The Comic Book Club: “Batman & Robin” and “Amazing Spider-Man”

  • Share
  • Read Later

GRAEME: There’s something… creepy, to me, about Doctor Hurt as a character that really helps this storyline work. Yes, he’s all about control, but watching him break Gordon – in a scene that, for whatever reason, reminded me of the headgames and control fetishism of Morrison’s The Invisibles – really made me feel that the storyline is about a lack of control, of things very obviously being OUT of control, and “wrong.” If this is farce, it’s one that’s more than just comedic.

I’m loving the shout-outs to various pieces of continuity (The Killing Joke, RIP, A Death in the Family, etc.) but more for the way in which they’re done – without attention being drawn to them, and upended to gain new meaning – than for any Easter-eggy value in and of themselves. Much like the earlier issues of the series, it feels like Morrison is working out a new (old?) model for how to work within superhero continuity without being strangled by it. Even as he’s doing The Return Of Bruce Wayne elsewhere, I’m struck by how little I miss Wayne in the cowl here; I’ve entirely bought into Dick as Batman, and that’s a pretty impressive accomplishment.

DOUGLAS: I’d go so far as to say that the callbacks are so well executed it often seems like the original stories were foreshadowing or setting up this one! Even when B&R doesn’t work–and that’s not very often–it’s pushing really hard. I wish more superhero comics were this weird and daring.

MIKE: Outside of the art of Frazer Irving, which I could just go on and on about, three things stood out for me in this issue. The first is that Robin, at least Damian, is truly becoming the Boy Hostage. He’s had a real tough time of things since putting on the tights. Morrison is not taking it easy on him. He’s already been shot in the back and had spinal surgery. Now he’s been poisoned and captured by the Joker. If he survives this, and he certainly will, this little egomaniac sociopath is going to have an even bigger chip on his shoulder. We’ve talked about how Morrison occupies his own corner of the DC Universe that no one else really goes near, but this incident between Damian and the Joker can’t be overlooked. Other writers are going to have to take into account that Damian will probably spend the rest of his days trying to murder the Joker. At least he should.

(More on Techland: “Batwoman: Elegy” and “Werewolves of Montpellier”)

The second thing I keep coming back to is: why is the Joker so bent on bringing down the Black Glove and Hurt? The scheme they are up to seems like it’s right in Joker’s wheelhouse. A populace of junkies razing Gotham to get a fix sounds like an anarchist’s fantasy. Is it simply that he likes to be the only show in town? Is that he is just tickled by ‘teaming up’ with Batman and Robin? I personally think it comes down to Pyg. In Pyg, Morrison has crafted a character that is genuinely terrifying. It’s clear that things make perfect sense in Pyg’s twisted, drug-addled mind and that makes him unpredictable and very dangerous. He’s hands down the most interesting Bat-rogue in years.

Finally, why does Hurt keep shooting produce? Is it allusion? Homage to another Bat story that I’m not getting? Foreshadowing? Between the pumpkin and the half-dozen watermelons, I can’t stop thinking about it.

DOUGLAS: On to Amazing Spider-Man. I’ve had mixed feelings about “One Moment in Time”–and I know that some of the Club have… not-so-mixed feelings about it. I do think it’s been a real mistake to defer the “wait, how’d we get from the end of ‘One More Day’ to the beginning of ‘Brand New Day’?” story for a couple of years; the answer isn’t actually all that exciting, and it probably would’ve made more dramatic sense to reveal it earlier. It doesn’t feel like the culmination of the “Brand New Day” period, it feels like something the Spider-office has realized they’re running out of time to get out of the way. And really, I was hoping for something much more clever–at least as clever as the idea in the “Superman 2000” pitch about how to undo the Superman and Lois marriage.

(The only other continuity gap I can think of that’s been deliberately placed and then connected this much later, actually, was the transition between Cerebus #20 and #21–and, as I understand, Dave Sim actually wanted to draw that out longer, but eventually succumbed to people who really wanted to know right away. Which is why we didn’t get to see Sir Gerrik later in the series, when he’d have been more useful. But I digress.)

(More on Techland: The Comic Book Club: Wonder Woman and Action Comics)

That said: Paolo Rivera, man–what a stylish, inventive artist he is, when he gets the chance. It’s a pity that he mostly gets to draw talking heads floating in black space this issue (and that Quesada saves the nice-looking stuff for himself: the Peter-and-MJ montage that “Happy Together” is practically playing over, the big kiss at the end), but he’s been doing really solid work in the rest of this arc.

Slightly too cute: is that Tom Brevoort as the hospital aide a few pages before the end?

I will probably get into this a few weeks from now in “Emanata”–I want to do an overview of “Brand New Day” at some point–but I’ve really been enjoying the thrice-monthly Amazing in general: not as a model for the future of superhero comics or anything, but as a thing that’s really fun to read at the gym. I do wish it’d been scheduled and paced better (Amazing three weeks a month, Web the fourth week, would that have been so hard to pull off?), but there’ve been a lot of entertaining storylines and solid work over the last couple of years. And I especially like the bonus features–most of all the Stan Lee/Marcos Martin “Sunday strip” that’s been running for the past few months. Martin’s one of those artists who’s not exactly high-profile, but the more latitude he gets the more interesting his work is, and he’s really been cutting loose on this feature.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3