Thursday, August 09, 2007

Snap Judgements: Batman Confidential, Killing Pickman, Batman, The Boys, Daredevil

Madder Love - Batman Confidential #8

While the general public likes to snicker about the supposed homoerotic relationship between Batman and Robin, the more obvious gay subtext in the Batverse has always been the Joker's obsession with Batman. Frank Miller famously interpreted the character this way in The Dark Knight Returns, Paul Dini and Grant Morrisson have both played around with the concept, and the current arc of Confidential dips into this oh-so-dogey territory once again. Writer Michael Green does a great job of laying the groundwork for the twisted relationship between Batman and his greatest foe, and highlights the similarities between the two - such as the fact that they're both batshit crazy, particularly well illustrated in a sequence that finds Batman playing the peeping tom on a lovely lady, while simultaneously obsessing about his war on crime.

Confidental seems to be jumping on the Dark Knight train by setting this story arc almost exactly where Batman Begins left off - the Joker hasn't quite become the Joker yet, Bats is still getting used to crime fighting, and there's a really fun sub-plot involving the origin of the Bat Computer. The scratchy pencils by Denys Cowan really stick in your head, even though he tends to shade the character's faces into almost German-Expressionist territory. But God knows there's enough wierdness going on in this book already, so you just go with it.

Murder as Flirtation + Scratchy Art + Mentally Divergent Batman + Cool Alfred = A-

Batman, Killing Pickman, The Boys, and Daredevil after the jump!

The Silver Age...OF TERROR - Batman #667

Now that he's got that Batman #666 unpleasantness out of his system, Grant Morrison is doing what he does best; taking strange, forgotten characters from the DC archive and making them modern, human, and hilarious. Here he gives us a modern day version of The International Club of Heroes, a bizarre conglomeration of multi-ethnic Batmen that one would expect to be padlocked in the Silver Age vault. Here, they behave like a clutch of has-beens who either live in the past or never really cared about superhero-ing in the first place. They've all got tons of personality and are immediately endearing, making the subsequent Agatha Christiesque mystery storyline all the more creepy. Humor, character, and one nails the hatrick like Grant. Throw in some solid art bolstered by ace colorist Dave Stewart, and it's good to be a comics fan.

Bickering C-Listers + Scary Violence + Batman Teh Cool = A

Don't Go In There! - Killing Pickman #1
From Archaia Studio, the folks who brought you Mouse Guard, comes a gorgeous new title about a cop's hunt for a serial killer. Judged by the script alone, this is a solid crime story in the vein of Se7en,with a few unique touches, such as supernatural elements and an Asian-American lead (pretty much the only one on the stands, other than DC's new Atom). But story aside, what sends this books off the chart is the art by Jon Rea. Despite the fact this comic had the least amount of gore out of all the books I read this week, the visual story telling in Killilng Pickman creates such a distinct atmosphere of dread you have to steel yourself before turning each page. At times, words and commentary are etched into the panels like hidden messages, and it gives the feeling of a demonic third-person presence as you're reading. It's spooky stuff, and I can't wait for next month.

Real Deal Art + Atmosphere Over Gore + Scared To Turn The Page = A

Holy Scandal, Batman! - The Boys #9
This book has been very fun as a glimpse into a debaucherous world inhabited by heroes that look a lot like those we know and love, except they do some really dirty shit. Which is why this issue's high point is an intimate situation between three icons and the low point is pretty much the rest where they're still caught up in a mystery that I've totally lost interest in and have totally forgotten why I was supposed to care in the first place. If my vote counted I would hope issue 10 took us back to less talk, more stomp. Also, am I the only one that finds it extremely distracting that the main character is painstakingly drawn to look like Simon Pegg? He always comes off looking so stiff because Darick Robertson won't cartoonify him, instead going for accuracy in every panel. It just doesn't work.

Dirty Fun - Some Sorta Dull Mystery - Simon Pegg Gimmick = C+

So Grimy You'll Need a Shower - Daredevil #99
Daredevil is in such a fun place right now. His story is separate from those mega-events that are rocking the rest of the Marvel Universe, and it's a comfy little corner to be in. In case you haven't been keeping up, everyone pretty much knows Matt Murdock is Daredevil, though he still denies it and legally persecutes those who make such claims publicly. Most of the book these days is spent outside of the costume (though there is a good old fashioned information gathering beatdown break this ish), following Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson dealing with the troubles of being an outed superhero and trying to keep Matt's blind wife safe and happy. Oh, and there's also the girl that's hanging around who has the mild superpower of making every man she meets fall in love with her. The reason I'm telling you all of this is... I'm trying to catch you up so you can start grabbing this book off the shelves. Because it's solid, gritty, superhero crime fiction. Much better than the other superhero crime fiction on the stands (COUGHpowersCOUGH).

Crime Tastes Good - Maybe Almost Drags a Little + A Unique Superhero Situation = B


Albo said...

Don't I feel dumb, I read that whole Killing Pickman without realizing the protagonist was Asian American.

AHR said...

It's pretty subtle, and doesn't effect the plot. Or maybe you are just truly colorblind, and can no longer distinguish one race from another. That's beautiful. I may weep openly.