Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunny Days Indoors 04/05/08

reviews by Will Shyne

A slow week last week. I'm starting to come to terms with the idea that I'm in an abusive relationship with Morrison's Batman. No matter how bad the art gets, I keep coming back.

I could handle Andy Kubert - to my mind the lesser of the two Kubert brothers - as inked by Jesse Delperdang, who has done nice things for Kubert's art since Ka-Zar. The text story was heavy going but still had promise. JH Williams is a personal favourite so I was very happy for those three issues. But for about a year now, it's been relentless bad art. On Batman 675, which years back would have been one of those special issues, Ryan Benjamin takes that ball and runs with it. Even Tony Daniel will have to work hard to achieve the level of thoughtless, amateurish rubbish that Grant Morrison gets to work with here. I don't know what kind of editor gets to see this stuff in black and white before the colourist comes in and has to try to save it.

Ryan Benjamin came onto the scene shortly after Tony Daniel in about '94 as a part of one of Jim Lee's talent searches, along with Travis Charest, J Scott Campbell and Aaron Weisenfeld, all of whom have gone on to better things. I can only hope for his sake, as I'm not malicious, that he had about an hour to draw these 22 pages. Storywise Morrison moves Batman more and more towards the breakdown he keeps referring to in interviews and we get to see that it's not Talia who's behind these various future Batmen or the murder attempts on Bruce Wayne. Someone else is out to get him and knows his identity. Shoulda been good!

Marvel make sure their A-list writers get the appropriate level of artist, or at least the artist they want. Mark Millar seems to get whatever he wants. Bendis too. Yet one of DC's, hands down, best writers on their flagship title gets...this. I think all of the above is what's gettng me really interested in Final Crisis. I've never read any of the other Crisis books and I'm sure it won't matter but at least I'll be able to pore over the art.

Moving on...

Spirit #16 came out and I loved it. I really enjoyed the breezy story - Spirit wandering around a film set - the Spirit splash was great and Paul Smith's art was excellent and less 'on model' than his previous issue. Lee Loughridge's colours are good and it's all wrapped up in a Bruce Timm cover. If the last two issues were a little shakey and made you feel Darwyn Cooke took all the good stuff with him, I recommend checking out this issue.

My local comic shop here in BCN gave me some free comics for Free Comic Book Day which was a nice thought. One nice surprise in there was Hellboy and the Golden Army. An annoying film still cover, which I won't bother scanning, but a really nice story which is a comic ad-ap-ta-tion of the prologue to the second movie. Guillermo Del Toro says in the introduction that this is in the movie but told with puppets. Cool! The art is by Francisco Ruiz Velasco who drew Lone Wolf 2100 and apparently also works on designs for the second Hellboy movie. There's not really any Hellboy in it but Mignola scripts Professor 'Broom' telling the story to Hellboy Jr. All good.

I finished reading Michael "Heroes" Green's Batman:Lovers and Madmen HC, collecting the story with Denys Cowan art from Batman Classified. Telling a story from Batman's early years with a new origin for the Joker, it has to be read with some suspension of disbelief; we all know the origin of the Joker, i.e. our established favourite or mixture of various. Jack Napier kills Tom and Martha Wayne and sets his ironic destiny at the hands of Batman. Desperate, unnamed, unfunny comic gets knocked into chemicals and comes out nuts and gorgeously drawn by Bolland. Those are my two. One's a film, one's a comic.

This book reads like a film in a comic and the Joker looks like the pending Heath Ledger version. Like any sensible writer, he keeps Year One in play and the story shows bored/suicidal criminal who gets a a new lease of life after meeting Batman (like a reversal of JM DeMatteis' Going Sane story). Taken on it's own terms, out of DContinuity etc, the pacing's great, the characterisation of Alfred, Bruce, Batman, the Joker is all spot on. Denys Cowan and John Floyd's art is great, nutty looking cartooning far from any previous published work by them and ILL's colouring is the best I've seen from them. Recommended!