Back to DC with two comics which are probably going to have the best chance at breaking my long drought of no perfect scores... Seriously, I haven't handed out a perfect score since July 15th, a streak of nearly a month! Considering I read in excess of 65 new comics every month, that's quite the drought for me... Fingers crossed that drought ends today!
Summary: We get this party started with Batgirl(the FANTASTIC Stephanie Brown) confronting her thought to be dead father, the Cluemaster, in his prison cell, where he had been manipulating events to get Steph to the jail he was incarcerated at... In a bizarre, super-villainy way, that's brilliant. Steph is none too pleased that Cluemaster had put as many people in danger as he had simply to see her, and she prepares to leave him in his cell while she deals with the riot raging outside. However, Cluemaster acts cryptically crazy and starts telling Steph that he had taken up a secondary hobby, gardening... With her interest piqued by the crazy words of her father, she walks over to his little gardening area and discovers he was cultivating Black Mercy plants(!). Steph tells her father how dangerous/illegal those things were, as Cluemaster grinds one of the plants up into dust. Totally confused by her father's antics, Steph approaches, and Cluemaster blows the dust into Steph's face, forcing her to live her fantasy life. Before succumbing to the Mercy though, Steph managed to throw a gooperang at the wall, which snares Cluemaster, preventing him from escaping his cell. After several days of hallucinations, Steph wakes up at the hospital, where her mother is watching over her... Steph is relieved that she still had her mask on, but soon finds out that Steph's mother knew Steph had been doing the Batgirl thing and was proud of her. After being released, Steph meets up with Barbara Gordon, AKA that usurping bitch, and the two talk about Steph's run as Batgirl, and the ups and downs that came along with it. With that, Steph swings off of the rooftop as Batgirl for the final time, ending this issue.
Thoughts: This was a very good (and sappy!) comic that was carried by Bryan Q. Miller's incredibly strong dialogue, and Pere Perez's sweet artwork. A lot of the comic consisted of full page splashes of Steph's various hallucinations, and were all REALLY well done(I'll be posting my favorite one at the end of this review). Miller's dialogue was fantastic as usual, and I think I'd safely put him in the same category as Dan Slott and Peter David as one of the best comic book dialogue writers in the business today. My only real problem with this issue was the story, which was kind of weak. There really wasn't a battle, per se, although you could look at the verbal sparring between Steph and her father as a battle of sorts. On top of that, I have NO idea how Cluemaster was able to get Black Mercy plants into his cell... I mean those things are alien plants, and would HAVE to be considered some serious contraband! I get why Miller added the Mercy to the story, to show us all of the great times Steph could/should/would have had if this series continued, but Cluemaster having an alien plant in his jail cell was bizarre to say the least! Other than that though, this was a great comic and a strong, if VERY bittersweet, ending to one of my favorite monthly DC titles... Good-bye Steph. And good luck with the reboot...
Score: 9 out of 10.You KNOW that's my new desktop background!!
Detective Comics #881:
Summary: This issue gets started with Batman(Dick Grayson) promising Commissioner Gordon that he would find Barbara Gordon, who had been kidnapped by Gordon's psychotic son, James Jr. Upon waking up, Babs finds herself James Jr's captive, at which point James begins to reveal that yes, he was indeed stark-raving mad. To hammer home how crazy he was, James Jr tells Babs that he was given an experimental drug that gave him a degree of empathy, which led him to believe that people with empathy were weak, and that people like him(psychopaths), were going to be the true inheritors of the Earth. Babs and James have a conversation about how Babs always knew James was a psychopath, even from the first time they met as children, and how that relieved James, since it meant that he wasn't the only one who thought there was something wrong with him. The two then discuss some of the evil, vindictive things James had done to people over the course of his life, before James shows Babs that he had jammed two knives into the femoral arteries in both of her legs. In other words, if one of those knives were pulled out, Babs would bleed out in a matter of minutes. After tiring of his talk with Babs, he tears one of the knives out and picks up one of Babs secure communication devices, signaling Bats. Bats, who had been canvasing Gotham hoping to find a trace of James and Babs, is surprised that a) James had called him, and that b) James was calling him Dick, meaning that James knew Dick and Bats were one and the same. James explains that it was actually Dick who lured James back to Gotham, as he felt that Dick was his polar opposite. Whereas James had NO feelings towards others, Dick, in James' mind, felt TOO strongly towards others. To deal with that, James tells Dick that he was going to kill Babs, and then Commissioner Gordon, before vanishing again, figuring that losing two people he cared so strongly about would leave Dick a broken man. Naturally Dick tells James that he'd find him and bring him to justice, before telling James that he had foiled James' plot to introduce a drug into a factory that created baby formula, a drug that would create children as psychotic as James was. James simply tells Dick that maybe he did halt James' plans, or maybe James had already introduced the drug into the formula months ago, and allowed Dick to learn about his plans so that Dick would never know if he prevented the poisonings or not... With that, James tells Dick he was done talking and was ready to finish off Babs, at which point he turns around and finds that Babs had wheeled herself away from James while he was chatting with Dick. James goes after Babs, and following the trail of blood she was leaving behind, jumps around the corner where Babs was hiding, at which point Babs pulls the other knife out of her leg and stabs James in the eye(!!!!)! James collapses to the floor as Babs falls out of her wheelchair and begins to crawl across the room to get help. Babs happens to look back and sees James, with the knife STILL jammed in his eye socket, getting up and telling Babs that she shouldn't have done that(!!!). James begins to stalk Babs as she tries to crawl away from him, losing more and more blood as she went. Before James could stab Babs, Bats arrives on the scene and punches James in the stomach, knocking him over. Bats then rushes over to Babs and tells her that he would cauterize the wounds in her legs to prevent her from losing anymore blood. Unfortunately, this act allows James Jr. the opportunity to escape from the apartment he was holding Babs in. James strolls across a bridge in Gotham(with a knife STILL jutting out of his eye!!), gloating that he was free when he is shot in the leg. James turns around and sees his father standing there, gun in hand, telling James that it was over. James goes to stand up when Gordon shoots his deranged son in the other leg, this time sending James over the side of the bridge. Before James can plummet to his death, Gordon rushes over and grabs James' arm, finally having caught his son. A few days later, Dick is clearing out the lab Wayne Enterprises lent to the Gotham PD since the Gotham PD had never really used it. Gordon approaches Dick and thanks him for everything he's done for him, on all fronts, before the two discuss the one piece of unfinished business from James' madness, the potential poisoning at the baby formula factory... Dick tells Gordon that after several tests, there was no way to tell if James was telling the truth about whether he'd gone ahead and poisoned the formula several weeks ago, because the drug would have dissipated by now. This issue then ends with Dick and Gordon looking out the window watching a baby in a stroller, wondering what the future would bring.
Thoughts: I've got to say, Scott Snyder has earned himself a devoted fan in me after this storyline. I guess I could go back even further and say not just this storyline, but his entire Detective run... Snyder's work is SUCH a breath of fresh air from Grant Morrison's occasionally too insane to understand Bat-books and Tony Daniel's just plain bad Bat-books. He absolutely NAILED presenting us with an eerie feel throughout this entire comic book. He took a little known character and did such an amazing job with him that he nearly puts the Joker to shame! I mean goddamn, James Jr. is probably one of the most frightening Bat-villains I've read about in years! He's not dressed in some garish costume, he's not running around trying to kill hundreds of Gothamites, he's not broadcasting his next move to the world at large, he's just an unassuming, utterly psychotic man torturing, tormenting and killing people simply because he can. And really, that's probably scarier than all of the Mr. Freezes and Riddlers in the world put together. I'd be remiss not to applaud the job Jock and Francesco Francavilla did here with the art, because their artwork PERFECTLY matched the tone Snyder set forth with the story. The art was dark and shadowy, with lots of blacks and reds used to create the nightmarish scene that James Jr was living in. Seriously, this storyline was a psychological masterpiece that you rarely find in a comic book. Does it break my non-perfect score streak? What do YOU think?!
Score: 10 out of 10.Don't think James Jr is as creepy as the Joker? Then you must not have read this comic.