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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cable and the New Mutants

Title: Cable and the New Mutants

ISBN: 0871359375

Price: $16.95

Publisher/Year: Marvel, 1992

Artist: Rob Liefeld
Writer: Louise Simonson

Collects: New Mutants #86-94

Rating: 1/5

As the New Mutants head home from adventures in Asgard, Rusty and Skids are arrested by Freedom Force, and then kidnapped by the Mutant Liberation Front terrorist group. But there’s a new man on their trail – Cable! He joins the New Mutants as their new leader as they track the MLF and its mysterious leader, Stryfe.

I don’t even know where to begin with this, honestly. Liefeld’s art is just… I mean, it’s really bad. We all know his famous flaws – how he can’t draw feet; how characters appear oddly disconnected on the page; how everyone is either gritting their teeth or yelling, with no in-between; the cross-hatching and squiggly lines instead of backgrounds.

That’s all here, in spades, along with the occasional swipe. But on top of all that… the story-telling… it’s terrible. There’s just no flow from panel to panel. There were dozens of times I had to go back and read sequences to try and figure out what was happening – or what was supposed to be happening.

I’m not sure I can even blame all this on Liefeld, as the dialogue certainly isn’t any better, nor does it make anything clearer. I know the Marvel method puts pressure on writers to make bad art better through scripting, but Louise Simonson doesn’t seem up to the task… then again, maybe no one would be!

My favourite is a scene when Cannonball and Boom Boom are captured by Stryfe. One of Stryfe’s mutant assassins, The Dragoness, watches over them; they’re strung up, hanging with their hands in shackles, over their heads. For some reason, Dragoness flirts with Sam, kisses him, then leaves.

Boom Boom shares her disgust before inexplicably kissing Sam herself.

No, it doesn’t make any sense… and it only gets worse! Sam confesses he only flirted with Dragoness to get her close enough so he could filch the key to their shackles from “the pocket in her headdress.”

Now… ignoring how ludicrous it is that Dragoness would keep a key – actually, not even a key, but a swipecard – in her “headdress,” which is nothing more than a typical Liefeld mask with spikes… Sam’s hands are shackled. ABOVE HIS HEAD. In fact, when she kisses Sam, Dragoness, physically pulls his head forward, so his arms are now ABOVE and BEHIND him as well.

In other words, there is no physical way he could have taken the key. It’s impossible. His hands are nowhere near her, and he has no way to move them. Furthermore, even if he did, take a look at the last panel on pp 242 – Sam’s hand is now beside and in front of his face, with the keycard. What!? And how does a keycard unlock handcuffs, anyway??

The entire sequence makes no sense whatsoever. And yet it’s pretty typical for this volume.

(Oh, and by the way… in the entire sequence, only the opening panel has any semblance of a background. The other 10 panels either have a solid color or squiggly line background. Classic Liefeld.)

Anyway, let’s take a look at Cable, who’s the big draw here. Honestly, he’s a shell of a character, a pair of empty shoulder pads. Sure, you don’t want to reveal everything about a new character all at once. But I can’t imagine anyone accepting a complete stranger as their new leader as easily as the New Mutants do here. ESPECIALLY when one of them, Rictor, has some sort of past with him – something to do with the death of his father. I mean, here are a bunch of kids, who’ve been taught by Charles Xavier, by Magnets, by Scott Summer and X-Factor – in other words, the greatest mutants in the Marvel Universe – and all of a sudden they’re just gonna turn their backs and go with a guy they don’t even know?

Not only that, about 10 seconds after they join up with Cable, they’re bringing him into the X-Mansion sub-basements and letting him use Cerebro and the Danger Room! I realize the mansion isn’t being used by the X-Men, but still, ya think Professor X MIGHT just have a problem with them giving a total stranger – who, by the way, likes to carry guns and may have murdered Rictor’s dad – complete access to all of the X-Men’s secrets?

And the thing is… there’s never any indication given WHY they do this. Basically, the New Mutants stumble onto Cable fighting with Freedom Force and… that’s it. Just because they have a common enemy, this guy is suddenly suitable to be your new leader? Within minutes they’re calling him “sir” and following him like puppies. Why? What was wrong with X-Factor as mentors? The New Mutants jump ship and barely even bother to say goodbye!

Again, it makes no logical sense. It’s clear now, in hindsight, Liefeld had a cool (for 1990) character design – big guy with big shoulder pads, big guns, and a glowing eye – and Marvel let him bring the design into New Mutants and tried to find a way to make it work… apparently as quickly as possible.

Unless you’ve got a seriously incurable case of 90s nostalgia, I can’t recommend this, even if you can find it for $10 like I did. It’s just not an enjoyable read, and you’ll end up feeling ashamed of your younger self for liking the stories once upon a time.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

John Constantine, Hellblazer: India

Title: John Constantine, Hellblazer: India

ISBN: 9781401228484

Price: $14.99

Publisher/Year: Vertigo, 2010

Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Simon Bisley

Writer: Peter Milligan

Collects: Hellblazer #261-266

Rating: 3/5

Reading Hellblazer books is always a little tricky, especially if you’re like me and only read them in bursts and bits thanks to trades either gotten from Sequential Swap, $5 trade boxes or friends. Putting all the pieces together can be difficult, especially with a character like John Constantine who has been built to have a million skeletons in his closet and old friends to call on him. Unless you’ve got an encyclopedic knowledge of the character, it’s hard to know if whoever’s asking John for help is an established character or someone new being introduced to move the story along. I guess it doesn’t really matter. It’s not easy for a comic geek to let go of his hold on/knowledge of/desire to understand continuity, but I’m working on it–so I’m trying to just jump in and figure it out.

Anyway, like those other volumes, I quite liked this one, though, also like those others, I’m still not sure if I have any more of a grasp on Constantine as a character aside from him being a badass with ties to the dark arts, but sometimes that’s enough. This book is split between two stories, a 4-parter called “India” and a 2-parter called “No Future.”

“India” is pretty rad, with Constantine traveling to the titular country and facing off against a demon who used to be part of the British effort to take over India. Nowadays, he has virgins sacrificed to him by a Bollywood movie producer, but the system gets a wrench thrown in it when the producer falls for the latest potential sacrifice. Oh and Constantine of course. The story was a lot of fun and pretty tight, but I absolutely love Giuseppe Camuncoli’s artwork. Dude just has such a sick style that fits this book so perfectly. I probably said this before, but he would be awesome on a Hellboy book or maybe one of DC’s upcoming darker books (he might have actually been announced on one, I haven’t been keeping up with the announcements).

I had an even better time with “No Future” because it goes back to Constantine’s punk rock roots (I’ve actually read one of the books that explained this). His buddy and fellow former punk rocker has built this cult that worships a dummy that supposedly has the spirit of Sid Vicious (I refuse to link to his Wiki page, you should either know he he is, look it up yourself or just watch Sid & Nancy). Constantine’s friend is having his people taken away by the new Conservative party which is made up of zombie demons. Another quick and dirty story, I had a great time with “No Future” especially seeing John done up as a green-haired aging punk. I also really appreciated Simon Bisley’s artwork. He’s a dude I’ve always heard of and appreciated from covers, but not actually read any interiors of, so this was a treat, especially given the subject matter.

With the exception of his relationship to a blue-haired girl who is still alive and a woman who he clearly loved and must have passed away in an earlier volume, I think India is as good of a jumping-on point for new readers. Like I said, Constantine’s a strange character because he seems to know half the planet (the more salacious and devious half, of course) so it doesn’t matter who you know and who you don’t. The holes are filled in for the most part as far as understanding goes. I have a feeling if you picked up the very first Hellblazer trade, he’d be running into old friends and enemies and killing demons or whatever, so why not just jump in here?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Hellboy: Masks and Monsters

Title: Hellboy: Masks and Monsters

ISBN: 9781595825674

Price: $17.99

Publisher/Year: Dark Horse, 2010

Artist: Scott Benefiel, Jasen Rodriguez
Writer: Mike Mignola, James Robinson

Collects: Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1-2, Ghost/Hellboy #1-2

Rating: 3/5

When I was collecting ‘Ghost’, back in the mid-nineties, one of the things that always bugged me was the fact that I hadn’t got to the table quite quickly enough to be there right from the beginning. The storyline was more than enough to keep me going but I always wished that I’d had more of it than those little hints you get at the bottom of the page (you know the ones... ‘as seen in issue 28’, ‘you’d know all about this if you read issue 2’ and so on). That being the case, I absolutely jumped on the ‘Ghost/Hellboy’ two part mini-series when it came out in 1996 as a way of finally getting a whole story to read. It also helped that I was finally getting a chance to see what Hellboy himself was all about; I’d heard a lot about the character but never read any of his stuff.

I enjoyed the story but the ‘Great Comic Book Purge’ (a sad time...) pretty much consigned it to what eventually became a dim and distant memory; a memory so dim and distant in fact that when. I’ve heard great things about the character but have still barely scratched the surface of what he’s all about.

‘Masks and Monsters’ collects two Hellboy ‘team-up’ stories. In the first, Nazis and Elder Gods are fought in the steamy jungles of South America by an almighty line-up consisting of none other than Hellboy, Batman and Starman. In the second, Hellboy heads off to the city of Arcadia in search of a rumoured spectral vigilante. The city’s secrets run deep beneath its streets though and what he is about to find is far more dangerous than any ghost.

For the relative newcomer (like me), ‘Masks and Monsters’ is a great place to step on board and find out what Hellboy is all about. You may not get to find out as much as you want, more on that in a bit, but all that leaves you with is the urge to go and start reading! You might well be seeing a lot more ‘Hellboy’ on the blog in the near future.

The bottom line is simple. Hellboy hates Nazis and isn’t too fond of Elder Gods (and associated other supernatural threats) either. His work with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence involves rooting these threats out and making sure that they are no longer a threat; all of this is done with a large stone fist and a wry attitude, a mixture that makes for an exciting and sometimes humorous read. It’s certainly enough to have me looking for more.

The stories themselves are immediately engaging but suffer from the format that they were originally released in. With all the will in the world, there’s only so much story that anyone can fit into a two part mini-series and the stories here are a fine example of this. There’s plenty going on but time constraints mean that it all feels a little rushed with no time for side plots, of any substance, that would flesh things out, particularly in the first story.

The Hellboy/Batman/Starman team-up is a riotous explosion of Nazi mayhem that is fun but feels like it’s had a whole kitchen sink full of stuff thrown at it to see what sticks in the time available for the story. Full of spectacle but not an awful lot else. I was also left wondering if you could really include Batman in the team-up as he barely features in the story. It is fun though and Mike Mignola’s distinctive artwork is as much a joy to get lost in as it ever is.

For my money, the Hellboy/Ghost story is a lot better although I would probably say that (being a fan of ‘Ghost’). While there are still the same issues with space for the story to breathe, what you have here is a story that makes up for this by taking a little more time to focus on the characters themselves and their interactions. Something very interesting starts to form here and it’s a shame that Ghost’s own storyline took her away from the opportunity to develop things further. The sense of Arcadia’s bloody history is also given good exposure and ties past and present together nicely to give us a story that does the best job it can in the space that it has. Scott Benefiel’s artwork was always going to come off second best against Mignola’s (for me anyway) but captures the essence of the tale almost perfectly.

‘Masks and Monsters’ was a little on the rushed side but you can’t really blame the book itself for that, it’s more the fault of a format decision (for the comics) that was made years ago. Not only was ‘Masks and Monsters’ a good place to get a feel for what ‘Hellboy’ is all about but it also fills in a gap for fans of ‘Ghost’; recommended reading if you fall into either of these categories.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens

Title: Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens

ISBN: 9781401229078

Price: $19.99

Publisher/Year: DC, 2010

Artist: Guillem March, Andres Guinaldo, Raul Fernandez, Peter Nguyen, Jack Purcell, Fabrizion Fiorentino, Ibraim Roberson, Marcos Marz, Luciana Del Negro

Writer: Paul Dini, Tony Bedard, Guillem March, Marc Andreyko

Collects: Catwoman #83, Gotham City Sirens #8-13

Rating: 3/5

I increasingly like the concept of Gotham City Sirens, even if the poses in which main artist Guillem March and others portray Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy remain ridiculous; in as much as March draws Catwoman especially with her tunic unzipped well past her breasts, you'd think Selina would have gotten that zipper repaired by now. Still, writers Paul Dini and Tony Bedard presenting Songs of the Sirens as a buddy comedy works well, so much so that it's amazing to think these characters weren't intended as foils of one another in the first place.

Birds of Prey as written by Chuck Dixon was good, but the title now seems incomplete as compared to when Gail Simone took over and added the Huntress to the Oracle/Black Canary mix. There's not a one-to-one comparison to be made between the Birds and the Sirens, I don't think, but certainly the personalities in the two groups play off each other in similar ways -- Catwoman, our protagonist, is much like Black Canary in that Canary is often torn between Huntress's emotion and Oracle's reason; so too does Catwoman find conflicting aspects of herself in both Ivy and Harley.

This makes for fascinating reading, as when Catwoman and Ivy try to determine who's framed them for murder, or when Catwoman and Harley fight Catwoman's crazed sister. Add to this the fourth unofficial member of the Sirens, the Riddler, desperate for friendship and yet paralyzed in his mistrust of the Sirens. In the book's first chapters, Dini convincingly makes Gotham City's villain collective seem like a community, even without need for mention of the nemesis they all have in common. That the Gotham City Sirens and friends seem so natural together, despite more than fifty years in which these characters were not a team, says something for the strength of the concept.

Another unofficial Siren in this book is Commissioner Gordon, who teams with the Sirens and even by the end of the book knows where they live. Reflective of some of the disconnect between the various "Batman Reborn" books at this time, one might think Gotham City almost peaceful based on Gotham City Sirens, as opposed to the chaos found in Batman and Batman and Robin, as if all of Batman's rogues did actually go straight after Batman's death. Gordon comes off as quite the smart cop here, recognizing Ivy's innocence of a murder; his lack of concern about the villains make them seem rather soft, to an extent, but the alliance itself is interesting.

Yet this second volume Song of the Sirens is greater as a whole than as its individual parts. The Marc Andreyko story (after Bedard's Blackest Night crossover issue) is a great one-shot tale, focusing on Poison Ivy but with great moments for all the Sirens and for Commissioner Gordon. Dini also writes the two-part Sirens/Riddler team-up that's by far the star of the show, displaying both the Sirens friendship and their villainous nature. The next issue by Dini, bides its time in waiting for new writer Tony Bedard to arrive, with a joke more gross than funny stretched out over too many pages.

Bedard's issues, in which Catwoman battles her sister, are satisfactory in that they resurrect a plotline left hanging since Ed Brubaker's Catwoman series, but they don't rise to the level of Dini's early work here, nor do the guest artists match March's artistic style. Bedard very unnecessarily changes aspects of Catwoman's origin from Her Sister's Keeper when Brubaker brought those elements back. Poison Ivy is largely absent from Bedard's two chapters, and in all the book loses some of the verve that it had in the earlier chapters.

One other aspect I did like about this book, however, is the ways in which it fits into the ongoing Paul Dini Bat-universe. Songs picks up on a villain last seen in Dini's Heart of Hush from Detective Comics, and also has a cameo by the Broker, Dini's new character that's also appeared in Streets of Gotham. A quick look at solicitations doesn't reveal a greater role for the Broker any time soon, but I like how Dini keeps mentioning him, and how in both of Dini's titles, there's an underlying theme that all the conflict between heroes and villains circles back to Gotham City real estate, something both illuminating and absurd at the same time. I also appreciated Dini's quick nod to the Riddler's role in Batman: Life After Death; it's nothing essential, but I appreciated that it was there.

There's only one more issue by Bedard in the collection that will follow Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens, and then new writer Peter Calloway takes over. I'd just as soon have Paul Dini remain the writer of this series, but if that's not possible, I don't mind a new writer coming on. I can't say Gotham City Sirens is at the top of my pull list -- the tone's still a little too silly, and a book about Batman's villains will never be where the main story of the DC Universe is "at" as compared to the main Batman titles -- but Sirens is cute and charming here, a far cry from my original concerns about the series.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Emerald City ComiCon 2012 - Day 2

The 2nd day of the con was very eventful for me, but a little disappointing as well. I was hoping to get autographs from Wil Wheaton, Adam Baldwin and Summer Glau. Having never gone into the media guest area in my previous visits, I didn't realize how immense and intense it would be there.

I arrived at the media guest area shortly after the con opened for the day, but there were hundreds of people already in line for almost every guest. By my estimates, I would have had to arrived and gotten a place in line at least an hour sooner to have a reasonable chance of getting the autographs before my scheduled panels for the day. This was a total fail, and I hope I'll be better prepared the next time.

I have a feeling that there were a great deal more people this year than last. Sure, there were crowds last year, but it just seems as though there was a noticeable difference in attendance. There were times where I thought it would be better if the venue were bigger than the Washing Convention Center, which is fairly large.

As for the accomplishments for the day, I was able to visit Brian Pulido for another round of autographs and another Lady Death ECCC exclusive cover (see below). Brian is a nice guy and I enjoyed talking with him. I will be making a separate post regarding my experiences with him this weekend. I also visited Tyler Walpole, who did some of the cover artwork for the recent Dungeons & Dragons series put out by IDW. If you're a fan of D&D, I suggest checking the new title out. The writing is great, and the writer has several credits to his name that I enjoy... first and foremost is that he's the creator of the animated series Jackie Chan Adventures.

I just got the issue, not the print.

When I went to go visit Greg Capullo, it was an interesting experience. There was a long line, with a minion at the end. I made a couple of passes to see if the line would die down, with no luck. I came back after about 10 minutes and decided to take my chances. I asked her if I could get in line, and she said yes. Safely in line to visit Capullo, I readied my books for signing as one of the other artists in the area came to the minion and complained that the line was interfering with his traffic and requested that the line be formed in a different direction later. It was agreed that I would be the end of this line, especially since Capullo had a panel at 12:00pm and it was getting closer to that time.

As I drew closer to Capullo, there was a great deal of discussion with the minions about when to cut the line for him so he could get to his panel on time. During that discussion, a guy came up to my left, with Batman books in hand, and stood there until he was able to weasel his way into the line behind me. The only real saving grace is that they did actually open it up to a few others shortly after that jerk got in behind me.

When I finally reached Capullo, he was as nice as I remembered him from about 16 years ago in Seattle. Back then, he and Todd McFarlane were promotion the new Span HBO cartoon series. At a lull in the show, when everyone else was occupied by McFarlane previewing the cartoon, I visited Capullo and not only got him to autograph several of my books, but he also did a sketch of Angela for me for free. I still have that sketch and may scan and post it at a later date.

Even thought I didn't find anything on my comic book wishlist, I did find several good buys on graphic novels. There was one booth that was selling them at 70% of their retail price. I got 3 books for less than the price of any one of them. There's a part of me that wants to go back Sunday and find more there... that part of me is not my aching back that is reminding me that I may be too old and to worn-out to do these conventions. We'll see.

Because of poor timing on my part, I didn't make it to as many panels as I wanted to go to. I was able to make it to 3: Talkin' Dead with Jon Bernthal & Laurie Holden, ECCC Spotlight Series: Brian Pulido - 20 Years of Lady Death and Zombie Orpheus Entertainment's Webseries Premierathon!

I was disappointed in the Talkin' Dead panel as I waited over 45 minutes to get in, the panel started 15 minutes late, there wasn't much in the way of "good" content and the panel ended on time... meaning that we were shorted 15 minutes. This was a panel that I was seriously looking forward to, and it failed. I really wished I had made it to the Robert Kirkman Q&A on Friday to get the information I was hoping to find. Oh well. I guess I'll have to rely on the internet for that kind of information.

Through all the setbacks, I did enjoy myself this year. They already have dates for next year: March 1-3. At this point, they would need to bring in some seriously great guests to bring me back. I feel that my body isn't up to the task, and I take full responsibility for that. I think I will resolve myself to getting into better shape this year and I might have a better outlook on going next year.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Title: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

ISBN: 9781401229689

Price: $29.99

Publisher/Year: DC, 2011

Artist: Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette, Georģes Jeanty, Ryan Sook, Lee Garbett, Karl Story, Michel Lacombe, Waldon Wong, Mick Gray, Pere Perez, Alejandro Sicat

Writer: Grant Morrison

Collects: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1-6

Rating: 3/5

If you didn't like Final Crisis, then Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne might not be for you either.

What we have here is some of the best aspects (or the most irritating, depending on your point of view) of Grant Morrison's latest mainstream DC Comics work. Return of Bruce Wayne is a story both modular and overlapping, like Seven Soldiers of Victory, and important events don't so much happen as take place quietly in the background. And, like Final Crisis. Return starts out straightforward and mundane, and ends in the extreme and the fantastical, fully comprehensible possibly only to Morrison himself.

About three issues in to Return of Bruce Wayne, I was ready to dismiss this miniseries as an unnecessary experiment in Elseworld-ing -- what if Batman were a caveman, what if Batman was a witch-hunter, what if Batman were a pirate. But by this book's final pages, with panels that fracture and crack much like they did in Final Crisis's end of time, it's clear that Return of Bruce Wayne fits firmly into the Grant Morrison canon. This book offers shout-outs at least to 52, Final Crisis, and Batman RIP -- if you haven't been following along so far, I'm not sure Return of Bruce Wayne is the place to start.

One of my other concerns going in to Return of Bruce Wayne is that this book would serve as another step in Morrison's over-the-top deification of Bruce Wayne. I accept that Batman can single-handedly defeat the White Martians and that he's so prepared for any threat that he creates himself a backup personality in case his first was corrupted; I wasn't sure I needed to see Batman fight his way through time so everyone could praise him for that, too. Thankfully, even as there's some of that here (as when Batman builds for Booster Gold and friends the most intricate time machine ever created), Morrison tempers this with one small, startling revelation from Bruce Wayne -- from the moment Alfred tended to his first crime-fighting wounds, Batman has never been a solitary endeavor; Batman has never fought totally alone.

This admission, that Batman gets by with a little help from his friends, does wonders to humanize what's otherwise a wildly fantastical story. Yes, Batman managed to make his way through time and figure out the mystery behind it all in the process, but in each era he had help -- from the Caveman Robin known as "Boy" to Annie, pagan acolyte of the New Gods, and later from Jonah Hex and from the Justice League themselves. Batman states outright that he returns from the lonely end of time to the present, accompanied by a minion of Darkseid that's been stalking him, specifically so that the "Hyper-Adapter" will have to face the age of collected heroes; Return of Bruce Wayne (and the Batman, Inc. team book that follows it) is a renunciation of the idea of Batman as the grim loner, and an embracing of Batman as the team player that Morrison posits he's always been.

As Booster Gold and his team travel back to the present in the ultimate time machine, Rip Hunter remarks on how the end of time loops back through time's beginning, like a knot. Indeed, the reader ought to prepare themselves for some mental knots as well. In Return, we learn that Darkseid charged Batman's cowl with Omega energy and sent him back in time, such that the "Hyper-Adapter" can latch on and follow Bruce back to the future, destroying everything. Bruce leaves the cowl behind, essentially evading the trap, except that the meddling Red Robin and the Justice League find it and bring it in to play; Bruce then has to defeat the Hyper-Adapter, turning it in to the giant bat that helps jolt Bruce's memory in the first issue. That is, Darkseid sets a trap at the end of Final Crisis, and Batman uses that trap at the end of Return as the springboard to his own success at the beginning of that same book. The end here is the beginning is the end -- as I said, if you didn't like it in Final Crisis, you might not like it here, either.

Morrison's logic is not completely circular, however; Return is remarkably modular, much like Seven Soldiers was (the similarities don't end in the sameness of Frazier Irving's Klarion the Witch Boy and Return stories both by Morrison). Return can be read on its own, or part of a larger whole that includes Batman and Robin volumes two and three, and Batman: Time and the Batman; it can also be read to some extent both forward and backward (trust me, I tried it). As with Final Crisis, I interpret Return as another Morrison tribute to comics and storytelling, especially in the writer tackling the cowboy and pirate adventure genres; "Whatever they touch turns to myth," Batman narrates at one point, and he could just as easily be talking about the New Gods as Morrison could be about other writers, comics and continuity, as Return is built itself on Peter Milligan's Dark Knight, Dark City. Batman reminds himself of his own existence time and again in this story through the watchword "Gotcha"; it defines not only Batman but also the essence of serial storytelling, the cliffhanger, just as Morrison etched on Superman's tombstone "To be continued" in Final Crisis.

I liked Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne -- more than I did at the beginning once I began looking farther past the surface, and even more than that when I read it the second time backward -- but Grant Morrison still doesn't quite have me convinced about this Bruce Wayne guy. Before Batman RIP, I didn't like the idea of an "imposter Batman," but Dick Grayson has grown into the role in such a short time, that I'm not enthusiastic about the return of the angsty, uber-capable Bruce Wayne. Return, as it turns out, is not so much about the re-emergence of the Batman Bruce Wayne as it is about Bruce Wayne's trip back. That's engaging, to be sure, but I'm curious to read about Batman's actual return on one of the other half-dozen modules of this story, to see how Morrison re-establishes Bruce Wayne after his being gone so long.

WANTLIST - Hasbro SDCC 2024 G.I. Joe Classified Series: Cobra Commander (Once a Man) Figure

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