Thursday, January 15, 2009

Comics of the Week (1/14/09) part 1

So, I was at the library last night for my regular Wednesday visit (while my son is at Faith Formation class at the church) and I decided to take advantage of the few comics they get regularly that I don't (they get four: Superman, Batman, an Archie title, and Amazing Spider-Man). Anyway, last night's reading was the end of the R.I.P. arc from Batman. I'll explain why in a moment.

Now, I have to say for all the grief I've been giving Grant Morrison as a writer, the story line running in Batman seemed to be pretty good (it certainly had some ideas more fully explored the way a story should). Not sure if it was the artwork that helped, but I could see it held together fairly well and it was fairly clear for a reader to follow. I especially enjoyed issues 881 and 882 which were titled under a "Last Rights" banner. These were the issues I wanted to check out especially since they told of events that spun out of Final Crisis #2, when Batman was made captive by Darkseid's scientific crew. Parts of this was touched on very briefly in Final Crisis #5 last month, but I was lost then because the events were told outside of the main mini-series. That was a problem for me. As a reader, I don't get every title. So, the main mini had me lost and there was no reference to point me to the right place to fill in the gap. I had to figure it out on my own (or go online and read someone's biased review of the issues). That brings us to...

Final Crisis #6 (of 7) - this was a much better issue for me. Two reasons: first was the artwork which was clean, concise and easy to follow; it wasn't all dark and confusing as some previous issues were (I could tell who was who, what was what, and what was going on). Second, I actually read the above mentioned issues of Batman, so it made the major event of this issue make a lot more sense. Overall, Grant's writing seems to have gotten slightly more focused with the penultimate issue. Maybe with the finish line approaching, he realized he had to pull it all in and make it make sense (though if that opening scene was any indication, it might turn out to be a cheap-out resolution to make it all "go away"). It is getting there, but there is still some areas of weakness. So far, Barry Allen has been back but done very little. Green Lantern is also prominently absent. Superman was shunted off for most of the time in a tie-in mini Superman Beyond and then in Legion of 3 Worlds (which also gets a sort of reference this issue - I really wish Perez could draw faster to get that mini out, but I am willing to wait for the goodness). Wonder Woman has been corrupted and very unheroic. All of this is a major problem. These are the big guns, the characters the readers care about! They needed to be prominent in the mini. That's what made this "crisis" suffer compared to others, for me. And even though Batman gets a big moment to shine before his "fate", if one is not a regular reader of Batman where Grant clearly was telling an epic tale, they could easily be lost because they were missing a part of the picture. The main event mini needs to give the readers all that they need. They should not have to go to the Internet or other places to fill in the gaps. It should tell the whole story clearly, and allow the tie-ins to add additional texture and subtext. Lastly, I'm not feeling the emotional connection in this story. It is like we're getting just reaction shots that could easily involve most any character (just switch them out). I want more than that. Along with plot depth and clarity, I want to feel connections to the cast. I think that is why this one has fallen very short for me. We'll see if issue #7 can tie it all together without going for a cop-out ending. I'm not holding my breath.

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