The Bat Casebook by Jared Kardos

Guess who’s back
Back again
This crap’s back
Tell some men!

Or something like that.

Okay, so, without getting too personal up in here, the main reason why I haven’t done this in months is because of school. But, while that’s still an important thing, and it takes precedent, I know that I need to keep an active writing habit, and gushing and sometimes ranting about Batman comics is a perfect way to do so. Basically–I’ll try for weekly, and let’s see what happens, savvy?

So for the new people–this is the Bat Casebook, where I take the latest Batman comics that came out during the week, give small recaps, and then review them. Why should you listen to my opinions? Because I’m a snarky young adult on the Internet. And therefore Very Important. So enough of the explaining and the personal times, let’s get to the comics.

Batman & Robin #16

BATMAN & ROBIN #16
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham & Frazer Irving
Color by Alex Sinclair & Frazer Irving
Letterers by Patrick Brosseau
Cover by Frank Quitely
Variant cover by Ethan Van Sciver

So yeah, you might have heard that this issue became kind of a big deal in the news–well, as much of big news that a comic book can be nowadays. I’m in that weird position where I don’t think it’s necessary to talk about it–especially since I have my own unique problem with the development which I’ll talk about later–but I do feel the need to ask this: Why? Why was this in the news? I mean, I got the last few times this happened–Captain America assassinated, Barack Obama appears in a Spider-Man story, Wonder Woman’s costume change–but this? Bruce Wayne reveals he’s been financing Batman? I don’t get why the AP went with this story in the first place–and this was Midterm elections week, so it wasn’t like they ran out of crap to talk about. But I digress. Onto the issue:

After a flashback of Hurt’s origin, combining Peter Milligan’s Dark Knight, Dark City story with a sprinkling of Morrison’s New God mythology, we’re brought back to where we last left our heroes in last issue, with Hurt encountering Bruce Wayne, in a fresh Batman suit, ready to kick some ass. Hurt is shocked by this, and sics the 99 Fiends on Bruce, Dick and Damian. The three of them work together fighting them, while they’re bringing each other up on what’s been happening over the past year (or centuries, in Bruce’s case). After the Fiends have been taken care of, Bruce instructs Dick and Damian to save Gotham from Pyg’s drug virus–he’ll take care of Hurt.

Back in Gotham, Pyg’s infected most of the people with his drug, and has basically turned Gotham into Mardi Gras with Additional Murder and Mayhem. Dick and Damian crash the party. Pyg tells his addicted masses to kill Batman and Robin, and if they do, they’ll get more of the drug. Dick turns this around on Pyg, telling the mass that he has the drug they want, so go after him. The crowd, easily swayed, goes after Pyg, and as he’s beaten into submission, he’s oddly fine with it, telling them he’s not wearing any protection. In case you didn’t know by now, Pyg’s kind of a weird guy. During this, Dick collapses, Hurt’s unique method of torture starting to work on him, and Dick tells Damian that he has to go back to the Bunker, and take care of Joker’s nuke, and that it’s “superhero time.”

MEANWHILE, AT THE GOTHAM CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT:

Gordon feels pretty.

Commissioner Gordon: Cross-dressing for JUSTICE!

Sorry, it’s one of those kind of moments where it just needs to be isolated and admired.

Anyway, back in the Bat-Cave, Bruce catches up with Hurt, and basically schools Hurt on thinking that he could tangle with the Goddamn Batman. Hurt, still convinced he won, just ignores him and tries the whole “I’m your father” thing again. Hurt makes a break for it again, telling Bruce that he can either finish Hurt off once and for all, or save Alfred from a death-trap. Bruce, being Bruce, goes after Alfred. Hurt doesn’t get too far, though–by the time he gets out of the Manor, he encounters Joker. Hurt makes for a gun nearby, but slips on a banana peel that Joker planted last issue. Joker chastises Hurt for being no fun, and failing once in their game to make Joker laugh. Hurt, with a possible spinal injury, and infected with the Joker toxin, is buried alive in a grave painted like a domino, Joker laughing like a fiend the whole time.

Bruce finds Alfred–in the sub that Bruce took in Batman #701, I’ve been told–and brings him back to the surface. Damian informs Bruce he’s handling the bomb and cuts Bruce off from telling him how to dismantle it, saying he already knows how. Of COURSE he already knows how. With that handled, Bruce says there’s one more loose end–we cut back to Joker about to flee from Wayne Manor, only to be one-punched by Bruce.

With that, everything is tied up–Gotham’s returning to normal after the infection and Dick’s been healed. Bruce, along with Alfred, Dick, Tim, and Damian, hold a press conference for the public and lays a bombshell–he reveals to the public that he and his company has been financing Batman since the start, and he’s planning on taking it to the next level, by creating an organization called Batman Incorporated, to take Batman’s War on Crime and take it globally.

All and all, this was a solid conclusion–all the loose ends in terms of the Dr. Hurt storyline was explained and closed out in a satisfying manner, with a lot of great action and little character moments. Frazier Irving did great with the Joker and Pyg scenes he did–which really is to be expected at this point. It is also to be expected for Cameron Stewart to draw the most epic fight scenes, and he delivers perfectly with his 99 Fiends fight. The real surprise of the bunch, art-wise, was Chris Burnham. I had never read anything of his before, but I really like it–it’s like Frank Miller and Frank Quitely got together and made an Art Baby.

Now, as I said before, the only thing I really had a problem with was the whole reveal thing. I didn’t mind it in the sense that it “exposes Bruce and his family by proxy”–Wayne Enterprises has been shown in the DCU to be involved with superhero activity for years. My problem with it is that we don’t see WHY he’s decided to do this here. In this issue, we see him finish up his beef with Dr. Hurt. In Return of Bruce Wayne, he’s been too busy fighting to make it back to his home time without blowing it all up. We don’t see him decide that he needs to change up his War on Crime. I presume that will happen in the one-shot The Return that Morrison’s doing with David Finch–so why not just put it there instead? Aside from that, this was a solid comic.

Batman/Catwoman: Follow the Money #1

BATMAN/CATWOMAN: FOLLOW THE MONEY #1
Written by Howard Chaykin
Art and cover by Howard Chaykin
Colors by Jesus Aburto
Letters by John J. Hill

I don’t know what it is about me and one-shots. Maybe it’s the draw of having a complete story in my hand, but they always get me, even when it’s by creators, like Chaykin, that aren’t necessarily big draws for me. I think what really sinched it for me was the two main characters–my first real memory of Batman was seeing Batman Returns, so the idea of the semi-confrontational Batman/Catwoman story always gets me.

Like I said before, this is a one-shot (and I’m already past 1000 words here and I have some bones to pick with the last book), so instead of recapping, I’ll just give you the quick plot: Both Batman and Catwoman find themselves going after Mortimer Blake, aka the Cavalier–Bruce because Mort is on a crime spree, and Selina because it’s implied he’s disrespected her in the past and that he “gives dressing up a bad name.” During this time, Wayne Enterprises is going through massive corporate fraud–someone, or a group of someones, has been bleeding the pension fund dry. Bruce and Selina end up teaming up after Cavalier tries to hit an opera house, and he tells her about his problem–if he lets the feds investigate Wayne Enterprises’ records, they’ll be dangerously close to finding out just where Bruce puts a lot of his money. Selina suggests going in and stealing the records, Bruce has a lot of problems with this, because he feels it’s crossing a line, but realizes that he doesn’t have much of a choice in the matter. They break into the investigation office to get the records, and find out that not only was Cavalier the main culprit, but he’s also framed Catwoman in the process–so both Bruce and Selina have reason to take him down hard.

That’s all I’ll say, because it’s just a one-shot, but I will say that overall it was a solid tale. I don’t quite know how to rate the art–Howard Chaykin’s one of those artists, I’ve find, that’s one of those “love him or hate him” type. Personally, while there is some odd facial and anatomy things, I thought it was very solid. The story was well-executed, even if the crux of the story, that Cavalier, is only implicated in the main plot because we’re told, and not shown. The characterization of Selina was really solid, far more so then a lot of the past Sirens issues. Bruce was okay, but one thing that bothered me was him out-right saying that he considers himself “judge and jury.” This might be my personal interpretation getting in the way, but to me he’s judge and jury in the same way that, say, Sherlock Holmes is. Batman is ultimately a master detective who the police, namely Gordon, bring in when there’s a crime they know they can’t solve on their own.

The one thing that I found really annoying, though, was the fact that it seemed like Chaykin didn’t think we as the audience are so stupid that he has to repeat the theme of the book over and over. Yes, Bruce is a criminal to a certain extent, just like Catwoman, but with more strident ethics. We get that as readers, and I’m certain both of them knew that already, so why does Chaykin feel it necessary to have half of Selina and Bruce’s conversations in the book be about that?

Despite the small smattering if flaws, however, I can think of a few worse ways to spend five bucks–especially if you’re a Bat/Cat fan.

Red Hood: Lost Days #6

RED HOOD: LOST DAYS #6
Written by Judd Winick
Art by Jeremy Haun
Cover by Billy Tucci

I consider myself a bit of an amateur writer. I don’t have much to my name yet, but one of the things about writing, from what I’ve been taught and what I have seen in my own work, is how much you show about how someone’s gotten to a certain point. A good example of this is Batman Begins–there we see Bruce Wayne travel the world to figure himself out. It’s said he travels everywhere, but we only see him in a few specific locations, just enough to keep the story going, and where it has something interesting happening. By the time Bruce makes it to the League of Shadows, we see that he has learned some martial arts before coming there, but we don’t see that. Why? Because that’s not as important as the training he gets in the League of Shadows.

Why am I talking about this, you ask? Because, to me, this is the main flaw of this story. Red Hood: Lost Days, is essentially Bruce learning all that martial arts before he got to the League of Shadows.

We have Jason going after the Joker, finding out his location and actually having Joker right where Jason wants him. Jason’s about the set him on fire, when he realizes that a quick death, no matter how agonizing, is not good enough–which we saw Jason do already concerning Bruce, exchanging setting the target on fire to installing a car bomb. He also says that he doesn’t care that killing the Joker would save lives, because he doesn’t care about the world–which is odd because in Under the Hood, Jason went to great lengths to make sure that the drug trade he was trying to control didn’t sell to kids. He says all of this to Talia, who in terms of continuity, still cares about Bruce, and yet she tells Jason to punish Bruce and be a better Batman than Bruce could ever be, and then she has sex with him for some reason. Jason meets up with Hush, and Jason doesn’t tell Hush anything that he didn’t already know. Finally, we see that Talia has equipped Jason with a lot of the weapons and tools he needs–including a curved knife that was a family heirloom, and we end with Jason holding the Red Hood mask in his hands.

Now, let’s ask ourselves…what did we learn about Jason, who he is and how he came to be? As I reviewed in the past, the first issue was basically the events of Batman Annual #25, which showed how Jason survived. We see him train in killing arts over the course of multiple issues, but each of them end with Jason killing them, making it very formulaic. We see him angst over Bruce, and him choosing Tim, which we saw in both the Under The Hood storyline and in Teen Titans. We see him shack up with Talia–and the less said about that, the better.

Ultimately, this series is just a cash grab. Plain and simple. Batman: Under the Red Hood was coming out, and they wanted something in the comics out because they knew it would sell. I’d only recommend this book if you’re the most hardcore of Jason Todd fans, and if you don’t get bored easily.

But let’s stop talking about bad comics. That was about it for this week. Next week shows to be an exciting one! We have:

Batgirl #15 — First issue of a new arc, as well as the first issue with Batman artist extrodinare Dustin Nguyen penciling!

Red Robin #17 — Tim breaks into a Chinese prison! And meets Cassandra Cain a mystery guest!

Birds of Prey #6 — Lady Blackhawk and Huntress vs. Lady Shiva!

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #6 — See how Bruce is back in his home timeline now without blowing up time!

Until next time, True Believers! I must go before Stan Lee sues my ass red for yoinking his act!

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne #6