Last week was so light, this column didn’t actually happen. On the other hand, this week is a solid performer. We’ve got a core Bat-book, along with a slate of three strong second-tier books. It’s a good week to make a run to the comic shop.
Batman and Robin #19
This month concludes “The Sum of Her Parts,” a fill-in arc by Paul Cornell that has filled a gap between Grant Morrison’s exit and the arrival of new ongoing team (from Green Lantern Corps) Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Having said that (as has been mentioned in previous columns), calling Cornell’s arc a fill-in is something of a disservice, given the pejorative nature of that term in the comics industry.
Last month gave us the revelation of who exactly the Absence (a new villain that has been bedeviling figures from Bruce Wayne’s romantic past) is. One of Bruce’s many cover story “girlfriends,” she, like so many others, fell in love with a man who needed nothing more from her than an alibi for his nighttime whereabouts, so as to better avert suspicion about Batman’s identity. The difference in the Absence lay in her “death,” dumped into the chemical-filled river in Gotham City…where she changed.
Cornell’s story has had a really cool feel reminiscent of the best parts of Tim Burton’s Batman movies. Bruce’s love life has been central to the story, along with some slight nods to the supernatural (or is it?). More importantly though, in much the same way that Burton’s flair for visuals did, Cornell’s story has made Gotham City itself in a key point, with that hell-hole of a city almost a character on its own.
As good as Tomasi and Gleason’s run looks to be, one has to be sorry to see Cornell leave so soon.
With that whole pesky “framed for murder, chased by the police” thing finally out of the way, Batgirl’s life can finally get back to normal. Or, well, what passes for normal, at any rate.
Last month, the conflict between Batgirl and the Reapers (or the Order of the Scythe, as they also call themselves) was resolved, albeit temporarily. Oracle and Batgirl worked together to uncover something resembling the truth; subsequently, while the motive behind the murder that Batgirl was framed for is still not 100% clear, her “guilt” is no longer an issue for the Gotham City PD.
This month, Batgirl begins work on her first real assignment for Bruce Wayne’s Batman Incorporated, something which will clearly cause a great amount of excitement on her part. What won’t, on the other hand, is that she is being paired with Bruce’s son (and current Robin), Damian Wayne for said assignment. To say that Stephanie and Damian have a complicated relationship would be putting it mildly. As he has been month in and month out, Miller looks to bring his usual mix of solid superhero storytelling and the witty banter that one doesn’t always expect from a Batman universe book. The back-and-forth between Damian and Stephanie should be worth the price of admission alone.
Red Robin #19
Last month saw Red Robin (Tim Drake-Wayne) traveling to Moscow, along with Tam Fox (daughter of Bruce Wayne’s CEO, Lucius Fox), to track down information on the Society, a sort of union for supervillains. Tim believed that a Russian business magnate was in bed with the Society, funneling money from the Calculator into legitimate enterprises as a front. In doing so, Red Robin ran afoul of his former Teen Titans teammate (and Russian national, albeit powered by alien technology), Red Star.
When last we saw the scion of the Wayne family and his partner, Robin and Fox were both unconscious, one on the deck of Red Star’s ship and the other on the floor of their hotel room, both of their brains scrambled by a pulse sent out through the Unternet (an Internet for villains, naturally).
This month finds Tim and Tam (which is so cutesy together as to make one nauseous) drawn into the Unternet itself. Well, their minds are, at least. Trapped in a world where Tim’s subconscious takes the form of the Riddler and every villains’ subconscious desires are made possible, Tim must escape with not only his sanity, but also Tam’s. And any evidence about the Society would be a big help, of course.
As usual, expect Red Robin to be a book full of solid superhero fun. It isn’t really groundbreaking work that we’re all going to celebrate twenty years from now as a golden age of graphic storytelling, but Marcus To draws the hell out of this book and Fabian Nicieza is clearly having a really good time writing this, which translates to a good time for the readers as well.
Also hitting the shelves this week are Knight and Squire #4, Birds of Prey #8, and Batman: Joker’s Asylum Vol. 2, collecting the second fifth-week event of that name.