Review Round-Up: Batman punches a horse and the Illuminati gather

Posted: January 18, 2013 in DC, Marvel, Reviews
Tags: , ,

By Alex Headley

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of a post on Wednesday. It was my birthday(25!) and I just didn’t get any time to myself to type anything up. I’ll make it up to you though with either a second post today or a special Saturday post. Anyway, here are my reviews for the week, I had a good pull list this time around.

Seriously, this is one of the best comics panels of all time. Property of DC Comics.

Batman 16
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo aren’t pulling any punches with ‘Death of the Family’. Their take on the Joker is unapologetically morbid and grim. Each issue has really amped up the fear factor and 16, the penultimate chapter in the event, dials it up in a big way. The Joker’s insistence that the extended Batman family has slowed Bruce  down rings truer than ever. For much of this issue it looks like Bruce has won, outsmarted and outfought the Joker at every turn but he still fails in the end. It’s a heart wrenching moment because, as a reader, it become really hard to argue with the Joke’s twisted logic. Maybe the Bat-King would be better off alone.  For most of this issue, Bruce is at the top of his game, he’s the Batman we all know and love, taking down villains left and right and even knocking a horse out cold with just one punch.  This issue is full of big moments and great action as Batman takes on some of his greatest foes in Arkham.

But Snyder takes time to focus on the characterization here too. Getting into the minds of not just Joker and Batman but several other villains in the process. Two-Face gets the spotlight in the backup feature his time around and I really enjoyed the back and forth between him and Joker. It’s very reminiscent of the characters interaction in The Dark Knight and I think bringing some of that sensibility into the New 52 is a smart move, at least for Two-Face. Greg Capullo continues to deliver great stuff in the series. He handles action, terror and humor equally. And the lighting in this issue is just fantastic, revealing just enough to keep things interesting and bathing the rest in shadow. Kudos to colorist Jonathan Glapion.

Batman & Robin 16

The cover to Batman & Robin 16 Property of DC Comics

Rolling right along with the big Bat-Event is Batman and Robin. I think this series has been one of the best tie-ins to an event I’ve ever seen. Peter Tomasi and Pat Gleason have really taken the concept and ran with it, pitting the Joker against Damian in a way that could very well define this Robin for a long time to come. This issue isn’t quite as good as last month’s, mostly because the two said everything they needed to say already, but the fight between a seemingly brainwashed Batman and a desperate Robin is fun to watch and Robin develops as a character as the fists are flying. Tomasi clearly loves Damian Wayne as Robin almost as much as Grant Morrison and this series has given him a lot of development. But as great as Tomasi is here, it’s Gleason that steals the show. I said last month that his Joker was almost better than Capullo. That holds up here. Gleason does a wonderful job at making Joker the creepiest SOB to ever grace a comics page. Not to mention the battle itself has a great pacing to it. Both combatants get the upper hand at one point or another and it’s all very dynamic and fun to watch.

 

Batgirl 16

Another example of a strong tie-in book. Gail Simone has really done well with both of Snyder’s events. Her Night of the Owls tie-in was one of my favorites in the bunch. Here, she plays into the demands of the event but keeps Barbara’s story moving along as well thanks to the appearance of James Gordon Jr. James was introduced before the New 52 as a sociopath lost child of Commissioner Gordon in Snyder’s run on Detective Comics( which was stellar) and I’m very happy to see he stuck around after the reboot. His inclusion really elevates the events here and gives the story some much needed X-factor. It’s not the main conflict isn’t compelling, watching Babs struggle with her own moral code is interesting but we all know she won’t kill the Joker. If for no other reason than he has to appear in other Batman comics. But the fact that she doesn’t get to make the choice is quite interesting and I look forward to seeing how it could alter the character in the long run. Joker’s plot to make Batgirl marry him provides some good moments but Simone has been a little heavy handed on the narration in regard to Joker. We only need to be told that he is a monster so many times. Ed Benes does some good work here, even though he is far from my favorite when it comes to art. He focuses on the villains here and delivers some good moments with the Joker instead of sexualizing Batgirl on every page as he did in the last couple of issues. The priest’s expressions and reactions to the proceedings are  especially fun.

Jock’s covers continue to impress. Property of Marvel Comics.

New Avengers 2

Unlike most critics, I thought the debut issue for New Avengers was great. This issue is even better, thanks in large part to the larger cast. Everyone gets a great moment this time around. Namor and Panther have some stellar dialogue, Hickman writes Reed Richards so well and Captatin America gets to deliver a classic speech that really nails his character. The first meeting of this new Illuminati is gripping to watch and I am very interested to see what’s coming. The new ‘villain’ Black Swan gets some interesting moments too as Mr. Fantastic interrogates her. Her cryptic responses leave a lot of questions for the series and even though things seem pretty clear cut by the end of the issue, I’m willing to bet Hickman has some twists and turns in store for us and she will be at the center of it. I like what Hickman is doing with the multiverse stuff, I’ve always thought that was a cool concept for comics to explore. DC has a done a great deal of it but I’m excited to see what kind of alternate earths Marvel can cook up.

I cannot emphasize enough how great Steve Epting is on this series. He is perfect for this book, he really understands how to make his characters act and emote in a way that complements the dialogue and action in a wonderful way. Next issue, the group will try to gather the infinity gems and i think that will treat us to some great visuals from Epting and some more crazy concepts from Hickman.

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