Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pseudo-Live-Blogging: Grant Morrison's Batman Run - The Black Casebook

Well, since I'm not procrastinating anything by returning to Morrison's Batman run (and the fact that I'm kindof eager to undertake a similar exploration of Final Crisis) I return to Batman with issues 664 and 665.

Batman #664 - Three Ghosts of Batman

  • Ah, Man-Bat Ninjas. Grant Morrison, you so crazy.
  • "He says you're cool, like James Bond" - I'd never thought about it, but it's a remarkably accurate comparison. Both are, essentially, highly trained people, but not superhuman. Both use high-tech gadgets to accomplish their goals. But where Bond does his work in a tuxedo, Bruce puts on the cape and cowl. Of course, Bruce's entrance in this scene is very Bond as well.
  • It's interesting to watch Jezebel Jet trying to work her way under Bruce's skin. What's supposed to look like a romantic dinner where the pair bond over shared pain almost looks like she's probing him. Maybe I'm reading too much into it?
  • More Zur-En-Arrh graffiti in the background as we transition back to Gotham.
  • Massive guy in a luchadore mask - I wonder just how much I'm supposed to think of Bane.
  • The comments about this big lug being steroid fueled continue the 'Bane' thoughts, but the massive stomp right on Batman's back makes it pretty clear.

Batman #665 - The Black Casebook

  • It's good to see that no matter how rough a town Gotham is, when a Bane/Batman mashup tries to smash your spine, a hooker will drive you home.
  • Ahh, Bruce Wayne's penthouse. I mention this, because in interviews I believe Grant Morrison referred to loving the Batman of this era, where he lived in the city to be more centrally located. Again, with the posh living and secret passages, James Bond similarities aren't far off.
  • Even Bruce draws the connection between Magilla the Gorilla from the last issue and Bane.
  • Another hint of the Black Glove. After defeating Bane-Bat, not only does the criminal up and vanish, but the Mayor is leaning on Gordon to stay away from this. The implication being that someone else is leaning on the Mayor... somebody rich and influential.
  • As Talia returns following the Batman and Son story arc, she's interested in Bruce having been seen with Jezebel Jet recently. I wonder if she's aware back here that Bruce is being targeted by the Black Glove.
  • As Bruce and Jezebel kiss, we see a shot of a pair of hands holding binoculars, spying on them. Hands wearing black gloves.

Some thoughts after reading these two issues.

This story begins to re-introduce some of the elements of Batman that have been missing since Crisis on Infinite Earths rebooted the DC Universe, and Frank Miller's Batman: Year One redefined the Caped Crusader for the modern era. Morrison seems to want to bring back Batman's encounters with aliens and with the supernatural. This is an important aspect that carries over into 'Zur-En-Arrh' and the R.I.P. storyline.

These two issues are pretty straightforward. It could be argued that the next issue, #666 belongs with these two. The stories reference three 'alternate' Batmen that Bruce encountered... one who killed criminals with a gun, another who was a steroid-fueled mass of rage, and a third who sold his soul to the devil and destroyed Gotham. Issue #666 is a clear reference to the final of those three, but because that is a story of Damian Wayne, not Bruce, I'm going to reference it separately.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well, That Took Longer Than Expected

Well, overcoming the forces of work, and procrastination, I've finally managed to finish the first draft of the script I've been working on. And now that this is done, I'll return to Grant Morrison's Batman run on my next work-night.

My job may suck, but it's something of a perk to be able to get away with reading comics on the clock, much less do that while blogging about it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

No Lie

Ordinarily I'd gripe about comics arriving late. It's something that nobody likes. And the past few months, either Marvel or the Postal Service has had a few issues with my subscription. As a rule, I'm not griping because I still get the issues before I get the DCBS box they WOULD be in, if I bought them that way.

But today, I got my copy of Captain America #5. That's today, January 20th, 2009... the day of the inauguration of the newest President of the United States, Barack Obama. This one, I'll let slide.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


I've been trying to blog a bit more regularly lately, but I'm going to have to put the brakes on for a wee bit. I really need to focus on finishing up the script I'm working on for Jim Shelley's Flashback Universe. So I'm going to need to keep my focus on getting that wrapped up, before I continue my reading of Morrison's run on Batman, or speculating that Azrael is on the comeback.

I'll get back to the rest of that stuff when I've got it wrapped up.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Azrael Mini-Series Announced!

It's right here, folks. Can it be a coincidence that, once again as Bruce Wayne is removed as Batman that Azrael once more takes the scene?

But admittedly, this doesn't sound like Jean-Paul Valley... no matter how much I really want it to be. The solicitation mentions the Suit of Sorrows, so maybe something noteworthy will come out of the truly mediocre resurrection of Ra's al Ghul. (Seriously, DC... if you're going to make such a big deal out of bringing a character back, you should maybe, I dunno, do something with them.)

The fact that this is running in parallel to The Battle for the Cowl means that it's less likely that we'll have a full-on Az-Bats revival, but a guy can hope... right?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Pseudo-Live-Blogging: Grant Morrison's Batman Run - The Clown At Midnight

Now I come to it... the infamous prose issue. Posing as a regular comic book, this verbal bomb nestled amongst my regular week's comics, waiting to ambush me with text. my recollection was that I had trouble reading this issue, but that's probably because I wasn't expecting it. This is from a time not long ago that I didn't follow solicitations months in advance. And as a prose piece, it's a bit more dense than typical comic fare. So now, as we approach the second anniversary of it's release, here are my thoughts as I read the issue.
  • I like the quote it starts with - "There's something about clowns at a funeral and it's hard to say if it's sad or if it's funny." I wonder if Grant wrote that, or if it came from something else. If so, major props to Grant. I have to think that quotes about clowns and funerals would generally be in short supply.
  • Two pages in, and here's a reference to black and red flowers. More foreshadowing for Batman R.I.P.
  • Are the doctors in Arkham ever going to realize that the Joker is just too bugnuts crazy to write off? Oh, we know he's the Joker... but he's too frail to be any threat to anybody this time. Pff.
  • I'm not quite half-way through, and there's a third reference to red and black. I just didn't catch on that these color references were going to be at all important. And once again, it's red and black flower petals mixing to form a toxin.
  • And there's a reference to the Killing Joke, during the Joker's 'Circus Ringmaster' phase, when all of his henchman seemed to be carnival sideshow performers.
  • I like the mosquito poisoned by the Joker's blood, that the very essence of the Joker is toxic.
  • There've been constant references to checkerboards, which alternate red and black. The 'reborn' Joker views Harley as a checkerboard, but this 'new' Joker loathes 'board games'. Morrison's intention here seems to be to split Harley from the Joker. She's fine for the animated series, but not for the Joker he wants to write. Heck, imagine the Joker from The Dark Knight with Harley. She doesn't work there.

That's a meaty read for something that looks like a comic book. But it's a good one. Morrison waxes a bit prosaic early on in his descriptions, but it's a good story. It ties together all of the various changes in the Joker from camp to psychopath. But make no mistake, this is definitely more of a Joker story than a Batman story.

I can't help but wonder if Morrison has specific plans for the Joker. Through most of the rest of his run thus far, the Joker stays locked up in Arkham as Batman begins to wrestle with the Black Glove. But he foreshadows the doom coming to Gotham if the Joker does escape... and he walked out of Batman R.I.P. with his freedom.

I have to confess, I'd been a little nervous about reading this one, specifically because I remember it as such a weighty, heavy read. I'm not saying that it wasn't, but it's definitely a good read as well. And it continues to foreshadow elements that Grant Morrison would use over the course of his run on the book. There's all the red and black, of course, and a mention of Nanda Parbat. It's neat to pick up on these things now, even if I didn't realize their significance initially.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pseudo-Live-Blogging: Grant Morrison's Batman Run - Grotesk (Ostrander Fill-In Story)

So, here are the thoughts that go through my head as I read the Grotesk arc by Ostrander and Mandrake, published between Batman & Son and The Clown at Midnight:

  • Wow... this isn't very good.
  • So these guys want this other guy's sister? Ten gets you twenty he's the villain.
  • This is so bad it's giving me a headache.
  • Johnny Karaoke? SERIOUSLY? And his Geisha Grrls?
  • Headache... getting worse!
  • Once again, a Gotham vigilante thinks Batman should understand his mission of vengeance.
  • I think this headache is actually my brain trying to escape from my skull so that it can poke my eyes out. I don't blame it. In fact, it might be for the best if it succeeds.
  • Well, at least we won't have to worry about seeing Johnny Karaoke again.
  • And the sister dies too, so we have no loose ends that might bring ANY of this back around. Outstanding.

Well, in the final analysis, the best thing I can say about John Ostrander's four issue cliche is that I'm done reading it. Now I feel like I need a shower. And some steel wool. I'd have rather gone a couple months without an issue of Batman than read this. I'm normally the first one in line to scream when a book I like has delays. "Why not give us a filler story" I might say "while the regular team tries to get their book back on track?"

If you hear me say this, remind me that his line of thinking got us "Grotesk".