Friday, November 16, 2012

Comic Book Reviews: Batman & Robin #14 and Batgirl Annual #1

Death of the Family has been absorbing my comic focus, but there were some other stories that I checked out... and still somehow they tied back into the thing!

Well, let's get down to business (to defeat *smash**swish* the Huns!)

Batman and Robin #14

What do zombies have to do with the Joker? Absolutely nothing! And yet somehow, the Joker is responsible for a zombie invasion... Anyone else see a problem with this premise?

I really am not that much of a fan of the zombie invasion genre. There are plenty that I do enjoy, but they do need to be something special. And this felt, well, generic.

Nothing is more irksome in a comic than a line repeated ad nauseum, and having to read "Eat to live" that many times was really annoying.

The initial reveal of who was doing this stuff wasn't bad but certainly wasn't good, and when they gave a second reveal of who was behind the first reveal, it got nonsensical and insane.

How you manage to tie this thing back into Death of the Family is truly a feat of mental gymanstics that shouldn't have been attempted. Peter Tomasi is better than this, and he needs to get back to doing his own thing after this crossover ends.

The only real positives were the art, which Pat Gleason is clearly enjoying doing given all the detail he puts into this; Damian's underground railroad, as this planning and care for innocents really showed why I like Damian as Robin; and the last few pages with Bruce and Damian. That was some of the best authentic emotion I've seen in a Bat-book this whole month, and that's impressive with what's out there.

I wouldn't advise this book to buy, but skim it since it will be part of the DOTF crossover next month and knowing Tomasi he's going to try to play up this bizarre storyline somehow.

Batgirl Annual #1

There should still be copies of this in most comic stores, which is a shame because it is a good story.

I get why. The $4.99 price tag is a lot to ask, especially for a Bat-family member whose book has been inconsistent recently. But I'll say this: It's really worth checking out.

Three storylines collide here, as Batgirl, Catwoman and Mary, the mute Talon from Batgirl #9, all have really nice pieces that combine to form a really fun narrative.

Batgirl is seen saving innocents from a burning building being set off by homeless people, and seeing a pattern of arson, she goes to the carjacker she rescued in the last arc for information. After covering for him by making out for him (one of the funnier moments in the book thanks to Barbara's commentary), she's off to face the man responsible.

Meanwhile, Catwoman has been hired by the same man to break Mary out of Arkham Asylum. Jim Gordon is played really well here, not tolerating any commentary from the guard that disabilities make someone less human or less intelligent, a nice callback to Barb's situation.

From what I could gather, most Talons (they think all) were caught by Gotham PD and are under cryogenic freezing. Mary was the exception – I assume because Batgirl recommended that she could be of help or productive.

Catwoman gets her out and actually strikes up a friendship with her when she learns of Mary's history. I really liked how Gail Simone wrote Selina in this book. If you've been disappointed by Catwoman's portrayal in her book (I'm sure you are.) this is the best you'll see of her for a while.

The only real flaw here is that the art is inconsistent. I'm not sure who did the fire scene, but that was brilliant, and I really wish one artist could have been contracted for this.

I won't spoil the reveal, but it should be clear who (or what) is responsible for all this. I'm cool with it. I liked the story and although I don't want a full-fledged arc anytime soon, this tied a loose end nicely.

I don't like that they tease to Birds of Prey to finish Mary's story, but since she's already being revealed for that team, I guess I know what's coming.

A book this price is hard to recommend, but it's an all-around fun read that should at least be looked over in the store.

See you for more DOTF coverage next week along with my usual Nightwing and Red Hood reviews!

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