New Teen Titans #22

newteentitans22I’ve always been a big fan of Brother Blood, mostly due to picking up some comics that had the Teen Titans fighting him. That, and a really wicked cover of him rising out of a vat of blood. The New Teen Titans #22 is the second appearance of this highly underrated villain.

The issue is joined in progress, with Brother Blood’s cult having kidnapped Robin and Wonder Girl, both of whom are being tortured by a very generic looking cult member called the Confessor. Robin also spends most of the issue running around in his underwear, until Cyborg and Kid Flash rescue their missing team members.

Brother Blood attempts to escape, but a staged accident frames the Titans for killing the cult leader. Things don’t look good for the next issue, as Starfire’s evil older sister Blackfire is en route to planet earth.

The art is awesome; it’s George Perez at his peak. And the story is fine. Good book.

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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.

Teen Titans #0

ImageI know it’s been a while; I’ve been spending more time reading comics than blogging about them. Well, that and being increasingly busy in my professional life. So here’s a quick one so I can get back on track.

Teen Titans #0 gives us the backstory of the New 52-ized Tim Drake. Previously Tim was the son of two Bruce Wayne-level wealthy parents, and over the years he had several encounters with both Bruce and Dick Grayson. He eventually figures out their secret identities, and after the death of his mother and crippling of his father Tim becomes the third Robin to avenge his family’s losses.

Writer Scott Lobdell takes the origin in a different direction. He’s a superstar high school gymnast and general smartypants who tries to figure out–unsuccessfully–who the Batman is. To get the Dark Knight’s attention, he hacks the Penguin’s bank account.

That was a surefire way to get everyone attention, with Batman having to save them. As a result, his parents have been put into the witness protection program and have been relocated somewhere in the country and he now has to take the identity of Tim Drake, an adopted ward of Bruce Wayne. At that point Bruce finally reveals that he’s Batman and Tim dons the roll of Red Robin.

The one theme that is hammered into this issue was the relationship between Tim and his parents. They were immensely proud of him and everything that he had been able to accomplish. However, he wound up giving that all away in his quest to unmask Batman. Not only is he isn’t living with them and with extremely limited contact, but they will never know about his true greatest accomplishment: being a super hero.

It’s interesting all around and I’m sure Lobdell is planning on revisiting his parents at some point.

Tiny Titans #33: Crisis of Infinite Robins

This was a quick read, but when isn’t Tiny Titans? Issue #33 pays tribute to everyone’s favorite sidekick Robin! Thanks to Jason Todd and Tim Drake showing up in town, everyone get’s their own Robin or even Batgirl suit!

It’s very silly, as you would expect from Franco and Art Baltazar, with the highlight being Robin and Jason both being mad that everyone gets to be Robin, and them creating their new costumed identities of Nightwing and Red Hood. This book made me so happy over the years. It’s a shame that newspapers as a medium is on life support; this would have made a great daily strip.

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.

Hawk and Dove #6

I’ve really been making a dent in my “to read” pile. Hawk and Dove #6 is a one shot with the avatars of peace and war going on a vacation to lovely Gotham City.

They’ve been chasing the New 52-ized Blockbuster who has stolen the Amulet of Ra from the Smithsonian Institute, only to encounter and then team up with Batman and Robin. It’s part of what happens when you visit that city.

So the three birds and the bat team up to stop Blockbuster, who is working with this sorceress Necromancer to collect these mystical totems like the Amulet to get some sort of magical powers. Obviously, our heroes aren’t impressed. They save the day; Hawk and Dove are on their way back home to Washington DC.

The issue was written and drawn by Rob Liefeld and is suited to his strengths. It’s pretty much a full issue of fights and such. I did like the way he had Damien as Robin characterized as being pretty an ass. Stands up on its own decently.

Black History Month: Damion Scott

Damion Scott is a current comic artist who has one of the most unique styles in mainstream super hero comics. The Kingston, Jamaica born, Brooklyn raised artist melds graffiti and hip hop style art into comic book design. He really is a master in the style, even putting together a book called How To Draw Hip-Hop.

I’m most familiar with his work for DC on Robin and Batgirl. Currently he’s tearing it up in Japan doing painters and murals and the such.

Batman and Robin: Batman Vs. Robin

Everyone knows that Grant Morrison’s writing can be a bit overwhelming if you jump in during the middle. That’s precisely what I did with his Batman and Robin series by jumping on in the second collected volume.

World be damned, this was a very straight forward story aside from the Oberon Sexton subplot (that ran itself through this whole series…thanks Wikipedia) and some references to the “Return of Bruce Wayne” story line.

Mainly this deals with Dick Grayson (now taking the role of Batman) and Damian Wayne (Batman’s long-forgotten son) investigating the possibility of Batman not having died at the end of Final Crisis.

The first half of the book has the Dynamic duo heading over to England to team up with Batwoman, as well as Knight and Squire (imagine a knight themed, British version of Batman and Robin), to protect a Lazarus Pit that a bunch of local super villains are fighting over. Things take a turn from the worse when Dick tries to resurrect what he assumed was the remains of Bruce, but turns out to be one of the Batman clones that Darkseid had made during Final Crisis. This mistake winds up almost costing Batwoman and Damian their lives.

Once everyone gets back to Gotham City, Dick and Damian discover some weird bat references in some old Wayne family portraits and artifacts, wondering if Bruce is time travelling (they’re smart; that’s the whole basis of “Return of Bruce Wayne” is about). Because being a super hero is never easy, Damian’s body is controlled by nanotechnology by his mother Talia in an effort to kill Dick for two reasons:

  1. Dick’s been trying to convince Damian that it’s not his destiny to take his mother’s role as the head of the League of Assassins, and urging him to use his talents/skills to help people, a concept which Talia despises.
  2. She really hates him.

Obviously our heroes survive, as the series went on for a while. Morrison wrote a great comic. What he excelled at was making Damian such an interesting character, especially with his relationships with everyone around him.

Damian acts like a smart-ass to Alfred, who takes it in stride. You can only imagine how insufferable Bruce was as a child.

Damian also has this weird brother/father/mentor relationship with Dick. Even though Damian considers himself to be the superior of the two, you get the feeling that he looks to Dick for guidance and approval. Also, it’s a total flip of the usual Batman/Robin dynamic; Dick is the more relaxed, easy-going one and Damian is the intense brooding character. This works really well.

There’s also a series of weirdness that Damian has with his parents. Even though he’s only been briefly united with his father, he is convinced that he is still alive. Compare that to his dealings with his mother Talia, who is completely detached with him. At the end of the book, she disowned him for not wanting to follow her in the family business, going so far to let him know that she has a clone of him that has taken his place as her son.

I don’t think she’s getting a Mother’s Day card.

Anyway, I was glad I picked this up and look forward to getting the rest of the series. It’s definitely a Batman story (even if it isn’t the traditional Batman), but its very light and easy going in tone (yes…there’s violence and conflict, but its not  beating you over the head).

Good job, Mr. Morrison.