Thursday, January 31, 2013

Comic Book Reviews: Batman and Robin Annual #1/Green Lantern #16

After the horror that was Teen Titans #16, I needed some kind of book that could receive a positive review. To my delight, I have two for you.

Batman and Robin Annual #1

IGN fittingly gave this book its highest review of the week's releases, and deservedly so. This is a contender for best book this month and the first annual that feels more than deserving of the $4.99 shelf price.

The storyline is perfect for anyone, as it doesn't go into any real continuity. If you know about Bruce Wayne and the fact that his son is Robin, you can pick this up and enjoy it as much as anyone.

Pretty much the entire story is that Damian sends Bruce on a scavenger hunt across Europe to find previously unknown mementos from his parents' lives. While that's happening, Damian is sneaking around in a junior-sized Bat-suit patrolling as a kid Batman in Gotham.

This thing has all kinds of great action and energy like you'd want in a Batman comic, but it also has detective work. REAL DETECTIVE WORK!!! It is so great to see the World's Greatest Detective moniker used here to its full potential, and both Bruce and Damian show the skill amazingly well.

Humor is also balanced in this book brilliantly. There are some nice one-liners and a joke that bookends the book's main crimes. Alfred in particular is in rare form, showing more personality than he has to this point in the New 52. I'm not sure whether we can take this as a sign Alfred survives DOTF without any issues, but that really has no bearing here.

Where Peter Tomasi's writing hits hardest, though, is the emotion. There are legitimate moments where you really get "all the feels" as the Twitter-verse so desperately tries to coin the phrase, and seeing someone like Bruce Wayne fighting back tears is an image not lost on the reader.

Speaking of images, Adrian Syaf does a bang-up job as an artist. The only weak point in the book - the ONLY weak point in it - is that his lone two-page spread is kind of hard to put together, but that may have been by design or I may just not have understood it.

Luckily, I think I'll be going through this book a couple of times. This has real re-read potential and it is a book that really will not lose its luster with time. It's just one of those nice little stories that remind you why you like these characters to begin with.

I will say, as a point of balance, that this book is so good, it makes B&R #16 look even worse by comparison. As well as Damian is portrayed here, mastering various detective and technology tidbits, I really can not comprehend how on Earth he could be so stupid as to not know for the duration of a fight that he was facing a FAKE Batman.

But really, if your biggest complaint about a book is that it makes previous books look horrid by comparison, you're owning at life.

Buy this. Own this. You WILL want to keep this. Heck, I'm tempted to buy a second one so I don't wear out the copy. It is really THAT. DAMN. GOOD.

Green Lantern #16

This book was originally going to lead the blog and get most of the praise, but that annual really just came out of nowhere to make a killing.

Plus, this is a week old. But make no mistake, this was a great conclusion to Simon Baz's first arc as a Green Lantern.

Simon meets B'dg, the Green Lantern who looks like a talking chipmunk, and he helps to make sense of the GL Corps and how to charge the power ring.

Thankfully, the Third Army stuff is saved for other books because it was not needed here. The driving point of this story (once Simon finally heard Hal Jordan and Sinestro's messages to him) was Simon meeting his sister at the hospital where her boyfriend is in a coma.

Baz tries to will him out of the coma with the GL ring, which is well known to be one of the rings' few limitations. What follows is a seriously painful and emotional scene where it's hard not to tear up at the physical and emotional pain Simon is putting himself through, as well as how much it hurts those near him to see him in such a state.

I won't say much about what follows for Baz because it either A) Spoils major plot points, B) Will need more time to develop before I can make a real judgment, or C) Got followed up on in the Green Lantern Corps title, which isn't being reviewed.

I will say that much of this first arc has been kind of cliche-ridden, but really, if a cliche is written well, does that matter? Heck, that's why they're cliched - it's been done well and people have proven to like it.

A couple of pages are devoted to Hal and Sinestro, who meet former GL members in the world of the dead, and, really, it's only important if you plan on staying for the next crossover, which I'm not.

I really do love Simon Baz, but seeing as he'll be more present in the next crossover now, plus the fact that he'll be in Justice League of America #1 next month, I really see no reason to keep the book on.

Besides, I plan on adding the JLA title as well as Scott Snyder's Superman title in June and maybe even the main Justice League book, so I need to cut the fat on titles.

That said, I'm really glad I picked up this first arc in the Simon Baz saga. He really seems like the most enjoyable GL to read, and I hope they keep him in a solo title even after Hal Jordan inevitably returns.

I don't think you can really read this title without at least getting #15, but if you can afford it, getting issues #13-16 wouldn't be a bad investment (though they'll be in the Third Army crossover trade, so maybe saving for that would be better. It all depends on if you care about the overall event and want to read Red Lanterns for some reason.).

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