Brutally Honest: Batman 17-- Death of the Subtlety.

So, I don't usually listen podcasts but I was reading one of the editors for the site's new articles which can be read here (excellent article, by the way!). In it she mentions how her and the editor in chief G-Man did not see eye to eye on the ending to the incredibly hyped Death of the Family story arc. I was originally going to write a bit on it, much similarly like I did for my predictions with Amazing Spider-Man 700, but I would rather write about the aftermath.

Let me start with this; comics have really come back in a surprising way over the past couple years. It's very much in the public eye and the story telling has been more epic in scale and has become incredibly accepted. Gone are the days where you may be thought to be weird if you talked about Spider-man or Batman in public. They are common knowledge now. It's awesome that you have things like MTV giving comic writers such as Geoff Johns, Matt Fraction and Scott Snyder interviews over what it is they're coming out with. I never thought I would see that day.

With all that being said; Death of the Family delivered exactly what was promised from the word 'go' and it's silly for anyone to assume it was going to go in any other direction but the one it did. When I saw 'Death of the Family' as the title, I didn't think the family was going to be butchered. I thought, knowing Snyder's writing, he'd be playing to the Joker's cunning as oppose to the usual plain crazy factors most usually write. Everything this time out was methodical and metaphorical, down to him cutting off his own face. That's a villain I want to read about. The method to his madness is that he'll get the best of anyone who ever thought that madness could have a method.

For years, people believed that Joker had to know who Batman was. From my understanding from being on here and reading things to just my own thoughts was that even if he did, he probably wouldn't care. What's nice about Snyder's writing is that it's different from other Bat writers, even Morrison. Morrison sort of gets lost in his own head sometimes and is still a good writer (albeit, insane). Snyder, however, can write and is also a fan. He has mulled over all these questions just like us, he just actually got to put it down in the books as the way it goes.

To the story, who the hell thought Alfred was going to die? You think they'd kill Bruce's other dad? There ain't any coming back from that for Batman. He's just as crazy, if not crazier than the Joker (I'll touch on that later). If Alfred got killed, zero people would be safe. There goes his last shred of sanity. To anyone thinking any of the family was going to die, guess you somehow ignore all solicits. Everything gets reported so fast nowadays that if there was word that any character would be missing, months in advance, we'd have the heads up.

Not to mention, this wouldn't be the story it had been then. It would be regarded as that time someone got killed, again. Resurrections are lazy forms of story telling and it'd just be a matter of time before that happened and it would certainly cheapen everything we had just read. So, for those of you with a questionable amount of blood lust toward characters you supposedly like, relax a bit. I'm sure somebody will get maimed in another title you can pick up.

Next, people believing nothing happened. I have read this a lot. Again, what did you want to happen? Would you want to read Alfred being in tiny pieces, killed off page by the Joker? Maybe this is where the super early solicitations or the fact DC super hyped the story arc really did more harm than good, but I found myself more pleased with this ending than I did the Court of Owls. Joker saw Batman need help from his family in dealing with a bunch of ghouls who, frankly, Joker knows he could outwit and out psycho any day of the week should he desire. He hated this idea so, he did something a little out of the box. You wanted a super massive body count? A bat family member gravely injured? Killed? We've had those stories. More than enough. We haven't had one where we got so many firm answers and a blow that you can't just deal purely on strength alone. I'm pretty sure it's clear Batman has to know who Joker is too, and that doesn't matter either. Joker likes their game, he likes that this is who they are. What's in a name other than what people believe you are assigned you to be?

Finally, Batman killing Joker. Earlier I stated that Batman is crazier than the Joker. Yeah, he is. At the very least he's on the same level. Everything he has ever done is the opposite of logic. Rich and have the ability to try and become and do something meaningful in this world with the grand fortune that you have? Nah. Go across the world and be taught by the masters of skills you need to learn in order to start a war on the criminal element. You betcha. None of that is sane. Oh, you feel bad for orphans or kids down on their luck the way you were yourself? Give them a costume, the one that's practically a bullseye when compared to a guy dressed in pure black, and teach them to help you on your crusade to fight the aforementioned criminal element. Yes, some forced their way. Want to know what you do? Keep saying 'no.' He didn't and we got a ton of crime fighters, so cool, still insane. No matter how you color it, only a maniac or the leaders of cults or militias train child foot soldiers.

So, yeah, killing Joker would be the sane thing. Guy doesn't ever stop doing stuff and for some reason no one has ever wised up to say, "Hey, the nut house thing isn't doing much. Not to mention i'm pretty sure he knows what he's doing. He's killed so many people. We ready for the chair now?" As I just said though, Batman isn't sane. He keeps his chess partner in play because killing Joker is the final straw. He believes it keeps him held together when really, it's just how he copes. That he's just as bad as he is. Think about it! He's killed hundreds of people. He has tortured his best buddy, Jim Gordon. He put Barbara in a wheelchair. He murdered Jason. Batman never killed him at any of those times. Not one jury in the world would bat an eye over the demise of the Joker. Batman will never do it because he can't accept it. You think he'd kill him over kidnapping everyone? Over breaking the trust with those he loves? He's used to not being able to protect those people since they're always so busy being dead!

Also, you think DC comics would okay the killing of the Joker? They okayed the idea of killing Batman! There is definitely a rule somewhere in every writer's contract that says "don't you dare try to kill the joker." So this whole, nothing happened, why didnt anyone die, why isn't Joker smashed into a bunch of tiny joker cubes at the edge of the cave; it's a little silly. We got a hell of a Joker story which can't be the easiest to write at this stage in history. So, instead of seeing it as "crap, everyone's alive," take it in as you were enthralled with what was going to happen. You had to have guessed they wouldn't straight up murder everyone. You were left guessing the entire time. Not only did DC over hype it, but you yourself did.

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Brutally Honest: Morning Glories-- why have you forsaken me?

In case you were misled somehow, this is a piece about the comic Morning Glories. I’m pretty sure this series is one of the reasons I got back into reading comics after a long time of... well, not doing that. To find a story with such interesting characters, great writing and overwhelming sense of dread, how could I resist? And at its heart it's a mystery! I love reading mysteries. It has really been incredible. That was until about six or seven months ago.

The first problem is shipping. Holy god, does it feel like it takes forever for these things to come out. I’m not necessarily having that reaction because I’m just so excited to read them, but it’s in fact because the scheduling gets messed with. They don’t really stick to a routine week. I can’t imagine creating a comic would be easy, far from it. It’s like trying to rush a fine meal; if you give it time it's more than likely going to be spectacular.

This is where the second problem comes in. it’s a shame too because it’s also what got me into the series in the first place. It is a mystery and with mysteries they get quite addictive. Yes, people want to come in to find out the next chapter, but some lose patience. Morning Glories is an enigma wrapped in a riddle pretending to be an illusion. If comics were people, this book and the Joker would be in group therapy together it’s so confused. It has so many damn layers of mystery that I have honestly lost track of what’s happening. I can tell you with confidence that I have an exceptional memory, and find myself constantly clamoring over what happened to who and who’s where and what time are we in now. It’s become kind of a mess. Again, if scheduling was maybe a little closer together, and predictable and you know, routine, it probably wouldn’t be as much of a problem.

The third thing I’ve become utterly frustrated with is the amount of characters. Now, I’m going to talk about stuff that some people would consider spoilers. If you haven’t read it, and are looking to read it I would suggest you stop here.

Still here?

Okay.

Ranting will commence.

When we started there were six main characters. You were probably thinking like I was, “Cool, an evenly sized, manageable cast. I can follow along with this very easily.” Then you find out Jun isn’t Jun. He’s Hisao. He has a twin brother who is also at the school as a loyal soldier. Okay, so that’s why they look so similar. It’s not like it’s actual film or anything where you can clearly tell that them looking like the same person isn’t an artistic hiccup or anything. There’s an actual explanation and that's cool. Then the time travel stuff. I don’t mind time travel stories. They’re not hard to follow as long as you keep the pieces together. Which I’m sure the writer does. But as an audience, again, with very odd shipping schedules, it may not be the easiest for us. Certain characters I think are lost in the past or something? There are elements they touch on in the overall mystery, which is great because we needed some payoff. Something to remind us why it is that we’re being subjected to a lot of things going on with very little explanation. Then another of the main characters looks like they may murder another one, and gets killed themselves. So, we lost her. That’s not a big loss but still, whoa. Then we’re introduced to, like, six other characters who we’re just sticking with, with two of the original main characters (Hisao and Hunter, who is by far my favorite) in tow. Then you find out these guys are ex-students, who may have ratted out and killed others and Hisao was a part of them and…the guy that…that all the original characters knew, who met them when they were kids…trained them…yeah, even explaining it is giving me a migraine. The point is, a ton of new characters to follow when I believe it’s been something like four issues, which is like nineteen months in the Morning Glories shipping schedule (and dog years), since we’ve touched base with ANY of the other characters. Some seem nice then are evil, and some things that were mysterious about a year ago are now real tired and you either want it to never be seen again or answered. It’s all gotten stupidly hard to follow or to even care about.

My last gripe is something I touched on a little bit before, but what really, and I mean really did it with me and these characters, was the fact that I couldn’t tell who the hell anyone was. The Jun and Hisao looking identical was one thing, but dear god, why does every girl have the same haircut? Why does everyone look like a different model of the same other two people? Who the hell is this girl and why was she locked up in the loony bin? Oh, there’s that ghost again for the third time in the series with ZERO EXPLANATION just bothering people or something. That'll surely be touched on again in a year and a half.

Again, I really loved this series. It sounded like a lot of people did, too. But over time I noticed it wasn’t getting the usual reviews it had been getting some time ago. In fact, I haven’t seen too many sites reviewing it that much anymore (at least the sites I like). So, that's it. I don't know if anyone is feeling the same or anything but as always, I love to hear from anyone on what they think. Thanks so much!

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Superior Spider-Man Theory

Hey whoever has the displeasure of reading this,

Marvel NOW is starting up soon, which is weird cause I wrote up something slightly similar to the vein of it a while back on here, and among the series moving forward is a brand new one titled Superior Spider-Man.

Now everyone knows Slott believes he's going to be hated and the new Spider-Man isn't Peter Parker and blah yada blah.

Again, this is a theory of mine and I could be wrong which would be good and bad in some ways, or right which could also be both good and bad in some ways.

What I'm thinking is that they have been building up Doc Ock dying for a long time now. In the years since they've announced this, they've ramped up his threat level greatly. He is supposedly the last villain Peter will face before the book ends with Octavius learning his secret somehow. Since he is a genius, what if he somehow (and remember the argument that is comics and much weirder things have happened in them) switches places with Peter. Peter has been acting rather cold, which lead some people initially to believe when this was was originally announced a little while back that maybe he goes into full crazy, near Punisher mode. But with the covers showing that he;s looking at old pictures with the tentacles at the side, it could absolutely be metaphoric. He has been sort of colder towards his enemies (no one can blame him for that) and the idea that Connors' is now the full mind behind the Lizard could be a kind of foreshadowing that we missed.

I say it could be both good and bad for both sides because is I am wrong then it's good because that is just a terrible thing ti happen to Peter period. He could ruin his life and his image and by the time that gets fixed, because it would be once Octavius realizes he could never be half the man Peter is they will switch, and it would take years worth of story-telling to undo the damage which Marvel would like. It could also be bad because then that means some guy who for some reason has spider-Man like powers is now around and we have to follow him fighting Parker's rogues (Marvel has some weird fetish with developing new characters, making them crazy important immediately then shoving them down our throat and make it clear whether or not we like them, we had better get used to them). Why it could be good if I end up being right is because, as lousy as that idea is (I'm not jazzed about it, I'm just batting it around in the old noodle) that is one of Peter's greatest enemies living his life, as he's stuck in his body. It's terrible, and the most terrifying thing he will ever have gone through period, but the story potential is great. Plus as I said earlier, Peter will eventually return to form and then the ramifications from that would be interesting.

In conclusion(!) this is how either way it could be saying that Peter is not technically under the mask and people would want to go after Slott because he just catatonically sidelined one of the most popular characters in the world by having him vegetized.

So, instead of making a long-winded comment, as I am prone to do, I figured I'd type up something real quick here. I failed to do that and I am sorry. But I'm interested if people think I'm even slightly on point or if I;m crazy or if you think it's really the Vermin under the mask this time.

-G

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This whole AvX semi-abomination

So, AvX is going on right now and is under-performing as most expected. The idea that it was going to be 50 some-odd issues of characters who are friends fighting each other non-stop has been done to death (especially in recent years) and most people are complaining about that. However, I read something today that made me notice that there really is a division between fans on just who is in the right and wrong. A lot of people are saying that the Avengers are wrong because they invaded first. Others happen to think the X-Men are because they’re going the extreme route of putting people in prison. Not just people, but allies they have fought alongside through many battles over the years.

Though this is my opinion, I just figured I’d put it out there in a different format.

When this whole thing first started, almost all of the Avengers were abducted by Cable. Cable chose instead of talking to or reasoning with them that he’d threaten them one by one and eliminate them from the board. A master strategist who seemed to forget these guys are regarded as heroes for a reason and he has actually known a few of them so him talking to them may mean more than randomly showing up and attacking them.

I believe he mentioned at some point that it was over Hope, so clearly this kept their ears to the ground from here on. Cyclops shows up and tries to reason with everyone, a cool, level-headed Cyclops thing to do, to no avail. It was still commendable when all was said and done.

Let’s not forget when they had found the Scarlet Witch the Avengers wanted to deal with her, some to the most extreme measures. Then suddenly Cyclops and his cronies show up demanding that they handle Wanda, and that it is a mutant problem. The Avengers disagree stating that she is an Avenger and they would like to handle it. Now, the mutant population may be a little angry, but here they have a point. The Scarlet Witch obliterated their numbers to meager proportions. That is something they have a right to deal with as this goes beyond the law or Avengers membership cards, but she demolished countless lives. They also have had their fair share of loved ones who lost control of their powers (I’ll be coming back to that later) so, I believe at one point or another they’d really give her a fair shot and try to be understanding. The Avengers could interrogate, visit or even stand at her side, but completely on the X-Men’s terms.

Cyclops though made a massive mistake by making such a statement. He’s mentioned it in passing but not that often has he really stood defiantly, all Moses-like, about speaking for his people and that Wanda was indeed to be handled by the mutant population for feeling so wronged. He’s right, but you made yourself into your own grouping with this decision. Not as wrong as when Trask sicked sentinels on you or Magneto (who he has in his ranks now following his every word) when he would declare war on humanity. It was wrong in the sense that, they may not have felt the exact sting of it, but they did feel concern. They were there when it happened and would have done all they could to be there for their comrades. By stating that someone that’s a shared interest to both sides should strictly be dealt with by the just one, whether correct or not, is proving that the Avengers weren’t making things about the difference in the genetics, just Cyclops.

When the Phoenix’s arrival had been announced, the Avengers got involved way more than they ever had. They had seen the world get threatened far too often lately, they weren’t going to let something that can annihilate everything in one fell swoop just skate on by. When word came down that Hope was to be its conduit, things got rather serious. They weren’t planning on harming the girl. Isolation, sure. Being monitored under most of the brightest minds on the planet might be useful for everyone involved. Now, I don’t know if it’s just everything over the years has finally taken its toll on Cyclops, but the idea that this entity is here to reignite all the mutants is pretty insane. True or not, it’s insane. Jean Grey eclipsed most of the mutants on Cyclops’ strongest squad, and it still took her. Twice. It also drove her to madness at more than one time. It’s a being that was to destroy everything. Think Colossus is having trouble with cytorrak? Imagine how Jean felt housing something that blots out planets like nothing. Yet, this girl, who you are just supposed to instantly trust, is being endowed because no given proof has been shown what you believe; that it’s coming to resurrect the mutant populace?

I said ‘cronies’ earlier because that’s what most of the X-Men are now. Cyclops was a great team leader, he was never meant to be monarch to all mutant-kind. No way do all of them believe that the Phoenix is their savior when it’s caused them quite a bit of grief. Rachel Summers controlled it? That’s good, she is a direct descendant of Jean Grey, not some spiritual development. Unless this ends with Jean Grey emerging from the corpse of Hope or something, or the mutant population does get fixed, I don’t see it being of any use other than a ticking time bomb.

The Avengers should deal with this problem because Cyclops is beyond emotionally involved. He’s starting to think some crazy stuff about this thing that he has seen with his own eye(s) destroy without even breaking a sweat. He’s making “his people” jail those that would help if he had only asked. The phoenix is too great of a threat for the X-Men to knock-on-wood for. Unless I somehow missed it, there has never been any stated proof that that’s what it can, wants to, or will do. Now his whole team seems to have the combined power of the phoenix and are they going around trying to revive mutantkind? No, just scaring the hell out of everyone by vaporizing whatever is in their path they deem unsavory.

I’m not saying the writing is wrong or anything, this has nothing to do with creative purposes (not really at least). Just my thoughts on what has occurred in the story.

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DC's new 52, maybe Marvel needs one too.

Right off the bat, I'm going to admit that I was one of the many who was downright lambasting DC for their decision to do a relaunch of their entire line. I complained because though I knew quite a bit, I didn't read much DC. Most of their heroes didn't ever interest me, except for Batman who I believe to be the best hero hands down. I had always liked Batman, but the complaints I always had for any super-hero was that there was never any fascinating changes. It's why I devoured the entire Ultimate line when it first premiered; it was such a fresh, interesting take on things. Before it went off the rails, of course. Now, I'm not a huge Green Lantern fan, but I know Johns has done exceptional work on the character. In the past few years, those two franchises had changed things up substantially, to the point that I actually started reading again. I always wanted to see Dick take over the mantle and I got my wish. So many things had changed, but it had been for the best. Other than Batman and Green Lantern, it seemed more or less people started to feel the way I did toward the other heroes. That they had gone stale and for the longest time I couldn't stand Superman, who was DC's flagship character.

The reason for all the uproar over the relaunch, other than twenty some-odd years of retconning is no picnic, was that it seemed they were trying to fix the entire universe including two characters who hadn't been so enthralling and were able to pull you into their adventures in years. The Batgirl thing could get it's own argument going as well, I'm sure. I could also go into a full on rage how I still feel that Tim Drake got the most intense shaft out of everyone. However, with the entire line relaunch and us now going into the second month, I have to say I am very happy that I was wrong. Sure, not every book is gold (not every character or team deserves their own book), and the Superman books all having different time lines is a little jarring at first, but some have been a blast to read. Batman is still the best, especially when written by Snyder. I'm really enjoying Action Comics. Nightwing looks like it's going to be good. Swamp Thing has not been this engrossing in I don't know how long. The happiest of surprises is that I had no idea Animal Man was such a terrific character. For me, the line has done more good than bad. No way to tell how successful for their real goal until a year from now, but for the moment things look promising.

I know I've taken forever to get to my point, but I've read a few places suggesting whether or not Marvel should do the same thing. I grew up on Marvel, and though I hate retconning, what I hate more are creators going back, realizing they "killed" a character just for sales and then bringing them back for the most arbitrary reasons. That idea alone has been butchered to the max over the past ten years. I mean, how many Ragnarok's have there been lately? And when someone died, that was a big deal sometime ago. Now they do it once or twice per event, and there are at least 2-3 events a year! That's a lot of deaths to characters you're not sure whether to invest in anymore. I think Marvel could actually use it now that I've thought about it because, the whole universe has really gone over to this dark and gritty edge that's become downright predictable. Other than Amazing Spider-Man, FF and Uncanny X-Force, I've found the entire line to be a real bummer lately.

There are now four Avengers teams, around 8 or so X-men teams, there are going to be two Fantastic-whatevers and Wolverine and Spider-Man are somehow entwined in ALL of those teams. This latest event titled "Fear Itself" has shown that they lost sight of things. That the end can't just come around every four months. That's not scary, probably just a new form of insurance. I'm surprised with all the practice Reed Richards hasn't invented an anti-doom machine by now that he could flip on anytime something got near. I haven't noticed any new form of fear that is unlike any other that's come about in recent years either. I liked Dark Reign, but sort of don't like that now Norman Osborn is every single hero's enemy and not just Spider-Man's. They're already getting ready to put him in the front of a new problem. Remember when an enemy would cause a big commotion for a while, then when defeated they would sort of disappear for quite sometime? Marvel just keeps trying to milk everything all the time now, because they realized Norman Osborn was a very rare sort of evil that got killed before they could use him to the fullest. Which depreciates the effect of his death issue from years upon years ago.

Look at the state of things; The Avengers constantly have their teams sharing and switching members to the point it would have to be confusing. They also apparently have so many disgruntled ex-employees over how the team has sort of taken a 'we are the law' approach in terms of how the Scarlet Witch was handled. The X-Men are at an interesting place, but it won't last for longer than a year, as it never does. I mean, Cable died a year ago and is already coming back. But now the golden child is a militaristic figurehead on a now defunct Asteroid M and everyone's favorite mass murderer has become a headmaster for mutants. And somehow every other character in the Marvel universe just somehow fits into the fold of Avenger or X-men. Even the FF can be considered as such since Spider-Man and the Thing are on Avengers teams as well.

They don't even have a Young Avengers book anymore which was always a fun read to me. And yes, Heroes Reborn was sort of a universe reboot, but that too got fixed a year later anyways, so it barely counts. If anyone could use a bit of a re-haul, as much as it pains me to say, it's Marvel. The Scarlet Witch could do it in a second anyway with her reality altering powers, wishing for the X-men to not be at each others throats anymore and the Avengers to just be one unit and not some huge multi-corporation for heroes everywhere (that somehow is mainly just New York anyway). Maybe Jean Grey could even come back on a semi-logical level even. I just hope they would avoid the one thing that DC seems to be doing non-stop right now, and it's just giving nods every which way that someone is going to become somebody if you'd read the books before. Action Comics has been chock full of them. And I have to say, I'm a little letdown that the Justice League's first enemy has to be Darkseid. He's such a big gun and they're pulling him out already.

So, that's my very long take on things. All things are my opinions and would love to hear anyone else's!

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