The Bat Casebook January 30th, 2010

Hello, and welcome to The Bat Casebook, where I take the new Batman comics that seem to always happen every week and review it. I feel I have to remind you people of this because, well, I haven’t done this in a while—almost a month, in fact. Sorry about that—see, what happened was I got hit with the Omega Sanction and had to bounce through the time-stream and—nah; seriously, life and school have to take top priority to this, and I had to get that stuff in order. I was half-tempted to review all the stuff from the rest of January, but I decided only the obsessed and the clinically insane would actually try to read through all of that, so I’m just going to go through the stuff this week. Let’s get to it—

Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Cameron Stewart
Cover(s) by Cameron Stewart and Frank Quitely

Remember when this was a big deal, the most talked about Bat-book? Hopefully with new (and far better, I think most would agree) Cameron Stewart and the slight connection with DC’s mega-event Blackest Night, the book comes back on top, because this was an amazing issue.

We got a team-up with Batman and Squire—the only sidekick who’s more than likely more popular than her partner—finding a series of dirty bombs laid throughout London, stopping a super-villain gang’s plot to get information from their rivals for the location of a coal mine that’s being guarded by a cult looking to sacrifice the “Twice-Named Cain” there. After Batman, Knight and Squire take them out, they free the Cain, Batwoman, from a coffin and they inform her of their plan—to use the Lazarus Pit there and bring Bruce Wayne back to life. Kate balks at the idea—asking if they haven’t had enough of the dead rising from their graves—but Batman informs her that they already did it, as a black glove rises from the Pit…

Overall I enjoyed the issue—great writing from Morrison, as per usual, very break-neck with a lot of hyper-real insanity, bought greatly to life by Stewart’s art. I don’t want to harp too much about the last arc and Tan’s art, but this was a far better fit for the book, automatically getting the speed and tone for the story.

There were a few problems, though—while I didn’t notice it in the story, some fan response did notice that Dick has never trusted the Lazarus Pit before. While I can see where Morrison was going with the last issue, but I can also see how odd it is to see Dick doing this when he had stopped Tim from doing the same thing in Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul, which Morrison co-wrote. I’ve also seen people complain about Morrison having Dick call Bruce his “brother,” when it’s been typically written as a surrogate father/son relationship for a long time. It did confuse me at first as well, but it’s been written that way before and I enjoyed the issue enough to not let it phase me. There was also a REALLY bad printing error in this issue, specifically one panel:

I mean…wow. While the jokes that this creates are fantastic—“Honey, I know you’re butch, but just because you like women don’t make you no man!”—that is just really bad, especially for a book of this quality, and a book that was delayed for a month for reasons of event coordination, instead of the usual reason of the artist being slow. Hopefully this is fixed in the next printing and when this is collected in trade. Other than that big amateur error, it was a really solid book.

Written by Greg Rucka
Drawn by Jock & Cully Hamner (Co-Feature)
Cover by J.H. Williams III

I must admit, I was kind-of worried about this issue at first. As most of you probably know, J.H. Williams, the previous Mad Genius artist of this book, left so that he could get a good lead time for the upcoming Batwoman solo book; and as you read above, British artist Jock, most well-known for his work on The Losers, Hellblazer, and Dark X-Men: The Beginning, is taking over art duties for this arc. I was worried that we would be too spoiled from J.H.’s masterful work these past few issues that the new artist wouldn’t take. Luckily, that wasn’t the case—Jock is his own unique animal. While his work is a perfect fit for the dark tone, he’s able to make it his own, with a cinematic approach that makes for a very engaging book.

Story-wise, it was a solid set-up for a serial-killer chase piece. Said serial killer, known as The Cutter, has made his comeback after over ten years of hiding, and we see two stories—one being Batman early on in his career trying to track him down in flashback, and Batwoman managing to find one of Cutter’s victims in present day, ending with seeing that Cutter has his next victim in mind—Bette, Kate’s cousin. Admittedly, it wasn’t as engaging as “Go,” but was still a solid mystery story.

Meanwhile, in the Question co-feature, the assassin Zeiss confronts Renee, Helena and Tot in their home, ready to take them out. Renee and Helena takes him down and gives him an out—Zeiss fakes their death and reports to his employer, getting two million and Helena’s Lamborghini in return for the net-book that Zeiss was provided with by his employers. They’re one more step to the top—but Tot isn’t liking the fact that they paid him off and tells Renee that he’s disappointed in her, and Vic would have been as well. Overall a really solid story and I can’t wait for the next installment—or for The Question #37, which I’m sure this is a prelude for.

Plot by Gullem March
Dialogue by Marc Andreyko
Art by Gullem March

I’ve given this book a lot of flack before, mostly for its bad, cheesecakey art, but I have to say I really liked this issue. Part of me wants to say that March might be a better writer then an artist, but I think even the art was a lot better in this issue.

The issue focuses on Poison Ivy, as a string of murders are occurring in Robinson Park, Ivy’s solitary back during No Man’s Land, all from becoming infected with Ivy’s toxins. Overall, it was an engaging mystery, where Ivy is trying to find out who is framing her, with Catwoman and Harley Quinn hot on her trail, and showing Ivy’s conflict hinted at in the previous issue between her human side and the part of her that is connected to nature.

As I mentioned, even the art looked a lot better than previous issues, to me. The anatomy wasn’t as distorted and just overall flowed better. Maybe my initial dislike clouded me and he’s been progressively getting better, but whatever’s happening, I hope March keeps it up—between the better art and Dini’s writing, hopefully this becomes as strong a book as Streets of Gotham.

So that was the books for this week—overall a really solid week. Next week on The Bat Casebook, we will have The Question #37 and Red Robin #8.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *