Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fast Thoughts - The Week of 2/11/09

Featuring Batman #686, Fables #81, Green Arrow/Black Canary #17 and Green Lantern Corps #33.

BATMAN #686 - Like most people, I picked this one because Neil Gaiman wrote it. At least, I imagine that's the major reason most everyone picked this one up. That's not to disparage Andy Kubert's pencils (which are excellent) or the rest of the art team for their contributions, but let's be honest - Gaiman's name on a comic is a license to print money.

A lot of people have been comparing this story, Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader? to the similarly titled Alan Moore story Whatever Happened To The Man of Tomorrow?, which detailed the last days of Superman going into Crisis of Infinite Earths. I think a more apt comparison, however, is to compare this to The Wake - the final chapter of Gaiman's masterwork The Sandman.

Why? Both stories take place at a funeral where the honored dead is - on some level - still somewhat alive and we see the supporting cast, heroes and villains alike, drop their grudges to tell stories in honor of their fallen comrade/enemy. And a dream-like quality infuses the atmosphere of this comic even before we get to the seemingly contradictory stories as we see a Gotham City and Crime Alley unlike any we've seen before, yet we are told - by a ghostly Batman - that he somehow knows this is Gotham and Crime Alley. Much in the same way we just "know" things to be true in a dream.

I had thought that the mysterious presence walking alongside Bruce might be Daniel or Morpheus or maybe even Death until I saw the feminine form when Bruce asked "Are you Death?" and the figure responded "I don't think Death is a person, Bruce." That's not an answer or a denial but it doesn't sound like the type of thing Death would say in an attempt to be cute. Of course I could be wrong and likely am. Either way, this book is well worth picking up if you have any interest in Batman, if only for Alfred's tale of the true death of Batman and the real story behind his various villains origins.

FABLES #81 - A fitting end for one of the series' best characters. I can't help but note a little irony in the flowers decorating his grave, given the royal drubbing he gives one of the series' heroines as she confesses her love for him and he gives her a bit of truth she didn't want to hear. Truly, still one of the best books on the market.

GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY #17 - The good news is that Dinah doesn't get made into a helpless victim during the main story and indeed gets a chance to save Ollie and herself from the knife-wielding assailant in issue #15.

The bad news is... well, the special Origins story at the end of the comic pretty much undid whatever goodwill I might have had for this book, depicting as it did the moment in which Dinah discovered the Canary Cry.

Now, I'm not sure exactly what the canon story behind Dinah discovering her powers is (I believe it's discussed in detail by a number of angry Black Canary fans over at scans_daily, where you can also see a scan of this whole section) but I know enough to know that it never involved her "pulling a Rogue" and nearly killing a classmate in a scene that mirrors her apparent deafening of a random musician.

And it's a minor point compared to this, but as a Green Arrow fan - I'm a little peeved at Ollie getting a very cool (no pun intended) scene where he puts out a fire using the good ol' Cryonic Arrow and he credits the idea and the technology to Mr. Freeze. Because The-Powers-That-Be at DC Comics apparently it's impossible for Ollie to have an original idea for a gadget that didn't get ripped-off from Batman or a Batman villain.

And the less said about this new villain who is an obsessive Green Arrow stalker, the better.

Avoid this book like the plague from now on.

GREEN LANTERN CORPS #33 - Quite a lot of stuff going on here, building up to the War of Light and The Blackest Night. In quick order...

* Mongul, now empowered by multiple Yellow Fear Power Rings taking over the xenophobic planet of Daxam and turning it into a new base of operations for The Sinestro Corps.

* The Green Lanterns lose hundreds of members in the aftermath of The Guardian's new edict that Green Lanterns are not allowed to love other Corps Members - physically or emotionally.

* Kyle Rayner and Soranik explore their feelings for each other in the wake of their respective visions of their one true love after meeting a Star Sapphire.

* Kyle begins work on a mural depicting the history of the Green Lantern Corps, including the fallen Lanterns.

* Green Lantern Saarek - who is also a ghost whisperer in addition to his powers as a Green Lantern - has a meeting with Star Sapphire Miri Riam, in which he delivers a message from her dead husband and her attempts to grant him a vision of his true love leave him seeing "Nothing but Black."

* Mongul fights former Sinestro Corps trainer Arkillo for leadership of The Sinestro Corps.

* Sodam Yat - a.k.a. The Daxamite Green Lantern known as Ion - is contacted by his mother regarding Mongul's takeover of his home planet.

Despite the many storylines occurring at once and the soap-opera style of the stories, this is a most enjoyable book. The only problem with this book is that - for obvious reasons - it isn't very friendly to new readers. Still, if you like the space opera genre, this is a must-read series.


  1. The Batman story, I am eagerly waiting to be collected. Word is that it'll be released as a TPB with the other Batman Gaiman stories around the same time as the FC Hardcover.
    I am majorly amused that Sal Buscemi died as a Sinestro Corps member. :D

  2. This is the improvement on Judd Winick we were hoping for...
    *sighs* I almost miss him. At least he ignored Dinah instead of making her look like a bimbo MOST of the time.

  3. Doesn't "the other Batman Gaiman stories" pretty much amount to that one story in "Black and White"?

  4. The solicits list three more stories:
    One of them, I think, is the one with Riddler lamenting the loss of gimmicks after the Crisis.