Hey Comic Impact! Welcome to another edition of Antonio’s Top 5 Comics of the Week. I will be discussing a lot of spoilers in this week’s comics so you have been warned.
1. Batman #17 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion [DC]
Well folks, this is it, the last issue of the Death of the Family story arc in Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Let’s get this right out of the way, even though no one died during this arc, that was a major part of the Batman family the title of the arc lived up to its name. After this arc the Batman family is broken and separated and though a lot of it was because of the Joker a lot of it was also Batman’s fault as well. But let’s start with the Joker. I know this might be a bit much too soon but this is probably one of my favorite Joker stories from at least the last few years.
This Joker that Snyder has created is sick, I know that I’ve seen saying that this whole arc but it’s true. Snyder, like a lot of writers before him, has evolved the Joker yet kept him pretty real in this comic book. The Joker doesn’t need to kill anyone in Batman’s Family because death is so final that to the Joker it’s the end of the joke, the punch line, and once the punch line is told then the joke is over, and the Joker doesn’t want that. The Joker wants the joke to go on and on and on. To the Joker it’s funnier to fuck with people and torture them and psychologically damage them to their breaking point. That’s what at the heart of the relationship between Batman and Joker. Joker says he loves Batman and that Batman loves him, but I don’t know how much of that is true and how much of that is the Joker fucking with Batman. I think the Joker truly loves being in this never ending battle with Batman because Batman is his greatest adversary, the only person that can challenge the Joker and make him better. And it’s with this arc that we really get to know the Joker.
My favorite part of this entire arc isn’t the sick shit that Joker is doing to Batman and the Bat-Family but his conversation with Batman about why he won’t kill the Joker. Batman tells the Joker that he can’t kill him but he wins and Joker tells him that that’s bullshit and the reason that he doesn’t do it is because it will be the start of a slippery slope that Batman won’t be able to control, it plays into Batman’s fear and his code. Batman’s code is at the central of the conversation. He won’t kill and making an exception for the Joker not only betrays his code but it also turns him into the same man that murdered his parents, a killer. I think it’s very easy for Batman to go down this slope, he has enough reason to do so and no one would blame him, especially if he’s killing people like the Joker that has no problem killing everyone in a police station just because. This arc was something so personal between Joker and Batman. Seeing his family wrapped in bloody rags on their face looking into their own faces that are being chilled on ice, that’s a cruel joke. Seeing his father figure Alfred affected by Joker gas. The Joker pushing, prying, playing with Batman’s head is what we see but the real outcome of that is that Joker has pulled apart Batman’s support team, there is little to no trust between them now and it’ll be a long time before those relationships are mended. Though Batman gets the upper hand by telling the Joker he knows who he is and scaring him and Batman finally getting to play with Joker’s head. Though we see Joker fall to his death, we know he’s not dead, but now he has to regroup and reinvent himself for his love, Batman.
2. Uncanny X-Men #1 by Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo, and Tim Townsend [Marvel]
Ever since Schism the X-Men have not been one cohesive team. Wolverine has his team, Cyclops has his, and there are other branches from those teams, and on top of all that the original X-men are in the future. Wolverine and the X-Men follows Wolverine’s team, All New X-Men deals with the past X-Men team, and this newly re-launched Uncanny X-Men will deal with Cyclops team, who consists of Cyclops, Magneto, Emma Frost, Magik, and a couple of new mutants that debuted in All New X- Men
Though it is clear that this book will be dealing with the Cyclops team this first issue didn’t really show where the book will be going together as a team. This issue was used to get us caught up with everything that has gone down in the last year or so and catch us up with what is going on with Cyclops specifically. Cyclops is not in control of his power, the leader of the coming mutant revolution has no control over his powers and he can’t fix them, at least not yet.
The majority of this issue is someone has approached SHIELD and Maria Hill to tell her all these things about Cyclops and what the future brings if things are handled wrong. This person is betraying Cyclops and we spend the entire with this man trying to figure out who it is. That’s what kept me attached to this book, that’s what made me read. the book twice, the mystery of who this person was that was betraying Cyclops and his reasons for doing so. It’s a great mystery with a fantastic reveal. I’m not going to spoil the reveal here but I have to give credit to Bendis and Bachalo for keeping the surprise a secret. And I loved that every time we saw him it looked to the reader that it was Professor Xavier even though we knew that it wouldn’t be him. I may not know where this particular X-Men book is going in terms of story line, I’m ok with that, it’s not a negative, it’s actually positive because I like being surprised. It’s why I loved Bendis’ All New X-Men. And I’m glad that we have this book to focus on a literal other side of the X-Men. What I can tell is that Bendis has huge plans for this franchise and I, for one, am so fucking excited to see where all this goes, it’s going to be a fun ride.
3. The Manhattan Projects #9 by Jonathan Hickman, Nicki Pitarra, and Jordie Bellaire [Image]
This is the comic book that gets me excited about comics. Why? Because this comic is the epitome of what comic books should be. They should be creative and inventive and original and funny but also have a purpose and this comic is that. This issue continues off the story from last issue where President Truman and Artificial Intelligence President FDR tried to take over with robots. This issue sees a call put out to eliminate all the people involved with these actions. This is a revenge issue that only The Manhattan Projects can do and it is hilarious. I don’t know why I’m always surprised by how funny this comic is but it truly is. It’s not even about these characters from history engaging in situations that they would never be part of or maybe they would, you never truly know. But seeing these characters kill all for the name of science is just awesome.
My favorite kill in this week’s issue was Albert Einstein taking a championship title belt and killing Mexican luchadore El Conquistador. I’m a huge wrestling fan so this was just fantastic and hysterical to see. I loved even more since Albert kept the belt on his shoulder the entire time and pretty much Sweet Chin Music’s El Conquistador into space. But I have to say that each kill had great moments. I loved Yuri’s line when he kills, Nebehu. “Tell him magician. Tell him who I am – a man who conquered space. And what is happening? Call it enlightment…and the end of your dark ways of the dark age. Tell him science is happening.” That’s so chilling, almost as chilling as Sam Jackson’s Ezekiel speech from Pulp Fiction. Oppenheimer dealing with Truman was great as well. Truman’s afraid of getting killed by Oppenheimer but he informs Truman to not be ridiculous, he’s not going to kill him, he’s going to eat him. And after all this they bring in the next president of the United States, John F. Kennedy.
4. Avengers Arena #4 by Dennis Hopeless, Alessandro Vitti, and Frank Martin [Marvel]
I’m not going to talk about how there is something else going on in this book that meets the eye, though I still stand by that. The reason I loved this issue is pretty much fan boys reasons, and those reasons where that this issue was basically all about Nico and Chase from the Runways. The Runaways is one of my favorite comics, created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. This issue focuses on two of the Runaways, those being Nico and Chase, but it’s really Chase that gives us the inner workings of his mind and what he’s thinking.
I have to give Hopeless a lot of praise here for getting the voice of this character correct. Chase is my favorite Runaway and getting to see what was going on with him after almost years, I think, of not seeing him in a comic book. I think the last time he appeared in a comic was when volume 3 of The Runways ended. Chase is the oldest member of The Runaways and he feels he has to protect everyone and he tries to, though he’s not the ‘leader’ of the group, that job belongs to Nico. Chase isn’t that smart but he might be the only Runaway with a clear sense of direction, or at least a clear sense of knowing what to do, even when that might not be the right thing to do. He’s also been through some shit, he’s seen the love of his love die twice, and he has to live with the fact, after this issue, that one of the people that he cares about the most doesn’t trust him 100% and that that sucks. But I was just really happy to see these characters again and catch up with them. I hope there’s a new Runaways series coming up because I’d love to see these characters back full time, especially since there are still a lot of questions left unanswered from Vaughan’s run but also from Kathryn Immonen’s run.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer #18 by Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, and Dexter Vines [Dark Horse]
I’ve had a love hate relationship with this comic since about issue 21 or 22 of Season 8. I’m a huge Buffy fan and if you’ve read a column that I wrote for Comic Impact awhile back you’ll know my feelings for the series. All I’ll say is that I really love Buffy and it’s universe so when I don’t enjoy a comic it upsets me, but when I feel it’s doing something right and I read an issue that I just absolutely love then I can’t get enough. One of the reasons I found the new series lacking was the missing element of the
Scoobies. It was just Buffy on her own, Willow went away on her own adventure, Spike is gone and showing up on Angel and Faith, Xander and Dawn went from supporting characters to characters that showed up maybe once an arc. We were made to care for new characters that we have no history with and that’s a hard job to do on a series that has so much history behind it, especially when all those characters were consistently around each other and for the most part experienced everything together.
This current arc is dealing with a real danger known as the Siphon, who is going around and stealing energy from other demons, specifically Illyria so that he can travel back in time to stop his girlfriend from getting killed. That’s what’s going on with Buffy. But the other big storyline that is getting attention and bringing back one of my favorite characters to the comic involves Dawn getting sick and Xander bringing her to the hospital. I know that doesn’t sound dangerous or cool or anything but I’ll tell you why I find it so interesting. Dawn is sick and she’s not getting better, worse, the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with her. Xander is frustrated by this fact, as anyone would. Noone likes to see a loved one sick, making it worse is the fact that you can’t do anything for that person. Finally dealing head on with the fact that with there being no magic onEarth anymore, it occurred to me that that is the reason Dawn is sick or that she is dying slowly, essentially fading away. Dawn was a byproduct of magic. She was created specifically as Buffy’s sister and sent to her so that Buffy could protect “The Key.” Now that there’s no more magic Dawn is dying. I’m kind of kicking myself for not realizing this sooner but I enjoyed putting it together and this is a big development for the future of the series. It’s going to be hell to save Dawn and if she does die, that’s the second time in the comic that Xander has lost a girlfriend, and Buffy will be losing a sister. It’s exciting to see where this series is going to go; I hope it continues to getting a lot better, this issue was a step in the right place.