Comics I Read: Catching Up #26 (Bat-edition)

Batman: Streets of Gotham 8-10: I guess they had some kind of deadline problem with #8-9, because guest writer Mike Benson’s story has clearly been on the shelf for a while. Even though the name isn’t used, Batman’s behavior and internal monologue are clearly Bruce Wayne and not Dick Grayson. (He’s drawn with longer hair when he’s out of costume, but he’s also in disguise then.) Furthermore, I didn’t really get why this was a Batman story at all. I do like straight crime stories with Batman (as opposed to costumed villains) but there isn’t anything he does in this story that a competent crime scene tech and an undercover police detective couldn’t have accomplished. We know there are cops that Gordon can trust – see “Gotham Central” for instance – so he didn’t need Batman for this case at all. (Other than that there wouldn’t have been a story, of course.) Fortunately, the return to Paul Dini’s ongoing story in #10 is a terrific chapter featuring Damian and a kid vigilante. Artist Dustin Nguyen and the Manhunter backup are excellent in all three issues.

Gotham City Sirens 8-10: #8 is a much better fill-in than the ones above, plotted by artist Guillem March and scripted by “Manhunter” writer Marc Andreyko. This is the first thing that March has written that I’m aware of, and I’m impressed. Paul Dini’s return in #9-10 is even better though, featuring the Riddler possibly reverting to his old ways and the return of one of Dini’s villains that I had forgotten about. Unfortunately, March’s art missing from #10 and his replacement for the issue is not as good.

Batman: Brave and the Bold: “Chill of the Night”: While we’re talking about Paul Dini, I want to mention that he wrote last week’s episode of Brave & Bold on Cartoon Network, and it’s one of the darkest Batman animated episodes ever (including “Batman: The Animated Series”). Don’t let the teaser, featuring Zatanna (of course), fool you: try to catch a rerun. Even if you’re not a fan of this series in general, this episode is that good. The picture above should give you a good idea of what the story is about, and the voices of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill are featured as The Phantom Stranger and The Spectre. (I won’t spoil the surprise of who voices Thomas and Martha Wayne.)

Batgirl 6-8: The end of the story in #6-7 with Batgirl and Robin teaming up to help Batman is great (Damien: “Now that I don’t have that dreadful shrew holding me back…” Stephanie (behind him): “I’m a what now?”), and it sets up the agreement of the Batman/Robin and Oracle/Batgirl teams to work together. As I said in an earlier entry, the “Red Robin” crossover in #8 is also really good. (But I was wrong about the “Dr. Mid-Nite” joke – it originated here, not in Tim’s book.)

Detective Comics 861-863: The absence of J.H. Williams III takes this down from the best thing that DC’s publishing down to one of the best, but Jock is a great artist and the book is still excellent. The Question backup is part 3 of 4, so I guess we have at least one more issue before Greg Rucka moves on. I can’t help but fear for the fate of these great characters with Rucka gone. I know it’s a shared universe, but Rucka has pretty much exclusively guided these characters, especially Renee Montoya, for years, and good things have not happened when he didn’t. (Anybody remember The Question joining the Global Peace Agency at the end of “Final Crisis”? Anybody?)

Batman and Robin 7-11: #7-9 are the exception to what I just said: Grant Morrison does a great job with Batwoman, although I could make the argument that it’s not as “down to earth” as the stories she most belongs in. These issues also settle the question of who was the Batman body at the end of “Final Crisis”, which I recommend not thinking about too hard. This leads the way in #10-11 for Dick and Damian to realize that Bruce Wayne is still alive. I love the way this revelation turns the whole of Wayne Mansion into a puzzle to be solved, which Dick is enthusiastic about -- not realizing that Damian is attached to him and is worried about having to leave if his father comes back.


  1. So it is. The correction has been made, thanks.

  2. DC announced today that J.H. Williams III will be writing and drawing a new Batwoman ongoing, so that's about the best possible result short of getting Greg Rucka to stay on. No word on whether Williams will use any of the stories that Rucka had already worked out. (Alice's kidnapping from her point of view, for instance.)


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