Batman INC #8 and the Current Problem wtf with DC Comics

So, I wasn’t able to get a copy of Batman INC #8 this week because none of the comic shops in my neighborhood had any copies left by the time that I got there. Apparently DC, knowing that the issue featured a major happening, did not give their buyers (comic shop owners) enough of a heads-up regarding said happening for the initial order. Then, a week before the official release, they unleashed a media blitz to spice up the sales by spoiling the event for everyone, causing comic shops to piss off a bunch of customers because they didn’t have enough copies to meet demand. Amazon currently lists new copies of Batman INC #8 for $17.99 versus the original cover price of $2.99. Given that DC doesn’t see any of this increased profit, what the hell is going on here?

And frankly, what the hell is going on at DC in general? Since the New 52 debuted, they’ve featured a bunch of comics that feel like they were written by 13 year-old
boys, fired creators before their new titles even debuted, and promoted, then retracted an obviously crass shameless sales promotion. It seems as though the main factor in this is that DC’s currently being co-run by Bob Harras, who oversaw some of the darkest moments in Marvel history (The Onslaught Saga, Heroes Reborn, and The Clone Saga), because you know, everyone points to the 90’s as the golden age of comic books. Now, I’ve always been more of a Marvel guy anyway, but it’s gotten to the point there’s only two books I buy from DC that aren’t under the Vertigo imprint, Batman and Batman INC. And the difference between the two illustrates my problem with the current direction DC’s going in.

When he finishes up Batman INC in a few months, Grant Morrison will be leaving DC comics and, ostensibly, traditional super heroes. This is a shame because there is simply no one who writes super hero comic books like him. Including stellar runs on X-Men and Justice League, Grant Morrison wrote the best Superman story of the last two decades, and the last issue of Batman INC will mark the end of a generally fantastic run that started back in 2006. Of course, not everything that’s happened during Grant Morrison’s Batman tenure has been stellar, especially Batman INC. Far too often things got bogged down by his love of the wonky, family friendly era and incorporating those story elements into the more modern leaning Batman. But when the indulgences are held in check, the comic bristles with kinetic energy and over the top concepts as a proactive Bruce Wayne builds an army of Batmen to combat crime both on a local and global scale.

Scott Snyder’s Batman falls more on the reactive side of things as his Bruce Wayne almost always seems one step behind and not necessarily because of how brilliant his foes are but because he’s too stubborn to believe that he could ever be wrong:

I got a question for you, Batman, have you heard about that shadowy criminal organization that’s secretly running Gotham? Wait, are you sure they don’t exist? You mean they haven’t been targeting your ancestors for centuries? You’re wrong. Oh, and it’s run by your brother. Seriously, how did you not see that coming?

Also, remember that time you punched Dick Grayson in the face and knocked a tooth out? I know that tooth had a secret chemical in it that was going to turn him into a brainwashed assassin. But still, you probably could’ve talked with him about it first before performing unrequested oral surgery on the guy.

Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t high points to Scott Snyder’s run either. His current Joker arc ended strongly without a flashy death but with Batman’s nemesis credibly driving a significant wedge between him and his extended family by rightfully pointing out just how big of a dick he is. Even so, I’ve still never gotten the feeling that Snyder actually understands who his Bruce Wayne is and what his motivations really are, but that he merely knows how to write cool Batman shit. And honestly, a lot of that shit is, in fact, pretty damn cool, if a little shallow.

Grant Morrison described his Bruce Wayne as the ultimate human being, a man so prepared for anything that he actually developed a hypnotic trigger for himself so that just in case he was ever mentally broken down he’d be able to reboot his own brain, so to speak. Dear lord, he even somehow survived the Omega Sanction. Now Morrison is forcing Batman to deal with the fact that his extended custody battle with Talia Al Ghul over Damian has yielded the ultimate collateral damage. The joy of the story going forward is how Batman overcomes this, not simply the immediate response the reader has to that HOLY SHIT! moment. I’m just not entirely sure that DC is capable of telling the difference between the two.

5 Comics I Read This Week

Young Avengers #2: After an awesome debut issue, the follow up features no Kate Bishop, Marvel Boy, or Miss America and more confusion than clarity. The art’s still great, and I’m still on board for just about any superhero comic book with a non-deviant portrayal of a young gay couple but this issue just lacked the electricity of the first one. Hopefully, it’s just a little speed bump.

FF #4: Reading this issue was kinda like watching an episode of Twin Peaks. It’s quirky, funny and certainly made by talented people. However, there are moments where I just didn’t know what the fuck was going on. This is hands down, the weirdest mainstream comic on the stands right now, and worth a read if only for that. Plus, Mike FUCKING Allred.

Hawkeye #8: This is probably my favorite ongoing book Marvel is putting out right now. Super fun and accessible, Hawkguy is simply one off the most likable characters in comic books right now. The first trade paperback is coming out on March 26th, just get it.

Uncanny Avengers #4: So this book was meant to be the flagship of Marvel NOW! but I feel like its momentum has stalled due to Marvel’s strange shipping schedule right now. Even so, not everything has gelled quite right, as Havok hasn’t really been the breakout character Rick Remender has hoped he’d be. That being said, the invocation of the classic X-Men story, Days of the Future Past, is intriguing as is that final page reveal. Remender has a long history of bringing back shitty 90’s stories and turning them to gold, so I’m still holding out hope on this.

Uncanny X-Men
#2: I promise not every one of these will feature only Marvel comics and I will try not to overemphasize my crack-like X-Men addiction, but I have to say that, despite major reservations before hand, I’m totally on board with Brian Bendis’ X-Men work so far. I’m still not sold on the loophole he went through to get Jean Grey alive again, but he’s capably juggling a ton of characters and keeping all of their separate voices distinct. Plus, Chris Bachalo on art duties. And I love me some Chris Bachalo.

Next Week: I finally get to read Batman INC #8! Plus Age of Ultron debuts, so perhaps I’ll talk about big event storylines.

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