Monday, March 29, 2010

Batman #697 & Batman: Streets of Gotham #10.

Hey there X-Maniacs, I've got two Batman related reviews on the agenda for tonight. Yeah I know, usually I do three reviews a post, but I've got a boatload of schoolwork to complete by Friday, and I'm trying to get everything out of the way before those deadlines start nipping at my heels(like they usually do!). Why such a busy week school wise? Well because next week I'm on Spring break(YAY!!!), and I guess my professors want to grade papers or something during their time off... As for me, what are my Spring break plans? Pretty much what my plans are whenever I have any down time, reading comic books and playing video games... Pretty exciting, no? Anyway, since most of you are reading this post to check out the worst comic book reviews on the Internet(I assume), why waste anymore time talking about myself? On to the shoddy reviews!

Batman #697: Writer & Pencils: Tony Daniel.
Last Issue: 6 out of 10.

This issue opens with a scene showing us that the guy wearing the Black Mask is trying to fight off the influence of the Mask, but proves unable to thanks to Fright. From there we head out to the battle for Devil's Square as Batman and his allies begin to carve their way through Mask's soldiers as they try to make their way to his layer. Batman breaks from the rest of his allies and begins to sneak towards Mask's shelter, while his posse keeps the attention of the bad guys. Upon entering Mask's base, Batman makes quick work of Professor Strange and Dr. Death, but is attacked by the Reaper. Batman hits Reaper with a slight antidote that shakes Reaper from his mental domination at the hands of Mask's cronies, and leaves him alone in the room with Dr. Death and Strange, warning Reaper not to kill the two mad scientists, since they may be able to fix up his decaying body. From there Bats narrowly avoids an explosion, and discovers a woman laying near the rubble of it. He goes to check on the woman, but it turns out to be Fright playing possum, and she spits some of her fear gas in his face, disorienting him. Black Mask sneaks up behind the prone Batman, but instead of simply shooting Bats in the back of the head, he has to taunt him first... You know, that's one of my favorite comic book pet peeves right there... Why taunt/alert the hero? Just shoot him in the back of the head and be done with it! No, instead we have to warn him so he can move... Man are villains dumb! OK, rant over. Mask shoots at Bats, but Bats manages to dodge the gunfire and Mask hits Fright instead... Whoops! Mask keeps shooting at Bats, and eventually hits something flammable, causing yet another explosion. Bats rushes Mask and knocks the Black Mask off of him, revealing... Dr. Jeremiah Arkham! So Nagash was right... From there we get a few epilogues, including Arkham now locked up in his own Asylum, several of Gotham's underworld bosses scrambling to grab some of the power left by Mask's defeat, and Catwoman seemingly preparing to train the infinitely annoying Kitrina Falcone as her own little sidekick, Catgirl. This issue ends with Bats taking the Black Mask's well, mask, and putting it in his own little trophy room.

Brace yourselves for what I'm about to type everybody... Are we all suitably braced? Yes? Alright then, here goes... I actually liked this comic! I picked it up having heard some terrible things about it(JT!), but surprisingly it wasn't NEARLY as bad as I thought it was going to be. Sure, it wasn't an instant classic or anything like that, but it was a pretty good comic with a decent enough story. The reveal that Mask was Arkham was... OK I guess. I was pretty sure that Mask was going to turn out to be Hush, especially with the clues Tony laid out last issue(the dual guns, the Aristotle quote, etc)but I guess they were all red herrings. In the end though, I'm glad Hush didn't turn out to be Mask, because I think Hush works better as his own man, not pretending to be some other character. I can't say any of the epilogues had me really excited for the future(Catgirl? Meh. Penguin trying to control Gotham's underworld? Meh.)but who knows, maybe Tony can surprise me again next month.

Score: 7 out of 10.I really don't have anything to say except that this is a cool image...

Batman: Streets of Gotham #10: Writer: Paul Dini. Pencils: Dustin Nguyen.
Last Issue: 8 out of 10.

Finally we're back to the Zsasz storyline that was last visited in issue #7. This comic starts off with Victor Zsasz, who is running an underground fight club where he forces street children to fight to the death, learning from one of his underlings that it's getting tougher to find kids to put in the club. Zsasz warns the underling that he either finds some kids, or he'll be facing off against Zsasz in the ring. From there we learn the origin of the guy in the trench coat(Abuse), who had been brutalizing several Gotham City criminals. It seems Abuse is actually the kid from the Heart of Hush storyline who was injected by the Scarecrow with Venom. It turns out that the kid(Colin)for some reason still has remnants of the Venom in his system, and that he can control it, using it to alter his form from a child to a hulk. Wanting to use his abilities for good, like his hero Batman, Colin took up the Abuse moniker and began wailing on those who would prey on kids. As such, he's been investigating the deaths of the children from Zsasz fight club. However, he isn't the only kid trying to find out who was responsible for the deaths of the street children, Robin(against the wishes of Batman)is also trying to hunt down any leads and winds up running into Colin by the river where many of the dead children's bodies have been washing up. While the two are discussing what each knew, Zsasz underling comes across them, and along with a few henchmen, capture the two children at gunpoint. The goons bring the kids to Zsasz factory and go to lock them in cages, but this only serves to piss Robin off, so he breaks one goon's arm and knocks a few of the other henchmen around. Upon seeing this, Zsasz's underling reports what was occurring by the cages to Zsasz, while Robin knocks Colin out(so he wouldn't be hurt), grabs one of Zsasz's swords and runs around the factory in search of the sick villain. Eventually Robin makes it to the ring, where a large crowd had gathered to watch the fights. Zsasz enters the ring with a knife and challenges Robin, who is of course all too happy to oblige. The two fight, and Zsasz's unpredictable fighting style proves to counter Robin's fighting skills, which leads to this issue concluding with Zsasz preparing to slice the downed Robin's throat.

Not bad, not bad at all. Before I go any further, I will admit that seeing Zsasz own Damian left me pretty pleased... I'm sorry, but I hate the kid! Even though I did enjoy seeing somebody hand the ultra-arrogant Damian his ass for a change, I will say that I was kind of surprised that it was Zsasz who did the honors... It's not like Zsasz was ever known for his fighting prowess, so the fact that he was able to trounce Damian was kind of out of character. Paul did an admirable job of trying to explain that Zsasz's unpredictability was too much for the studied Damian to overcome, but still... Besides that, I will admit to being surprised/impressed by the origin of Abuse. I had completely forgotten about that kid, and when he was giving his origin, I went, “Oh yeah, I remember him!!!”. That's the second bit character Paul has brought back from his Heart of Hush storyline, but this one was WAY better then the lame Dr. Aesop. The next issue seems pretty obvious, with Abuse rushing in to save Damian from his grisly fate, but I'll still be looking forward to it. Plus I REALLY want to see Zsasz get his comeuppance... Man has he been a real bastard during this storyline!

Score: 8 out of 10.Yes I hate Damian, but even I have to admit that this part was pretty cool.


  1. I am shocked that you gave that a 7 haha, I freaking hated that comic but to each their own. :P

    As for Streets I also loved Abuse's backstory and I too remembered him immediately. That kid is awesome and I'm hoping to see more from him. I hated Damian being an idiot and doing things Robin does and saying stuff only Robin should know and making it obvious as hell that he's Robin. That infuriated me SO much...

  2. I have yet to read Batman #697, I'll get to it eventually. Lol.

    And I know you're excited to be going on break. :D Lucky you! And um, if you DO play some video games, I think you have a couple friend requests on PS3/PSN *cough* JeffsJokerette *cough* *cough* ReelJokerJeff *cough* Man I have such a nasty cough, I should get some water for that. Lol, I'm just saying. :D

  3. I figured you'd be SHOCKED by my score for that Batman comic. I'm expecting some flak from Nagash as well. I went into that comic SO expecting to hate it too! Sure, it was pretty much Batman chasing Mask for the entire comic(as you astutely pointed out in your reviews), but I could forgive that because what else could they do? They had to draw it out, you couldn't just have Bats squash Mask on like page 5. In the end, I'm just glad Hush wasn't Mask. I think Hush deserves a better fate then that.

    Same here, hopefully Abuse gets some more play in Streets and even Sirens, since Paul is doing both books. Yeah, Damain introducing himself as Damian was pretty dumb to me, but then, Damian is SO arrogant, maybe he just doesn't care who knows who he is. Then again, I kind of think he got SO angry with that guy whose arm he broke that he stopped thinking. For all of his bravado, he is still just a kid(and a hot-headed kid at that), and kids do make mistakes. That's the way I rationalized Damian's actions.

    Ha, yeah, I really do need to remember that Falisha... Usually when I do have the time to play, I'll fire up something and just start playing one player. I haven't bothered to make a single PS3 friend since I've NEVER play anything online!

  4. I agree with you, I just hated that there was no explanation. Why not have him catch him on page 15 and at least tell us WHY he's black mask.

    Wow, you defending Damian?! Now I've seen EVERYTHING dude. Never expected that one :P

  5. Trust me JT, it feels weird and wrong to have defended Damian...

    As for the Black Mask thing, yeah, the lack of an explanation was kind of annoying, but I figure we'll probably learn more down the road about how Arkham came to become Black Mask... Probably!

  6. Lets hope its the last time you ever have to defend the kid.

    That just confused me even more, I mean why was Joker at the end of Arkham Reborn? And Arkham's patients were being tortured in I believe Streets recently by that 7 sins chick and Black mask so it's just confusing.

  7. Well, on the plus side I doubt I'll ever be defending Damian again... If I do though, that's as sure a sign as any that the apocalypse is imminent!

    Wait, Joker was at the end of Arkham reborn? Man, I think I've forgotten everything about that mini!

  8. They showed Joker dancing or something in around Akrham.. I don't know it confused the hell outta me. I was hoping you knew what was going on.

  9. Now that you mention it, I can kind of/sort of vaguely recall that... However, I'm just not interested enough to actually go through the trouble of pulling those books back out! :p

  10. Lol same here dude. Oh well, we'll just have to ignore that and hope they bring it back up...

  11. But they could've had Batman found it was Arkham earlier, have the monologue while he tries to kill Batman, oh, and you know, actually have some explanation about why the hell he's Black Mask.
    Though I did totally call it :D

    I suppose we'll learn about why Arkham became Black Mask in the next two Detective Comics, which I'll be forced to buy to read the Question stuff, even though I'm completely not interested in the Batman story in it and just want to get back to Batwoman and Flamebird (who just revealed to Kate that she is her cousin). Much more interesting story. But I have to wait three issues for that. ARGH! Especially because this story shows promise, Greg's really showing how Kate is affiliated with all these characters in some way. Plus, you know, happy go lucky cooky characters are getting to be rarer and rarer in the Gritty Age of Comics...
    [/Rant over, as long as nobody brings up Pixie Strikes Back ;) - it's my Yost/Kyle Trigger Button akin to X's]

  12. I guess DC wanted to drag out the Arkham/Black Mask thing for as long as possible... I don't know WHY, but that seems to be the direction they're going.

    "Plus, you know, happy go lucky cooky characters are getting to be rarer and rarer in the Gritty Age of Comics..." Man is that ever the truth! Nowadays everybody has to be some variation of Wolverine or Batman...

    And don't worry, I won't mention Pix... Umm that comic you hate!

  13. I don't really see why. It's not all that interesting anyway...

    Can we have more happy go lucky characters who don't get destroyed and taken down to the gritty levels please? It is somewhat irritating that nobody can do that...

    Just as I won't mention Yost/Kyle. Oops...

  14. Exactly! Dr. Arkham was never an interesting character to begin with, and if anything, him being Black Mask hurts Black Mask's reputation more then it helps Arkham.

    As much as I love comics from the 1990's, that was the decade where it seems EVERY character had to become gritty. Hopefully with Marvel's Heroic Age, and DC's Brightest Day, things will perk up a bit.

    GRRRR!!! >:-(

  15. Yeah. I didn't mind them killing off the original one, but replacing him with this looser?
    Wait, are we talking about Black Mask or the Tony S Daniel's written Batman?

    Wow. They really are 'syncing' up with their crossovers atm, aren't they? Highly likely to still be more death etc :(

    Do you want a Red Lantern Ring per chance?

  16. Arkham just adds nothing to the Black Mask character... Nothing. maybe Black Mask will become like a parasite or something, hopping from body to body when somebody dons his mask... Or maybe not...

    I'm so tired of all of the meaningless/shock value deaths by this point that when a character dies(unless it's one of my favs)I just tend to shrug it off. When you've got people dying in almost every other comic, it loses it's impact. Still, I am hoping that both Marvel and DC go in a less death-oriented direction... At least for a few months!

    Ha, I actually own a Red Lantern Ring! I'll bet that explains a lot!

  17. Either way, it sounds stupid and should just stop while it has a chance to. But it doesn't like they will - too many Arkham related comics will appear in the next couple of months

    There is far too much death in comics - there needs to be a reason behind each every one of them. I mean, sure, my stories may have death in em, for obvious reasons, but they're few and far between, because people do live for quite a while ya know ;)

    See, I own a Blue Lantern Ring, so when the worse comes to worse, I'll just have ta take it off for a minute ;)

  18. I was hoping we wouldn't be seeing much more of Arkham... Oh well...

    Exactly! I can completely understand occasionally putting a death at the end of a well thought out storyline, or to begin a huge crossover(like New X-Men #150 & Identity Crisis respectively), but putting a death in like every issue of a series just diminishes the impact of each subsequent death. I'll always point at post-decimation New X-Men as the ultimate example of meaningless deaths. Every time you turned the page it seemed like another character was being bumped off. After a while it was like, "Oh look, someone else is dead... Meh." Killing characters off is just lazy, and quite frankly stupid, because you might accidentally kill off the next Wolverine or Batman. I always say, if you don't want a character in the comic you're writing, write them out of the book in such a way that a later writer with a great idea can still go back and use that character.