(These reviews contain spoilers.)
BATMAN AND ROBIN #11
Written by Grant Morrison; pencils by Andy Clarke; inks by Scott Hanna
I have a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to Grant Morrison's Batman and Robin, because I haven't read any of his Batman stories leading up to it, nor have I read a lot of stories (from other writers) featuring some of the key players, like Talia and Hurt. So I was a bit lost when I first read the opening scene of this new issue, which is the big reveal that the villain known as "El Penitente" is in fact Hurt, but after doing a bit of research online, the pieces are starting to fall into place. And things are getting really interesting. I'm looking forward to finding out where this is all headed.
I've enjoyed the series so far for the most part, although it can be a bit hit-and-miss at times. The first story arc was great, due in no small part to Frank Quitely's fantastic interior art, but the second and third arcs weren't quite as exciting, although they each had enough good moments to keep me reading. What I've been enjoying the most is the characterization of Damian. I'm a pretty big fan of all the Robins, and I think Damian is a remarkably well written and original addition to the lineage. His relationship with Dick and how it is evolving from a kind of insubordinate rivalry to growing respect and affection is great. And it wasn't really until issue #10 that this really started to pay off – with probably my favourite scene in the series so far, where Damian worries about whether he'll be able to continue as Robin once Bruce Wayne has returned. It was really sweet to see just how much this means to him, and it made the "betrayal" that followed all the more powerful.
In some ways, issue #11 is just the logical continuation of what was set into motion earlier, so there weren't any big revelations or moments that had the same kind of impact those last few pages of #10 did. Dick follows the clues in Wayne Manor a little further, discovering more hidden rooms, a statue of a bat demon, and a railway that leads back to the cemetery, where Damian and Sexton are fighting against the 99 fiends. The revelation that Talia's "executioner" is Deathstroke just kinda made me go, "M'eh." I don't really see what the big deal is whether it's him or Talia herself remote-controlling Damian to get at Batman. I think the best scenes were the ones where Damian questioned Sexton about his identity – although no answers are given, they hint at the big revelation coming next month when Sexton will finally remove his mask (as shown in the preview at the end of this book).
I'm willing to bet that this big reveal is going to coincide with the first issue of The Return of Bruce Wayne miniseries is no accident. Very exciting!
This arc also features the best art (care of Andy Clarke) in the series since Quitely's arc.
THE FLASH: SECRET FILES AND ORIGINS 2010
Written by Geoff Johns; art by Scott Kolins and Francis Manapul
I also picked up The Flash: Secret Files and Origins today. I've decided to take my chance with the new Flash series, which starts next week, so I figured this would be a good way to ease into it, since I haven't read Flash Rebirth. The preview on the DC blog made it seem like it would focus on Barry Allen's childhood, which I thought would be interesting.
For a $4 book, I have to say this was a huge disappointment. The story itself is only 17 pages and, aside from a few brief flashbacks to Barry's childhood, basically consist of him getting up in the middle of the night, making his way to the house he grew up in (where his mother was murdered when he was 11), meeting up with all the other speedsters in the DC universe who also felt drawn to that place due to their connection to the Speed Force – and the going back to bed. Nothing really happens. Then there's a brief epilogue that shows the rogues about to do something but the story ends before they do it.
The other 19 pages of the book (not counting advertisement) consist of a bunch of fact sheets with information on the different characters and concepts that will play a role in the series. Most of it is information I was either already familiar with or could have easily looked up on Wikipedia.
Seriously, if this book wasn't meant to be more than an advertisement for the upcoming series, it should have been much cheaper. The art was also pretty unremarkable (it's better in the character bios than in the story itself) and the writing seemed uninspired. I really hope Geoff Johns has something better planned for the ongoing series, or I'm going to be dropping it really fast.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
(These reviews contain spoilers.)
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