I read LOTS of Comics...

So, I read comics (duh, with a handle like, "SpiderMitch")... I read everything from the big boys like DC & Marvel, to the mid-sized Image, Dark Horse, IDW, & Aspen, to the independent and smaller publishers like Big Dog Inc & Zenescope...
Anyway, I thought it would be kinda cool to see if I could do a few write-ups after I finish reading comics. You may not necessarily agree with what I have to say, but that's the fun of reading comics: each person has different interpretation and tastes. Here I hope to share my experience (whether it be good or not so good), and have a little fun and humor along the way!

I'll try not to give away too many spoilers, but it's my hope you read these reviews after you've read the issue, so you can comment if you want!

I'm a little behind on what I read, since I try to do so chronologically. This often has me jumping from title to title to fit everything in a massive reading order. Generally I read simultaneous publishers / events at a time.
It may be handy to use the navigation filters above to jump to specific publishers, events, or specific characters!

P.S. I'll be using my phone & tablets to both read the comics & write these reviews, so if there's spelling mistakes / layout issues, sorry!

Monday, May 2, 2016

DC New52 - Batman: Death of the Family (Game-Changer?)

First thing's first.  Read this arch before reading any spoiler-filled reviews.  I have the disadvantage of reading series well after they've been published and talked about and reviewed to death.  Usually, I don't mind the occasional spoiler, knowing that it's often inevitable.  However, when I saw covers of Death of the Family with the Joker's face covering each character's face on their respective covers, I knew this arch was going to be something special.  Most of my DC New52 reading up to this point has been me wanting to get this to this particular Batman arch.  So, maybe it was the anticipation I went in reading this, or maybe it was my fan-boyish excitement for what was sure to be the greatest Batman story since Death in the Family, but I was (need-less-to-say) ecstatic to begin this.  Did it live up to the overwhelming game-changing events I pictured?  Well, no.  Not really.  But it did do a lot of things right and set up end in a way I didn't really expect.  Here are my thoughts...

As the name implied, this was to be a milestone story arch; perhaps one that would change the status quo in the BatFamily line of books.  And to it's credit, it did... but with a whimper and not a bang.  Having had his face removed and tacked to a wall, the Joker has been missing for a year.  Batman had finally begun to think that maybe he had finally retired.  In an evidence locker, the GCPD had kept his face in cold storage and made a few rookies guard it.  In a back-5-page follow-up story, Bullock actually his a receiver and played a prank on one of the newbs, pretending to be Joker's voice.  This is important to note because it shows how complacent GCPD became with having the idea of his face in the basement.  A normal morning in the GCPD, Gordon making his rounds, the power is cut, generator cuts on and Gordon briefly sees the Joker standing in the station.  As Joker begins telling jokes, he goes about breaking necks of about 16 police while taunting Gordon.  At the last moment, before the terrified Gordon begins wildly shooting, Batman appears with the lights on and pulls Gordon back from the ledge.  Unfortunately, there's not too much more involvement of Gordon in the storyline, other than seeing the Joker took back his face with Batman in the basement.  It would have been nice to see the Joker focus a bit more attention on Gordon, since there are several references to The Killing Joke throughout this series.  (Joker speaks about having been at the park when it was raining, and the rain drops on the Batcave computer's monitor - echoing that famous ending of The Killing Joke.)

So, generally, the rest of the titles are pretty much the Joker telling everyone he has a master plan, that's all written in his book, torturing them, and eventually capturing them.  This all goes along with the core Batman titles, and like most giant cross-overs, there's a bit of continuity drift and giving it the benefit of the doubt.  The Joker appears to be everywhere at once, and while this can be simply be interpreted as the above statement says, I was actually starting to believe that there may actually be multiple Jokers!  I mused about this for a while, thinking of what a bold, new direction it would have taken the comic, and with the recent "Joker can be anyone" mentality the Gotham TV series had taken, I truly believed the comics from the past few years may have influenced that TV show's decision to go that direction.  This turned out to be false, so I continued looking for the 'game-changing event' the arch's subtitle promised.

The next major event came from Joker besting Batman on a bridge and telling him he knew his greatest secret, and annonced to everyone (on intercom) that he "knew who they really were."  This was the game-changer!  This was the moment I took in a deep breath, truely pondering the implications this would cause Batman and his crew.  All the while, there were flashbacks of the Joker knocking on Wayne Manor and attacking Alfred!  He MUST know!  The most terrific thing about this revelation, is that Batman, categorically denying that Joker knew their identities was put at odds with the family - and the reader.  The Joker knew such intimate things, how could he not know?  The ending of The Death of the Family chose to leave this more open-ended that I would have liked.  I know the Joker had help from Barbara's brother at some points, with his knowledge of her identity, but there were statements made about Nightwing/Dick Grayson opening the park, Red Robin & Red Hood's fathers, etc... that just seems a little too coincidental. However, if you're truely reading most of the Joker's statements and moves throughout the series, he does seem somewhat vague (even if too coincedental!)  So I suppose I can overlook the fact that Joker may still not know who they are.  Okay, no game-changer, but really interesting way to put the reader in the shoes as one of the BatFamily... and this wouldn't be the first time.

Love this how Joker is depicted in this scene.  So carefree and nonchalant while exclaiming such a earth-shattering reveal!

As stated, the Joker pretty much effed with each member.  First, he kidnaps Alfred & leaves audio for Batman of burning Alfred's eyes out.  Then, he tortures Harley saying he wants to cut her face off too, so she can be just like him.  (The artwork and dialog are beyond top-notch here.)  He gives the burnt toys of a friend - who got blown to bits in that same fire - tormenting Catwoman, asking her to join him.  Batgirl was brought to a chapel in a wedding dress promising to marry the Joker if he wouldn't detonate a bomb under her mother's chair.  Joker promising to keep her in the basement with her legs and arms sawed off.

While Batgirl comes to the decision to finally kill the Joker, he's just sits there teasing her. The dichotomy is so deliciously thick here.

Red Robin and Red Hood both trapped in a warehouse with two people supposedly their fathers trapped there too.  Joker threatening to kill the father of whoever looses in a fight to the death between them.  Nightwing having a girl from his past show up in a Nightwing outfit, Jokerized.  After she dies in his arms, he sees an invitation the Joker carved into her chest.

All eventually get captured and presented with a silver platter with a dome, bloodied and the Joker about to reveal what he has.  This all leads to the finale where it's revealed.

I know that's alot of story condensed in a few lines, but that's not the real reason for writing this.  I want to (and I can't stress this enough) explain how utterly dark and gruesome this book became after all the above happens.  Sure there's some dark tones in what happens with Batgirl and Nightwing, but in the core Bat-books, Joker could literally give one nightmares... and that's the delicious part of his character.  For the first time in reading Batman and Joker stories - with the exception of maybe The Killing Joke - have I been terrified of the Joker.  In every panel he's in, I find myself reading the dialog and not wanting to look at the gruesome depiction of the hanging skin from his fly-invested face.  And the look of the Joker is only 1/2 of the equation.  What he makes Batman go through in the core books is deplorable, and it really rings true to how comic characters always described Joker: as a sick, sadistic, psychopath.  I hear Batman and other DC heroes say this all the time about Joker, but it never really rang true with me as a reader.  I retroactively found out and read about why Batgirl was in a chair & what happened to Jason Todd.  Maybe due to that, I was already mentally prepared what transpired in those books (That is, there's something to say about reading a story without spoilers!)

Waking in Arkham, Batman realizes the Joker has turned the entire facility into his own Batman gauntlet.  Unfortunately due to time-constraints, issue-constraints, or something, we don't get to see Batman go through much of this... but what we do see is wicked.  Stripped nude, stitched together, hung upside down, there is a mural of Batman's adventures with the Joker painted on - still alive - guards & inmates.  A burning horse lights up a long hallway, heading toward Batman!  He has to climb a winding staircase up a tower with Mr. Freeze, Clayface & Scarecrow along the way.  But it's really too fast paced.  He knocks out the A-list super-villains with one punch.  And the aforementioned house of horrors only lasted a page or two.  I was really starting to get into just what a sick mind the Joker has, presenting this all as a homage to his "Bat-King."  Granted, I wouldn't have wanted the entire narrative of Batman: Arkham Asylum, but it would have been nice if Batman had to go through something like the maze from the Court of Owls within Arkham.  So for pacing, Batman makes it up to the top of the tower to face the Joker, who manipulates Batman into setting in a chair and being electrocuted.

Okay, I'm pretty sure that's Matt Smith under the face-mask.

The finale finds Batman waking to see his family sans Alfred all at a long dining table with hoods on, each with that mysterious platter and dome in front of them.  It was at this point, that probably anyone reading this thinks that Joker's finally done it; the real game-changer: he's cut Alfred into bits and is serving it to them!  Holy crap!  I literally stopped reading and began hypothesizing the implications of such a brutal act.  Throughout each of the titles, each character contemplated going "too far," stepping over the line and finally killing the Joker once and for all.  I started thinking Alfred's death would push one over the edge.  Maybe Batgirl bringing her innocent character into an eternal internal conflict.  Jason Todd would be an obvious choice, but he wouldn't loose sleep.  Maybe Batman, himself, and each of  the family would have to come to terms with it?

The Joker leans forward exclaiming that "Alfred's right here!"  Alfred pops out all Jokerized... *cough cough*   So, my hopes again are deflated.  What was all that burning Alfred's eyes out torture tape stuff about?  I guess I'm to believe it was simply the Joker being masochistic, leaving it to torture Batman... and not a misleading plot device?  It is this misleading though, that makes what follows even more surprising: Alfred pulls the rope and reveals all the members of the family sit with their faces bandaged, and in front of them, beneath the dome, each silver platter has their skinned faces!

I was beside myself.  I instantly took a deep breath with a wide-eyed horrific realization that maybe... just maybe... to start things over, the New52 may be changing the status-quo by literally having the Joker do the unthinkable: mutilate the Bat-fakes!  For some reason (probably all the Alfred focus), I completely didn't see this coming, and it was such a genuine 'gotcha' moment, that for a few minutes, I was sitting there at the table with Batman, witnessing this horrific display the Joker had orchestrated.  I was mortified!  Batman for a moment shared my feelings then composed himself rather quickly.  I would have liked to have seen the dark knight break down a bit more, but I suppose keeping his composure fits in-line with the character and his mental discipline when dealing with psychos.  That said, if they would have expanded more on the gauntlet and had he been as messed up (sleep / nourishment deprived) as he was in the Court of Owls labyrinth, he may have been a bit more shocked and derailed.  But I suppose this epic moment is meant to be felt more by the reader than by the character, so it worked in that regard.

Batman does eventually get out of the Joker's trap, Joker runs away, and Batman frees his family.  In a truly endearing moment, Damien asks his father to tell him how bad it is; that he can take it.  Batman removes the bandages and sees that it's just another of Joker's sick jokes: all the family's faces are intact.  In some ways this really does feel like a let-down, cop-out (insert your own idiom here).  I know at that exact moment, I was so wrapped up into the book that I actually let out an audible bear-grumble followed by a curse.  But the book wasn't over yet, and instead of rage-quitting, I still had to give a title like "Death of the Family" the benefit of the doubt.

So Batman chases Joker, eventually confronting him in a waterfall cavern which eventually leads into the Batcave.  It's the same spot Batman at one point feared the Joker had come to learn of the Batcave, and through it their secret identities.  This is something Batman neglected to tell all the Batfamily earlier in this story and as a parallel conflict (that seemed somewhat trivial to me as a reader at the time) they were all a little POed at him for not telling them.  Also, he didn't tell them immediately when Joker took Alfred - WTF Bruce?!?!  But like I said, it felt so inconsequential when reading the story and writing this review.  But this is where we end up: Batman telling Joker that he knows who he really is!  Batman leans over to Joker to reveal his (Joker's) real name to him (Jack Napier?  no?) when Joker slaps an electric buzzer onto Bat's mouth to shut him up and does a swan dive off the ledge, with his face slowly following behind.  The most interesting part of this is just how much the Joker freaks out when Batman says he knows him.  You can almost see his train of thought without the book telling you, "Will this end the game?"  "Does he truly know who I am?"  "There won't be secrets between us anymore!"

So, was there revolutionary change that happened in "Death of the Family?"  Well, no... not the way I would have predicted.  All of the above suggested some gruesome fate awaited one of the members of the family, be it Alfred's eyes, Batgirl's appendages, Batgirl's mother, Red Robin/Hood's fathers, or all the members of the family having their mutilated faces served to them.  But none of the above actually transpired the way the audience was led to believe.  Every time we thought we knew the way the roller coaster was going, it would zag another way - horizontally.  I even thought the final confrontation between Joker and Batman was going to be the 'game-changer,' alas, it was a bitter-sweet ending.

But, the aftermath, to me, is how the book lives up to its title.  Bruce invites all those involved over to the mansion to have a nice, long, overdue talk.  He's going to explain to them everything; from how he knew the Joker didn't know their identities, to how the Joker doesn't want the game to end so will never actually acknowledge their true identities - a story he tells Alfred about the time he looked Joker square in the eye as Bruce, basically saying he was Batman, and Joker didn't flinch.  Everything.  Bruce is finally ready to open up and have a good cry with the family.  The kicker though: all family members cancel on Bruce.  We see each dealing with the aftermath of the trauma they've been put through and we see the final blow the Joker has dealt to the family.  Not with a bang, but with a whimper.  Sometimes psychological trauma can be just as brutal.

Friday, December 11, 2015

DC New 52 - Hawk and Dove #1-5 (Wonder Twins, ACTIVATE!)

So I really wanted to like this series. I really did, but then, the more I read, the more I felt as though it was trying to shoehorn in a lot of backstory that was completely unoriginal. Given this and the unlike-ability of Hawk's character really made this one difficult to get into.  But Dove is a hottie, so I kept reading.

For some reason the character of Hawk kept reminding me of Raphael from the 1980s TMNT cartoon. There's really no substance here; it's more like a man child playing at being a superhero, but not in the good way that Captain Marvel does it. Honestly if they removed Hawk from the duo, and focused on Dove not knowing where her powers come from or something like that and trying to discover it (or even about her and her dead boyfriend) I think it would have been better. Instead, you get a moody ass that's okay because his brother died.  I call BS.  It's like if Batman was a douche with powers and without the interesting moral delimas he consistently struggles with.
As an added bonus, because Hawk and Dove have to stick together (we're told it makes them stronger but we never actually see the evidence) you're constantly reminded that this duo basically says something and turns them into Super Heroes, not unlike The Wonder Twins from the Superfriends cartoon, which completely undermines the seriousness Im supposed to get from them...
But Dove is hot so I kept reading.

After looking past the annoyingness that is Hawk, it felt as though the writers were trying to establish a world much bigger than the substance of the book itself. And while this may work with some characters (like Superboy and NOWHERE, or Supergirl and the world destroyers) I really felt like the story could have benefited from not introducing some cult that all have powers and some Highlander that goes around and eating them. It diminishes how unique both Dove and Hawk are just to set up a villain who for all intents and purposes was a throwaway within these five issues.  If they would have been given 18 issue drawn-out discovery of the war avatars, culminating into a massive showdown to this Sylar-wannabe, the payoff would have been extremely satisfying, and the mystery leading up to it would have been way more interesting than simply an exposition by the villain.  Take a page from Night of the Owls, guys.

Seriously?  At this point, Hawk is just taking up space.  He's like that annoying member of a group you just have to put up with but doesn't realize he's not liked.

Still, dat Dove booty...
Not sure if it'll keep me coming back but it got me through the shallow end of the pool.

Pretty sure that Hannibal wannabe is checking out her ass too.  It's honestly what got me through the more boring parts of the series so far...

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

DC New52 - Animal Man #0 (Inappropriate Ride-Alongs)

So Animal Man is kinda interesting.  Didn't think I'd like it, but I did.  I know it's a Morrison creation, so I'm already prepared to have some crazy meta-physical exposition (and lack thereof) when I started this.  I was totally not expecting the level it was taken, however.  Even when I'm aware of it, Morrison, you ass, I'm still left at jaw-dropping unexpectedness from a superhero comic.  Do skinless talking cats and demonic cloaked goats belong in superhero comics?  If you're reading Animal Man, they do.

Basically this guy is given powers to emulate animals by these beings that sorta look like Pan's Labyrinth creatures looking out for their best interests.

The thing is: Buddy Baker isn't supposed to be anything but a temporary host for the 'red' powers after their previous "avatar" dies.  They abduct him and do some really REALLY gruesome surgery on him.  
They actually say they're going to put their seed in him... sexy...

Then BOOM! he can channel animal's powers.  He goes home and kinda... Um... Hugs?  his kid...
Oh man... Animal Man... WTF, dude.  WTF....

DC New52 - Deathstroke #0 (...it's the one that says bad mofo!)

Here, we get the origin story of Deathstroke.  He's a mercenary that got his own comic book.

Gotta say, artwork here was hit-or-miss.  Some panels, were drawn with beautiful angles... others, not so much.  The story was pretty generic with no real big twists or turns.  DeathStroke aka Slade Wilson got enhancements and sent on killing missions.  He estranged his family all for the mission.  I guess a twist would be toward the end where you see his son and his wife plotting against him now.  Sorry if that spoiled it for you, but to me (even without being a huge Deathstroke fan) it was kinda a, "that's kinda neat" moment, followed by a yawn.

I'm not trying to poo-poo all over this book.  If you like Deathstroke, this is a definitive New52 origin.  That's cool because from what I've seen, there's been only bits & pieces of his origin throughout the years.  I'm going to look at a few Deathstroke issues after this (maybe 1-3 or so) and decide then to drop or continue if it's art and story entice me.  If it's a villain of the week with a merc that takes them out, I honestly can throw a penny into the pool of Image, Maxx and independent comics and find this.  Kudos to DC for going the extra mile and showing some blood and killshots in their main line.  Approved by the comics code, this is not!

DC New52 - StormWatch #0 (aka SpoilerWatch)

Okay so I'm pretty sure that there were a few DC headquarters that didn't get the memo... These are ZERO issues.  They are meant to introduce or tell flash-backs or something to entice new readers and give veteran readers insights into the current runs of the series.  Introduce a new villain that we're about to see in the current run.  Show something that ties into what's currently going on with the character.  Have a character remembering something important to the current story, while telling something from their past!'

Anything other than just using this as a current book in the run.  And that's exactly what StormWatch did.  I'm giving it a normal read, not understanding anything that's really going on, but thinking they'll do a flashback or something.  Nope.  The third or forth page I get this:

I'm okay with some spoilers; having Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and Star Saphire talking about something I haven't caught up with yet in another Green Lantern book is okay.  I know that very soon, it'll be a reveal in that book... and it's usually not that major.  Kyle says, "Yeah, Hal took off to do that one thing... Hope it's going well."  Boom!  no crazy earth-shattering spoiler.  But man, when I read that above, it totally turned me off from continuing this book... maybe even the series.  When three or four pages in, you get a "This character was killed in a book you haven't read yet!" note from the editor, it really leaves a sour taste in a new reader's mouth.  Furthermore, this isn't a Superman book.  This isn't Justice League.  This is a NEW team book, consisting of some characters I don't even know.  It's supposed to be about time-travel, or dimensional travel and such, and I was totally willing to give it a shot.  An illuminati of alternate realities or time-watchers?  Oh yeah!  But then this... "It is you.  Adam One!"  You were killed in Stormwatch #5...

arg... wtf DC editor guy?

DC New52 - Justice League Dark #0 (Constantine will eff your girl!)

So this book is strictly an origin story of Constantine.  I know the Justice League Dark in the New52 is all about dem magic folk, and I wasn't particularly interested, but this story was actually well written and engaging, and I can see myself checking out a few more issues of JL Dark.

The story is Constantine trying to learn more magic.  Why?  Dunno.  Magic is power, power is cool, etc... So Constantine travels to America cause we got like, the BESTEST MAGICIANS HERE! and appeals to Nick Necro to help train him... Oh, and Zatanna is Nick's girlfriend.

So they let Constantine travel along and use their magic to fight crime sorta? and Constantine learns under their tutelage.  That's about it.  Oh wait, almost forgot... Constantine f*cks Zatanna!  Yeah, take that Nick!

So, they leave Nick and Nick Necro becomes a (duhn dun duuuuuuuhn) villain!

Anyway, I'm going to read JL Dark at some point, because this issue, for whatever reason, held my attention, even though i'm not a fan of magic in comics or the DCU.  Let's see if (once the whole team is assembled), this continues to capture my attention.

DC New52 - Team 7 #0 (Flashback City!)

Okay, so I pretty much found this entire issue completely boring.  I like DeathStroke, Grifter and such, but man I suffered through this one for some reason.  It's a throw-back book to show a team as they were before the characters split & went their separate ways.  I don't know how many issues there are of this, but I'm definitely putting this one on the back-burner.  (The Way Way Way Back-Burner).  The writing wasn't terrible, nor was the art work, but when you don't care about these characters & there's nothing really revolutionary that happens within the book, it make it really difficult to devote the time to wade into these waters.  Especially when the aforementioned characters (Grifter and DeathStroke) both have their own solo series.

I don't think DC is continuing with this title.  I haven't seen it in stores in 2015, so I'm thinking it was a limited run and one of those long-shot stories they throw out there to see if we'll bite.  Maybe I'm wrong, but with Suicide Squad, Justice League (even JL Dark), the Others & the Outlaws out there, it's really hard to be excited about a merc team from the past.

DC New52 - Green Lantern #1-6 (With this Ring, I thee wed...)

At the end of the pre52verse, Hal was stripped of his ring & Sinestro actually recieved a Green ring.  I remember the book ending with Jordon being slung back to earth and kinda crying on a road in the middle of nowhere.  After reading the zero issues of Green Lantern, New Gaurdians, & GL Corps and not seeing Hal Jordon, I thought DC was going to throw in the towel on the character again.  After all, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, and even Guy Gardner gained in popularity on Hal's previous hiatus as the Spectre, so why not only bring him back with major crossovers or Crises?

But here, Sinestro comes to earth after a few months of Hal Jordan just being Hal and offers him a way to get his ring back.  Now before I get into the story, I wanted to mention this small montage that it touches upon and what I'm sure alot of people didn't give much thought of, given that it was simply a setup of what was to come... Basically Hal's life sucks.  And this is where it gets interesting, if you think a bit meta on the subject:  Hal was a bonified super hero, having saved the world, the galaxy, our very existence itself a few times over...  Yet, he has to come back to 1) not getting the girl 2) not having a job/not being able to return to his old job 3) a world that very quickly forgets all he's sacrificed for the greater good.  I think it's a really interesting concept: a hero that gives up everything returns to nothing after their fall-from-grace.  Wouldn't this be a great setup for a new villainous Hal arc?

Nope.  Doesn't happen.  It's just a setup to see why Hal would accept Sinestro's proposal: In exchange for his Green Lantern ring returned, he must help Sinestro destroy his Sinestro Corps & free Karugar from their oppression.  Hal agrees (not as reluctantly as I believe he should), and we're off to the races with this story arc!

The thing I loved about this story were the few throwbacks to the 'way things used to be' wherein Hal is being taught new ways to use his ring that nobody in the Corps every taught him.  Again, proof Sinestro was their best and brightest.  There were wonderful moments in this that hearkened back to the original core story of Hal Jordan being thrust into the Corps and having to learn from a condescending Sinestro.  There's wonderful verbal jousting that goes on here.

Furthermore, there are several times Sinestro is appointed a "hero" by the local populace.  This is great because you actually see an internal struggle within Sinestro, where, even though he may not acknowledge it, the title feels good.  He, of course, shrugs it off and abruptly makes sure everyone knows he's not a good guy, but there's still that moment of hesitation that reminds us all Sinestro does what he thinks is just.

There is an obvious lead-up of all Green Lantern comics to an event forthcoming, but I'm glad to see that with DC's new52 reboot, there wasn't crazy retconning and changing of origins.  This said, I did see that after the first major Green Lantern event comes and goes, it looks like the new guy from issue #0 steps up in the Green Lantern series.  Sad thing, too, because I'm really digging Sinestro wielding green & Hal having to be the obedient dog-on-a-leash.  There's one more run with these two from #6-12, before the 3rd Army arc begins, and I'm looking forward to reading them!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

DC New52 - Blue Beetle #0 (Scarabs... Scarabs everywhere!)

I've never been much of a Blue Beetle fan.  The Ted Kord beetle story from the crisis lead-in was kinda cool.  Showed him being all dectective ala Batman, but I always thought, "Why not just read Batman?"  Anyway, after the old beetle bit-the-dust, a new guy came up all decked out in armor (ala Iron Man).  I thought, "Man, these Blue Beetle guys alway remind me of someone else."  Where this Blue Beetle is different though, is that he has a living suit, which DOES NOT want to have anything to do with him.  I thought it was an interesting take, and I put up with him in some of the major cross-overs preNew52 - still without much interest in really reading about his exploits in a solo book.

After reading this zero issue of Blue Beetle from DC's New52, I've changed that opinion!

First off, this book is beautiful.  The space backgrounds are some of the best I've ever seen in comics.  I wish Green Lantern books took their cue from these pages, because they are gorgeous!  The character are is also very well done, and at times reminds me of Mark Bagley during his 90's Spider-Man run.  I honestly felt a bit of nestalgia reading this from that.

The pacing of the story is a delight and I was honestly disappointed when I finished.  This is the embodiment of what the New52 should be about: Introducing new readers to the character, while showing something that makes you want more.  The beginning of this book begins with the Scarrab talking to Jaime Reyes about how he came to be.  At the beginning of this origin, we are introduced to a possible villian that will undoubtedly come back to haunt Jaime, as the scarab actually helped the young girl discover her powers.  Albeit, this scene is done a little too quickly, I understand the need to move past it & hopefully we'll get more info about this alien girl in the future.

The scarab goes on to tell Jaime about its adventures and how eventually it wound up with him.  

There's then a montage showing various scenes from Jaime's past - one of which the scarab makes him attack his friend, which then had the consequence of making him a villain... All pretty interesting stuff, if you're like me and don't know about these events!

Finally, the scarab reveals that the reason for this entire exposition is to tell Jaime that there are other less benevolent scarabs with hosts that are weapons of the Reach (the aliens that created them).

This reminded me SOOOO much of Planet of the Symbiots.

I've never particularly cared for this character, and honestly after they reinvented him with Jaime, I really wasn't too keen on his adventures, but after seeing this well-thought-out zero issue, I'm adding this one to my New52 reading lists.

DC New52 - Batwoman #0 (Annoying Panels Await!)

Batwoman has been around for a few years now, and (up to the New52 relaunch) has been someone that you may see in a fleeting cameo, but really didn't have much to do with the BatFamily, per say.  It was enough to know about her and get away with not knowing too much, for the purposes of cross-overs.  I'm not sure if DC is going to keep with that tradition or not, but it's looking more & more like Batwoman is here to stay, especially with her being part of one of the New52 titles. :(

I can't put my finger on exactly why I don't really care for the character, other than the atrocious art and somewhat mundane stories she's been apart of.  First introduced in DC's year-long 52 series, Batwoman was originally supposed to be Barbara Gordon's new costume.  I read that the idea was scrapped due to DC execs wanting to keep Barbara as the Oracle - a disabled super hero in her own right.  I really hoped Batwoman was going to turn out to be Gordon.  I mean, if they can bring back Superman from the dead, Batman's broken back healed, and Jason Todd from a grave, surely they can come up with a way for Barbara to be Batgirl / Batwoman again?  Nope!  Enter Kate Kane, a butt-kicking lesbian that just simply decided to be Batwoman (seriously, she just decided after meeting Batman that "I could do that!")

Anyway, this zero issue goes into her origin and explains all that.  It was boring, and I really don't think I can read through the rest of her series.  I'd be willing to overlook the pace if the art gave me something awesome, but I really hate all the crazy layouts and panels that's become the norm for this series.  The art also seems a bit... stringy?  for my tastes.  Often characters are drawn with strange thin lips and hair that reminds me of an old man's come-over that's fallen.  The film-noir style of only accenting some colors would work if this were, say, Constatine (or more literally) a Frank Miller comic, but here it just seems a bit out of place.
The pale and washed look reminded me of The Dark Knight Returns & Frank Miller books so much, that I almost excused the mediocre story... ALMOST.  When it's all said and done, there's not alot that makes me excited about Batwoman. 

If they wanted Batwoman to be a breakout title that pulled itself into the BatFamily of books, having all those things mentioned above going for it really make it too far out there and seperates itself too much for my liking.  Here's hoping Batwoman will simply be on her own for most of DC's New52.

Still, before the flashbacks, there was a bit of hope in that there's a joker-esk female character Batwoman's dealing with.  I don't think I can possibly read 12 issues to find out what this scene's about though.

DC New52 - Red Hood & The Outlaws (You made me, so that makes us ArchNemesisisis)

I saw this issue and was excited to see what all was going on with StarFire and Red Hood and the like, but what I got was an origin story of the Red Hood / Jason Todd / Robin #2.  Not bad, but definitely not what I was expecting.  I hope there's an origin of sorts in the first arch of RH & The Outlaws focusing on the other characters, the way Teen Titans did.

Anywho, much of Jason's back-story remains pretty much the same.  He was from a broken home *insert sad violin music here* so he was bad.  Then Batman got to him.  He was good... but still bad. Fans hated him & so the Joker beat him to death.

Now, this is where it gets interesting.  I remember at one point during one of the Crises, Superboy punching a dimensional wall that echoed into all the multiverse and awoke Jason Todd from death.  I'm too lazy to find the reference & the specific issue # (I wanna say it was in a prelude to Infinite Crisis, but I may be mistaken.)  Either way, here, they explain that Jason was brought back from a Lazarus pit.  Okay, I'm down with it.

Then the retconning:
There's a follow-up to the main story, in which the Joker explains that he's orchestrated many of the events in Jason's life which led him to becoming Robin.  In Joker's words, "I created my very own Robin."  It's interesting to think Joker was responsible for all these things that happened with Jason's parents & such, but I think this is stretching it a bit...  I mean, Joker already has a grim connection to Jason Todd as the instrument of his demise.  It always kinda made sense that Jason would come back all upset that Batman wasn't there and that Joker beat him to a bloody pulp.  I don't see a reason to have Joker this interconnected with his past.  He even makes reference to Jason taking his "maiden name" Red Hood upon his return.  I'm not feeling this one.  I'm okay with Joker making a plan to lure Robin to the warehouse with the bait of his mother, but I believe that's as far as the Joker's master plan should go.

Either way, Joker is now integrated into the Batfamily's past (more so than just being a villain).  Kinda reminds me of when they replaced Joe Chill with Jack Napier in 1989's Batman movie.  It's really not needed for an arch-villain to be woven into a character's origin for them to be truly menacing.  Remember "The Killing Joke?"  Joker just wanted revenge on Gordon; there was no crazy 'I helped create you' angle.  Just pure revenge & a deviously executed plan.

Oh, almost forgot.  I loved the styled artwork here & the overlapping & crazy panels worked so well!  Take a cue, crazy panel Batwoman layout guys!!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

DC New52 - Suicide Squad (I have no funny quip, because it's boring!)

This story is about a skinny Amanda Waller, who's not at all like Nick Fury (but she is).  It's pretty dry and boring, if you're not even into Suicide Squad, but really love Harley Quinn like me.  Anyway, everything can be summed up in one freakin panel at the end of the story:

Oooo look how I can say their name as a label in my word bubble!  That's how you know I'm better than Nick Fury!  Avengers doesn't have a cool reticle in their name!

There.  I just saved you from reading all the boring crap.

All I can say, is that this upcoming Suicide Squad movie better tickle my fancy, because cute, insane clown-girl or not, I won't be continuing this series.  Better bring it, DC!  P.S. DO NOT MAKE IT AN ORIGIN FEATURING A SKINNY AMANDA WALLER SETTING UP THE TEAM.  If this book is any proof of that, it's just freakin' boring.

DC New52 - Savage Hawkman #0 (Another Origin... Again)

Hawkman's been one of those characters DC has struggled with - and probably one of the reasons for some of the reorg-ing and ret-conning they've done with the various Crises.  This time, they're retelling Carter Hall's origins again, having him be an outcast from Thanagar and a fugitive wanted for killing their king, no less.  The king, being Shiera's brother, puts her in charge of Thanagar and out for vengeance against Carter, who somehow ended up on Earth.  It doesn't go into this in this zero issue, so I'm hoping the series will touch on how he got on earth.

Either way, the story itself is pretty generic.  Shiera seems pretty quick to accuse Carter of the murder, and not even listen to reason.  Maybe it's just because this is all within one zero issue, it feels pretty rushed.  But what is captivating is the fact that the book ends with Shiera finding Carter in a 'What's gunna happen next?' cliffhanger.  I think that's what was the most appealing, honestly.  I wanna see what she does now - which is (I'm sure) where the book currently is.

I did also enjoy the story of the Nth metal being completely mystical and having unknown properties.  It explains why Carter's not walking around with a giant duffel bag with his harness & wings in it, before turning into Hawkman.  Explain it away with a mystical metal that makes those wings and gives him flight after covering his body ala Venom?  Okay!  I'm on board!

Hard to say if I want to continue reading this title.  I think after the main conflict between Shiera and Carter are settled, it may be something I'm not interested in at all.  But, I'll give it a shot, I guess.  Artwork's not bad; colors pop... Just hope the writing will be a little less predictable and exciting.  I counted 5 times Carter says that his brother-in-law was doing bad things.  5 times in a 20 page book.  Geez... we get it... Hawkman's a good guy.

Oh, and there's phallic worms on Thanagar, apparently.

DC New52 - Sword of Sorcery Amethyst #0 (Harry Potter in Medieval Times)

So this is essentially an Alice In Wonderland / Harry Potter / Narnia story.  Basically, a modern teen hates moving around everywhere and stuff, and is a little punk.  Her mom promises to take her to her "real home" when she comes of age.  Insert stereotypical bad guys coming for princess scenario & inadvertently opening the main character's eyes to a world they never knew existed.  This is basically The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, in comic book form.  I know there was a Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld series back in the 80's, and it would be interesting to see if this character's mom is the same main protagonist there.  But I'm not going back to 80's tiny-panel-style for Amethyst, just to see their correlation.

I don't think I'll be following up on this series, because there wasn't a whole lot here that captured my attention.  I think it's interesting to see DC take a trip to another world with sword and sorcery, but there's other pubs that do it better.  I mean, let's face it, every sword slashing battle that's depicted basically makes me wish I were reading Dungeons and Dragons or some Drizzt adventure.

In true "protagonist learns of a greater destiny & of a world beyond them" fashion, the main character is pulled into another realm!  Original, huh :(

Scenes like these are a dime-a-dozen in other publisher's books.  Or better still, go read some official D&D stuff.  Not sure I can really get into a fish-out-of-water story in a magical realm (FOR THE 30th TIME!)

There's also follow-up story in this 2-packed-in-1 issue: Beowulf...

Just about as interesting as it sounds, Beowulf is here!  (Wherever "here" is.)  We're never given a clear picture of what planet, realm, etc... we're on or even WHEN it is.  Judging by the hunting party in search of Beowulf, it looks as though it's old Nordic times & place.  However, Beowulf emerges from a high-tech chamber looking all cyborg like with a high-tech sword, then proceeds to slay all those on the expedition to find him.  

The kid telling the tale explains that they were there to recruit him - not to slay him - and that he is to come back with them to be the hero they know he is.  So Beowulf's like, "Sure!  I'm a hero!  I'll slay this monster Grendel for you!  I'm Beowulf, yo!"

Anyway, this is a strange story, and it was too predictable and corny for me to really get into.  I think it's somewhat interesting to have Beowulf as a cyborg from the future, but if he's not there to kill John Conner, I'm out!  Furthermore, there are hints that maybe this is the distant (maybe post-EMP era) future, since there's a few newer building types shown with overgrowth... eh... still not enough to captivate me.  Maybe I'm being too harsh, but there's just SOOOOO many comics out there, that, at this point, I think we can afford to be selective.  Especially when I'm like 5 years behind on my reading. ;)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

DC New52 - All-Star Western #0 (Hex gets the weird eye thingy)

I just wonder exactly how many Jonah Hex fans there are out there.  I suppose if you're a fan of the western genre, you'd be a little hard-pressed to find good comics out there, so Jonah's kinda one of your only choices.  At the very least, DC seems to always push this character into other titles having to do with time-travel, and keep him and a few other characters in the past around for this purpose.

I don't really enjoy Jonah Hex or wild west in comics, so I couldn't really get into this one.  However, if you ARE one of the select few that like him, I suppose this would be awesome.  Having not read any of the All-Star Western series before (or probably even after) the New52 relaunch, I'm not sure if this story's ever been told: How Jonah got is jacked up face.

I can sum the book up by this one picture here:
Don't eff with Indians buddy!

I'd be interested to see if anyone reading this blog actually reads and likes any of the All-Star Western books or Jonah Hex.  Sound off if you do & let me know why I should even consider reading this when there's a plethora of stories in the DC Universe ranging from the grounded to the fantastical; this title just seems to plain & quite a bit uninteresting.

DC New52 - Dial H #0 (Seriously? Bumper Carla?)

So in trying to give all the New52 series a try, I left some of the more obscure titles toward the end.  I had gathered that Dial H was a sort of reality-hoping mystery team that solved the unexplainable by using magic.  I'm not sure where I gathered this conclusion, but what I read in the Dial H zero issue was nothing like that... and I mean NOTHING!

I really didn't like this.  The concept may be cool but the execution was too far off in left field for me.  Basically this girl touches a tablet and becomes something else that can magically combat the attacking creature.  What she becomes is (get this): Bumper Carla!  No kidding. A super hero that has a magical bumper cart.

I actually stopped reading at this moment.  Later I decided I passed judgment too soon and went back.  What I found is that the book actually took itself seriously instead of being comical about it.  I I think that's the fault I couldn't overlook.  In a universe that has Billy Baton turning into an adult after saying a magic word, it's a little believable that there's magic that could give someone powers, but why pick something so dorky and then NOT have the humor to poke fun of itself.  The book goes one step further by giving the Bumper Carla persona a back story as a champion in another dimension!

If you were a complete newb to Dial H and picked up this zero issue thinking you'd check it out, you'd be really hard pressed to read another issue.  This is the boat (or bumper cart) I'm in; I don't think I'll continue with this series until I hear something that makes me want to try again... and that would have to be one hell-of-an-awesome thing...

Bumper Carla... I mean, seriously...

Monday, June 15, 2015

DC New52 - Green Arrow #0 ("Oh man, did I Eff up!")

Green Arrow has started to be a little more mainstream ever since the Arrow TV show brought the character to the forefront.  Honestly, I'd probably not be too interested in the character without having watched the Arrow show, so I'd say DC's awareness campaign for the character's working.  What I do know of the character is that in the early 90's I saw a few graphic novels where he was shown as a womanizer & a rich playboy, who fought crime using a bow & arrow as a main weapon.  (Basically a Batman that actually had sex with women & used weapons and gadgets, not fists and gadgets.)
He was eventually brought into the 90's JLA, where I got a taste of who the character was.  He was portrayed as an aloof loner, not completely committing to the League, but available when needed.  Even though this parallels Batman's MO a lot, they often did not see eye-to-eye, and on more than one occasion, Green Arrow would stand up to Batman (which I always thought was really cool).  When nobody else in the League questioned Batman's intent or plan, Ollie would.

My knowledge of the character lacks anything from his own story line until after his Justice League appearances, where I discovered he had a thing with Black Canary & got married, killed a bad guy, had his secret ID outed to the world, and put in jail, where Canary left him while he was in the slammer (bitch!).  I know that Speedy / Red Arrow / Arsenal / Roy Harper turned druggy, then good & sober, then bad & had his arm chopped off, then good, then druggy again, then good...  I'm really not sure where he stands at this point anymore.  Furthermore, FlashPoint had Ollie as more of a gadget head without too much of the bow & arrow path, so I was interested to see what's up with his new52 version.

Since this is a zero issue (and I haven't read anything else other than these DC zero issues up to this point - for those just happening upon this blog), we get an origin story before and slightly after his stint on the island.  Most people know his story already: Stranded on an island, taught to use bow & arrow for survival, comes back to civilization & becomes a super hero...  I choose to think he was on the opposite side that the SS Minnow crashed on.

Anyway, this story is just basically Ollie being a douche, throwing a party, helicopter dropping his buddy Tommy Merlin in.  It is this billionaire carelessness that allows the offshore shindig to be infiltrated by some pirates, one of whom is like a version of Mortal Kombat's Kano mixed with Bane.  He comes in shouting his name and threatening to kill everyone and stuff.  Oliver thinks he can take them on with the bow he was using to show off to his guests with... and here's where the book totally excelled... See up until this point, I was about three seconds away from giving up.  I know Ollie's a douche. I get it. I don't need 6 pages showing it.  I figured he'd end up on the island by way of a coward or that the terrorists would blow the boat or something; but it is Ollie's own incompetent foolhardy attempt to be a hero that triggers the catalyst of the explosion that leaves him stranded!!!

Oh, Ollie, you done effed up!  That was a dead-man switch, dummy!

And now you're gunna be stuck on an island without the company of the lovely Mary-Anne and Ginger!

As if it wasn't already enough that Ollie has to live with the guilt of getting everyone blown to shark chum, he's also the one responsible for Tommy Merlin's burns.

Like I said before, I'm only really a fan of the TV series up to this point. I've only ever read Green Arrow as he appears in the JLA and one shots with others.  This is going to change!  This book did such a good job of setting up what one can only hope is a rivalry between two old friends, that it makes you want to see what happens.   The only thing I think I can fault it for is that it totally rushed through his stint on the island and showed him in full Arrow garb.  I would have much preferred this zero book ending with Ollie on the island and a sneak peek at Merlin in the ICU or something.  In any case, check this one out.  The art is outstandingly busy (in a very good way) and reminds me of the old Ropocop series' line work!
Villians should learn to only shout their moniker out when they've hit the big-time...
otherwise you're doomed to be a throw-away villian-of-the-month!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

DC New52 - Red Lanterns #0 (Atros Needs a Wing-Man)

If you're not a DC fan, just haven't been reading any Green Lantern comics lately, or if you abandoned all things Lantern after all that Brightest Day crap, you may not be aware that there's all these additional colors out there.  They're all based on core emotions from all beings and tied to ancient entities.  All of them have corps associated with them, and even though we never knew it, Star Sapphire is part of the emotional spectrum love and Sinestro using the yellow power of fear has formed the Sinestro Corps.  There's also the Orange spectrum of greed, which only has a single member: Larfleeze.  As well as the Indigo Tribe (compassion) and the Blue Lantern Corps using hope.  Finally, the "Blackest Night" crossover series showed that there is also a Black Lanterns fueled by death & a White Lanterns using life.

Which brings us to the color absent in the description above: Red.  Red is not just powered by anger, but is driven by pure rage.  So powerful is this emotion, that it renders the wielder of the red ring unable to speak, with liquid lava spewing forth from their mouths.

I really liked seeing red ring-slingers in action in the War of Light & some of their other appearances up to the New52 reboot.  I thought having such power would be difficult to maintain and properly guide, so many of their characters would be conflicted & I enjoyed how many of them obtained their rings.  Mostly tragedy and such, and rather than rising above it and using it (ala Batman), these guys take their power rings and let the rage envelop them.

When I saw they would be getting their own title, I was excited and after reading this zero issue, I'm really looking forward to continuing.  I don't really know how / if they're going to tackle 'the blood spewing forth and not able to communicate' thing... They may very well dust that under the rug & say they can talk just fine.  I dunno.  Furthermore, when a red ring is worn, you not supposed to be able to take it off (something about it taking the place of your heart or something - I forget).  These questions however, want to make me continue with this title.

In this Zero issue, we see Atros becoming Atrocitus after getting down and dirty with a really gnarly lookin demon from Sector 666.  Seriously... where does he put... how would he... you know?

Either those tentacles are a good thing, or a bad thing... Not completely sure yet... 

His visions basically show him that he'll be the leader of the Red Lantern Corps and we see him on a pile of bodies over top of the dead demons.  It's a good setup for someone that doesn't really know too much about this character and would like to find out more; someone like me.  I'm looking forward to continuing to explore what's presented within this title, as it seems the morality is left for the GL books, and maybe this one can explore some of the darker aspects of the emotional spectrum.  If it turns into a "We're evil, but we're going to be good." thing, I may have to abandon it.  I mean, hell, there's already like 4 other Green Lantern titles... Swatch swapping won't give me what I'm looking for here, but I'll hold off judgement until I read a few into this series....

"I don't know why I'm saying this rhyme, but I like it so much I'll probably chant it several more times in my book series."

DC New52 - Wonder Woman #0 (Throwback Thursday - on a Tuesday)

Close to what we got in some of the Batman Zero issue titles, this issue focuses on Diana's younger years before becoming Wonder Woman.  There's not really a whole lot here: the god of war trains her and pits her against a minetaur and she refuses to kill em.
It was a pretty forgettable story, but an enjoyable read.  Not the best 'jump-in point for new readers to get a sense of the New52 Wonder Woman, but it was decently written with a distinct stylized art that I wouldn't mind seeing more of.

Monday, May 25, 2015

DC New52 - Green Lantern #0 (Is this Pulp Fiction?)

So it looks like we get yet another Green Lantern from Earth in this New52verse.  I'm not really understanding what happened to Jordan or John Stewart at this point.  I know the preNew52verse had Jordan being stripped of his green ring, so maybe that's where this is from?  Either way, I'm a little tired of all the GL titles centering around Earthlings.  With the Corps reaching so many planets within our sector, wouldn't it be neat to see a book solely dedicated to a neighboring planet's race that also has to protect Earth and becomes part of the Justice League, etc...  I know the GL Corps books and New Guardians have some arcs where it'll follow someone, say Kilowag, around and such, but I'm talking a brand new race and some alien chicken that gets the ring and assigned sector 2814 and makes her presence known on Earth and sees there's a crapton of crap happening here so joins with the Justice League, taking the place of Hal?

Or we could get another dude on Earth that gets the ring... again.

What's kinda off putting is that they make it a point several times in this book to draw attention to the fact that Baz is an American despite his race.  I get it DC racism is bad.  But, man stop shoving it in my face: from BatWing having a fully armored suit except for his head so you can see he's black, to the Arabic tat on Simon Baz's arm that glows for some reason when he gets the ring (see cover), I really think you're trying too hard DC.  It's like reverse racisim or something... You're trying so hard NOT to be racist, that you're actually being racist.  They even make a point of pointing out people are being racist to Baz:

Ugh... anyway, something that was funny as hell about this issue is that it reminded me so much of that scene from Pulp Fiction it's hilarious.  I'm really not sure what the editors thought this was supposed to be, and let it go to print, but there's a whole lot of innuendos going on up in here...

I seriously thought the next panel would have someone saying, "Bring out the Gimp," & unless someone can prove it to me, I'm pretty sure we all just saw this Green Lantern rookie get raped.  I don't know what the future hold for the New52 universe, but if this guy sticks around, I'll forever and always remember he totally got the gang-bang initiation.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

DC New52 - Green Lantern New Guardians #0 (Thanks for the Spoilers, DC!)

OK so I was under the distinct impression that all these Zero issues were supposed to be, as promised, issues featuring origins and jumping in points for new readers.  Most have lived up to this, while others have gone to tell origins of certain characters (most of which are due to the origin being told in the first arc of the New52 renumbering).  The other two zero issue Green Lantern books follow this pattern: GL Corps being about Guy Gardner and GL being about a newcomer to get the ring. (Reviews of the forthcoming.)

This one, Green Lantern: New Guardians is doesn't follow the above patterns at all.  Not only that, but it feels as though it actually goes out of its way to spoil anyone that may pick this up, not realizing it was smack dab in the middle of a story arc.  What ever happened to the editors not in the front saying, "This story takes place after issue #13," or whatnot?  We actually do get a few of those but it's only after a spoiler is said.

Think about it, you're a newb to comics, you see this cover with all these different ring colored people on it, notice it's issue zero, flip through and see some cool zombie cap and ring slinging, but it and start reading what is actually the middle of a story arc.  I think I would have even liked a preNew52verse recap of the entities, lanterns and colors than this.  Feels like a wasted opportunity.  If your reading through the New52verse starting from these Zero issues, please, do yourself a favor and skil this one; revisit it around issue 10ish of the GL New Guardians New52 books.  I'll be doing that jn the future and hopefully this craziness will make a little more sense.

Monday, May 18, 2015

DC New52 - BatWing #0 (I madz, so I am SuperHero!)

With the launch of DCs New52, a few new characters came to the forefront and got their own titles.  Some of these have been around for a while, and even though you may not like them, DC is determined to push them down your throats!  I'll be hitting some of those close to the end of my DC New52 zero issue romp, but I took the chance on one of the new character's series to emerge and read BatWing.  The result & verdict? Ehhhh.

So this dudes in Africa and gets all mad at these dude for beating up his bro.  He puts on a mask and goes on his own crusade.  That's about it for modivation.  It's honestly one of the most generic origin stories I've seen. The only thing that separates this guy from say... the Punisher, is that he decides not to kill.  This apparently impresses Batman (who's been all about recruiting Batpeople around the world) and this warrants Batman giving him a suit and saying, "Welcome to the BatFamily!"

"I mean, I appreciate it, Batman, but won't I look a little dorky with that mask on?"

"Yeah, I definitely look like a dork in this mask."

And so, I have a major issue with this character, right from the get-go: Every other person Batman had join him was seriously vetted and reluctantly let into Batman's crusade.  Robin (all of them) took a long time to get into that role.  Even all of the Batgirl throughout the pre New52verse had a really difficult time even being let into the Batcave...
This dude is totally given preferential treatment and I can't fathom how giving resources to those that decide to be super heroes is a good thing.  I understand that Batman's going around recruiting people cause he can't be in China or Africa while chilling in Gotham, but comeon.  "Here, guy, go be Iron Man on my dime."

Anyway this is the whole reason I don't like Batman Inc.  The appeal is awesome: Batman formally being backed by Wayne and on a mission to gather a team of BatFolks around the world... sounds cool... but the execution is really boring.  Every issue of Batman Inc really doesn't have anything to do with Batman and I find the Batpeople prospects pretty damn boring.  Also, I cant help feeling that reading about them is probably futile, since it'll probably be a few years until we ever revisit them anyway.

But, I digress.

I only really read this because I see that this particular character is still around the BatFamily of books in this post New52 era, so I wanted to get on the ground floor.  Given how generic his origin is though, I am going to struggle with this one going forward.  Thank god his costume looks better in the newer issues I've seen out.  I mean really, the half-assed mask he's got on (presumably to show everyone how DC has equal-opportunity super heroes) is going to be a giant target to the first bad guy with a gun.  While I suppose the same thing could be said with all of the BatFolks, at least they all have some amount of training; this is just some dude with a vengeance - and a suit with a pointy earmuffs.