Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So DC Comics has reconsidered its rather, um, innovative marketing strategy of appealing to the youth demographic by adorning the covers of its iconic heroes with a texting-based expletive acronym. Well BS I say! Stick to your ill-conceived guns! However, despite backing away from the edgy, DC did provide us with a true Wtf moment this month (here meaning “Why the fuss,” of course). To wit:

5. Batman Incorporated #8 (DC): In one brilliant stroke, Grant Morrison delivers on the promise that was left utterly unfulfilled by the much ballyhooed Death of the Family event (see below). With little fanfare (initially), Morrsion provides a satisfying climax to his long run on Batman. The death of a major character like Robin (um, spoiler alert?) is usually an overblown, portentous affair (as the follow-up story, Requiem, promises to be). But the irrepressible Mr. Morrison refuses to be such a downer (he may, to his credit, be genetically incapable of it). This issue is nearly non-stop, thrillingly orchestrated action. (Artist Chris Burnham – with an assist by Jason Masters – really outdoes himself here.) And yet, in typical Morrsion fashion, despite the breakneck speed, the story is packed, packed, with references, riffs and homages to Batman’s illustrious history. From the title (“The Boy Wonder Returns”), to the not-so-throwaway background details, even down to the goofy Pop Art sound effects, we are treated to an expansive embrace of the Batman mythos that has been the hallmark of Morrison’s run (one that, by its very nature, was undercut by the ill-timed exigencies of the New 52 relaunch). His approach is perfectly encapsulated on page 19, the climax of the issue, and perhaps, the series – the battle between Robin and his Adversary (in the truest sense of the word). A sequence that could have taken up the entire book is instead presented in a stunning, 20-panel kaleidoscope (again kudos to Mr. Burnham) of action, tribute and, finally, pathos. When the moment of truth does arrive, Morrison and Co. don’t skimp on the emotion of the event as the book closes with a poignant image that recalls the birth of Batman himself. (DM)

Batman Incorporated #8

Batman Incorporated #8

4. Daredevil #23 (Marvel): An opening sequence for the ages–one that twists the title character’s origin story (often a cliche issue-starter) into something radioactively sinister–would’ve been enough on its own to land this book in our esteemed Top Five for the month.  This comic is so much more, however: Mark Waid–with stunning assistance from Chris Samnee–brings a certain clarity to Matt and Foggy’s relationship that becomes even more profound and pitiable with the painful revelation at issue’s end.  Remarkable work from Marvel’s best. (SC)

Daredevil #23

Daredevil #23

3. Dial H #9 (DC): After a down month, our #1 book of 2012 is back with a glimpse of what makes this book great: China Mieville’s seemingly boundless imagination–especially as it relates to his effortlessly sussing out superhero after glorious superhero.  Also worth celebrating is the fact that Alberto Ponticelli (with inks by Dan Green) has without a doubt found his groove; he’s taken ownership of Nelson and Roxie and the rest with his signature style–one reminiscent enough of Mateus Santolouco to make the series feel whole again. (SC)

Dial H #9

Dial H #9

2. Fatale #12 (Image): Our only carryover from last month, January’s best book takes a tiny step back on the list despite taking a giant step forward while taking its own giant leap back in time.  This second Fatale one-shot is yet another taut tale, one  that plays with our expectations–expectations expertly manufactured for us by a clever Ed Brubaker (with evocative art by Sean Phillips) during our torrid affair with Josephine Baker.  As consistent as this book is, it never fails to surprise–and that is the mark of a creative team at the very top of its game. (SC)

Fatale #12

Fatale #12

1. Saga #10 (Image): Claiming the top spot for the month is our #2 book of 2012.  Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples continue to intoxicate with their heady brew of space opera, screwball comedy and  familial intrigue. The sheer verve of the storytelling, filled to the brim with imagination and heart, makes this issue such a joy to read that (as with the aforementioned Batman Inc.) when tragedy does occur (and it does), the effect is not depressing. No, the effect of reading this wonder of a book is exultant. (DM)


The Biggest Dis(appointment): Batman #17 (DC) – We’ve already expressed our dismay of the story itself – this Joker tale to end all Joker tales was instead all sound and fury, signifying nothing. But given the events and the excellence of the aforementioned Batman Inc. #8, the existence of the whole “Death of the Family” story line is even more baffling.  Someone up the chain of command at DC must have known that this “epic” would conclude just before the publication of Morrison’s completely unrelated masterstroke (y’know, the one where someone actually dies.) Was “Death of the Family” then, spanning as many titles as it did, one giant MacGuffin (and a rather expensive one at that)? Was the relevance of Batman Inc. #8 toned down so as not to overshadow the Big Event (and possibly hurt sales)? Then, when Batman Inc. did come out, accompanied by a flurry of news coverage (‘natch!) who got left holding the bag? Sorry retailers who didn’t order nearly enough copies to satisfy the sudden demand! Sorry regular readers who couldn’t get their hands on the immediately-sold-out issue (unless they wanted to pony up $20 for a brand new comic). This whole farce had the neat effect of rendering Batman #17 even more irrelevant than it already was. It seems that, in the end (as Scott so eloquently put it in his initial review), the joke of “Death of the Family” was not on Batman, but on us. (DM)

Turning pages,

Scott & Derek

Advertisements