Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mister Bones' Top 5

Had a lengthy discussion with a customer and fellow bat-fan at the store yesterday on the current state of Batman comics. Turns out he was digging the new direction with Dick Grayson as Batman too, though we didn't necessarily agree about which titles were the best of the bunch. Since it's been a while since my last top 5, this subject seemed worthy.

Top 5 Current Batman Comics

5. Batman - This one I actually have mixed feelings about. The first team on the title post-Battle for the Cowl was Judd Winick and Mark Bagley. I'm no Winick defender by any means, nor am I a hater like so many others. I thought his brief 3 issues were decent, and I enjoyed the fight between Dick and Harvey in the Batcave well enough. As I've said before though, I am definitely not a Bagley fan. Dude draws everybody like they should be in the Teen Titans, which I suppose is why his art was such a good fit for Ultimate Spider-man being that Peter was teenage Peter in that book. Tony Daniel is currently stinking up the book with his combination of mediocre art and even worse writing.

4. Gotham City Sirens - If you had ever told me that a comic about Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy sharing an apartment would be this good, I would've slapped you with a copy of Brubaker's Catwoman #1 and insisted that it was as good as Catwoman comics will ever get. While Sirens is no Brubaker Catwoman, it's actually quite good in it's own right, and that's mainly because of Paul Dini and his love of writing Harley Quinn. This book is all about the character interactions, which Dini has a talent for. The trio are great together, throw in Riddler and the occasional visit by Batman, and you have yourself a darn entertaining read that's been consistently so from month to month. Guillem March is handling the art, and he's solid if not a bit too loose at times. My one minor gripe with his art is the cliche comic book fan service to teenage boys, lot's of needless t&a here, especially Ivy. Still, he is drawing one character who wears skin-tight black leather, and another whose entire costume consists of a leaf or two, so it's hard to fault the guy.

3. Detective Comics - I would buy this comic every single month regardless of word balloons or any semblance of a story inside the cover simply for J.H. Williams' art. I don't toss the word "genius" around much, but people, Williams is nothing short. Whether you like Batwoman or not, there's no denying that the art in this comic is easily in the top 3 on the racks right now. Thankfully the story has been pretty good too thus far, though I'm a Greg Rucka fan and always will be, so I may be biased. I will say that while I enjoyed the Alice story, the current origin tale is by far the better of the two arcs. The Question back-up has unfortunately been pretty weak, but then again I like Montoya, and I like the Question, however I don't really like Montoya as the Question. Make sense? Long-time favorite of mine, and all around super nice guy, Cully Hamner is on pencils for it though, so I'm not complaining too much.

2. Streets of Gotham - Despite it being another Paul Dini written Batman comic, I have to admit this one has pleasantly surprised me. The first arc dealt with Hush, who after being bankrupted by Catwoman in Dini's last Detective arc prior to Battle for the Cowl, has returned to Gotham after having reconstructive plastic surgery to make himself look like Bruce Wayne. Hush knows Bruce is gone, and took the opportunity to stand-in, while taking full advantage of the Wayne fortune in an effort to hit Batman where it hurts, the old bank account. No money, no new gadgets to fight crime with. It sounds silly, but believe me it's been great. Dini's long-time Detective collaborator Dustin Nguyen has been knocking this one out of the park. This is easily the best work I've seen from him. For more of his stuff check out his blog, where he posts lots of preview art and such, over under the "Bat-bloggers" header on the right. Worth mentioning also is the Manhunter back-up. You might remember Manhunter as the comic that was canceled, then brought back due to fan uproar, then canceled again, only to be resurrected here. I read it when it first started up, then lost interest when it got the axe the first time. It's entertaining enough here, since Kate has taken on the job of Gotham D.A. and is currently going after Two-Face. Worth the extra $1 for sure.

1. Batman and Robin - If you've ever read any of my Comic of the Week posts, then you know how much I love this comic. In my opinion, it's currently the best one of the racks, Batman related or otherwise. You might also remember that I'm no Grant Morrison disciple by any stretch of the imagination, he's a great writer, yes, one of the best ever, sure, but I was extremely let down by his Batman run. In fact I can admit it, it sucked. I thought Grant hated Batman. Then Dick Grayson donned the cowl and suddenly Morrison is writing some of the best Batman comics in years. I've come to the conclusion that he just hated Bruce Wayne, and not Batman, as this is the only reasonable explanation for the turn-around. This one has had a rotating cast of artists so far, with "god amongst men" Frank Quitely on the first arc, Philip "plz don't compare me to Frank" Tan on the second, and a forthcoming third with Cameron Stewart (which has me so excited that I can't stand myself).

Not mentioned was the only other current Batman ongoing title, Batman Confidential. Remember Legends of the Dark Knight? Where different creative teams came on and did out of continuity Batman stories of varying quality? Same thing here, you really gotta love Batman like I do to be reading this one. The term "hit-or-miss" was invented just for this comic.

And that's the top 5 Batman comics currently being published. Regardless of their respective order on anyone's current favorite list, the fact that there are so many solid Batman and Bat-related comics out right now is cause for celebration. On top of what I've talked about here, there's also a new Azrael book, Red Robin, and Batgirl, all of which are either decent or show promise. At this point I think it's safe to say there's never been a better time to be a Batman comic fan, whether it's Bruce in the cowl or not.

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