Pick of the Brown Bag
January 3, 2018
And now a word from my inner editor….Wow. Really? Just four? Green Lanterns and Snagglepuss Chronicles weren’t anything, huh? Look, though. It’s really only three. You only typed one sentence for Superman. That hardly counts as a review. I know you hate Hypertime, but still, you should go into more detail. You agree? Well, that’s a change. What? Gobbledygook is one word. Oh.
Welcome to the Pick of the Brown Bag, this installment I review Astonishing X-Men, Batman, Guardians of the Galaxy and Superman. If you’re too busy for the in-depth reviews. Check me out on Twitter: #PickoftheBrownBag.
Oh, look. Hypertime.
Even this more or less done-in-one, fair-play mystery by Tom King is an amazing addition to his run of Batman. A boy accompanied by his butler comes home to find his parents murdered.
All signs point to Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle serial killer Mr. Zsasz, but he’s locked up in Arkham Asylum.
Batman is sure of the culprit, but how did Zsasz thwart all the security measures?
Obviously I can’t speak much about the mystery, but there are points of interest, outside of the puzzle that can be addressed. The boy asks Bruce Wayne for his experience, and Bruce tells it like it is.
Matthew, the boy, states: “Everybody loves Bruce Wayne.” This may be one of King’s few callbacks to recent history. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo made Bruce Wayne the savior of Gotham City in Batman Zero Year. As a result, and because of his continued investment in people, everybody in Gotham City really does love Bruce Wayne. He’s the Anti-Trump.
The major difference in Bruce’s life takes a lot weight off his shoulders.
Catwoman doesn’t speak much in this story because she doesn’t need to. However, if someone where to pick up just this issue of Batman, the importance of her reticence may be misinterpreted. In fact it’s possible somebody may not recognize Selina Kyle since she’s unnamed.
I feel the confusion about Selina being in Batman’s bed at the least, unlikely. Nevertheless this is a subjective flaw in the story. You can suggest that Catwoman’s lack of involvement in the tale reduces her to an ornament, but that’s only if you discount the previous issues in Tom King’s run where she does things like sword fight Talia al Ghul. That’s why I used the modifying phrase more or less.
The art by Travis Moore is quite good. I especially like the lines defining depth and musculature of the faces and forms. Moore’s better when rendering close-ups and dramatic scenes rather when forced by the story to contribute simple establishing shots, such as the repetitive image of Matthew in a chair.
Like most artists, Moore loves Batman’s uniform and the moody shadows that swathe it. He also relishes Gordon’s overcoat, but when it comes to dressing Bruce, he fails. Bruce’s suit is so old-fogey looking.
As is his sweater when he dines with Selina across a silly long table, a stick of furniture dealt with in Tim Burton’s Batman.
A major mutant returns in Astonishing X-Men. No it’s not Wolverine, and you can stop asking me about any mutant that appeared after John Byrne left Uncanny X-Men. Chances are I won’t even have an inkling for who you’re talking about.
The Shadow King and Charles Xavier battled in the astral plane using the living as their chessmen. On the good side, we have the Astonishing X-Men: Gambit, Fantomex, Rogue, Bishop, Angel, Old Man Logan, Psylocke and Mystique. On the bad side, whomever the Shadow King possessed. Xavier however overcame the Shadow King. Before that happened, the evil “spirit” launched a final assault, and this looks bad.
Primarily this issue of Astonishing X-Men is for X-Men fans. It’s still readable for those that flunked out of X-Men College, but the impact of certain things requires a greater appreciation for the characters. For example, I don’t know what the big deal is about Warren Worthington being able to now control his alter-ego.
I mean, technically I get it. He somehow acquired a blue, feathered demon-facet that he couldn’t control, but I only know this as recent fact. I never read the Adventures of Smurf Warren. So I haven’t any emotional connections. I’d be more affected if Candy Southern returned. She doesn’t.
Now, Adam Warlock is another story.
Oh, no. Wait. I don’t give a rat’s ass about Adam Warlock. Fortunately, there’s much goodness in Guardians of the Galaxy outside of the lenticular cover hype to recommend. Our story begins right here when the moles of the bird-brained brotherhood, The Talonar of the Shi’ar, face the true Nova Corps, and the Guardians of the Galaxy embedded with the Corps.
The contest turns into a very satisfying bloodbath. I think gratification arises because the Talonar are especially taken with themselves. They think they're just super. In reality, they are just another nutty cult. It’s also difficult to feel any pity for them when they spout lines such as this.
You just want to slap that guy. Not to worry. Slapped he will be. The Talonar arrive in force, but they don’t stand a chance because Rocket is drunk with power, even if it only works just a little while.
I honestly don’t understand how the power levels work in Nova mythology. In Gerry Duggan’s story, power is proportionate to how cool the character looks in a Nova Corps uniform. That suits me fine.
Duggan’s story isn’t only frivolity. Somehow, with Ant-Man, Duggan pulls off some actual science in the fiction to embarrass the Talonar even further.
Just when you think things are winding down, Duggan pulls a fast one to demonstrate the Talonor’s staying power. Unfortunately for them, it ends in somebody losing their head. Do I mean that metaphorically or literally? Not telling.