This week, we explore the godfather-run world of Lazarus, those wacky and Uncanny Avengers, and Batmen and Supermen running amuck on Earth 2. Who needs episodic television?
We’re back and we got announcements, kids!
And with us missing a few months of action, I give the half-year report of comics and where the publishers stand with their comic offerings today. Some good stuff from everybody, but makes you wonder if that will stick around in the next 10 years. Listen to find out why!
Swamp Thing #18 sees Scott Snyder wrap up the Green’s battle with the Rot and give a compelling end to the complex relationship between Swampy and Abby. But in the end, All New X-Men #8 sees Brian Michael Bendis keep bringing compelling character interactions with the original five X-Men being part of the present day. One freaks out, another is freaky. I’ll leave it at that.
It’s not every day that I get nice things. That changed when my friend won VIP tickets to an advanced screening at the Paley Center in NYC last Thursday. Warner Animation and DC have been doing this lately with their animated showings to get the hype going. And for me to see the 16th in DC’s collection of great animated movies and the most anticipated of the batch is the greatest honor.
For us Batfans, we all know how this goes. This is re-telling the Frank Miller story that not only changed the direction of a famed character to a more darker setting, but helped set that same mood and tone for future stories and characters to come. You can say that DC is still trying to relive that aura with all of their books in the New 52 (almost to a fault perhaps), but the industry itself has been greatly affected by what Dark Knights Returns was able to achieve.
Part 1 gave us the first two books in the saga with Bruce Wayne making his way back to the cowl to face the threat of Two-Face and the Mutants. He picked up a new Robin along the way. Saw the Commissioner hang it up. And Joker woke up.
No question that this was the one long-time fans wanted to see. Joker returning to his sadistic roots and the government lackey Superman will do that for you. What really set this adaptation going was that same mood and tone we got from the comic. This just went to darker places that even I didn’t think DC and Warner would have the guts to do even given the material they were working with. You felt it particularly with Joker’s appearances, which should be no surprise to anybody especially if you’re been reading Scott Snyder’s recent take on the character. I’m surprised the R rating wasn’t considered – guess I’ll see when my Blu-Ray copy arrives.
Speaking of the Clown Prince, give it up for Michael Emerson for giving me terrible nightmares. Something about the character just makes the actor playing him – to borrow a line from the flick – “lose control”. Anybody who’s seen Emerson play Ben on “Lost” can see that manipulative and sadistic side that works well with this character. It’s basically “Dark Knight” Joker times 11 – if that is even possible.
And then we have Mark Valley, fresh off a shortened stint on Human Target, taking on the Lackey of Steel. A fine performance where you didn’t expect much of the character to do much other than be the foil for Bruce that represents what he isn’t. He’s not likable here but yet wants to be because of the choices he made. Even though we know the outcome, it makes the final battle between these long-time friends/adversaries all the more sweeter.
Let’s not forget our regulars from the first showing – Peter Weller keeps the gritty going with a man who knows he’s coming to his end soon. I felt he brought a lot more to this than what was complained about in part 1 regarding his monotone interpretation of his lines. I could have used more “oomph” from his rally speech midway through the film, but it gets the job done. Ariel Winter kept providing some spunk to her Robin character, which was a nice contrast to the grim and gritty mentor she followed.
Sixteen movies done with these adaptations and DC and Warner seem to keep getting better when it comes to animation and fight sequences. They somehow have managed to master the pacing of the 75-minute movie and made it feel like it was more. Say what you will about a Batman in his 50s moving as fast as he does, but it sure makes for some well-choreographed battles.
I’m still conflicted on this and Under the Red Hood as my favorites of the batch. The latter still stays close to me because of how it unhinged itself from the source material (Infinite Crisis was prominent during the comic’s run) and made the story arc even better. But this is the granddaddy that the tone of all Bat books is based off for the last 25 years. It’d be hard not to celebrate it as one of the best. I’ll leave it open and say kudos to DC for once again reminding us for why we became fans.
2013 kicked off the year with a good range of titles for your reading enjoyment.
We first tackle Batman Inc #6, as Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham keep the pace going in Batman’s quest to stop Talia’s reign with Leviathan. Some great character dynamics with Bruce and Talia and a shocking death at the end that upped the ante. Burnham’s pencils are the real story, bringing every emotion to life as this war rages on.
We then say see you later to American Vampire with issue #34′s look into the past and future. Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque breathed new life into the vampire genre for the last 3 years and while the hiatus is not something we like to hear, it’s only going to mean better stories when the creative team is ready to move forward with this mythology.
Lastly, the pick honors go to Bendis and Immonen making All New X-Men a treat with issue #5. We’re really seeing a resurgence of X-Men in the last few years and this keeps the trend going. One could have easily balked at bringing the original five to the current timeline and call it a fad, but it’s brought some excellent character interactions and dialogue that Bendis is known for. Immonen is the icing on the cake with his slick pencils, though you have to wonder how long he can keep it up with this book seemingly coming out weekly. It’s a ride I’m enjoying nonetheless.
It’s that time once again. I quickly take a look back at 2012 and look forward to 2013, but otherwise – we’re narrowing it down to the top 5 books of CBF for the year and picking the one that stood out. A strong list, but only one can prevail. What are your thoughts on the top picks for 2012?
Best to the new year!