Damn Dirty Comics #2: BATMAN RETURNS, SPIDER-GIRL DEBUTS!
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Damn Dirty Comics #2 is here with irreverent recaps and looks at some of the biggest comics of the week. From DC, Batman Returns for only the 35th time in the past 3 weeks, with Batman: The Return. He sets up shop (and gets down and dirty with Catwoman) in Batman, Inc #1. After last week's extensive Brightest Day recap, we keep up-to-date with Deadman's story.
By reader request, we take a look at the biggest little event in comics with Artifacts #3.
Over at Marvel, the juggernaut franchise of the group, Avengers makes some surprising moves. Meanwhile, the Spider-group brings a new member into the limelight with the new Spider-Girl #1, not to be confused with Spectacular Spider-Girl #1, Amazing Spider-Girl #1, or even Spider-Girl #1.
SPOILERS ON as this is a RECAP or SUMMARY column.
Batman: The Return #1: I was let down by Danny DeVito, but Michelle Pfeiffer looked great. I’m also getting bored with everyone finding out who Batman is in every . . . oh, wait . . . that’s “Batman Returns”. Damn. Okay, “Batman: The Return”? Got it. Let’s see . . .
First off, I love how long it takes Bruce Wayne to return. For old-school wrestling fans, this is like New Jack’s entrance. Bruce Wayne is such a bad motherf@#%er that it actually takes him a six-issue mini-series, a second multi-issue mini-series (Time Masters) that doesn’t even really have him in it, eight interconnected one-shots, and one more extra-sized special to return (not to mention an appearance in one of his ongoings). I think it shows you how the company perceives the relative value of your two main characters when an event for one is a long walk and an event for another requires over 20 issues just for him to RETURN (and that doesn’t even count the issue of “Batman & Robin” where he actually fights Dr. Hurt & the 99 Fiends, rescues Alfred, and announces Batman Inc.; I guess that was just the penultimate return?).
I know I’m in the minority (of perpetually grumpy message board posters) but I like what’s going on here. Why NOT build an army? Why NOT assemble and redirect your best lieutenants with new focus? Why NOT place a booty call to Catwoman? (Seriously: if you are a billionaire playboy/super-hero and you can place a booty call to Catwoman, you. place. that. call.)
I also like the father-and-son interaction with Damian. I know that Bruce comes across as stern and unforgiving with Robin 5 on occasion. What did you expect? He’s a) Batman, and b) trying to parent a kid raised by Talia and the League of Assassins and oh yeah, ninja Man-Bats. What’s he supposed to do? Buy him a puppy? (“Here you go, son. He’s a German shepherd. His name is Ace II. Make sure you walk him and don’t use him for shuriken practice.”)
I’d tell you what I thought how the various threads play into “Batman, Inc.”, but Lucas called that one.
Batman, Inc #1: Let's get it oooon. This one is for old lovers, for those who want a little more fun, a little more action, and a lot more Batman/Catwoman hotness up in their comics. In the prologue to the issue, Mighty Lord Death Man brutally kills Mr. Unknown, who was going to be tapped as the Japanese Batman. Without hands, eyes, or life, that will likely be difficult. After his sidekick sidekicks some butt and escapes, the title of this issue is revealed as ultra-appropriate, "Mr Unknown Is Dead." Batman and Catwoman break into Dr. Sivana (the Captain Marvel Villain)'s vault, battling an invisible robot and several robot rats; even a giant robot rat! Yes, this Batman comic is fun. Selina even makes fun of Sivana naming the thing they're after "Project X."
After lifting weights together in their underwear, then comparing animal noises (Selina's purr is a lot sexier than Bruce's EEE-EEEE-EEEEEEEEE bat-cry), the pair swings into action in Japan, looking for Mr. Unknown. Selina takes a look at what I'm pretty sure was the cover to Heroes for Hire #13 and scoffs at the unsavory nature of the tentacles wrapped around the scantily clad girl (FORESHADOWING ALERT). After a quick battle with Lord Death Man's henchmen, Bruce threatens to carve one's nose off- yup, Batman is back.
Jiro, Mr. Unknown's sidekick, finds his girlfriend in the throes of Lord Death man, and shoots him, two to the chest. As she falls through a trap door, William Dozier narrates what will happen next for Batman and his purring paramour, right while she dives into a tank of water after Jiro's lady, and into the tentacles of a giant sea creature.
Artifacts #3: The word "Artifact" or "Artifacts" appears 17 times in this book, including indicia and the cover, in case you were wondering what book you were reading! The event book continues to school all other event books, finishing its third issue with more plot advancement and revelations than most event books first 6 issues.
This issue introduces another new character, instantly establishing him as a threat with a prison break and a meeting with the green-haired robo-assassin Aphrodite, who has already caused a bit of trouble herself. Using a fight scene, Tom Judge, ex-priest from hell (literally) explains what exactly is going down. He reveals that the three main characters may have a stronger connection to their artifacts than anyone else, making them much more important to the whole scheme.
List time! Judge goes through all the current artifact bearers, including the fact that the Heart Stone is split, the Coin of Solomon is a question mark, and "The Blood Sword is in Finnegan's possession, at least for now…" (FORESHADOWING ALERT!) finally ending with the mysterious 13th Artifact.
The back half of the issue has Aphrodite going around the world doing some recruitment of her own. She talks four of the bearers into joining her, making this the "drum beats" issue with armies being gathered. Michael Finnegan, who 7 pages ago was revealed to "at least for now" hold two Artifacts, turns down the cyborg, only to get stabbed by the prison escapist from the beginning of the issue, Nottingham. He takes the Blood Sword and pushes the carrier of the Glacier Stone into water. Hint for those of you stealing something from someone that has ICE powers: do not throw them into WATER where they will have a huge amount of weaponry.
Finally, we see a mountain fortress, and a man standing over Krillin from Dragonball's body. He is infused with an Artifact's power, and declared mankind is about to suffer.
Brightest Day #14: Dennis Leary once said that you could sum up Jim Morrison’s life thusly: “I’m drunk; I’m nobody. I’m drunk; I’m famous. I’m drunk; I’m dead.” If you apply that to Deadman’s arc in this issue, it would be “I’m a prick; I’m a trapeze artist. I’m dead; I’m a smart-ass. I’m alive; I’m a whiner. I’m shot in chest; I have to get my shit together.” In his truly heroic quest to pawn his responsibilities off on the last guy in the DCU that needs more responsibility, Deadman ended up getting the “Get over yourself” talk from the white ring. And he feels so bad about it that he . . . makes out with Dove? Looks like Dove is only 98% pure now.
Avengers #7 : This issue was a welcome break from the recent “one member of the team does something while the rest of us stand around and comment” pattern. I understand why Wonder Man is pissed; I feel like he got to step outside of the 616, see how’s been treated over the years, and come back to complain about how he always gets dumped on. Honestly, Wonder Man’s history? He had to die to become a hero, his brother is a zombie villain, he got that crappy jacket and sunglasses suit in the ‘70s, his primary love interest sleeps with an android that has his memories more or less, he was the shock death in Force Works #1, he was the unstable energy being dependent on the oh-so-stable Wanda for stability, and he gets left off of almost every other configuration of the team. If I were Wonder Man, I’d want the Avengers to break up too, because they TORMENT ME.
I’m curious as to the status of the Infinity Gems, because at one point, they weren’t supposed to work in concert ever again. Is that still true, or are we just supposed to forget that, like we’re supposed to forget that Mockingbird was now replaced by a Skrull way, waaaaay before the inklings of “Secret Invasion” started?
Spider-Girl #1: Let's start with the cover blurb, shall we? This book starts off by making the most outrageous claim possible, in an awesome way. It should also be noted that this is billed as Spider-Girl's "debut" on the cover. She's clearly taking a page from Batman and his Returning, as she has also debuted in Young Allies and in Amazing Spider-Man.
She starts off the issue apparently tweeting about her adventures while having them. Must have a fancy headset and some voice recognition software. While she's doing that, the female villain she's chasing, "Screwball," is running rampant with her cameras to show off her adventures. PARALLEL!
Anya then heads to school, where she notes that while Nazis have apparently been written out of WWII in Marvel animation, video games, and movies, they still exist in the comics, and Captain America still fought them. In conversation with her dad, we learn that he knows her secret, is a well-connected Journalist (with friends like Sue Richards), and they've just moved into a new apartment.
Rather than meeting up with a female hero for heroic advice, Anya has a conversation with Sue about more "mundane" topics like making friends, and nerdy topics like how Sue's force fields work. Sue gets a call that something big is going down, needing the Fantastic Four's immediate attention.
Anya suits up and takes on some low-level thugs while the powered heroes deal with the mega-threat, a good use of a character like this. She continues to tweet her exploits, showing her to be one of those people that tweet 30 times a row instead of just getting a blog. GET A BLOG, ANYA!
After stopping a few more crimes, she finds out that the big problem is going down at City College, right where her father was when last they spoke. She finds him in the rubble of the library, where the Fantastic Four are getting beat down by… The Red Hulk? Well, with one ongoing solo mag and a new ongoing spot in Avengers… where ELSE would he be?
DC Universe Legacies #7: No, I do not buy that time was f@#%ed so much on New Earth that Arthur Jr. died anywhere in the vicinity of the time that this issue seems to say. Arthur Jr. died in the comics in the ’70s, not anywhere remotely analogous to 1992/1993. That’s patently absurd. Brief note to “Brightest Day”: Arthur Jr. suffocated; Black Manta did not gut him like a fish, as a recent issue claims. If that’s how Arthur Jr. now died on New Earth, how damn scary is that place?