Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Detective Comics by Peter J. Tomasi issue #50 & Batman Annual by James Tynion IV issue #4

In this combined review for Peter J. Tomasi's fiftieth issue for Detective Comics and James Tynion IV's piece for the 4th Batman Annual--I'm essentially grasping on straws here because I was supposed to review this a week before but certain writing duties in real life got in the way. But let's get to it since this will be the last issues I will review before I post my official review for the graphic novel Batman: A 75 Years Celebration before the month ends. Afterwards, I'm taking yet another long hiatus from my Bat-blog. It can't be helped, you know. For May, you will find me in Hellblazer blog, reviewing issues for John Constantine. But until April ends, you still have me, so let's discuss Tomasi and Tynion IV's works.

Issue #50 of Detective Comics is the concluding piece for Tomasi's short-lived serial-killer story arc entitled The Bronze Age. I've expressed how intrigued I was by this story in issues #48-49 because it's Tomasi and artist Pasarin's work also looks gorgeous especially the almost sweeping panel shots of Gotham including how he depicted the crime scenes where the serial killer in question left his victims. I also like the opening pages in #48 with the windows of the apartment complexes where ordinary people live their lives, and how often Gordon as Batman would watch them just to remind him what he is fighting for as a vigilante. Anyway, back to the serial killer. Basically, his modus operandi is inspired by historical heroic figures. He would dress up his victims in period clothes and display them around the city, much to the collective chagrin and hororr of the GCPD and Batman Regent Jim Gordon. The killer is a theatrical schmuck, I can give you that. When all is said and done, the creepiest aspect about him will always be those flesh masks, though. I mean, how did he acquire those? Why did he acquire those? Why is he doing this? Who is he? Why does he only speak in vague speeches about stuff that are far too intelligible to simply dismiss as crazy talk.

Unfortunately, even though this issue ran for fifty pages, Tomasi was still only granted 24-25 to efficiently wrap up the story. And I say it's unfortunate only because none of my questions were answered in a way that made me go, "Ahh...I get it. I understand." I would say I feel cheated on but not because of Tomasi. I really wished the DC editors decided to stretch this concluding piece at least five more pages since this issue is fifty-pages worth. Instead, we get a bonus story with amusing full-paged illustrations as drawn by several artists. Hey, I liked those. I thought they were splendidly drawn, but I was really looking forward to this ending piece for the serial-killer story arc but Madmen and Martyrs didn't deliver a punch at all. 

From what I can understand on a superficial level, The killer (who was left unnamed and I'm not that clever to come up with a name for a serial killer so let's just call him George--it'll make sense in context as soon as you get to the next sentences) continues to set up his stage for the main attraction which apparently is all about him donning a knight costume to fight a symbolic evil; much like the landmark statue of Saint George defeating the dragon. You know, this one, which looked exactly like one of Snyder's covers in one of the issues for his arc Endgame where Batman is St. George about to slay the Joker as the dragon:

It is a great callback. But I think the most horrific crime he had committed, however, was one that included a dog! What a jackass.

But for his most ambitious project yet, George the killer abducted a couple and dressed them up as Lewis Caroll and Alice because...reasons. Ugh, nothing makes sense. I cannot keep up with this guy at all so I'm just going to post this page where there is a monologue which aimed to enlighten why he is committing this hideous yet quirky crimes:

I won't miss George the killer at all, because aside from being a creepy history buff/wannabe hero/quirky hipster, I barely understand his point of existence and his crimes. He has monologued his way throughout the entire arc and I DID NOT GET WHAT SHIT HE IS SPEWING OUT AT ALL. So it was only right that Gordon inevitably kicked his ass because at least he finally shut up. Fuck it, I don't know anymore. I just wished I knew more about him especially how he acquired those flesh masks. I know they could not be made of real flesh but they do look like real people. They were just so freaky. But, bleh. MOVING ON!

Meanwhile, James Tynion IV's contribution for Batman Annual issue #4 is entitled Madhouse illustrated and colored by Roge Antonio and Dave McCaig respectively. It's all about permanently not-Bruce Wayne who has forgotten everything about his identity (spoiler alert: it turned out to be not-so-permanent after all ) visiting Alfred in Wayne Manor to finalize some legal papers about. He was accompanied by his girlfriend Julia, and then Geri Powers, CEO of the corporation that produced the robobunnysuit that Gordon wears as the new Gotham crimefighter, was also there. And then a couple of unwanted guests show up.

Yeah, these assholes

As it turns out, the Riddler, Mr. Ice and Clayface all know that Bruce Wayne IS Batman all along, or, in this case, WAS Batman. I just love how everyone in DC comics seems to know that Bruce is Batman. Back in the old comics, keeping his identity a secret is a big deal, but now everyone could just either easily guesses out of luck, or deduce quickly that Bruce is Batman. And by "I just love how everyone knows", I actually mean, "Why is this being allowed now?" Ignoring that grating plothole aside, this issue was pretty fun to read. Sure, seeing a distressed Bruce being manipulated into trying to remember who he is was awful in itself, but hey, at least Riddler, Mr. Ice and Clayface's collective black hearts are in the right place. They need Batman to thrive as villains after all. So if that means having to reenact the terror and trauma that turned an orphan child into a symbol of justice, then so be it!

Can we honestly fault their logic? I sure can't. But Bruce is having none of this shit and he was able to overpower them long enough for rescue to come along and bring back these loonies to Arkham Asylum. Understandably enough, Julia vowed she will never set foot in Wayne Manor ever again. Bruce concurred, much to Alfred's dismay.


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