Given how many books I’ve let pile up in the meantime, I’m just going to be very brief and cover the comics in overview, specifically citing “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” as a format.
You can rely on Batman, Detective Comics, and Batgirl to be a great source of entertainment in the post-reboot era.
While I get snippy with Gail Simone’s soap-box activity and political mouthing off in her material, I’ll gladly say that she has earned the opportunity to take moments to offer her politics in her stories. You can either be a great political commentator and write poor quality stories, such as Upton Sinclair’s success with The Jungle and inspiring Theodore Roosevelt into sending FDA inspectors into the Chicago meat packing industry to (try and) put greater control and regulation into what happened with the food the public ate. Or, you can write like Leo Tolstoy for War and Peace and create one of literature’s greatest dramas, while firing off some weird anarcho-Christian polemics about Napoleon and society. If you can’t do either, then you shouldn’t be writing.
Gail Simone, though, is doing marvelous work with Batgirl. While people can complain against the editorial staff for initiating the reboot and taking Barbara Gordon out of her wheelchair, you can applaud Simone for her work of detailing Batgirl’s life as she tries to get back into the swing of things as a caped crusader. While struggling with Mirror, she goes through her self-doubts of still being a capable detective and crime-fighter. Meanwhile, she’s having a hard time putting her personal life in order after her traumatic encounter with the Joker all those long, infamous years ago. While, yes, we have lost someone who was a greatly admired case of being a handicapped person who was more than capable to contribute back to society, Simone provides us with a damaged woman who we root for as she rebuilds her life.
Meanwhile, Batman is doing good in his solo series as he continues battling the Court of Owls and their assassin, The Talon. The entire organization, its macabre dealings and its history that reaches back to the time of Jonah Hex and further gives us a new villain and evil society befitting of Batman as he’s reintroduced for the new millenium. Unlike Barbara, though, Bruce Wayne isn’t being recast as someone made weaker and recovering. He’s Batman, the trauma we all know is there and will always be there. The only changes that can be made are subtle and slight. So, we can only rely on tough villains who can give Batman a worthy challenge. The Court of Owls does just that.
And, of course, we have the series that gives DC it’s name, Detective Comics. This series has been going “middle road” in its story-telling. Yes, it’s good. It’s fittingly disturbing and gritty noir, as anything with the titleDetective Comicsshould be. But, it might have that as a crutch to lean upon. After all, many readers cried foul when it was revealed that Joker had a run in with the Dollmaker who went Buffalo Bill fromSilence of the Lambson his face. But, at least Batman is Batman and flexes both his brawn and brain and compassion in dealing with his allies and enemies alike. I was especially pleased with his ever-present concern for Dollmaker’s victims and his urgency in rescuing everyone’s favorite policeman, Commissioner Gordon.
Nightwing. That’s all I need to say. Poor Dick Grayson’s laboring under the unfortunate circumstance of having gone from a heroic crusader aiding Batman and the extended “Bat-Family” in Gotham to being the guardian angel of a travelling circus. While, yes, I can see how emotionally involved Grayson is with protecting his old home and “family” at Haly’s Circus, but even with it travelling to new cities all the time and potentially opening up all these angles for fighting crime all across the United States… The fact it’s all part of a circus can lead to a disjointed mood. Hey, yeah, I know, everyone loves the Joker and that’s his schtick. But, that’s just it: it works for Joker. Not a member of the Bat-Family. As we wait to see how the rest of his prolonged threat from “Saiko” plays out, we’re just going to have to knuckle under and hope this series picks up.
Batman and Robin is really dragging. This is no surprise. The only real surprise that’s part of it is that Peter J. Tomasi is the one helming the script. Given how awesomely he’s worked on theGreen Lantern properties, it’s quite upsetting to see him come across with this half-hearted story of yet another Batman wannabe villain trying to challenge Bruce to switch over from his “Thou Shalt Not Kill” rule. And I say this in spite of him being Ducard’s son, one of the quintessential mentors to Batman when Bruce was studying martial arts overseas. After all, his name is “Nobody.” I hate that about as much as the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. anacronym for the villains inTeen Titans. And I like Teen Titans.
If I can sum it up, aside from the boring nature of Nobody, in spite of hisOdysseyinspiration, the greater trouble comes from the fact that Bruce and Damian are rather unlikeable people. We, basically, get hurled back into the awkwardness of Damian’s behavior when he first signed on with Dick Grayson whenhewas Batman. And, yeah, that’s fine for the fact that this is a reboot… But, it doesn’t make him any less unpleasant. Nor is Bruce as compassionate or relateable in his humanity as he is in his solo series orDetective Comics. We’ll just have to hope that Tomasi’s excellent skills find their stride as a defender of Gotham rather than the legendary Green Lanterns.