Last week’s new releases, for me, were dominated by Grant Morrison. I was particularly taken with the little blue horse and, of course, the #0 of Batman Incorporated. I have also been spending more time scanning comics at the shop, than I have writing about them from the comfort of my own bed. That said, there should hopefully be a post lamenting the fact that I did not attend Morrison Con this past weekend up now, so you can read my thoughts on “Happy” and “Batman Incorporated” there.
On a slightly more relevant note, here’s a round-up of this week’s new releases.
Legends of the Dark Knight
Various writers and artists.
You know what comics is really lacking just now? Another Batman title.
Just kidding. Although, in saying that, an abundance of Batman titles isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You have some great books there – Scott Snyder’s run on “Batman and Grant Morrison’s “Batman Incorporated” being my personal highlights (Batman and Robin is great too, actually). The latest Bat-title to hit the shelves was originally published as an online comic, finally seeing the light of day as a hard-copy this week. “Legends of the Dark Knight” #1 is actually three short stories with three different creative teams, each great in entirely different ways.
The story I was particularly taken was ‘The Butler Did It’, penned by Damon Lindelof and drawn by Jeff Lemire. It’s short, spanning over just ten pages, but fantastic. The premise is simple: a cocky Bruce Wayne tries to bet Alfred that everyone has a weakness, except for Batman. His supposed lack of vulnerability is what gives him an advantage over his opponents. Alfred turns down Wayne’s wager, countering that Wayne is drunk and that everyone has at least one weakness. Wayne demands to know what his is, although Alfred does not oblige him.
We join Batman back out on the prowl, where he spots a crook aiming a gun at a family. Without missing a beat, he throws himself to the aid of the family – only to be ambushed by who he believed to be the victims. He has been set up. A stranger walks on to the scene and quietly calls off the attack. He helps himself to a dollar from Batman’s utility belt and says no more about it. Wayne is forced to admit that everyone is vulnerable for something.
The idea for this story is simple but effective. While Batman exists because Wayne’s parents were murdered, few hone in on the playboy persona that Wayne presents to the media – especially how that persona might start to affect his mindset as Batman. Alfred’s loyalty to Wayne is obviously deep-rooted and his fierce affection is hugely appealing to the reader. Here we see that executed, in a clever and subtle way.
Jeff Lemire’s art was also a huge part of why I loved this story. I think that, with Lemire’s, you either love or hate his art. Personally, I love it. I like the ‘rough around the edges’ nature of it and how it sticks out like a sore thumb in amongst other DC titles. It’s breathes new life into well-established titles and, in the case of this book, helps to provide a quirky and dark backdrop for the story to unfold. If you enjoy this, I urge you to check out The Underwater Welder – which features an original story by Lemire, as well as his incredible art.
While we’re still on the subject of the DC Universe, the beginning of October means the end of the zero initiative and a return to our regularly scheduled programming. My picks would for this week would include Action Comics #13 and Swamp Thing #13 – as well as highly championed (from me, at least), #5’s of Earth 2 and World’s Finest.
The ‘Before Watchmen’ project is still ticking away, with the second issue of a four-part Rorschach series. I am enjoying the ‘Before Watchmen’ run and this week Rorschach is as dark and terrifying as you’d expect from the character. At this point, I find myself most excited for the new issue of Silk Spectre.
Daredevil: End of Days #1(/8)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack
Artist: Klaus Janson, Bill Sienkiewicz, Matt Hollingsworth
Some of you will have been waiting a long time for this. If you have, fear not, it won’t disappoint. Even if you haven’t, the creative team alone should’ve captured your attention – Bendis’ much-anticipated return to Daredevil is not to be missed.
With Bendis’ return, the Daredevil title suddenly becomes far more sinister than readers of the main title have come to expect. The first few pages are undoubtedly the most sobering panels you will read this week, dropping a huge bombshell to begin what promises to be a delightfully bleak run. “End of Days” treats readers to a truly dark and gritty story. If I were you, I would stop reading this and go and buy yourself a copy immediately.
Ben Ulrich sits in the empty newsroom of the Daily Bugle. Nobody reads newspapers anymore and this soon-to-be obsolete print journalist is simply waiting out the clock. There is one breaking news story but Ulrich has no desire to tell it. It takes a passive aggressive J Jonah Jameson storming across the newsroom to force the reluctant writer into action. He argues that there is no story there anymore, but eventually agrees to cover it – so we can finally learn the truth about Matt Murdock, the man perhaps better known as Daredevil.
Powerful and emotive, we are told the story through Ulrich’s narration. Partly through his inner monologue and partly through the article he begins to construct, he begins to turn the stones on the murky past of his old friend. Through Ulrich, Bendis paints an eloquent and admirable picture of Murdock – shortly before revealing his downfall and deconstructing him. He unveils Daredevil’s downfall – making everyone, including the reader, question the morality of Matt Murdock. Ulrich and Murdock had a deep-rooted friendship, which is characterised excellently through there, and makes the Ulrich the ideal narrator for this compelling series.
Again, this is not an uplifting book. It won’t make you smile and, rather stubbornly, it refuses to give readers any glimmer of hope at all. Sure enough, issue one ends with Ulrich standing in the pouring rain with one big realisation: he must tell Matt Murdock’s story.
In other Marvel news, the final issue of AvX #12(/12) is released this week. Previous issues have all come back as umpteenth printings, so you’d be wise to pick up a copy quickly.
The second instalment of the delightfully quirky Road to Oz #2 is also out today – pick up a copy if you like the Wizard of Oz, only with Dorothy leading homeless people down the yellow brick road. It’s a slightly odd twist on a classic story but the first issue served as my ‘light relief’ for the week; something fun and easy-going to put a smile on my face, especially after Daredevil!
One last thing: “The Walking Dead: Compendium Two” is also out with this week’s crop of new releases. I have been hooked on this, especially on the most recent story arc – even after all this time, it still maintains the ability to shock and hook the reader. The second compendium collects issues #49-96, so there is absolutely no excuses on not being up to date on this series before #103 hits the shelves – or season three hits your TV screen.