BATMAN & RED ROBIN 19
Writer: Peter Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
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 18, BATMAN AND ROBIN 18
Writers: Scott Snyder, Peter Tomasi
Artists: Andy Kubert & Patrick Gleason
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.
Now 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.
DEATH OF THE FAMILY: BATMAN 16, BATGIRL 16, BATMAN & ROBIN 16
Writers: Snyder, Tomasi, Simone
Artists: Capullo, Gleason, Benes
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Writer: Pete Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Reviewer: Optimous Douche
So good and gory I almost threw up in my mouth. Gleason get the creep award in this week’s “DEATH OF THE FAMILY” offering through the unraveling of a young Boy and the most grotesque puppetry since the recent news about Elmo.
This is Damian’s story all the way and takes place a very close heartbeat away from the moments of BATMAN 15 when the family turns against one another. You can read one book without the other, but some of Damian’s motivation and inner dialog will be lost.
In three distinct acts, Tomasi gives us one of the best portrayals of Damian to date.
Confined to monitor duty, in usual fashion Damian gives a resounding “F this noise” and begins the hunt for Pennyworth. Great moments abound as Damian and Titus, the Batdog, begin their sleuthing for clues. A boy and his dog story are Americana at its finest, Titus is Damian’s Robin and the interchange between them is exactly what you would expect from a ten year old. Damian truly believes Titus understands him, and it as endearing as it is sad when set against the atrocities in the rest of the issue.
In Act II Damian’s clues lead to Alfred’s whereabouts at the Hyena cage in the Gotham Zoo. “I hate the zoo” are the only words Damian mutters throughout his battle with the Joker venom carrying hounds and with that Tomasi unpeels another layer of the Damian mystique, the boy who hates being a boy.
Of course the Joker finally gets some alone time with Damian after an inventive knock-out and here is where I truly almost lost my lunch. You know that face the Joker has strapped on and probably should have rotted off by now? Well, it’s finally starting to show some of the gummy elasticity of necrotic wear. The Joker molds, stretches and contorts the face in a macabre puppet show as he unhinges Damian in a game of verbal cat and mouse. Especially creepy was the complete inversion of the face where the Joker’s beady pupils are in the mouth. This is also the part where Damian shines as the true son of Bruce Wayne. When he makes a solemn vow to kill the Joker, you can see and hear honest-to-God fear from the Joker towards this new Robin. He is more than a sidekick, he is a true successor to the throne of the Bat. Given the newfound revelation of the Joker’s adoration for Batman, you can imagine how far off the edge this sends the putty faced price of crime.
Steely calm, petulant annoyance, and snippets of an innocence not completely lost are the essence of Damian. Tomasi hit every chord in this issue with pitch perfect execution. This is more than worthy of the DEATH OF THE FAMILY die-cut cover, it is an essential entry.
GREEN LANTERN CORPS #30
Writer : Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)
“This week on Yellow Lantern’s Cribs, we tear into the back fat of homicidal homonym Kryb. She’s got a whole sack of nipples and can interspecies lactate, that’s why all the Green Lantern babies are getting up inside this Kryb!” Ever since Kryb was introduced during the Sinestro Corps War, she has been a nightmarish favorite of mine in the same way I revere and at the same time fear Carol Anne’s clown from the movie “Poltergeist.”
Tomasi wasted no time imbedding readers in dark undertones right from outset by opening the issue with Kryb’s line of razor sharp teeth and nipple-backed baby cage. With each panel of the hunt for Kryb and the botched diplomatic mission to the Star Sapphire home world in this issue, the war drum of Blackest Night beats louder. I’m never one to promote or validate crossovers, especially when they simply serve to sell more books. In this case, though, I will say without hesitation, if you are not reading GREEN LANTERN CORPS you are not only missing out on an amazing reading experience, but also critical story elements to the entire Blackest Night war of light.
In my opinion, the Guardians of the Galaxy have always been more concerned about controlling the universe than serving as malevolent protectors. This belief has been flirted with in past issues of GREEN LANTERN, but always pulled back at the last minute with a very special “awwww aren’t they cute and blue” moment to show that their deeds are truly altruistic. Well, no more. As the Guardians seek allies to thwart the onslaught of the Red and Yellow ring wielders they seek out their sisters in Guardianship, the pink ring wearers of love, the Zamorans. There were so many golden moments to this diplomatic mission gone awry I don’t want to ruin the surprise. Suffice to say, Guy Gardner acts perfectly in character when confronted with a planet of interstellar babes and Ion serves not only as muscle should the shit hit the fan, but also to drive home the point that the universe needs love to survive as much as unrelenting willpower.
If any two titles deserve to be called a crossover it would GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS right now and why they aren’t being officially dubbed as such boggles my mind. This tightness of storytelling is what I’m still waiting to see in amidst the FINAL CRISIS hullabaloo. I won’t pretend to know how stories are developed are cross pollinated across titles, but the harmony and synchronization between GREEN LANTERN and GREEN LANTERN CORPS is making me believe that Johns and Tomasi are sharing a work space and interchangeable creative centers of the brain.
In short (I know, too late), if you enjoy GREEN LANTERN and want to experience the full impact of Blackest Night – buy…this…book!