Friday, April 5, 2013

Comic Book Reviews: Detective Comics #19 (900) and Green Hornet #1

The biggest downfall of the New 52's creation seems to be the resetting of the numbering. The reason is obvious: Action Comics and Detective Comics were approaching 1,000 issues at the time of the reboot.

Despite the number alterations, though, DC Comics made sure to do a grand celebration this week when Detective hit its 900th chronological issue. The 80-page spectacular featured five stories, most written by John Layman, and some Batman drawings from a slew of artists.

The interesting about this book's quality is that it has been very polarizing online. I'd expect this since the thing costs twice the normal comic price ($7.99), and people expect a high degree of value for that kind of investment.

The two sites I frequent most for reviews, Batman-News and IGN, gave the book an 8.5/10 and a 3.2/10, respectively. Ultimately, this story will boil down to how invested you are into the Emperor Penguin arc that Layman has produced and whether you're big on Man-Bat.

I happen to be irked by Man-Bat as a character and find his existence in the Batman universe baffling. That said, I love the storyline Layman has put together and for the first time ever, I have to give props to a Man-Bat story.

Detective 19 (900) tells the definitive Man-Bat story, as an entire section of town is hit with the formula Emperor Penguin sent out. It's a lot of Batman trying to fight off the bastards while tracking down the man who originally created the formula.

The final sacrifice the character makes is touching (though why the formula wasn't just given to a dying person at the hospital is beyond me) and the back-up story that talks about the doctor's wife is a tragic story of what happens when really intelligent doctors stop trying to think of good ideas.

All kidding aside, this is a really good set of Man-Bat stories and actually are probably worth the price tag. That said, they are still Man-Bat stories, which means you'll need to REALLY suspend your disbelief and even then things are going to be weird.

There are also flaws in the story, not the least of which is Nightwing acting oddly out of character. He refuses to answer Bruce's call due to DOTF fallout, and yet nothing in the most recent storylines indicates that he should be having this reaction. Yeah, their relationship is strained, but they literally just fought together in Nightwing's book two weeks ago and were still talking in the main Batman book.

The other three back-ups are solid work as well. Mr. Combustible, one of those throwaway stooges Cobblepot and Ogilvy have been hanging with. It actually adds a nice new dimension to the character and instantly made him more interesting than when Tony Daniel introduced him.

There's a James Tynion IV story written about Bane that attempts to explain that his random appearance in Batman: The Dark Knight had a purpose, but it was derailed by the Court of Owls. This supposedly is teasing an arc in Talon. Kudos to Tynion and Layman for taking stupid developments in derided storylines and making them far more fun than when I first saw them.

Lastly, the cop in the back-up story a few months ago that was guarding Joker's face is back and is fighting with other cops about Batman's nature. It's a fun little romp that shows how Batman is seen and worth your time.

Overall, I'd say there's something for everyone here. The price is a hard sell, but given that this is a legendary numbering (if you ignore the reboot), it's understandable, and if you've enjoyed Layman's work, you get some of his best here.

Green Hornet #1

I love the Green Hornet. I remember as a kid watching reruns of the 1960s Batman series at night and then forcing myself to stay up just a little later to watch the adventures of Green Hornet and Kato.

The Hornet has been portrayed in comics through the Golden Age and in various incarnations via Dynamite Comics, and they've got another one that kicked off last week.

I haven't bought a Hornet comic in a while, but Mark Waid is writing this one. If you aren't at least interested when you hear Mark Waid is writing Green Hornet, I feel bad for you, son.

Waid proves again that he knows his stuff in this book by being accessible to new readers by explaining Britt Reid and Kato's origins and giving a nice, one-shot piece that connects to a larger narrative.

The man who produced what I believe to be the best Superman story ever (Superman: Birthright) and is single-handedly making the new Indestructible Hulk book one of the best titles in Marvel, dives right into the story but is always mindful of the new and returning fans.

This creates a story where you don't necessarily know most of the characters, but you pick up who they are and why you like/don't like them within two sentences of dialogue. And yet somehow it all works in the context of what is happening.

How Waid hasn't been pegged to do movies of comic characters is beyond me because I am already looking forward to the next installment.

I'm a Batman fan, but this book is the one that blew me away. If you can only pick one book this week, as good as Detective is, this sucker will hook you on the Green Hornet at half the price.

At long last, there will be at least one book I have in my arsenal per week! I look forward to this title ending my months.

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