Tuesday, January 1, 2002

The Mount - Beginnings And Endings

Another year has come upon us and the times... they is a'changing.

The start of a new year is a good time to reflect upon beginnings and endings and changes. Changes like those which Fanzing is about to undergo. We'll be showing off more of these changes in the coming months. There will be a lot of new things... and I think most of them will be good. But don't worry, Mount-ies... "The Mount" isn't going to change... much. It'll still be the place you can be guaranteed to get some of my unique perspective on life, the universe and various comic stories.

The most notable change will be how I'm going to go about writing The Mount. One of the biggest problems I have had is that I would often set out to review something but then forget about the story in the rush to work on something else. Or worse yet, have the review drag out over the course of months in the case of multi-part stories that were delayed for weeks... sometimes months.

To that end, I have decided to do this: In the case of all miniseries and multiseries, I will state my opinion of the first issue when it comes out and ramble about where I think the story is going, how it will end and so on. When the series is over, I will review the story as a whole and compare my feelings at the end to my projected feelings at the beginning.

With that in mind, let's start off with a little series close to my heart that recently came to the end of its' first major story arc. You know what I'm talking about... I'm talking about Kevin Smith's Quiver (Green Arrow #1-10). There's some potential vague story spoilers, so skip down to the big line of capital letters to avoid it. If you can't find the issues, the whole story will be released in a hardcover TPB in a few months which will probably cost less than trying to track down the first 3-4 individual issues.


I have to admit, no spoilers given, that I was a little disappointed in the ending of the story. Granted, we've got back the good ol' Ollie Queen we've always known and loved but I question how well the ends justified the means. Bringing Ollie back was undoubtedly going to require some kind of mystical link and I think that the story turned out about as well as any story involving Oliver Queen and mystic stuff could. Still, the story seemed needless dark at points, even for a Green Arrow story. And while I appreciate a good obscure comic reference like anyone else, I really have to wonder about tying "Stanley and His Monsters" into the Green Arrow mythos.

I did enjoy the story though. Smith has a great grasp of character, dialogue and humor and he's able to write story that is funny and thrilling at the same time. Still, I can't help but feel that it could have been better... especially since there are some plot ends that are left unfinished. Perhaps these will be addressed in the later issues of Smith's run, but I have the feeling that with the crunching of the Quiver storyline into 10 issues from the full dozen planned may have forced Smith to change some parts of the story's pacing that would have been covered better. Still... it's well worth picking up the forthcoming trade paperback if you haven't had the fortune to read it yet.


That was the best story of the last year I had read. Lots of the old coming back and appearing in a new form. Lots of old things are coming back... like the story, which is (so far) the best story I have read this year.

Perhaps the most anticipated story of the last year, Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Strikes Back" has proven to be worthy of interest, if not acclaim. With the story only 1/3 told, I don't think I can review the whole thing here... but so far, I think it will be a worthy successor to Miller's Legacy.

And speaking of Batman and ongoing stories, the Batbooks will be doing a multi-part crossover for the next few months called "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?"

When I first heard of this story, I anticipated the typical Batman crossover: a story stretched over too-many books as an attempt to get people to buy some of the lesser-selling titles in the Bat-Family.

I think said books are going to be made up mostly of tangents into the main plot of the individual book, with little emphasis upon the connecting crossover story. There will however be just enough happening in each book that I'll have to buy the entire series to have some idea of what is going on.

There's not going to be any long last change and likely there will be some big Deus Ex Machina that solves everything at the last minute. Also, I'm betting that Ra's Al Ghul is involved somehow.

I wrote the above words some two days before I got the first four issues of the story the other day (after a month-long absence from my regular comic store). Here now, with some minor spoilers, are my thoughts upon the story so far...

Prologue: Batman: The Ten Cent Adventure.

This issue was created with two purposes in mind; introduce the modern Batman to new readers and set up the "Bruce Wayne: Murdered" storyline.

It succeeds on both counts. And despite the fears of many a fanboy explains who Sasha is, what she does (bodyguard and new vigilantee) and the significance of the person who is killed. That's about all it does though, so there's really no reason to bother if you've been a regular reader of Detective Comics for the past few months. Then again, the price is right... and ten cents is a pretty good deal to tell you something you already know.

Part One: Detective Comics #766

Bruce and Sasha are arrested and detectives start combing over Wayne Manor, discussing theories and interrogating the suspects. It's all about the police here and, like as per usual, it's good to see the cops of Gotham being pushed to the forefront here. It's like NYPD Blue: The Comics.

My one complaint is that after the easy-expository feeling of the Ten Cent adventure, there's way too much assumption in this issue. It is just assumed that the reader will know who Detective Montoya is and why she wouldn't want to see Bruce Wayne arrested after some vaguely described incident involving flowers. Still, the story is building interest.

Part Two: Batgirl #24

Two words: This Stinks. After such a good intro, things go downhill fast in this issue. I have to admit a little bit of bias here. I've never liked the new Batgirl. I suspect I never will and that Barbara Gordon will always be the one true Batgirl in my heart.

This issue gives us a lot of Barbara and we see her reaction as she hears the call that summons the police to Wayne Manor. This is a great moment that is totally dashed as she starts to think about whom in the vigilante community she can send to investigate a Wayne Manner disturbance. She is about to send Robin, but she recoils, thinking it unwise to send a 15 year old boy into a situation with an armed intruder. Instead, she sends a 17 year old girl with less training as a vigilante than the 15 year old boy.

I'm still scratching my head about that too... especially since Tim has handled most of the Major members of the Rogues Gallery unaided. Perhaps Babs remembered whose book she was in?

There's also some unintentional humor in Batgirl's sneaking into Wayne Manor as half the GCPD is wandering around the place. I know this is meant to make Cassandra look extremely stealthy and professional... but all it really does is make the detectives look like total idiots. And since they are going to be a major focus of the story (and were, in fact, the main focus one part back), this is a bad thing.

Aside from one very minor point, this issue doesn't really touch directly upon the murder and is more about some personal issues Cassandra has with Batman. This one can easily be skipped.

Part Three: Nightwing #65

They literally have to contrive a reason to get Dick involved in the crossover, with Dick bribing a police dispatcher to change his schedule so he can go Gotham and talk to Bruce for a few panels. Aside from this and he and Babs agreeing to investigate the murders on their own, not much happens crossoverwise... although it does give Dick an excuse to be out of town when something Wingnuts everywhere have been waiting for a year to happen happens.

Like Batgirl, the writer ignores the crossover as much as possible while continuing to develop the past plotlines. On the one hand, this is a plus for the regular fan who doesn't want to see their favorite book sidelined for a crossover. On the other hand, this makes things confusing as all get out for the people who are new to the book and aren't familiar with the many cops and criminals of Bludhaven. This totally defeats the point of having a crossover in the first place.

All in all, this is shaping up about how I thought it would. So far, there hasn't been much in the way of evidence to allow the readers to figure out who really dun' it, but it is just week one of the crossover. Hopefully things will pick up.

And hopefully you'll be here to pick up where we left off next month, when I review the latest series of "The Sandman Presents" miniseries. Until then... may your clerks be helpful and your new comics unbent.