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With Six, You Get Eggroll — Hibbs on the Bat books

Brian Hibbs

Well, we’ve all already discussed BATMAN & ROBIN #1, but what about the REST of the Bat-books, mm?

BATMAN #687: Taking place *before* BATMAN & ROBIN #1, this does a pretty decent job in setting up Dick for the role, and getting him through the baggage. I wasn’t too excited by the art, but then, all we have to do is wait a month and Mark Bagley comes on. Which is a weird shift from Ed Benes, really. Still, as a “#0”, this does its job perfectly adequately, and Winick’s usual scripting ticks are fairly well hidden. I guess I can give this a low “GOOD”, but I think I’d be happier if I actually believed this would last more than a year or two, max. ‘sfunny, this sort of makes me think of Cap-Bucky — I think I’d actually PREFER if this was a no-tapbacks restart of the Bat franchise, because I really do think that Dick couldn’t ultiamtely make a better bat…

RED ROBIN #1: This doesn’t feel like Tim Drake to me — Tim was always the “unobsessed” of the Bat-family… the one who did it because he WANTED to, because he was SMART enough and strong enough and fast enough, the one who would, eventually, someday be the Bat, but who would approach it as a detective as a guardian, not as a thug or bruiser. So, no, I don’t see him having internal dialogue about breaking people’s bones, or crossing lines, or any of that. Also, as a series-based premise, “I’m going to find Bruce” is pretty dead end, as well as being way too soon in the game to start unfurling. The scripting was fine, the art was solid, but it just didn’t seem like the right character in the role, and doing stuff that was too far off in left field. This also makes the second of these that doesn’t have a cliffhanger so much as just stopping because they reached the end of the issue. This first one is SELLING something like triple what ROBIN used to, but I’ll be pessimistic about the long-term prospects. I thought it was pretty EH.

BATMAN: STREET OF GOTHAM #1: Based on this first issue, I’m pretty confused as to the premise of the book. I’m of the mind that when you have multiple books for one character that each one needs to have a VERY clearly defined premise, and I’m not seeing one here. Is it “Batman stories where Batman is slightly off camera” maybe? But that’s not really a great premise. I tremendously liked the art, but there’s little in the story that couldn’t be done exactly the same with Bruce. Plus, can I say just how much I hate Hush as a villain — he’s simply not interesting, even a little bit, and I’m tired in trying to be convinced that he is. Hell, I find Firefly more compelling, because at least he has a shtick. As a first issue, I only sold-through about 2/3 of the average of Dini’s DETECTIVE run moved, which is a really bad start, actually — that’s going to put this down into BATMAN CONFIDENTIAL range by issue #6. At least this issue sort of had a cliffhanger, but it was angled wrong, and it wasn’t until my second reading for this review that I noticed the bat signal shape. I’ll go with a mild EH

As for the Manhunter back-up, I pretty actively disliked it — this felt like a desperation move “We really think you should like this, even though you’ve established that you don’t, already, so, um, let’s change the setting and the supporting cast, maybe that’s the problem?” Well, no, the supporting cast was one of the things I vaguely liked about the original premise (not that much ever got done with it…), and yeah that last page note was just sour: “Jane Doe, BUM BUM BUM!” Um, what’s that, and why the fuck should I care? I thought this feature was pretty AWFUL, and would resent being asked to pay an extra buck for it.

GOTHAM CITY SIRENS #1: Another series I don’t see having much in the way of legs — this will be cute and charming for a few issues at a time, but as a premise, I sort of don’t see it: these characters, in this continuity, don’t sit all of that well together. Maybe if Dini was DRAWING it, too, then “cuteness” would be a major selling point. The art, by Guillem March, is nice enough, but I just don’t see where this series could go that I’d want to follow. Also: there were a few what I personally would call storytelling problems with Bonebreaker’s vague powers — he punches through walls, and declares that he “powders” bones with his touch… but he touches Selina and Harley just fine with no apparent after-effects. Still, first week sales show it’s selling better than SOG, so what do I know? OK

DETECTIVE COMICS #854: In a way this is like two years too late — I could have sold the fuck out of this had it been released in the wake of 52. It is selling really well, out of the gate — about triple Dini ‘TECs, but once upon a day it would have sold as well as Morrison’s B&R. It is really incredibly gorgeous, maybe the best looking book DC has published all year, but I wanted a smidge more meat on the story — like the hows and whys and how the hell she does all of that heart surgery and why the Bat, and all of that. Plus, another “ran out of pages” ending, with nothing that screams “Come back and buy the next one, mister!” (other than the art, which IS fuckin’ scrumptious) — and yet I’ll still say GOOD.

The Question back up was fine enough, I guess, but didn’t have enough weight to it, and, again, ended at a really awful spot. A solid OK.

What did YOU think?


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