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Hibbs Galivants on 10/3

Brian Hibbs

Six books from last week which I have something to say about (though, maybe nothing interesting!), below the jump!

BATMAN AND ROBIN #16: Say what you want about Morrison’s Batman (some find it confusing), but he’s pulled a very neat trick here at the end in adding to the character, expanding the possibilities of the franchise, and doing so in a way that doesn’t invalidate anything before or (hopefully) after. I’m not sure that I can think of another run of a superhero book that so radically reinvents the premise of a character while zeroing-in on the core of the character so successfully. Well, no, maybe I can: Morrison’s own DOOM PATROL run, maybe, or Moore’s SWAMP THING (though that really isn’t superhero, per se) — I probably wouldn’t put Morrison’s ANIMAL MAN in that category though, because that was more about the meta, then Buddy Baker himself, per se. Either way, that little bombshell at the end of #16, which, presumably will be much expanded upon in the upcoming BATMAN, INC., is potentially a pretty big sea change for the Batman Mythos, and can, I suspect help keep the character relevant for a really long time.
The bigger question is how writers who don’t have the initials “G.M.” will fare with the concept. One thing that seems to happen with these kind of “sea changes” of the quo is that really only the originator knows just what do with it — witness, say, post-Moore SWAMP THING. Veitch’s run was terrific (but he was a Moore collaborator before that), but after that? No one whatsoever had a clue as to what to do with the “Earth Elemental” concept, and the grafting of the broader idea upon characters like Firestorm and Red Tornado turned out to have no legs whatsoever.
The difference, perhaps, in this case might lay in the “it’s ALL true” framework Morrison has been constructing — this move lets there be multiple versions and styles of Batman (I like Dick’s “laughing Batman”, personally), but if they each get as dull as the “average” Bruce-is story has been over the years, it isn’t going to help very much.
Either way, this direction is fairly genius, and gives me more hope for the future of the character than anything, really, ever. EXCELLENT stuff.
DOOM PATROL #16: I think it might be worth noting that Keith Giffen actually illustrated this issue (is he the new ongoing penciller?), and that’s just terrific. I’d pretty much forgotten how much I love his art. The story, with something or other about alternate universe versions of the DP wasn’t anything special, but at least it was a pretty and compelling nothing special. I do want to note that I’m not so sure that the idea of writing out the Chief, after he’d just be written back in, was anything better than a meandering diversion (See? Kind of the Morrison problem, again), but I think this issue is well worth seeking out — VERY GOOD.
GENERATION HOPE #1: Meh, I guess I get the desire to create the next new generation of X, but it strikes me that this worked much better as a background thread than as a premise for its own book. Plus, WTF was up with the completely blatant AKIRA rip-off? That made me want to never read this book again… EH.
SCARLET #3: the first two issues were fairly morally questionable (which is fine, seriously), but this one takes a sharp hard turn that veers closely into “repugnant”. The measure of craft on display here means that I still liked it, but I’m questioning, in my own head, if this can go anywhere that I want to follow. Questioning is good, sometimes, though — a solidly GOOD comic.
STRANGE TALES 2 #2: My first thought: if it didn’t get in the way of his doing his “real” work, I’d be way way down with a monthly Marvel comic by the Hernandez brothers. I loved each and every inch of both Jaime and Gilbert’s stories.
My second thought: WTF was up with that “Ghost Badge” story? I literally couldn’t figure out why it was being published in this anthology, or what it had to do with Marvel comics. The fact it wasn’t very good didn’t help matters.
My third thought: isn’t it really really deeply weird that “Alternative” cartoonists do a better job presenting a pretty much “all ages” Marvel comic than the “real” Marvel creators do?
Either way: this is some fine comics — except for the Ghost Badge story, which drags the whole thing down to a mere VERY GOOD.
SUPERBOY #1: I don’t know that I need or want a “Superboy” comic, but if we’re going to have one, this would seem to be the way to do it — Smallville-based, pretty fun, relatively teen-angsty. I thought this was a GOOD solid start.
As always, what did YOU think?

5 Responses to “ Hibbs Galivants on 10/3 ”

  1. Brian, I agree with everything you said about last week’s Batman and Robin, especially the part where you wonder if other writers will know how to play with this idea.

    Have you read Mark Millar’s three year run on Swamp Thing (he wrote it after the not very good Nancy Collins and Doug Wheeler runs) with artist Phil Hester? I thought Millar’s run was a good progression of what Moore and Veitch did.

  2. Agreed on B&R. And no, there’s no other writers who will execute the concept properly. They can’t even get Damian right (he’s not Jason Todd, folks).

  3. Highly recommend Giffen’s Doom Patrol.
    I love the Silver Age stories and discovering Morrison’s take is one of the reasons I got me back into collecting comics about 12 or 13 years ago.
    But Morrison, frankly, kind of broke it. There was really no where else for other writers to go, which is why we got the Byrne reboot a few years back (which I also enjoyed it’s ‘back to basics’ approach and the art).
    What Giffen has done is manage to write a compelling book while figuring out how to tie it all together, kind of like what Grant has done on Batman.
    So instead of Byrne’s version being a reboot, it’s part of this ongoing tapestry, which includes the Drake stories and Kupperburg and Morrison and other runs.
    And as much as that might sound tedious, Giffen pulls it off. I think he is the rare writer who can straddle the standard superheroics with the more out there ideas, which is why he’s managed to incorporate both the DP’s Silver Age villains AND some of Morrison’s ideas, like Danny the Street and Mr. Nobody.
    I highly recommend the book, although obviously I think Doom Patrol fans (those familiar with the concept and some of the eras) will get more satisfaction out of it.

  4. Ah, Scarlet. I don’t know if this is a good comic or a bad comics and I’m not even sure if I like it. But it’s the only serial comic out right now that I am truly interested in seeing where it’s going.

  5. I totally didn’t get (or like) that Ghost Badge story either. Was it supposed to be a riff on Ghost Rider, maybe?

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