Sunday, July 19, 2009

Batman #688

This issue is written by Judd Winick and drawn by Mark Bagley, whose work I've always admired.

-This issue begins with Dick busting up a gun sale put together by some of Penguin's men. Not only does Dick bust up the sale, he also allows nearby security cameras to get a good look at the sale, something Bruce would NEVER do, which helps the cops make the charges stick.

-Penguin is unhappy about the blundered sale. I guess that should be kind of obvious, right?

-We end this issue with Two-Face, who is studying the surveillance footage of Dick taking down the Penguin's men. Two-Face has battled Batman enough times to spot a phony, which is exactly what he thinks Dick is. Two-Face orders one of his men to dig up as much dirt on Penguin's operations as possible and then to leak it all to Batman. Two-Face wants Dick to go after Penguin, while he sits back and tries to figure out who the current Caped Crusader is.

-Other Developments: Three weeks from the events of this comic, a mystery person is going to beat the hell out of Dick in the Batcave while telling him they know he isn't Batman... Commissioner Gordon has been lighting the Bat-signal every other day for the past two weeks, seemingly in case Dick wanted to stop by to talk. Huh, that's kind of weird... Dick complains to Alfred about how narrow the eye slits are on his mask and how heavy the cape is, to which Alfred laughs. Dick is definitely a different Batman than Alfred is used to... Dick and Damian have a training session, in which Dick tries to teach Damian to keep his emotions in check during a fight...

This was an enjoyable comic, but I have to ask, WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO THE SCARECROW??? I mean, I'm not going crazy, right? Didn't last issue end with Dick confronting Scarecrow on a bridge in Gotham? I actually went and pulled out my issue of Batman #687, just to make sure I wasn't losing my mind. Sure enough, Dick and Scarecrow were preparing to go to war as that issue concluded. I guess Judd thinks Scarecrow is such a lightweight that the outcome of the fight was a forgone conclusion! I understand that we all know Dick was going to easily defeat Scarecrow, but it did bug me a little bit that Scarecrow is treated like an after thought while Penguin is treated like a heavyweight... Let me make something perfectly clear here, I HATE the Penguin! I get that DC wants him to be their answer to Marvel's Kingpin, but I just can't get into a character whose whole shtick is that he looks like a penguin! Whenever I see the Penguin, I can't help but roll my eyes. He doesn't look intimidating, he doesn't act intimidating, he really doesn't bring ANYTHING to the table. Now Black Mask would be the PERFECT crime lord for Gotham City. He has the look, the act, everything. No, we get the tired old Penguin... Bravo DC...

Now that I have my Penguin rant off my chest, I can get back to this issue. The big mystery to come out of this comic is who is going to beat Dick up in the Cave in three weeks time? My guess is going to have to be Two-Face. Harvey has already figured out that the current Batman isn't his usual foe, and Harvey has fought Dick enough times that he should be able to deduct that it is his old sparring partner, Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing currently behind the cowl of the Batman. The main problem with Two-Face laying the beatdown on Dick in the Cave is the location of the fight, the Cave. To my knowledge, Harvey has no clue as to the whereabouts of the Cave, and more importantly, Dick isn't even using the Cave as his base anymore! So, maybe Two-Face is a red herring... That takes us back to the original question, who is our mystery man? Who knows the location of the Batcave? Ra's Al Ghul? Nah, he seems to be pestering Tim in Red Robin. Maybe the Riddler? Um, how the HELL could Riddler beat Dick in a fight? Nope, it can't be Riddler... Jason Todd maybe? I'd say yes, definitely, but I think it's a wee bit too soon for Jason to make a comeback. Ah, how about Hush? Hush fits every criteria. He knows where the Cave is AND he'd probably be able to give Dick a decent fight. The only problem is, last I remember, he's locked up in Wayne Tower(I think). Still, I'd love for it to be Hush, he's a pretty awesome villain.

For a score, I'm going to give this comic a very strong 9 out of 10, and I'm also going to make a controversial statement, one that I'm certain many of my fellow bloggers will take immediate umbrage with. I think this series is better than Grant Morrison's "Batman and Robin"! Yep, I said it! The first two issues of Judd's run have been(to me anyway)more straightforward, easier to read and just plain better than Grant's first two issues of Batman and Robin. Plus I think Two-Face is a WAAAAY better foe than Pyg. OK, I've thrown down the gauntlet, "Batman and Robin" fanboys, return fire!


  1. Oh no you didn't!!! You just called out the Batman and Robin crowd, of which I am a devoted member!

    Unfortunately, I can't really "return fire" because I dropped Batman after Winick's first issue after the relaunch. It was okay, but it wasn't enough to bring me back for more. Batman and Robin is just so...fresh. I love the Dynamic Duo's new dynamic, and Grant Morrison is...well, he's Grant Morrison.

  2. Haha, I knew I could count on you to respond to my taunt Robert! As I was typing out that line I was thinking to myself, "I bet Robert responds to this!".

    I too enjoy the works of Mr. Morrison, but as I've said before, his Batman stuff just isn't grabbing me yet. I'm still holding out hope(because like you said, it's Grant Morrison!), but to be honest, I'm starting to doubt his Bat run is going to impress me like his New X-Men run did.

    For example, I kind of wish Grant would use/revitalize some of Batman's more well-known villains like Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, etc. Instead, we get bizarre stuff like Toad and Pyg... It just seems like most of Grant's run has involved the Al Ghul's(which I liked)or weird, obscure stuff like Dr. Hurt and the Batmen of All Nations(which I didn't care for).

  3. Yeah, you make a lot of good points. I also wish Morrison utilized some of the established Bat-villains, but so far, that's just not the case. I think part of that is because Morrison wants new villains for the new Batman and Robin.

    Also, I have to say that I'm really looking forward to his second story arc on the series, which will see the return of the Red Hood (most likely Jason Todd). I think the Dick/Jason rivalry will be akin to the real Batman/Joker rivalry from here on out. That might be interesting.

  4. Ah, that is something I did not know. A Jason Todd storyline might be just what the doctor ordered. I for one would LOVE to see Grant work his magic on Jason... Just thinking about that potential storyline gets me excited! Of course if Damian beats the hell out of Jason I might just go totally insane! :)

  5. Some good debate going on here guys. Here's what I think.
    Im not a winick fan but he has written the last two issues quite well. I was not crazy about Batman 688 overall though as Im not a fan of Bagleys art. Just dont like his style. Also unlike you x-man Im bored of the usual bat villains like two face and penguin being used in Batman.
    Like Robert I do prefer Batman & Robin. I like the new villains Morrison introduces. But I was one of the few who loved Batman RIP. I hated it when I read it every month, but when it was over I read the whole of Morrisons Batman run in a couple of sittings and it was a totally different and brilliant experience.
    Having said that, of the 'Batman Reborn' titles, Im gonna say that Batman Streets of Gotham trumps both Batman & Batman & Robin. First 2 issues have been excellent. Both you guys should check it out if you havent already.

  6. I don't know, I still would love to see what Grant could do with a character like Two-Face. Huh, Matthew you actually liked the RIP storyline? Maybe I should go back and give it a reread as well, because the first time I read it I REALLY didn't like/get it. Maybe a second read through would help me enjoy it more.

    Streets of Gotham? Yeah, sure, I'm willing to try almost anything out. Next order I place I'll try to remember to snag the first two issues.