azzarello and Miller, but Snyder is well on his way. Best of all it’s all in-continuity, which infinitely ups the ante on repercussions from this portrayal. This event looks on track to deliver on the nostalgia leverage, unlike other recent dips into memory lane like CRISIS. I see the events of this story being just as impactful as its 90s ancestor “A Death in the Family,” and I’m all for a die-cut cover as long as it doesn’t up the price and has a purpose.

BATMAN 13 is the true face of terror in main stream comics, being sufficiently creepy without ever crossing the line into copious amounts of inappropriate gore. It’s not the bloodletting that’s scary kids, it’s the moments leading up…and I can’t wait for more terrifying moments to come.