Nightwing #30

I’ll admit it; sometimes I purchase comics because of the hype that is around them. And that is precisely why I bought Nightwing #30. It features the debut of the New 52 (although it feels really odd still calling it that nearly three years later) of Helena Bertinelli, better known as the Huntress.

Nightwing-30-helena-bertinelli

The issue starts out at a refugee medical camp in the Congo that has fallen under attack by a “depopulationist” group called the Fist of Cain, which is made up of some of the most random looking assassins and murderers they could hire. One is decked out in corpse paint, looking like the lovechild of a Norwegian black metal band and King Diamond. The other looks like he walked straight out of Disney World’s Adventurers Club.

One of the relief workers was Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Batman’s long-time doctor. She is conveniently rescued by Helena, who is wearing some sort of white disco suit and has a bit of a fro going on. Leslie is taken to her headquarters where she talks with a man with an unrecognizable face and might have spilled the beans about Batman being Bruce Wayne. We know this because she’s telling Batman the story, and he doesn’t look too happy. Leslie also mentions the group has a weird insignia that she keeps remembering, an eye at the center of a spider-web.

The story then shifts to the Batcave, where Batman and Nightwing are involved in some sort of weird Fight Club style conversation. Basically in the last few months Nightwing has had his secret identity revealed by the Crime Syndicate, turned into a living bomb and apparently “killed” by Lex Luthor. It has been quite the rough past few months for him. So instead of talking about why he should join the cover black-ops group Spyral, they have a fight to the death to see if he is up to the challenge. Of course he is. The book ends with Dick going off with Valerie, setting up the new Grayson series for next month.

As an issue, it nicely ties up everything from the Nightwing series, but I really could have done without the Bats/Dick fight to the death. It just seemed over the top. I think Batman really needs to learn how to communicate with people without using his fists so damn much.

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Batman: Death Of The Family

 

death_of_the_familyThanks to my friendly local public library, I’ve been on a bit of a New 52 kick. Scott Snyder’s Batman: Death Of The Family is a suspenseful collection that pits the Dark Knight against his most sadistic foe–the Joker.

The story is simple; the Joker has returned to Gotham City and is recreating some of his greatest most horrific encounters with Batman. Not only that, but he’s attempting to kill of Batman’s allies. Batman kind of expects that he would go after Batgirl, Red Hood and even Red Robin. But things get taken to another level when the Joker sets his sights on Bruce Wayne’s long-suffering butler Alfred. It’s up to Batman to stop the Joker and save his extended Batfamily.

The conclusion of the story isn’t the most satisfying. One of the plot points is that the Joker has somehow figured out the connection between Batman and Bruce Wayne, to the extent that he knew that a way to get to Batman would be by attacking Alfred and how to access the Batcave (which is presumably still connected to Wayne Manor). This was explained in a flashback at the story with Batman as Bruce Wayne confronting the Joker at the Arkham Asylum over a Joker card that was mysteriously found in the Batcave. That in turn gives away everyone else’s identity. But at the end of the story, it was pretty much stated that the Joker didn’t know any of this information. That part I’m still not clear on.

The other interesting reveal was that Batman does indeed know who the Joker was before be became a sociopath. They didn’t reveal it but I would assume that it would mean that he is connected to some of the more prominent characters in the Bat universe.

Death Of The Family did get my attention and I did enjoy it. I really wish that the big reveals at the end were more concrete and not just spring boards for future stories. If you have any thoughts, please comment because I’m still trying to put it all together.

Nightwing #0

Nightwing #0 was a damn good comic book. It gives a look back to how Dick Grayson wound up joining Batman’s crusade. What I like about this is how it doesn’t attempt to create a new and radically revamped origin; it just enhances the story we already know.

Dick was an orphaned circus performer after his parents were gunned down by the mob. But how exactly did Bruce Wayne wind up getting custody of him? Quite simple; he was to hide out at Wayne Manor until his parents’ murderer was apprehended. There was a bit of a bond with Bruce and Dick, for both having gone through such an ordeal.

But what writer Tom DeFalco added to the mythology was how Dick much smarter than Bruce ever imagined, not only figuring out that he was Batman but helping bring in the murderers. Dick proved to be someone competent enough to become Batman’s partner in crime-fighting.

I like it because this felt like an old silver age story. A lot of fun and a quick read, but superb for the Batman purist.

Batman: The Wrath

Mark Millar’s Nemesis wasn’t the first time an evil version of Batman was explored. Batman: The Wrath collects the appearances of the Dark Knight’s villainous doppelgänger.

Our introduction to Wrath comes back in 1984’s Batman Special by writer Mike W. Barr and penciller Michael Golden.  Apparently the murder of the Waynes wasn’t the only thing that happened in Crime Alley on June 26. At the same time a young Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents dying at the hands of a criminal, another young boy at the other end of the street had a similar experience. His thief parents were killed in a shoot-out by Commissioner Gordon.

That boy grew up to be Wrath, the police killing super villain. He’s back in Gotham City to kill Gordon, and has discovered that Bruce Wayne is Batman. This story ends with a few more plot swerves and Wrath falling victim to his own ego and burning to death. Well, at least Gordon is safe and Batman’s secret is intact.

Well, it wasn’t as we learn in the second half of the book. A story arc in Batman Confidential tells the part two to this story, as a new and better trained Wrath has shown up. Not only is he tied to his predecessor, but he too has a history with Gordon. Eep. It’s up to Batman and Nightwing to get to the bottom of this.

Tony Bedard’s writing carries on the mystery aspects of the first story and its a great mystery. Rags Morales’ art is top-notch, as it echos Golden’s style perfectly. So many trades are ruined when there are different artists on the book, as the style clash can be jarring. This isn’t a problem here.

That said, this is definitely worth checking out. It’s a great mystery/detective story.

Batgirl #1-3

So as a holiday gift I was given the first three issues of the new Batgirl series. Barbara Gordon has spend nearly the last 20 years confined to a wheel chair. So how does the post-Flashpoint DC Universe fare for her?

Pretty good. The pain and horrors endured by the character in The Killing Joke still occurred. Writer Gail Simone does a great job working it into the character’s new continuity, with her having become a paraplegic after being shot by the Joker. One day she woke up, having the use of her legs again (Flashpoint!) and is going about getting her life back in order.

This leads to a problem for Barb; everyone thinks she’s pushing herself too hard, whether it be her father Commissioner Gordon worrying about her regaining her independence or her ex-boyfriend/bestfriend Nightwing concern about her taking up the Batgirl mantle again. Barb herself is nervous, as she’s not up to her old physical standards.

Things are made worse for her, as the crazed killer the Mirror is out for blood. He’s killing people he feels are wrongly still alive–including Batgirl and her father–and its up to stop his latest attempt of blowing up a whole subway train just to get his revenge!

That said, this has been the best of the new DC books. My hat’s off to Simone, as she has taken the best parts of having an established character and having a blank slate, combining them into something that is new yet familiar feeling.

30 Things I Like About Comics—#7 Comic Show Sketches

Nightwing given the Odinforce, wearing Thor's helmet and ruling Asgard by Tom Raney

One of the best things about going to comic book shows is getting sketches from artists. Not only do you wind up getting a unique piece of art, but its a great opportunity to talk with your favorite comic creators. I’m going to share the story of my first comic sketch, and how it wound up being Nightwing wearing Thor’s helmet.

I remember it like it was yesterday; it was Wizard World’s Philadelphia show in 2004. At the recommendation of a friend, I set out to get sketches. The first stop was Tom Raney who was signing and sketching at the DC booth. I was a fan of his then-current work on Outsiders, as well as his previous work on Thor.

As I waited online for a long time, I started wondering what sketch I would ask for. After all this was very important; it’s my first sketch. I decided that I wanted a Brother Blood sketch; after all he was a prominent villain in the first couple issues of Outsiders. Before I knew it, I was next in line and then things got weird. I’m going to write this out like a script so you can get the full effect.

Raney: (finished signing everything) So what would you like a sketch of?

Me: Brother Blood would be awesome.

Raney: Do you have a reference? Chris did those issues.

(Now I’m embarrassed, because I confused his issues with another artists. Eep)

Me:  (mutters something intelligible and feeling really awkward) Ahh….could I get Nightwing wearing a Thor helmet?

Raney: Sure!

And then Tom crafted the above sketch, which is just flat out awesome! It was very nice of him to do something that was so ridiculous.

And that’s how I got my first comic sketch. You can see more of his work at his blog or his DeviantArt.