The Good, The Bad, The Meh by Alex Correa
Batman 17 (Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo)
One of the most anticipated issues of the year and I decided to break up my review in a before and after of having read it, completely devoid of spoilers.
The concluding issue of the thrilling rollercoaster rude that has been the Death of the Family arc, guest starring the Joker. Nothing will be the same. Right? Call it cynicism or maybe you can call it being comic book savvy (I like to think it's somewhere in between) but when this arc kicked off, it seemed like a lot of the same old bells and whistles that typically accompany the Joker's presence; you know, he's unpredictable, he's killing cops, and he's crazier than ever! So what did I think were the chances of a dramatic change actually coming to the Bat-books? Not a very good chance, to be honest. Since the start of this arc, it seemed like most readers hinged their expectations on a huge reveal or death. I, the cynical/savvy comic reader, decided early on to not buy into the hype and enjoy the book for what it's worth, despite the multitude of readers predicting and scouring for spoilers. Reader reactions have been as fanatical as you would expect and that's thanks to Scott Snyder's brilliance. At the end of it all, it's a venture into how much he can tease and poke at and prod his readers with heavy hints, tons of metaphors chock full of foreshadowing. I would call Snyder the Clown Prince of Crime, if his crime is to aggravate a reader base with strong storytelling that comes apart quite a bit during the conclusion. To be fair, I'm describing the mostly-enthralling Court of Owls arc as it shares quite a few similarities with Death of the Family. That big reveal, in particular, didn't work for me. The savvy-cynic in me knows that when you introduce an element that works mostly for shock value, it's not meant to last.
With the rage out of the way and expectations set to moderate, I will now read the concluding part to Death of the Family.
Better than expected and a simple, yet solid, twist. It may not stand the test of time as the Killing Joke has but it was a fun arc that will serve as a time capsule of the Joker in this era.
Batman & Robin 17 (Peter J. Tomasi & Pat Gleason)
Buy this issue. Tomasi and Gleason are one of the most underrated teams in comics today and deserve more recognition. This issue is a stand alone read that -oddly and eerily - borrows elements from Neil Gaiman's Sandman and blends them seemlessly with Bat-canon in this nightmareish tale. Gleason's heavy shadows and clean lines enriches the artwork, and in turn, matches the atmosphere similar to that of the Vertigo classic. Again, pick it up.
Powers Bureau 1 (Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming)
Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are back! But they aren't cops. They're FBI agents now. It's no secret that I hold the original Powers run in very regard since it shows just how great creator owned work can be when unrestricted and the creators seem to be having fun with the project.
Usually when Bendis decides to fit political issues in his story, it comes out way over the top and underwhelming like Scarlett. However, he uses real world events in a convincing manner, as out of control "powers" are used as a metaphor for gun control issues that are very much the topic of heated debate. It gets to the heart of the issue without being preachy. More importantly, it has the same Powers feel, full of crude humour and sometimes-ridiculous gore.
Ultimate Spider-Man 20 (Brian Michael Bendis & Sara Pichelli)
It's unfortunate to see what happened to this title that was once at the top of my pull list (there has to be a better way to say that). Mile Morales was the most intruiging character of 2011 with a narrative that I couldn't wait to get more of. What happened? Well, what happened is the same thing that happens to most Marvel books during crossover season. Its momentum hits a brick wall because the writer is forced to create a tie-in, almost always in a ham-fisted way, so as to sell more issues. Well done, marketing. So Venom shows up and it's nowhere near as impactful as it would have been had Miles not dicked around with the Ultimates for whatever reason. President Captain America? President America? I don't know. Is Jeph Loeb back or something?