Batman Rebirth Trade Post: Batman, Detective Comics & All-Star

As I mentioned when reviewing the first batch of DC Rebirth trades I went through, I’d lost touch with a lot of these characters since the New 52 hit and mostly rewrote the old continuity I loved. That’s not exactly the case with the Batbooks. I’ve read almost all of Scott Snyder’s volumes of the previous Batman series and a few other entries here and there like Batgirl and We Are Robin. Still, I thought it was interesting diving into these new takes on familiar titles and characters. Continue reading Batman Rebirth Trade Post: Batman, Detective Comics & All-Star

Trade Post: Batwoman Elegy

Written by Greg Rucka, drawn by J.H. Williams III
Collects Detective Comics #854-860

As far as I’m concerned, one of DC Comics’ biggest blunders in recent memory was not taking better advantage of 52 and the bevy of characters hinted at and featured therein, specifically Batwoman. The character got all kinds of press for being a lesbian (big deal, Rainmaker was out a decade before in Gen 13 and she wasn’t even the first) and yet didn’t get her own book. The last issue of 52 came out in July of 2007. Batwoman appeared sparingly but only took over Detective Comics in August of 2009, nearly two years later. That’s a great way to kill buzz. Anyway, with Batman RIPing, DC needed someone to take over Detective Comics and Batwoman turned out to be a pretty good choice.

Fantastic, actually. I had read most or at least some of these issues when I still worked for ToyFare and had access to all kinds of comics. This one was super popular though, so I didn’t really have the chance to stare at the pages as much as I would have liked. That’s something I really relished this time around. J.H. Williams III is truly a unique voice in the din of same-old-same-old comic aritsts. The things he does with layouts and panel set-ups is just amazing. I even had fun looking at his panels-within-panels to try and figure out what the shapes were supposed to be. Oh, duh, they’re BATS!

In addition to spending more time with the artwork, I also got to live in the story a little bit more which was more layered than I remembered. Even though I got to take my time, I still couldn’t help but read the book in two sittings. Greg Rucka wove a story–two actually, broken up into four issue arcs–that’s not only exciting and interesting on its own as a standalone story, but also absorbing for fans of the character’s minimal appearances. The first directly rolls out of 52 with Batwoman dealing with Alice, the new head of the cult that tried to kill her in the weekly series. The second story focuses on Kate Kane’s past from her early childhood to her time in the military to her training to become Batwoman. Not since Batman Begins have I seen an origin story so well done and make this much sense (within the world of superheroes at least).

Rucka didn’t shy away from potentially hot button issues like Kane’s sexuality and in fact embraces it. He even makes a fantastic argument against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell through Kate when she tells her superior that she can’t lie about being gay because that would go against the cadet code. That rigid honesty is something that should be lauded in the military and not an excuse to get rid of somebody. (I know DADT got repealed recently, but this book came out before that). Even though she slips at times she still shows her true character and retains the moral code she learned from her military father that serves herself and helps her become a hero.

All in all, I think Batwoman: Elegy is a pretty fantastic stand alone trade for anyone to pick up. There’s some in medias res stuff going on, but I think the basics are explained pretty well, even if you don’t get all the deets until the end of the second arc. I actually own the soft cover version (not the deluxe seen in the picture above) and got it thanks to a great deal on Thwipster a few weeks back. I highly recommend keeping an eye on that site either via email or Twitter or whatnot because there’s something for everyone on there. My only complaint is that the collection–which has a great Intro by Rachel Maddow–doesn’t include the following three issues which Rucka wrote, Jock drew and featured Batwoman teaming up with Batman. Would it have been such a big deal to include three more issues and charge a little more for a more robust collection? But hey, those are minor complaints for a book I not only greatly enjoyed, but also actually purchased (that doesn’t happen much) and will be keeping in the collection (which happens even less).

Comic Cartoon Double Feature: Hellboy Sword Of Storms & Batman Mysetry Of The Batwoman

I’ve been watching a lot of animated comic-based movies lately for a top secret project (not really, it’s a list of good and bad straight-to-DVD superhero cartoons). With the holidays and Netflix not being able to ship me the Christmas movies I wanted to check out like Santa Claus: The Movie, I ended up with a stack of these things and figured today would be a good day to go through some of them. Hey, the sooner I turn the article in the sooner I get paid.

I actually used to have a copy of Hellboy Animated: Sword Of Storms (2006) in my possession from my Wizard days. I thought I still had it, but must have passed it to someone else or put it on the free table. Anyway, after not really liking Hellboy 2, I wasn’t too interested in delving into that world anymore (yeah, I know this DVD came out before the sequel, but I hadn’t watched it yet), but I want to be complete any time I work on one of these lists, so I gave it a shot. And, as it turns out, I like this animated feature more than either movie.

Sword Of Storms captured the character of Hellboy who I love from the comics much better than the films, even though the voice cast carries over from the movies with Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Selma Blair coming back to voice Hellboy, Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman respectively. Oh, plus, you get a nearly panel-for-panel interpretation of the “Heads” story from the Chained Coffin And Other Stories TPB, which was a nice surprise.

The animators also did a pretty good job of nailing Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s style when it came to a few of the background and attacking characters like corpses and mummies. Aside from that, though, the animated versions of our well known heroes all looked pretty different from the comics. There’s a lot of good, weird Hellboy moments like a woman playing a stringed instrument until her fingers bleed and a talking fox that remind me more of the comics than the movies, which is nice.

Plus, Kate Spencer is actually in this one and she’s voiced by Roz from Frasier, also known as Peri Gilpin. I will say that the movie felt a little long and somewhat aimless at times, though that might be more a product of the comic-like story and Hellboy’s wandering journey through some kind of ghost dimension. Oh, and there’s a psychic B.P.R.D. agent who I wanted to punch in the face because he was too cartoony and over-the-top. Had they toned him down a bit, I think the overall film would have been much better.

Up next on the double feature was Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman from 2003, which I didn’t find nearly as fun or entertaining as Sword Of Storms. See, the plot almost exactly follows that other Batman animated movie Mask Of The Phantasm, which I didn’t like much either.

See, Batwoman’s out there causing trouble and it just has to be one of the three new female characters introduced in the first 15 or so minutes of the movie. Batman also seems to fall for the most obvious person potentially responsible without really questioning it or looking into it too much. And guess what, he’s right because SPOILER WARNING it’s all three of the new female characters wearing the costume. I didn’t see that coming by any stretch, but it also wasn’t that surprising because you KNOW it’s got to be one of the three female characters.

There were some fun fight scenes and action sequences, but overall it just wasn’t all that fun to watch. Plus, they decided to cast David Ogden Stiers as the Penguin and redesign him while all the other characters retained their voice actors and the appearance they had in the Animated Series’ later relaunch. I will say that the design on the Batwoman costume was fun, even though it’s really really similar to the on from Batman Beyond. It should be noted that TAS masterminds Paul Dini and Bruce Timm had nothing to do with this movie, at least as far as the credits on IMDb go, so that might explain why the quality isn’t as high as those cartoons. Ah well, it wasn’t a complete waste of time and definitely isn’t the worst of the animated bunch I’ve ever seen. Hopefully everything from here will at least be a little better though.