I literally had no earthly idea what to do a post on today, so I decided to go with the old standby, the ever (un)popular Retro Reviews!!! What's a Retro-Review you ask? Well, it's pretty self-explanatory, but since you asked I guess I'll explain it anyways... A Retro-Review is when I grab a random old comic from my MASSIVE comic collection and give it a half-assed review. Pretty simple, no? As an added bonus, I'll review a DC AND a Marvel comic in order to please you regardless of your comic company preferences! Alright, let's get this party started with a DC book...
Batman: Gotham Knights #44(October 2003):
Summary: This is the second part of a three part story looking back at the death(HA!) of Jason Todd. It also takes place in the past(just after Jason's excessively brutal death at the hands of the Joker), as well as the present. Since it makes the most sense, we'll start off in the past. We begin with a(thankfully) quick snippet of Jason's last moments as the Joker beats him with a crowbar and blows him up. Batman arrives a few minutes too late to save Jason and Jason's mother, and instead discovers the corpse of his adopted son. From there Bats is forced to change Jason out of his Robin attire before returning to the scene after the authorities had arrived as Bruce Wayne: mourning father. The Ethiopian authorities all want bribes to help Bruce bring the bodies of Jason and his mother back to the US, and since he didn't want to raise too many alarms about how Jason died, Bruce pays all of the required bribes. Upon arriving back in Gotham, Bruce burns the tattered Robin outfit Jason had been wearing, before telling Alfred to handle the funeral arrangements. Poor Alfred does as told, and is forced to view the horrendous condition Jason was left in, as the funeral director recommends a closed casket funeral. Nightwing is pissed off at both Batman and himself for not having trained Jason better, while Barbara Gordon is furious with Bruce, and Bruce alone, since she felt Bruce had rushed Jason into the Robin role, as well as warned Bruce that one day Joker would pull something as brutal as Jason's murder to really get at the Bat-family. From there we fast-forward a bit to Batman meeting Joker in the end battle of the “Death in the Family” storyline, which has Bats leaving a bullet riddled Joker to die aboard a crashing helicopter. Naturally, after going over the wreckage with Superman, Bats finds no trace of Joker's corpse. So why were we reliving these events in this issue? Because a social worker in Gotham felt that Jason's death needed further investigation and has reopened the case. The social worker's supervisor has recommended that the social worker simply leave the closed case alone, but the social worker can't shake the feeling that there was more to Jason's death then a simple terrorist bombing in some third world country. This issue ends with Bruce, Dick Grayson, Alfred and Tim Drake being forced to answer questions from the social worker the following issue.
Thoughts: This was a pretty good issue from a very strong storyline. I remember enjoying the first issue of this storyline more than this issue(that would be Batman: Gotham Knights #43), mainly because it had Jason, before Joker killed him, working a case with Babs as Batgirl. The flashback scenes were way better than the storyline from the present here, mainly due to the insight we got from the various members of the Bat-family concerning Jason's death. Bruce was his regular self, simply pushing all of his feelings away, Dick was full of anger, Alfred was angry with Bruce for the way he threw himself into his Batman work and wouldn't mourn Jason's death, and Barbara openly blamed Bruce for what happened, going so far as to say so during Jason's funeral. All in all, this three issue storyline is pretty good, and would definitely get a thumbs up from me.
Score: 8 out of 10.The look Babs shoots Bruce in that bottom panel is 24 different shades of awesome.
Avengers Spotlight #23(October 1989):
Summary: As was usually the case with this series, we get two stories focusing on two different Avengers. The first story is about my favorite Avenger, Hawkeye, and seems like the logical place to begin. We kick things off with Hawkeye being attacked by two c-list super-villains by the names of Bobcat and Mad Dog. The two villains talk cryptically about capturing Hawkeye and bringing him back to some undisclosed mastermind, but are unable to work together and begin to fight amongst themselves like... ugh... cats and dogs... With the two villains battling each other, Hawkeye uses the momentary distraction to fire a tear gas arrow at the villains before sneaking up an alley to recompose himself. Upon exiting the alley he is confronted by the Bullet Biker, yet another lame villain from Hawkeye's past. The Biker manages to get the upper hand on Hawkeye by tossing a grenade at him, which leads to Hawkeye losing his bow. Even without his bow though, Hawkeye is able to take Biker out with a well placed garbage can lid to the face. Hawkeye is next confronted by the Death Throws, a bunch of villainous jugglers... Yes really, villainous jugglers! The five evil jugglers juggle menacingly at Hawkeye, surrounding him and tossing various items at him. Hawkeye escapes by climbing up a utility pole and throwing an explosive arrow down at the Death Throws, putting them out of action. Pretty banged up from the invasion of c-list villains, Hawkeye heads to a nearby rooftop where he is confronted by his old mentor, Trickshot, which ends Hawkeye's story. The second story involves Vision, who recently changed his appearance and became more robot than man, going on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson to announce to the public that although his appearance had been altered, he was still the Vision.
Thoughts: I am a sucker for this series, so it should go without saying I enjoyed this trip to the past. As expected, I loved the Hawkeye story... I mean what's not to like in a story that has Hawkeye facing down a who's who of lame 1980's Marvel villains? The Vision story didn't really do anything for me, as it was supposed to be funny, but never seemed to click. That's pretty much how things went for me with those Avengers Spotlight/Solo Avengers comics though, I'd usually enjoy the lead Hawkeye story, while the back up tale about a different random Avenger was usually pretty bad. But come on, Hawkeye vs evil jugglers is a win in my book every time!
Score: 7 1/2 out of 10.What's worse than 1 evil juggler? How about FIVE evil jugglers!!!