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Wait, What’s This About DC Killing Damon Wayans?

March 5th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

“Tell the others it’s over, Alfred. Batman. All of it. This madness is over.” – Bruce Wayne, Batman Incorporated #1

The big news of the week is the death of Damian Wayne, latest Robin and son of the Dark Knight himself. Created in an Elseworlds story in the 80′s, the idea of “Bruce and Talia’s kid” showed up in a couple other alternate realities. My favorite of which is Kingdom Come where under the name Ibn al Xu’ffasch, he didn’t do anything of note. They don’t even outright spell it out that it’s Bruce’s kid until the sequel, but like with much of that comic, there’s miles of details to be found throughout. For instance, despite being a part of Lex Luthor’s little cabal against metahumans, it’s strongly suggested that Ibn is a mole working for his father all along.

His subtle storyline leads to one of my favorite little moments in that book. During the end, there’s a page that shows Batman walking through the Batcave, now transformed into a hospital for people affected by a nuclear bomb. All of Luthor’s league are forced to wear control collars as they tend to the sick, except for Ibn. Off to the side, there’s a sequence that tells its own story. Ibn drapes a sheet over a body. He appears broken up over this loss of life, but Bruce stops by to give him a reassuring look.

Ibn also had a mullet. That was a plus.

Anyway, the fully-realized Damian has become a focal point of Grant Morrison’s run on Batman. He appeared as something of a villain in the very first story, gradually turning into something a little less evil. He faded into the background for much of the early run and remained a complete bastard, especially towards his “brother” Tim Drake. Also, there was that look to the future in Batman #666 that showed a reality where he would become Batman after supposedly selling his soul to the Devil.

Damian wouldn’t begin to show any real change until Bruce’s supposed death. Battle for the Cowl gets a lot of warranted criticism for being an unnecessary miniseries meant to cash-in on Batman being dead, but there is one sequence I kind of like. Damian steals the Batmobile and takes some unidentified teenage girl for a joyride. Shit goes down, they get split up and Damian finds out that she’s been killed by Killer Croc. It’s actually kind of shocking to see Damian have a horrified reaction to this. By this point, any moments of him working on the side of good has been self-serving, trying to get Bruce’s approval or simply just fighting for the sake of fighting. It’s the first reassuring moment in the character’s history as there’s something resembling humanity being shown.

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Brave New World; Bold New Direction: Week 7

October 18th, 2011 Posted by Gavok

For any new readers, here’s the deal. I used to read a lot of DC comics. Then over the years, they lost me to the point that I was only reading about six a month. Over the first six months of their big reboot, I want to see how strongly they can hold onto my interest. Week-by-week, I’m looking at what I want to keep, what I don’t and what I’m on the edge about. As it is right now, I’m still reading 37 of their new titles, but it likely won’t last.

More DC books hit their #2 issue this week. Of the stuff that came out, I’ve already done away with Batgirl, Legion Lost and Mr. Terrific. That leaves ten books.

First is Batman & Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. The main story of the issue is Bruce’s attempt to be a supportive dad to Damian and Alfred noticing that he absolutely sucks at it. While Damian is able to hold back his bloodlust in Bruce’s company, he emotionlessly takes it out on a bat. I think this is awesome. This is how it should be. It isn’t regressing for the sake of regressing. Why did Damian chill out in the first time? Because of who was mentoring him. Dick Grayson was such a loving, supportive and emotionally genuine partner that Damian was able to let him into his heart and change him. Bruce doesn’t stack up and Damian is starting to have a hard time figuring out why Bruce is worth following more than his mother.

It’s great because after having to put up with years of Dick trying to live up to Bruce’s example, Bruce is now in a spot where he has to live up to Dick’s example. Batman needs a Robin, but Damian is just another Batman. Batman doesn’t need another Batman. Neither has the crutch of a cheery partner to keep them stable, so dysfunction is in their future.

Gleason’s art is fantastic when it comes to action. Really enjoying his stuff, especially this page from after a criminal announces, “What the hell?”

I’m going to stick on this one.

Also in Gotham is Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman. Despite what I said about Gleason, it’s Williams who is the true king of art these days. Good God! The opening scene especially, where not only is he doing the cool x-ray box to show bones being shattered upon punching impact, but Batwoman is colored differently from Flamebird. Flamebird is flatter and more simplified, while Batwoman has a more realistic sheen that makes her step out of the page like a 3D image.

The story is more coherent than last month’s intro, though the threat appears to be just as much a mystery as it ever was. The Cameron Chase part does include something I really wish we’d see more often in comics. I like when people try to figure out a superhero’s secret identity and get it wrong in a way that makes sense. Like how Jameson used to think that his son was Spider-Man or how Gordon once believed Harvey Dent to be Batman. It always makes it easier to accept that the public hasn’t figured out what appears so simple to readers such as us. While the story isn’t setting my world on fire, the art is and the narrative is worthy enough. I’m going to stick.

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Fourcast! 73: Batgirl vs Robin

January 24th, 2011 Posted by david brothers

-Let’s you and him fight!
-We’re talking about Batgirl vs Robin
-More specifically, Batgirl 17, featuring words by Bryan Q Miller and Pere Perez
-I’ve been critical of people writing Damian Wayne as too mature for his age or just flat out poorly
-This issue was pretty straight, though
-Esther agrees, and places the Damian/Stephanie relationship in the context of how Batgirl and Robin have interacted in the past.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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This Week in Panels: Week 54

October 3rd, 2010 Posted by Gavok

It’s a sad week for ThWiP. Not because David, Was Taters and I were only able to scrounge up ten panels collectively due to being such a light week. No, it’s because in one fell swoop, we’ve lost both Atlas and the Punisher being a supremely awesome stitched-up zombie thing. David Wolkin wrote up a good look at the finished status quo, but I’ll try and toss in my two cents sometime in the next couple days.

Action Comics #893
Paul Cornell, Sean Chen, Nick Spencer and RB Silva

Amazing Spider-Man #644
Mark Waid, Paul Azaceta, Stan Lee and Marcos Martin

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This Year in Panels: Year 1

September 20th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

A year ago I talked to David Brothers about an idea I had for the site. I had tried writing reviews of weekly releases before, but I never got into it. There were a couple reasons and they’re both about redundancies. I can tell you about how great the latest issue of Captain America is, but so will every other site. There are so many other comic sites that will give better reviews of new stuff that I don’t know why anyone would give a damn what I have to say among all that. Then there’s the fact that comic quality doesn’t change so often within the series’ run. If I tell you that Captain America is great one month, chances are it’s going to be just as good the next. Why waste my breath? If I want to give you my opinions, I want it to at least be interesting and hopefully unique.

I thought back to the first issue of the Agents of Atlas miniseries from several years back. The general response of people who read it and tried to push it was to point out that there’s a scene where a 1950′s robot runs down a hallway while carrying a talking gorilla and that gorilla is firing four uzis with his hands and feet. I figured that maybe that could be the unique way to cover the comics of the week. I’d settle on one panel that really pushes what the comic is about, more than often more than the cover does. It’s no longer so much a review as it is giving you a gist on what we all read. At the same time, I would make sure not to have any major spoilers. If the comic has Wolverine beat up Daken in the climax, then I won’t show it. I will, on the other hand, show them about to fight it out.

If anything, it was also an excuse to keep me from straying from doing anything for the site too long at a time. I’d have a deadline of some point every Sunday and I’ve been pretty good on that. I’ve only delayed two weeks and those were because of a lengthy power outage and the loss of my computer.

I didn’t know if it would work, but David said to go for it. Now it’s been a year and I thought it would be fun to do an extra installment in a retrospective form. The idea was to pick one of my favorite panels from the previous 52 weeks, but with the challenge of not double-dipping from the same title at any point. Here we go!

Adventure Comics #4
Geoff Johns, Sterling Gates and Jerry Ordway

Amazing Spider-Man #617
Joe Kelly, Max Fiumara and Javier Pulido

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Fourcast! 57: Sidekick Shodown

August 9th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

-Ouch, this weekend was a b-word.
-So this p-word is going up with minimal shownotes.
-Sidekick Shodown!
-Esther’s rolling with the Robins.
-David has Captain America’s henchboy turned cyborg assassin turned shield slinger.
-6th Sense’s 4a.m. Instrumental for the theme music.
-See you, space cowboy!

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The Return of Bruce Wayne

May 12th, 2010 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Fellow fourth letterers, I have been . . .

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Batman & Robin & The Facets of the Joker

November 15th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Earlier today I put up another edition of This Week in Panels. When I was getting the one for Batman and Robin #6, I noticed something odd. A striking similarity that didn’t poke out the first time I read it. At first I was wondering if it was a coincidence, but then I looked further into it and noticed that there were even more similarities. Being that this is Grant Morrison, I knew all of these nods had to be intentional.

One of the things about Dick Grayson as Batman is that he needs his own villain. Yes, he can fight the Joker, but it wouldn’t be the same. They wouldn’t have the magic of Bruce and the Joker as rivals. On the other hand, there’s Jason Todd. Ever since he’s been brought back to life, he’s been wasted potential. Whether he’s Red Hood, Nightwing, Red Robin or Batman with guns, he’s been in one bad story after another. And while Bruce Jones’ horrible Nightwing squandered Dick vs. Jason, the potential is still there. Dick Grayson and Jason Todd are meant to be archenemies. Todd would play off Dick far better than he would Bruce.

So if Jason Todd is Dick Grayson’s Joker, then they need to cement this. Most would consider Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Killing Joke to be the ultimate Batman vs. Joker story. It’s fitting that the first six issues of Batman and Robin have been something of a retelling of that very story. Let’s look at the two:

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Batman and Robin History From the Future

July 10th, 2009 Posted by Gavok

Between Batman & Robin and Batman, I realize that while I do enjoy Dick Grayson as the newly-christened Dark Knight, what really seals the deal for me is his relationship with Damian Wayne. The big selling point is that now the roles of Batman and Robin are reversed. Batman is now the light-hearted one mentoring the brooding, moody badass. Without even mentioning him, Damian is the best use of Jason Todd since his resurrection, as Dick is trying to make sure that, against all odds, Damian doesn’t end up either corrupt and crazy (like Jason) or dead (also like Jason). I feel that the Dick/Damian dynamic is what’s going to define this episode of Bat-history and may ultimately make it one of the more interesting duo dynamics in comics, alongside Cage/Iron Fist, Booster/Beetle and Wolverine/Cyclops.

Then I remembered something. This isn’t the first time the two of them have crossed paths in comics. In fact, they helped lead to one of the few bright points of the Kingdom Come sequel Kingdom. More specifically, Kingdom: Nightstar, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Matt Haley ten years ago. Following up on the plot thread shown only in background shots from Kingdom Come, Nightstar — the daughter of Dick Grayson and Starfire — has a romantic relationship going with Ibn Al Xu’ffasch — son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al’Ghul. Bruce, being a delightful asshole in this continuity, decides to let Dick know.

There you have it. The next time Robin gets all indignant at Batman, imagine that inside he’s thinking, “I’m so going to nail your daughter in an alternate timeline for this, Grayson…”

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I Won’t Follow You Into The Dark

June 10th, 2009 Posted by Esther Inglis-Arkell

Once again – a cut up top for Red Robin #1 spoilers.

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