21st Oct2013

Panel Discussion #25

by Jack Kirby

Jack-Comics

9th October

Scott Snyder delivers nothing less than a tour de force in Batman #24 (art by Greg Capullo, DC Comics), continuing the Zero Year arc. This is a double-sized issue and Snyder crams in tributes to Bat-history (including a wonderful tribute to the cover of Detective Comics #27), well-placed cultural references and brand new iconic moments like his life depends on it. We get glimpses of the construction of the Batcave, Bruce Wayne gets a buzz cut that makes him look something like a crime-fighting Gareth Bale and his war with the Red Hood Gang comes to a head at a certain ACE Chemical plant…

Everything about the issue works beautifully. The larger amount of pages to play with have given Snyder and Capullo licence to go big with their story – this Batman doesn’t begin as a rumour passed around by paranoid criminals, but rather introduces himself to Gotham on the largest scale possible. An epilogue, with art by Rafael Albuquerque, follows the thrilling main plot which sets up the series’ next arc. I was initially pretty sceptical about Zero Year but as a Batman nerd, I’m finding it to ticking so many boxes that it’s hard to see the run being heralding as anything less than classic in years to come. And heck, there’s a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas visual gag in this issue, which is enough for me to get into a froth about anything.

Marvel’s two current big events also continued in Infinity #4 (Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opeña, Dustin Weaver) and X-Men #6 (Brian Wood, David López) In Infinity we get to see a battle of badassery between Thanos and Black Bolt, Thanos’ son, Thane, revealed and Thor also being fairly badass in the presence of the Builders. I enjoyed reading this issue. I don’t pretend to understand every nuance of everything, but as a sci-fi fantasy romp, it satisfies. Lovely art too. For a big event, it feels fairly bonkers, leaping from one bunch of characters on one side of the galaxy to another in the turn of a page. There’s also an interesting dearth of big name Marvel characters – Cap and Thor have featured regularly, but very few A-list Avengers have made much of an appearance in the series. This is okay by me, but perhaps some Marvel fans will be a little disappointed. Still, judging by the image for the next issue, that concern may be assuaged.

In Battle of the Atom, the dodgy future not-X-Men have revealed their hand and are having a good old ruckus with the nice present day X-Men. Jubilee and Shogo, her adopted baby, receive a lot of the attention this issue, with a neat little payoff at the end of the book. Two things I didn’t know, which totally exposes my lack of current X-Men knowledge; is that Jubilee is now some kind of vampire and Wolverine’s healing factor is ‘missing’. Who knew? In other news, Psylocke does some cool fighting and I’m disappointed that Molly (formally of Runaways) is being a baddie. That sucks. But the series continues to be fun and picks up some of the lost pace from last week’s episode. There are three more parts to the story and it feels like it’s going to reach an interesting and/or fun conclusion.

Finally, another Hickman book, The Manhattan Projects continues with issue 15, this time with art by Ryan Browne who returns to illustrate another chapter set entirely in the head of Joseph Oppenheimer. The cannibalised mind of his twin Robert is waging war on the infinite representations of the warped Oppenheimer psyche with bonkers and amusing results. If that sentence meant anything to you whatsoever, then chances are you’re already enjoying this consistently inventive – and, as I have found compared to much of Hickman’s other writing – rather accessible series. If it sounded like total gobbledegook – not unreasonably – then please take it as a sign that you need to catch up sharp like.

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