Comic Review – Robin War #1 (DC Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

Warning: minor spoilers.

“But… but…I’m Robin… I’m Robin… I’m Robin…” Not the REAL Robin

So like Adam I’m up to my neck in work (and having to house hunt out of the blue… yay…) as well this week, but that just means I need my weekly comic book escapism that much more! So, what to pick this week? Well Robin War (written by Tom King, Art by Khary Randolph) caught my eye, I’ve been a huge fan of the Bat-Family over the years. Like many people I caught the tail end of the old Adam West Batman and Robin TV show as a kid, then went through the growing pains of the Bat-Family in the 90s. Since the Nolan bat films Batman himself has come into his own, but the Bat-Family hasn’t quite had the same love. But DC are putting some real effort into that now! We Are Robin! was great, I’m loving Batman and Robin Eternal, and reviews for Robin, Son of Batman are great. Now we get plenty of Robin, without the Batman.

Robin warSince Batman’s been off duty as such in the comics, many of the current comics have focussed on how Gotham is coping without him. For some back reading the first We Are Robin! is probably pretty essential for this. Kids around Gotham have teamed up under the Robin name to kick some criminal ass, barely tolerated by the police and the ex-Robins (Jason, Tim and Dick) keeping an eye on their progress. The story opens with a member of We Are Robin! taking on a pretty standard liquor store robbery. They’ve got the situation under control, but remember when you were a teenager? Would you be able to handle difficult, high stress, high danger situations? Now imagine you and all of your friends were doing it at the same time. It’s inevitable something would go wrong eventually. Well, something goes wrong. This is a very powerful start, and gripped me. Once things settle down the art does a fantastic job of portraying this Robin’s sudden loneliness. The art in general is of the same high standard you’d expect from DC. There’s often a lot of people crammed into one panel and Randolph does a great job of squeezing in plenty of detail.

Robins around Gotham are targeted after this crime, the Robin Laws are passed and there’s a huge police crackdown on the Robins and the police maybe could be showing a little more restraint. Wait… this is America… it’s about as much restraint a you’d expect! We also get introduced to the main players in this series: We Are Robin, Red Robin, Red Hood, the Mayor, Jim Gordon’s Batman, Dick Grayson and Robin. Actual Robin that is, Damian Wayne.

And how does Damian take returning to Gotham after a hiatus to see a load of kids running around using his title? About as well as you’d expect. He’ starts to stamp his authority all over everything.

After which, the puppet master pulling the strings makes their next move. They want a war, and the first casualty is claimed. They also seem oddly happy to find out one of the team has arrived in Gotham, it looks like we’ll be seeing the comeback of one of my favourite heroes in this series.

Final Verdict

Do you like Robin? Hell, do you like Batman in general? If you do, go and read this. Especially if you’re at all familiar with Gotham in the New 52 Universe. Only some minor criticisms for this first issue: without reading We Are Robin! and knowing what’s up with Bruce Wayne right now you’d probably be a bit lost. Also, I in no way see how the events of Robin War and Batman and Robin Eternal can be considered canon at the same time. So I’ll just use the usual comic book logic and pretend they both somehow happen simultaneously.

Final Score – 9.5 Robins out of 10!

Comic Review – Justice League The Darkseid War: Batman (DC Comics)

Kit is taking over the weekly comic book review because Adam is in the unenviable position of attempting to finish off his PhD.

“There’s no legislation for holding someone based on what they MIGHT do.”

“There is no MIGHT” – Batman

Warning: minor spoilers.

So some of you may remember last week I said I’d review the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl this week. Well I underestimated DC releasing such an interesting Batman Comic, and I’ve neglected DC in my stewardship of these weekly reviews! If you are disappointed there’s no Squirrel Girl… 8/10. As usual it’s a lot of fun, but very much a jumping on issue. It’s fun to see Marvel rub Fox’s face in the fact Squirrel Girl is “medically and legally distinct from being a mutant”. She’ll be up against Doctor Doom in the next issue, and I am definitely going to read it.

DSWcoverAnyway, we’re here to talk about Batman aren’t we? And not who’d win in a fight out of him and Squirrel Girl (spoiler: Squirrel Girl! *editor’s note from Adam: no*). So, where was I? This week I’m reviewing Justice League The Darkseid War: Batman, the first of a set of tie-ins to The Darkseid War storyline currently running in DC’s flagship title. The Darkseid War: Batman was written by Peter J. Tomasi and drawn by Fernando Pasarin, with inks by Matt Ryan, colours by Gabe Eltaeb and letters from Dave Sharpe.

If you’ve been reading Justice League you’ll know that Batman has recently been bestowed with God-like powers. This issue explores what would happen if the Bat had real power, absolute power. You know, the type that corrupts.

Batman has of course been keeping on-top of crime in Gotham, he can teleport, is immune to bullets and can see deep into the future and past. He’s been arresting people before they commit crimes, much to Jim Gordon’s displeasure. Yups, Batman gets powers and he goes all Minority Report/Big Brother on us, enacting cruel and unusual punishments! This, isn’t surprising, in many of his incarnations this is a route the Bat takes. What’s more surprising is how quick he is to seek personal revenge. He makes a rather terrifying visit to Joe Chill, the man who killed his parents (who is still a horrible person) and scares him beyond belief. And next issue, he’s taking personal vendettas to the next level.

DSWBGThere is constant suggestion that this isn’t entirely Bruce and his Mobius Chair (bestowing his powers) is influencing his actions. However, one thing that has been made incredibly clear in the New 52 incarnation of Batman is how ultimately human he is. Sometimes he makes mistakes, he has no powers and is no God. He is a man who sits amongst Gods, able to go toe to toe with them, with none of their powers. He is suspicious and skeptical of those in power. Why? Could it be because he knows what he would do with their power were it his own? This issue suggests yes, that’s exactly why.

It also says something about the likes of this universe’s Superman, who, although currently corrupted by something from the Darkseid war, holds this kind of power and deals with it on a daily basis. Without becoming corrupt. He may be a boy scout, but he has to be. If he wasn’t, he’d become everything he stands against, something like the Superman from Injustice or the Crime Syndicate.

 

Final Verdict

Tie in issues can often fall wide of the mark and end up as not much more than a marketing ploy. This is not one of those issues. It gives us a fantastic insight into this incarnation of Batman. His weaknesses and his dark-side (get it?).

Final Score – 9 Power Crazed Bats out of 10!

Comic Review – Batman Eternal #52

Adam reads as many comics as he can afford. Every week he is going to attempt a mini review of one of them, with potential minor spoilers.

There will be definite spoilers

This week saw the finales of all three of DC Comics’ weekly series, before the Convergence event starts next week. As I have kept up with two of them since the beginning, I’ve decided to review both of them.

Batman Eternal #52 saw the end of the year-long Batman epic. As with the whole series, the story was plotted out by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV, but Tynion IV wrote the actual scripts, with Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins and Tim Seeley on as consulting writers. The art throughout this final issue was shared amongst Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Robson Rocha, Guillermo Ortego, David Lafuente, Tim Seeley and Ray Fawkes, with Allen Passalaoua, Gabe Eltaeb, John Kalisz and John Rauch on colours and letters from Steve Wands.

Batman Eternal started back in April 2014, opening with a defeated Batman and a city in flames, while a hidden villain pontificates and gloats about his victory. We finally caught back up to that point two issues ago, with the person pulling the strings being revealed as the mostly forgotten Cluemaster. His plan was to use invitations to all the other rogues of Gotham, convincing them to spread chaos over the city all at the same time as a distraction. Then, with his resources spread thin and mind occupied, Batman was taken down by Cluemaster… until his benefactor Lincoln March/Owlman/Thomas Wayne Jnr. turned up, took out his gang and easily dispatched Cluemaster, facing down an exhausted and battered Bruce. Cue their rematch, set to a backdrop of a newly freed Jim Gordon rallying the city behind Batman to control the riots and the fires, with a few villains even helping to pull people out of burning buildings. On the edge of defeat, Batman’s allies arrive to help, chasing March as he escapes into the sewers. Through the combined efforts of Gotham’s protectors, its people and a few of its more unsavoury characters, the city gradually starts to pull itself back together,

Considering the number of different plot threads that all led up to this final issue, there is more here that ties back to the Court of Owls storyline back in the main Batman title over the events of the last year of Eternal. If anything, it makes this finale more accessible to anyone that hasn’t been keeping up every week, but it does remain a satisfying conclusion. The writing from Tynion IV has been solid all throughout the series, but shines here as the disparate story arcs have already all met and a single narrative is played out almost for the first time.

The art stays at a pretty high quality throughout the book, considering the number of different artists involved. Pansica and Ferreira, along with colourist Passaloua, competently handle the bulk of the issue and all of the action. Their flaming Gotham is a great background for this, and the splash page of the city and all the signals is excellent. Most of the rest of the issue is taken by Rocha and Ortego, with colours from Eltaeb, which focusses more on character work and darker scenes. The facial work is particularly strong in those pages, and the final fate (for now) of March is chilling.

After a year long arc, Batman Eternal manages to wrap up well. Many of the characters that appear in the series already moved past these events months ago, which makes it difficult to place Eternal with regards the continuity, but it has been a good weekly series that I would say overall is worth picking up when it has been collected. Apparently there is going to be a season 2 of Eternal, but for now as a finale, issue #52 hits all the right beats for a satisfying conclusion. Pick it up at your LCS or digitally.

Score: 8 Bat Signals out of 10