Tag Archives: Frazer Irving

A Batman Incorporated: Demon Star Review – Wanted Dead: The Boy Wonder

Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1: Demon StarTITLE: Batman Incorporated, Vol. 1: Demon Star
AUTHOR: Grant Morrison
PENCILLERS: Chris Burnham, Frazer Irving
COLLECTS: Batman Incorporated #0-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99
RELEASED: April 8, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Batman Incorporated is like The Walking Dead, in the sense that it’s much better to read as a trade than in single issues. Unlike a lot of mainstream superhero comics, Batman Incorporated doesn’t take any time to recap things on a month-to-month basis. These days, most of Marvel’s books dedicate at least a paragraph on their title/credits page to reminding readers what’s going on. That’s not to say Batman Incorporated is obligated to do so, but it makes it tougher to simply pick an issue up from the shop and read it. But when you read issues #1-6 one after the other, it’s pretty damn good.

More or less picking up where the previous volume left off (It’s the New 52 now, so Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain, and certain other characters aren’t there anymore.), Talia al Ghul has been revealed as the leader of the terrorist group Leviathan. She has placed a bounty on the head of her son, Damian, a.k.a. Robin. Batman benches Damian just as Leviathan strikes Gotham City. But even the Dark Knight doesn’t know how deeply Talia’s insurgents have penetrated the city, and Damian isn’t about to stand by and watch Gotham be torn apart. Though in the end, it will cost him dearly…

Batman Incorporated #1, Chris BurnhamReaders should take their hats off to Chris Burnham for this one. His characters look very vibrant, expressive, and well defined. The various Robin alums actually look like different people, as opposed to a bunch of dark haired clones of varying ages. Plus, he makes the Brett Booth Red Robin costume look kinda cool. Even Brett Booth couldn’t do that. One might argue that his Damian looks a bit too young. He’s supposed to be 10, right? This one looks like he might be seven or eight. Even so, it’s one of the better Damian renderings I’ve seen. He actually looks and acts like a child.

One of the reasons the Batman Incorporated concept works so well is because it makes a certain amount of sense. Looking at it from an in-story perspective, Batman has so many partners, associates and stringers that to not expand like this is almost a waste. Some fans argued that the concept takes too much away from the character’s dark and shadowy mystique to be worthwhile. I understand that notion, and I’m certainly glad we’ve ditched the  pre-reboot “bat-light” suit. But from a character standpoint, it fits with the whole “war on crime” theme, doesn’t it? Putting aside suspension of disbelief, if you’re a man whose crusade against crime has been reasonably successful for several years, why wouldn’t you attempt to do that kind of good on a grander scale? If you buy into the idea of Batman, it makes sense.

Batman Incorporated, Chris Burnham, Batman & RobinUnlike the first volume of Incorporated, the events we see here take place primarily in Gotham City. Pre-New 52, the series sent Batman to places like Japan, Argentina and France, as he recruited new heroes for the group. This portion of the story feels more focused, and more of an emotional core to it, what with the father-mother-son dynamic. I say this portion of the story, because I can only assume this is more or less where Grant Morrison was taking things before the reboot happened. He and Burnham have had to adjust accordingly, but the basic plot is intact. So it doesn’t seem to be a matter of Morrison downplaying the international elements of Batman Incorporated, but rather this being the next chapter in the story. Either way, the events of Demon Star are better than the “recruitment drive” we saw in the first book.

In truth, the international characters in this book are surprisingly pushed to the side in favor of the “usual suspects,” i.e. Nightwing, Red Robin, even Jason Todd. Granted, there’s a milestone moment in the lives of Knight & Squire. But in the context of this book, characters like Batwing and El Gaucho are interchangeable with any other DC hero who has ties to Batman. I find that odd considering Batman Incorporated is supposed to be a global network of heroes.

Batman Incorporated #0, Frazer IrvingThe Demon Star calls upon just enough of Batman’s rich history to add something extra for longtime fans, while not alienating new readers. Characters like El Gaucho and Hood were hidden gems before Morrison dug them up for Batman Incorporated. But he and Burnham also revisit Talia’s entire backstory, and to their credit, they don’t muck it up and “modernize” it like so many creators did with the #0 issues last September. They add their own unique and intriguing elements, but they also incorporate the classic Denny O’Neil/Bob Brown material from her first appearance in 1972′s Batman #411, and allude to some of the classic Neal Adams stuff. There’s even an allusion to Villains United. It’s nice to see this kind of thing, considering these days DC is going out of their way not to mention it.

All in all The Demon Star builds very well. In that sense, it’s one of the better Bat-books we’ve seen since the New 52. It’s also a very effective set up for what we know lays ahead for Damian, and is a fitting next chapter in the romance-turned-rivalry between Batman and Talia. For Batman fans, it’s a can’t-miss.

RATING: 9/10

Image 1 from dccomics.com. Image 2 from comicpow.com. Image 3 from theweeklycrisis.com.

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A Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne Review – Get Me Back in Time

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, covertTITLE: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

AUTHOR: Grant Morrison
PENCILLERS: Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette, Georges Jeanty, Ryan Sook, Pere Perez, Lee Garbett. Cover by Andy Kubert.
COLLECTS: Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1-6
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $29.99
RELEASE DATE: February 2, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

My feelings on The Return of Bruce Wayne  are a mixed bag, because my feelings on Grant Morrison’s writing are often a mixed bag. In general, I think when he deals with stories that are smaller in scope, i.e. his Batman & Robin stories, he’s fantastic. But when his stuff explodes on to a more cosmic scale, things get needlessly convoluted.

In Return, we get a little of both. After the events of Final Crisis, as a result of Darkseid’s Omega Sanction, Bruce Wayne has been sent into the past with no memory of who he is. Throughout the story, Bruce experiences several time jumps, taking him to various periods in history. But per the Omega Sanction, if Bruce makes it back to his own time, he’ll bring about the end of the world.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1I’ve been split on the idea of sending Bruce back in time. Obviously they had to send him away for awhile so they could do the  story line with Dick Grayson and Damian becoming the new Batman & Robin. But having him be stuck in time seems a little corny to me. I don’t really want to see Bruce as a caveman, I want to see him as Batman. On the other hand, the idea of Batman functioning in different time periods isn’t a bad one, even if he doesn’t remember he’s Batman. So there were times when I found myself begrudgingly enjoying this story.

Each issue seems to examine a different aspect of the Bruce Wayne/Batman character. When he’s a cave man we see the raw, emotional animal in him. When he’s a puritan witch hunter, we see the detective. When he’s a pirate, we see the swashbuckling fighter, etc. Morrison also uses many of the traditional symbols and motifs from Batman’s world very well. For instance, the image of Martha Wayne’s falling pearls, to the small bell Bruce rang to summon Alfred in Batman: Year One. Those are done quite well.

The most enjoyable issue for yours truly was the second one, with art by Frazer Irving. Each artist is married to their issue/time period very well, but Irving’s work suits his setting wonderfully, and his colors are beautifully dreary.

The Return of Bruce Wayne #2I must admit, I’m a bit torn as to what my end verdict on this book should be. It’s received a great deal of acclaim, but I can’t muster up the enthusiasm for it that others seem to have. I understand what it was trying to do in terms of character study, and much of the art is done masterfully. The last few pages are also very well done. But in my book The Return of Bruce Wayne doesn’t measure up to the greatness of some of Morrison’s other work, like Arkham Asylum, Batman #663 with John Van Fleet, Batman R.I.P., and his Batman & Robin issues. It’s filled with some of the “Morrisonian” convolution that plagued Final Crisis, and it was a story I really just wanted to see end so we could get Bruce back where he belongs.

There’s also an inherent cheesiness to this story that I just can’t get past. At times it almost feels like Morrison got this story idea from playing with some Batman action figures from the ’90s. We’ve got Caveman Bruce, Pirate Bruce, Cowboy Bruce, etc.

Nevertheless, good work deserves it’s due, even if I personally don’t appreciate it as much as many other fans do. So I’ll be fair, if not a little generous in terms of my own opinions.

RATING: 6/10

Image 1 from amazon.com. Image 2 from doublearticulation.wordpress.com.

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